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Ergo AMT/Amp2 Review

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Woo-hoo! The Ergo AMT and Amp2 showed up to my doorstep on Friday. I wasn't expecting them anytime soon, as they hadn't shipped from Europe to the distributor until Tuesday. I got a knock on the door in the mid morning; I peeked through the keyhole and saw a guy holding a big box. Without a second of hesitation, I opened the door. "Sorry about being in my underwear... I didn't want you to run off." "Um, yeah, you just wanna sign it?"

Once the traumatized delivery guy had left, I rushed to my bedroom and opened the box. Inside were the ugliest headphones I have ever seen. Nothing can compare to the lack of coolness factor that these headphones display; no person in their right mind would be caught dead with these on. This is literally "Birth Control in a Box." Sweet.

The Amp2 didn't exactly inspire confidence based on its looks. The power cord looked like it was ripped off of a discarded lamp from Wal-Mart. The rest of it looked like a basic two-bit, made in China amp. Ergo seems to be decidedly against making something that looks good.

After connecting everything, I fired them up. My first thought was "Damn, these are loud!" My second thought was "Man, that midrange is distorting something fierce!" I assumed that I had turned the volume up too loud, but upon looking at it, I saw that it was barely at 9 o'clock. I turned it down to 8 o'clock, and the right channel almost disappeared. I basically had the ability to go from barely there to full blast without anything in between. Something had to be wrong.

Luckily, after reading the manual, I found that you can adjust the volume levels for each channel by inserting a small phillips head screwdriver into the back of the amp and twisting a screw clockwise to lower the volume and counter-clockwise to raise it. It turns out that Ergo had set the volume levels far too high and had also left the channels out of balance... the left channel was at a much higher level. The adjustment screws were tweaky as hell; the slightest turn made a really substantial difference in volume. However, after fiddling with them for about 15 minutes, I was able to get the channels in near perfect balance with plenty of space between levels on the volume knob.

Now that that was fixed, it was time to listen to them. As many people have mentioned, the lack of bass volume could be a problem for some people. It's similar to the HE60 in that it is there, you can hear it extend fairly low, but it's certainly not powerful. However, if you can get past this, you will find something incredible.

The treble on these cans is simply the best I have ever heard. The AMT has an incredible way of allowing the treble to shine without it being overbearing. These cans are somehow bright and smooth at the same time. It's spooky. Midrange is also very, very smooth, with probably the most tonally accurate electric guitar I've ever heard.

And the details... oh, the details. These cans trump even the Omega2 in this department. The old cliche of "Oh my god, I've never heard that part of this album before!" will be thrown about many times when you hear these. There is almost no blending of instruments; you can easily reach out and "grab" an instrument, focus on it, and forget about everything else in the track you're listening to.

And let's not forget what these and their predecessors, the Jecklin Floats, are famous for... the comfort. These are the only headphones I've ever worn that didn't eventually lead to discomfort. Most of the time I'm feeling some pressure on my ears within half an hour, and depending on how bad it is, I'll usually limit my sessions to an hour or two. These cans disappear on your head. They are actually very heavy, but the weight is spread out over so much surface area that you only feel the slightest downward pressure on your head. The drivers themselves don't touch your ears as there is a piece of foam between them and your head; the foam is placed just behind your ears, forcing the drivers away from your head. The foam exerts almost no pressure at all. Sooooo comfortable and sooooo immersive.

Overall, I put these in the same league as the Omega2. The Omega2 sounds ever so slightly better because of it's fuller bass. However, the comfort factor of the AMT more than makes up for this. I'll take a tiny bit of bass loss any day if the end result is being able to lose yourself in the music. As great as the Omega2 sound, I'm always aware that I've got headphones squeezing my ears, and this takes away from the immersion factor. The Omega2 will be my choice for absolutely critical listening, as it has a much more extended frequency range, but from a fun factor, the AMT is the winner.

Highly, highly recommended.
post #2 of 20
noooo! this makes me lust for the AMT again
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
The Amp2 didn't exactly inspire confidence based on its looks. The power cord looked like it was ripped off of a discarded lamp from Wal-Mart. The rest of it looked like a basic two-bit, made in China amp. Ergo seems to be decidedly against making something that looks good.
So long as it doesn't feel as cheap as it looks. From the photos it looks a fairly heavy and solid, heatsinks all over affair. How does it seem to feel physically?

