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The best portable amp

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 

The title is my question... which is the best portable amp?...

 

 

if i get it good, the battle is somewhere around ibasso pb2, emmeline sr71b, practical devices xm6, and (?) fiio e11?..... 

 

 

 

let's say that i want to drive sennheiser hd650, sennheiser hd800, akg k701, beyerdinamic t1, or audeze lcd 2 at full potential....

 

 

 

 

and if this is not possible, from an portable amp, which is the one who does the best job?... 

 

post #2 of 74

If you have the money, I'd strongly suggest that you read Skylab's final 'shootout' between the L3, Corda Stepdance and the SR71B. The 12 Amp Shootout at Headfonia also came out in Ray's favour. I hope you have deep pockets.

post #3 of 74

The best three, in no particular order are, the Lisa , Corda Stepdance and The Emmeline SR 71B, head and shoulders above the rest. 

post #4 of 74

Which of them is the best match for j3 in your opinion?

post #5 of 74

I heard Justin's mini amps at the UK Head-Fi meet recently, I'm sure he won't mind me advertising on his behalf... JustAudio.co.uk.

 

I compared his mini class AB, his slightly larger class A, a stepdance, and an amb micro. They were all great amps, I was using AKG 702's to try them, using a LOD from my iPhone. Not even the AMB micro had a problem powering the AKG's, with some really deep bass. I prefered his class A with the AKG's, the difference was very small, I thought I could hear nuances in a particular vocal that I hadn't heard before. I was listening to some acoustic jazz, and some ambiant/house/electronic music. The class A will set you back £350, it was a really nice packaged amp, his class A was immensley small. The amb micro also had some serious power, although not as clear and sparkly upper-range, but for £90 and a bit of DIY it was great value.

 

I was really picking though, having a table with all these mini amps and some AKGs was a pretty good afternoon. I was struggling to pick between them.

 

Not that this helps much, you guys being across the pond! k701smile.gif

post #6 of 74

I own one of Justins amps, the uHA-120, and it is a very good amp, I use it a lot with my 4th gen touch listening to radio paradise through my ortho,s.

I have a stepdance and set on low gain through an imod as source and using Denon AH-D5000 its the best amp I have heard, not heard Justins class A yet though, heard all the others, the Lisa is a superb all rounder and the SR71B will drive any power hungry can with ease.

For in ear monitors I would choose Justins uHA-120 , I have a set of triple pro 10s and all the boxes are ticked, sound quality, size,and value for money.    

post #7 of 74

b0wl1ng-

 

How would you compare the uHA-120 to the StepDance? I know a member who has the StepDance, but is looking for an improvement during the wait for shipment on the L3.

post #8 of 74
Thread Starter 

so... stepdance?... is cheap.... looks good... and if is the best, i may try it....

 

no.... new question!... from practical devices xm6, and stepdance which is better?.....

post #9 of 74
Thread Starter 

i just have sent an question to practical devices to know if they can ship xm6 as gift, so that i will not pay 24%vat on it... 

 

about amps, from stepdance and xm6 which is btter?.... as far as i understood, stepdance is a little on the low0side because of it's changeble batery side.....

post #10 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post

b0wl1ng-

 

How would you compare the uHA-120 to the StepDance? I know a member who has the StepDance, but is looking for an improvement during the wait for shipment on the L3.



That member would be me! 

 

I owned a Lisa for a number of years (sold it to get more portable - BIG mistake!) and replaced it with the StepDance.  Contrary to the majority opinion, I find the StepDance to be just okay, not bad, not great.  Compared to my old Lisa it was several steps lower in term of just about every sonic characteristic:  bass, treble extension (nothing is better than the Lisa), soundstage depth, width, clarity, musicality, overall presentation, etc.  I'm not exactly bashing the StepDance, it's maybe the 2nd best I've owned compared to the Lisa, I'm just saying the Lisa is in a whole 'nother class!

 

I've heard some very good things about the uHA-120 and am almost certainly going to get one, but I'd love to hear some other opinions as to how it compares to the StepDance.

 

Finally, the new L3 from Triad will ship in a couple months, I expect it will continue the tradition as "best" in terms of portable amps.

 

 

post #11 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBlues View Post





That member would be me

 

I owned a Lisa for a number of years (sold it to get more portable - BIG mistake!) and replaced it with the StepDance.  Contrary to the majority opinion, I find the StepDance to be just okay, not bad, not great.  Compared to my old Lisa it was several steps lower in term of just about every sonic characteristic:  bass, treble extension (nothing is better than the Lisa), soundstage depth, width, clarity, musicality, overall presentation, etc.  I'm not exactly bashing the StepDance, it's maybe the 2nd best I've owned compared to the Lisa, I'm just saying the Lisa is in a whole 'nother class!

