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What makes RSA amps any better(or more $$) than my CMOY? - Page 5  

post #61 of 74

Don't know how relevant but I'll share a little story... when I went to picked up my Protector from Ray himself, in his place of biz and where all his amps were made (yep, had a little tour before I sat down and tested my amp). As I sat he went on to his desk and I too proceeded with my testing. Next thing I noticed, he was already on the phone with UPS or was that FEDEX... pissed, I mean really PISSED. I left and went out for a drive and came back and hour later. He then proceeded with the apologies and let me in on the story... There was an order for a Protector that should have been delivered days ago (forgot how many days). Instead, the package was on a tour vacation. It already went to country of destination but for some reason was flown to Paris and forgot where else! Ray gave them an earful and the package was intercepted and was delivered that same day.  Order was from a fellow head-fier from Norway... I think... (not too sure). Happened this year of March.

 

"I will do everything in my power to put you and and all my customers first... happy and satisfied ~ Ray" 


Edited by ThEvil0nE - 6/11/10 at 12:51am
post #62 of 74
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pappucho View Post

In defense of aftermarket amplifier, such as Ray's amplifiers, and your typical cmoy, there are several reasons why these higher end amplifiers should sound better.  For starters, the precision resistors he uses have a 0.1% tolerance meaning that if he uses a 10K resistor it's within 0.1% of that stated value.  These are much more expensive than the typical resistors used in a Cmoy which are usually 5% to 10% tolerance. 

It is well known by the engineering community that tolerance as low as .1% rating is not a true rating, but it is underrated.  Thus is the reason why CMOY diy kits, and any diy kits  recommend at maximum, 1% thin film transistor is recommended for my CMOY(Jlabs).  Also, for CMOY, 5% to 10% resistors doesn't have to be used(Jlabs recommends 1%), its user's choice what tolerance they want to put in.  Also, resistors are very cheap, even the very low tolerance ones.  Go to mouser and check.

 

What this translates to in sound is that each channel will more likely match each other and give you greater stereo separation.  He also uses thin film resistors which to my ears sound better than cheaper thick film smd resistor,

not true, 1% thin film transistor are recommended for CMOY for the Jlabs version. And you can put .1% one if you belive that they are .1 or you can actually hear the sound improvements.

 

again these are much more expensive than what someone would typically use when building a Cmoy.  Then theres the power supply. I don't know specifically what he uses but I am pretty certain it's regulated and will hold a steady voltage during driving of headphones.  If your cmoy uses a typical resistor voltage divider for your vitual ground, the basic power supply section of a typical cmoy, then you're not getting a good power souce for your amplifier circuit. 

 

portable amps are bias by a battery, DC source of power, no serious regulation is required for DC,  since power is constant(no fluctuations like AC).  If the source is AC its a different story. what regulators do you speak of for a DC supply?  Here is a link to wikipedia article on regulators,

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_regulator

 

Even if you add in an IC driven virtual ground you might not be getting a clean power source as what's typically used in these higher end amplifiers.  This means that your amplifier circuit is straining to drive your headphones and clipping and distortions are probably occurring muddying up the sound.  Then there's the question if you're Cmoy is a simple opamp design without buffers.  Another sign that you're potentially not getting enough current to your headphones and potentially underdriving them.

I'll say again, the power source is DC and you are comparing how clean the power is?? Please explain how 9v or 18v or 24v powered CMOY may be clipping  or under driving phones, but not RSA's 3v.  Swing limit??  I have not had any clipping issues( I've heard a RSA amp clip), I would suspect 3 to 4v RSA would clip before a 9V CMOY would.

 

 

I don't know Ray's amplifier design but based on how well his amps are received I believe he's taken this into consideration and building a circuit that will not fall short on driving your headphones.   Now, for that military grade circuit, it's just not the circuit board itself to take into consideration, it's the design of the board too.  From reading on his website, he separated signal traces and power traces from each other by placing all of each on a single side of the board. 

In other words, the power lines are all on one side and the signal traces are on the other.  What this means, in theory, that you should get less noise leaking into the signal from the power line traces.  Also, each side has a full ground plane further reducing channel crosstalk and potential noise interferance.  A dual side board such as this is more expensive than a single sided one.  I don't think the typical Cmoy has this advantage. 

