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REVIEW: Ray Samuels Audio Dark Star solid state headphone amplifier - Page 24

post #346 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Soundstage mostly, the hole in the middle. Found out I'm allergic to orthos and stats and most dynamics because they don't even bother to try to reproduce a realistic forward image. If you aren't sensitive to this issue, the HE-6 and Darkstar is a great combo. For me it's a dealbreaker, but most people don't even notice it, when it drives me crazy, so don't pay too much attention to my soundstage issues.

We have been working on improving this area with angled pads. Right now, the Audeze microsuede push the center image past your eyes. They also provide excellent bass and increased comfort. However, they only really work well in conjunction with the "Fuzzor" felt mod. Jerg is also working on an angled hifiman pad that I am interested in mimicking to see how they fare.

 

You're not past minor and reversible modifications are you?


Edited by brunk - 12/14/13 at 9:23pm
post #347 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Soundstage mostly, the hole in the middle. Found out I'm allergic to orthos and stats and most dynamics because they don't even bother to try to reproduce a realistic forward image. If you aren't sensitive to this issue, the HE-6 and Darkstar is a great combo. For me it's a dealbreaker, but most people don't even notice it, when it drives me crazy, so don't pay too much attention to my soundstage issues.

So your ideal headphone would be which one? Which one (or ones) do you feel don't have the donut in the middle?  HD650s maybe?  Audio Technicas? By the way, I don't think there is anything resembling a donut in the sound of the LCD-Xs.


Edited by figaro69 - 12/14/13 at 10:00pm
post #348 of 372
IEMs with presentation of UERM, detail of HD800, frequency balance of HE90 and clarity/effortlessness of stats. It's possible, but I doubt it will happen. I make do with HD800 as they do most things right. The UERM schools it in soundstage, but UERM lacks enough in detail to keep me from using it as main cans.
post #349 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

But it wasn't Onkyo that said a 40 watt per channel amp will do the trick driving the HE-6 "provided it has a 600 watt power supply."

se

I said that any amp with a big power supply in my previous post. ust happened to be an Onkyo, although I have powered it with other amplifiers too.
post #350 of 372

Yeah soundstage is not a deal breaker for me.  But I'm now finding your choice in DACs really helps in this area.  The DAC I'm using now fills that hole with a very realistic image.  For me the weight in the notes, the heft in the mids and the muscle in the bass are all deal breakers for me.  Planars does well with those, while most dynamics suffers a great deal.  I'll use e-stats for different reasons.

post #351 of 372
Thread Starter 
OK folks, at this point I would like to remind everyone that this is my Review thread of the RSA Dark Star, and NOT the "HE-6 Amplification thread". Let's please return this thread to a discussion of the Dark Star, or to a dormant state tongue.gif
post #352 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

OK folks, at this point I would like to remind everyone that this is my Review thread of the RSA Dark Star, and NOT the "HE-6 Amplification thread". Let's please return this thread to a discussion of the Dark Star, or to a dormant state tongue.gif

The Darkstar.  This is the best headphone amplifier I have in my stable.  It plays every headphone I own with aplomb. One might complain that you may experience a faint hiss with highly sensitive cans (e.g., Denon AD7000/Fostex Th900), but the dynamic range offered by the Darkstar even with said cans is simply amazing.  Given that it is a rather dark-sounding (but not too much) amp, it reduces listening fatigue considerably.  Makes the HE-6 shine; makes the LCD-X sound like the best pair of headphones in existence.  Amazing headamp...couldn't be happier.  It costs 3K+, but once you have it, all your other amps will, for the most part, be redundant.  Extremely pleased.

post #353 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by figaro69 View Post
 

The Darkstar.  This is the best headphone amplifier I have in my stable.  It plays every headphone I own with aplomb. One might complain that you may experience a faint hiss with highly sensitive cans (e.g., Denon AD7000/Fostex Th900), but the dynamic range offered by the Darkstar even with said cans is simply amazing.  Given that it is a rather dark-sounding (but not too much) amp, it reduces listening fatigue considerably.  Makes the HE-6 shine; makes the LCD-X sound like the best pair of headphones in existence.  Amazing headamp...couldn't be happier.  It costs 3K+, but once you have it, all your other amps will, for the most part, be redundant.  Extremely pleased.

How about with HD800 ? I want one headphone amp that can drive HE6,, HD800, LCD2 and my future cans LCDX, LCD3 and PS1000.

post #354 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian411 View Post
 

How about with HD800 ? I want one headphone amp that can drive HE6,, HD800, LCD2 and my future cans LCDX, LCD3 and PS1000.

