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[Review] Graham Slee Voyager portable headphone amp

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Firstly, a proviso. The Graham Slee Voyager is a good/great headphone amp. But, it isn't particularly inspiring when driving balanced armature earphones. Wherever such an earphone would suffer non-amped suckout in frequency response, it will suffer the same even whilst amped by the Voyager. That out of the way, this amp is quite stunning.

Full Review with pictures and unabridged text: Graham Slee Voyager headphone amp in review - plastic surgery done right

One of the best bits is that its smooth, warm nature. There is no grain and no harshness anywhere. BUT, thankfully, it has an underlying layer of fun and power.

It is particularly well-suited to headphones such as the DT880, a host of Ultrasones, and surprise surprise, the Final Audio 1601 series. The reason is because of its warmth, but also because it packs a lot of power within its usable volume range.

One thing I appreciate about the DT880 is how well it scales up the wall. The spot near the ceiling is still an out-of-production Meier amp which I used to own (and forgot the name...), but a couple of spots down (and in terrific in its own right) is the Voyager.

There is no portable (not talking FiQuest or Lisa here) I have used which brings out such lovely textured bass from the DT880. It isn't desktop amp powerful, but it is deep and grainy. The Ultrasone DJ1Pro, however is where the Voyager shows its colours.

It goes 90% of the way in terms of dry, deep bass response with the Voyager while keeping pace up top. I have used more powerful, expensive portable amps, but for this 64Ω headphone, the Voyager outclasses all of them.

Build quality is, apart from looking like a pillbox, amazing. All of the in and out ports are easy to get at and Jalco ports are amazing to be sure. Secure, snug and fit, they grip the headphone or line in very well. Taking the amp apart to change op-amps is also simple: just untwist four bolts, flip the switches to 'battery' and then 'contour', and voila!, the case slides easily off.

The large case affords a neatly laid out circuit which is oh so easy to get to. Despite being plastic, I have not suffered a single instance of interference, but I will admit to not using the amp that much whilst on the bus as most of my portable earphones are balanced armatures.

At its price of ~255$ US, the Graham Slee Voyager more than makes a dent in the portable amp market and kicks way higher than its cost of ownership.

GRAB
LL
post #2 of 13
Thanks for the review, Shigzeo. One question, though: when you say that this amp is not designed to be used with armature based IEMs, do you mean low impedance phones in general, or just this specifical technology?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I mean balanced armatures. It does pretty well with 16Ω dynamic earphones as can be seen in the full review. While I assume it isn't designed for balanced armature earphones, I could be wrong. But, it doesn't sound like it is.

For everything else (especially headphones), it is very good.
post #4 of 13
Strange behaviour :s
Thanks for the info!
I have a question concerning headphone amps in general (sorry for my "n00biness"): when it is possible to change the OPamp to tailor the sound, how do I know which OPamps will be compatible and how it will sound? I guess it's a case of trial and error, trying to find the best synergy between the amp and the phone, right? And also, do you know where I could find OPamps (I mean, the chips)? Thanks
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
There are lots of guides here on Headfi, but my ailment will put me to bed now without searching for a good one for you.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Not that strange at all really. Balanced armatures are made completely different to moving coil earphones and make more violent impedance swings than moving coil earphones. Some probably swing down below 8Ω, maybe even lower, really taxing the outputs of amps and DAPs. The Voyager is made for 32Ω - 600Ω headphones, but does a good job with 16Ω earphones as well.

I have used many amps which cannot run balanced armatures well at all - frustrating, but true.

But other than BA iems, this amp is amazing - simply top notch. A few users threads have noted the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Photofan1986 View Post
Strange behaviour :s
Thanks for the info!
I have a question concerning headphone amps in general (sorry for my "n00biness"): when it is possible to change the OPamp to tailor the sound, how do I know which OPamps will be compatible and how it will sound? I guess it's a case of trial and error, trying to find the best synergy between the amp and the phone, right? And also, do you know where I could find OPamps (I mean, the chips)? Thanks
post #7 of 13
Excellent reveiw ,been looking at this amp for a while ,could you tell me when you say not so good with powerful sources ,is that home sources or powerful portables such as my sflo2 (as this is the player i would use it with and my hfi780s)
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I mean real sources. The Sflo is okay, but it is nothing compared to a real Hifi. I have used both and while the Sflo is okay, it doesn't have as good an output as is boasted here. The Voyager is a great amp for real headphones and 95% of dynamic earphones. Low hiss, great EQ (contour) and very, very mature sound. It is a very, very good amp which is warmer than its competition, sounding like a home amp in some ways.
post #9 of 13
ok this is the paragraph im reffering to
"And, when fed from powerful sources, it loses amping power pretty quickly, defaulting instead to distorted renditions of bass and channel blurring."
i was wondering what specific equiptment gave these results but as it is a portable i suppose its meant to work with a dap line out.
I mentioned my sflo as the line out is as you know powered by its own op amp and has quite a high output , i thought this may have had impact on the sound
post #10 of 13

Thanks a lot for the review.

does that do any good to a shure SE 315?

I am not too happy with the performance of Shure SE315s yet.

Thanks

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by danielghofrani View Post

Thanks a lot for the review.

does that do any good to a shure SE 315?

I am not too happy with the performance of Shure SE315s yet.

Thanks


Hey danielghofrani, the last post was nearly a year back, so shigzeo may not be watching this thread anymore. Having said that, he did note the Voyager doesn't perform well with balanced armatures--which is what's in the SE315.

 

On a more general note, if you don't already like your earphones, an amp is not typically the way to solve that problem. Amps tend not to change the overall sound of an earphone; they are meant to help bring your earphone from "good" to "great".

post #12 of 13

Thank you for your reply.

aha I see.

I am very happy with the build quality of the IEM, but the sound could be better. I think I will go for the 535's next because they are the same build quality and they are supposed to sound better.

actually I did listen to the voyager with these earphones before. I think it was a tad bit better, but the owner of the amp told me that I probably did not hear the difference since the connection cable from my sansa clip+ to the amp was too long and my sansa could not "drive" the cable.

I will definately give it another go.

that being said I think Se315 are very good for the price.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by danielghofrani View Post

... the owner of the amp told me that I probably did not hear the difference since the connection cable from my sansa clip+ to the amp was too long and my sansa could not "drive" the cable.


I would be sceptical of a man who says this, as far as his understanding of basic science is concerned. But, that is very much a topic for another thread.

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