 

Thats pretty much standard with any circuit layout, not just RSA.  Any circuit layout is designed reduce noise, RSA is not the only circuit does that. If you are saying a portable amp design inside single casing has complete noise isolation on an integrated on a PCB without using separate casing, thats far from the truth.  Also, where do you think noise comes from?

 

Knowing how a Cmoy is built, in it's simplest form, there are headphone driving limitations that will result in inferior sound when compared to more complicated designs. 

 

Its an overstatement to say simplicity equate to inferior sound, without any proper reasoning.  It is not always the case, CMOY is an example of that.

 

Now, all this is moot if you're happy with what you're hearing.  But from a design point of view, I can see where the money goes and why a higher end amplifier should sound better.   

 

I am happy with it, I built it with $15 budget and if it can drive my HD650, it can drive any IEMs without causing any distortions and I'll say again, I cannot differentiate SQ with RSA's amps.


Edited by High_Q - 6/11/10 at 2:00am
post #63 of 74

Shills and trolls, both beating the proverbial dead horse


Edited by grokit - 6/11/10 at 10:26am
post #64 of 74

I want to build a CMoy like yours. Where can I find the instructions? It doesn't sound like the standard one, since you mention active ground.

 

@RSA: Can we get non military spec with standard resistors and caps at a lower price?

post #65 of 74
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trysaeder View Post

I want to build a CMoy like yours. Where can I find the instructions? It doesn't sound like the standard one, since you mention active ground.

http://www.jdslabs.com/diy.php
 

post #66 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post




shigzeo, you have an SR71 but if I recall you were last using a T3D to AB the SFlo2 versus an iPod?


I don't have an SR-71, but I've used one extensively on loan. Still for IEM's, I'd not want to use something as bulky as an SR71, but I love it - love it.

post #67 of 74

What makes an RSA amp better?

 

Hghhhmm.

 

Let's see.

 

It's branded, for one. You can't deny brands make people change their minds.

It's not in an Altoid tin. Those cases look far more expensive than a simple Altoid tin.

It's small. Some of them are smaller than Altoid tins.

 

Nope.

Can't think anything else which makes them better.

 

Sound is subjective. If you can make a Cmoy sound better for you, then so be it.

post #68 of 74

the reason i brought up the arrow was not to criticize it as i havnt heard it but to question the strange equation im hearing (from some sorces) ie .caffine ultra =arrow  arrow >many top tier amps therfore caffine ultra> some top teir amps mmmm ok im not sure about this ,i suppose i just want to know if an upgrade is worthwhile!

 the AD8397 dual opamp sounds great ,lack of current limiting circuitry and no buffers needed in the output chain all help i suppose but damn my cmoy sounds amazing ,is there any added features in the arrow that would affect the actual sound ?

 DSC_00412.jpg


Edited by Antony L - 6/11/10 at 3:07am
post #69 of 74
HighQ, if you're happy with you're amp then good for you.  More power to you.  End of discussion.
 
You asked an honest questions and so I posted some obvious reasons why a high end amplifier would be worth more money and why it should sound better.  I don't know Ray's amplifier design so I can't elaborate on all the benefits to justify the higher price but I do know based on the information posted on his website a few of them and decided to elaborate on those few.
 
As for your response to what I posted earlier.  Have you gone to mouser and checked pricing, I do, frequently, and I can't find cheap 0.1% Thin Film SMD resistors.  These start at 0.92 each resistor but usually still cost as much .40 cents when buying in bulk.  Cheaper resistors like the ones used in a cmoy can cost as little as .02 cents when bought in bulk.  These higher end amplifiers usually use up to 20 to 30 of these resistors where your typical cmoy only uses 8?  That's 20X.40=8.00 and 8x.0=0.16.  I think the resistors alone cost more than all the parts used in a Cmoy.  Go to Mouser and search for 0.1% Thin Film Vishay 1206 and see for yourself.  I do because I use them frequently.  Wheter you think a 0.1% is better than a 1.0% resistor than that's up to you.  I think that they are, and to me I like the sound when using thin film smd resistors.
 
