Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › REVIEW: Ray Samuels Audio Dark Star solid state headphone amplifier
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

REVIEW: Ray Samuels Audio Dark Star solid state headphone amplifier - Page 12

post #166 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

DarkStar #17 has arrived home to Birmingham, Alabama.

 

So far, so good...

 

wink.gif


popcorn.gif

 

post #167 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

DarkStar #17 has arrived home to Birmingham, Alabama.

 

So far, so good...

 

wink.gif



Congrats Brent, when you get a chance put some pictures out and lets us know how it sounds with the HE6.

 

Enjoy music!

post #168 of 372

I was listening to my DS with my HE-6/Zeus tonight.... Oh boy! The sound is so clean and detailed... I am loving itgs1000.gif

I made a small tweak to the DS.... I replaced the stock umbilical cord with one made out of 18awg Neotech OCC copper wire. It actually made a difference... I perceive I got more gain and detail.

post #169 of 372

My Dark Star should be arriving today. :)

post #170 of 372

I just listened to Brent's ds and for the first time ever, I was blown away by a solid state amp. Whenever I listen to a beta 22 I always come away thinking "this sounds really good for a solid state amp". But after listening to the dark star I came away thinking "this is one incredible sounding amp."  It's not just a great sounding ss amp, but a truly excellent sounding amp period. IMO and please this is IMO, it's in another league from a beta 22. I don't even have to have both side by side to say that.

post #171 of 372

i have to say - i was disappointed a bit by Skylab's review.  and i took his "plug" of vintage amps in there as sort of dissing the DS.

but, after hearing Moodyrn's vintage Marantz 2325, i see what Skylab was talking about.

 

the Marantz drives the HE-6 better than any amp i've personally heard that's not the Dark Star.  tongue_smile.gif

Yes, the DarkStar is better.  But how much better?  Not a whole lot.

So i see his wisdom in extolling the virtues of something that can be had for under a grand, vs the $3500 DS.

 

The other vintage receivers i've heard were pretty good.  but were lacking a bit in the technicalities.  i honestly thought it was going to be more of the same with the Marantz:  fuzzy bass, high noise floor, rolled off treble, but overall musical and engaging sound.

But, when i heard the Marantz, it seemed to perform well in the technicalities as well as the musicality department.

 

We had a fun shoot-out last night.  And we both agreed the Dark Star is awesome.

But i was amazed by the marantz.  And also blown away by the new AT W3000anv.  wow.  what a headphone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #172 of 372
Thread Starter 

Indeed, my comments were not a diss at the DS, which I think is a very fine amplifier, and excels with the HE-6.  However, a really powerful, high quality vintage amp or receiver does make a very compelling argument for itself, in terms of price/performance.  I have settled on the Marantz 2285 as the main choice for my HE-6.  But for those who have or want a Dark Star for their HE-6, it certainly is a very, very fine performer!

post #173 of 372

I have been debating about writing this post because I know it is going to be controversial for some people but I decided to do it with a disclaimer.

 

“The content of this post is just an expression of my recent experience and it is not intended to open a discussion regarding the effect of cables in the sound. I will not engage in any cable sound effect arguments”.

 

Ok, here we go.

 

I received my Dark Star (serial number: 4) some time back but could not try it with my HE-6 because they were with Robert (Aphroditecu29.com) being hardwired with the Zeus cable I was already using with them so I was only using it with my HD800 and T1.

 

Following Robert’s direction I ordered a custom umbilical cord made out of 18 awg Neotech OCC Copper wires. He made one for his own Apache and reported great improvement in the sound. About 2 weeks ago I received back my HE-6 and the new umbilical cord. I made the mistake of not listening the HE-6 with the stock umbilical cord first and went ahead to immediately replace the stock cord with the new OCC one.

 

My first reaction to the sound was not very positive. I thought it was a little bright and edgy. I let the new cord burn-in for a couple of days but I heard no change. Next, I thought could be the hardwiring of the HE-6 so I hooked them up to my Threshold T50 again and they sounded fabulous so the issue was not the headphones.

 

Talking to a fellow member also DS owner. We realized we have totally opposite perception of the DS sound at this point. He qualifies it a warm and kind of tubey while I am hearing brightness and edgy highs so that sent me on into more testing.

 

The next thing I did was to replace the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II XLR interconnect between my Wadia 27 and the DS with a WireWorld OCC Copper Eclipse 6 XLR. The Eclipse 6 did not change the sound much at all the emphasis and edginess at the top was still there. I was really discouraged and doubting the DS.

