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Any SS amp >= (M3 + S11) ? - Page 7

post #91 of 116


Not to say that more complicated necessarily means a better sound, but there definitely a difference when comparing the internal photos
post #92 of 116
Very very interesting to hear the M^3 would be considered superior for the above reasons mentioned. However, its especially surprising that a superior circuit does not offer a superior sound
In a previous thread, people were comparing the HP100 to the GS-1, and soundwise, they were said to perform very similarily. Based upon the circuit, would you say the M^3 circuit is also superior to a Headamp GS-1?
post #93 of 116
Sometimes, you can't just look into the design and say this one is gonna sound better. You have to hear it yourself and decide whether it's good or not.

For example, some head-fiers claim that ALO Amphora is nothing but a "glorified cmoy" and that they can't possibly sound that good while they haven't heard it themselves. Now regardless of the internal shots, the ones that have actually heard the Amphora (me included) concluded that the sound quality is top notch.
post #94 of 116
More parts dont equal better sound.
post #95 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonboy403 View Post
Sometimes, you can't just look into the design and say this one is gonna sound better. You have to hear it yourself and decide whether it's good or not.
Very true. I think everyone here was very careful in saying that one amplifier is better designed than another amplifier, instead of saying that one sounded better than another.
While the sound of an amplifier is entirely one's preference, I think a good design is a good place to start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by olblueyez View Post
More parts dont equal better sound.
wow.. thanks for that enlightenment.
post #96 of 116
One of the difficulties in comparing DIY designs like the M^3 with proprietary designs is something that Tomb mentioned but needs to be expanded on:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post


<snip> Further, those huge film capacitors in the input stages at right imply that the input is filtered, probably a prudent measure in a commercial amp/preamp, but they will definitely have a sound signature. That's a lot of conjecture, admittedly, but I think that's the way the circuit is setup from appearances.
Just about all proprietary designs utilize DC blocking caps in case of offset in the source used. Like Tomb mentions, this is a wise precaution for an amp designed for the masses who may have offset in their source(s) and no knowledge on recognizing it & dealing with it.

DIY designs like the M^3 are DC amps with no caps directly in the signal path. This has two effects. The first is that it keeps the signal path clean for truer amplification. Just about everyone understands this to be an advantage or at least parrots the idea. The second effect that is seldom, if ever mentioned is that if a direct coupled amp like a M^3 is used with a source with poor but "usable" offset on the outputs, it will effect sound quality by DC loading the voice coils of the headphones. I strongly suspect that this second effect of direct coupling is part of the reason that some reviews and comparisons of the M^3 sometimes don't match with others. A M^3 compared with an inferior but DC-filtered design won't fare to well if the source used has poor offset characteristics. How many reviewers verify the offset of their source(s) and report it ? It is a wise precaution to take 20 seconds to measure the DC voltage on a source before plugging into any DC coupled amp.

That brings up the notion that DIY designs aren't totally interchangeable with proprietary. Proprietary products have being foolproof as one of the design goals and will accept a little lower performance for eliminating a potential for problems. DIY designs tend to expect that the end user has the knowledge to operate with less foolproofing and reap the performance benefits from a cleaner design.

It isn't really on topic for this thread, but along the subject of capacitors in the signal path, I have noticed that this isn't often recognized by reviewers for what it is. There is at least one very prolific reviewer that I suspect has a preference for the coloration of capacitors in the signal path although he probably doesn't recognize this preference. Many of his reviews give very high marks to amps that can't possibly be flat because of one (or more) stages of DC blocking caps. I appreciate some aspects of tube amps but the often reported "magic" of tube amps is partly the coloration added by the necessary evil of output caps in OTL tube amps and has nothing to do with tubes at all. I often wonder what some reviewers would hear and report if a high-zoot blocking cap was hidden in the otherwise clean signal of an amp like the M^3. I strongly suspect that in at least some cases it would raise the reviewers opinions quite a bit. I would urge anyone who wants to do serious amp reviews to spend a couple hours dropping an assortment of caps onto the output of a good DC coupled amp and listening. Hearing the results can be somewhat of a revelation,
post #97 of 116
In terms of the quality of components, perhaps this is a flawed or oversimplified assumption, but maybe others may agree
It seems you'll be able to achieve a significantly better sound to have fewer, higher quality components (i.e.- KICAS, HP100, M^3) than a larger variety of components which are of a lower quality (i.e.- some (NOT ALL) Chinese-made amps)
post #98 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
In terms of the quality of components, perhaps this is a flawed or oversimplified assumption, but maybe others may agree
It seems you'll be able to achieve a significantly better sound to have fewer, higher quality components (i.e.- KICAS, HP100, M^3) than a larger variety of components which are of a lower quality (i.e.- some (NOT ALL) Chinese-made amps)
Sometimes.
From what I've observed, some companies, (particularly companies who tend to produce a lot of FOTM products) like to design their products based on what they plan to advertise, instead of advertising what they design.
The point is, they will sometimes make design decisions that isn't always best for the amp.
For example.. You will see some manufacturers throw in a couple cheap transistors to replace an opamp and call it an "all discrete" amplifier.
They can pay less and charge more because most people naturally think opamps = cheap/mainstream/bad and (discrete != opamp) = good.

