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REVIEW: Head-direct.com HiFiMan EF2 tube Hybrid Amp with USB DAC - Page 40

post #586 of 1318
I am currently using EF2 with AKG K701. I am using the DAC encapsulated in it and would like to know whether I can achieve an improvement worth the money by buying an extra USB DAC for approximately 300$. What would be the best choice? Thanks for advice .
post #587 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScRyX View Post
I am currently using EF2 with AKG K701. I am using the DAC encapsulated in it and would like to know whether I can achieve an improvement worth the money by buying an extra USB DAC for approximately 300$. What would be the best choice? Thanks for advice .
Adding a nicer DAC with line out into the EF2 definitely results in an worthwhile improvement in sound - including the Pico DAC-only, iBasso D10 or D4, and the new Nuforce uDAC (testing a pre-production but final version which is fantastic).
post #588 of 1318
I'm beginning to think my computers built in sound card isn't that bad of a DAC.

Mac Pro Early 08 (8 CPU cores, 32GB RAM)...

To the EF2's built in DAC, my computers own DAC can provide up to 24-bit 96KHz..
post #589 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmd8x28 View Post
I'm beginning to think my computers built in sound card isn't that bad of a DAC.

Mac Pro Early 08 (8 CPU cores, 32GB RAM)...

To the EF2's built in DAC, my computers own DAC can provide up to 24-bit 96KHz..
I dont know about the Mac Pro - thats a serious computer for listening to music when my netbook will do a similar job - but my Macbook Pro sounds a lot better when I pump the signal through my Topaz DAC.
post #590 of 1318
I thought I would add my own impressions to this thread - I hope HeadphoneAddict doesn't mind, but I see no point in creating a whole separate thread for my comments, in light of all the great information presented here.

In addition, I don't have anything to report that differs much from HA's view.

I tested the EF2 using NOS Mullard CV4010 tubes. I didn't even try the stock tubes - 6AK5 tube types are plentiful and cheap, and there is no point in using known inferior Chinese tubes. The 6AK5 is a nice sounding tube. I like the Mullard best, but I have some Sylvanias and Tung-Sols which Also sound good. I also tried the fabled Western Electric 403A, and it also sounded terrific. Lots of great choices!

I used the EF-2 with the Shure SRH-840, my 600 ohm Beyer DT880 and 990, and also with the HifiMan HE-5. Overall, the EF2 was happiest driving the Shure. All the headphones worked fine, but the EF2 is a little out of its element driving 600 ohm cans. The HE-5 also demanded a lot of the EF2, and I think the HE-5 need better amplification in general, but the combination wasn't bad at all.

Used as just a headphone amp, via its analog inputs, I found the EF2 to be smooth and pleasant sounding. It was not the last word in resolution, detail, or transparency, but it is more than adequate in all those regards, especially when its price is considered. With headphones that are not tortuously difficult to drive, like the Shure, the EF2 was very good, and its slight warmth was actually a good match for the just slightly lean sounding Shures. The EF2 is more or less neutral, with a just slightly lush sound, which does vary somewhat with the tubes chosen. It lacks a little top-end sparkle and a little of the very deepest bass authority when compared to far more expensive amps. But when compared to amps in the same price class, like the AV123-XHead (admittedly an all-SS design), the EF2 provided better overall sound, with an more appealing midrange.

Soundstaging was quite impressive for an amp in this price class, and the sound overall has an organic "rightness" to it that makes the EF2 very easy to listen to for long periods of time. I took it on a 4-day business trip with me, where it was my only headphone amp, and I was completely happy with it - thrilled, in fact, to have such good music in my hotel room! The TSA people were not so thrilled by my packing it along, though - it cost me 10 minutes at the Orlando airport

The USB DAC was adequate - an improvement for sure over the sound card on my laptop, but that isn't saying much. It was not nearly as good as the USB DAC in my Music Hall DAC 25.2, though. And I thought my iMod iPod via the EF2's analog inputs also sounded better than its built-in DAC.

