UPDATE: 4/17/09 – new version of P100 tested!
I have added the following to the review on the first page:
Sound & Vision (STO Sound & Vision
) was nice enough to loan me a review sample of the new version of the P100. Right out of the box you can tell this is a refined model – it looks much nicer than the original, which I found to be quite beautiful in and of itself. The new one has a gloss black chassis finish, and the wood front panel is also now gloss finished. The whole thing looks very nice. The internals are improved as well – see pics:
But none of that matters if it doesn’t sound good! Unfortunately, I do not have the original Yarland around anymore, making a direct comparison impossible. But I did spend a long time listening to the new Yarland, and it is a FINE sounding amplifier.
I listened to the P100 largely with my Beyer trio – 600 ohm DT770, 880, and 990. I also tested the P100 with the Kenwood K1000 and the JVC DX1000.
The Yarland P100 now sells for $495 - $145 more than the first version. Aside from the looks, and build quality, the new version is has other obvious improvements:
1.My original P100 hummed a little with ANY tubes and any headphones. The new P100 was completely hum-free (NOTE: there is some hum when the source component is turned off – don’t let that alarm you – it’s not there when the source is on).
2.Bass performance, a weakness of the original Yarland, was MUCH better. Bass was punchy, tight, and reasonably full. There was a little less bass than I am used to, but this was just a very slight shading, and I’m sure using different tubes could probably change that (my review was done exclusively with NOS Sylvania tubes - grey-plate 6BQ5’s and black-plate 2C51’s).
3.Treble was slightly more extended than I recall with the original. In any case, it was certainly not an issue. The treble was silky, sweet, and airy.
The overall performance, as before, was very good. Mids were sumptuous – perhaps just a touch forward. The soundstage was very, very good – depth was excellent, and width was good as well. Listening to “Voodoo” by Godsmack, the depth that is infused into that track is very much in evidence. The striking of the percussion is outstandingly reproduced – transients are clean, and decay is clean, and detailed.
The DT880’s sounds especially good with the Yarland. Never too bright or too flat, this was a very synergistic pairing. The harmony vocal on the third verse of “Death Whispered a Lullaby” from Opeth’s “Damnation” was beautifully rendered, and the two vocal lines were well delineated.
The new Yarland is actually remarkably neutral sounding. I was immediately aware of the sonic attributes of the headphone I was using at the time. The Yarland didn’t seem to flavor the headphone much at all, instead letting each come though as one would expect.
I had no trouble with my 70 ohm DX1000’s, or even the 40 ohm Kenwood, with the P100 either. There was more hiss audible with low impedance cans using the 32 ohm output, but only at a rotation of the volume control that would never be used. I’m not sure how it fair with the really punishingly low impedance Denon or Grado headphones, but headphones in the 60-80 ohm area were no problem (and of course higher impedance headphones were all the better).
The $500 price point for tube headphone amps is VERY crowded. AudioTailor Jade, WooAudio WA3, Darkvoice 336SE, Ming-Da MC84-07C, Little Dot Mk IV – this is just to name a few. All of them are in fact very good, which is nice, and all have a little different flavor (I have never heard the LD but have auditioned all the rest). And in fact, those are all LESS expensive than the new Yarland. So the competition for the Yarland is a little stiff.
Nonetheless, the P100 is a very good headphone amp. As pretty as it is to look at, I confess I like to actually SEE the tubes in my tube amps. But for some, the more normal component-style chassis of the Yarland will be a blessing (just make sure not to stack anything on top of the P100 so the ventilation holes do their job). It sounds terrific, though, and offers an exciting, engaging sound. For those who want a (very) slightly forward sounding tube amp, and who like the beautiful but component-style looks, the Yarland is an easy amp to recommend.