That said though, theres a lot of companies out there that make some pretty good products, and also offers things that are harder to come by in DIY projects (availability, nicer chassis, customer support, remote controls, just to name a few)
post #99 of 116
Multiquote! Multiquote!

Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
Beefy, could you elaborate a bit more. Compared to the HP100 (or Caliente), what did you particularly like about the M^3 to make a FAR better value for the money?
Tomb said it FAR better than I ever could

Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post
Thanks, beefy. I assume this is with the S11 PSU in equation yes?
Yep. And let me just re-iterate, I adore my MiniMax as my work rig and would find it VERY sad to part with it ...... but the MMM does have an edge in the bass when 12FK6 are used, and in the treble when 12AE6 are used. And remember than the MiniMax is cheaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
Not to say that more complicated necessarily means a better sound, but there definitely a difference when comparing the internal photos
Don't forget to add a photo of the S11 alongside the MMM. AMB's power supplies are extraordinary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
Not to say that more complicated necessarily means a better sound, but there definitely a difference when comparing the internal photos
I don't think anybody would sincerely argue differently. But if you have two amps of different designs that sound at least similar, I would still be inclined to buy the better designed amp that runs at thinner (or non-existent) profit margins. That is the very definition of value for money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
Very very interesting to hear the M^3 would be considered superior for the above reasons mentioned. However, its especially surprising that a superior circuit does not offer a superior sound
It isn't surprising at all. People have different tastes. The HP100 just has a particular sound that is more pleasant to your ears. Others might think differently.

Quote:
In a previous thread, people were comparing the HP100 to the GS-1, and soundwise, they were said to perform very similarily. Based upon the circuit, would you say the M^3 circuit is also superior to a Headamp GS-1?
I have seen very experienced people on another forum discuss this. Some prefer the MMM while some prefer the GS-1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bada bing View Post
I appreciate some aspects of tube amps but the often reported "magic" of tube amps is partly the coloration added by the necessary evil of output caps in OTL tube amps and has nothing to do with tubes at all. I often wonder what some reviewers would hear and report if a high-zoot blocking cap was hidden in the otherwise clean signal of an amp like the M^3. I strongly suspect that in at least some cases it would raise the reviewers opinions quite a bit.
I have seen this suggested many times before, and it seems extremely plausible.
post #100 of 116
Quote:
But if you have two amps of different designs that sound at least similar, I would still be inclined to buy the better designed amp that runs at thinner (or non-existent) profit margins. That is the very definition of value for money.

Having heard both the M^3 and the HP100, to be honest, I personally didn't find them to sound similar

To be more specific, the soundstage on the HP100 had a more 'holographic/3d' quality that the M^3 couldn't provide. In terms of the lower end, the HP100 went just as deep, but was tighter and cleaner. Mids were also thicker and the highs were crisp and clean without any harshness.

Now that I use the HP100 with a Pico for the DAC and the Audio Technica ATH-AD2000 as my primary cans, it feels that the Pico is the limiting factor in my rig, while before, the M^3 would be on par with the Pico. My next purchase (hopefully) is an MHDT Havana DAC

I think a lot of the issue is that the HP100 is not as popular as the M^3, so aside from Head-fi meets, there are quite a few people who haven't had the chance to hear it and make a comparison based upon the sound rather than design.


