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Objective2 Mini-Review and Discussion

post #1 of 385
Thread Starter 

Yes, this counts as mini for me.  I’m prone to rambling...

 

Since Lord Voldemort was kind enough to send me one of his Objective2 prototypes in return for being one of his loyal minions (or maybe just giving him some useful advice from a different perspective) I figured I should write up some impressions since there are only a few “in the wild” so far.

 

I received a fully assembled unit complete with enclosure, batteries, AC adapter, and even some nice graphs verifying its performance.  The gains are set to 2.5x and 6.5x.  I’ve done most of my listening so far with my modded Fostex T50RPs and my Shure SE530s from either my Cowon D2+ or Maverick D1 as my source.  Music is all over the place and includes metal, electronica, Jpop, and classical plus the anime and movies that I watch with my T50RPs as primary transducers.  Other headphone I own and used with the O2 are the Sony XB700, Yamaha YH-3, Beyer DT1350, and Koss KSC-75.

 

I’ve had the O2 a several days now and I’ve been listening to it a lot so I thought I should write something about it.

 

I’ll start with the pros.  First is the super low noise.  It might not be a big deal if you only use fairly inefficient headphones but if you mix and match them with sensitive BA IEMs it’s a pretty useful trait.  The O2 has no background hiss with my SE530s.  Even after putting on my -30dB (allegedly) hearing protectors over my Shures and going to a quiet room I still didn’t hear any hiss.  I still didn’t hear any hiss after connecting my D2+ which normally makes the SE530s hiss quite audibly when directly connected.  The much criticized gain structure turns out to be good for something after all, at least if you like to use IEMs while stationary like I do.

 

If you plan to use the O2 with sensitive BA IEMs often and don’t want to use a digital volume control I’d suggest going with 1X gain for your low setting.  I knew 2.5x would be too high to avoid using a digital volume control in some cases but I have this perverse desire to use all my headphones with the O2 from both my home and portable sources so I had to make a sacrifice somewhere.

 

I’ve read a few people who were concerned about interference from cell phones but even GSM phones won’t cause enough interference to blow your ears out with IEMs.  Even with my GSM phone sitting directly on top of the O2 the interference isn’t any louder than the music when listening through my SE530s.

 

Other people have expressed concerns about transients during powering on and off.  The do exist but they aren’t objectionable, even with my SE530s.  There’s a small click when powered on and a brief thump when powered off.

 

Another small favor is the non night-vision destroying red power LED.  I fondly remember the days when the color temperature of my room at night wasn’t bluer than during the day and can only hope that the O2 will usher in a new era of sanity...

 

By now everyone’s probably wants me to cut to the chase and start talking about how it sounds.  This might be the most important part, but its also pretty anti-climactic.  As far as I can tell it doesn’t sound like much of anything.  Its not harsh or clinical or sterile and its not warm or lush either.  Its clean and clear.  To me it sounds like music, or at least the combination of my source and headphones.

 

I could wax poetic or philosophical but it wouldn’t really change anyone’s mind on the philosophy of sound reproduction.  The short answer is that if you’re looking for transparency on a budget the O2 seems to fit the bill for the majority of combinations of users and headphones.

 

The O2 powers all my headphones quite well.  I don’t have any super-inefficient ‘phones like the HiFiMan planars but my Yamaha YH-3 and Fostex T50RPs aren’t exactly paragons of efficiency either.  My T50RPs still get plenty loud (and stay clean while doing it) even after eating up more than 12dB of headroom between EQing the up the sub bass and other DSPs for watching movies from the ~2.2V line out from my D1 with a gain of 2.5x.  It doesn’t have tons of headroom after that so if you’re also fond of such things you may want to rule out the O2 for use with the less efficient models like HiFiMan planars.  Applying the same sort of aggressive EQ to high dynamic range music could also eat up the O2’s headroom pretty fast too.  If I wasn’t trying to use my O2 with such a large variety of stuff (inneficient headphones with portable sources as well as super efficient headphones with normal sources) I could have had the gain matched better and got another 1.5V out of it so matching it to your source is something to keep in mind if you have particularly inefficient ‘phones.

