Thanks for the link Mr.Sneis. A tube stack-up dedicated thread would be a very good thing -for the BHSE or any other amp.
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- Headphone Impedance
Headamp Blue Hawaii Special Edition - Page 352
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Yes he is talking about their use in Guitar Amp's not Audio, but would suggest the sound characteristics to be broadly similar. These are manufactured in Russia an generally I do find their modern productions somewhat on the bright side.
I've had the SED Winged C's, and these perform nothing like them (think I read somewhere they are discontinued now).
Probably Grunge/Metal music would be the worse for these given some of the brightness I've heard. More suited to Pop/Rock/Jazz. The only brightness issue I have is with some voicing. Maybe he means in Guitar Amp's. I wonder if he's heard the BHSE/SR-009 combination.
Mesa 447 are suppose to have better QC and matched better than the EH's. Might also be minor differences between them as well.
I've clearly said, I don't recommend these to anyone unless they have an open mind. However, I do clearly prefer them to the EL34PH.
However, seeing I'm in the process of selling my GS-Xmk2 though, I may eventually end up getting a SS stats amp, but only if Justin starts building them again, and preferably the KGSSHV.
It's not so straight forward, and these deserve a mini review anyway, so here goes:
I chose the Halo-III's because:
- They look the most attractive of all the ones I've seen in photos - the only ones that had the potential of improving the looks of my BHSE
- Their (almost) all-titanium skeletal design should result in better heat dissipation and a long trouble free life (Herbie reckons that most soft polymer/rubber-style dampers will, at best, change elasticity on a hot power tube over time.
- Herbie reckoned that all his damper models are in the same SQ ballpark - just different flavours. For every person that likes one model, someone else prefers another. The (almost) all-titanium HALO III's cost around twice as much as the other models - this is just a reflection of manufacturing costs and is no guarantee that that they will sound any better in individual circumstances. I'm guessing the HALO III's probably don't provide as much damping as the softer versions - they are primarily in existence to handle hotter power and rectifier tubes - i.e. well above the 250 C rating of the soft ones.
- They do look quite cute, but the overall effect on the BHSE is no better or worse than the naked tube. It's visually more fun to have the open end of the ring facing front, which gives the impression of "frog eyes" when positioned near top of tube, or "put your hands on your hips" when lower down.
- I mistakenly ordered the next size up model 35 (for tube diameters 33-36mm), whereas the PHs are 32mm diameter (and JJs 30mm), so overall model 30 is best (fits 28-32mm tubes). So, as delivered, they were too loose, but it's possible to bend them into shape up to a point, which is just as well because ordering mistakes are potentially very costly - more about this later
- Adding the dampers made no difference whatsoever to the rattle and whine sounds I've mentioned before - whereas simply holding the tube (with cloth protection) did dramatically reduce these noises. In the meantime, those rattles have gradually faded away of their own accord after a few hundred hours.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, maybe a touch smoother sound because, well, that's what dampers do don't they?
But that's not what I heard in practice. In fact, the Halo's took all the good bits of the BHSE/PH combination… and made them a bit better. The improvement was complicated by the sound characteristics changing with the vertical position of the dampers. I hate too many variables, but eventually settled on the dampers placed one third from the top of the tube. This gave a significant increase to the focus and dynamics of the sound. Transients in particular became sharper. In total, it's rather like increasing a hypothetical Contrast control.
Depending on mood and the specific track chosen, sometimes this Contrast effect seemed huge, and sometimes it didn't seem much at all. But overall, whenever I went back to non-dampers, it wasn't long before I wanted them back on again.
Start of mini rant about extra costs:
The list price of 4 HALOs is about $180 depending on size. The shipping cost within US is just a few $ which is great.
But Herbie charges $43 international shipping to most other countries, and always declares the full value on the customs form. Resulting in me being charged $65 import duty & admin fee. Adding the bank exchange rate charges, then the total shipping cost comes to around $120. If I was to return the HALOs within the 90-day trial period, then it would probably cost me a further $20, i.e. I would have lost almost the entire list price of the product for a "free trial". So a total price of $300 seems poor VFM compared to the PHs themselves, currently $360 including free shipping and typically no import charges.
