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Official Audio-gd Sparrow thread - Page 49

post #721 of 725



What DC offset do you measure on the headphone jacks? I measured yesterday on the G, R, and L labeled contacts on the headphone jack board using Fluke 87 V DMM. The unit was idle for ~10 min before measuring. The values are

  G & R: 2.1mVDC

  G & L: 6.8mVDC


The offset on the left channel is higher then 5mVDC I would be comforable with. The values shouldbe as close to zero as possible, as the voltage causes the headphone coil to be shifted in 'neural' position affecting reproduction.


The unit I have has slighly higher volume in right channel. The difference is annoying. I tested the same source with AMB M3, and M3 plays both R and L channels with the same volume even after swapping RCA cables. Reached out to Kingwa for resolution. Let's see what happens.

post #722 of 725

^ The volume imbalance will depend on gain setting and sensitivity of earphones/headphones being used. Does your M3 have the same gain value as your Sparrow?


My stock Sparrow version B produces equal volume in both channels once I pass 7-7:30 o'clock with the volume pot, using Yuin PK1s or full size headphones. I do not use it with ultra-sensitive BA IEMs, because the gain is too high for IEMs in stock version. You can lower the gain if you know how to DIY and Kingwa will do it for you as well if you ship it back (some Headfiers have done so to use with IEMs with good result).


I had an AMB M3 with a gain of 11X and it had channel imbalance under 8 o'clock and produced hiss with sensitive earphones. When we lowered the gain to 2X, hiss and channel imbalance were all gone. So it depends on setting of your equipments.


As for the DC offset measurements, did those value remain the same after you played music for a few minutes? And what is the accuracy/noise floor of your DMM/measurement?

Sorry I currently do not have the equipment to measure it for you but my unit sounds just right with my full size headphones.





post #723 of 725

I'm thinking about buying a used one from this site and I'm pretty new to this world so I'm having a hard time getting perspective on how these would compare to others out there.




At $140 shipped, is this a good deal? I'll be driving a pair of Sennheiser pc360s (internals of the 558s) since a lot of my use is Gaming, Music and Skype (in that order). I know these are a pretty entry level set of cans so I suspect the Sparrow will drive them to their best. I'm just wondering how expensive of a pair of cans I'd confidently run off this amp if I kept it for a few years.


Also, would I be really wasting my time if I ran these off USB from my MacBook Pro? Yes, I know the sp-dif output would sound better but I'm not ocd enough to be concerned with extracting the last 1% of the sound quality. If so, I'd have bought better headphones.

post #724 of 725

I used to have one of these and loved it... but sold it! 


 Thinking seriously of getting another one. Is there something more current that I should be looking at? A newer GD-Audio model? 

post #725 of 725

I just picked one of these up used. It is the B version with no BNC instead of USB. I have been doing listening between my 3 dac/amps to really dial in to the differences. I also have a Schiit Fulla and an Emotiva Stealth DC-1. I really want to like the Sparrow. Its got a lot of power for such a small box. Now to be fair the Emotiva has dual DAC chips that run balanced which is going to produce a different sound than a single stereo DAC chip. The Emotiva being my reference point for really balanced, full sounds large soundstage; the Sparrow does not beat out that for sure. This is my first Audio-GD product that I have owned. I have always been interested in what they are doing as they are one of the last companies to be using the R/2R resistor ladder DAC chips. The sparrow of course does not have that chip nor because it is the B version the higher quality components.


I tested with Hifiman HE-400i and AKG K240 headphones. Source Macbook Pro Optical Tos-link out to the DAC/AMP. The music I tested with were 16 bit 44100 FLAC and 44100 512kb/s and higher MP3s.


Look and Feel

I really like the look of the black metal enclosure. Even though the pot is the lower grade one it still feels smooth. Though I can hear the channel imbalance at very low settings, these settings are not what I usually listen to music at. Comfortable listening is between 10 and 11 on the clock. The input switch does feel a bit cheap. Also it does not have a lot of weight so this could be put in a backpack and brought to and from the office or on a long trip. It is not portable in that it requires an outlet and is a bit big to roll around with at a coffee shop (Enter Schiit Fulla). It does not have a full splattering of inputs, like no analog in or out but I only use optical from my MBP anyway.  Overall I think it looks nice in the stack.


Comparison to DC-1

The sparrow seems a bit brighter than the DC-1, with a bit less soundstage. The lows are less rich as well, seems like there is a bit of a roll off on the lower end. Things seemed closer into my head with the HE-400i (which have decent soundstage with just about any amp). When the bass gets heavy or the sounds get really complex and fast, i found that the sparrow was a bit blurry. I find the brightness to be more in the high mids to low highs. I did not find it brash or unlistenable though and as I can tell so far there is no fatigue with either systems. Overall imaging is fuller and more clean from the DC-1 but the Sparrow has decent imaging as well. Overall the polish and clean sound without rolloff on the low end makes the DC-1 the clear winner by a lot but also the DC-1 was $500 new and the Sparrow was $130 new. (DISCLOSURE: I got my sparrow used)


Comparison to Schiit Fulla

Having a single DAC chip and no balanced parts this is a bit more of a fair comparison. These two DAC/AMPs sound very similar. Both have a level of brightness to them. The Schiit Fulla has a bit more brightness and is a bit more fatiguing than the Sparrow. Also the rolled low end is present in the Fulla as well, though just slightly less. Of course with the Fulla being USB powered and the Sparrow being outlet powered the Sparrow has a much larger amount of power and thus what is 12 o'clock on the Sparrow is 2 o'clock on the Fulla. The pot is much higher quality on the Sparrow as well, though both share the low end channel imbalance. During some vocal tracks where the Fulla seemed to struggle with the higher and louder notes of the male singers the sparrow did not blink an eye. The soundstage are similar though the sounds presented up front (close to you) are a bit closer on the Sparrow. On the point of details I can say that the Sparrow does render way more detail in the good quality sources than the Fulla. The detail with the sparrow is fantastic for the price.


Overall I think the Sparrow is a nice and inexpensive amp, though it does not really beat out any of the equipment have it has a nice place as a DAC/AMP combo i can use as semi portable. In some ways it sounds like a larger and bit more powerful Schiit Fulla. I am not sure if it will remain a permanent fixture of my stack like the Emotiva DC-1 has earned but I think it is good enough for now.


I would like to compare this DAC/AMP to something like the Big Ego from Emotiva as I think that it might loose to that from what i have read about the Big Ego. 

Edited by CSdread - 3/8/16 at 8:35am
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