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TTVJ Slim First Impressions

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

** Updated at bottom **


Got my new TTVJ Slim about 3 hours ago. Dealing with Todd on the phone yesterday was cool. He's a very knowledgeable, friendly guy. I got the version without the DAC. I had it overnighted so I could use it this weekend. I plugged it in to the wall as soon as I got it. I guess it's not fully charged yet, as the LED didn't go from blinking to solid, but I couldn't stand the suspense.


I am using an Ipod Touch 3G 64GB as my source. I was going to order an expensive LOD, but after reading a lot of threads (arguments), I opted for one from Fiio on Amazon for $14.95.


The docking connector on the LOD cable was too fat for my OtterBox, so I had to remove my iPod from that. Not that easy, and I *really* like the OtterBox. more on that later. Once I got my iPod out, I connected the LOD to the Slim's input, and lowered the volume all the way. For the first round, I had my Grado 325's connected to the amp. I started with Art Pepper's Winter Moon CD. (All ALAC on my iPod). I loved my Grados, but my first impression? Bright. I have the 32 ohm version, and I can only describe them as ... bright. My heart sunk a little.


I pulled out the Grado's, and tried my Yuin PK-1's. I read many a post saying these things shine with an amp. I thought they shined without an amp. But with the Slim? I have seen the light. I have just taken a step further in my aural journey. This sounds so full and alive. The Slim amp makes the music alive and more real. (Does that make sense?) Wow!


I'm disappointed that the Grado's seemed to do worse with an amp than without. If anything, I wished it was the other way around. For portable use, I use the PK-1's, and would probably not carry an amp. I am probably going to buy the Senn HD-650's soon though. (Anyone want to buy a set of 4 month old Grado's?)


Here is something I found curious though. The EQ controls for the iPod still worked even though I was using the LOD. I would have thought that the EQ affected the amp section rather than the pre-stages. Hmmm.


I also am ticked that I had to remove the iPod from the OtterBox to connect the Fiio LOD. Maybe other brands of LOD cables would fit, but I've also had trouble with certain HP plugs. The case keeps the barrel from being fully inserted.


I am now thinking about getting iPod Classic 160GB. That will hold a lot of lossless music, and since I'm amping anyway, I would think the differences between the Touch and the Classic would be negligible. Anyone care to comment? I also hope that using the LOD will help battery life, since the amp of the iPod is not supplying any power to HP's.


This amp sounds so good - with the right phones! To some that may love bright, maybe you'd love the amp with the 325's. I liked the 325's a lot - without the amp. I wish I had the Senns right now. I have a feeling that those hp's would sound sooo good with this amp.



** Update 2011-09-17 **


I went back to the Grados after listening to the Yuins for a few hours. Since the Grados are 32 ohms, versus the Yuins which are 150 ohms, I switched the gain on the amp from 10 dB to 0 dB. I put on John Coltrane's Ballads. I went into the stock Ipod EQ and selected "Treble Reducer". I was pleasantly suprised. That harsh edge is gone, and the sound is lively and enjoyable. The clarity and separation that made me originally dig the Grados is there. It was probably there in the first place, but I was taken aback by how bright they sounded when amped and don't think I listened as objectively as I should have. This little amp is really well built and cool looking, and sounds great. There is plenty of headroom, and should be able to drive higher impedance phones with no problem. Just a couple of minor tweaks made the Grado's much nicer to listen to.


It made the Yuins go from good to great. I am still amazed that that buds can sound so good. But I still think I am going to get the Sennheisers. The question is, do I sell the Grados or not. Decisions!







Edited by FlatNine - 9/17/11 at 7:22am
post #2 of 4

I'm afraid you've fallen into a couple of the same holes that many of us, myself included, have spent years digging ourselves out of.


My thoughts:


- you have chosen a pair of Grados that are usually considered the *brightest* of a relatively bright headphone range. You will find rave reviews for the 325 (old and new) all over the Net, but its my belief that the majority of these are from folk who listen to mostly classical music at low volumes from high-end kit. with that combination, detail fanatics are richly rewarded. I've also made the point before that Grados benefit from a light touch on the volume control. As far as the '32-ohm model' part, Grados come in any impedance you want, as long as its 32-ohm ;)


- you will find a lot of hoo-ha here about 'Grados dont benefit from an amp' = total horse manure. Whether they NEED an amp with a given source is a different issue, but they most definitely do benefit from the right amp. The key lies in impedance matching - modern portable amps are often expected to drive everything from 16 to 600 ohms, if only among Head-Fiers. Its not hard for such an amp to drive a 32-ohm load given the sensitivity of the 325, but you may have a very small range on the Slim that goes from 'a little too soft' to 'too loud' within a notch or two - thats a problem I've encountered across several portable amps.


- Bilavideo makes a very good point in his epic Grado mod thread when he says that many of us run into problems when we crank the volume looking for bass punch only to be assaulted with a dose of HF - this is especially so with the 325, less conspicuos with models like the 225 and MS1. I wasnt prepared to try his mods with anything more expensive than the SR60, but I strongly recommend you consider selling the 325 to fund a pair of 60s and try the mods before giving up on Grado phones.


- moving to the LOD, my understanding is that all a LOD gives us is an analog line-out, and that means that any digital processing that occurs in the iPod DAC is going to be reflected in the signal going into our amp. This is still preferable to taking the amped signal from the headphone out. Unfortunately, both my LODs (Fiio and iBasso) proved fragile in portable situations and I can only use them at home - hardly a recommendation, but there you have it.


End of the day. you will lose a few bucks on the sale of your Grados - its not the end of the world. The open design of the Grado just isnt suited to portable usage anyway - I strongly suggest researching a good pair of IEMs if that is the main  environment you plan to do your listening,



post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

All good and useful info estreeter, thanks. The Grado's went up for sale this afternoon. It's not that I dislike them, but I want to try different things. Most hobbies cost money, and if I lose a bit here and there, but have a great time and learn a lot, then I did ok. The Grado's definitely benefitted from the amp, no question. They woke up. (which is not say they were asleep unamped.) With the HF rolled off, some may even consider them perfect. I just prefer a warmer sound, and personally like the higher end of the LF and mid's to be more forward. I had the UE TF-10's, and Ety ER-4P's. I just cannot stand anything in my ear no matter what. For portable listening, my Yuin PK-1's are great. I read that the Shure SE535's are very mid forward, but I'm just not an IEM kinda guy. I wish I liked them or could tolerate them for long periods. It is not uncommon for me to sit and read while listening to music for an entire weekend. IEM's for longer that 2 hours drove me nuts. :-(


Come to think of it, almost *all* of my listening is either at home or in my office, so I'd probably be a good candidate for non-portable gear. But then we're probably talking thousands, and I'm not ready to go there just yet.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

As far as the '32-ohm model' part, Grados come in any impedance you want, as long as its 32-ohm ;)

I swore there were different models, but of course, you're right on the money. When I was considering the Grados, Beyer DT880 were also on my short list. Those do come in 32 ohms or 250 ohms. This is a case of my brain introducing some cross-talk across memories. blink.gif


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