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Graham Slee Solo SRG (with PSU1) Impressions - Page 3

post #31 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apatN View Post
Yeah I didn't get all of it as well.
How about MKIV SE vs. SRG?
Sorry for the late reply - been traveling alot the past 2 weeks.

Here's my personal notes on the MK IV SE vs Solo SRG. My SRG had about 250 hours of burn-in when I made these observations. I used my K702 with the Black Dragon cable and my RS1 on both the amps.

Bass

The SRG has a deeper but tighter bass i.e you will hear more "thump" from the bass drum but less bass guitar boom - perfect match for the RS1. The bass from the RS1/SRG combo is heavenly to my ears.

The SE has a noticeable hump in the upper bass/lower mids which gives you the impression that bass is not as controlled as the SRG. If you enjoy the bass guitar in rock music, you may well prefer the SE in this area. Especially if you have a K701/702

Mids

The SRG has a natural warmth in its presentation of vocals. Vocals are nice and full, but you don't get the impression that the amp is adding to the mids. It's more forward than the SE i.e. the singer feels closer to you.

The mids of the SE are very seductive. Smooth and sweet. Noticeably warmer and more full-bodied. You know it's the amp's euphony at work - but it's very enjoyable. Strangely, I find the SE a tad more laid back than the SRG (the singer seems further away than the rest of the instruments), but I've been advised that tube-rolling will easily cure that.

Treble

Ah, highs. The SRG has the best treble presentation of the amps I've heard to-date. Nice sparkle and decay in cymbals without being overly bright or fatiguing. You will immediately notice this the minute you play rock/metal music through the SRG.

The SE's treble presentation is a little more laid back. Decay from cymbals is ever so slightly less than the SRG. It's very enjoyable in it's own right, especially for those sensitive to treble, but a back-to-back comparison will show the SE to have less sparkle and snap than the SRG.

Soundstage

No contest. The SRG wins hands-down. Having been nicely burned-in by now, the SRG even surpasses my CanAmp. You get depth, width, height AND air around the instruments. Even with Grados. Simply astonishing. Be careful with the K701/702 though - on certain tracks, I actually felt disorientated as it didn't sound natural.

PRAT

SRG wins hands-down again. Can't exactly define it. It has toe-tapping / head-bobbing musicality that has to be heard to be believed. The SE just feels a little sluggish in comparison, especially on bass-heavy, dynamic music like metal.

I hope this doesn't come across as one-sided in favour of the SRG. I actually enjoy both amps because alot depends on what phones you pair the amps with. And the music you listen to. Besides, you can easily modify the sound of your SE by tube-rolling.

You do know what my conclusion is don't you?

You need both...

FWIW, most of the time my K702 is plugged into the SE while my RS1/MS-Pro is paired with the SRG. The SRG works exceedingly well with the RS1/MS-Pro, while the SE complements my K702 nicely.

I'm happy with my current set-up... for now....
post #32 of 118
No probs, nice consise review. Given my experiance with the 2007 Solo and my pre-concieved ideas about tube amps, most was as I expected.
Your thoughts on the soundstaging surprised me though. I always thought that was one area were tubes generally had an advantage. How does the detail/definition compare?
Like the idea of a fuller sound though is the SE also more 3 dimensional.

As I listen to rock/metal I do wonder if it is worth buying a tube amp. I keep thinking about it. Is there any area where the LD is better than the SRG for rock/metal and how do you think the LD would get on with really fast metal (double bass drumming and the like). Thinking of the LD MKIII and I keep wondering what kind of impact tube rolling would have.

I have decided to sell my Solo, have it for sale in the amplification forum, and purchase the SRG because I want some more headphones and 2 of the 3 possibilities are low impedance so I am future proofing myself!
post #33 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post
No probs, nice consise review. Given my experiance with the 2007 Solo and my pre-concieved ideas about tube amps, most was as I expected.
Your thoughts on the soundstaging surprised me though. I always thought that was one area were tubes generally had an advantage. How does the detail/definition compare?
Like the idea of a fuller sound though is the SE also more 3 dimensional.

As I listen to rock/metal I do wonder if it is worth buying a tube amp. I keep thinking about it. Is there any area where the LD is better than the SRG for rock/metal and how do you think the LD would get on with really fast metal (double bass drumming and the like). Thinking of the LD MKIII and I keep wondering what kind of impact tube rolling would have.