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
...I basically had the ability to go from barely there to full blast without anything in between. Something had to be wrong.

Luckily, after reading the manual, I found that you can adjust the volume levels for each channel by inserting a small phillips head screwdriver into the back of the amp and twisting a screw clockwise to lower the volume and counter-clockwise to raise it. It turns out that Ergo had set the volume levels far too high and had also left the channels out of balance... the left channel was at a much higher level. The adjustment screws were tweaky as hell; the slightest turn made a really substantial difference in volume. However, after fiddling with them for about 15 minutes, I was able to get the channels in near perfect balance with plenty of space between levels on the volume knob.
The Amp1 also has these gain dials. But I'd have expected them to be better set coming off the line. How is the amp dealing with high dynamic range? Has it got power in reserve for those 1812 cannons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
Now that that was fixed, it was time to listen to them. As many people have mentioned, the lack of bass volume could be a problem for some people. It's similar to the HE60 in that it is there, you can hear it extend fairly low, but it's certainly not powerful. However, if you can get past this, you will find something incredible.
The technology of the driver is never going to lend itself to bassheads, one problem is having an amp with enough juice to allow proper control in the bass. The other problem is EQ, which the Amp2 has got built in, helps to keep those high frequencies under control. Running them from a power amp without a notch filter sounds very clean, but the treble can become overbearing. I'd agree with the HE60 parallel once you give them some juice. The HE60 goes down but its got a tight wee diaphragm and the tightness it what lends parts of its low frequency character.

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
The treble on these cans is simply the best I have ever heard. The AMT has an incredible way of allowing the treble to shine without it being overbearing. These cans are somehow bright and smooth at the same time. It's spooky. Midrange is also very, very smooth, with probably the most tonally accurate electric guitar I've ever heard.
Are you a Mike Oldfield fan? Stick on the track Orabidoo from Five Miles Out. See how you like it

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
And the details... oh, the details. These cans trump even the Omega2 in this department. The old cliche of "Oh my god, I've never heard that part of this album before!" will be thrown about many times when you hear these. There is almost no blending of instruments; you can easily reach out and "grab" an instrument, focus on it, and forget about everything else in the track you're listening to.
It's more wow detail with the AMT than the with the O2, but they're both excellent at low level detail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
And let's not forget what these and their predecessors, the Jecklin Floats, are famous for... the comfort. These are the only headphones I've ever worn that didn't eventually lead to discomfort. Most of the time I'm feeling some pressure on my ears within half an hour, and depending on how bad it is, I'll usually limit my sessions to an hour or two. These cans disappear on your head. They are actually very heavy, but the weight is spread out over so much surface area that you only feel the slightest downward pressure on your head. The drivers themselves don't touch your ears as there is a piece of foam between them and your head; the foam is placed just behind your ears, forcing the drivers away from your head. The foam exerts almost no pressure at all. Sooooo comfortable and sooooo immersive.
No sweaty pads is one part of that comfort, getting a headphone that heavy to sit comfortably would be tricky to do with the traditional chassis design I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
Overall, I put these in the same league as the Omega2. The Omega2 sounds ever so slightly better because of it's fuller bass. However, the comfort factor of the AMT more than makes up for this. I'll take a tiny bit of bass loss any day if the end result is being able to lose yourself in the music. As great as the Omega2 sound, I'm always aware that I've got headphones squeezing my ears, and this takes away from the immersion factor. The Omega2 will be my choice for absolutely critical listening, as it has a much more extended frequency range, but from a fun factor, the AMT is the winner.

Highly, highly recommended.
I came to the opposite conclusion with the Amp1 setup, but the AMT can do fun a lot better when its got some decent power behind it, much to do with that better low frequency presence. Still this is something that must be said of the O2 as well. We all know that its also a demanding load on an amp, nothing short of the Blue Hawaii will do of course according to the O2 king. What amp are you using with yours?

Also can we see some pictures pretty please? There're only 1 or 2 high res pics of the amp out there in internetland.


