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Emmeline SR-71A Blackbird. A review in pictures; Part 2

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
The pictures speak for themselves. Truly a wonderfully laid out and beautifully implemented circuit fit for the Gods. A formal written review will follow, to be posted soon.

01/18/09 - Review
I have decided that it is time for a formal review of the Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline SR-71A Blackbird Dual High Resolution Headphone Amplifier. I have been dying to write this review for quite some time but I have been busy. So here it goes. I am listening to the SR-71A as I write. It's being fed by my 120GB iPod Classic filled with Apple Lossless files via an ALO Cryo SXC 22G LOD, the headhones I am using are the Westone 3's. I am listening to Joe Henderson's fabulous 'Inner Urge' album. The SR-71A sounds fantastic and presents the music in an incredibly true to life manner. It is impossible for me to fathom that the sounds that I am hearing are coming from a portable heapdhone amp. Joe Henderson's sax sounds so smooth, and liquid to my ears. The horn is brought to life by the SR-71A, it's as if the bell of the saxophone is right in front of me, I can hear Henderson working the keys with his fingers, I can even discern him blow as the notes flow effortlessly. The Blackbird conveys McCoy Tyner's piano playing, and the fabulous drums of Elvin Jones so perfect that I find myself constantly tuning into those intruments as they are hypnotizing and mesmorizing. I can hear the sparkle, and tinkle as Tyner strikes the keys, the notes sound so natural, and are reproduced in a way that I have only heard live in person. It's difficult to describe but the sound is organic. I close my eyes and see Tyners fingers working the keys, but I can actually feel him hitting the keys, I can hear and feel the sounds. The drumming of Jones' is so faithfully reproduced it is breathtaking. The Blackbird lets me hear and understand the beauty of jazz drumming like I have never known before. The Emmeline brings the subtle nuances, and all the intricate sounds the drums create to light. The attack of the sticks, brushes, whatever is used to strike the drums, cymbals, hi-hats is so obvious and delicious to my ears. Percussion is a very strong point of the Blackbird, the sound is crisp, and so full, and lush. Bob Cranshaw's bass is tight and very well controlled. I owned the original SR-71 and the SR-71A truly improves on the aspect of bass. There is more quantity, and the quality of the bass is so much more refined. All this sound too is jumping into my ears from a perfectly black background. Listening to music with the SR-71A has become such a pleasure, I am amazed at the performance of this amp. It truly is a gem, and I am so grateful for owning it. It's diminutive size, and light weight, will throw you a serious curve ball. I have owned this amp since it was released, and it still amazes me that sound so huge, and full can come from it. I have decided that as well as portable, this amp will serve me as a home amp as well. I plan on posting another review listening to it with my Sennheiser HD600's, and my home CD player. Overall this amp does everything fantastic. The highs are crisp, sharp, and clean. The mids are liquid and deliciously syrupy sounding, very tubelike. The bass is taut, warm, and tightly controlled, and rationed out in the perfect quantity to my ears. The soundstage is huge, very 3D in all directions. Maybe not as far in all directions as some amps, but we are talking about a small portable here. The soundstage extends very far foward, to the rear, and side to side. It's a serioulsy transparent amp, very refined, and mature sounding. Some might find it boring, but to me it's as honest a presentation of the music that you are going to get, and I find that very attractive in an amp. Zero hiss, velvety black background. The notes materialize out of nothingness. Instrument separation is also very good, you truly get a sense of musician placement on very well recorded sessions. This amp also scales very well, the better the source you feed it, the better the amp will perform. The three position gain switch is also a blessing. This amp truly is a special and well deserved addition to any serious audiophile's collection. I hope that Ray Samuels Audio can muster some more of them up in the future because I believe that an amp this good should not be limited in production. Thank you to RSA, and thank you for reading this review! Happy listening. - WaxMan.
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post #2 of 10
Nice pictures!
post #3 of 10
nice lol I don't even see where the opamps are but supposedly ray does this for a reason?
post #4 of 10
Yeah, nice looking pictures.
Some more text would be nice though.
post #5 of 10
Thanks for the pictures.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyb213 View Post
nice lol I don't even see where the opamps are but supposedly ray does this for a reason?
Ray puts nail polish on the components that look prettier that way. I, for one, think that he has chosen the perfect components to accent with that fetching shade of pink-red. It's purely a coincidence that those components include the opamps and that their identity is less easily discovered. Since the SR-71A sounds so beautiful, I think that the populated PCB should look as beautiful as it sounds - nail polish and all. Where would the Art World be today if Michaelangelo had been stopped by not wanting to cover the (I'm sure lovely) ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with his paints? When archaeologists uncover a SR-71A, they may not have access to sufficient working artifacts of antiquity to power it up and hear it, and its visual beauty may be all that they can measure it by. It IS a thing of beauty. Thanks for the nicely done pics. They too are a thing of beauty and a joy!
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Added the review finally!
post #8 of 10
Nice impressions...
post #9 of 10

I would like to hear more on this because I am a prospective buyer. Any comments after all these months since you posted this??

post #10 of 10

Having bought the SR-71A based largely on this review - I can tell you I am in seventh heaven!

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