I have decided to sell my Solo, have it for sale in the amplification forum, and purchase the SRG because I want some more headphones and 2 of the 3 possibilities are low impedance so I am future proofing myself!
Although the general view is that tubes have a greater soundstage, you have to bear in mind that the SE was up against the CanAmp and Solo - two SS amps reknowned for their soundstage and 3-dimensionality. IMO, these 2 amps offer the best soundstaging in the SS camp below the USD1,000 price-bracket (I haven't heard SS amps costing more than that), surpassing even that of the famed Naim Headline 2 with the NPSC2 power supply. So, while the SE isn't bad in this area, it was fighting against the title champs, so to speak.

Also, from what I've read, tube-amps with rectifiers are the ones with the best sound-stage - the SE doesn't have a rectifier. Further, postings on the MK IV thread suggest that the 6H30P-DR "Super-tube" will vastly increase the soundstage of the SE, so don't write the SE off yet. Problem is, at over USD100 per tube, the "Super-tube" is a little out of my budget at the moment. Especially with the ridiculously high USD exchange rate currently.

Definition and Detail of the SRG is clearly superior to the SE. There are 2 possible reasons for this:- a) the lower mid-range bloom of the SE tends to mask detail a bit; b) the SRG was designed as a studio reference/monitor amp and is therefore remarkably transparent/analytical. That the SRG still sounds so musical is beyond belief.

Actually, the thicker and fuller sound of the SE makes it less 3 dimensional to my ears. It's a little hard to explain, but the CanAmp and the SRG give a greater sense of "layers" to the music i.e. each instrument is on a different plane. This added 3-dimensionality could very well just be a function of the excellent instrument separation and definition of the CanAmp and SRG. Again, the SE is still very good in this area - proper tube-rolling might bring it on par with these 2 SS amps, but we're talking about the stock SE for now.

Electric guitars sound sensational on the SE - this is one area where the mid-range fullness of the SE really shines. Try Joe Satriani's The Extremist on the SE (or any tube amp for that matter)...

Really fast metal? My only metal diet is Metallica - and I think the PRAT of the SRG and its tighter/more controlled bass make it a better match for metal. Metallica on the SRG with the RS1 does it for me.

The MKIII would be a very good tube amp to play with. The fun thing about tube amps is that you can change the sound to suit your preference so easily. I'm definitely of the view that you should have 1 tube amp and 1 SS amp - they complement each other.

Not sure that your Solo is unsuitable for low impedance cans though. Graham says that that rumour was started by a rival. In fact, he says that he designed the very first Solo using the Grado SR60. You may be happier keeping your Solo and getting the MKIII if your budget permits.
post #34 of 118
I just can`t make my mind up on whether I should get the tube amp or not
My mind says it would not be worth it,especially given the music I listen too, but my heart wants to try it anyway!
Problem is there are no other SS amps anywhere near the price of the Solo that are going to be different enough and good enough to be worth it. So its tube or nothing!
Would a tube amp complement the Solo? if I listen to music that is traditionally not as good on a tube!

Was not the main reason for the SRG to drive low impedence phones better?
Was that not the reason for the redesign?
post #35 of 118

You Might...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post
I just can`t make my mind up on whether I should get the tube amp or not
My mind says it would not be worth it,especially given the music I listen too, but my heart wants to try it anyway!
Problem is there are no other SS amps anywhere near the price of the Solo that are going to be different enough and good enough to be worth it. So its tube or nothing!
Would a tube amp complement the Solo? if I listen to music that is traditionally not as good on a tube!

Was not the main reason for the SRG to drive low impedence phones better?
Was that not the reason for the redesign?
You might try a Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Buffer with the Solo SRG to add a bit more tube sound... if you want it. It is a great tube buffer - I love mine. It makes even my Shellbrook Maxi-Moy sound almost like my WA6 SE Maxed - which sounds superb.

Or... you might try a Millett Hybrid MiniMax (tube/SS hybrid) amp - its great also - and sounds a lot like me WA6 SE Maxed also. Its a huge value... and... sounds as good, or better, than the DV332 I had. The MiniMax is a great amp with all phones.