I loved reading your thoughts and I'm really glad that it turns out you do like the headphones. I hope that that doesn't fade.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duggeh View Post
So long as it doesn't feel as cheap as it looks. From the photos it looks a fairly heavy and solid, heatsinks all over affair. How does it seem to feel physically?
Other than the internal volume adjusters, which are of the dreaded plastic screw (and therefor easily stripped) variety, and the el-cheapo lamp cord going into the power box, it seems pretty well made. I'm no electrical engineer, but I am wary of the fact that it is only a two-pronged electrical cord. Every other piece of audio equipment I own is a three-pronger.

Quote:
How is the amp dealing with high dynamic range? Has it got power in reserve for those 1812 cannons?
Yes, in spades! My dynamic range test track is "Glamdring" from "The Two Towers" extended DVD-A soundtrack. It starts out fairly quiet but ends with a huge chorale section. Even the Omega2 struggles a tiny bit with this part, with the different singers just barely showing a tendency to blend into one blast of energy; the AMT shows absolutely no strain at all, with the chorale members staying very distinct. The dynamic range gets an A+.

Quote:
Are you a Mike Oldfield fan?
I'd probably know him if I heard him, but I guess that qualifies as a "no."

Quote:
I came to the opposite conclusion with the Amp1 setup, but the AMT can do fun a lot better when its got some decent power behind it, much to do with that better low frequency presence. Still this is something that must be said of the O2 as well. We all know that its also a demanding load on an amp, nothing short of the Blue Hawaii will do of course according to the O2 king. What amp are you using with yours?
Unfortunately, at this time I don't have one. I had two Rudistor amps and had technical problems with both... it's a long, convoluted story that ended up with me getting my money back. It's a shame, as the amp sounded incredible. I'm thinking about waiting for the new Ray Samuels amp; he told me that it should be out in the next couple of months.

Quote:
Also can we see some pictures pretty please? There're only 1 or 2 high res pics of the amp out there in internetland.
I'll try to get some pics up soon.

Quote:
I loved reading your thoughts and I'm really glad that it turns out you do like the headphones. I hope that that doesn't fade.
I can't see my enthusiasm fading at all. I actually discovered something last night that made them even better... I think I was wearing them a bit too far forward for the first few days, trying to line the foam up with the back of my ears. Yesterday, I moved them back so that the front edge of the headphone is lying right at the rear edge of my temples. The difference was extreme, to say the least. The soundstage exploded to the point that it was almost speaker-like. I've never heard headphones even approach this kind of soundstage; the sound seemed to come from far to the side and in front of me, and was very unlike the left blob-center blob-right blob sound of every other headphone I've listened to.

I really wish more people would look past the ugliness of these cans and try them out. The AMT/Amp2 combo is almost certainly going to be my go-to headphone setup for a long time.
post #5 of 20
Congratulations.
Nice story.
As a former Jecklin Float and HE60 owner (and presently O2/Egmont) I think I have an idea of what you're hearing. Lots of audio bliss for you in the near future for sure!
post #6 of 20
Welcome to the club and have much fun with your ERGO. If I had not my Jecklins I would choose the ERGO.
post #7 of 20
Right after I got the Stax and realized I might enjoy good treble performance even more than ever I have developed incredible lust after the Ergo AMT. Maybe not the place, but I ask here anyway.

1) Are these still being manufactured or what? The Precide.ch website is very... interesting. Should drop an email rather than be asking here, maybe. But this serves as a well-deserved bump.

2) the running prices are about 1000 euros. (Not too bad!) Does this include amplification?

Be the answers positive or negative, I'm not buying in the near future. But heck the sound might something journey-ending for me. Funny actually how I first thought I was a basshead, then a mids-man and now I find myself reaching for the heavenly parts of the spectrum.
post #8 of 20
They're still made, Precide has resellers depending on the country. In the UK as an example, its Sugden Audio. But I'm sure if you wanted to buy direct from Precide it'd be possible. Martin Durrenmatt (the head honcho) answers emails fairly promptly and is a good man happy to answer any questions people have.

If you are thinking of going for them, regard the Amp1 as a stopgap measure, a decent power amp through the filter box sounds overall better. I can't comment on the Amp2 personally. But its designed for the AMT only so it should have exactly the right kind of EQ built in.

When you buy the headphones, they come with the box to connect to a power amp, or at least they used to. Amps are separate.

