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My HR-2 Review

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Well my HR-2 arrived today, and the OP chip is fully burnt in because I bought it used on head-fi from TRose49, a truly wonderful person to buy gear from.

So far my listening experience has left me awestruck and that is hard to do. My previous experience with headphone amps are the RSA Hornet, the RSA Tomahawk, the Corda Move, and my Denon Stereo Receiver.

I can say without hesitation that this is not a step above all of those, but in fact a GIANT leap. I'm talking the difference between phenomenal audio experiences which I already had......and true musical revelations which I never had before. We're talking a transparency that is rare and much cherished in the audio world.

First off let me give you a list of headphones and IEMs I tested the amp with, as well as my source:

I have 2 sources: HHB Burnit 830 CD player (its pretty decent), and a Red Wine Audio iMod. I'll be honest. The difference between the regular iPod line out and the iMod lineout never had the drastic impact I thought it should UNTIL today. And that is because you need to feed your iMod the proper equipment it deserves. I can't go back to my iPod now except for portable use. Never again!

Headphones I tested with:
Sennheiser: HD650 / HD600
Beyerdynamic: DT880
AKG: K701
Denon: D5000

(I have not tried my UE10s just yet)

The build of this amp is like always with Ray Samuels products, top of the line and could not be bettered in my opinion. My specific amp is one of a kind and has a gain switch for lower impedance headphones - primarilly IEMs.

The sound of the amp is completely smooth and liquid, to my ears grain free and well balanced with a midrange that speaks to you. The amp is warm, but it extends beautifully in the highs creating what I hear as "real" sound. It sounds so real that if the cushions of the headphone were off my ear and my eyes were blinded and I didn't know where I was, I believe I would have a difficult time detecting it as an electronic source.

For those who listen to classical music like I do, there are times when listening to music (even a well recorded document) where the orchestra simply starts to lose its transparency, especially the string section. The HR-2 simply smooths out this problem with ease and creates to my ear a near perfect symmetry of liquid against clarity.

I've done just only a few hours of testing so far. For classical I've listened to Mahler's 2nd Symphony conducted by Gilbert Kaplan / Wiener Philharmoniker. It became very apparent to me almost immediately that this amp has a special synergy with two of my chosen headphones....the HD600 and the DT880. I found that for classical, the DT880 offered the clearest sound pitcure with this amp. I actually felt realistic distances between instruments. First and second violins actually felt separate and yet there was a complete union tying the whole soundstage together.

Those may remember a while back when I played my headphones for some of my non-audiophile friends and got less than enthusiastic responses. I made a post about it. Well I invited one of those friends over this afternoon for a late lunch and played him a few minutes of Steely Dan's Aja using this amp and HD600. I think for the first time he understood why I spend the money I spend on audio equipment. He said "Usually I am immune to sound quality, and just listen to the music. For the first time I hear that the sound quality is part of the music." I understand what he means and I think everyone on head-fi can relate to that comment. I then took my headphones and plugged it into my portable amps and while they were all phenomenal, they did not offer that jaw dropping sound given by the HR-2.

The soundstage is a strength of this amp. It is incredibly realistic. It offers distance which is almost definable to the brain. I mean without making actual mathematical equations, I feel that my brain has a better understanding of actual placements and distances between instruments and the overall length width and height of the entire sound picture.

The amp offers a beautiful decay which let's its inherent warmth speak naturally and not overwhelm the mix.

It is my understanding that Ray Samuels supervises production of all his amps and that they are made in America. If you're a long time member of head-fi and have read over and over about RSA amps you will no that not one bad thing is ever said about the company or the products they produce. This is because you can't say something bad about something that is built well, sounds as it should, and is backed by incredible customer service and a personable owner.

For classical I've decided I will stick with the DT880 and when I'm in a rock mood I will use the HD600. The AKG K701 were outstanding as well, but were eversoslightly edged out by the DT880. The HD650 were too bassy with this amp and it felt unnatural to me. It felt as they say "veiled". The Denon D5000 showed its true colors with this amp. It has well extended highs and bass, but overall lacks the honesty of the other four headphones mentioned.

I have another OP chip which Todd sent me which I have not tried out yet. When I do I will post my Impressions.

