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REVIEW: RedWineAudio Isabella tube Preamp/DAC/Headphone amp - Page 6

post #76 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
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.
Agree. Here's a quote from Srajan's review...

"For guts, fleshiness and wallop -- in short, the illusion that the ghostly phantom images in your sound room have bodies and arteries with flowing blood -- the Isabella delivers more than class leaders at twice
her price." Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com


The review was with stock tubes. I'm running a set of NOS Amperex that put even more flesh on vocals and instruments. With Omega's latest Alnico single drivers & Deep Hemp sub, the tone / overtones on my system area about as real as I've heard, even considering systems costing many, many times more money.

Kent
post #77 of 90
How much is the Dac and how much the headamp circuit? I am in the process of breaking in a new Audio Note CD3.1x/II that has an AN Dac 1.1x/II Sig in it. It's taking a long time, but I am surprised by how detailed it is. I thought that was the strong suit of oversamplers.
post #78 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frihed89 View Post
How much is the Dac and how much the headamp circuit? I am in the process of breaking in a new Audio Note CD3.1x/II that has an AN Dac 1.1x/II Sig in it. It's taking a long time, but I am surprised by how detailed it is. I thought that was the strong suit of oversamplers.
Prior to getting the Isabella (tube linestage w/ optional DAC & headamp output) I had a Wadia 830 with factory P upgrade. Wadia up samples like crazy.

RWA's Isabellina DAC does not upsample. It's battery operation, with new old stock, non over sampling dac (that's NOS NOS).

My listening room at home is very sensitive. Lots of GIK bass traps, really detailed Alnico single driver speakers, and near-field listening position.

I ran the Isabella with built in Isabellina (DAC) against my Wadia for several nights before deciding to sell the Wadia.

The Isabella with coax or optical digital signal was pretty much on par with the Wadia for detail, soundstage, images. But the RWA was considerably warmer and did better in terms of creating a holographic image and natural tone for voices / instruments (sounds like more flesh on everything).

After selling the Wadia, I bought a Macbook, which can be run via optical or USB. USB actually sounds better because there is no need to go through the S/PDIF conversion (normally required by digital signals). IMO, USB is about a 10% improvement in a critical listening environment. Like a light veil is removed between me and the performance.

Now for cost. It depends on the configuration....

Option 1 (assuming headphones): Isabellina DAC $2,500. Amphora headamp (this uses Isabella's optional headamp board) -- $1,000. Total = $3,500.

Option 2 (assuming headphones, plus you would have a top-notch tube-based linestage for headphone and 2ch listening): Isabella with built in Isabellina DAC and optional headamp output -- $6,000.

Note: You can upgrade the Isabellina to an Isabella with built in DAC, and get 100% trade credit. So there's a good upgrade path. Link to the press release: Red Wine Audio

DISCLOSURE: I've been a long-time RWA customer. I was first to purchase the Sig 30 to drive K1000s. A couple weeks ago, Vinnie hired me on a contract (hourly) basis to help write marketing materials. This press release is the first thing we've done together. Over time there will be more marketing materials with my fingerprints on them
post #79 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post
I ran the Isabella with built in Isabellina (DAC) against my Wadia for several nights before deciding to sell the Wadia.
Clarification: The Wadia was used as a standalone CDP, including its internal upsample DAC, connected to Isabella via Oritek X-2 ICs (a very natural IC that ran me about $550). So my Wadia config at retail ran about $4,500.

So the comparison was issolated to the Wadia as source, against digital bits running into the RWA DAC, both using Isabella as the line stage. For the test, I used a $300 Panasonic BD-30 DVD / BluRay player and $20 Best Buy digital cable to stream digital to RWA's DAC.

Now I'm using a Macbook with the USB cable provided by RWA audio. Like I said before, USB is as good as it gets.
post #80 of 90
Damn. Too bad the pinnacle of sound cost an arm and a leg. 6,000 would be justifiably if it kills any though of me wanting to upgrade.
post #81 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
Damn. Too bad the pinnacle of sound cost an arm and a leg. 6,000 would be justifiably if it kills any though of me wanting to upgrade.
Its price tag is quite steep, I agree.
But then again its high quality pre-amplifier, DAC and headphone amplifier in one unit. Buying comparable components separately would not come cheap either.
post #82 of 90
Thread Starter 
And all of those functions are very good, too.
post #83 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
And all of those functions are very good, too.
For anyone who wishes they had a top-notch source, the unit can be cost justified largely on the comparative cost of a good CDP or vinyl rig (yes, it has enough body and warmth to be compared to good vinyl). Kent
post #84 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore View Post
Agree. Here's a quote from Srajan's review...

"For guts, fleshiness and wallop -- in short, the illusion that the ghostly phantom images in your sound room have bodies and arteries with flowing blood -- the Isabella delivers more than class leaders at twice
her price." Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com


The review was with stock tubes. I'm running a set of NOS Amperex that put even more flesh on vocals and instruments. With Omega's latest Alnico single drivers & Deep Hemp sub, the tone / overtones on my system area about as real as I've heard, even considering systems costing many, many times more money.

Kent
That is the same tubes I am using in mine. I would like there to be more treble extension though. It seems just a tad recessed, but on the plus side I don't get any listening fatigue with this setup. I don't have the headphone jack with mine though. It functions as an preamp/DAC for my main system.
post #85 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kclone View Post
That is the same tubes I am using in mine. I would like there to be more treble extension though. It seems just a tad recessed, but on the plus side I don't get any listening fatigue with this setup. I don't have the headphone jack with mine though. It functions as an preamp/DAC for my main system.
You may want to check with Vinnie to see if there is a tube he recommends with more emphasis on the high end???

What source? I also don't know the Grover ICs. I tried Oritek X-2 and Hudson Audio 8-wire silver ICs for mine. Sold the Hudson because they were a tad bright (also not as natural in the overall presentation). Finding the Oritek and Alnico Hemps do very well in my system.

One last point: Have you tried lossless through the USB inputs? Doing so eliminates signal conversion to S/PDIF. USB is the best sounding source for an external DAC (at least with RWAs implementation).
post #86 of 90
All,

There is a new thread on the ALO forum regarding coming out with an Isabellina dac with headphone output (aiming to sell for approx. half of the Isabella with dac and headphone output - but with fewer features):

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f70/is...ne-amp-424544/

Thanks for your feedback!

Vinnie
post #87 of 90

Does RWA products have little hum at headphones output - like for example Leben is used to have?

post #88 of 90
Thread Starter 
Not in any of the RWA products I have ever heard.
post #89 of 90

Thank You Skylab,

I'm seriously thinking about Callabria or Signature 16. These got same headphone amplifier stage, but with this extra $ I have an amp for my Totem Mite speakers... 

post #90 of 90

Synthax you should read my review of the Sig 16...I'm a pretty big fan! It's a hell of an amp, very versatile :)

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