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post #136 of 202

ALO/ Red Wine Audio Desk Top Headphone Amp (Amphora) W/ PHOTOS

I have had another head-fier's Amphora arrive today, while he is in Iraq serving our country. It is my job to do the burn-in, listen to it, and let some other local head-fiers like Blutarsky, Sherwood and Naamanf listen to it as well. Then it will go on to some Florida head-fiers for more listening and enjoyment.

The Amphora is beautiful, as you can see from the photos.





Music played (lossless): Patricia Barber "Companion", Helge Lien trio "Hello Troll", Shelby Lynn "Just a Little Lovin", Jack Johnson "Sleep Through the Static", Arvo Part "Tabula Rasa", Wayne Gareth Trio "Shock", Portico Quartet "Black and White Sessions", Tsuyoshi Yamamoto "Smooth Jazz Festival", Diana Krall "Live in Paris", John H. Clarke "Acoustik Guitar".

I am currently comparing the Amphora with iMod vs my iMod > ALO Vcap dock with cryo silver x mini IC and silver/silk LOD > burned-in RSA P-51 Mustang (total almost the same price as Amphora without dock). I did some switching out the P-51 amp for Pico, Predator and iBasso D10 with LTC6241HV opamp as well. I also briefly plugged the P-51 mustang into the pre-amp out of the Amphora with a Soloz 12-strand Litz-braid RCA-mini so I could move back and forth between the two amps, with the iMod as the source. So far, with just 3 hours on it I am really digging this amp. I have tried most of my headphones for a little session with the Amphora, and nothing I have sounds bad with it.

At this early point in the game the Amphora still beats the Pvcap/Mustang rig with my woodied recabled D2000. Basically these phones are like a re-cabled D5000 since the cups and cable were the only difference between D2000 and D5000, in reality they sound better than a markl modded D5000 or a stock D7000. The Denon and Amphora were made for each other - end of story.

With Sennheiser HD600 the two rigs are approximately tied, but with the Sennheiser IE8 the Amphora is noticeably better than the Vcaps/Mustang or other amps.

With Grado RS-1 and bowls the Mustang is a little warmer and more pleasant sounding, but the Amphora is not bad at all and really shines when I switch the pads to flats.

With ATH-ESW10JPN the Amphora is a clear winner, being more transparent and neutral, while the Vcaps/Mustang gives them a warmer slant with a slightly edgier sound.

With my Edition 9 the Amphora also sings as well as it does with the D2000, and the Edition 9 that I have been thinking about selling suddenly sound like they are worth keeping. The Amphora is simply cleaner and more transparent with my APS V3 Edition 9 than the Pvcap/Mustang or any of my other portable amps.

With my Westone ES3X IEM the Amphora wins again for most transparent sound. With the music paused or no iMod plugged in I have noticed there is a very very slight low-level hiss on the Amphora with these very sensitive 124dB/mw custom IEM. This hiss is not bad and is about the same low background level as with the Apogee Duet, so it doesn't interfere with the music at all or in any way. NOTE: The volume knob is a joy to use even with highly sensitive IEM.

As I listen to this thing I start to become more attached to it. As a matter of fact, I am already working on selling some stuff to buy one for myself.

EDIT 11:00 PM -- As I spend more time with the Amphora, the hiss with Westone ES3X is a little more noticeable between songs than I initially thought, but it is still not heard during the music playing except between tracks. It does not change or increase with the volume knob or input selection or when no source is plugged in, and also appears on the P-51 or external amp when the amp is connected to the pre-amp out of the Amphora. Normal listening with the Goldpoint volume knob on low gain with ES3X is about 10-11 o'clock = 8-10 clicks up from zero. The hiss is not heard in the music once I get past the first 2 clicks and onto the 3rd click of the Goldpoint. Quiet listening volumes for going to sleep would be above that level at 3-4 clicks on the volume knob. With a Shure volume attenuator I don't have to roll the volume control on the Shure more than about 2-3 mm to make it quiet. With the Shure attenuator the normal volume listening with the ES3X occurs with the Goldpoint at 11-12 o'clock instead of at 10-11 o'clock without it. So, the 2-3 mm roll on the Shure volume means about 2 clicks more needed on the Goldpoint for the same music volume.

My impressions of the Amphora are still very favorable, as it is the best sounding portable amp in the house right now, and it is still relatively fresh out of the box. I wont know how much burn-in will affect the sound until I hear how it might change over the next 10 days. I have found it sounds even better when using my Macbook with the Pico DAC/amp as source, or my iBasso D10 optical DAC to feed it. Studio Masters 24/96 recordings out of the Macbook via optical DAC are impressive. I will try it later with my PS Audio Digital Link III DAC or Apogee mini-DAC as my source.
post #137 of 202
It is great to hear a review for this amp this early in production. Now all I have to do is save some money for this little beauty.
post #138 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
It is my job to do the burn-in, listen to it, and let some other local head-fiers like Blutarsky, Sherwood and Naamanf listen to it as well. Then it will go on to some Florida head-fiers for more listening and enjoyment.

Awww, come on Larry, you make it sound like such a chore
Glad to see it arrived to you quick and in great condition, thanks Ken! First impressions sound very positive, which makes me very excited. Enjoy the amp.
post #139 of 202
Thanks Larry, for the quick impressions.

I have just put my name for a Bird's Eye Special Edition. I look forward to using the Amphora with my iPod >> ASi modified iTransport >> Chord QBD 76 or my Level III modd DAC3.