A special thanks goes out to Todd for making some of my audio dreams come true. It was my first purchase from a Head-fi User. He keeps his equipment in pristine condition and is quite knowledgeable and eager to help. This won't be my last head-fi purchase.

Thank you Todd....

And thank you Ray Samuels Audio

David
post #2 of 48
Glad you are enjoying it!! Makes it all worth it to have someone enjoy something you owned as much as you do.

IMO this is what head-fi is all about!

Congrats on your new found love. I would have NEVER sold this amp if I could have afforded both the HR-2 and the new Raptor that is on the way!

Great job vocalising your first impressions and thanks for the kind words!

ENJOY!

Ps Go ahead call me a fanboy! But yes another RSA product for me!
post #3 of 48
Very nice review. Thanks for sharing!

GAD
post #4 of 48
If I had to say what I thought the sweet spot in Ray's lineup is it would be this amp... Enjoy.
post #5 of 48
Hey Trose,

Did you finally get the all silver/clear cased Raptor that you have been craving?? If yes, please do post pics! I agree about the build quality of Rays products. The fit 'n' finish are truly outstanding.

David,

Congrats on the amp. I hope you have many more audio revelations down the line Didn't you pick up the UE11s as well? Do write about the amp and the UE experience.

Thanks folks!

~G
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by slwiser View Post
If I had to say what I thought the sweet spot in Ray's lineup is it would be this amp... Enjoy.
QFT!!!!

if you are on a budget or need portable then xp-7 would be a close runner up..esp when buying used!
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
Hey Trose,

Did you finally get the all silver/clear cased Raptor that you have been craving?? If yes, please do post pics! I agree about the build quality of Rays products.~G
Ray is putting the finishing touches on it as we speak and it should ship very very soon


#001 hee hee
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by trose49 View Post


#001 hee hee
impossible..

I have number 1 sitting rite next to me. Ray goes with the regular production serial number across any color he might sell. just because you are getting a cute silver with a blue led does not mean you have #1.

you are getting the first silver Raptor but not #8001.
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhd812 View Post
impossible..

I have number 1 sitting rite next to me. Ray goes with the regular production serial number across any color he might sell. just because you are getting a cute silver with a blue led does not mean you have #1.

you are getting the first silver Raptor but not #8001.
HA HA HA!!! ROTFL!!!!

Actually it will have a different prefix and but then it will be #001!

It is an all new designed chassis! (with some trose49 thrown in for good measure)

Until the pictures thats all I can say! LOL!
post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by trose49 View Post
HA HA HA!!! ROTFL!!!!

Actually it will have a different prefix then #001!

It is an all new designed chassis! (with some trose49 thrown in for good measure)
Mr.Rose I like you, really..

but your stepping on my Bruno's man and I don't like it to much..
post #11 of 48
Thread Starter 
Hey folks, I meant to ask......why is my amp so much louder when I use my CD player as opposed to my iMod. Does the iMod have a much lower output level?
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhd812 View Post
Mr.Rose I like you, really..

but your stepping on my Bruno's man and I don't like it to much..
You will always be the TRUE #1 BILLY!!!!
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
Hey folks, I meant to ask......why is my amp so much louder when I use my CD player as opposed to my iMod. Does the iMod have a much lower output level?
Yes!

I use a program called ivolume for the MAC and set my DB level at 96db.

It uses soundcheck in itunes and does NOT change your file in anyway. It simply adjust the volume control thru soundcheck so that the level of all your music is a similar baseline.

This way tracks don't sound so different volume-wise from CD to CD!

I find that 96DB doesnt really raise the loud tracks at all but brings the softer recorded music up to the same level.

In essence your just boosting the output level of the imod a smidge!
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
Hey folks, I meant to ask......why is my amp so much louder when I use my CD player as opposed to my iMod. Does the iMod have a much lower output level?
I think its usual for a portable to have a lower line out then a home source. some volume difference also from single end to balanced. my ipod (classic 160) is lower then my cdp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trose49 View Post
You will always be the TRUE #1 BILLY!!!!

(i cant wait to see the pics...)
post #15 of 48
THIS JUST IN!

NEW SILVER RAPTOR SHIPS TOMORROW!

no back to your regular scheduled program!
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