I may have contributed to the thought that the Solo 2007 sounds great with Senns, but just "OK," with Grados, and Denons. That was certainly my impression when I tried the Solo 2007 - low impedance phones sounded a bit rough and lean. But... I suppose... it might have improved with burn in - I didn't keep it long enough to complete any burn in. Though... mine isn't the only opinion that it could be better with low impedance phones. So... we now have the SRG, which is reportedly very good with both.
post #36 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post
I just can`t make my mind up on whether I should get the tube amp or not
My mind says it would not be worth it,especially given the music I listen too, but my heart wants to try it anyway!
Problem is there are no other SS amps anywhere near the price of the Solo that are going to be different enough and good enough to be worth it. So its tube or nothing!
Would a tube amp complement the Solo? if I listen to music that is traditionally not as good on a tube!

Was not the main reason for the SRG to drive low impedence phones better?
Was that not the reason for the redesign?
I say go with your heart! I personally feel that a tube amp will nicely complement your Solo - and give you a greater change in sound than upgrading your Solo to the SRG.

And forget about preconceptions that rock music isn't traditionally as good on a tube. Lots of rock fans on Head-Fi listen to their favourite bands through tube. FWIW, I listen predominantly to rock and I chose the MK IV SE over all the SS amps in that price-range when I first set out to get a headphone amp. If you enjoy electric guitars and a slightly fuller bass guitar, you'll love tube...

Actually, from what I've read, the main reason for the SRG was to comply with RoHS regulations and to improve the Solo generally - there wasn't a specific aim to make it drive low impedence phones better. Although I'm sure there'll be an improvement (I haven't heard the 2007 Solo), I dare say that the difference you get between your Solo and the SRG is less than that of a tube amp.

Why not just take the plunge and get a tube amp and satisfy your curiosity at the same time?
post #37 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post
You might try a Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Buffer with the Solo SRG to add a bit more tube sound... if you want it. It is a great tube buffer - I love mine...

So... we now have the SRG, which is reportedly very good with both.

Wow, never knew that there's such a thing as a tube buffer.

Checked out the B283 and I'm very interested! It's affordable to boot - just need to wait for the ridiculous USD exchange rate to come down to decent levels. Thanks for the recommendation.

Please do let me know your impressions of the SRG when you audition it - I'm very interested.
post #38 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post
You might try a Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Buffer with the Solo SRG to add a bit more tube sound... if you want it. It is a great tube buffer - I love mine. It makes even my Shellbrook Maxi-Moy sound almost like my WA6 SE Maxed - which sounds superb.

Or... you might try a Millett Hybrid MiniMax (tube/SS hybrid) amp - its great also - and sounds a lot like me WA6 SE Maxed also. Its a huge value... and... sounds as good, or better, than the DV332 I had. The MiniMax is a great amp with all phones.

I may have contributed to the thought that the Solo 2007 sounds great with Senns, but just "OK," with Grados, and Denons. That was certainly my impression when I tried the Solo 2007 - low impedance phones sounded a bit rough and lean. But... I suppose... it might have improved with burn in - I didn't keep it long enough to complete any burn in. Though... mine isn't the only opinion that it could be better with low impedance phones. So... we now have the SRG, which is reportedly very good with both.
I was actually interested in trying the LD mkIII as a preamp running to the Solo as an experiment. I don`t need it but I am a curious individual
Whats the MkIII preamp like compared to the MkIV? Any ideas?
post #39 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by kds5000 View Post
Wow, never knew that there's such a thing as a tube buffer.

Checked out the B283 and I'm very interested! It's affordable to boot - just need to wait for the ridiculous USD exchange rate to come down to decent levels. Thanks for the recommendation.

Please do let me know your impressions of the SRG when you audition it - I'm very interested.
Just so you know... the GF B-283 Tube Buffer is virtually the same as the Yaqin Tube Buffer. So... if you're in the Far East... you might try the Yaqin - its less expensive, and you don't have the USD/CD exchange rate to contend with.