Can definitely drive them all (i.e., I have all of the above plus the T1) perfectly well!  By the way, the PS1000s are definitely not in the same league as the rest you mention (but the T1s, which you do not mention, definitely are).  think about the future...think twice before you get the PS1000...don't make the same error I made.  They have a big whole in the mids (voices sound far away), the treble can be piercing at times, and I don't really care for the way the bass is presented (it is diffuse and splatters).  Thin-sounding headphones.  If you want grado, better to get the RS1 in my opinion! I do love them with chamber music (i.e., string quartets), which is the reason why I have kept them, but that's about it.

post #355 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by figaro69 View Post
 

Can definitely drive them all (i.e., I have all of the above plus the T1) perfectly well!  By the way, the PS1000s are definitely not in the same league as the rest you mention (but the T1s, which you do not mention, definitely are).  think about the future...think twice before you get the PS1000...don't make the same error I made.  They have a big whole in the mids (voices sound far away), the treble can be piercing at times, and I don't really care for the way the bass is presented (it is diffuse and splatters).  Thin-sounding headphones.  If you want grado, better to get the RS1 in my opinion! I do love them with chamber music (i.e., string quartets), which is the reason why I have kept them, but that's about it.

Oh thanks for the info regarding PS1000, I auditioned for about an hour at local hifi store and I really liked it, but having it and trying at home is different than auditioning at the store. :)

 

I had T1 for about a month purchased from Amazon but returned it, never liked it :(.

 

Thanks again !

post #356 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian411 View Post
 

Oh thanks for the info regarding PS1000, I auditioned for about an hour at local hifi store and I really liked it, but having it and trying at home is different than auditioning at the store. :)

 

I had T1 for about a month purchased from Amazon but returned it, never liked it :(.

 

Thanks again !

Oh...but the with Darkstar you would have really liked it.  They sound amazing together!!!

post #357 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post


Your amp is a speaker amp and I said it was fine. It's the ones with double or triple (or more) the power required to max out the HE-6 that I find ridiculous. Regarding the Threshold amp, I could not find the exact model that was used, but I recall it being at least 150Wx2, if not 200W @ 8ohm. A prime example of what I'm talking about. Overkill for the sake of 'my wattage is bigger than yours'.

The Threshold amp you are referring to was Threshold 400A and it is 100 watts per channel class A.

post #358 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by figaro69 View Post
 

Can definitely drive them all (i.e., I have all of the above plus the T1) perfectly well!  By the way, the PS1000s are definitely not in the same league as the rest you mention (but the T1s, which you do not mention, definitely are).  think about the future...think twice before you get the PS1000...don't make the same error I made.  They have a big whole in the mids (voices sound far away), the treble can be piercing at times, and I don't really care for the way the bass is presented (it is diffuse and splatters).  Thin-sounding headphones.  If you want grado, better to get the RS1 in my opinion! I do love them with chamber music (i.e., string quartets), which is the reason why I have kept them, but that's about it.

Ditto for me on your PS1000 comments. That's exactly what I heard (I even had 2 pairs, one of which was recabled).

Now my Big Grado love is for my RS1 (10 years old now) and GS1000i (which gets lots of use and is a big fav of mine).

 

Grado needs to do some work on the PS1k I think; it's a work in progress as I hear it and has great potential for a real speaker-like sound.

They need to cure the boom-box punchiness, the ringing highs, and install some silky Grado mids.

 

Oh, and a decently-padded headband for a phone of this weight is in order too.


Edited by rgs9200m - 12/18/13 at 7:37pm
post #359 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by figaro69 View Post
 

The Darkstar.  This is the best headphone amplifier I have in my stable.  It plays every headphone I own with aplomb. One might complain that you may experience a faint hiss with highly sensitive cans (e.g., Denon AD7000/Fostex Th900), but the dynamic range offered by the Darkstar even with said cans is simply amazing.  Given that it is a rather dark-sounding (but not too much) amp, it reduces listening fatigue considerably.  Makes the HE-6 shine; makes the LCD-X sound like the best pair of headphones in existence.  Amazing headamp...couldn't be happier.  It costs 3K+, but once you have it, all your other amps will, for the most part, be redundant.  Extremely pleased.

 

As a recent buyer of the DS (Dec 2013), after three weeks of listening to my DarkStar, I can only echo a previous headfier who best said upfront "It just sounds 'right'" (I take this subjectively and objectively!). I agree with figaro69 too. This is some further feedback...

 

The DS gives a very instantly satisfying, +fulsome+, detailed, "balanced" sound to my ears (I listen to jazz and classical only), and while sounding great with my HD800, LCD3 and HE6, the marriage is only consummated with the HE6! My sources were HM901 and HM801: I depend on these and need portability. I admit I generally like the airiness and neutrality of HE6 even without this amp - I've use SR71b, BUDA, EF5 and 6 -  but the DS, IMO, does indeed make it shine. (Of the others, I love my EF6 though, but DS outperforms and well it should at the price differential and looks). 