 

Last night I decided to go the next step and make an A/B comparison with the two umbilical cords. I did not do that before because due to my configuration it is not easy to replace the cords but I figured out a way and did it. I selected Diana Krall’s  The Look Of Love song for the test. First I listened to the OCC cord and once again the emphasis and edginess of the top end was there. Then I switched to the stock cord and immediately that warmth that my friend talked about was present and the emphasis and edginess of the top end disappeared. I switched between both cords a few more times until I came to the conclusion that the stock cord was adding a “veil” in front of the sound that was creating the warm sensation but covering some of the detail. On the other hand the OCC cord was making the sound totally transparent. It was very clear of that “veil” in front of the sound was totally removed and all the detail information in the recording shows up but apparently at the cost of some emphasis and edginess at the top of which I was not very happy about.

 

After my findings I called Robert to let him know my impressions. He was confused because what he experienced with his own Apache which was a gain in volume at the same volume knob level (I hear the same here) , a drastic increase in detail with brightness or edginess at all. He asked me what power cord I was using which is the Audience PowerChord. He asked me to change it to my WireWorld Electra 5.2 OCC Copper. I switch the power cords and VOILA! Some how I got an incredible sound.

The sound was as transparent as before, as detailed as before but the emphasis and edginess at the top was gone, got a better bass and got the warm sound I was craving with lots of detail. After that I spent 2 hours just enjoying the great sound of this system.

 

This does not make the Audience Power Chord a bad cable. It is actually very good but it shows how synergy of the total sound chain is a critical factor. I truly believe that the OCC Copper umbilical cord with the right links in the rest of the chain takes the DS one step higher in it already great performance…. At least in my opinion.

post #174 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin gilmore View Post

From the opa541 datasheet  (http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/opa541.pdf)

The quiescent power supply current is a maximum of 25ma. Not all of which

is in the output stage, but assuming that it is, 25ma into 50 ohms is 32 milliwatts.

This is clearly a low bias class AB amplifier as defined by wikipedia and everyone else.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_A_amplifier#Class_A

 

 

Of course the OPA541, as with most every other opamp, can be externally biased into class A. I don't know that that's what Ray is doing with the Dark Star, but to say that it can't be running class A based on the device's datasheet isn't a terribly convincing argument.

 

se

 

 

post #175 of 372

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman59 View Post

“The content of this post is just an expression of my recent experience and it is not intended to open a discussion regarding the effect of cables in the sound. I will not engage in any cable sound effect arguments”.


That is a great way to live. Say a whole heap of stuff, then just cover your ears going LALALALALACANTHEARYOULALALALALA if anybody tries to argue.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

Of course the OPA541, as with most every other opamp, can be externally biased into class A. I don't know that that's what Ray is doing with the Dark Star, but to say that it can't be running class A based on the device's datasheet isn't a terribly convincing argument.

 

It might not be terribly convincing...... but until Ray tells us how much class A bias the DS is running, it is the most convincing argument we have.

post #176 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy View Post

It might not be terribly convincing...... but until Ray tells us how much class A bias the DS is running, it is the most convincing argument we have.


Until Ray clarifies the issue, it's still an open question, and since opamps can be externally biased into class A, citing the device's datasheet isn't any sort of argument at all, let alone a convincing one.

 

Instead of all this speculating, why doesn't someone simply contact Ray directly and ask him? I mean, RSA's contact page includes a street address, a phone number and an EMail address. How hard can it be?

 

se

post #177 of 372

He might be coming to our meet on the 18th. If he does I will ask him.

post #178 of 372

 

Well, I guess if Mohammed can't go to the mountain...

 

se

 

 

post #179 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

 

Of course the OPA541, as with most every other opamp, can be externally biased into class A. I don't know that that's what Ray is doing with the Dark Star, but to say that it can't be running class A based on the device's datasheet isn't a terribly convincing argument.

 

se

 

 


In this case with an opamp as powerful as the opa541, to bias the amplifier significantly into class A at the rail voltages ray has specified will generate all sorts of extra heat

and change the slew rate characteristics of the amplifier. Detailed high resolution pictures have been posted by skylab that show no presence of either active or passive

current sources necessary to accomplish this. Nor the extra heatsinking necessary to handle this.
 

The issue of using a current source to bias an opamp into class A is probably more of a red herring than one might expect, as it probably does more

harm than good.

 


Edited by kevin gilmore - 2/2/12 at 2:56pm
post #180 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post


Until Ray clarifies the issue, it's still an open question, and since opamps can be externally biased into class A, citing the device's datasheet isn't any sort of argument at all, let alone a convincing one.

 

Instead of all this speculating, why doesn't someone simply contact Ray directly and ask him? I mean, RSA's contact page includes a street address, a phone number and an EMail address. How hard can it be?

 

se


I believe Ray has confirmed the Dark Star as being Class A design;

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/565779/review-ray-samuels-audio-dark-star-solid-state-headphone-amplifier/150#post_8027347

 

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › REVIEW: Ray Samuels Audio Dark Star solid state headphone amplifier