Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › AT HA5000 vs. SPL Phonitor vs. Yamamoto HA2 and ATH W5000, not really a battle, but still...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

AT HA5000 vs. SPL Phonitor vs. Yamamoto HA2 and ATH W5000, not really a battle, but still...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
From last week or two I have been lucky guy to have this wonderful opportunity to have these great 3 machines in one time on loan. I don't have much time to write things up lately, so take it like it is and be sure, if possible, to try any of them, before purchase, cos they are not cheap, even used and they all sound great.


System:

Unison Research Unico CD player
ATH W5000
Amber RCA studio IC
Van Den Hul D102III Hybrid XLR
AT HA5000
SPL Phonitor
Yamamoto HA2



AT HA5000 is the most logical, or even compromising choice from 3, at least in my set up. I have tried all of them in combinations like AT vs. Yammy, AT vs. Phonitor and Yammy vs. Phonitor.

The aria where AT wins is his capability to adopt any genre you may listen to it, especially reproduction of female voices, simply unbeatable from the group. I think I did try enough variety of genres where females are singing, such as Jazz, Electronica/Trance, Ambient and Folks. Non of them sound anything but brilliant through AT HA5000, period.
Another thing that AT offers where other two trying, is delicacy, in every aspect, reminds me Yoshino HP4 a little bit. I am amazed by longer run listening sessions without to get any irritations, what so ever, but keeping all details, airiness, extension and musicality. Yes, the bass isn't that tight, I am quite critical up here, and the sound is bit coloured compare to SPL, but who cares, however in the sense of quantity, no problems at all, its even to much with some TRANCE tracks. After all, you must not only looking for perfection, but also enjoy the music and AT does this at very high level, it grabs you and the only thing you have to do is to choose the record you like, laying back and enjoy, cos AT will do the rest...
Also, I called AT as the most compromising from 3, but not because it does things just more acceptable only, no, its because AT absorbs the best possible from the record and transform in to the most enjoyable experience, which you can also call as most natural match or, like I already wrote, delicate. And this is what I like while listen to the music, I guess I simply like delicate presentation. Full body sound, without to be woolly. Extended and airy, without producing any shrillness, simply by showing the most balanced presentation, mean not crossing the line, even it will give you the better detail, bass or any of such thing we know our systems for.
One "negative" thing to mention, I don't like to much bass with some TRANCE tracks, its not bad, but for a longer sessions it is, plus sometimes I like listen to it with bit high volume level and that's where the other issue showing up, his volume adjustment, not flexible enough, imo.

This amp is dead quite, no hum or any other noise, up to the highest level.


SPL Phonitor - Great amp, no doubt, but I don't fully happy with his performance paired with W5000. First of all , he have some upper midbass tone that can sound to powerful and gives voices, in some situations, shouting tone, where AT reproduces them flawless and liquidly natural, but SPL push them more in to your face, not such good one. Also piano can sound less pleasant at the top, kind of resonant. Another thing is, its bass, which is simply one of the best I heard, regarding texture, but be careful with the volume, cos your ears will become pretty tired after a while, cos of his overpower, and again, mean TRANCE up here, however this issue goes to all of them. Do not get me wrong, but W5000 don't need such one, unless you want your brains shaking all the time. Bass is tight and detailed as it gets and here is the surprise, W5000 like this very much with ROCK music. After I was bored by other stuff I thought, what about my heavy stuff, so, Deep Purple's "Purpendicular" and Metallica's "Master of Puppets" were chosen. The not expecting shock was present only after couple of seconds, I thought WTF, seriously, the speed, attack, detail and one more time speed, this amp is fast, I mean like F1. Not sure how, but seems that the voices were sounding more acceptable, however found DP more aggressively than Metallica, voices I mean. Maybe because they been recorded bit differ, cos of more front presence of guitars, I don't know, cant think of anything else than that. Anyway, I was listened to couple of DP tracks and then, pretty quickly, cos of excitement, switched to Metallica. Holy mama, finally I could hear the SPL at his best and the W5000 were rocking the socks out of me, pure joy. I don't think I was missing anything, I mean anything, everything was there that made my impressions even stronger about SPL. I believe if you use the right headphones with it, nothing more you will need. Not that W5000 are bad sounding through SPL, it can be better, that's all. Not sure how to say it differently, but maybe AT is Tung Sol and SPL is Telefunken, where AT have delicately rich tone and SPL neutral smooth and more tighten.
One thing to mention. SPL produces an hum, you hear it quite well when you pair W5000 with it, so, with the music off I didn't dare to push volume higher than 11-12, however doesn't have any influence in to a sound quality, but still pity.

