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Meier Audio Quickstep (also Stepdance and 2Stepdance) Discussion and Impressions Thread - Page 129

post #1921 of 2819

Communism,

 

Given everything you've said, and with the understanding that I've never heard the SR71B, I'd say you would be content with the less expensive 2Stepdance - especially since I think the Stepdance can drive all of your phones, just fine.  

 

You might want to bring this to the attention of Ianmedium, however (with a PM).  He's a big fan of the Stepdance, but has since upgraded to the SR71B (and went balanced).  He has a lot of experience (hundreds of hours) with both amps, using the same source (CLAS + Solo) and the same headphones (LCD-2).  He's the goto guy for anyone trying to decide between Stepdance and SR71B and I long ago came to trust his impressions.

 

Mike

 

 

post #1922 of 2819

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

 

 

 

Hi, I haven't been paying attention lately - has anyone posted any impressions that describe a difference in sound quality?

 

Not lately, I still want more opinions!  I've got the stepdance and would really like to know how the 2stepdance compares.

post #1923 of 2819
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grev View Post

 

Not lately, I still want more opinions!  I've got the stepdance and would really like to know how the 2stepdance compares.

 

I am a long time user of the original Stepdance. I heard the 2Stepdance and thought that it sounded great. I doubt that I could easily tell them apart. If there is a difference in sound signature, it is that the 2Stepdance may be just a bit warmer and the Stepdance just a bit crisper but we are talking tiny differences. I am not sure that I will spend another $385 for the size advantage of the 2SD but I have thought about it. It is indeed smaller.

post #1924 of 2819

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooperpwc View Post

 

I am a long time user of the original Stepdance. I heard the 2Stepdance and thought that it sounded great. I doubt that I could easily tell them apart. If there is a difference in sound signature, it is that the 2Stepdance may be just a bit warmer and the Stepdance just a bit crisper but we are talking tiny differences. I am not sure that I will spend another $385 for the size advantage of the 2SD but I have thought about it. It is indeed smaller.

 

Thing is, if you look at my headphone amps inventory in my profile, you would see that I strive for quality in portable amplification.  My philosophy is that headphones is for portability and if I want desktop amps and other gear then I would use my speakers instead.

 

I am contemplating on the 2stepdance and is leaning towards 'not getting it' at the moment.

 

post #1925 of 2819
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grev View Post

 

Thing is, if you look at my headphone amps inventory in my profile, you would see that I strive for quality in portable amplification.  My philosophy is that headphones is for portability and if I want desktop amps and other gear then I would use my speakers instead.

 

I am contemplating on the 2stepdance and is leaning towards 'not getting it' at the moment.

 

 

Ah, you already own the Stepdance. Well, don't expect a meaningful difference from the 2SD in terms of sound. It's just smaller.

 

(It is also meant to have improved battery life by about 50% which could be quite useful for some. It is not important to me since I use rechargeable 9 volts and always carry a spare.)

post #1926 of 2819

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooperpwc View Post

 

Ah, you already own the Stepdance. Well, don't expect a meaningful difference from the 2SD in terms of sound. It's just smaller.

 

(It is also meant to have improved battery life by about 50% which could be quite useful for some. It is not important to me since I use rechargeable 9 volts and always carry a spare.)

 

haha, yeah, I have 4 rechargeable 9v batteries so I'm not worried about that.

post #1927 of 2819
To the best of my knowledge, there are only three incentives for "upgrading" from a Stepdance to a 2Stepdance:

1) The case is smaller and its flat, not rounded (which makes it better for stacking with other components).

2) It has a single gain switch under the volume control (instead of two switches on the PCB, inside the case.)

3) It offers about a 50% improvement in play time when using any given battery (internal or external).

I'm eager to stand corrected if I'm found to be misquoting him, but I'll add that Jan Meier has said there's no reason to upgrade in terms of sound quality, as they are essentially identical (paraphrasing his words).

I've been content to stick with the original Stepdance, because I don't stack my portable components, I always use low gain, and I always use a large capacity 15V external battery pack, for the sonic improvements had with the higher voltage. Strike three, you're out - I have no incentive to replace my Stepdance with a 2Stepdance.

Perhaps, in your case, there is an incentive among those three factors, and maybe there's something I've overlooked.

But for those who don't already have a Stepdance, as we do, Jan Meier has answered the community's wishes by making a good thing better - in three areas that have nothing to do with sound quality.

I would love to see a Jan Meier portable active-balance amp that puts out something like 2 Watts per channel into 50 ohms. It doesn't have to be small - it just has to be transportable.

The SR71B is said to have the signature RSA house sound - not the colorless, neutral transparency we enjoy with Jan Meier's designs. There's no right or wrong to wanting or not wanting warmth or "musicality" but I know what I want and that's nothing short of a Stepdance with four times as much power. I crave neutrality and detail, but I want the improvement in dynamics and bass control for my LCD-2 that can only be had with more power.

Last year, I borrowed a Schiit Lyr for 30 days and discovered that despite the benefits that came with six watts per channel, I found its lack of transparency to be very disturbing to my Stepdance-accustomed ears. Even with highly recommended and expensive Mullards, among three pairs of tubes I tried, I could not escape a feint but readily detectable smearing of details that the Stepdance can resolve easily. For me, with my source, my LCD-2s, my ears and my tastes, the diminutive Stepdance way outperforms the Schiit Lyr, despite the huge difference in power. That's how much I love detail (and I wasn't even considering issues of warmth or color had with the tube amp.)

