Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Frankenstien iMod with BIG Balls - V-Caps Franken ShuttlePod is HERE!!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Frankenstien iMod with BIG Balls - V-Caps Franken ShuttlePod is HERE!!!

post #1 of 145
Thread Starter 
Of all the mods that I ever did, this has to be the most wacky of them all. Inspired by ALO V-Dock, I set about making myself a “portable muscle caps dock”. And so you see the results as shown below.

Despite the ghetto look, no quarter was spared and I chose Mundorf M-Cap ZN 4.7 uF (Tinfoil) for use on each R/L channels. Eichmann Silver solder was used from end to end to ensure I done it right. And instead of my regular favorite SPC, I opted to use Canare StarQuad wires for the signals and Ground. A 2-2-3 twisted braid formation was used (Ground uses 3 wires). Why Canare you ask? Well I seek to add warmth to my sterile sounding rig so going back to copper makes perfect sense. No fancy enclosure used here, just pure nakedness to prevent them M-Caps from growing any bigger

One month ago I had the opportunity to listen to a Marantz CDP Transport + Benchmark DAC1 and that experience gave me valuable understanding of how a “proper” source should sound like. Admittedly, the Marantz Transport + DAC1 reigned supreme over iMod 5G, hands down. With that experience still fresh in mind, I told myself wouldn’t it be super if I can get my iMod to sound like those titans – there has to be something…..

Then ALO announced the exotic V-Dock.
When Ken introduced his ALO V-Cap dock, there was a long debate if such a gizmo could actually improve the output of the tiny iMod DAC. Well instead of debating the logics, I decided that I have to give it a try and judge with my own ears (and with a lot of encouragement from my good buddy Scottiebabie). I was unable to obtain V-Caps, the local Audiophile DIY store ran out of stock – so I ended with a 1”X2” M-Cap ZN by Mundorf which most Audiophile consider as an equal peer to V-Cap OIMPs (V-Cap Teflon is the undisputed ring leader). But there’s a catch, these babies need over 500 hours to burn-in.

And so I went about modding my first Muscle M-Dock. Being a portable junkie, I have decided to make them as compact as possible. Took me half a day to complete and before the heat shrinks even had a chance to cool down I plugged em’ in....
WOW!!!! My jaw dropped to the floor. Fresh as it is, I was immediately astounded by the depth and width of the output. It’s so huge that I almost forgot I was listening to IEMs. Most apparent was the manifestation of dynamics – everywhere it’s so solid and convincing. On top of that, I was awestruck by the smoothness – it’s everywhere! Highs, Lows Mids, you name it. I was bathed in a VERY Analogue listening experience – it’s so effortless, the tonality the timbre – micro nuances easily audible, bass texture commands huge presence. And if my memory serves me correctly, this is the sort of feeling I had when I indulged myself with the Marantz + DAC1 experience. I dare say that the output is strikingly similar especially in dynamics, depth, headstage, spacious separation, and effortlessness. The only difference that I can recall was that DAC1 sounds a bit more surgical – sterile and sparkly – while my rig turned out to be very musical. I know I gonna get flamed for this but at this stage I just don’t care.

And these caps don’t come cheap. The price starts at $30 apiece. The better ones usually around $50-60. Being big as they are, the burn in curve was quite erratic. The first 20 hours was okay, then suddenly the sound change - for good or worse they keep on evolving until they stabilize at around 200 hours – and yet they keep on evolving. I reckon with the low output from an iMod, it will take around 600 to 800 hours to burn them in completely.

I tell you this, Ken, Vinnie, Skylab and trose49 wasn’t talking trash!, these caps really does blow the listener mind away. It is hard to believe the very same DAC can scale up drastically by simply changing the caps. Don’t get me wrong, the Black Gate caps used in all iMods is already mind blowing, but these Audiophile grade caps left them BGs behind to dust.

(Later I learned that Caps rolling is a normal practice among High-End DIY Audiophiles – working on their preamps and monoblocks)

MKII is Completed!!!

Now the very same caps are enclosed in my wife's plastic jewelery box

Definitely looked more civilised at the expense of added weight - no pain no gain!

Completely detachable from the Dock Out all the way to my SuperMicro-IV. The good news is I don't hear any degradation with the increased number of links in the signal path as opposed to my previous setup which emphasized on hard wiring.

MKII will be done next week with V-Caps!!! this one will go naked again LOL!


The goodies has arrived!!!!

Will be busy doing some "cooking" tonite ......................


MKIII for Franken ShuttlePod is here! Savor the pics and let me share with you what this monster can offer

At this stage, for those who have listened to iMod with boutique caps, there's no denying the sheer supremacy of the output. My MK-I dock as seen earlier was a Mundorf M-Cap ZN (4.7 uF) and that monster has been nothing but a wonder to behold (listen rather). So you guys have read my impressions on the M-Caps. Now I will compare MK-I with the latest newly constructed MKIII.

