Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Shootout: Lake People G99/2 vs. Meier-Audio Corda Opera
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Shootout: Lake People G99/2 vs. Meier-Audio Corda Opera

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This time I’ve borrowed an amplifier made by a company that I’ve never heard about; Lake People.
They’re a German company, and make sound-equipment for the professional market.

The amplifier is the G99/2 (exciting name?), and got nice specs.
Here’s Lake People’s official webpage for the G99/2:

I was quite curious how it would compare to my own Meier-Audio Corda Opera, so here’s a short shootout.



Equipment used:
Sources:
-PC with a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic (optical/Coax cable to DAC/Opera).
-Foobar 0.9.4.2 with ASIO 1.2.4 (I also tried without ASIO).

Amplifiers:
-Lake People G99/2 ($500).
-Meier-Audio Corda Opera with DAC ($1100+)

Cables:
-Cardas 300-B Micro interconnects.
-Headphone cables are all stock.

Headphones:
-Beyerdynamic DT990-32 (Beyer Manufacture custom)
-Beyerdynamic DT770-250 Pro+Light Edition 2005 (Limited Edition)
-Beyerdynamic DT770 – Luke Skybeyer (Woodied 2005 Edition)
-Audio-Technica ATH-W1000

All headphones are well-used, so there shouldn’t be any issues regarding burn-in.
The same goes for both amps, they’ve got 300-500 hours of use.

Music used:

Mostly WAVs and MP3s (ÜberStandard), but also a DVD-Audio (“Imaginary Day” by Pat Metheny)

Some of the artists:
-Mark Knopfler (generally fantastic quality recordings, especially voices and guitars)
-Ani DiFranco (raw, non-compressed recordings with great percussive guitarplaying)
-Opeth
-Massive Attack (huge soundscapes with lots happening, and great bass)
-Rage Against the Machine (amazing raw energy)
-Faithless
-Pink Floyd (what’s there to say?)
-Dream Theater (things can get quite fast and busy here)
-Patricia Barber (very good jazz)
-Steve Vai (well-recorded guitar weirdness)
-Joe Satriani (very well-recorded rhythm sections)
-Niacin (oh so funky)


Some words on the testing procedure
For this test, I used the internal DAC of the Opera, which is then connected to the G99/2. This makes it fast and easy to switch between the two amps, using the same source.

Crossfeed was not used.
The low gain and zero ohm output of the Opera were used.


Construction
Lake People G99/2:
Well, at first glance it is a small, fairly boring looking box. Apparently the pro-market don’t need good-looking designs. They don’t even put up real pictures on their website, only computer drawings. Not very impressive.
When you pick up the amp, things change. It’s a solid little thing, with a case made entirely of quite thick steel, which apparently is good for shielding. The volume pot is a nice, smooth Alps, and the two headphone sockets are Neutriks. The back got both XLR (balanced) and regular RCA (unbalanced) inputs. There’s a single blue on/off diode on the front.

The inside looks tidy and...effective. I barely know the difference between a transformer and an opamp, so someone else should determine whether it’s quality parts or not. :-)

The G99/2 gets quite warm after a few minutes of use. Not so hot that you can’t touch it, but it’s surprisingly warm. Much warmer than the Opera.

Meier Corda Opera: Much has been said already, so do a search.
I only want to say that it looks way better in real life. Also, I would have wanted the switch for USB/Internal DAC to be located on the front. Oh, and the relay-clicking can be annoying sometimes.


Detailed comparison using different headphones
The highs: There aren’t many differences here in the upper frequencies, but I detect slightly more air, space and details in the Corda Opera. Both amps are very smooth and pleasant, no sharp, piercing sounds here (unless the recording is really bad). Cymbals are a tad better on the Opera (now I’m nitpicking).

The midrange: The Opera got more details in the midrange, and it also got better control on things, especially when it gets busy. The G99/2 is slightly darker, but not bad at all. Using the Opera, Mark Knopfler’s voice comes through more freely. Kind of hard to explain.
Even with the added details, the Opera manages to sound warmer and smoother. Pretty impressive.
There is more space in the Opera (no pun intended). More space between instruments and sounds.
But I must say that the differences are very minor, the amps are surprisingly evenly matched. The G99/2 never gets unpleasant or harsh at any volume.

The bass: First impression is that the G99/2 actually got a little more bass. However, this is mostly because the Opera got better control over the bass. The G99/2 isn’t in any way sloppy, but the Opera is just better, more refined you might say. Both produce nice, hard punching bass drums.
Again, the Opera got slightly more details and texture, especially in the really low frequencies.


Final conclusion

After being disappointed by the bland looks of the Lake People G99/2, the sound was a really positive surprise. It didn’t have any problems driving any of my headphones. It’s smooth, balanced and non-fatiguing, which makes it a great match for most Beyerdynamics, but maybe not the greatest match for some Sennheisers. I didn’t have any Senns to test with, so I might be wrong.

The G99/2 is all business, as Lake People clearly haven’t spent much money on fancy design, but that’s ok. If the amplifier sounds really good, looks don’t matter to me.

The Corda Opera is a better amplifier, a real class act, no doubt about that, but I must say that the G99/2 was pretty close. At €350 ($500) I feel that the G99/2 is priced about right when compared to the Opera, which is worth the extra cash if you got a really good setup otherwise.

So I won’t sell my Opera for the Lake People G99/2, but I wouldn’t have any problems living with it as my only amp.