And... I would have already tried the Solo SRG... but... they're only available via the GS web site for buyers in the USA, and there's a wait. So... I got distracted with the Caliente, and the MiniMax... and ended up trying the MiniMax... which is pretty phenomenal. But... I suspect, I'll try the SRG at some point... since the Solo 2007 was so GREAT with the Senns - if the SRG is equally GREAT with Senns and Grados / Denons... then... I'll have to have one.
post #40 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post
Just so you know... the GF B-283 Tube Buffer is virtually the same as the Yaqin Tube Buffer. So... if you're in the Far East... you might try the Yaqin - its less expensive, and you don't have the USD/CD exchange rate to contend with.

And... I would have already tried the Solo SRG... but... they're only available via the GS web site for buyers in the USA, and there's a wait. So... I got distracted with the Caliente, and the MiniMax... and ended up trying the MiniMax... which is pretty phenomenal. But... I suspect, I'll try the SRG at some point... since the Solo 2007 was so GREAT with the Senns - if the SRG is equally GREAT with Senns and Grados / Denons... then... I'll have to have one.
Thanks for the info on the Yaqin. Unfortunately there isn't a distributor here in Singapore either. If I'm going to have to order a tube buffer from the internet, I think I'll go for the GF B283. It's on special offer for USD150 now. Which makes it USD25 cheaper than the Yaqin (web-order) and the GF comes with 2 tubes (which I assume is better than 1... ).

I feel that the SRG really mates well with my Grados/Alessandros. While I haven't compared it with the Solo 2007, the SRG/RS1/MS-Pro combination certainly doesn't exhibit any of the rough and lean traits you've noticed with the Solo 2007. FWIW, the CanAmp showed that rough and lean sound with my RS1 (all relative of course) and, to me, the SRG was a welcome upgrade. The SRG really is full-bodied (without being thick and heavy), on the warm side of neutral, and very smooth. I do hope you'll give it a try sometime in the near future. Meanwhile, enjoy the toys you've acquired in place of the SRG. I would have done the same if I were in your position...
post #41 of 118
Thanks kds5000. Very nice to read. Your story reminds me of the impressions I have with the MKIV SE. How about your DT990 with both amps?
post #42 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apatN View Post
Thanks kds5000. Very nice to read. Your story reminds me of the impressions I have with the MKIV SE. How about your DT990 with both amps?
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it

To be fair, the DT990 really isn't to my taste and I'll be letting it go soon. I like fast, dynamic phones, and the DT880 (2005) 600 ohms and the DT990 (2005) 250 ohms just doesn't do it for me.

But FWIW, the SRG, with its speed and PRaT clearly mates better with my 990. I find the SE way too sluggish with my 990.
post #43 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post
... And... I would have already tried the Solo SRG... but... they're only available via the GS web site for buyers in the USA, and there's a wait. So... I got distracted with the Caliente, and the MiniMax... and ended up trying the MiniMax... which is pretty phenomenal. But... I suspect, I'll try the SRG at some point... since the Solo 2007 was so GREAT with the Senns - if the SRG is equally GREAT with Senns and Grados / Denons... then... I'll have to have one.
You may be in luck! My Solo SRG is supposed to have been shipped already. After it arrives I will burn it in for at lest 300 hours and then will send you a PM. I am sure you will be OK w/ me shipping you my amp to listen to.
post #44 of 118

Oh Yeah...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
You may be in luck! My Solo SRG is supposed to have been shipped already. After it arrives I will burn it in for at lest 300 hours and then will send you a PM. I am sure you will be OK w/ me shipping you my amp to listen to.
Hey... great...

Can't beat that!

Though... I'll wait for your review comments compared to your MPX3, X-CANs, and MAD amps.

I'm beginning to understand that the there may be very little difference in a lot of these amps - perhaps... too little for me to fully appreciate.
post #45 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by kds5000 View Post
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it

To be fair, the DT990 really isn't to my taste and I'll be letting it go soon. I like fast, dynamic phones, and the DT880 (2005) 600 ohms and the DT990 (2005) 250 ohms just doesn't do it for me.

But FWIW, the SRG, with its speed and PRaT clearly mates better with my 990. I find the SE way too sluggish with my 990.
That is perfectly fine. I can see why you don't like them; they're very polite sounding.
I think now the Solo will be my next amp. After that maybe I will try some new phones. Would be pointless to try new phones now with only one (tube) amp. Amps change the sound a lot and can basically make or break a headphone.
Thanks for all you've done. Great community this is.
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