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REVIEW: Head-direct.com HiFiMan EF2 tube Hybrid Amp with USB DAC - Page 6

post #76 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
You are confusing digital with analog
Apologies for my ignorance, and THANK YOU for the explanation.

Choosing/finding good albums was already difficult, now add the task of finding the perfect combination of sound repro equips Paucity of funds, perhaps, curtails the ability to experiment with various equips. Head-fi and guys like you that way cover the deficiency. Please bear with us.
post #77 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Last night I spent a good couple of hours using the iPod via a dock out into the HF2 and for cans I was using a MarkL Modded Denon D2000 w/ Bubinga Wood Cups and a re-cable by Brian of Zynsonic. I was very pleased with the sound and could not believe how musical and engaging the unit is.

Next (today) I used a Philips DVD player as a source and an Ultrasone HFI-780 re-cabled by Alex of APureSound and w/ a pair of Beyer Velour pads. I am very happy to report the EF2 scaled up very well, most noticeable is the extended highs and clearer more detailed presentation. Most importantly the unit retained its musicality and engaging presentation. No it is not a hyper detailed amp but who cares when it has such an appealing sound, frankly I am surprised at how good it sounds. Specially so at the MSRP of $189.

I will continue burning in the unit and hope to use the DAC via the USB input. I will also start looking for new NOS tubes to roll and listen for changes. More to come.
Great, I'm glad you are liking it as much as I am!
post #78 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxophone View Post
Apologies for my ignorance, and THANK YOU for the explanation.

Choosing/finding good albums was already difficult, now add the task of finding the perfect combination of sound repro equips Paucity of funds, perhaps, curtails the ability to experiment with various equips. Head-fi and guys like you that way cover the deficiency. Please bear with us.
I do bear with you - that's why I spent the time to try to explain anything I could to help. Cheers!
post #79 of 1318
I sure hope others get to listen to this amp, for $189 w/ a DAC for those ocassions you need one it is a heck of a price. I will be testing the DAC soon.
post #80 of 1318
I wonder if anyone has compared this amp with the little dot mk2. They use the same tubes so they could be comparable? ld mk2 can use ef95 or ef92 family tubes. I have the ld mk2 and I think that its more engaging than some of my past amps including the gilmore lite and audio gd c2c.
post #81 of 1318
Mine arrived yesterday. It took exactly 4.5 days to get here from the time I received confirmation of my order. Rather amazing considering it came from the other side of the planet!

The EF2 has definitely improved the sound of my Grado SR80i headphones on my crummy old work PC. I had been using the PC headphone out and the sound was somewhat lacking across the board. I knew the SR80is could do better, having auditioned them before buying. I was able to improve the stock PC sound a bit using the Winamp EQ, but I just couldn't really get it dialed in. Now with the EF2 assuming both DAC and amp duties, everything has opened up. I turned off the EQ and have a much more natural sound now.

I'm not an experienced audiophile, just a music enthusiast, so I can't really provide pros/cons of this amp in the same way that the OP has (rock on HPA), but I will say that I do enjoy this amp. Here are a few points I thought about while listening with about 10 hours on the amp:
  • Bass has improved. It is a natural improvement, it doesn't over power. On a few tracks, the bass seemed a bit loose. Other tracks were tight, so it could possibly be the encoding (these were MP3 tracks).
  • It is not a super detailed setup like I tried at the audio store, but it does have a very nice sound. The audio store demo equipment spoiled me.
  • It sounds correct at low volumes. I did not notice any volume balance issues at low volume.
  • I can listen at a lower volume than before and retain the sound quality. I had to turn up the PC volume before to get at the whole sound.

Non-sound thoughts:
  • Smaller than I expected, which is good for my desk.
  • It's a nicer looking amp than the pictures led me to believe. It was expecting it to look a bit cheapo.
  • I really like the volume control knob. The detents are very fine and feel great. They do not lock you into too-loud or too-quiet.
  • The DAC led is quite a bit brighter than the tubes. I was expecting more glow from the tubes (this is my first tube amp).
  • Power switch seems to control the amp only. The DAC led stays on. I assume the DAC is totally powered by the USB.