 

Besides that its only major weakness is that some people might think that its too large to be considered “portable”.  It probably won’t fit in your pocket, but there are lots of people who carry larger volumes of “portable” gear so its really an individual choice.  Given its quality and size I think it falls into a category similar to 17+ inch “desktop replacement” laptops.  It can be either or both depending on your needs and what you're comfortable carrying everywhere.  In a lot of situations it could be the only headamp you’ll need.

 

In the end, I’m going to keep my Practical Devices XM6 as my portable amp due to its profusion of extra features (I can’t live without crossfeed) even though I prefer the O2 as a straight amp.  At home I can do the crossfeed in software and in that situation the O2 has replaced my Maverick D1’s built in amp.

 

Overall, I can recommend the O2 to people who are looking for transparency and don’t need any extra features like crossfeed or tone controls.


Edited by maverickronin - 4/4/12 at 8:28pm
post #2 of 385
This goes to prove that objective neutrality and great measurements don't need to cost a lot. Those who like "tube sound" or euphonic distortion have their views, but from fear of having to accurately describe their amps as "subtle distortion boxes," they have to delude themselves into thinking they measure well too. Obviously, euphony will negatively affect measurements, so manufacturers of such amps are left with only three choices: publish inaccurate specs to look better on paper, publish accurate specs that don't look so good on paper, or not publish specs at all. The two last options don't sell particularly well, so...

I'm rambling.
post #3 of 385

Lord Valdemort was very kind indeed, shame Harry and the dude with the sword killed him.

 

can we see photos of the internals?

post #4 of 385
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soaa- View Post

This goes to prove that objective neutrality and great measurements don't need to cost a lot. Those who like "tube sound" or euphonic distortion have their views, but from fear of having to accurately describe their amps as "subtle distortion boxes," they have to delude themselves into thinking they measure well too. Obviously, euphony will negatively affect measurements, so manufacturers of such amps are left with only three choices: publish inaccurate specs to look better on paper, publish accurate specs that don't look so good on paper, or not publish specs at all. The two last options don't sell particularly well, so...


From the perspective of what you enjoy to listen to the specs don't actually matter that much.  If there's actually a difference in sound (eg a single ended triode amp) and not something you're most likely imagining (eg cables) then preferring that difference is just as valid as picking one headphone over another.  I discovered I wanted transparency in the same way.  It suits my preferences.

 

Of course even manufacturers who sell gear designed to be euphonic should still publish some basic stuff like output impedance and power output into various loads.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesMcProgger View Post

Lord Valdemort was very kind indeed, shame Harry and the dude with the sword killed him.

 

can we see photos of the internals?


I haven't taken the board out of the case yet, but it doesn't look as pretty as some of the other ones since its a prototype board.

post #5 of 385

BRINGS OUT THE BIAS CARD BECAUSE YOU GOT IT AS A REVIEW SAMPLE. wink.gif

 

Disappointing Kino, I'd have thought that you'd know to hold the cold end of a soldering iron and not the hot end. tongue.gif

 

Yeah it's quite hard to post impressions about an amp isn't it, cause all decent ones are supposed to sound more or less the same anyway. I don't think anyone wants to say that it sounds just like any other decent amp, as that seems kinda boring.

 

It's been quite long now, there are still barely any comparisons with other amps, did everyone forget about the Obj2 or something?

post #6 of 385

The first board group buy hasn't even finished yet - few people are willing to pay for their own run of boards so there are very few "out in the wild"

post #7 of 385

Well, consider 500 board orders were made, I would say NO. The O2 has NOT been forgotten... People are simply gearing up to actually build it. Trust me, a slew of reviews is coming.

 

Prepare for the storm. tongue.gif

post #8 of 385

I hope it's a pleasant storm - my new K702's are sounding a little anemic out of onboard audio biggrin.gif

post #9 of 385

Good to read another review :D

 

And no, people have definitely not forgotten about the O2.