It looks like the Cmoy you bought is a nice little amplifier.  I don't know much about how it was designed but it looks like a simple Cmoy using a TLE based virtual ground.  There is also a Bass boost added into the circuit hence the small switch.  I don't think you should be questioning why other amplifier such as Ray's are more expensive and whey they should sound better.  I am sure that Cmoy sounds good to you, but right off the bat I can see how you get more by paying more. 
 
For starters, you're very limited by how much capacitance you can fit into that Cmoy design.  One of the main reasons portable amplifier amplifiers started laying down the power supply capacitors was to get more in there.  That Cmoy has very limited power supply capacitance.  How much do you have in your Cmoy?  I see some pics using 47uF?  I would expect there to be much better low frequency response in higher end amps that use more power supply capacitance.  Again, if you can't hear the difference then good for you. 
 
Also, it looks like that amplifier may be using DC Blocking capacitors at the output and would affect how the amplifier sounds.  I prefer going direct coupled and getting these capacitors out for better sound.  Then again, there may be some DC at the output and that's why they were put to block DC so you shouldn't do it with that particular amplifier otherwise damaging your headphones.  A properly designed amplifier can do without these.  If you can't hear a difference with or without these, good for you.
 
Regulated probably wasn't the correct word in my description.  When you divide a DC power source such as a 9V battery into two + - and create a virtual ground, you want that voltage to remain constant during amplifier use.  You want there to be enough current to drive the amplifier circuit and a constant level of voltage that is divided exactly in  half between the + and - rails.  You can't do this with a simple Resistor divider across the battery hence why we do it with an IC of some sort.  That Cmoy uses a TLE to acheive virtual ground which I think is a good choice given the price point.  I don't think you get enough current with this approach but I think it suits the amplifier and is a better choice then just using resistors.  I will agree what higher voltage gives you better voltage swing and less chances of the amplifier clipping but I also believe that you can't do this without properly handling current requirements.  Again, if you can't hear the difference between this setup and something  better, than good for you.
 
I don't think we should argue much as to every little aspect of what goes into the amplifier. It's obvious to me that more design time and better parts are in Ray's amplifier and so it should cost more.  If you want to argue that simplicity is better than I can't argue with you if that's what you believe.  But I do think that there are obvious reasons why these high end amplfiers cost more.  Whether you believe these added cost amount to better sound than that's up to you.  If you can't hear the difference than good for you.  Walk away now and never look back.  Some of us believe these added design elements are worth more at the retail end.  And don't forget Ray is running a business with employees and overhead such as rent and such which all add to a manufacture price point.  He is in it to make a living.  Just don't come here and try to say that all those added cost aren't worth a higher price.  Some of us believe that they are and do hear a difference.  Now I am not defending just Ray's amplifiers but all high end amplifiers in general.  There are legitimate reasons why they cost more. 
 

 
 
post #70 of 74

Alright, let me step in for a second.  I, personally, think that The Protector is a VERY good portable amp, although even compared to a <$150 home amp (CKKIII) it'll still be slaughtered.  I don't have a very high opinion of his other amps however.  I will say that RSA amps are really well made and put together and the casework (although sometimes over the top) is great.  

 

My opinions in bold:

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pappucho View Post

HighQ, if you're happy with you're amp then good for you.  More power to you.  End of discussion.
 
You asked an honest questions and so I posted some obvious reasons why a high end amplifier would be worth more money and why it should sound better.  I don't know Ray's amplifier design so I can't elaborate on all the benefits to justify the higher price but I do know based on the information posted on his website a few of them and decided to elaborate on those few.
 
As for your response to what I posted earlier.  Have you gone to mouser and checked pricing, I do, frequently, and I can't find cheap 0.1% Thin Film SMD resistors.  These start at 0.92 each resistor but usually still cost as much .40 cents when buying in bulk.  Cheaper resistors like the ones used in a cmoy can cost as little as .02 cents when bought in bulk.  These higher end amplifiers usually use up to 20 to 30 of these resistors where your typical cmoy only uses 8?  That's 20X.40=8.00 and 8x.0=0.16.  I think the resistors alone cost more than all the parts used in a Cmoy.  Go to Mouser and search for 0.1% Thin Film Vishay 1206 and see for yourself.  I do because I use them frequently.  Wheter you think a 0.1% is better than a 1.0% resistor than that's up to you.  I think that they are, and to me I like the sound when using thin film smd resistors.
 