Since the DAC seems to be powered on all the time if connected, I'm curious if I should disconnect the USB when I leave work. I usually leave the PC turned on. Any thoughts on that?

I'm looking forward to hearing this amp mature as it burns it. I don't know really what to expect. For now I'm resisting the urge to try new tubes until I have many more hours on it. I've seen a few on eBay that I'd like to try, but I'm still reading up on what to look for in a tube.

I'm also looking forward to hearing what other people think with alternative tubes. Perhaps someone with knowledge (and lots of tubes) can start an EF2 tube rolling thread.
post #82 of 1318
Since they use the same tubes as the little dot amps, I suspect the effects on the tubes to the little dots would also apply here. There are a bunch of LD tube rolling threads, you may want to start here...
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f5/lit...43/index3.html
check out the links on post 39 of this link
post #83 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
I wonder if anyone has compared this amp with the little dot mk2. They use the same tubes so they could be comparable? ld mk2 can use ef95 or ef92 family tubes. I have the ld mk2 and I think that its more engaging than some of my past amps including the gilmore lite and audio gd c2c.
Not likely since I was the only one with one between the end of CanJam and yesterday...
post #84 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullTwisting View Post
Mine arrived yesterday... snip

...Since the DAC seems to be powered on all the time if connected, I'm curious if I should disconnect the USB when I leave work. I usually leave the PC turned on. Any thoughts on that?

I'm looking forward to hearing this amp mature as it burns it. I don't know really what to expect. For now I'm resisting the urge to try new tubes until I have many more hours on it. I've seen a few on eBay that I'd like to try, but I'm still reading up on what to look for in a tube.

I'm also looking forward to hearing what other people think with alternative tubes. Perhaps someone with knowledge (and lots of tubes) can start an EF2 tube rolling thread.
I would unplug it from USB when not using it for long periods of time, or on vacation, but I suspect it wont hurt it to stay plugged in (unless you worry about thunderstorms). I only plug it into USB when I am using the DAC, so I can plug other gear into my USB the remainder of the time.

I mentioned in my review that with burn-in it became a little less bright, more refined, and the bass filled in more.
post #85 of 1318
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
Not likely since I was the only one with one between the end of CanJam and yesterday...
I do not know about that! I received mine last weekend. Yes, I am a stinker.
post #86 of 1318
Larry,

I just got my EF2 last Monday. For the burn-in process, do I have to do anything special ?. I am currently listening to it everyday for about 3 hours with volume at 10 o'clock position.

Connecting it with the HD595 + PC + Win Amp + ASIO4ALL, I am happy with the "out off the box" sound quality.

Thank in advance.
post #87 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hfjunior View Post
Larry,

I just got my EF2 last Monday. For the burn-in process, do I have to do anything special ?. I am currently listening to it everyday for about 3 hours with volume at 10 o'clock position.

Connecting it with the HD595 + PC + Win Amp + ASIO4ALL, I am happy with the "out off the box" sound quality.

Thank in advance.
Just play music through it about 16 hours a day for 2 weeks - give it a rest while you are away at work so that you are always home when the amp is running (one of my old rules about tube amps that my OCD wont let me discard, something about tubes going poof!).
post #88 of 1318
So where do I start? The EF2 in my possession has about 135 hours of burn in, 108 hours for the amp section via the RCA input and an additional 27 hours for the USB DAC section and the Amp Section via the USB input.

The amp section has continued to improve and IMO makes for a very engaging and mellow amp. I particularly like its unpretentious method of presenting the music. It sounds far better than its $189 price tag would lead you to believe. In fact it is so nice sounding I have searched and found a set of Sylvania NOS 6AK5/5654 tubes. I hope they help to squeeze more out of this unit.

