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Just got my HeadRoom Total BitHead! A mini-review...

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I finally invested in a real headphone amp/DAC for both home and portable use.  Previously, I'd been using my receiver for my surround sound as an amp and DAC (with optical TOSLINK cable from my Desktop into my receiver), and while it boosted clarity and cut the shrill out of my 990's somewhat however I was never really satisfied.

 

In the mail came TWO things today:

 

- HeadRoom Total BitHead

- Alessandro MS1i's (portable headphones because the Beyer DT990's just aren't very portable... at all)

 

I did a few things to test the BitHead.  First I listened to some music with my DT990's and FLAC files (mostly classic rock, because that's what I listen to the majority of the time).  Then I plugged in the BitHead via USB to test out the Amp + DAC feature to test it out.  After I tested the Amp + DAC on my DT990's, I switched to the not-yet-burned-in MS1i's.  Then, I tested my portable set up, which included the source as an iPod Touch 2G/3G (200-320kbps files) --> LOD --> Total BitHead --> MS1i's.

 

DT990's NO amp/dac:

 

This is the sound I'm most used to.  The highs are shrill, even after 100+ hours on the cans, or more.  They have good sound, but lack clarity when there are many instruments being played.  The soundstage is nice, but not incredible.  Not much needs to be said here because this is not a review of the 990's.  FLAC files are being used, and will be used for all the USB tests as well.

 

DT990's Amp + DAC (USB method):

 

Wow.  Clarity is boosted enormous amounts!  That was the first and best thing I noticed about using the BitHead.  Also, the soundstage feels like it opens up a little bit, and everything just sounds a little cleaner and fuller.  I'm very satisfied with this, its better than I had imagined.  I'm hearing things that I didn't hear before in songs, or things that I only heard very quietly and muffled.  Overall, drastic improvement!  The warmth is also just about the same, if not maybe a tad warmer sound. 

 

Alessandro MS1i's Amp + DAC (USB method):

 

I regret that I never listened to the MS1i's unamped/DAC'd prior to testing them out with the BitHead.  I was just too excited to try out both new cans, AND a new amp/dac.  I like that the in-your-face Grado personality is still there with these headphones using this amp.  I was really hoping to retain that Grado spark, and it is still there.  However, I'm extremely impressed with the clarity of these MS1i's.  Whether or not that is due to the BitHead, I'm not sure, but for the price of the MS1i's, its hard to get this kind of clarity in other headphones that retail for $109 - let alone EARPAD headphones.  The soundstage lacks a bit but no one buys Grado/Alessandro's for soundstage.  Also, I'm contrasting these to my DT990's which are going to make the MS1i's sound like closed cans in a closet.  Warmth is the same here.

 

Alessandro MS1i's Amped in my portable set up:

 

I'm glad to say that the audio quality is still there on my portable set up.  With quality MP3 songs, 85-90% of the clarity is still there, which is more than sufficient for a portable airplane/campus set up, especially with the MS1i's.  Soundstage is just about the same, maybe a hair smaller, but pretty much static (not static like sound.. but the literal meaning).  Warmth is also about the same here.  I really like the "personality" that the MS1i's have with the BitHead.  Its a GREAT set up for on the go rock music.  I'm really going to enjoy this.  EDIT:  Its only fair to admit that I did have "Bass Boost EQ" turn on while listening through my portable set up on my iPod Touch.  It gives it a warmer, fuller sound.  However, if you like more airy, treble sounding music, then you should probably just keep the EQ to flat.

 

 

 

Anyways, those are my personal reflections on the HeadRoom Total BitHead and I guess the MS1i's.  In the end its a terrific amp/dac for the money, and one that will stay in my collection for a long time.

 

I will also add to this review later with my AD700's as well, but they are back at ATUS for some repairs right now angry_face.gif... I'm not a huge fan of those cans anyways.  They're like sucky DT990's rolleyes.gif with a lack in bass... but lets not open up THAT can of worms in this thread.


