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REVIEW: Ray Samuels Audio Dark Star solid state headphone amplifier - Page 3

post #31 of 372
Thread Starter 
I did use both the AVA and MHDT Havana tube DACs. And both sounded very good via the Dark Star, but with the LCD-2 I still preferred the Leben or Trafomatic, and with the HD-800 I preferred the Leben, Trafomatic, and Woo WA22. I don't love the Woo - LCD-2 combo, and I did prefer the Dark Star with the LCD-2 over the WA-22. And again i liked the Dark Star better than any of the others with the HE-6. I do, in general, prefer tube headphone amps, but I have yet to get one that has the kind of power of the Dark Star or my vintage receivers, and the HE-6 just loves to be fed huge amounts of juice.
post #32 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

I did use both the AVA and MHDT Havana tube DACs. And both sounded very good via the Dark Star, but with the LCD-2 I still preferred the Leben or Trafomatic, and with the HD-800 I preferred the Leben, Trafomatic, and Woo WA22. I don't love the Woo - LCD-2 combo, and I did prefer the Dark Star with the LCD-2 over the WA-22. And again i liked the Dark Star better than any of the others with the HE-6. I do, in general, prefer tube headphone amps, but I have yet to get one that has the kind of power of the Dark Star or my vintage receivers, and the HE-6 just loves to be fed huge amounts of juice.


So, I hate to pin you down with the following question, and I know sometimes we can't answer these "which combo is better" questions, because sometimes they're both good but just different.  

 

The question is - If you had to pick from the three rigs you listed above (and numbered below), and if price was the same for rig 1, 2 and 3 - which ONE rig would you prefer as your only "desert island" rig and why?  

 

1) HE-6 on the DarkStar

2) the LCD-2 on the Leben or Traformatic

3) HD800 with the Leben, Traformatic, and WA22

4) something not listed (and what?)

 

Secondly, if price is taken into consideration, which rig would you say is the best bang for the buck? (you can add the Marantz 2275 with HE-6 to the choices for this one)

post #33 of 372

popcorn.gif My money is on the Leben with LCD-2.

post #34 of 372

Nice review. Thanks.

post #35 of 372
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

So, I hate to pin you down with the following question, and I know sometimes we can't answer these "which combo is better" questions, because sometimes they're both good but just different.  

 

The question is - If you had to pick from the three rigs you listed above (and numbered below), and if price was the same for rig 1, 2 and 3 - which ONE rig would you prefer as your only "desert island" rig and why?  

 

1) HE-6 on the DarkStar

2) the LCD-2 on the Leben or Traformatic

3) HD800 with the Leben, Traformatic, and WA22

4) something not listed (and what?)

 

Secondly, if price is taken into consideration, which rig would you say is the best bang for the buck? (you can add the Marantz 2275 with HE-6 to the choices for this one)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

popcorn.gif My money is on the Leben with LCD-2.



Yeah - and you'd be right.  I prefer the LCD-2 over the HE-6, and that's the biggest reason, but I also think the Leben is the better sounding amp, and so that seals the deal.  If I had just one system to own of the ones there, that would be the one.  Of course my real desert island rig is the Leben plus the R-10 L3000.gif

 

Bang for the buck - again of the ones you mentioned - unquestionably the Marantz 2275 plus HE-6. The LCD-2 are also very nice with the Marantz though.  And I paid $500 for my Marantz that was largely restored.

post #36 of 372

A really nice review Skylab, thanks.

 

When the RSA Dark Star house sound is a slightly warm-ish overall balance with lush mids and powerful bass, how about the Decware Mini Torii? Lusher or more neutral?

 

Which of those two offer more holographic soundstage and which is more upfront/forward presentation?

post #37 of 372

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

Yeah - and you'd be right.  I prefer the LCD-2 over the HE-6, and that's the biggest reason, but I also think the Leben is the better sounding amp, and so that seals the deal.  If I had just one system to own of the ones there, that would be the one.  Of course my real desert island rig is the Leben plus the R-10 L3000.gif

 

Bang for the buck - again of the ones you mentioned - unquestionably the Marantz 2275 plus HE-6. The LCD-2 are also very nice with the Marantz though.  And I paid $500 for my Marantz that was largely restored.


Right, I had forgotten about your R-10, and it's nice to see that the HE-6 is in the running as wellnormal_smile%20.gif

 

Have you had a chance to compare your HD800 with a more recent issue, what serial number is yours? I used to have a 14xx, and now I have a 109xx and they do sound different. It has been asserted that the treble has been shelved down, also that the bass has been boosted, and that the difference is around 3 dB. All I know for sure is that they do sound different and I like my newer pair much better.

post #38 of 372
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shinn View Post

A really nice review Skylab, thanks.

 

When the RSA Dark Star house sound is a slightly warm-ish overall balance with lush mids and powerful bass, how about the Decware Mini Torii? Lusher or more neutral?

 

Which of those two offer more holographic soundstage and which is more upfront/forward presentation?


I think the Mini-Torii is a little lusher with the tubes I am using, but you can make the amp sound very different based on the tubes you are using. But the Dark Star will always be a little more up front, and I think the Decware has te more holographic soundstage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

 


Right, I had forgotten about your R-10, and it's nice to see that the HE-6 is in the running as wellnormal_smile%20.gif

 

Have you had a chance to compare your HD800 with a more recent issue, what serial number is yours? I used to have a 14xx, and now I have a 109xx and they do sound different. It has been asserted that the treble has been shelved down, also that the bass has been boosted, and that the difference is around 3 dB. All I know for sure is that they do sound different and I like my newer pair much better.


I have not heard one of these "newer" HD800's. I'm out of town right now and cant see my serial number, but it is not that new.
post #39 of 372

Thank you for the great review!

post #40 of 372

Quote:

Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

Thanks Steve. Actually the Mini Torri is the one of the dedicated headphone amps i own that DOES drive the HE-6 well. It does a very nice job with them - no problem hitting clean 100 dB plus peaks (I have measured).


Any idea of how many watts the Mini Torii and Dark Star put into the HE-6?  

post #41 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

Any idea of how many watts the Mini Torii and Dark Star put into the HE-6?  


Can't speak for the Mini Torii, but Ray's running +/-40 volt supplies in the Dark Star. The OPA541's can swing within several volts of the rails. So even at a conservative 5 volts, that's 70 volts peak in bridged mode. Into 50 ohms, that's 49 watts RMS.

 

Edit: The above of course presupposes that you have a source with sufficient output to drive the Dark Star's outputs to 70 volts peak. I don't know what the maximum gain of the Dark Star is, but if you're feeding it with say, a 4VRMS output from a balanced DAC or CD player, it would need to have about 22dB of gain in order to achieve that output.

 

se

 

 

 


Edited by Steve Eddy - 8/10/11 at 8:35am
post #42 of 372
Thread Starter 
I believe the Mini-Torii outputs somewhere around 2-3 watts into 50 ohms, IIRC, but Certainly not as much as the Dark Star, that's for sure, but plenty nonetheless.
post #43 of 372

Another great review from Skylab, kudos!

 

Just wonder what is the reason behind using the speaker output to He-6 is bad for the transformer of leben. I have a Cambridge Audio 840A will be same issue?

post #44 of 372

You should not have an issue with a Solid State amplifier. I am running them with a Threshold T50 and before with a Pass Labs Alpeh 3 and Aleph 5 with no issues at all.

post #45 of 372
Thread Starter 
Right, the issue is just with an output transformer coupled tube amp. a solid state amp should have no issues at all.
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