I'm convinced that imaging and soundstage are both at least somewhat dependent on the entire reproduction process, from the original recording all the way to your ears, faithfully retaining low-level (low in volume) data such as decaying specular sounds as well as their reflections from surfaces within the real world space. If an amp smooths out, smears, or altogether loses those low-volume micro-details, so far as I'm concerned, I might as well listen to the stock radio in my car. I enjoy detail. Call it my hangup, if you like.

This is what I believe the Stepdance does so well and people who haven't heard this level of detail, either for the lack of capable equipment, or for that matter, the right recordings or too much ear wax simply don't know what they're missing. They are content with less and will argue that they hear no lack of detail in their rig. Others have heard spectacular detail, but have chosen to seek a smoother sound. At least THEY are doing so deliberately and not out of ignorance. Speaking of whch, for all I know the Stepdance has only reached 8 out of 10 for what's possible, but it's the best I've heard (my gear, my ears).

In search of more power in a portable amp, I've recently ordered an iBasso PB2 (allegedly offering 2.5 Watts into 32 Ohms when using its balanced output). I've also ordered the Toxic Cables Silver Poison (60-inch, with connectors for the PB2 and LCD-2). And lastly, HiFlight's deluxe PB2 Topkit (a bundling of four different sets of opamps and buffers that can be used to customize the PB2's sound).

My goal is to see if I can reproduce the SQ of my beloved Stepdance with the added virtues of driving my LCD-2 with a lot more power. If I find myself loosing ANY of the Stepdance's virtues, I'll consider the experiment a bust and will be putting the PB2 up for sale. I'm not interested in getting more power at the expense of transparency, neutrality, and detail. My Stepdance is way too enjoyable to take a step backwards.

Mike
post #1928 of 2819
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

...My Stepdance is way too enjoyable to take a step backwards.
Mike

 

Nicely summarized. That is why I still carry mine around.

post #1929 of 2819

Thanks, zilch, that's what I like to see.

 

I have other portable amps as well (as you can see in my profile) and I strive for a portable (or transportable) rig because headphones usage in my mind shouldn't be at a desk.

post #1930 of 2819

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grev View Post

[snip]  ...and I strive for a portable (or transportable) rig because headphones usage in my mind shouldn't be at a desk.

 

Grev,

 

I'm sure you and I have some other kindred spirits out there, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone else express what you've written here, and I couldn't agree more.

 

Logically, I shouldn't have a problem with being tethered to a desktop amp < DAC < laptop, etc. but emotionally, I'm repulsed by the idea of being forced to enjoy the best that my money can buy at only one location, even if it was at my favorite recliner.  

 

I absolutely love being able to roam about with my LCD-2 rig, anywhere in the house, including in my favorite recliner, or better still, in my hammock in the back yard, or while walking in the park behind our house, or any of the many places I've taken my rig in the great outdoors or while traveling on business.

 

I might never buy a desktop amp.  I just can't stand the thought of having to park myself in one spot to enjoy my best rig, while suffering my second-best rig when going portable.  I know this guarantees I'll never reach audio nirvana, but I'll be content just the same.

 

 

post #1931 of 2819

Desktop amps for me are reserved for speakers.  And with speakers, I've found some amazing bargains 2nd hand.

 

Anyhow, more Stepdance vs 2Stepdance observations will be highly welcomed!

 

PS our thinking is also the reason why laptops and tablets are out selling desktop computers!


Edited by Grev - 4/24/12 at 9:28am
post #1932 of 2819

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

 

Again, some soldering will be required, but using these two parts and a short length of two-conductor wire, you could create an adapter cable for use with the unmodified WI15 cable.  You would plug the WI15 into the jack at one end of your adapter cable, then plug the other end of your adapter cable into the Stepdance.

 

How are your soldering skills?  (or... Do you know someone who can solder?)

 

Mike

 

Thanks Mike, that's really helpful.  I bought the adaptors from Maplin this afternoon, and will get to soldering an adaptor cable at work on Monday.

post #1933 of 2819

 

You're welcome, Phraktal!  

 

Good for you for getting into the DIY thing.  I, for one, don't really enjoy soldering anything (because I'm just not very good at it), but I do it when I'm backed into a corner.  tongue.gif

 

Mike

post #1934 of 2819

How will the j3 w/ cardas interconnect w/ 2stepdance w/ gr07 sound?

post #1935 of 2819
Quote:
Originally Posted by zachchen1996 View Post

How will the j3 w/ cardas interconnect w/ 2stepdance w/ gr07 sound?

 

Without any experience hearing this combo, I'm guessing the very neutral and transparent 2Stepdance would simply increase the power coming from your Cowan J3 without adding anything else or taking anything away from what you would otherwise hear with the GR07.

 

Increasing the power to inefficient headphones can dramatically improve bass control (and even midrange) as well as bass extension and overall dynamics or "slam."  But if you're using really efficient IEMs like the VSonic GR07, the improvement might not be detectable and not nearly as dramatic, even if you can hear a difference.

 

Going on reports in this thread, by Ianmedium, less efficient IEMs, such as his Etymotic ER4S, can be greatly improved by using the 2Stepdance (or Stepdance).  

 

In short, the 2Stepdance is a great portable amplifier, but if your Cowan J3 is already driving your IEMs well, you don't really need amplification.  

 

Mike

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