** 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