How does this setup rank vs. something like a Bifrost/Lyr combo? Is the expense/process of the XLR-->Speaker tap cable worth it? I'm highly interested in going the HE-500 route, but was wondering if going into all of the cable mods is required to really reach their potential?
Long story short, I much prefer this setup to my bifrost/lyr. The cost of the cable and this amp is less than the cost of a new Lyr. You can have a speaker tap adapter made for like $30~40 or so. I made a very expensive cable, but it still was less than the cost of the Lyr. You can get the adapter and a good speaker amp like this mini-X here for $250 or less. That leaves a lot of room for DAC options. As for the Bifrost, it's a good DAC, no doubt, but I find the price tag not justified (and I went USB on mine). I don't really notice much difference between it and my NFB12 as a DAC or something like a Music Streamer II, but maybe my ears just are not golden enough. Point being, for $250+$150 you can get the source setup capable of really pushing the HE-500 to it's limits (you can even go to HE-6 if you want, it can handle that beast too) which is very inexpensive if you think about it. I was just playing around with this for fun and it just so happened to be a better sound, to me, than the Lyr and other amps. But I sort of expected it to as orthos just seems to love tons of current.