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Lake People V181: a new balanced amp <$1000

post #1 of 125
Thread Starter 
In the thread about the V200 amp from Lake People there was a mention of the new V181, a balanced solid state headphone amplifier.
I am very interested and take a look.
To my surprise they present it with a 5 pin XLR headphone output
So, I decide to e-mail them about it.
I got a prompt (within hours) answer from a very cooperative Fried Reim and also got permission to publish it.

So, here is the complete conversation:
Quote:
Hi,
I applaud you on bringing the V181 with balanced headphone output, but I am very puzzled about the use of the 5 pin XLR you are using. Current standard is 2 3pin XLR plugs (with only pin 1 and 2 used)and also used (becoming more popular): one 4pin XLR. The use of a 5pin connection is very incovenient, and I also don't understand what the use of the fifth pin could be.... Could you explain why you chose for the 5pin connection?
Thanks.
Kind regards,
Kees Dignum.
Quote:
Hello Kees Dignum,

thank you for your interest in our products, specially our brandnew V181.

About the connector:

When we began thinking about V181 it was also pleasure to think about new and better
connectors than practical good but technical dumpish 1/4" phone jacks.

First we encountered the often seen solution with 2 x 3-pin XLR
which - for my opinion - is not very smart.
1. What, when there is 1 cable with 4 conductors inside (AKG K701)
It takes lots of efforts to come from one 3-pin XLR to the other ....
2. What, when you want to come back with an adaptor back to phone jack.
Afterwards your cable is charged with 4 XLR connectors scaling probably more than the entire can ...

OK, next - as the XLR or any other quiet big connector is destroying the optical approach of the front panel -
we though about some really smart and tiny connectors like 4-way coaxial types, available for instance from Lemo.
But - available only theoretically and for dramatical prices.

Now, back on earth, we thought about 4-pin to 5-pin XLR.
We choose 5-pin because we are thinking about a automatic -6 dB gain reduction when
a balanced can is connected. This is what the 5. pin is good for !

Also - as there is no wireing standard even to 4-pin XLRs
most users will be in need of an adaptor, even when more common 4-pin XLR would be used.

So, now our standard is 5-pin XLR with femal socket (WITHOUT latch) installed in the amp.

For more information I added the manual from V181.

The V181 is only the beginning ! We are planning to make a balanced amp with V200 technologie inside.
Since its launch in May 2009, V200 is the most recognized headphone amp in central Europe.

Best Regards
Fried Reim
Quote:
Hello Fried Reim,
Thank you for your quick and elaborate answer.

Since I (and many HeadFiers with me) have already reteminated and/or recabled many of my headphones with either 2x3 pin XLR or 4pin XLR, I'm not happy with yet another variation.
There is a standard for the use of 4pin XLRs (derived from the 4pin XLR plug that was used on the AKG K1000), so the conversion from 4pin XLR to 2x3pin XLR is easy. Most everybody here agrees that the 2x3pin solution (initially chosen by Headroom) is not the most elegant one, and the 4pin solution has been adopted as the most viable alternative.
I am very entousiastic about this hobby of mine, and willing to invest large sums of money in it, but I'll pass on this one....

Is it ok if I post your answer on HeadFi?
Thank you.

Kind regards
Kees Dignum
Quote:
Hello Kees Dignum,

you are right, this would mean the next adapter which might be an issue for us to sell V181.

I just checked the pin-out from Neutrik NC5FBH compared to NC4FBH series.
It would be relatively easy possibe to use 4-pin XLR instead of 5-pin XLR on the front panel of V181 !!

It would be great if you would post this on headfi - lets see about the replies.

So I hope this will force you NOT to pass on this one and invest lots of money here ;-))
And I am very sure that you would not be dissapointed !!