There are some that believe that SMD parts are inferior to leaded parts and vice versa.  To me, they're about the same and the main differences should be in application (SMD is more compact where as leaded parts are easier, for me, to work with).  I've only used leaded parts in CMoys (perfboard is fun!).  The precision of the resistors only is an absolute tolerance, meaning that the last time I made an amp, the 1% resistors were generally within 0.4% of the indicated value.  If I were to order double the amount of 1% resistors that I needed, I could hand match them to within 0.2% of each other, indicating a 0.1% absolute tolerance.  Or you could pay about 50% more for a 0.1% metal film resistor and save yourself the time.
 
It looks like the Cmoy you bought is a nice little amplifier.  I don't know much about how it was designed but it looks like a simple Cmoy using a TLE based virtual ground.  There is also a Bass boost added into the circuit hence the small switch.  I don't think you should be questioning why other amplifier such as Ray's are more expensive and whey they should sound better.  I am sure that Cmoy sounds good to you, but right off the bat I can see how you get more by paying more. 
 
For starters, you're very limited by how much capacitance you can fit into that Cmoy design.  One of the main reasons portable amplifier amplifiers started laying down the power supply capacitors was to get more in there.  That Cmoy has very limited power supply capacitance.  How much do you have in your Cmoy?  I see some pics using 47uF?  I would expect there to be much better low frequency response in higher end amps that use more power supply capacitance.  Again, if you can't hear the difference then good for you. 
 
Capacitors are unnecessary in an ideally regulated circuit.  However, even with a TLE2426 PRECISION voltage reference, you only need around 100uF of capacitance.  The capacitors are only there if your power supply tends to drift towards one of the rails and using huge, slow electrolytics isn't anything to be proud of.  I normally use a pair 100uF capacitor bypassed with a .1uF polypropylene film cap.  Then again, I also threw in a pair of RC networks to reduce the cap inductance (don't know if that made a difference).
 
Also, it looks like that amplifier may be using DC Blocking capacitors at the output and would affect how the amplifier sounds.  I prefer going direct coupled and getting these capacitors out for better sound.  Then again, there may be some DC at the output and that's why they were put to block DC so you shouldn't do it with that particular amplifier otherwise damaging your headphones.  A properly designed amplifier can do without these.  If you can't hear a difference with or without these, good for you.
 
The CMoy is a properly designed amplifier.  In fact, it's exactly what an opamp used in a non-inverting circuit is supposed to look like.  The DC blocking caps are optional and aren't necessary if your power supply is regulated.  In the article on HeadWize, Chu Moy goes over various means of blocking offset, and thus removing the need for a DC blocking cap.
 
Regulated probably wasn't the correct word in my description.  When you divide a DC power source such as a 9V battery into two + - and create a virtual ground, you want that voltage to remain constant during amplifier use.  You want there to be enough current to drive the amplifier circuit and a constant level of voltage that is divided exactly in  half between the + and - rails.  You can't do this with a simple Resistor divider across the battery hence why we do it with an IC of some sort.  That Cmoy uses a TLE to acheive virtual ground which I think is a good choice given the price point.  I don't think you get enough current with this approach but I think it suits the amplifier and is a better choice then just using resistors.  I will agree what higher voltage gives you better voltage swing and less chances of the amplifier clipping but I also believe that you can't do this without properly handling current requirements.  Again, if you can't hear the difference between this setup and something  better, than good for you.
 
A TLE2426 voltage ref can be extremely precise, esp. if used properly.  After that, it's just a matter of dropping in a buffer to increase current output.  And to make things even better, have an active ground channel (3-channel cmoy!).
 