Yamamoto HA2 - Well, where all this leaves Yammy, hmm. The biggest issue I have with it is his bit compressed soundstage, more focused presentation and, which is also very important, the sound is bit darker for my taste. I mean, when you switch to AT HA5000, man, its a relief. The rest is simply there, cos Yammy is a great amp, but than again, not such, using with W5000. I know that he was voiced with W1000, but from my very deep memory, W1000 signature is lighter and they don't have the bass and mids like W5k does as their basics, so, that's what makes more sense when you may use Yammy with W1000 and will get the possible perfect match. Darker presentation and fattier bass do not do justice for W5000 that much, especially comparing to AT, but also to SPL, which is why make Yammy less interesting, unless you really like his sound sig. The jump from SPL > AT isn't that huge, but from HA2 feels more intense or something. It doesn't make Yammy a bad amp, but again, its just the fact that Yammy less airy, more focused, however still very smooth on top, punchier with rock and quite rich, which probably come from valves. The used valves are the stock one, where some other brands, such as TUNG SOL, but also more expensive stock brand may change the presentation a bit.
You must put HA2 away from other electronics, cos he is going to make noise, but if you put it away, all becomes quit, however by connecting of RCA cables, you still hear some of it, where AT do not produce anything. Up here is also the same issue as with other two, bass with TRANCE sound to powerful and the volume adjustment offers little space to play with it before its getting to loud.


As you can see, there is something that unite all 3 of them and not in the good way. I seriously having an issue with their volume adjustment, simply to limited to play with, cos these amps are powerful enough to drive any headphones around, but what's up with volume? I mean, if you going to push it bit higher, and I mean slightly, than you can take it, just by accident or cos you like bit more, well, it will not feel pleasurable at all. Its like anything above 9 o'clock are forbidden, not aloud and feels not liquid at all, simply hits your very hard.

Conclusion

There is nothing much to say than already been wrote, maybe one thing I didn't mention are their build and cosmetic quality. Well, all of them are build like it should be, very good. They feel and looks great, each in their own way, Yammy is bit heavier than AT, but SPL is very light, huge visually, but not such in the weight territory. I found that AT wins up here as well, however HA2 isn't that far behind, where SPL is to long and feels pretty empty for his size and his front is very personal thing, imo.
All 3 amps have a very solid bass, where AT succeed to manage the same quantity, but than with more delicacy, where the quality doesn't really suffer, maybe if you are talking about perfection, but at some point, when I was comparing AT and SPL, I lost my sense by picking the differences between them, except the fact that SPL simply neutral, while AT is just right for W5000. In fact, SPL neutrality never bothered me, instead, he sound very smooth, but than looses, just a little, using with some music. I mean, it was kind of cliché, at one particular night, when I couldn't hear anything that was much differ from AT. They both are fast, where SPL, maybe, slightly faster, but you have to really do such close test to pick that up, so, I thought, never mind, I enjoy them both, equally. And then Yammy, when I putted Metallica on I thought again, man, what the hell are you trying to find, cos he rocks as good as the other two, jazz sounds wonderful as well and the bass is also great. Then I realise, its simply the used to it effect, longer you listen to it, easier you forget about the possible flaws, or may accept them. That's why I am going to finish as I was started, AT is the most compromising and logical choice from 3, not only the sound wise, but also because of his purpose, to be an W5000 headphone amp in the first place, its his territory, period.
Other than that, choose your own sound sig, cos they all offers a very good quality of it, however regarding W5000, AT HA5000 is the winner for me.

p.s. Would like to thank my Dutch buddy Henk (tohenk2) for making this loan possible, thanks mate.

Enjoy!







post #2 of 18
Nice impressions! Is the AT amp the most expensive of the 3 you tested?
post #3 of 18
Nice write up, totally agree with you on the AT5000. If you love the W5000, HA5000 is the only way to go. It does pretty well with my DX1000 too.

@mrarroyo, the HA5000 probably the least expensive in the long run, yammy is slightly less but tube rolling is added expense.
post #4 of 18
Great writeup. I've always been curious how the HA-02 compares to Audio-Technica's higher end HA lineup, and thus far there hasn't been a great deal of info. Nicely done.
post #5 of 18
The HA5000 / W5000 combo is a great setup, I somewhat regret selling mine.
Did so at the time, because I didn't like the fit of the W5000, and I was buying into the balanced hype.

Although I'm very happy with the setup I have now, one can't deny that W5k/HA5k could be the last stop for many people.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

No, SPL is the most expensive USD 1900, then AT USD 1200 and slightly behind Yammy USD1000

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Nice impressions! Is the AT amp the most expensive of the 3 you tested?
post #7 of 18
Nice write-up Blackmore! Thanks for putting the time in.