Greetz

Fried
Looks like we got an interesting new contender in the sub-$1000- balanced amp category.
post #2 of 125
Interesting, although the 5-pin XLR is a little weird. So the whole justification is auto-switching gain, depending on whether or not the connected headphones are balanced? Even though they've got dip switches on that back for manual adjustment? Despite the hype, balanced is still very much in the minority for headphones, so I can't imagine why they'd make the barrier to entry even more awkward. Are they trying to sell headphone recabling too?
post #3 of 125
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mehve View Post
Interesting, although the 5-pin XLR is a little weird. So the whole justification is auto-switching gain, depending on whether or not the connected headphones are balanced? Even though they've got dip switches on that back for manual adjustment? Despite the hype, balanced is still very much in the minority for headphones, so I can't imagine why they'd make the barrier to entry even more awkward. Are they trying to sell headphone recabling too?
If you read the whole story, you'll notice they now consider changing their design to 4pin XLR.....
post #4 of 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kees View Post
If you read the whole story, you'll notice they now consider changing their design to 4pin XLR.....
No, I can see that, and that's a good thing. I just can't understand why they would even considered the 5-pin approach in the first place, as even their reasoning seems a little weak (and I'm not sure what you'd need a 5th pin for, when you could just look for discrete grounds on a 4pin/2x3pin connection).

It's generally not a good business decision to just try and randomly introduce a new standard in an established market without good justification behind it. Headroom had justification for introducing new connectors, as a 3-contact TRS connector obviously wasn't workable for balanced, and the discrete XLR-style pin setup has advantages over a TRRS connector. But at this point in time, and as your email to them stated, there ARE standards in place for 4-pin, and I find it a little surprising that they weren't at least somewhat aware of that.

*shrug* Just my thoughts.
post #5 of 125
Could someone tell me the AKG K-1000 pin designation on its 4-pin XLR ? Do you guys follow this pin designation when modifying the phones for Balance drive ?
post #6 of 125
AKG Pinout is
1 = +L
2 = -L
3 = +R
4 = -R

Violectric would follow this pinout when 4-pin sockets would be installed.
The Violectric 5-pin reads:
1 = +L
2 = -L
3 = NC
4 = -R
5 = +R

Regards

Fried Reim
post #7 of 125
Judging by the images of the V181 and by what was said in the emails, it seems that a male 4-pin XLR connector could easily fit into this new 5-pin socket. Still, I don't see why the extra pin is needed considering the back of the amp already shows switches for different gain settings.
post #8 of 125
Man I have a headache now!!!!! I don't understand why they would come out with a 5 pin when the 4 pin is becomming more available. I would hate to reterminate all my phones and then trying to sell them with a 5 pin connector.
post #9 of 125
So my 4 pin headphone would work with this amp?
post #10 of 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
So my 4 pin headphone would work with this amp?
Actually, after looking at some 4 pin and 5 pin reference images on wikipedia, it looks like they're incompatible after all.
post #11 of 125
What are the differences between the V181 and the new balanced amp based on the V200? When will this new amp come to market?

I've been looking for a compact balanced amp for quite a while, and these looks promising.
post #12 of 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
So my 4 pin headphone would work with this amp?
probably yes, because they are considering using the 4-pin XLR instead (as can be read in the OP's email swaps)
post #13 of 125
You know, they should send you an sample, around mid July, so you have enough burn in time, however an adapter is must or maybe they just send you 2 of them, one 5 pins and one 4, so we can try and hear the difference

Thanks for update mate
post #14 of 125
I am a "member of trade - manufacturer" and hope not to be banned because of answering questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregeas View Post
What are the differences between the V181 and the new balanced amp based on the V200? When will this new amp come to market?

I've been looking for a compact balanced amp for quite a while, and these looks promising.
V181 internally works with 4 x BUF634.
This is a power-op-amp being famous for good sound because of its velocity.

V200 works with quiet oversized transistorized amps inside (8 transistors per channel) and is one of the most recognized amps today in Europe.

To make an amp with balanced outs out of V200 technologie more space is needed. So the case of a balanced amp with a suggested name/number HPA V282 would be about 8 cm (3.15") in height instead of 4 cm (1.6") now.

We are quiet busy in developing new toys in the moment. So we will not release any new Violectric stuff this year.
post #15 of 125
The updated version of V181 with 4-pin XLR can be found here:

Violectric by Lake People

More information like manuals may be requested via this web site.
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