I don't think we should argue much as to every little aspect of what goes into the amplifier. It's obvious to me that more design time and better parts are in Ray's amplifier and so it should cost more.  If you want to argue that simplicity is better than I can't argue with you if that's what you believe.  But I do think that there are obvious reasons why these high end amplfiers cost more.  Whether you believe these added cost amount to better sound than that's up to you.  If you can't hear the difference than good for you.  Walk away now and never look back.  Some of us believe these added design elements are worth more at the retail end.  And don't forget Ray is running a business with employees and overhead such as rent and such which all add to a manufacture price point.  He is in it to make a living.  Just don't come here and try to say that all those added cost aren't worth a higher price.  Some of us believe that they are and do hear a difference.  Now I am not defending just Ray's amplifiers but all high end amplifiers in general.  There are legitimate reasons why they cost more. 


When it comes to the price of an RSA amp, I think they are a little bit overpriced, but not excessively so.  You're not really paying for the parts or the "military grade circuit board" (lol) or even for a revolutionary circuit.  Instead, you're paying for a well made, compact portable amp that you can get with the convenience of just buying something online.  However, the constant talk about how superior the design of the amp is gets a little bit tiresome (although if everybody were to make themselves gigantic franken-CMoy's, I think the world would be a better place).

 


Edited by jageur272 - 6/11/10 at 9:46am
post #71 of 74

 




Quote:
Originally Posted by ThEvil0nE View Post

Don't know how relevant but I'll share a little story... when I went to picked up my Protector from Ray himself, in his place of biz and where all his amps were made (yep, had a little tour before I sat down and tested my amp). As I sat he went on to his desk and I too proceeded with my testing. Next thing I noticed, he was already on the phone with UPS or was that FEDEX... pissed, I mean really PISSED. I left and went out for a drive and came back and hour later. He then proceeded with the apologies and let me in on the story... There was an order for a Protector that should have been delivered days ago (forgot how many days). Instead, the package was on a tour vacation. It already went to country of destination but for some reason was flown to Paris and forgot where else! Ray gave them an earful and the package was intercepted and was delivered that same day.  Order was from a fellow head-fier from Norway... I think... (not too sure). Happened this year of March.

 

"I will do everything in my power to put you and and all my customers first... happy and satisfied ~ Ray" 


One word...

 

Nice.

 

I wish I had some guts swearing/telling off at people who mess around with the people I serve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by High_Q View Post

Quote:


 


I understand your concerns, but your posts are starting to border on lack of respect.

 

One word : chill, (man).

 

It's simply enough to have one thread and a few posts justifying why you think you have found the best portable amp. It's another thing to start talking like a guy on high horse when people have been rather patient with you...like the Carl guy over the audio-gd Sparrow I believe.


Edited by K.I. Unlimited - 6/11/10 at 8:55am
post #72 of 74

High_Q, I'm enjoying your posts.  Don't let the rampant fanboism dissuade you from posting.  Some of these people have absolutely no clue what they're talking about.

post #73 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by K.I. Unlimited View Post

 

One word...

 

Nice.

 

I wish I had some guts swearing/telling off at people who mess around with the people I serve.

                                                                                                                                                    

 

I understand your concerns, but your posts are starting to border on lack of respect.

 

One word : chill, (man).

 

It's simply enough to have one thread and a few posts justifying why you think you have found the best portable amp. It's another thing to start talking like a guy on high horse when people have been rather patient with you...like the Carl guy over the audio-gd Sparrow I believe.


That first part had nothing to do with the topic at all.  And the second part is just as offensive.  He has just posted mildly technical comments, yet you're saying he's on a high horse?  I don't see any disrespect except from maybe Ray (though being defensive isn't necessarily disrespectful).

post #74 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post

 

 

8. Ray supports the community.  The community is important to me -- without vcoheda, bozebuttons, nikongod, md1032, el_doug, usg, spritzer, kerry, and many others (apologies to everyone I forgot)I would not be listening as well as I do, their advice as been both practical and priceless.  That's right, the community increased my SQ.  For real.  Without smaller MOTs like Ray, Jack Woo, Drew, Fang, Craig and the rest, the NY/NJ meets (and CanJams -- although CJs get the huge national vendors and others as well) would not be what they are, and I would suffer personally.  At a NY meet, Ray contributed a Shadow, which I won at auction, paying less that I sold my Predaor for (see 7 above).  On top of that, Ray took an hour out of his life to educate about 5 of us on the history of headphone amps -- that adds to the enjoyment of the hobby.

 

 

Ray chose not to participate in CanJam this year.  That was disappointing.
 

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