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MAD Ear+ Purist HD appreciation thread. - Page 64

post #946 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtinto View Post

 

That sounds like a fun amp.

Are there any pictures of it anywhere?

Here are a couple of quick iPhone photos of mine.

 - Michael

 

 

     


Edited by mls64 - 1/9/13 at 6:55pm

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post #947 of 1163

Thanks for the pictures mls64

A classic and a keeper for sure

post #948 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by mls64 View Post

Here are a couple of quick iPhone photos of mine.

 - Michael

 

 

     

Crazy!  That's a DIY job?

post #949 of 1163

I think I've finally found "the" tube amp for me. After having owned a number of tube amps which either sounded bad, made nasty humming noises, got so hot that you could cook dinner on them, were not suitable for low-impedance 'phones, had way too much gain (and resulting channel imbalance from poor volume pots) or all of them combined, I'm hugely relieved that the Ear+ HD has none of these issues. Phew! What's more, it sounds great to my ears, meaning that it sounds natural and not overly "tubey" (colored). In short, I'm enjoying it immensely, with my LA7000, HD600, and HD800.

 

As for tubes, I'm very happy with a nice (if somewhat dirty) Tung-Sol 5751WA that I recently bought. Possibly it's just my imagination but to my ears the 5751WA sounds cleaner and smoother than a regular 5751 tube. Has anyone else tried the 5751WA?

 

 

 

Another question - what's the actual difference between the two outputs for high & low impedance headphones? Do they have different gain or output impedance? I've been unable to find an explanation to what they actually do...


Edited by Mad Dude - 1/12/13 at 3:11am
post #950 of 1163

Glad you're liking yours Mad Dude

 

Think of the two outs like the 8ohm and 4ohm outs on a tube speaker amp

Inside the MAD, the output transformers have two taps, 8ohm and 4ohm

The HiZ is connected to the 8ohm and the LOZ to the 4ohm taps

For the most part, the two outs sound similar

In general, the LOZ is better for low impedance phones <150ohm

Think Grado on the LOZ and Sennheiser on the HIZ

It's okay and safe to go with whichever out sounds best to you

post #951 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by tme110 View Post

Crazy!  That's a DIY job?

No, it was actually a model (or maybe just a prototype?) made by Dr. Peppard and sold a few years ago.  It has the tube configuration of the Ear+ but the smaller output transformers of the Ear 4.  The construction is pretty amazing, above and below the middle chassis plate everything is really compact.  It must have been a challenge to layout and build.  

post #952 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Dude View Post

I think I've finally found "the" tube amp for me. After having owned a number of tube amps which either sounded bad, made nasty humming noises, got so hot that you could cook dinner on them, were not suitable for low-impedance 'phones, had way too much gain (and resulting channel imbalance from poor volume pots) or all of them combined, I'm hugely relieved that the Ear+ HD has none of these issues. Phew! What's more, it sounds great to my ears, meaning that it sounds natural and not overly "tubey" (colored). In short, I'm enjoying it immensely, with my LA7000, HD600, and HD800.

 

As for tubes, I'm very happy with a nice (if somewhat dirty) Tung-Sol 5751WA that I recently bought. Possibly it's just my imagination but to my ears the 5751WA sounds cleaner and smoother than a regular 5751 tube. Has anyone else tried the 5751WA?

 

 

 

Another question - what's the actual difference between the two outputs for high & low impedance headphones? Do they have different gain or output impedance? I've been unable to find an explanation to what they actually do...

 

Hope you enjoy the MAD ! I was the original owner ot this amp and I must say it's really special. Sounds great with a wide variety of cans.

post #953 of 1163

I have ordered the MAD Ear+ HD 240V version. I also have ordered the SYL GB 5751 and MULLARD 12AX7 to benchmark them. These tubes get a lot of good feedback on internet and in this thread as well.

 

I have heard that the input tube is the one making the difference in sound, so for now I am keeping the original setting from Mapletree regarding the power tubes.

 

I will let you know how this setup sound with the rs1i. I will also benchmark my rPAC vs. V-2 DAC, connected to my MacBook - with Apple lossless files - as input to the Ear+ HD Amp.

 

Looking forward!!! 

post #954 of 1163

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post #955 of 1163

Thanks to reviews on head-fi.org I was able to find a good match between headphones and amplifier. It is time to (hopefully) give some value back to the forum.