Nonetheless, for the asking price, the EF2 is a great value if you pretend it doesn't even have a DAC! Look at the DAC as a bonus. If it's helpful, great. If not, for $189, unless your headphone stable is full of only the most power-hungry headphones, I think the EF2 is a nice amp.
post #591 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
I thought I would add my own impressions to this thread - I hope HeadphoneAddict doesn't mind, but I see no point in creating a whole separate thread for my comments, in light of all the great information presented here.

In addition, I don't have anything to report that differs much from HA's view.

I tested the EF2 using NOS Mullard CV4010 tubes. I didn't even try the stock tubes - 6AK5 tube types are plentiful and cheap, and there is no point in using known inferior Chinese tubes. The 6AK5 is a nice sounding tube. I like the Mullard best, but I have some Sylvanias and Tung-Sols which Also sound good. I also tried the fabled Western Electric 403A, and it also sounded terrific. Lots of great choices!

I used the EF-2 with the Shure SRH-840, my 600 ohm Beyer DT880 and 990, and also with the HifiMan HE-5. Overall, the EF2 was happiest driving the Shure. All the headphones worked fine, but the EF2 is a little out of its element driving 600 ohm cans. The HE-5 also demanded a lot of the EF2, and I think the HE-5 need better amplification in general, but the combination wasn't bad at all.

Used as just a headphone amp, via its analog inputs, I found the EF2 to be smooth and pleasant sounding. It was not the last word in resolution, detail, or transparency, but it is more than adequate in all those regards, especially when its price is considered. With headphones that are not tortuously difficult to drive, like the Shure, the EF2 was very good, and its slight warmth was actually a good match for the just slightly lean sounding Shures. The EF2 is more or less neutral, with a just slightly lush sound, which does vary somewhat with the tubes chosen. It lacks a little top-end sparkle and a little of the very deepest bass authority when compared to far more expensive amps. But when compared to amps in the same price class, like the AV123-XHead (admittedly an all-SS design), the EF2 provided better overall sound, with an more appealing midrange.

Soundstaging was quite impressive for an amp in this price class, and the sound overall has an organic "rightness" to it that makes the EF2 very easy to listen to for long periods of time. I took it on a 4-day business trip with me, where it was my only headphone amp, and I was completely happy with it - thrilled, in fact, to have such good music in my hotel room! The TSA people were not so thrilled by my packing it along, though - it cost me 10 minutes at the Orlando airport

The USB DAC was adequate - an improvement for sure over the sound card on my laptop, but that isn't saying much. It was not nearly as good as the USB DAC in my Music Hall DAC 25.2, though. And I thought my iMod iPod via the EF2's analog inputs also sounded better than its built-in DAC.

Nonetheless, for the asking price, the EF2 is a great value if you pretend it doesn't even have a DAC! Look at the DAC as a bonus. If it's helpful, great. If not, for $189, unless your headphone stable is full of only the most power-hungry headphones, I think the EF2 is a nice amp.
You are always welcome to add to and enhance threads like this!
post #592 of 1318
I've been mulling over whether or not I should add a DAC to my EF2 as well after a bit of listening. Considered picking up a DAC with multiple input options like the Matrix Mini-I someone listed in the source FS forums, but I haven't fully convinced myself yet.

After spending a few nights listening to the variety of music I typically listen to (rock of various forms, classical, asian classical, and jazz), I think I've settled on using RCA 6AK5 tubes of the ones that I have (Sylvania gold pin 6AK5, GE 6AK5) because they provided the most vast soundstage and instrument separation, great bass response with my closed headphones. However, the clarity with electric guitar seemed a bit lacking for me, so I wonder if a better DAC would improve that aspect of my listening experience.
post #593 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post
I dont know about the Mac Pro - thats a serious computer for listening to music when my netbook will do a similar job - but my Macbook Pro sounds a lot better when I pump the signal through my Topaz DAC.
I find a much better SNR via the Mac Pros own DAC than the EF2's DAC, along with the analog input being louder slightly.
post #594 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
I thought I would add my own impressions to this thread - I hope HeadphoneAddict doesn't mind, but I see no point in creating a whole separate thread for my comments, in light of all the great information presented here.