Edited by wdahm519 - 12/20/10 at 5:54pm
post #2 of 34

Thanks for your impressions..looking forward to any more you might have after spending more time with it

post #3 of 34

This is good news. I am getting a TBH for Christmas to use with my Grados. Thanks for your impressions!

post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

Yeah I will definitely post back with some pictures a little later on, and also I will post back with more impressions once my MS1i's have been burned in to comment on how portable they really are.  My portable set up will be getting heavy airport use in Friday, and I'm going to tote it to work the rest of the week, and to the repair shop tomorrow to see how easy it is to use it in public.

post #5 of 34

Looking forward for the pictures and more thoughts on the BitHead.

post #6 of 34

i may eventually pick up a bithead. i love my fullsize HeadRoom amp, and i'm sure this little guy is impressive as well.   

post #7 of 34

Once I get mine, I will post my thoughts in this thread (as long as wdahm519 is chill with that?)

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

Yeah of course, we're all friends here! 

 

Any opinions other than mine are greatly appreciated as well.

post #9 of 34

I did have my eye on the Headroom Micro, but the price puts it squarely up against the Stepdance - game over, even though I admit that I havent heard either :  I can get the Stepdance delivered via a local retailer at a price that isnt much more than Americans pay for this amp.

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by wdahm519 View Post

Yeah of course, we're all friends here! 

 

Any opinions other than mine are greatly appreciated as well.


Great. I am getting very excited to hear this little thing biggrin.gif

post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

I did have my eye on the Headroom Micro, but the price puts it squarely up against the Stepdance - game over, even though I admit that I havent heard either :  I can get the Stepdance delivered via a local retailer at a price that isnt much more than Americans pay for this amp.



But the Stepdance is just an Amp, not an integrated DAC + Amp.  I bought it to use both for home and portable use.  Also, I really like the crossfeed algorithms, which is something else the Stepdance doesn't have.

 

Hey guys, I wanted to add a bit more about this amp/dac:

 

I've noticed that in very complicated parts of songs, things get a lot cleaner and "faster" if you know what I mean by this.  I noticed in ACDC's Big Gun, at the end of the Chorus, you've got Guitar following Vocals.  Before, these kind of muddied together, but now they are two crystal clear musical runs that don't interfere with one another.  I've noticed this on other songs as well, but it was most noticeable here.

 

EDIT:  This was witnessed with the DT990's, not the MS1i's.


Edited by wdahm519 - 12/21/10 at 10:14am
post #12 of 34

Agreed times a million. I am absolutely loving HeadRoom's crossfeed!!! I am completely happy with my fullsize HeadRoom Desktop Amp/DAC. Sure there are cheaper options out there, but I wanted/needed the xfeed and I also needed a DAC. I am now a HUGE fan of HeadRoom. I feel bad that I didn't get my HD650's from them as well, but they showed them as out of stock when I went to purchase them and I didn't want to wait. HeadRoom makes some killer amps though. I wouldn't hesitate to grab a Bithead if I was in the market for a portable amp.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wdahm519 View Post





But the Stepdance is just an Amp, not an integrated DAC + Amp.  I bought it to use both for home and portable use.  Also, I really like the crossfeed algorithms, which is something else the Stepdance doesn't have.

 

Hey guys, I wanted to add a bit more about this amp/dac:

 

I've noticed that in very complicated parts of songs, things get a lot cleaner and "faster" if you know what I mean by this.  I noticed in ACDC's Big Gun, at the end of the Chorus, you've got Guitar following Vocals.  Before, these kind of muddied together, but now they are two crystal clear musical runs that don't interfere with one another.  I've noticed this on other songs as well, but it was most noticeable here.

 

EDIT:  This was witnessed with the DT990's, not the MS1i's.

post #13 of 34

i like the crossfeed of the headroom amps but can anyone comment on the sound quality differences between that and a Little Dot Mark 2 tube amp? I'm still deciding if i should go for a budget tube amp or not.

post #14 of 34

never tried the little dot or any other tube amp for that matter.

post #15 of 34

I am getting so antsy for Christmas to just get here. I want my BitHead NOW! angry_face.gif

 

Its cool.... I'm calm now biggrin.gif

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