 

The group buy has well over 200 separate orders now so I think October will be the Month of the O2 as the majority of the GB amps get built and reviewed.

post #10 of 385

So what kind of gain settings would you recommend for a combination of very efficient headphones like HD25 and less efficient but low impedance ones like Q701, T50rp, and using both portable sources and the Emu 2040 pro nominal outputs with AC power?  I've been tempted to have Slim do 1X for the first setting, since I'm very sensitive to L/R balance.  You think it's really necessary if my only IEM is the ER4S?  And what about the second setting?

post #11 of 385

Are you going to use it with home or portable sources?

post #12 of 385
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadlylover View Post

BRINGS OUT THE BIAS CARD BECAUSE YOU GOT IT AS A REVIEW SAMPLE. wink.gif

 

Disappointing Kino, I'd have thought that you'd know to hold the cold end of a soldering iron and not the hot end. tongue.gif


Weren't you the one complaining about shipping to the antipodes?  You're way too far away to get one.  wink.gif

 

I was planning to sign up for a few boards (just in case, because my soldering "skills" are best suited to splicing wire...) but kept putting it off because I wasn't feeling very well.  Fortunately I got a lucky message and I don't need to anymore.  Hopefully I'll be feeling better by the time a group buy for the desktop O2 boards rolls around.  After I get a desktop O2 I probably won't end up using this one very much and I'll likely give it away to someone in need of an amp.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reticuli2 View Post

So what kind of gain settings would you recommend for a combination of very efficient headphones like HD25 and less efficient but low impedance ones like Q701, T50rp, and using both portable sources and the Emu 2040 pro nominal outputs with AC power?  I've been tempted to have Slim do 1X for the first setting, since I'm very sensitive to L/R balance.  You think it's really necessary if my only IEM is the ER4S?  And what about the second setting?


I don't see a 2040 on E-Mu's website, did you mean the 0204?  It says the line outs are +6.7dBV which should be 2.16VRMS so assuming you aren't going to use your inefficient 'phones with your DAP and only with the E-Mu then 1x and 3.1x (which is one of the "standard" gains) or 3.4x for maximum power if he'll do custom gains (from the 7.5/Input VRMS = max gain formula for the O2)  EDIT:  The actual formula is 7/Input VRMS for a maximum of ~3.2x which is small difference enough not to matter should probably be good low and medium efficiency headphones from a DAP and both high and low efficiency 'phones from the E-Mu.

 

OTOH, some of those Etys are odd ducks for BA IEMs with very low efficiency.  I've never owned either, but the specs say that the HD25s are more sensitive than the ER4S.  That would give you more leeway than normal for BA IEMs but it still might be a problem if you like to listen softly.

 

Without an expensive stepped volume control of some kind there's not really any good way for an amp with only 2 gains to work perfectly with so many different combinations of sources and 'phones.  With gains of 2.5x and 6.5x on mine I need to use the digital volume control on both my PC an D2+ (which doesn't have a line out anyway) with my SE530s but it also allows me to use my YH-3s with my D2+ at any sane volume I'd like.  If you use a line out from a DAP you'll likely want a 1x gain since there will be no other way to lower the volume.

 

Its hard to say what to go with because no combination is perfect...


Edited by maverickronin - 9/6/11 at 5:26pm
post #13 of 385

I'm confused... wasn't the guy and any products he made taboo here?  I'd been reading up on this on anythingbutipod and thought I read that somewhere.  Although it does look like it has some interesting features/design principles, and something like thirty bucks to make... 

post #14 of 385

630 PCB's ordered and counting. Not forgotten for sure! Cannot wait on building this O2. wink.gif Thank s for the mini-review maverickronin.

post #15 of 385

There was a bit of a kerfuffle over NwAvGuy and the fact that nothing he had ever done could be mentioned. That is no longer the case.

Also, it was 620 last I checked - still going up fast!

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