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Crack;Bottlehead OTL - Page 135

post #2011 of 6122
False alarm on the 6SN7 adapter.. looks like it works just fine, actually... perhaps it was the VT-99 I tried that was the issue. The Raytheon VT-231 arrived today so I promptly rolled it in with the adapter..

HOLY. SMOKES.

What a lovely sound!

It takes all the things I love about the better 12BH7s and "kicks it up a notch." Thing I noticed first was even better dynamics and what seems like an even lower noise floor. The better 12BH7 I've heard hardly leave me wanting when it comes to resolution.. but incredibly, the VT-231 seems to top that. Tonal reproduction is terrific, as well. It's a wonderfully smooth, airy, neutral tube. Bass is lean, mean, and fast.... but has excellent punch and impact when the music calls for it. The mids are very transparent, detailed, and spacious. Smooth, detailed, and possessing terrific depth, the mids are nothing short of jaw droppingly good. Treble, too is, perfect for my tastes. Not recessed, not excessively bright.. but balanced, extended, crisp, and smooth. There's a romantic quality to this tube's sound that makes me want to keep listening with the HD800.

To date, this is my favorite to in the Crack. Simply wonderful... and what sounds like a match-made-in-heaven with the HD800.

..VT-99 tomorrow..
post #2012 of 6122
Quick question on DACS for the Crack/Speedball to be matched with the HD800. I am considering one of two DACS that are on the same level - one is more neutral/detailed while the other slightly more romantic/warm and possibly a hair behind in detail. Would there be a general concensus on which type of DAC is better with an OTL like the Crack/Speedball combo? Thanks, UL
post #2013 of 6122
I have not received my crack yet but my WA2 is an OTL amp and it pairs quite nicely with my Bifrost with the Uber upgrade. Adds a nice amount of upper end clarity with a very nice bottom end punch.

Hopefully I will get my Crack and build it soon enough then I will be able to give impressions on it with the Schiit.
post #2014 of 6122
Quote:
Originally Posted by ULUL View Post

Quick question on DACS for the Crack/Speedball to be matched with the HD800. I am considering one of two DACS that are on the same level - one is more neutral/detailed while the other slightly more romantic/warm and possibly a hair behind in detail. Would there be a general concensus on which type of DAC is better with an OTL like the Crack/Speedball combo? Thanks, UL

1. FWIW, Bottlehead is on the verge of releasing its own DAC, in case you want to go for an all-Bottlehead setup. No word on price or timing, but it will be announced fairly soon.

2. The Crack is definitely on the fast and slightly bright end of the spectrum. Prior to buying the Crack, I thought I preferred "warm", "lush" and "tubey" amps. I was wrong. The speed and detail of the Crack is absolutely addictive. Everything else sounds muddy by comparison. So.....you have two options: (1) go for the neutral/detailed DAC to get more of a good thing, or (2) go for the warm/romantic DAC with the goal of tempering the Crack's natural tendencies. I would go for option (1), without question, but everyone has a different view.

Best regards,
Adam
post #2015 of 6122
Quote:
Originally Posted by mink70 View Post

I've owned a Crack that I bought from a fellow Head-Fier for several weeks, and I have to say that my initial impression with the HD800 and HD650 was not great. Compared to my JDS Labs  portable C421 op-amp powered unit (about $170), the Crack sounded bassy, rolled off on top, slow and lacking in detail—poky and boring. This was with a Sylvania 12BH7 driving a Tung Sol 6080. What I've discovered since is that the Crack is more responsive to tube rolling than any piece of equipment I've ever heard. Which is to say, unbelievably so.

Since then: I tried plenty of 12AU7s—Telefunken (my fave), Amperex bugle boy and globe, Mullard, RCA cleartop, EH Russians—then tried 12BH7s. Among those, RCA long black plate was best, with a clear, analytical, extended sound. So I got the Chinese adapter and tried a Sylvania brown-base 6SN7GT. The sound came alive for the first time. Dynamic, involving. Then the Tung Sol 5998 (actually a Chatham 2399) arrived, which I liked a lot. More air, bigger soundstage, easier, more fun. But it didn't love the Sylvania. So I tried all the input tubes again. The 12AU7s were okay (the cleartop sounded nice, but very midrangey and rolled), the RCA 12BH7, again, offered an incredibly detailed and wide-band sound, but a little cold and uninvolving.

So today I tried a Raytheon VT-321. Some of the best sound I've ever heard, anywhere, anytime. Burnished, dynamic, intense detail, cavernous acoustic, and so engaging. A sound so compelling it's almost mysterious. All kinds of reverberant cues are audible—singers breathing, people moving—and there's a palpable sensation of air compressing in the microphone. Details like the spittiness of a trumpet or the wood of a drum rim are now completely audible. All of this makes listening fun rather than just impressive in an audiophile kind of way. Was going to try a Tung Sol round-plate 6SN7 but no desire to mess around with the amp anymore. The improvement from stock is simply amazing. 