Design wise, you can see that MK-III offers more compact form factor with "discrete" cables hardwired using Eichmann Silver Solder with the shortest length possible. For this dock I have been requested to use Solid Core SPC instead of Canare Coppers - yes this dock is not mine, it's for a Head-Fier who has been very keen on getting his hands on the first MK-III dock. Personally I loved the simplified look. But there's a catch, this dock will not tolerate excessive strain and it will break if mishandled with carelessness.

Ok on to the sound. I decided to run Diana Krall's tracks for this test ride and......

WOW!!! - no burn in and fresh as a newborn, but already the dynamics are on par with my M-Caps ZN (be reminded that my M-Caps has over 300 hours on them).

As per expected, these boutique caps have no issues with projecting very wide sound. Immediately I can identify the "minor" differences compared to my M-Caps.

- Utterly NEUTRAL! mind boggling balance in all areas. Makes my M-Caps colored in comparison because M-Caps ZN are very lush and warm

- Distinct separation between instruments - as if each instrument sources get focused individually - and I mean really focused because if I choose to follow the trail of certain sound I can do so with liquid ease. I am not saying that instrument separation on the other caps combo is bad; it's just that this V-Cap monster excelled way better than the rest

- VERY Analogue! Yes this I loved the most. Just like the M-Cap, there's that "easy" and organic tonality to the sound which makes for an enjoyable listening experience. There's no glare or hardness to the body, just liquid ease

- Concise textured bass - much similar to M-Caps performance and perhaps a bit more detailed. It's easy to follow the bass curve and digest the extension. But take note that M-Cap ZN offers stronger pounding slam to the bass response, V-Caps a little bit reserved in slam but then again we are talking about caps with barely 12 hours in them.

- Silky edged highs - oh the taming of extended highs is audibly better than M-Caps ZN. There's no opportunity for peaky sections to singe my eardrums (which I get a lot using g Black Gate caps (NX-HiQ Series). Treble junkies will not be disappointed with the performance

- Similar performance here in the mids, both M-Caps and V-Caps deliver rich intimate performance. But when I say intimate I do not mean forward sounding. They are placed just nice so as not to overwhelm the listener

- Transparency - without a doubt this is THE most transparent setup I have ever listened to - ever! The M-Caps ZN warmth and lushness take a toll on transparency a very tiny bit (but still they are more transparent than BGs). These V-Caps makes them all sounded veiled! LOL!

Yes I love this MK-III sure enough. If they sounded this good with less than 12 hours in them, then I can only pray they gets refined with time. V-Caps are not cheap and the steep price is not for nothing.

It's V-Caps all the way for me now

From the look, I can tell that these V-Caps are handmade - now that's really cool eh.
post #2 of 145
That looks great. I don't think ALO will be able to make a better looking portable V-Cap dock when it comes out. I wish I could hear your rig, it must sound amazing, especially for portable. Fantastic work as usual.
post #3 of 145
Thanks for writing that up, I can't wait to do my own DIY on this. You know, nothing against any of the others who posted reviews, but it's certainly nice to have a more "neutral source" (har-har), from someone who has less to lose than the price of admission for the wood dock.

This is certainly not to say/imply that the other fellas are clouded in judgment at all, but for the skeptical of us who have not heard the effect of caps on the iMod (most of us), this is big news. If nothing else, it only buoys the testimony previously given by all.

Thanks, EFN!

PS. That's my favorite band!
post #4 of 145
post #5 of 145
Nice! and cool little warning sticker on the back of your imod
post #6 of 145
Ok, EFN, you got me. I'll take one!!
Amazing Bro!!
post #7 of 145
Amazing work, and thanks for the nice read, EFN.

Wish I could listen to your rig.
post #8 of 145
Liking what you did to the supermicro switch :-)
post #9 of 145
Awesome work, EFN!

Way to push the envelope.
post #10 of 145
That is so crazy....I want one....how much to make one for me?
post #11 of 145
I'll have to keep those caps in mind. I just ordered a couple of different caps to try out with my iMod.
post #12 of 145
Hahaha, you are ahead of everyone else.
post #13 of 145
Wow! That's an incredible rig. What's even more incredible is that it's all based on a 10+ years old IEM.

How would you describe the bass with all this bling-bling?
post #14 of 145
And I am off to order some caps...
post #15 of 145
pretty cool

but starting to get into the transportable category, isint that a little too big for stick-in-the-pocket use?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Source Gear
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Frankenstien iMod with BIG Balls - V-Caps Franken ShuttlePod is HERE!!!