Switching to my capitole player, everything was the opposite...muddy and limited soudstage. Good, but not great...not the sound that I heard from the air tight/ayre 5xe combination that I had previously demoed.
Was not going to buy it.
Luckily for me and him, the seller was a great guy and took the time out to try different tubes, different ICs, and power cords.
Everything completely changed.
Still not equivalent to the emm labs/zanden combo, but 85-90% there. It's missing the extra body that made the sound so balanced and dynamic.
This is a great amp...the sound is incredible and I like the fact that it can grow and improve by changing anything that's attached to it.
Wouldn't say it's better or worse than the air tight that i demoed, just that they both have the same potential depending upon what components and tubes are used with it.
Given that, I can just imagine what Nik's system must sound like given the amount of tweaking he has done for it.
Unfortunately, getting that last X% might lead me to an emm labs source and other expensive components.
But that's for another day...for now, enjoying the k1000 ALOT and just plan on listening to music for a while...
I'm hooked on K1000s, and look to threads like this to learn from others' experiences, and naturally hoping for reinforcement that "...yeah, I did the right thing(s) building my rig -- and yes, K1000 really ARE a world-class headphone."
But there's something I just can't get out of my mind: “Systems not driven by foo_me’s Capitole were greatly handicapped." [A careful read of foo_me's comments above only reinforces my thinking.]
I was not there, so set me straight if I'm off track -- but as far as I can tell there were two constants: (1.) With exception of the Sig 30, all rigs started with AC from the same Power Company, and (2.) attendees heard music reproduced by AKG's dynamic transducers. Beyond these, taking into account the various pigtails, hardwires, ICs. etc., the potential variables were vast.
Ahhhh, but there was another constant wasn't there? With the exception of the Zanden and Moth, all (or at least most???) rigs were driven from the same streaming source graciously supplied by Slim Devises and Headroom, right?
To my point...
1.) Source matters. A lot. The Audio aero Capitole Mk.II se retails somewhere around $8,700. And what source does Headroom use as their reference? If I'm not mistaken, it's a top-of-the-line Wadia -- likely at a similar price point.
2.) Cables (even AC cords) matter. Even in foo_me's comments, he indicated that it was only after a few tweaks to tubes / cables and such that the Zanden became magical.
3.) Once you have a good source / amp, ICs begin to take on an increasingly important role in what you hear. In my personally experience, the difference in resolution and soundstage between an AudioQuest copper and Hudson Audio AudioPath 8-wire silver IC ($275) was nothing short of astounding.
So what do this mean to you? (IMHO)
- The Zanden and Moth received great accolades throughout this thread -- deservedly so. But it takes more than a great amp (and great headphones) to deliver great sound. Synergy between EVERY component in the audio chain matters.
- For those who already own an F1 or Signature 30 driven by a Lavry DA10 or maybe a Benchmark DAC-1 with XYZ ICs, you may want look beyound your amp -- and set your sights on upgrading to better ICs, or maybe a high-end CDP, and possibly even experiment with power cable upgrades (read number 17 in this review: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=221635 for example) as ways to bring your system closer to the audio nirvana you experienced from the Zanden.
- Don’t get me wrong – amps matter. But once you hit the level of a relatively affordable F1 or Signature 30 (or maybe a used Moth or similar tube amp [with the right tubes]), the remaining components in your rig may become primary limiting factors in what you hear.
Again I was not there, and these are only my opinions, but after playing with 3 amps, a few ICs, balanced vs. unbalanced, with and w/o a sub woofer, I can tell you that even my (entry level) Wadia 830 CDP (with factory upgraded power supply and aftermarket power cord) and $275 (AudioPath) IC, matched with the relatively inexpensive RWA Signature 30 amp delivers an extremely open, detailed and natural sound. Put head-to-head with foo_me’s rig, mine would undoubtedly fall a few steps short. But I doubt it would be considered a Class-level downgrade.
In contrast, substitute a DAC-1 for the Wadia in my system, and I would not be surprised if the result turned out to be noticeable to the point it could be classified as a Class-level downgrade (I base this on my own experience comparing the Wadia to a DAC-1 – I do not have personal experience with the Squeezbox or any other mid-priced DAC).
Just my 2cents, but I hope these comments add perspective for those who have now heard the best, and wonder where they go from here to upgrade their K1000 rig.