It’s recommended by me. :-)

----------------------------

post #2 of 15
Interesting little amp. Strange that they have balanced inputs but only SE outs. Nice that it has two headphone jacks.
post #3 of 15
I auditioned Lake People several times with several sources and headphones of different grade. What I can say is that G99/2's little brother - G93 is also interesting and better for some headphones like Beyerdynamic DT990 because G93 is warmer and colored on midrange, however less transparent and detailed. It's second drawback is no unbalanced input. You need preparing an adapter or interconnect to plug into XLR connectors.
However, G99/2 is in overall better than G93, save Ultrasone Proline 2500's and DT990 Pro's.
I also agree that you have some field to modify the G99/2's sound by rolling the op-amps, not exactly the TL072 being still great sounding in spite of its design age.
post #4 of 15
i'm a former audio mastering engineer and i must say that
the lake people headphone amp is a very good product.
I'm using the balanced out of my esi juli@ soundcard into the balanced
input of the g99 and the sound quality is very good
also my with akg 701 on

cheers
post #5 of 15
I just ordered a G99/2 based on the praise this amp got in german forums. A lot of german headphone users actually prefer it to jan meiers opera.

As to the question of balanced in, unbalanced out: This is targeted to pro use, where balanced I/O is more common than unbalanced. While this is true for interconnects, balanced headphone connections to my knowledge are not used at all in the pro area.
post #6 of 15
yes you're right.this a product for the pro audio world.
it must be very analitic and flat in frequency response.
pro audio engineers(especially mastering engineers) tend
to use products that have a flat response and have
the capality of revealing faults in the source.
audiophiles people are usually looking for something
more forgiving in sound.
After 3 days of intense test with different kinds of music
i can say that the g99/2 is dead silent and has a very neutral
response.All i was looking for my little mastering works.
Use if you can the balanced input.
Very recommended!!

cheers
post #7 of 15
Received it today. I got the flu, so don't expect a description of the sound yet. What I can say is that the finish is not high-end but rugged. all stainless steel, solid knob, solid interconnects.

The amp runs pretty hot, which points to near class a or class a operation.

Also there is absolutely no hum or his even at the highest volume (which would destroy or seriously impair my hearing).

Given the flu it sounds pretty nice with mit Denon D2000 (better control of bass) and matches nicely with my DT880. I will audition the K701 later - the 99/2 has been recommended especially to drive the AKG.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jherbert View Post
As to the question of balanced in, unbalanced out: This is targeted to pro use, where balanced I/O is more common than unbalanced. While this is true for interconnects, balanced headphone connections to my knowledge are not used at all in the pro area.
it might be targeting the pro-audio community with the balanced input, but it would've been nice to have balanced output as well.

if you already have balanced input at the back of the amp, what effort would it take to output the signal balanced too?
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundfreq View Post
if you already have balanced input at the back of the amp, what effort would it take to output the signal balanced too?
They have a balanced to unbalanced stage and go unbalanced from there. Having it all balanced would mean more than doubling the efforts.

The only reason for the balanced in is connectivity with pro equipment that uses balanced out.

In addition ALL commercialy available dynamic headphones are of the unbalanced kind. They target this market, not the market for modded phones. There are some balanced amps available for this market, but they com at a price.
post #10 of 15

Clear and quick

Clear and quick Lake People G99/2 works very well (somehow compensating slightly ''dark'' tonal misbalance) with my Denon 5000 and Sennheiser 650, it also works OK with my AKG 701 (result is maybe little ''bright'' tonal balance or too demanding for attention for someone). To use Lake People G99/2 with my Shure 500 I need to regulate earphones own volume little down (regulating only amplifier output doesn't help), without doing this I get strong audible hum-noise-distortion.
post #11 of 15
Remove grounding from your power cord and see if you still experience the hum. Check the screen/ground continuity of your interconnect as well.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
For this test, I used the internal DAC of the Opera, which is then connected to the G99/2. This makes it fast and easy to switch between the two amps, using the same source.


The testing procedure made the whole test meaningless. Because Opera does not have a line-out, it means G99/2 was connected to Opera through its preamp-out. It's not good to have two pre-amps in the chain.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ironmine View Post

The testing procedure made the whole test meaningless. Because Opera does not have a line-out, it means G99/2 was connected to Opera through its preamp-out. It's not good to have two pre-amps in the chain.


Well, I thought so too, so afterwards I tried connecting both the G99/2 and the Opera to a Lite DAC60 I use for my stereo setup.

The DAC60 is slightly better than the Operas DAC.

 

Using this setup, I still heard the same differences between the two amps, so my conclusion would've been exactly the same.

 

I had originally included this info in the review, but took it out to keep it short and avoid confusion.

Probably should have included it anyway. :-)

 

 

post #14 of 15

Anyway, Opera is a good piece of gear. Yesterday I had a chance to compare:

 

1) PC > USB > Opera > Monarchy Audio SM-70 Pro (2 monoblocks) > Acoustic Energy Aegis Evo 3

 

and

 

2) PC > USB > April Music Stello DA10 > April Music Stello HP100 > Monarchy Audio SM-70 Pro (2 monoblocks) > Acoustic Energy Aegis Evo 3

 

Opera presented the sound which was more dense and upfront in the mids. The voice got through more easily through the mix when Opera was in the chain.. The highs were duller though. I was not able to judge the effect upon the soundstage depth or width, because I was not in the sweetspot.

post #15 of 15

After replacing (by warranty) SHURE PTH 500 with newer 530 model, this strange noise phenomenon disapeared (so, if SHURE did'nt changed basically anything in new model, compared to old model, then maybe it was just somehow faulty pair of my earphones)

 

[majkel wrote:"Remove grounding from your power cord and see if you still experience the hum. Check the screen/ground continuity of your interconnect as well."]


Edited by dharma - 10/24/10 at 2:00pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Shootout: Lake People G99/2 vs. Meier-Audio Corda Opera