or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › REVIEW: RedWineAudio Isabella tube Preamp/DAC/Headphone amp
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

REVIEW: RedWineAudio Isabella tube Preamp/DAC/Headphone amp - Page 5

post #61 of 90
All,

From the Tone Audio review:

Quote:
You will freak out over the quality of what lurks in the Isabella for a mere $500 upgrade. I’ve heard a lot of the best and most expensive headphone amplifiers now, and I’d put this one right at the top of the list, regardless of price!" - Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio
Skylab also hit the nail on the head in his last post:

Quote:
the $500 headphone optional board uses the same tube input stage, power supply, chassis - so in a stand alone $500 amp you'd have to allocate parts cost to those things - in the RWA Isabella, the $500 headphone options focuses only on the headphone circuitry.
The headphone output still uses the Isabella tube stage, Isabellina dac (if you go with this option) battery power supply and SMART module, enclosure, etc. - and I did not want adding the headphone output option to break the bank, as the Isabella is already not inexpensive. However, I'm very confident that you will find its performance justifies the cost! We offer a 30-refund policy as well, so you will be the judge.

Quote:
Overall I like the approach, because it's a one stop shop and seemingly a perfect segue into my next venture: speakers, while retaining my current hobby: headphones.
Hi Snacks - yes, that is the beauty of it!

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. For the quickest response, it is best to email me (vinnie@redwineaudio.com).

Best regards,

Vinnie
post #62 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
FWIW, that was NOT my impression. I felt the headphone preformance was stellar, not "on par with $500 peers". That isn't the right way to look at it, anyway - the $500 headphone optional board uses the same tube input stage, power supply, chassis - so in a stand alone $500 amp you'd have to allocate parts cost to those things - in the RWA Isabella, the $500 headphone options focuses only on the headphone circuitry.
I didn't understand this part of 6moons review as well. I kind of felt like 6moons either missed the boat or poorly worded this part of the review. Not sure why a $500 portable amp would be compared to the Isabella.

In your opinion, if using the Isabella as strictly a headphone amp, do you feel this would be a smart investment over other headphone amps in the same price class?
post #63 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx2006 View Post
In your opinion, if using the Isabella as strictly a headphone amp, do you feel this would be a smart investment over other headphone amps in the same price class?
That is a tough question to answer, for two reasons - one, the Isabella is expensive because it contains an outstanding DAC and is a pre-amp, and two, I have really not heard a lot of $5000 headphone amps. I have heard the Ray Samuels B-52, which is in the same price class, and yes, I felt the Isabella was very competitive there.
post #64 of 90
Removal of the DAC lowers the price by $1,500. On the otherhand, the DAC is very analog sounding, so worth considering if you could use a good DAC.
post #65 of 90
So, what are we expecting from the upcoming Isabellina headphone amp without the DAC that RWA and ALO are working on? Without all the ancillary support electronics and tubes and upgraded sound via the DAC, will the HP amp still hold up as well?
post #66 of 90
Thread Starter 
I will be getting one to review when they become available, so I aim to find out
post #67 of 90
I just found this review and wanted to give a late thanks Skylab. It is always a treat to read your excellent reviews, and then listen to your music selections afterwards and try to imagine what it must sound like.
post #68 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
That is a tough question to answer, for two reasons - one, the Isabella is expensive because it contains an outstanding DAC and is a pre-amp, and two, I have really not heard a lot of $5000 headphone amps. I have heard the Ray Samuels B-52, which is in the same price class, and yes, I felt the Isabella was very competitive there.
Thanks Skylab.

I think it is safe to say we will all be looking forward to your review on the upcoming RWA/ALO amp.
post #69 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
So, what are we expecting from the upcoming Isabellina headphone amp without the DAC that RWA and ALO are working on? Without all the ancillary support electronics and tubes and upgraded sound via the DAC, will the HP amp still hold up as well?
I had model number 000 / 100 for a couple days (i.e. the preproduction unit). I also have an Isabella with DAC / headphone output. Assuming the same source (Isabella line out to Amphora), I could not detect a difference in Amphora vs Isabella headphone out.

Now Drew from Moon listened to both and felt the Isabella sounded smoother. He designs cables, so his hearing may be more critical than my own. But based on my personal experience, I think people with be hard pressed to hear a difference (...they are after all both battery operated and use the same headphone board).

I also tried the Amphora with ALO ICs straight from an OLD and cheap Sony DVD player. The sound was very good, even with a lightweight source.

Kent
post #70 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post
I had model number 000 / 100 for a couple days (i.e. the preproduction unit). I also have an Isabella with DAC / headphone output. Assuming the same source (Isabella line out to Amphora), I could not detect a difference in Amphora vs Isabella headphone out.

Now Drew from Moon listened to both and felt the Isabella sounded smoother. He designs cables, so his hearing may be more critical than my own. But based on my personal experience, I think people with be hard pressed to hear a difference (...they are after all both battery operated and use the same headphone board).

I also tried the Amphora with ALO ICs straight from an OLD and cheap Sony DVD player. The sound was very good, even with a lightweight source.

Kent
If your ears are correct, people looking for just a headphone listening station without a preamp, might want to settle on the Isabellina + Amphora. A $2500 savings is never a bad thing.
post #71 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx2006 View Post
If your ears are correct, people looking for just a headphone listening station without a preamp, might want to settle on the Isabellina + Amphora. A $2500 savings is never a bad thing.
I would agree that dollar-for-dollar, most headphone users would do great with that combination.

My comparisons were limited to:

1.) Amphora + cheap Sony DVD playing CDs (surprisingly good for the money -- but the Sony DVD DAC does not compete at the same level of an Isabellina).

2.) Fully-loaded Isabella using ALO ICs to Amphora, sourced by Apple Macbook playing lossless files. In this config the Amphora got the advantage of BOTH the Isabellina DAC and Isabella tube-linestage.

On the otherhand, if you move to properly setup highly resolving 2ch speakers, the Isabella tube linestage opens new doors in terms of tone and sense of holographic soundstage.

Improvements imparted by the line stage are likely easier to detect on good speakers vs good headphones. [I have alnico single drivers with deep hemp sub, in an acoustically treated room, and near field listening position. So for me, the Isabella brought my system into a sonic stratosphere normally associated with systems costing much, much more. The sound is spooky real – like amongst the best I’ve heard, regardless of price.]

Kent
post #72 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post

2.) Fully-loaded Isabella using ALO ICs to Amphora, sourced by Apple Macbook playing lossless files. In this config the Amphora got the advantage of BOTH the Isabellina DAC and Isabella tube-linestage.


Kent
Good point on the Isabella tube-linestage. I bet that will make a big difference in sound if you think about it.
post #73 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx2006 View Post
Good point on the Isabella tube-linestage. I bet that will make a big difference in sound if you think about it.
I didn't try to isolate the difference on headphones.
post #74 of 90
Suburb review.

Just one question:

When does "transparent" become so neutral and so quiet that it becomes "sterile"? Some products cross over the line between transparency and sterility and, for me at least, this is not a good thing. For some of us, too much transparency, neutrality and detail -together-can rob music of its emotion so that our connection to the music becomes purely "technical".
post #75 of 90
Thread Starter 
Hi Mac:

Very good question. I think this is part of what makes the Isabella special - it is highly transparent but it not at ALL sterile. I know you and I agree that the music needs some degree of warmth to seem real - and the Isabella does indeed deliver that.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › REVIEW: RedWineAudio Isabella tube Preamp/DAC/Headphone amp