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Three-way Review: HeadAmp AE-2 vs RSA Hornet M vs Rockhopper Mini³ - Page 3

post #31 of 53
very off topic, but could I have your opinion on the practical devices and how it compares to others amps? thank you very much
post #32 of 53
Quoting amb:
"I designed it to have two versions (high performance and extended runtime)"

So I am curious as to which version is the 2 gain version. Though to be fair amb did tests on people at your last regional meet and they were pretty hard pressed to tell a difference I think (I could be misrembering). Still as the two versions should have fairly different op amp sets the sound should be different.
post #33 of 53
the gain setting would not indicate which version of the mini^3 it is.

both the high performance version and the extended runtime version provide the option of a setting of gain 2 or 5.
post #34 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gallardo88 View Post
very off topic, but could I have your opinion on the practical devices and how it compares to others amps? thank you very much
Did you read the review I linked in the intro? I don't know what to add beyond that. I'd say it's a tough call between it and the Mini^3. The XM4 can roll op-amps (though I'm sure you can with the Mini^3 too) and has a cool bunch of features. I haven't tested battery life on the Mini^3 yet but maybe I can do that soon. Between the two, it all depends on what you want the most in terms of features and sound.
post #35 of 53
Mini³ has surface-mount opamps soldered directly on the board, and thus it is not a candidate for opamp rolling. I wouldn't recommend changing the opamps anyway, because there aren't many rail-to-rail opamps that would run well at 9V-12V while having a stout amount of output current capability, and also have somewhat reasonable quiescent current comsumption for battery longevity. The default opamps for both editions were, as I said, carefully selected from all the existing available opamps to satisfy all of these requirements, while giving excellent bench performance and great sonics.

One of the reasons why Mini³ took over a year from development to release (with a major redesign in between), aside from solving some technical difficulties with the AD8397, is an exhaustive search for alternatives opamps. I've tested and listened to plenty of combinations and the best result is what I recommend as the defaults.

Trust me, you won't find another combination that would be better in one aspect without sacrificing another.
post #36 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
I originally wanted it to have the 8397 in my build, but my builder has had issues with chips dying and put in the 8066 to get it to me before I went on my recent trip to Hawaii.
I hope you're getting an 8397 in there now...and you should get a new builder.
post #37 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
So I am curious as to which version is the 2 gain version. Though to be fair amb did tests on people at your last regional meet and they were pretty hard pressed to tell a difference I think (I could be misrembering). Still as the two versions should have fairly different op amp sets the sound should be different.
Rockhopper is the high perf only, according to his webpage.

I was able to tell the difference fairly easily, and I recall others were as well. The hard one, which I could not discern was a high perf prototype where the 5.6ohm resistor was outside the feedback loop vs. the production version where it is inside the feedback loop.

FWIW, I actually preferred the sound of the extended runtime version. It seemed to mate better with my DT990s.
post #38 of 53
I really enjoyed the music-centered nature of this review. It helped to go to those tracks and listen to them with my current rig and bring resonance and to your written word. I wish more reviews took this approach since it allows more participation from the reader.
Interesting impressions too.
  • david
post #39 of 53
Asr,

Nice review of some of the most popular portable amps currently available. It does pique my interest in listening to those amps.
post #40 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thanks, wish I could've included more amps though, but that would've also increased requisite listening time.

And an unofficial update - listening to the AE-2 on my work rig for the first time (iAudio X5 lined out, stuffed with 96-256 VBR MP3s, to ATH-ES7) and wow! The increased clarity & articulation is definitely noticeable on even the ES7! Bass is a bit leaner compared to directly from the X5's headphone jack but it's definitely tighter and more controlled. (And I don't like overblown bass anyway, I prefer it this way.) I can hear the wider, more open soundstage on the ES7 too. Great pairing!
post #41 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
Though to be fair amb did tests on people at your last regional meet and they were pretty hard pressed to tell a difference I think (I could be misrembering). Still as the two versions should have fairly different op amp sets the sound should be different.
IIRC... Ti had three different amps at the regional. Production level high-performance, production level extended run-time, and a prototype high-performance.

I could easily tell the difference between the production level high performance and production level extended run-time. But that was with low impedance IEMs. To my ears the extended run time config was more distant sounding and seemed less-able to react to dynamics in certain recordings. These were my impressions listening to them for ~15 minutes, "blind". Ti didn't tell me specifically what was different about each amp.

I didn't spend much time at all with the prototype amp.
post #42 of 53
We all have different ears, cans, sources, expectations on what is good, etc. Therefore it is almost impossible for us to truly come to an agreement on what is good or dare I say best.

I think Asr has done a great job in putting down his opinions, expectations, and conclusions. I had the opportunity of listening to an AE-2 thanks to Asr's loan program. I also bought one of the first AE-1 a couple of years ago.

The AE-2 is built like a tank, has great features w/ the RCA and 1/8" input/passthru and a gain selector switch. It is not one of my top amps, and I personally prefer the sound out of the Mini^3, of which I listened to one built by Rockhopper.
post #43 of 53
Thread Starter 
I just updated the review after burning in the Mini^3 throughout the week.
post #44 of 53

My thoughts...

Didn't want to thread-jack so I've posted my Hornet M vs Mini³ impressions here.

Many thanks to (or should I really be saying curse you ) Asr for this review as it helped pique my curiosity to try the Mini³.
post #45 of 53
So if this is a three-way review, which amp does the bass, the mids, and the treble, ultimately?
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