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Getting My Feet Wet With Balanced- MKVII Initial Impressions

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 
To celebrate my 3rd year anniversary on this wonderful site, I decided to get myself a little gift. I have always wondered about the balanced world. Everything I read in reference to balanced was positive, in particular with the HD650s. The main problem for me was in the investment, (source, amp, re-cable, cables etc.) and after all that, how about if it just was not for me and no noticeable improvement to my ears.

So I began to think, well, I already have two sources I can try that I use single ended anyway if it does not work out. I figured it was time to invest in another SS amp......etc....(justification at its finest.....)...However, did not want to refinance my house in order to try balanced either.....

My small journey-

So, I shot David an email in reference to the MKVII...As usual, record time in responding and very helpful. After a few emails, I took the plunge and ordered the MKVII and DAC_1....If it does not work out, I can still use the gear single-ended.....I then sent Tran (Lil' Knight) an email to see what cable he can recommend for my HD650s (I have one of his 18 AWG Cryo that is awesome). He was working on a new HD600/650/800 cable (ELITE)....So, I placed my order and also shipped him my stock HD650 cable to terminate in 4-pin XLR and shorten it up a bit....Great service and cable again....

Well, I received the amp and dac today....I wanted to try the amp single ended first, so I grabbed my PRO750s that were close by. I really did not expect too much with low impedance cans, but low and behold, it took my 750s by the b@lls and never let go. The sound was very, very clean and detailed, while retaining that sexy Ultrasone bass.

Next came the HD650s (single-ended w/ 18AWG Cryo)....Again, clear and tight and this cable provides a smooth sound that is accentuated very nice with this amp.

Next up HD650 (balanced w/ ELITE Sennheiser HD600 / HD650 / HD800)..........Whaaaaattttt???......Everythi ng was just so refined. The clarity was unreal. The music had so much depth without being clouded. It was layered and textured without being bright. The bass was hitting just right...The term "I never heard that part of the song before" has never applied more..... Quick example- KoRn- Evolution...I had heard the faint underlying voices of the song before, but not as pronounced. Now they sound freaky, in a good way.

These are just brief impressions out of the box....Need to run everything in for a few days.....

For under $1000, I finally took a step into the dark side.......And I'm loving it.....Can the Ed9s, RS1s and AH-D5000s be balanced?....I'm in trouble.....


Brief thoughts of certain songs in balanced mode-

Sarah McLachlan- Angel-....I was speechless,....So engaging, it was eerie....You go girl...

Delerium ft. Sarah McLachlan- Silence (Sanctuary Mix)- This particular version has a deep tight bassline throughout the entire song that remains up front along with Sarah's voice in perfect cohesion.

2 Pac- Still Ballin'...Trick's backround vocals are in the forefront instead of sounding like backround vocals....Like a whole new line I had not heard before.

Porcupine Tree- Anesthetize- What can I say here...Everything just sounds amazing....The sound of this song is unreal....Those drums....WOW...

Pink Floyd (live)- The Great Gig In The Sky, Wish You Were Here....Incredible...On Wish, when the guitar kicked in, I literally flinched...It was right there inside my head....Forget first row...It was all over, without being aggressive and intrusive....


Want to thank Tran for all his help and awesome cable and those members I PM'ed in reference to this amp and balanced in general....

Couple quick pics....










post #2 of 103
Sorry for the ignorant question I was wondering why some balanced amps use one plug while others two. Isnt balanced supposed to be one channel per plug? Reason I'm asking is I'm receiving some balanced la2000s and dt880s soon and would like to know more about what I was getting myself into hehehe

mine has two plugs ilike this pic from Lawton Audios Website


will these work with that little dot?
post #3 of 103
excellent first impressions! indeed, I am very excited by this amp, as it will (hopefully) introduce many more people to balanced setups
post #4 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
Sorry for the ignorant question I was wondering why some balanced amps use one plug while others two. Isnt balanced supposed to be one channel per plug? Reason I'm asking is I'm receiving some balanced la2000s and dt880s soon and would like to know more about what I was getting myself into hehehe

mine has two plugs ilike this pic from Lawton Audios Website
http://www.lawtonaudio.com/wpimages/wpe8587355_0f.jpg

will these work with that little dot?
balanced headphones require 4 wires. this can be accomplished the PROPER way, with a single 4-pin XLR. this can also be done in an antiquated, annoying, uselessly expensive, and tedious way by using only 2 pins on dual 3-pin XLR's.

an adapter can easily be made, however
post #5 of 103
Someone should make some standard for this. Its so annoying because consideration when getting an amp could change just because of the connectors available.
post #6 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
Someone should make some standard for this. Its so annoying because consideration when getting an amp could change just because of the connectors available.
we're working very hard to make 4-pin the standard. most new amps are coming with 4-pin, at least as an option. they include: the ZDT, Balancing Act, Woo 22 and 5, LD MK VI and MK VII. on top of that, 4-pin is becoming the primary choice for most DIY'ers.

you can blame Headroom for this whole dual 3-pin nonsense - of course, you can also thank them for introducing the balanced headphone in the first place
post #7 of 103
I'm pretty sure the D5000, Rs1, and Ed9 all have 4 wires all the way down. You should be able to balance all 3 by just reterm'n the stock trs plug with a 4 pin xlr.
post #8 of 103
Don't forget Phoenix and Roc have 4 pin. 3 pin sucks hard. It's just more crap to install. It has no advantage other than people can buy more exotic 3 pin XLRs now, but maybe in the future Xhadow will make a really nice high end 4 pin XLR.
post #9 of 103
Good to see someone speaking sense here. What at first sight appears to be the standard (2 x 3 pin XLR's) being a bit of a bodge and the rather elegant 4pin XLR being in a minority.

Maybe I'll start another thread for a vote on what people would prefer.

As an aside (since I'm half thinking of a LD mk VII myself). Can anyone recommend a source of high quality 4 pin XLR connectors? Easy enough to find generic ones on the web, but a little suspicious since they all seem to be at the sub $10 mark.
post #10 of 103
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Doug View Post
excellent first impressions! indeed, I am very excited by this amp, as it will (hopefully) introduce many more people to balanced setups
Thanks very much Doug...Had to wake up at 5a for work and could not break away to go to sleep...."just one more track"..



Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyriel0 View Post
I'm pretty sure the D5000, Rs1, and Ed9 all have 4 wires all the way down. You should be able to balance all 3 by just reterm'n the stock trs plug with a 4 pin xlr.
That would be great...Thanks


In reference to the 1x 4-pin vs. 2x 3-pin, the 4-pin is great and very light. The cable weighs a lot less than my Furutechs single ended.
post #11 of 103
Good read!!!
This Little Dot amp + Dac looks great together too! The HD 650 is well known to sound better balanced, so a good one to start your balanced HP journey!
Let us know how things burn in.
post #12 of 103
fun read...how much did he charge you to reterminate?!
post #13 of 103
Heatfan12,
Is it safe to say that youre not going to be listening to your ld 1+ anytime soon?
post #14 of 103
.
post #15 of 103
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tako_tsubo View Post
Good read!!!
This Little Dot amp + Dac looks great together too! The HD 650 is well known to sound better balanced, so a good one to start your balanced HP journey!
Let us know how things burn in.

Thanks tako...Will do...Trying to run them in 24/7...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Sennshead View Post
fun read...how much did he charge you to reterminate?!
Thanks Senn....$25.00



Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
Heatfan12,
Is it safe to say that youre not going to be listening to your ld 1+ anytime soon?

Lol....I will still be using my I+...It's my moveable and versatile amp Don....I move it all over the house, due to its small size..and plus I have many tubes for it.
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