In addition, I don't have anything to report that differs much from HA's view.

I tested the EF2 using NOS Mullard CV4010 tubes. I didn't even try the stock tubes - 6AK5 tube types are plentiful and cheap, and there is no point in using known inferior Chinese tubes. The 6AK5 is a nice sounding tube. I like the Mullard best, but I have some Sylvanias and Tung-Sols which Also sound good. I also tried the fabled Western Electric 403A, and it also sounded terrific. Lots of great choices!

I used the EF-2 with the Shure SRH-840, my 600 ohm Beyer DT880 and 990, and also with the HifiMan HE-5. Overall, the EF2 was happiest driving the Shure. All the headphones worked fine, but the EF2 is a little out of its element driving 600 ohm cans. The HE-5 also demanded a lot of the EF2, and I think the HE-5 need better amplification in general, but the combination wasn't bad at all.

Used as just a headphone amp, via its analog inputs, I found the EF2 to be smooth and pleasant sounding. It was not the last word in resolution, detail, or transparency, but it is more than adequate in all those regards, especially when its price is considered. With headphones that are not tortuously difficult to drive, like the Shure, the EF2 was very good, and its slight warmth was actually a good match for the just slightly lean sounding Shures. The EF2 is more or less neutral, with a just slightly lush sound, which does vary somewhat with the tubes chosen. It lacks a little top-end sparkle and a little of the very deepest bass authority when compared to far more expensive amps. But when compared to amps in the same price class, like the AV123-XHead (admittedly an all-SS design), the EF2 provided better overall sound, with an more appealing midrange.

Soundstaging was quite impressive for an amp in this price class, and the sound overall has an organic "rightness" to it that makes the EF2 very easy to listen to for long periods of time. I took it on a 4-day business trip with me, where it was my only headphone amp, and I was completely happy with it - thrilled, in fact, to have such good music in my hotel room! The TSA people were not so thrilled by my packing it along, though - it cost me 10 minutes at the Orlando airport

The USB DAC was adequate - an improvement for sure over the sound card on my laptop, but that isn't saying much. It was not nearly as good as the USB DAC in my Music Hall DAC 25.2, though. And I thought my iMod iPod via the EF2's analog inputs also sounded better than its built-in DAC.

Nonetheless, for the asking price, the EF2 is a great value if you pretend it doesn't even have a DAC! Look at the DAC as a bonus. If it's helpful, great. If not, for $189, unless your headphone stable is full of only the most power-hungry headphones, I think the EF2 is a nice amp.
How does the amp only (not the DAC) compare with the similarly priced Musical Paradise which you also reviewed?
post #595 of 1318
Well I prefer the Musical Paradise, but this is with about $75 worth of NOS tubes, so it's comparing $275 amp + tubes vs $210 amp + tubes. And the EF2 is a little more neutral - I find the MP301 a little more involving. Both great values, though.
post #596 of 1318
Man I'm thinking about buying some Grados. I don't have a lot of money so I hope I can find a sweet deal..
post #597 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
I would take the D7K over the D5K any day. It will work well now and will be worth it when you get a better amp and DAC later.
Thanks, almost forgot that. My wallet isn't happy, but I am now ordering the D7K with Jmoney Earpads and the EF2. I'm really looking forward to this, as my best headgear yet is the portapro which I have misplaced anyway. I'm currently using an old phillips set a friend found in a dumpster
post #598 of 1318
I may get Grado RS2i, are they over the ear or on the ear? I need over ear headphones, anything else and my ears hurt.
post #599 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmd8x28 View Post
I may get Grado RS2i, are they over the ear or on the ear? I need over ear headphones, anything else and my ears hurt.
They sit on and press on the ear, and do not surround it.
post #600 of 1318
That would be far to uncomfortable for me. The prestige series looks the same. The professional ones seem to be the only over ear one from Grado, but I aint paying that price tag.

Guess I'll just keep the RatShack phones I got right now, they atleast are comfortable and sound halfway decent.

Maybe I'll get these: Retro Thing: Panasonic Retro Headphones: Old School Looks & Value
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