price is $995 with 50% down, then you get in line and the wait begins. i spent about 3 hours at AZ hifi listening to their demo. afterwards i had to have one, so i laid down my plastic and got in line. i demo'd with my ipod/fostex HP-P1 combo with everything from depeche mode, to the blasters, to stacy kent, to canned heat, to iron maiden, to markus schulz, to deadmau5, to lily allen to slayer and ten years after. mostly alac files sourced from cd's and vinyl. vinyl rip is from a vintage pioneer turntable with the ortofon 2mRED cartridge into a mcintosh receiver, came out awesome. i used three headphones i could fit into my backpack: senns HD650, grado 325is and shure SHR840. I used the fostex as my source because I know what to expect from it coupled with my vinyl rips.
the sound of the amp is very unique. clarity and transparency are simply amazing. void is the coloration usual present with your typical tube amp, the over exaggerated 'house' sound associated with whatever brand is selling said tube amp. the sound is, in fact, flat, fat, relaxed and a bit dark. the highs are not overly emphasized, nor are the lows. the mids, however are incredibly smooth. not smooth, but more like 'schmoooooov'. the vocals are lifelike without being harsh, realistic without being callous. The soundstage is wide, but not too wide, like Diana krall and her ensemble in an intimate setting in a small venue in a dark corner with blue lighting hitting the drums and mic stand. Mids are liquid, warm, clean and vast. I really liked what I heard. Like liquid sex, if that makes sense.
The headphones best match was a tie between the grado and the shure, the already dark sounding HD650s were just hopeless with the dark/neutral sounding amp, perhaps different tubes with that combo or perhaps I should have brought the upgraded cables. The normal forward highs and mids of your typical grado sound were wrestled into submission by the amp, I glared at the amp smiling. Still sounded forward and intensely emphasized, but smoothed over like warm caramel was slowly poured over it. This was awesome. The warm sounding shures benefited greatly from the smooth sounding tube amp, new life to my shures. So ends my afternoon adventure trying to stay out of the 100+ degree humid scorcher that is a phoenix, az summer afternoon. I should have my unit by the time the leaves change color. Cheers mates.