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REVIEW: Audio-GD Roc

post #1 of 320
Thread Starter 
Audio-GD Roc Review

NOTE: This is not the most professionaly written review I have ever done, but bare with me. I will tyr to address many points as possible. This will be my first ever Headphone amp review, and I won't just go on and on about stuff you don't want to hear, but I'll be frank and just go straight to the point. I'll also be critical and thorough. There may be errors with grammar but I ill correct them.

Gear used:
Source > Vista PC
Digital Analog Converter > X-CanV8P (with upgraded tubes and LPv3i PSU)
Interconnects > Audioquest King Cobra (RCA version)
Headphones > HD600, K702, PortaPro (HD600 and PP are fully balanced)

__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Overview:
So I already have a good amp called the X-CanV8P, so why do I need another amp? Well Upgradeitis struck me plus the V8P can not fully power my HD600 at all. The purpose of this amp was to actually have a powerfull amp on hand so when my HD800's come later this year I'll be ready.

This amp is pretty hefty at 13lbs and is also much bigger than my V8P by as much as 2X. I absolutely love the black finish as well, and boy this amp looks sexy in black. The XLR and 1/4" jacks are a locking type in which in order to pull the plug out you must push in a tab so it releases it's grip on the plug. I found the locking jacks are a good touch.

So what comes in the big DHL box? Well for one a nice Audio-GD power cord. This thing is a beast I say! Very thick and durable cable with some knock-off power connectors (not a bad thing though). Though that's about it for any goodies.

The volume knob is actualy stepped, this means it's volume goes up in notches. It has 23 steps or 23 volume notches you can go to. One thing I noticed is that when going up/down with the volume produces a pop sound on the headphones, but Kingwa/scootermafia assured me this is the nature of stepped volume controles.

NOTE:I know people has said the Pheonix gets very hot, but I'm happy to say the Roc just gets warm to the touch. In fact the V8P gets much hotter. So you guys out there should be happy to know that.

Initial Sound Impressions:
Upon power up I found the amp to be a little "meh" sounding, but after about 3 hours of warm up this has gone away and sounds much better. By "meh" I mean it had an uninspiring sound or not appealing,, but like I said I recommend proper warm up. Personally I keep mine on also 24 hours daily, but power it off at night. Once warmed up the amp is full sounding and has a very powerful and robust sound to it.

The speed it conveys is very good and the overal dynamics are much better than what I expected. It seems to make everything sound much more fluid while sometimes making stuff seem faster than it should be (mainly on some crappy mastered stuff).

What else should I comment on? Oh how about the overall tone of the sound! Like I stated earlier it is a very smooth amp and not as analytical as some other solid state amps I have heard. This amp is still very highly detailed sounding. Yes very detailed, but the smoother tone is great for a solid state amp. Reminds me of my tubes X-CanV8P.

Soundstage is really big and open with a good amount of air to it. It's wider than it is deeper, but no biggie. Another thing to mention is the midrange detail is also very good. This amps midrange is spooky transparent and will let you hear all the details. Vocals sound surreal and guitars sound just gnarly!

UPDATE: Soundatge is incredibly huge sounding. Very open and full of lots of air.

Music Tests:
For the music tests I will use 3 select tracks from various artists and on two different headphones to help showcase bass, PRaT, and overal dynamics. I will use the HD600 and K702, both are opposites from each other so this should show what the amp can do with them. I will use the HD600 in SE mode since the K702 is SE.

Song: Ten Thousdand Strong
Artist: Iced Earth

HD600: Ok this song has some nice slaming bass to it that translates into fast pulses. Bass impact is very good and the decay is quick (good for constant double bass drums). Great PRaT and dynamics are speedy. I did not notice the typical "Sennheiser Blur" sound that a lot people describe. To clarify, they mean a sluggish sound. I found the sound with this amp to be incredibly dynamic and not laid back. In this sound you can clearly hear all the time he touches the strings with the quitar pick and the bass can be made out as very clear.

K702: Bass with the K702 is very tight and quick. Not much impact but still great bass none the less. If has lots of body to it but the decay is very quick so it leaves a feeling of almost no bass, but it is indeed there. Dynamics are already a stellar part of this phone, but the amp helps to keep everything very coherent and clear. PRaT is very good music flows by on an amazing pace and sounds just right.

___________________________

Song: Franks
Artist: Infected Mushroom

HD600: Wow! now that some nice speed and excellent dynamics! Bass is very deep and also very quick sounding. PRaT is exceptional on this phone/song and the HD600 easily seems to keep up with it. No bluring of notes what so ever, the the phone has been set free. Rapid bass note don't blend together at all but stay seperate and highly distinguishable between each other. Imaging also is great.

K702: Hm... what happened to that great bass the HD600 had on this song? I'm not bashing this phone but it's bass decay is so quick that the bass sounds barely audible in complex parts of tis song. Bass has decent impact, but decay is to quick. Now PRaT is another thing. Eveything sounds very speedy and likes the phone is running the music quicker than it's actually laying. This song is also highly dynamic sounding and this phone proves it.

___________________________

Song: Through The Fire and The Flames
Artist: DragonForce

HD600: I'll start by saying the bass in this song is great and easy to pick out stuff, but kind of blends together. In complex stuff it seems a little blured, but not so bad. The speed of this song maybe too much for these phones it seems, this soung is very fast, but sounds a little sluggidh to my ears through the HD600. Dynamics are decent for Metal, but not the best. PRaT is also good, but not amazing. Hm... I think it's just the limitations of this headphones or it could simply be the way the song was mixed.