If you're enjoying the Stax, I would very strongly advise listening to the Omega 2 before jumping on the AMT.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
I actually like the AMT more than the Omega2. The comfort factor lets me forget that the Omega2 sounds a little bit better in the bass region. Other than the bass, I think the AMT is easily as good as the Omega2, and actually sounds better in the treble region. If you're going anti-basshead, I think the AMT is going to please you more.
post #10 of 20
Thanks for quick answers. I'm not disliking bass, not at all, but I just don't feel need for it since I found the Stax presentation being perfectly good and sufficient. But I wouldn't say no to Omega-II bass from what I've read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duggeh View Post
When you buy the headphones, they come with the box to connect to a power amp, or at least they used to. Amps are separate.

If you're enjoying the Stax, I would very strongly advise listening to the Omega 2 before jumping on the AMT.
I'm enjoying the Stax as we (I) speak. Their relaxed sound, in all goodness, is good and effortless, but the lack of treble power probably causes there's no wow factor (I know, not that enduring) or eargasms. There's nothing like nice, crystal clear voices. It's pretty confusing to note the HD650s work better with treble than SR202. Oh well. I believe the Ergo AMT would be a good bet with things combined. The comfort is other issue I've noted with Staxes: warm, sweaty pads compared against not so warm.

And the Omega 2 with fine/sufficient amp costs double the ERGO AMT so it's not easy to go that way.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by progo View Post
And the Omega 2 with fine/sufficient amp costs double the ERGO AMT so it's not easy to go that way.
Absolutely! The cost:benefit ratio is totally in favor of the AMT. Even with the relatively expensive Amp2, you're going to save a lot of money; the Omega2 are hell to run, so you can forget the stock amp. An aftermarket amp is expensive and will probably run you $4-5k unless you can find one used (good luck with that).
post #12 of 20
I just built a filter box as my Ergo AMT came with just the AMP1.
I increased the size of the inductor from 0.18mH to approximately 0.24mH by having one 0.1mH, two 0.05mH, two 0,02mH coils in series, and switches in parallel with each inductor.
With all the inductors in circuit there's plenty of bass. It's on par with my Senn HD650's.
Try the modification.
post #13 of 20

I have had my Ergo AMT now for several month. Initially I had a problem with driver imbalance, got in touch with Martin Durrenmatt and he fixed it for free, they were NOS and still kinda under warranty, but it was debatable, Martin was very nice and honored the warranty even thought he technically did not have to! Great customer service. I think he changed both driver membranes for newest type and surprisingly when they came back they sounded much better than before. More details, much better bass, and also more linear. Also my adapter box is different inside from the pictures that I have see around, the capacitors are huge german oval polypropylene kind, thats some expansive stuff.

 

Anyhow I love how these sound with Pass Aleph 3 and Symphonic Line amp, but they sound even better with my DIY MOSFET / Tube hybrid amp. I feel as far as overall detail retrieval and sound-stage goes these are on par with my O2. O2 has better micro detail and bass goes lower and hits harder, but AMT bass quality is on par with LNS or SR-303, not bad at all and a big change from what I heard when I first bought them. I highly recommend these headphones as well to folks who enjoyed any of the floats or Stax Sigma. I have seen a few pairs go for cheap on that action site, they are so worth!

 

earwicker7, I took a fragment of your review and included it on Wikiphonia Ergo AMT article, I hope you don't mind.


Edited by Faust2D - 5/15/10 at 3:03pm
post #14 of 20

Faust 2D posted:-

 

Quote:
The capacitors are huge german oval polypropylene kind, thats some expansive stuff.

That's a good change.

The original caps were German Elko electrolytics with a 20% tolerance.

I used 5% Solen polypropylenes.

 

The AMP1 is a let-down.


Edited by wink - 5/17/10 at 11:16am
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by wink View Post

I just built a filter box as my Ergo AMT came with just the AMP1.
I increased the size of the inductor from 0.18mH to approximately 0.24mH by having one 0.1mH, two 0.05mH, two 0,02mH coils in series, and switches in parallel with each inductor.
With all the inductors in circuit there's plenty of bass. It's on par with my Senn HD650's.
Try the modification.


What is the exact schematic of the filter that you made? Is it the same as of the original box?

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