F. Lo
post #140 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zimm View Post
Awww, come on Larry, you make it sound like such a chore
Glad to see it arrived to you quick and in great condition, thanks Ken! First impressions sound very positive, which makes me very excited. Enjoy the amp.
Not a chore really

Also, you mentioned "in great condition". Your amp arrived very well packed but if you look at the photos that I took upon arrival, there is a very tiny blemish in the wood at the left lower front edge due to the wood grain, but being organic and natural that is to be expected. It does not look beat up or like it is splintering or anything, just something to be expected due to the materials and all. Build quality looks good, and I was surprised but it looks like the bottom cover is also made of Mother of Pearl.

I'm almost sorry I wont be getting one with the built-in dock, but I plan to get one and use it in my living room rig between my PS Audio Digital Link III and my Woo GES (as preamp). And I'll have my DLO Homedock HD optical out being fed into the PS Audio, using the Coax from my Samsung DVD and the USB from my Macbook Pro. This way the dock will charge the iMod and I can use the DLO remote control.
post #141 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbulack View Post
Lamenthe, when you've burned in the Amphora and listened to it enough to know that your assessment is holding true over time, would you let us know the names of your favorite portable amps from which the Amphora is such a substantial step up?
Will do. As the burn-in is now, I'm enjoying the Amphora more than my iQube and RSA P-51 Mustang (my favorites). I can't say how it does versus amps of same or similar price points though as I've been mostly portable until now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fkclo View Post
Thanks Larry, for the quick impressions.

I have just put my name for a Bird's Eye Special Edition. I look forward to using the Amphora with my iPod >> ASi modified iTransport >> Chord QBD 76 or my Level III modd DAC3.

F. Lo
Wow, please post lots of pictures when you receive it . I would have gladly put down a little extra cash if I had known custom wood could be requested. I guess I should have asked
post #142 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamenthe View Post
...

I would have gladly put down a little extra cash if I had known custom wood could be requested. I guess I should have asked
I probably would not have shelled out more money for Bird's Eye but it would have been nice to know there was an option
post #143 of 202
Thread Starter 
Its awesome to see some impressions start to roll in. I think its great to get a mix of phones coupled with the Amphora so people have a good snap shot. On the grain anomalies. I meant to touch upon this actually HeadphoneAddict, but never did. Yes the grain on these can have all kinds variances, and dark/lightnesses . In fact the Walnut ones are varying from being a brownish gray with some marble hints to just wildly crazy quilted flame. These are almost all different in what they look like and each one is unique. The end grain (the ends of the amps) are also very different looking. Because I decided not to make a nailed box and the enclosures are made out of a single chunk of wood, in most cases the chunks are 2 chunks glued are glued up to make one solid slab, later squared off and then hollowed out via the CNC process. So there will be end grain on the ends. Please do take a soft cloth and buff the wax finish, and or add Howards Orange Oil to the wood.

Also on the Bird Eye ones, I think I had mentioned that I was in the process of making some of these in a older thread. They are not scheduled to be done for a while though. Fkclo has seen the thread and began emailing me about these. They will be quite a bit more though.

I have a bunch of Walnut ones left at the moment, all out of ipod Padauk and non ipod padauks. I am looking forward to the NYC meet impressions as Vinnie is taking one to the meet today.

Ken
post #144 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by KB View Post

Also on the Bird Eye ones, I think I had mentioned that I was in the process of making some of these in a older thread. They are not scheduled to be done for a while though. Fkclo has seen the thread and began emailing me about these. They will be quite a bit more though.

Ken

This is where I heard about the Bird Eye Special Edition :-

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5431654-post8.html

I thought all of us read that although I understand recently from Ken that only 10 will be made.

F. Lo
post #145 of 202
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AyeshaLochan View Post
Hi , i am d new member here, really there is huge ammount of knowladge in this forum but iam little bit confused to understand it's nevigation....
Good point Ayeshalochan,

And welcome to head-fi!

What does everyone think about splitting off the from this thread to start a new thread that only involves the Amphora impressions? Starting with some of HeadphoneAddicts posts? Also I apologize that my webpage is not yet complete for the Amphora yet. I will also have some FAQs for the Amphora later when the webpage is done.

Thanks
Ken
post #146 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by KB View Post
Good point Ayeshalochan,

And welcome to head-fi!

What does everyone think about splitting off the from this thread to start a new thread that only involves the Amphora impressions? Starting with some of HeadphoneAddicts posts? Also I apologize that my webpage is not yet complete for the Amphora yet. I will also have some FAQs for the Amphora later when the webpage is done.

Thanks
Ken
I think an impression thread is a great idea
post #147 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by veloaudio View Post
I think an impression thread is a great idea
x2

I hope mine is in the next batch to be shipped.
post #148 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by KB View Post
Good point Ayeshalochan,

And welcome to head-fi!

What does everyone think about splitting off the from this thread to start a new thread that only involves the Amphora impressions? Starting with some of HeadphoneAddicts posts? Also I apologize that my webpage is not yet complete for the Amphora yet. I will also have some FAQs for the Amphora later when the webpage is done.

Thanks
Ken
Do you want me to start a new thread in the portable amp forum with a copy of my posts to start it off, or have a Mod move it to a new thread like they have done as a favor in the past?

Let me know and I'll get started.
post #149 of 202
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys,

Ok I started a new thread. Please anyone can post, not just the Amphora owners.

Amphora Impressions


Ken

PS: dont let HeadphoneAddict have all the fun
post #150 of 202
I got in the 1st and 3rd post, but the 3rd post is labeled #4 and there is no #3 post. Weird.
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