 

I've heard some very good things about the uHA-120 and am almost certainly going to get one, but I'd love to hear some other opinions as to how it compares to the StepDance.

 

Finally, the new L3 from Triad will ship in a couple months, I expect it will continue the tradition as "best" in terms of portable amps.

 

 


Indeed! And the bloke you sold the Lisa to is me. It can be rented back for quality time if you'd like! wink_face.gif  

 

Seriously though, I hope that if/when you get this amp it will help you miss the Lisa a bit less. 

 

post #12 of 74

I'm going to paste a section from Skylab's final shootout here, simply because it is bloody hard to find in his 216-page monster thread - I hope he will understand. Granted, its one person's opinion, but thats one of the few people who has heard all 3 and a bazillion others, not to mention innumerable tube and SS amps. Happy to hear the voices of dissent, but I think they need to be accompanied by more than meet impressions. I concede that many of us wont be using the LCD2, sadly.

 

First, the overall winner (bolding is mine):

 

To be clear: when used balanced, I prefer the SR-71B over either of the other two amps, in every dimension listed above, even when used with a single-ended source.

 

More importantly for those of us restricted to single-ended sources and phones, the L3 edged out the Stepdance and SR71B in most criteria:

 

Single Ended Test Results

 

Music used for the test was Holly Cole Trio’s “Jersey Girl” and “Train Song” (from Temptation), Porcupine Tree’s “Trains” (from In Absentia),

This test was done with all three amps driving the LCD-2 single ended.  The results were:

 

Treble:

 

L3 > Stepdance> SR71B

 

The Stepdance’s treble was the most extended, but the mod treble was a bit recessed compared to the L3.  The L3 had the best detail retrieval.  The SR-71B was just a touch lacking in very top end extension.  The very delicate instrumentation during Holly Cole’s “Train Song” is a great test of this.  All three were unfailingly smooth, though.

 

 

Midrange:

 

L3 > SR71B > Stepdance

 

The L3 had the most transparent and open sounding mids, while also providing the most realistic sounding performance on vocals.  Holly Cole’s voice especially was just jaw-droppingly beautiful on the L3.  Here it was just a bit better than the SR-71B.  The Stepdance had a flatter and slightly recessed midrange compared to the other two.  Again this is very slight, but noticeable.  I preferred the slightly lush mids on the L3, knowing that they were just that - slightly lush.

 

 

Bass:

 

L3 > SR-71B > Stepdance

 

Again reminding that this is the performance in single-ended mode, I found that the SR-71B lacked a little weight and impact compared to the other two, and the L3 had the best weight, impact and depth combination.  This was with the L3’s variable bass control set to flat.  All of the amps had outstanding bass performance, but the Stepdance had just a tiny bit of trouble bringing the LCD-2’s bass prowess out to full measure.

 

 

Soundstage:

 

L3 > SR71B > Stepdance

 

The L3 and SR-71B both had better three-dimensionality than the Stepdance, which seemed a bit flat in direct comparison.  The best depth was provided by the L3.  Vocals really seemed to float in air.

 

 

Transparency:

 

L3 > Stepdance > SR71B

 

Again a bit of a surprise – the L3 was definitely the most transparent overall.  When uses single ended, I felt the SR-71B has a very slight glaze over the sound compared to the other two, and again I thought this was true when directly comparing the L3 to the Stepdance.  All of them qualify as highly transparent, in my view, though.

 

 

Neutrality:

 

Stepdance > L3 > SR71B

 

I think the L3 and SR-71B both are just a little warmer than is strictly neutral.  The Stepdance sounds the least colored if you really peel back the onion…but that said, that does not mean I actually liked its tonality the most; in fact of these three amps, I liked its tonality the LEAST.  Such is life, and personal preferences.  The slight lushness of the SR-71B and L3 was preferable, for me personally.

post #13 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post

b0wl1ng-

 

How would you compare the uHA-120 to the StepDance? I know a member who has the StepDance, but is looking for an improvement during the wait for shipment on the L3.


The Stepdance is a better sounding amp in all areas except detail and accuracy nothing to choose between them which is remarkable as the stepdance is a balanced class A amp and the uHA-120 is class A/B.

Synergy also plays a big part in this, as my go to cans are Denon AH-D5000 low impedence, the match up with the Stepdance set on low gain is the best sound I have heard out of any portable amp, in fact its better than out of ALL of my high end home amps which is remarkable.

But the uHA-120 is almost on a par with the Stepdance played through my triple pro 10s, it is a very powerfull little amp and drives my orthos far easier than the stepdance, the built in battery is brilliant and one charge lasts many hours, its far smaller than the stepdance as well.