I had the Yamamoto and HA5000 at the same time with the W5000s and definitely preferred the HA5000. I kept it around long after the W5000s were gone. It is simply a fantastic amp. I also preferred the W1000s with the HA5000 over the HA-02.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Grag, happy could do that as well.

How do you like Luxman, any huge differences vs. AT?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gu Sensei View Post
Nice write-up Blackmore! Thanks for putting the time in.

I had the Yamamoto and HA5000 at the same time with the W5000s and definitely preferred the HA5000. I kept it around long after the W5000s were gone. It is simply a fantastic amp. I also preferred the W1000s with the HA5000 over the HA-02.
post #9 of 18
Thank you for the write up. Now, I am sure to get the AT-HA5000 when funds become available.
post #10 of 18
I generally do not really find differences between amps to be 'huge' maybe just different in slight shades of subtle. But, with headphones, those differences can seem big with intense scrutiny...

The P-1 and the HA5000 are both stunning amps and just slightly different in a way that I think I would have trouble clearly expressing. The P1 reminds me a bit of the Apache I had-- there is a slight character to it and I think the best I can say is it seemed a bit like my Apache in a very good sense. I definitely feel it is an excellent all-around good for all headphones amp. I do feel the same way about the HA5000 too though. It is not a one-trick pony good for only the W5000s or ATs in general, I liked it with every pair of headphones I tried. It ended up being my favorite with the RS1s and GS1000s although it does nothing to alleviate the peakiness I found with them. I definitely liked the W5000s with the HA5000 best of any amp combination though. Other amps I used with W5000s seemed to always be introducing something that should not be there, with the HA5000 it was just this incredible transparency.

Do you have the Getz/Gilberto SACD? The one track, The Girl from Impanema, justifies ownership of the W5000/HA5000 combo. Gilberto's wife whispering Portuguese sweet nothings into my ear was my first real experience with audio nirvana. Thanks to Welly Wu and his threads ;-), I have repurchased the W5000s and am now looking into another HA5000. The W5000s are amazing but not quite in the zone for me personally-- like many, I wish the bass were a bit more prominent and the treble a bit less present, but as you say, female vocals are sublime with them. I will be nice to have them available if only for that reason. Sigh.
post #11 of 18
Seems like you are describing audio Nirvana..
post #12 of 18
That really helps with information about the two Japanese amps, thanks buddy. Still not too much information on some of others - CEC HD53R and the Intercity comes to mind. Oh well, maybe someday.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, great, especially with top range headphones like this, very nice. Unfortunately I don't own anything else than W5000 and K1000, so I wasn't able to do more interesting sessions, but to be honest, it was already great experience.

I do have FLAC files of Getz/Gilberto, so I know what are you talking about, must have that CD as well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gu Sensei View Post
It is not a one-trick pony good for only the W5000s or ATs in general, I liked it with every pair of headphones I tried. It ended up being my favorite with the RS1s and GS1000s although it does nothing to alleviate the peakiness I found with them. I definitely liked the W5000s with the HA5000 best of any amp combination though. Other amps I used with W5000s seemed to always be introducing something that should not be there, with the HA5000 it was just this incredible transparency.

Do you have the Getz/Gilberto SACD? The one track, The Girl from Impanema, justifies ownership of the W5000/HA5000 combo. Gilberto's wife whispering Portuguese sweet nothings into my ear was my first real experience with audio nirvana. Thanks to Welly Wu and his threads ;-), I have repurchased the W5000s and am now looking into another HA5000. The W5000s are amazing but not quite in the zone for me personally-- like many, I wish the bass were a bit more prominent and the treble a bit less present, but as you say, female vocals are sublime with them. I will be nice to have them available if only for that reason. Sigh.
post #14 of 18
Hey Great review Blackmore,yes like you said you certainly are a lucky guy....
3 quality amps to play your W5000's, it must have been a gas for you...
Only problem is you have to return them now.(grrrrrrrrrr)
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by maguire View Post
Hey Great review Blackmore,yes like you said you certainly are a lucky guy....
3 quality amps to play your W5000's, it must have been a gas for you...
Only problem is you have to return them now.(grrrrrrrrrr)
no problem for me...
Great review Blackmore. I really enjoyed reading it. I totally agree that for the W5000 the AT-HA5000 is best.
Certain combo's have a synergy that's hard for me to describe - but easy enough to recognise. Nice that after 2 weeks you arrived at the same prefs as I did - and judging by the replies you (we!) are not alone. Thanks for putting it in words!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › AT HA5000 vs. SPL Phonitor vs. Yamamoto HA2 and ATH W5000, not really a battle, but still...