 

I listened (more on HE6 and less on LCD3) to Eliane Elias' recent "I Thought About You; A Tribute To Chet Baker" CD: your hear her intimately upfront (HM901's Balanced Switch being ON) in front of you and the instrumentation is nicely panned and rendered (this recording is actually recorded well, a 'first' for EE with so many other recordings: lovely CD as is George Benson's orchestral crooner "A Tribute to Nat King Cole", same class). Kate Reid's superbly recorded and sung "Love I'm In" (also "Sentimental Mood"), little known but one of the very best classic contemporary jazz singers in a crop of young so-sos, comes off just brilliantly - timeless. Needless to say well recorded Sarah Vaughans or Anita O'Days are nice, albeit the recording quality varies. [Flicking to the non balanced switch on the HM901 pulls back the vocals and gives a wider soundstage or more prominence to the instruments on this setup and others.]

 

On instrumental CDs, Hank Jones "With the Meridian String Quartet", a gem, is feather-touch. Stan Getz/Kenny Barron club duets in "The Complete People Time Recordings" gave intimacy and clarity. The likes of Bobby Hutcherson and Mark Sherman on vibe recordings were good but maybe the carryovers are best left to loudspeakers. Some Ahmed Jamal recordings gave an almost surround sound feel and bass play on several jazz recordings come off distinctly and firmly (more so with LCD3+DS, somewhat predictably). Drumming by pianist Cuban Hilario Duran's bands ["El Negro"] in "From the Heart" was crackingly good and taunt...while clarinet/sax crescendos by Paquito D'Rivera in "Quartier Latin: Live" and delicate lyrical pianowork by Chano Dominguez "Flamenco Sketches" ... were very enjoyable, to me.  2L Mozart pieces from HDTracks at 88/24, 44/16 and 96/24 were rich, spritely and enjoyable, in this land of Mozart. Vienna New Year Concert pieces (assorted years and recordings) by the Vienna Philharmonic had that swing and verve and detail on the amp that is their trait; Strauss lives and puts one in upcoming ball mood nicely. Of course, I do give particular credit to HM901, my favourite player, plus little extra oomph to Moon cables also for a good part of these final renditions... 

 

As between headphones, LCD3 +DS sounds very appealing to me on some recordings but just ok on others [some downright horrible and narrow soundstage too] - I presume this is very much a LCD3 signature trait. But LCD3 +DS gave by a good margin the most natural sound to my ears of these 3 headphones. HD800 sounded very full with the DS on most CDs I heard, with its characteristic acoustic distanced sound - to me the HE6+DS makes me much happier on more recordings even though it is also not a forgiving headphone. In some ways I find HE6 and LCD3 have more individual character than the HD800, despite its great status.

 

I am currently trying to decide on the best closed phone for the DS with lesser leakage/seepage and good clarity/neutrality/some brightness : TH900 (bit leaky I gather) being the hot runner given LCD-XC price and pros 'n cons ('thinner sound', heavier weight). T5p being a consideration but overpriced.  

 

One thing which surprised me on receiving the DS is their size/weight : way smaller and more compact than I expected. This was practical - the photos of this amp kind of make it look falsely big, but they fit quite nicely on a bedside table. In comparison, my old EF6 is anchorweight. The only observation I have on the DS is that when I switch off, there is a subsequent loudish shutting-down click on my HE6 cans as the DS electronics go down (I switch the portable off first and then the amp...maybe I'm doing something wrong). Some slight hiss was heard on a few recordings, as some have observed, after the music died off, nothing which bothered me at all.

 

RS, while saying it takes 2-3 weeks to hand build and being a man of fewer words:), actually expedited my DS to Europe in much less time, kudos to him on this. It arrived fast, well packaged and suitably humble looking.

 

Overall, I am very happy indeed with the DarkStar which I bought after the many important comments by headfiers; I could be even more sublimely happier were it $1000 less but it is bearable for this lifetime though hopefully cheaper in the next...

 

N

post #360 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgs9200m View Post
 

Ditto for me on your PS1000 comments. That's exactly what I heard (I even had 2 pairs, one of which was recabled).

Now my Big Grado love is for my RS1 (10 years old now) and GS1000i (which gets lots of use and is a big fav of mine).

 

Grado needs to do some work on the PS1k I think; it's a work in progress as I hear it and has great potential for a real speaker-like sound.

They need to cure the boom-box punchiness, the ringing highs, and install some silky Grado mids.

 

Oh, and a decently-padded headband for a phone of this weight is in order too.

 

So there will be PS1000 successor ? I really like PS1000 as much as HD800.  I am not a fan of ear-piercing trebles but PS1000 sounds pretty special to my ear.

It has that punchy overall sound quality.  Can't wait for PS1000 successor :)

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