In all fairness, the M^3 was an incredible value for the money at the $300 to $400 range, no doubt about it, hands down, and I by no means would ever knock it. But when you throw in the S11 PSU, it could jump to ~$550 ($370 for the M^3 + $180 for the S11)

The HP100 now goes for over a grand ($995 + $85 shipping), but at the previous price of $680 ($595 + $85 shipping), it was easily just as good of a value as the M^3. And having heard both, if I could go back, I would have spent the extra $100 for the HP100 ( assuming the old price of the HP100 and the higher price of the M^3 )
But of course without trying the equipment out, there would have been no way to know with any certainty And as mentioned before "You have to hear it yourself and decide whether it's good or not."
post #101 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
Now that I use the HP100 with a Pico for the DAC and the Audio Technica ATH-AD2000 as my primary cans
From what I have read about the AD2000, and what Tomb has deduced from the HP100, I'm not surprised you prefer the HP100. If you were more of a Sennheiser kind of guy, I suspect things might be a little bit different. Ever elusive 'synergy', and all that crap
post #102 of 116
That is definitely a possibility Perhaps somebody with experience with Senns and HP100/M^3 can shed some light?
post #103 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
That is definitely a possibility Perhaps somebody with experience with Senns and HP100/M^3 can shed some light?
Once again, I urge you to try different opamps. You have definitely not tried the best recommended ones (with the exception of the OPA637). The differences you mentioned between both amps was mainly in soundstage, treble harshness and bass quantity/tightness right? Well the main differences among changing opamps in the M^3 IMO happen to be soundstaging, transient response, and the way treble/midrange is presented.

For example, I found the OPA637 to have bass that was quite loose and flabby, but there was more of it than any other opamp (except the AD843 perhaps). However, the OPA gave a rich, warm and smooth sound in my setup which seemed a bit wet (harmonics maybe), thus giving a pleasing effect of a large soundstage. The OPA627 was similar to the 637, but with a smaller soundstage, and a brighter yet warmer sound. The AD8610 and AD8065 had much tighter bass and faster transient response than any of the aforementioned opamps, a drier sound, brighter treble, and were more transparent/accurate (truer to the source).

These differences, to me, were immediately recognizable and significant enough to hold off on an upgrade to a Beta22.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bada bing View Post
The second effect that is seldom, if ever mentioned is that if a direct coupled amp like a M^3 is used with a source with poor but "usable" offset on the outputs, it will effect sound quality by DC loading the voice coils of the headphones. I strongly suspect that this second effect of direct coupling is part of the reason that some reviews and comparisons of the M^3 sometimes don't match with others. A M^3 compared with an inferior but DC-filtered design won't fare to well if the source used has poor offset characteristics. How many reviewers verify the offset of their source(s) and report it ? It is a wise precaution to take 20 seconds to measure the DC voltage on a source before plugging into any DC coupled amp.
Interesting. I'll check my source for this.
post #104 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
Once again, I urge you to try different opamps. You have definitely not tried the best recommended ones (with the exception of the OPA637). The differences you mentioned between both amps was mainly in soundstage, treble harshness and bass quantity/tightness right? Well the main differences among changing opamps in the M^3 IMO happen to be soundstaging, transient response, and the way treble/midrange is presented.

For example, I found the OPA637 to have bass that was quite loose and flabby, but there was more of it than any other opamp (except the AD843 perhaps). However, the OPA gave a rich, warm and smooth sound in my setup which seemed a bit wet (harmonics maybe), thus giving a pleasing effect of a large soundstage. The OPA627 was similar to the 637, but with a smaller soundstage, and a brighter yet warmer sound. The AD8610 and AD8065 had much tighter bass and faster transient response than any of the aforementioned opamps, a drier sound, brighter treble, and were more transparent/accurate (truer to the source).
Granted, I bought the opamps which were the most highly recommended in the M^3 (except for the OPA627), but I didn't have every opamp available.
I tried quite a few different opamp combos with the M^3, with IMO the best combos being:
1) OPA637 L/R and LT1028 Center
2) OPA637 L/R and AD8610 Center
3) AD8610 L/R/Center
But to my ears, the different combos offered subtle differences, and although combo each had their own strength and weakness, there were still, inevitably, limitations. Not to knock the M^3 because it is an impressive amp and fantastic value, but IMO, it just couldn't achieve the same sonic characteristics of the HP100
Since both the M^3 and HP100 perform well above their price range, it seems that M^3 can easily compete with amps in the $500-$1000 range, while the HP100 can compete with amps in the $1000 and up range.
As always, these are personal conclusions based upon my experiences with both amps.
Anyone who is interested should definitely try each for themselves
post #105 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by boozcool View Post
As always, these are personal conclusions based upon my experiences with both amps.
Anyone who is interested should definitely try each for themselves
Quite handily you have an HP100 presently in the FS forum, which makes me wonder if some of your comments are disingenuous. Especially since you say that you have only had the HP100 for 2 weeks or so, which seems a pretty short time for critical listening and comparison.
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