I intend on keeping both of these amps, no more portable amps required, though keen to hear Justins class A amp, sorry perhaps I may round my portable amp collection up to three.  

The other issue is cost and value , the uHA-120 and the Stepdance are $100,s less than the Lisa 111 and the SR 71B, something to bear in mind particularly for the European buyers. 

 

post #14 of 74
Thread Starter 

ok... i am in europe.... for lisa i couldn't fiind a price.... but i know that stepdance is around 400$ as is the xm6 from portable devices.... sr 71b is around 700$.... and right now i am not so sure if worths the money.... another question.... i looked into lisa 3 and it has not so much power compared to others.....

post #15 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

I'm going to paste a section from Skylab's final shootout here, simply because it is bloody hard to find in his 216-page monster thread - I hope he will understand. Granted, its one person's opinion, but thats one of the few people who has heard all 3 and a bazillion others, not to mention innumerable tube and SS amps. Happy to hear the voices of dissent, but I think they need to be accompanied by more than meet impressions. I concede that many of us wont be using the LCD2, sadly.

 

First, the overall winner (bolding is mine):

 

To be clear: when used balanced, I prefer the SR-71B over either of the other two amps, in every dimension listed above, even when used with a single-ended source.

 

More importantly for those of us restricted to single-ended sources and phones, the L3 edged out the Stepdance and SR71B in most criteria:

 

Single Ended Test Results

 

Music used for the test was Holly Cole Trio’s “Jersey Girl” and “Train Song” (from Temptation), Porcupine Tree’s “Trains” (from In Absentia),

This test was done with all three amps driving the LCD-2 single ended.  The results were:

 

Treble:

 

L3 > Stepdance> SR71B

 

The Stepdance’s treble was the most extended, but the mod treble was a bit recessed compared to the L3.  The L3 had the best detail retrieval.  The SR-71B was just a touch lacking in very top end extension.  The very delicate instrumentation during Holly Cole’s “Train Song” is a great test of this.  All three were unfailingly smooth, though.

 

 

Midrange:

 

L3 > SR71B > Stepdance

 

The L3 had the most transparent and open sounding mids, while also providing the most realistic sounding performance on vocals.  Holly Cole’s voice especially was just jaw-droppingly beautiful on the L3.  Here it was just a bit better than the SR-71B.  The Stepdance had a flatter and slightly recessed midrange compared to the other two.  Again this is very slight, but noticeable.  I preferred the slightly lush mids on the L3, knowing that they were just that - slightly lush.

 

 

Bass:

 

L3 > SR-71B > Stepdance

 

Again reminding that this is the performance in single-ended mode, I found that the SR-71B lacked a little weight and impact compared to the other two, and the L3 had the best weight, impact and depth combination.  This was with the L3’s variable bass control set to flat.  All of the amps had outstanding bass performance, but the Stepdance had just a tiny bit of trouble bringing the LCD-2’s bass prowess out to full measure.

 

 

Soundstage:

 

L3 > SR71B > Stepdance

 

The L3 and SR-71B both had better three-dimensionality than the Stepdance, which seemed a bit flat in direct comparison.  The best depth was provided by the L3.  Vocals really seemed to float in air.

 

 

Transparency:

 

L3 > Stepdance > SR71B

 

Again a bit of a surprise – the L3 was definitely the most transparent overall.  When uses single ended, I felt the SR-71B has a very slight glaze over the sound compared to the other two, and again I thought this was true when directly comparing the L3 to the Stepdance.  All of them qualify as highly transparent, in my view, though.

 

 

Neutrality:

 

Stepdance > L3 > SR71B

 

I think the L3 and SR-71B both are just a little warmer than is strictly neutral.  The Stepdance sounds the least colored if you really peel back the onion…but that said, that does not mean I actually liked its tonality the most; in fact of these three amps, I liked its tonality the LEAST.  Such is life, and personal preferences.  The slight lushness of the SR-71B and L3 was preferable, for me personally.


Hello estreeter,

 

No dissenting voice from me as it was skylabs initial review that prompted my purchase of the stepdance, as the comparisons reveal there is really not a lot to choose between all three of these fantastic portable amps.

I decided to venture into portable Hi-Fi about 12 months ago, I have a very good home set-up but I,m using my portable rigs far more ,but when choosing one of these amps it comes down to personal preferences, the Stepdance will struggle to match the SR 71B and the Lisa 111 when asked to power the awesome LCD-2.

Where the Stepdance has the edge in my opinion is set to low gain and matched with top quality low impedence headphones, the SR71B is the best amp to power mid to high impedance cans and the Lisa the best all rounder, though by far the larger of the three and not really pocket sized.

But bang for buck the Stepdance is my choice, though at some point I will have to get a set of LCD-2s and then give Ray Samuels a call.

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