 

To find the “perfect” match is not an easy task. Before you choose the “perfect” headphones you need to define what is your “perfect” sound. Do you wan the perfect soundstage, do you want the perfect midrange (or both)? Or, do you simply want cans with a lot of bass for your gaming and action movies? Furthermore, which music do you listen to?

 

All these questions (and more) shall be answered before you begin your quest. Furthermore, which music do you listen to? Where do you actually use your headphones? At home, on flights, or only when you are working out?

 

Step1: Choosing the “right” headphones:

 

After testing several headphones (all kind of music, mainly at home), I decided to get the RS1i. This was, in my opinion, a no brainer.  Despite my hunt for soundstage and past investments in Quads electrostatics (which in my opinion outclass most of the hi-fi dogmatic religion), I ended up loving the sound of the RS1i. The music is just more alive – the midrange is perfect. The only concern is some lack of soundstage. The PS1000 is IMO 1) to heavy 2) to expensive (compared to what you pay for – and they are missing the “Grado sound” – no I cannot explain this with words) 3) Probably outclassed by the top notch Sennheizer if this is “your cup of tea”. The GS1000i has a very dry middle range in my opinion – but a better soundstage. The latter is probably better for classical music, but is not preferable for Opera, Jazz, Folk, rock IMO.  That said, the GS1000i is far more comfortable to wear.   

 

Step2a : Choosing Amplifier.

 

Firstly, I decided to buy a mobile DAC/amplifier. I want to bring my RS1i on travel (not on plains due to the noise). The sound quality is considerable improved with the external DAC/amplifier vs. the Macbook DAC/amplifier. I ended up purchasing the ARCAM rPAC after benchmarking it with several other portable DAC/amplifiers. (I do recommend benchmarking them, the sound is slightly different – choose according to your taste).

 

Step 2b:

 

Having the RS1i, only using a portable amplifier is in my opinion justifiable when travelling. At home, it is preferable to have a stationary amplifier with even better sound than the rPAC. I was recommended to choose an amplifier that match with the RS1i very bright middle-tone.

 

In the end of the day I decided to purchase the Mapletree Ear+ HD. This was a risk, because I never had tested one of them before, and I was ordering it from Canada with no opportunities to try it before the purchase. It turned out to be a good match with the RS1i as expected. (I will cover this in detail. Please continue to read J.)

 

Sourcing:

 

For the time being I am matching the amplifier with iTunes (lossless files) and the ARCAM rPAC DAC. I am considering benchmarking the Ear+ HD with other DACs as well. I am not sure if the improvements are noticeable. Please let me know if you already have been testing different DACs in combination with this amplifier.

 

The Big question: What are the improvements?

 

 So, the question is – what is the real improvement adding the Mapletree amplifier (using the rPAC DAC as a input)?   

 

Tubes:

 

For the testing purpose, Peppard/Mappletree provided me with two different input tubes. A JJ 5751 and an Electro-Harmonix 12AX7. I am awaiting some other tubes to test as well, but this will be reviewed later (Including one of the known NOS, Sylvania GB 5751, gray plates).

 

The JJ 5751 input tube is described to have a tight low end, and a natural open mid and a sweet high end that is not to brittle.  In my opinion, the high end is maybe a little too sweet with the JJ 5751. Listening to flamenco guitar (Paco de Lucia) and electronica (Depeche mode) I am missing more “edge” on the high end compared to the rPAC solid state amplifier. I believe that the low end is more present tough, but I am not sure if this improves the soundstage… Because the amplifier already “sweetens” the sound enough with the tubes, I decided to, for the time being, continue to test with the electro-harmonix 12AX7 (this tube has both good and less good reviews. In my opinion, so far, the soundstage is more balanced with this tube – but I need to test more before I can conclude anything).

 

Benchmarking the mobile ARCAM rPAC with the MAD Ear+ HD amplifier:

 

Although the rPAC was a revelation compared to the computer DAC/amp (Macbook pro), and is a highly recommended product (especially when you are travelling – and want to bring your good music experience), the MAD Ear + HD is indeed an even better match with the RS1i. The amplifier smooth’s out the bright treble, increase the soundstage and give a slightly better bass impact. The music is more alive, more present. Furthermore, some of the background noise on some old recordings is not present with the Ear+HD. Listening for instance to old Opera recordings with Jussi Bjørling is addictive with this amplifier. That said I have to commit that the difference between the computer and the rPAC amplifier is more obvious than between the rDAC and the EAR+HD amplifier, but I do miss the tube-sound when I am using the solid-state amplifier as a source. The rPAC has a more “dry” and less dynamic sound – and less soundstage as far as I can tell.

