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REVIEW: RedWineAudio Isabella tube Preamp/DAC/Headphone amp - Page 3

post #31 of 90
I really love the look of this product!
BTW
Does by using battery, I can even use it with out line conditioner and still get the same results?
post #32 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadLover View Post
I really love the look of this product!
BTW
Does by using battery, I can even use it with out line conditioner and still get the same results?
Hi HeadLover,

Forget line-conditioners and power cords and all that - run the Isabella on its internal high-current SLA battery power and you'll be completely "off-the-grid."

Red Wine Audio Why SLA Battery Power?

When you are running from the SLA batteries, the battery charger is NOT in the circuit - you can even unplug it and the Isabella is portable (although not very small like a Hornet or Pico). The Isabella will play for 6 to 8 hours continuously on its internal SLA batteries.

Also, all of the digital inputs (optical, coax, and USB) to the dac are isolated from the source. We do not even use the 5V from the USB bus (the 5V USB bus from the computer is very noisy because computer power supplies are not clean) - we use our own regulated 5V from the battery power supply to feed the USB receiver chip. This is why when you have the Isabella plugged into your computer via USB, you need to turn ON the Isabella for the computer to "see" it.

Ok - I need to hit to road to Philly to visit family for the weekend. My email access will be limited, but I'll be back on Sunday.

Have a good weekend,

Vinnie
post #33 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post
Hi Gazza,

I have put this (a smaller, less expensive dedicated headphone amp) on the back burner for a while because we have become so busy with the Isabella, Isabellina dac and we are also working on a battery powered, tube phonostage.

When you are ready to buy a new headphone amp, feel free to email me and check in to see if we having anything in the works by then - but again, we've been so busy with our home audio market (and the Isabella with built-in headphone output) to work on this right now...

Best regards,

Vinnie
Thanks for your reply, Vinnie.

When I'm looking to pulling the trigger on an amp I'll drop you a line and see how things are faring.
post #34 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post
Hi HeadLover,

Forget line-conditioners and power cords and all that - run the Isabella on its internal high-current SLA battery power and you'll be completely "off-the-grid."

Red Wine Audio Why SLA Battery Power?

When you are running from the SLA batteries, the battery charger is NOT in the circuit - you can even unplug it and the Isabella is portable (although not very small like a Hornet or Pico). The Isabella will play for 6 to 8 hours continuously on its internal SLA batteries.

Also, all of the digital inputs (optical, coax, and USB) to the dac are isolated from the source. We do not even use the 5V from the USB bus (the 5V USB bus from the computer is very noisy because computer power supplies are not clean) - we use our own regulated 5V from the battery power supply to feed the USB receiver chip. This is why when you have the Isabella plugged into your computer via USB, you need to turn ON the Isabella for the computer to "see" it.

Ok - I need to hit to road to Philly to visit family for the weekend. My email access will be limited, but I'll be back on Sunday.

Have a good weekend,

Vinnie
So
Can you "loan" me a 6000$, I need to buy something called Isabella

Thanks for the nice reply !
post #35 of 90
I recently sold my K1000s to help fund the purchase of an Isabella.

In burn-in, with two days in my main system. Running mine with Amperex USN-CEP (military grade), gold pins, 7308 tubes, with Omega Deep Hemps.

Prior to this recent purchase, I was running RWA Signature 30.2 straight from my Wadia 830 CDP with upgraded power supply, a couple hundred dollar power cord and nearly $300 Hudson interconnect (close to $4K at retail).

Now I'm running a modest priced Panasonic BluRay player for transport, with a Monster Optical digital interconnect into the Isabella driving the RWA 30.2.

The improvement is uncanny! While I intend to look for a better source (maybe Macbook, based on Vinnie's recommendation), the Isabella will likely mean the end of a long and enjoyable relationship with my Wadia.

Once I have a few more hours, I intend to start a blog on AudioCircle, where I can make direct comparisons of the various configurations made possible by this all-in-one unit.

I also plan to bring the Isabella to the Charlotte Head-fi meet early next year.

Vinnie is truly an amazing designer -- and his off-the-grid approach really works.
post #36 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post
I recently sold my K1000s to help fund the purchase of an Isabella.

In burn-in, with two days in my main system. Running mine with Amperex USN-CEP (military grade), gold pins, 7308 tubes, with Omega Deep Hemps.