Now for the USB DAC which I decided to first try w/ my office PC. I plugged it and although it showed right away I could not get any sound out of it. After a while of cursing and getting frustrated I realized I had made a mistake. I had the volume out of Windows Media Player at ZERO. Yeah, what a fool! Anyways after adjusting the volume I put a Blood Sweat and Tears CD and ... ^#%^$#^# ^#@%(* WTF! It sounded horrible to the point I was going to stop using the USB DAC and just write about the Amp Section, but I persevered. This was a good thing because after a short 2 hours the DAC Section was at least listen-able and acceptable by the 6 hour mark. At this point I turned it off and took it home with me to use w/ my home PC.

After the embarrassing display at the office I was able to quickly connect and start using the unit with my home PC. Who says you can't teach an old dog a new trick? Now the USB DAC section has about 27 hours of burn in and it has had a major change from the first time I fired her up. Now it is in the category of second system (den, office, nightstand, etc) and I hope it continuous to improve. I hope to have an update at the 50 hour and 100 hour marks.

BTW, please do not misread my post. Although this is a heck of a nice sounding unit it is not going to be better that an unit costing many times its price. Of course the final word will be after it is fully burnt in and when I have tried the NOS tubes I have ordered.

I do have three inexpensive suggestions to make. These are:

1. Drill holes on the bottom plate to improve ventilation.
2. Place o-rings under the plastic top plate by the screws to improve ventilation by creating a 1/8" or similar air gap.
3. Replace the hard plastic feet w/ rubber type. This will help reduce/eliminate the tendency of the EF2 to slide on hard surfaces (like a desk).

More to come.
post #89 of 1318
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
So where do I start? The EF2 in my possession has about 135 hours of burn in, 108 hours for the amp section via the RCA input and an additional 27 hours for the USB DAC section and the Amp Section via the USB input.

The amp section has continued to improve and IMO makes for a very engaging and mellow amp. I particularly like its unpretentious method of presenting the music. It sounds far better than its $189 price tag would lead you to believe. In fact it is so nice sounding I have searched and found a set of Sylvania NOS 6AK5/5654 tubes. I hope they help to squeeze more out of this unit.

Now for the USB DAC which I decided to first try w/ my office PC. I plugged it and although it showed right away I could not get any sound out of it. After a while of cursing and getting frustrated I realized I had made a mistake. I had the volume out of Windows Media Player at ZERO. Yeah, what a fool! Anyways after adjusting the volume I put a Blood Sweat and Tears CD and ... ^#%^$#^# ^#@%(* WTF! It sounded horrible to the point I was going to stop using the USB DAC and just write about the Amp Section, but I persevered. This was a good thing because after a short 2 hours the DAC Section was at least listen-able and acceptable by the 6 hour mark. At this point I turned it off and took it home with me to use w/ my home PC.

After the embarrassing display at the office I was able to quickly connect and start using the unit with my home PC. Who says you can't teach an old dog a new trick? Now the USB DAC section has about 27 hours of burn in and it has had a major change from the first time I fired her up. Now it is in the category of second system (den, office, nightstand, etc) and I hope it continuous to improve. I hope to have an update at the 50 hour and 100 hour marks.

BTW, please do not misread my post. Although this is a heck of a nice sounding unit it is not going to be better that an unit costing many times its price. Of course the final word will be after it is fully burnt in and when I have tried the NOS tubes I have ordered.

I do have three inexpensive suggestions to make. These are:

1. Drill holes on the bottom plate to improve ventilation.
2. Place o-rings under the plastic top plate by the screws to improve ventilation by creating a 1/8" or similar air gap.
3. Replace the hard plastic feet w/ rubber type. This will help reduce/eliminate the tendency of the EF2 to slide on hard surfaces (like a desk).

More to come.
Nice report - I guess I didn't do as good of a job explaining you have to burn-in the DAC and the amp both.

As for ventilation - I am not experiencing extreme heat output and wasn't sure I needed to make any changes in that area, probably wont.
post #90 of 1318
Does anyone how it compares soundwise to the aune mini usb dac, I know EF2 is 50$ more, Im considering getting one of these , or is it not fair to compare a tube amp to a SS one? thanks



AUNE Mini USB DAC + Headphone Amplifier MK2 - eBay (item 260435237330 end time Jul-24-09 18:26:26 PDT)
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