K702: That's what I'm talking about! Bass is clean, articulate, and very defined though still lacking in a little impact but not in body. The K702 shows that it has top transient responce by easily keeping up with the song. in the most complex sounding solo's and even through the double bass drums.

___________________________

Now I will say that the HD600 in Balanced mode was far more dynamic sounding and also had far better PRaT compared to SE. For one the DragonForce soung sounded amazing with balanced output, but slow with SE.

UPDATE: (1/9/2010)
Classical Music
I tried some music by Bach an Beethoven and really some of it is incredibly spacious and has tons of air. I tried some orchestral music as well by Rick Wakemen and New Japan Philharmonic (Biohazard Orchestra) and they sounded good. I also tried a CD called "Biohazard OP91" and it's an homage to the Resident Evil games featuring rerecorded orchestral music for the first game. Really the OP91 CD is amazing. There is a lot of low level detail that can be heard while on my X-CanV8P such details couldn't be heard.


Conclusions:
This is definitely an excellent amp at this price. It's very dynamic and will certainly drive most headphones to their full potential. This amp is an exceptionally good match for the HD600 and K702 and really does drive them properly. I can firmly say tht I highly recommend this amp.
post #2 of 320
Nice review!! I'm wondering if you could test some classical music?

Also how do low impedance phones perform with the Roc? Thanks
post #3 of 320
Thread Starter 
Thanks man! As for your question about classical music, I can't stand the stuff but I can compare with that if you wish.

Also for low impedance phones, this amp will do them all justice. I have balanced a PortaPro/KTXPRO1 and both sounded fabulous from the amp. This amp can fully power them.

Anything else you need to know?
post #4 of 320
Nice review, using my type of music as well
Just ordered a Woo6se but I am looking for a balanced SS amp in the near future and the Roc is top of my shortlist.
post #5 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie_X View Post
Thanks man! As for your question about classical music, I can't stand the stuff but I can compare with that if you wish.
LOL...would be great if you could

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie_X View Post
Also for low impedance phones, this amp will do them all justice. I have balanced a PortaPro/KTXPRO1 and both sounded fabulous from the amp. This amp can fully power them.

Anything else you need to know?
Would the volume be too loud for low impedance phones? AFAIK there's no gain switch.

Are you planning to balance the k702? The k702 will likely be my next pair of phones
post #6 of 320
Thread Starter 
Well not loud actually, I'm using it in conjunction with my X-CanV8P (in Pre-Amp mode) and I can tone the volume down on the V8P with the dial.

As for the K702, they will be balanced as soon as I finish modding them. I'm taking out the default 3-pin mini XLR and am soldering in a 4-pin mini XLR. So it should look about the same hopefully.
post #7 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekingduck View Post
Are you planning to balance the k702? The k702 will likely be my next pair of phones
If you don't have K702 yet and are serious about going (4 pin XLR) balanced - take K701 instead.

Color and cable aside - K701 and K702 are the same. But K701 has "fixed" 4-wire headphone cable while K702 has detachable 3-wire headphone cable.

The easiest way to go balanced is to cut last 30 cm (or so) of K701 cable, determine L+, L-, R+ and R- wires and solder male 4-pin XLR connector to part of the cable that goes to headphones. Voila - you have balanced K701.

To remain "backward compatible" solder the female 4-pin XLR connector to remaining 30 cm part of the K701 cable that goes to headphone plug.
post #8 of 320
Thread Starter 
I'm modding my K702 to take a 4-pin mini xlr. So balancing will be possible.
post #9 of 320
the 6moons review says the k702 gain much more bass by balancing them ... it makes them less deficient in that area

is this true?
post #10 of 320
Thread Starter 
They do? Could you please send me that link?
post #11 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by eugenius View Post
the 6moons review says the k702 gain much more bass by balancing them ... it makes them less deficient in that area

is this true?
Well, kind of, it is...

"Kind of" is there because balanced K701 are much better controlled and there is more of "everything". You do hear deep, defined bass... but the K701 signature remains - balancing would not convert them into bass-head (p)reference.
post #12 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by FauDrei View Post
If you don't have K702 yet and are serious about going (4 pin XLR) balanced - take K701 instead.

Color and cable aside - K701 and K702 are the same. But K701 has "fixed" 4-wire headphone cable while K702 has detachable 3-wire headphone cable.

The easiest way to go balanced is to cut last 30 cm (or so) of K701 cable, determine L+, L-, R+ and R- wires and solder male 4-pin XLR connector to part of the cable that goes to headphones. Voila - you have balanced K701.

To remain "backward compatible" solder the female 4-pin XLR connector to remaining 30 cm part of the K701 cable that goes to headphone plug.
Thanks for the advice. Time to pick up some soldering skills perhaps, which I have none
post #13 of 320
Agreed, when I had K702s and hardwired them with Jena 18g as my retard-helmet approach to getting bass out of them, it was fairly effective, warmed them up quite nicely. They definitely sounded delightful, not approaching HD800s but as pleasing as the best Beyers. I think the 4-pin XLR in the earcup is a great idea, the connectors should be the same size just with that extra pin in there, keeps it looking factory, if anything it raises their value. This is a mod that should be standard, the 3-pin cable belongs in the Stone Age. The K702 was supposed to be some sort of step up from the K701 and instead it just moved things in reverse.
post #14 of 320
Reading between the lines: you did't really like it and you can't bring yourself to admit it.
I see a FS thread in your future.

Edit: Just make sure to upgrade your source before you even think of selling it, to something better than the integrated DAC in the Xcan.
post #15 of 320
Zombie_X, congratulations on your review.
May I ask one question please.
If your Audio GD ROC is 10 as the best, what will number will you give to your previous X-Can V8P?
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