Prior to this recent purchase, I was running RWA Signature 30.2 straight from my Wadia 830 CDP with upgraded power supply, a couple hundred dollar power cord and nearly $300 Hudson interconnect (close to $4K at retail).

Now I'm running a modest priced Panasonic BluRay player for transport, with a Monster Optical digital interconnect into the Isabella driving the RWA 30.2.

The improvement is uncanny! While I intend to look for a better source (maybe Macbook, based on Vinnie's recommendation), the Isabella will likely mean the end of a long and enjoyable relationship with my Wadia.

Once I have a few more hours, I intend to start a blog on AudioCircle, where I can make direct comparisons of the various configurations made possible by this all-in-one unit.

I also plan to bring the Isabella to the Charlotte Head-fi meet early next year.

Vinnie is truly an amazing designer -- and his off-the-grid approach really works.
Do you also use it as an headphones amp?
And why do you think that using a PC is better ?

And what did you love so much about it? can you please describe ?
post #37 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadLover View Post
Do you also use it as an headphones amp?
My main focus is my 2ch rig. The headphone output is a $500 option, so I do intend to get my money's worth out of it.

So far I listened to the Isabella for a number of hours with my Ety ER-4Ps. The sound is good considering they're 4Ps. But IMO, the Etys would sound better if I had the 4S conversion cable.

Likely I will end up with a budget phone like AKG 701s for headfi purposes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadLover View Post
And why do you think that using a PC is better ?
Vinnie sayes so. 6 Moon's Srajan, in his upcoming Isabella review, will be using a Macbook as his source. He'll compare the Macbook to some of his well respected CDPs. Obviously selling my Wadia could easily fund a Macbook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadLover View Post
And what did you love so much about it? can you please describe ?
I'll spend more time on this topic once I've had more time on the unit and do more comparisons. But right out of the box, the sound is sooooo smooth and organic (without loss of detail). Instruments and vocals have considerably more texture and body, and the overall presentation is very relaxed and natural.

There's a couple cuts on Dixie Chicks Home that I've always enjoyed. But as good as a commercial recording as it is, there are times where the sound can be cluttered, and other times when there’s a nasty edge in Natalie Maines’ voice. Last night, with the Isabella, it was like hearing a completely different recording. The soundstage was wider, instruments had more room to breath without stepping on each other, her voice had more body -- without loss of detail. Overall it was just more relaxed -- and more enjoyable to listen to.

Vinnie was shooting for a unit that would rival vinyl for warmth and richness. 6Moons will help bring perspective as to how well he's done. But to paraphrase Skylab from his excellent review, this is the best (sound) I have ever had the privilege of having in my home
post #38 of 90
I just wandered over to AudioCircle. Turns out the 6 Moons Isabella review must have just been released. I have not read it yet (it's 5 pages), but Vinnie got his 2nd Blue Moon Award, so it must be very positive!

6 Moons has only given out a handful of Blue Moon Awards over the past few years, so is a big deal. Vinnie's preview on AudioCircle indicates the headphone stage is also reviewed, so should be very interesting reading.

Link: 6moons review of Red Wine Audio Isabella - completed!
post #39 of 90
Quote:
Vinnie sayes so. 6 Moon's Srajan, in his upcoming Isabella review, will be using a Macbook as his source. He'll compare the Macbook to some of his well respected CDPs. Obviously selling my Wadia could easily fund a Macbook.
All,

The 6moons review of the "fully-loaded" Isabella just went live a couple of hours ago. It is a total of 5 pages and starts here:

6moons audio reviews: Red*Wine Audio Isabella

It concludes with the Isabella taking home the "Blue Moon" award, which I am very proud, honored, and thankful for!

As far as comments on using the USB output of the Macbook vs. a dedicated CD Transport, the review mentions it:

Quote:
Magnetic playback via USB sounded more open, immediate and direct than laser retrieval over the Philips top loader. While top digital in many cases has gotten close enough to involve hair splitting during comparisons, this difference was audible enough. I had an unambiguous preference for the MacBook which removed a layer of intermediate hesitation and distance. Some film of betweeniness disappeared which reinserted itself promptly each time I switched Isabella inputs back to S/PDIF. Granted, by the time the massive Esoteric sled entered the picture, I could no longer tell whether I was hearing USB or S/PDIF - but that's $6,000 OEM for the raw transport assembly when ordered in lots of 50.
and...

