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Mini-Review: HeadAmp KGSS vs Blue Hawaii SE - Page 4

post #46 of 130

Good review. Similar to how I feel about 717 vs BH. There is one bit, however, which I really want to emphasize:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

So my recommendation for anyone thinking about the BHSE is to factor in a really good source to go with it, if you haven't already done so. And by really good source, I really don't mean anything cheap - good sources tend to cost serious money, and really good sources tend to cost even more. Not that something expensive is necessarily good though - but typically good stuff is expensive, that's just how it goes.

 

This is critical.

 

You really are at the limits of resolution here, and your source will stand up to the highest scrutiny. Not just that - the BH is a straight wire with gain, and it has no colorations at all, so the tonality of your source will really come out. I hate to say it, but if you don't have a top-quality source or aren't planning on getting one, don't bother with O2/BHSE or even plain old BH. Which is not to say don't bother with O2 period, on lesser amps it's not as revealing, and off a transformer box with a good tube amp it can be quite euphonic, if not technically top-notch.

 

You will also hear every flaw in every recording laid bare. This phrase is usually reserved for stupidly bright systems that emphasize every bit of sibilance; the O2 is not bright nor does it make sibilance painful, but man, after living with this system for a while I really wish people paid more attention to how they record vocals. It's quite something to hear a warm and rich guitar sound next to a cold, metallic, clinical vocal on the same track. This is how revealing it is; you will hear everything, how each track was recorded, the spacial information for each instrument, the amount of compression on each track, and so on. You will hear flaws in just about everything - and you will have to come to terms that your favorite recordings may not have been produced quite as well as you thought.

 

When it all works, it's pretty magical. Even with the regular BH the level of transparency is stunning. The O2 pulls off the disappearing trick reasonably well on lesser gear, but it's nothing, and I do mean nothing, compared to this. It's simply total immersion - for better or worse.

post #47 of 130
I've put in a down payment on one of these badboys as part of a gift to myself for finishing school and landing a job.

Luckily I'll be in the next production cycle... and I hope the RWA Isabellina is a good enough source:o

All this talk of "source, source" has given me Napolean syndrome
post #48 of 130

There is a very, very, very long list of sources which outpace anything by RWA at a far lower price. 

post #49 of 130

Well I just connected FB2K (ASIO under Windows) loaded with Hi Rez 24x96000 files (ripped from DVD-A's) to a brand new RWA Isabellina HPA and put the DAC in HiRez Mode (that's a Wolfson DAC), running off batteries, and took the analog s.e. output and ran it to the s.e. inputs of my 717.  I listened to the 717 with the O2 Mk 1's that just arrived from the U,K, -- I won off eBay -- and also with Baby Orpheus (using a converter).

 

The sound was phenomenal.  I wouldn't run down a Wolfson DAC, honestly.

 

Price vis-a-vis other components I can't comment on. 

post #50 of 130

Out of curiosity, is there any tactile diference from using the Alps RK50 over the DACT CT2?  I've read there's a definite improvement with the volume control (evenness?) with the RK50, but I was wondering what else would be noticable with this upgrade.  I think I read something about the DACT CT2 only increasing the volume in 'steps' (kind of like grooved notches?) whereas the RK50 is completely smooth?

 

I opted for the RK50 upgrade given how everyone says to go for it but I'm unsure what difference there is between that and the DACT CT2.

post #51 of 130
Thread Starter 

Yes, the DACT CT2 is stepped (24 steps) while the Alps RK50 is continuous. The RK50 supposedly offers superior channel matching.

post #52 of 130

May I ask again, what tubes were used in the review, the default ones? Thanks in advance.

post #53 of 130

The DACT only has something like 26 steps so this can lead to problems with getting just the right amount of volume.  This doesn't bother most people but there are those that really don't like steppers for this reason.  Both it and the RK50 should offer excellent channel matching and shouldn't impart much 'sound' of thier own.

post #54 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Out of curiosity, is there any tactile diference from using the Alps RK50 over the DACT CT2?  I've read there's a definite improvement with the volume control (evenness?) with the RK50, but I was wondering what else would be noticable with this upgrade.  I think I read something about the DACT CT2 only increasing the volume in 'steps' (kind of like grooved notches?) whereas the RK50 is completely smooth?