I should stress that Herbie is doing nothing wrong and everything is clearly described on the website, and I'm aware that international purchases are inevitably more expensive. It's just that in this particular case, it's hard to stomach the relative proportion of extra costs for 4 tiny rings of featherweight metal delivered in an envelope.
End of mini rant.
Even including the extra costs, I feel the HALOs are still worth it in the context of the price of a BHSE or the PHs. The lower cost non-titanium models may well come in under the import duty radar, so these would be much better VFM. If I wasn't worried about the looks or heat, I'd probably go for the extra damping Guitar Amp version and save myself at least $100.
Because the GS-Xmk2 and LCD-XC are boxed up, I decided to put my 009's and HD-600 where I had the GS-X. Although I'll more than likely use the GS-X again before it goes, I just wanted to show how my layout will be once the GS-X has gone, which can be seen in the photo.
Below my BHSE's amp section is my MacMini, and if I decide to get a SS stats amp, [ depending on whether Justin starts building them again ] then that's where I'll probably put it.
IMO the LCD-XC / GS-Xmk2 is a remarkable combo, but are hardly getting used because of my 009 / BHSE.
Behind my K-01's remote control is my Pico Slim / iPod that I'm using to listen to my HD-600's and UM Miracles, I'm using the Pico Slim via my K-01 not the iPod, the iPod's with my Pico Slim for portable use.
Although [ IMO ] the Pico Slim doesn't sound as good as the GS-Xmk2, when used with the K-01 I think most would be very happy with how the Pico Slim makes the HD-600 and UM Miracles sound.
Thanks to Mr. Sneis generosity, I'm going to be able to try out the Psvane EL34 quad on my BHSE for the first time. It should arrive today. Will report back against my XF2/4 quad.
The KGSSHV is one fine amp. Sprtizer and the stax mafia crew are working hard to make this amp "desktop" friendly. The last I heard, it now has a small footprint than the 727II with a smaller board layout.
Edited by purk - 5/24/14 at 8:46am
It'll be interesting to read your thoughts on how the Psvane PH's compare to the NOS's purk, but having said that, I've already spent enough on tubes for my BHSE so I won't be getting anymore, unless something happened to the 4 quads I've got.
Are those quads very expensive?
The 4 quads of tubes I have are, the stock Mullard's that came with my BHSE, a quad of SED's that cost £120, and two quads of the PH's that cost £250 each quad.
Ah that's not too bad. At least they aren't the price of WE 300b's.
The psvane's have a much thicker sound, there's less transparency but more warmth and meat. I think that's why it fits nicely with the 009s on the BHSE. Funny thing is they don't sound like the metal base XF1s at all, much like their cloned WE 300b.
The mullards have smoother (albeit brighter) highs and sweeter mids compared to the el34ph, which is why I think these fit the 007s better.
I am hovering between a KGSSHV and the BHSE. I currently have and quite like the SR-717 with my 009s.
I do however hear and realise that the Stax amp is on it's limits maybe, and could be improved for my 009s.
I used to own the 007s Mk2.5s. Those headphones were power hungry and a bit dark.
Did the KGSSHV get designed originally for the 007 (controversial subject I know).
I can see the extra current (and less warm signature) of the KGSSHV would really suit the 007s.
However, my worry is the 009s are much easier to drive, so the need for more volts may not so important?
But having dynamic headroom in an amp is great in the real world right?
Also the 009s are obviously more transparent and have more treble energy. Is there any BHSE owners with 009s who moved from KGSSHV to the BHSE and know the sound difference between these amps?
If the KGSSHV is quite warm, as warm as the BHSE, then for me it would be better for me, as I like the convieniance factor. If it is colder
than the BHSE or brighter, I would NOT fancy a KGSSHV for my 009s.
I am referring to a typical good build KGSSHV with best parts.
Any help would be great guys. Pity I can't have a KGSSHV on demo... but that is another story.
Oooh the lack of tone controls - ha ha only kidding. But you know where I am coming from, with SS amps
if it sounds err - bright, it will stay bright. The BHSE can have tube swops to tweak the sound (system synergy),
which maybe partly negates the hassle of tubes (cost, failures, damage to amp, cats, etc).
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