260 Hour Mark Of Burn In
This is my fourth installment out of 5 in the evaluation of the Green Solo by Graham Slee. The manufacturer recommends 21 days (504 hours) of burn in; currently my amp is halfway through the cycle at approximately 260 hours.
For today’s impressions I will be using my computer as a source. Specifically Apple Lossless files played via iTunes version 184.108.40.206. The signal from the Chaintech AV710 will be fed via on optical cable to a stock Musical Fidelity X-Dac V3 powered with a Little Pinkie PSU. From the X-Dac V3 to the amp a Blue Jean Cable RCA to RCA IC built with Belden 1505F cable will be used. For headphones I will be using an AKG K501 and a Sennheiser HD580.
Music for today’s listening/impressions will be: 1) Arturo Sandoval, The Best Of Arturo Sandoval, and 2) Barney Kessel, Autumn Leaves.
Since I would like to provide a point of reference I will be doing a side-by-side comparison with a Musical Fidelity X-Can V3. This particular V3 has all of “PinkFloyd” modifications including a pair of Russian 6H23-EB and a Little Pinkie PSU. All the other components in the signal path mentioned above will be used with both amps.
The Green Solo’s bass has matured, while it has not become a basshead dream amp the quality and quantity is very satisfying. But most importantly its presentation is very realistic, for example it is very tight and punchy. The best I can supply is that the K501 have sufficient bass to make me very happy. The highs have mellowed, while still retaining a sense of crispness and clarity not found in many amps. The last 150 hours (from last impressions) has had a major impact on the detail and separation of the midrange. That is the amp presents the frequency range openly and without emphasizing a particular range.
My previous statement about soundstage remains valid. It feels like you have two amps, one for a center channel and a second to handle the music that extends beyond your ears.
The amp is very nice to look at and due to its small footprint is very un-obtrusive. IMO it would blend very well in most environments as well as optimizing the desk/shelf space. Both the amp and its PSU continue to run without any difference in temperature from the background, that is cool to the touch.
When using the K501 to compare the two amps I find that at this point in the evolution of the Green Solo it is very close to the fully modded X-Can V3. I think I hear that the Green Solo is a bit quicker responding, for example when Arturo Sandoval goes at a million miles an hour in his trumpet solos. On the other hand I sense a bit of a warmer presentation by the X-Can V3. The soundstage with is very close and hard for me to tell them apart. The Green Solo’s presentation of the stereo center is located in the center of your head right above the nose bridge. On the X-Can V3 is behind the nose, inside your head.
When using the HD580 the first thing I noticed was that although they are 300 ohms they are more efficient than the K501 and I had to lower the volume on both amps to achieve the same levels as the K501. For some reason it is harder to hear differences with the HD580, it almost acts as “equalizer” in that both amps sound almost the same to my ears. The two areas the HD580 was good at was: 1) in making me realize that the bass has more impact than I had realized while using the K501, these of course is the case with both amps, and 2) soundstage, now they both present the stereo center in the center of your head with the Green Solo being just a bit wider (although not by much) and a tad more focused.
Be advised that my impressions so far are likely to change somewhat as the amp reaches it recommended 21 days of burn in. It is also important to remember that as any piece of electronics “matures” it could go through very wide swings in its audio presentation. So it would not be unlikely that today it sounds great and tomorrow it is “blah”. Just give this or any other piece of gear its due time to reach its steady stated (final) presentation.