 

I opted for the RK50 upgrade given how everyone says to go for it but I'm unsure what difference there is between that and the DACT CT2.


The DACT is a stepped attenuator. It uses resistors to adjust the volume in fixed steps. The RK50 is an infinitely variable potentiometer (pot). Most pots are kind of mediocre, and have pretty bad channel balancing issues, especially at low volume levels. The RK50 is the exception. Most SA's have no trouble with balance, but the cheaper ones can be noisy between steps, and some may have a 2 or 3dB jump per click, which may be too much to hit the desired volume level.

 

I'm personally not a fan of the DACT. I went with the Khozmo 48 step SMD, it's 1/3 to 1/4 the price of the RK50, readily available, channel matching is +/- 0.1dB which the RK50 can't match and no other pot gets within a mile of, and within its useful range, the steps are 1dB which should be fine.

 

post #55 of 130
Thread Starter 

To add onto my previous post on the DACT CT2, I don't personally have a problem with too-loud volume on my BHSE with the CT2, but that's only because my BHSE's gain is lower than standard. On the KGSS, where the gain is higher, I wouldn't say I can't get a good volume, but it's definitely less precise.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paganini Alfredo View Post
All this talk of "source, source" has given me Napolean syndrome


evil_smiley.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by padam View Post
May I ask again, what tubes were used in the review, the default ones? Thanks in advance.


I added in that info a while back after seeing your first post, under the Equipment Setup section.

post #56 of 130

Ahh, thank you for the clarification everyone :)  So it seems like the BHSE standard DACT CT2 is like the DACT upgrade I got for my GS-1, that has those 'steps (clicks)' so I'm locked to the preset increments on volume through the amp.  I prefer being able to do fine incrementations in volume, so I guess I'm one of those fussy people who don't like steppers.

 

I think I read on an engineering forum that the RK50 is one of the few/only exceptions to potentiometers that doesn't have channel/volume balancing issues.

 

The other big issue with the BSHE was deciding whether to get the HE90 jack or not!  After reading that only HE90s were ever created, that settled that decision for me.

post #57 of 130

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

I added in that info a while back after seeing your first post, under the Equipment Setup section.


Sorry I overlooked that. So with an older Mullard it may sound even better still.

 

post #58 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post

Well I just connected FB2K (ASIO under Windows) loaded with Hi Rez 24x96000 files (ripped from DVD-A's) to a brand new RWA Isabellina HPA and put the DAC in HiRez Mode (that's a Wolfson DAC), running off batteries, and took the analog s.e. output and ran it to the s.e. inputs of my 717.  I listened to the 717 with the O2 Mk 1's that just arrived from the U,K, -- I won off eBay -- and also with Baby Orpheus (using a converter).

 

The sound was phenomenal.  I wouldn't run down a Wolfson DAC, honestly.

 

Price vis-a-vis other components I can't comment on. 

 

Nothing wrong with the Wolfson DAC's even though they aren't my cup of tea.  My issue with RWA are questionable designs and very low value for money.  Same deal with Esoteric, nice build quality but the electrical design of even the ultra high end kit is a bad joke.  Sadly this is a trend in the industry, pretty boxes with high price tags and very questionable designs.  frown.gif
 

 

post #59 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post

Nothing wrong with the Wolfson DAC's even though they aren't my cup of tea.  My issue with RWA are questionable designs and very low value for money.  Same deal with Esoteric, nice build quality but the electrical design of even the ultra high end kit is a bad joke.  Sadly this is a trend in the industry, pretty boxes with high price tags and very questionable designs.  frown.gif


I think Rowland may be the worst offender at this - $500 worth of chips in $9500 boxes...

 

post #60 of 130

Hmm I always assumed the Rowland stuff was actually one of the better deals out there for component cost to amp price.  I don't think the DIYT2 even has $500 worth of chips, that's a ton.

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