Now if I could only figure out how to decrease the gain a little. Turning down the digital volume control in Audirvana is probably not a great idea. Oy.

I wanted to bring this fantastic post back to the front of the thread.. cause it perfectly captures what I'm hearing from the Raytheon VT-231. From a technical & musical perspective, the Raytheon VT-231 is one of the most complete sounding tubes I've heard.. in the Crack or elsewhere. It's nothing short of breathtaking and the HD800 sounds criminally good with it. I presume it'll sound just as good with the HD600/650, too. I love my 12BH7 tubes (faves being the Amperex 6085, Tungsram E80CC, and an (early 1950s) RCA "curved black plate w/ a horseshoe getter").. but if they were somehow (unfortunately) whisked away at this very moment.. I wouldn't shed a single tear. Where it comes out ahead of even the better 12BH7s (I've owned) is articulation and refinement at the edges of the freq spectrum, soundstage, resolving ability, and clarity. I'm not even going to bother making comparisons to 12AU7s.. it makes them sound like "Fisher Price" tubes (personally speaking, of course.. and no, I'm not exaggerating).

The Raytheon's VT-231's bass is tight, clean, extended, speedy. It textures with excellent precision and offers just the perfect punch when the music calls for it. The midrange is, undoubtedly, a show stealer. It's spacious, incredibly detailed, vibrant, clear, and possesses wonderful tonal purity. All this is presented in an impeccably smooth, liquid manner. Vocals have a naturally effortless quality in the way they're presented.. as if they're "suspended" in space. You're delicately surrounded and immersed in the music in such a natural manner. To use an old cliche.. I'm hearing plenty of things in records (I've listened to a thousand times) that I "never knew existed before".. or if I knew such details existed, I haven't heard them with the kind of clarity and accuracy I'm hearing now. The treble in no way, takes a backseat to the bass and midrange.. as it carries over a lot of the same qualities of the midrange.. smooth, detailed, even, and very resolving.. but never piercing, fatiguing, or harsh.

I could go on an on about this tube.. but I've already taken up enough of your time. it's an 'end game' level tube for me, as far the the BH Crack/HD800 combo is concerned. Mink70 said it best: "A sound so compelling it's almost mysterious."
Edited by FlySweep - 7/21/13 at 7:06pm
post #2016 of 6122

Alert: OT...OT....Off Topic....blink.gif

 

But it is related in a sense.  Hope I don't offend anyone with this query. 

 

Is there a tube amp for speakers that is equivalent to the Crack?  In short, the Crack is DIY, highest performance to cost ratio, and has incredibly excellent documentation along with a great community around it. 

 

However, Crack is for headphones. Is there an equivalence for tube speaker amps? i figure if any would know, it would be this community.  

 

Thanks!
UL

post #2017 of 6122
Quote:
Originally Posted by ULUL View Post

Alert: OT...OT....Off Topic....blink.gif

 

But it is related in a sense.  Hope I don't offend anyone with this query. 

 

Is there a tube amp for speakers that is equivalent to the Crack?  In short, the Crack is DIY, highest performance to cost ratio, and has incredibly excellent documentation along with a great community around it. 

 

However, Crack is for headphones. Is there an equivalence for tube speaker amps? i figure if any would know, it would be this community.  

 

Thanks!
UL

www.bottlehead.com has a range of them

post #2018 of 6122

@ ULUL  PM'ed you.

post #2019 of 6122

Does anyone know if the Bottlehead crack will come with free speedball again anytime soon?  I totally dawdled around the deal couple of weeks ago and am totally kicking myself now for not jumping aboard after hearing it at a meet. T.T

post #2020 of 6122

That kind of sale - that is, that deep of a discount - happens only once in a great while. It started with us kicking around the idea of a "Xmas in July" thing. We had no idea how huge it would turn out to be. Probably losing money on every sale, but I guess we'll make up for it in volume...Anyway, we do not have any set pattern for any sale pricing. It simply happens when a combination of things comes together in just the right way. I can say that the free Speedball sale in specific will not happen again any time in the foreseeable future.

post #2021 of 6122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc B. View Post

That kind of sale - that is, that deep of a discount - happens only once in a great while. It started with us kicking around the idea of a "Xmas in July" thing. We had no idea how huge it would turn out to be. Probably losing money on every sale, but I guess we'll make up for it in volume...Anyway, we do not have any set pattern for any sale pricing. It simply happens when a combination of things comes together in just the right way. I can say that the free Speedball sale in specific will not happen again any time in the foreseeable future.