Quote:
...a $1,100 MacBook and quality USB cable outperformed a Philips CDM-PRO2-fitted machine with ultra-quality digital cable as data extractor. Gone are the days when using a computer implied automatic inferiority to quality digital hifi components. Nowadays the PC -- or Mac in this case -- can come out ahead. Talking cash, a digital transport running the Philips Pro mechanism should set you back at least twice what a suitable laptop-as-server will. Yet dedicated transports with the Pro drive can demand up to $20,000. The lowly computer platform's financial victory can be a lot sweeter still. Now add the savings of a USB vs. top S/PDIF cable. More sugar. Who's your daddy now? If you're new to the hifi game and don't already own a quality CD player, I see no justification or rationale for buying one. Unless you're completely immune to the music-server conveniences that is. Did I already mention that Apple's tiny remote really makes interacting with a laptop on the shelf usually occupied by a CD player exceedingly graceful for us old-fashioned 2-channel dinosaurs?
and...

Quote:
When it comes to his three digital inputs, Vinnie is sanely correct to focus our attention on the USB socket. It's no coincidence that it's 1 on the input selector dial. While you can equal it by preceding the BNC socket with a gawdfully expensive CD transport, I very much doubt you can exceed it. Apple's data extraction, the Apple Lossless codec and Vinnie's USB receiver circuitry are simply too well done. The smart money thus parks all its bets on USB.
Hi Alwayswantmore,

Thanks for your feedback, and glad that you are enjoying your fully-loaded Isabella as well!

Quote:
Vinnie was shooting for a unit that would rival vinyl for warmth and richness. 6Moons will help bring perspective as to how well he's done
This is exactly correct - and once you read the last few paragraphs of the review, you'll find that the reviewer (Srajan Ebaen) believes that we achieved this goal.

The headphone output was also mentioned in the review:

Quote:
To wrap up headphone comments, resolving power and control are very high and the general presentation is laid-back to remain non-fatiguing over extended sessions. Neither pipe 'n' slippers nor adrenaline brigade, I'd characterize this performance focus as relaxed resolution. Subjective lateral soundstaging beyond ear width is very good, wraparound depth good...

If you're a high-power can fan though who loves to crank it, long-term comfort is exceptional precisely because energy distribution is very even and squarely non-forward.
Thanks again,

Vinnie
post #40 of 90
Thread Starter 
Congrats on that review, Vinnie. Nice to see that in general their reviewer agreed with me.

I am willing to concede that there may be a setup issue with Vista that caused me to not think the USB performance in the Isabella was quite the equal of the DAC via coax. I have heard a layer of grain from every USB DAC I have used with my PC, and have assumed that this was inherent to USB DACs. perhaps it's not. This is something I will need to try to hunt down.

But in general, the 6Moons reviewer and I were in pretty full agreement otherwise.
post #41 of 90
Vinnie. Congratulations with another really nice 6Moons review!
The Isabella looks really nice, and since I know the Isabellina and Signature 30.2 quite well I don't question its capabilities at all. Would like to audition one some day.

Sure hope more Head-Fi'er get their eyes open for RWA products. They are indeed top notch..
post #42 of 90
BTW -- if you happen to live close to Denver, RWA is showing at RMAF this weekend. Kent
post #43 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post
BTW -- if you happen to live close to Denver, RWA is showing at RMAF this weekend. Kent
Yeah, those around that area should definitely drop by to check out the RWA products.
I sadly don't...
post #44 of 90
I am a bit confused, say I decided to go with Red Wine only components(with out owning any previous dacs oramps and what not) what parts would I need to get? I am a bit confused with that they have 4 different components...How do they all add up?
post #45 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trubble View Post
I am a bit confused, say I decided to go with Red Wine only components(with out owning any previous dacs oramps and what not) what parts would I need to get? I am a bit confused with that they have 4 different components...How do they all add up?
There is a Isabella pre-amp (with optional DAC and headphone amp) which is all you need for headphone listening. The Isabellina is just the DAC without the pre-amp/headphone amp, which can be used to feed the speaker amps. And then they have either an integrated amp (30.2) or mono-blocks (70.2) that you can feed the Pre-amp into for driving speakers. IF you already have a DAC and want to drive speakers, you can use the 30.2 and you don't need the Isabella, unless you want the headphone amp. Or, you can get the Isabella pre-amp to drive the 30.2 or mono-blocks for speaker listening.
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