 

I know this review is very subjective, but I would like to give my so-far opinions. Firstly, I believe the lack of common/defined hi-fi vocabulary is challenging. It is difficult to describe the musical experience (not very unlike describing a good meal and tastes).

 

Nevertheless, hopefully the review can give me some even more feedback, or can help others to find their perfect headphone/amp match. In advance, I apologize for any typos or obvious misjudgments.                  

post #956 of 1163

I found the biggest change in sound was when I changed the computer USB interface.  I went from PC>Bifrost USB input to PC>Off-Ramp 5>Bifrost s/pdif input and the difference is stunning.  Everything was taken up several notches - soundstage, dynamics, punch, vividness - all were magnified tremendously.  Also VERY surprising to me was that USB cables DO make a difference - and not in a tiny way.  I really hate taking off my headphones at night now - I've found my favorite tubes for the Ear+ HD and stocked up on them.  Now I must start saving for a really good USB cable and then later on a DAC to match the quality of the Off-Ramp and the Ear+ HD / RS1i.
 

post #957 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitaniumDust View Post

I found the biggest change in sound was when I changed the computer USB interface.  I went from PC>Bifrost USB input to PC>Off-Ramp 5>Bifrost s/pdif input and the difference is stunning.  Everything was taken up several notches - soundstage, dynamics, punch, vividness - all were magnified tremendously.  Also VERY surprising to me was that USB cables DO make a difference - and not in a tiny way.  I really hate taking off my headphones at night now - I've found my favorite tubes for the Ear+ HD and stocked up on them.  Now I must start saving for a really good USB cable and then later on a DAC to match the quality of the Off-Ramp and the Ear+ HD / RS1i.

 
Does the Off Ramp 5 is $1200 worth of improvement? Or am I off on the price?
post #958 of 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twinster View Post

Does the Off Ramp 5 is $1200 worth of improvement? Or am I off on the price?


You are relatively correct on the price.  For me it was worth the money.  It was like going from a stock iPod to a high-end CD transport.  Huge improvement, nothing subtle about it whatsoever.  It is also my first proper high-end source - the reason I decided to spend the money on it.  It probably wouldn't be worth it to someone who already has a nice transport or other high-end source.

 

Edit: Another really good analogy would be this: you are using a standard point-and-shoot camera.  Pictures look pretty good, especially outdoor ones.  Then you buy a DSLR.  As soon as you look at your first batch of pictures on a high-rez calibrated monitor, you realize what you have been missing all along.


Edited by TitaniumDust - 5/3/13 at 8:53pm
post #959 of 1163

TitaniumDust, 

 

Which tubes are your favorite tubes for the Ear + HD? And why? I find the different tube sounds very different. Probably different tubes match different kind of music/records.

 

Can you explain "PC>Bifrost USB input to PC>Off-Ramp 5>Bifrost s/pdif" in more detail? I did not quite understand :) 


Edited by Reductio - 5/4/13 at 6:07am
post #960 of 1163

My chain used to be:

PC > Bifrost USB input > Ear+ HD > RS1i

and then I added a USB to S/PDIF converter so that the chain became:

PC > Off-Ramp 5 > Bifrost S/PDIF input > Ear+ HD > RS1i

 

I listen mostly to metal and hard rock music.  I have relatively limited tube rolling experience.  I tried quite a few of the most popular input tubes and a few different power tubes.  I don't like a syrupy (is that a word?) slow/smooth sound like you will find with quite a lot of tubes.  My favorite is the Sylvania 5751 TMBP (gold-brand or equivalent) as the input tube, because it sounds fast - more like a SS amp - but still has the liveliness and great mids of a tube.  It also has an excellent soundstage.  Mids are full but not overly lush, as I tend not to like really lush mids.  Assuming the Sylvania as input tube, I prefer RCA power tubes.  This is because they sound fast and lively, not too smooth, with a good amount of warmth.  Sylvania power tubes are a little too smooth-sounding and bright for my tastes, though they have great liveliness and soundstage.  GE power tubes have a nice tonal quality but seem to lack a bit of liveliness compared to the others (I found this to be the case with GE input tubes I tried as well).  Just remember that it is possible that some of my NOS tubes may be a little weaker than average and influenced my perception of them accordingly.  Here are my quick notes on the tubes I tried, with any modifications listed above.

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