 

Sorry to hear you guys aren't making money off those sales. Kinda makes me feel guilty but I'm stoked for my crack w/speedball kit to get here! Certainly will be like Xmas in July smily_headphones1.gif

post #2022 of 6122
I am very excited as well. This is the end of the road desktop amp for me. It will be great not feeling I am missing out on anything by not upgrading.
post #2023 of 6122

Great amp for sure. Despite mine enclosure-less, enjoying it every minute I listen to them with the 600's.

post #2024 of 6122
Has anyone any impression comparison of Crack and CSP2+ and Taboo mkiii? Please forget the price at the moment, just sound signature alone, as I don't always believe price = quality.
post #2025 of 6122
Well...I'm not really sure what you are asking be compared. The appropriate comparison would be between the Crack and the CSP2+. The CSP2+ is an OTL headphone amplifier. Like the Crack, it is best suited for high-impedance headphones. The Taboo is a WOT amp better suited for low impedance headphones. The Taboo is most directly comparable to the Bottlehead S.E.X. 2.1. I have a Crack + Speedball, a Taboo mk II and a S.E.X. 2.1 kit that I haven't built yet. Since I don't have a CSP2+, I can't answer the question that I suspect is most relevant for your purposes (i.e., how do the CSP2+ and Crack compare?). Nor can I give you a direct comparison of how the Taboo and the S.E.X. 2.1 compare. But here are a few general comments: 1. Decware recommends that you use a preamp with the Taboo mk II (I don't remember whether they removed this recommendation for the mk III). This isn't an idle recommendation. At least with my HiFiMAN HE-6s, the Taboo quickly ran out of gas when used without a preamp, even though my source put out a nominal 2 VRMS signal. I bought and built a Bottlehead Quickie preamp ($99) for use with the Taboo, and it is indeed much improved now. (I've been told the S.E.X. v. 2.1 does not need any sort of a preamp, even for use with the HE-6.) 2. The Taboo is optically much nicer looking than the Bottlehead products in the form shipped, although the Bottlehead products make customization easy, so the sky is the limit. You can make your amp as nice as you want to. 3. The Taboo is freakin' huge. I thought I would like that before I bought it. Now that I have it, I find it a PITA. It is very, very deep, so it can't be put on most shelves. It really needs a tabletop surface of its own. 4. The Taboo's power switch has got to be in the most annoying place possible. It is all the way toward the back of the amp, sandwiched between the IEC plug and the transformer. I have big hands and I find it incredibly annoying to reach in there. 5. The Taboo uses 4 tubes. If my experience with various tube amps has taught me anything, it is this: tubes can be finicky and a royal PITA to deal with. Sure, the sound is wonderful, and I use my tube amps more than my solid state amps, but the more tubes you have, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong. The pictures of amps with lots of beautiful glowing tubes used to make me envious. Now I look at them and just think: you will never be able to enjoy that amp, because you will spend all your time trying to find tubes that work, and work well together. Then one will act up and you will be out of commission until you can secure a replacement... The S.E.X. only uses 2 tubes. 6. The Taboo has more features. I won't go into all of the details, but it has more jacks, more connections, more adjustments, etc. I haven't found any amp, even amps I've owned that cost over $2k, that can beat the Crack + Speedball when paired with my HD800s. The Taboo sounds excellent with my HE-6s, but I have a little bit of noise with mine that I can't seem to eliminate. I don't know whether it is due to the fact that I'm using a different source than I use with my Crack, or whether I have a tube issue, or whether I need still more preamplification, or whether there is something wrong inside my Taboo itself, but I sometimes have some crackling/static that I can't fully eliminate. After I build my S.E.X. 2.1, I will compare it to the Taboo, and sell whichever one I like less. Given my experience with Bottlehead products so far, I suspect the Taboo will be the one I sell. In light of the cost difference, the room for customization and the amazing sound, I would recommend the Bottlehead products over the Decware products. That's not intended as a slight against Decware, it's just that I think Bottlehead offers great products at great prices and the process of building your own amp is extremely rewarding. You can use the cost savings compared to the Taboo products to buy a stepped attenuator, boutique film caps, extra tubes, upgraded chassis hardware, etc. And still have lots of money leftover. BTW, I don't know if it has enough power for HE-6s, but you might want to consider the Bottlehead Mainline instead of a Crack + S.E.X. or a CSP2+ & Taboo. According to the Bottlehead team, the Mainline is superior to both the Crack and the S.E.X. I will eventually build a Mainline, but I doubt I will ever sell my Crack. It is THAT good with the HD800s. Best regards, Adam
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