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Review: Cavalli Liquid Lightning - Page 3

post #31 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Unless they shell out for an RK50, that's disappointing. The performance of a typical pot is mediocre at best. The KGSS cost half as much, but Headamp didn't skimp on the volume controls. Admittedly DACT SAs are not my favorite, but they are probably still better than 99% of the pots out there.

 


 

Not too sure about that. I vastly prefer a pot like the TKD over any DACT attenuator. Jut like everything else, even here everyone's got their own likes and dislikes.

 

BUT, we'll see.. a lot of tongue wagging from folks who have no clue about how the amp sounds let alone the circuit behind it. I will wait to listen to it and will make serious comparisons against the incumbent TOTL amps (BH, WES) whenever i get the chance for my own benefit. 

 


Edited by sachu - 12/8/11 at 11:56pm
post #32 of 312

One other thing to remember about the BHSE is the wait. You'll probably be getting your LL quicker than your BHSE. Lots of impatient head-fiers. :D

post #33 of 312

I've been perfectly content with my KGSS. It's a shame they're hard to come by these days, as I feel it's definitely a "sweet spot" in terms of price to performance ratio in electrostatic amps.

 

Honestly, for the price the Liquid Lightning doesn't sound too promising at this point. Then again this was a prototype, so it's premature to declare anything with certainty. Still, I'd probably just have a friend build a KGSSHV.

 

It's definitely nice to see more electrostatic amps though. Speaking of which, the Eddie Current Electra should be making its rounds at meets soon, too. Frankly I'm more interested in that at the moment than the Cavalli.


Edited by MuppetFace - 12/9/11 at 10:21am
post #34 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

One other thing to remember about the BHSE is the wait. You'll probably be getting your LL quicker than your BHSE. Lots of impatient head-fiers. :D



I can understand the desire for instant gratification, but if it means settling on something not quite as good as a result-- and for nearly the same amount of money no less-- that just strikes me as silly. Especially when you can get a used SRM-717 or an SRM-727 in the mean time and enjoy your earspeakers while waiting, then turn around and sell it when the BHSE arrives.

post #35 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

I can understand the desire for instant gratification, but if it means settling on something not quite as good as a result-- and for nearly the same amount of money no less-- that just strikes me as silly. Especially when you can get a used SRM-717 or an SRM-727 in the mean time and enjoy your earspeakers while waiting, then turn around and sell it when the BHSE arrives.


I think if you wanted a BHSE, you're just going to buy one. The LL I think is aimed at those who specifically don't want one, for whatever reason. I'm in that group, which is why I commissioned a KGSSHV. That I think is the real competition for the LL. A production version might be $3500-4000.

 

post #36 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 which is why I commissioned a KGSSHV. That I think is the real competition for the LL. A production version might be $3500-4000.

 

 

From where does one "comission" a KGSSHV?  I might need to do that in future, although I am waiting to see how much Eddie Current Electra comes in at retail and how it sounds.
 

 

post #37 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post

 

From where does one "comission" a KGSSHV?  I might need to do that in future, although I am waiting to see how much Eddie Current Electra comes in at retail and how it sounds.


A WTB post, or the DIY section, or talk to one of the guys building HVs on the "other" forum. There was a big group buy awhile back for HV boards right after KG nailed down the design which is when I requested mine, it's probably not quite as easy now but I'm sure you can find somebody willing to build you an amp.

 

post #38 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


I think if you wanted a BHSE, you're just going to buy one. The LL I think is aimed at those who specifically don't want one, for whatever reason. I'm in that group, which is why I commissioned a KGSSHV. That I think is the real competition for the LL. A production version might be $3500-4000.

 


I agree that the KGSSHV is the real competition for the Liquid Lightning, and personally I'm going with the KGSSHV as well. I think the BHSE gets mentioned a lot because it's considered "the best" by a lot of people, so it's sort of the 'stat amp par excellence that gets mentioned anytime a new contender appears.

 

I actually disagree about people who want the BHSE buying it though. I've seen more than a few posts where people are saying "I'd go with a BHSE but I don't want to wait." That's where my post was coming from, really. Going with a Liquid Lightning just because you don't want to wait for a BHSE strikes me as poor decision making.

 

I've certainly been impatient now and then, so perhaps that's a bit hypocritical of me to say.

post #39 of 312
Thread Starter 

Hi guys.  Sorry for the break in responses.  I was out of town for a few days on important business. Glad this thread has gotten some traffic while I was away.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Thanks for the great impressions.  Glad the LL is coming out, as it's great to have another high-end SS option for people, particularly given how a few people have noted it has a noticeable different character to the BH/BHSE.  Wonderful pics too (many and detailed), and it's completely understandable that you wouldn't publicly photograph a lent prototype without the designer's permission.  Though I am not familiar with the Cary and Audiophilleo, based upon comparable impressions I've heard (from gear that I do know) from people I trust, it should have been a very solid pairing.

 

Given the gear you've mentioned to me that you're putting together, you should have a wonderful system coming together in the next 6-12 months.

 

It's always interesting when you take a piece of gear out of a chain and it sounds like the life has been sucked out entirely.  I've been wondering if that's chalked up to personal preference towards a specific signature, which gets further solidified over time, and have been doing blind tests every few weeks to see if it's really just in my head, or if I actually notice if something is taken out.

 

Anyway, I've found it difficult to go back to the dynamic sound after living with stats for awhile.  Will be giving the Audeze cans yet another shot to see whether or not it's prejudice on my part.


Thank you for the kind words!  As always, I truly value and appreciate your feedback, be it negative or positive, so long as it's constructive.  The AP1 and the Cary Xciter DAC have excellent synergy with the CLL, which Cat6man can attest to, as he listened to the setup for upwards of ninety minutes at the recent NYC meet.  He said it sounded great with his 404LE.

 

I'm excited about the gear acquisitions in my near future.  My goal is really to put together a TOTL system and then stop worrying about gear for a while and just enjoy the music.  Once the system is how I like it, I expect I won't be surfing Head-Fi much anymore.

 

It certainly is interesting how profoundly one piece of gear can affect your sound.  It's a constant reminder that your sound is your chain, and not any single element.  And I agree, it's tough going back to dynamics.  I haven't had much head time with the HE-6 of late, despite it being a great setup.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Great work sridhar3. Thoughtful and comprehensive, there's a lot packed into this review. This type of gear is not on my radar, but reading this was well worthwhile. Cheers!


Thank you, sir!  Your Bifrost thread is quite top-notch as well.  I only wish I had the kind of gear I'd need to have in order to write as comprehensive a review as you have.  Alas, it would seem my comparisons are a bit lacking, given the difficulty in owning multiple TOTL amplifiers.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dBel84 View Post


The very nature of being human, two people read the same words and come away with different impressions. 


I am looking forward to hearing the final product which I anticipate will have more headroom but similar character..dB

 


I couldn't agree more.  As I stressed, once you hit TOTL gear, it really becomes about preference in sound signature.  Different strokes for different folks.  And I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the improvements in the final production model.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysally View Post

I hope you are right about the sound-stage. That's the one thing that is slowing me down getting a LL, the other is I am waiting for a reply from Alix.


I agree.  That was really my one and only gripe with the amplifier, though I'm by no means a soundstage junkie (HD 800 + ECBA anyone?).  That said, any improvements are welcome improvements.

 

I'm not sure about Alex not getting back to you.  He's usually pretty good with e-mail.  If I had to guess, I'd say he's busy with the current run of Liquid Fire builds.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Considering we have no idea what components are inside, circuit layout etc, all these questions are premature.  As to why someone would prefer it to the BHSE, one possibility is the same reason (totally independent of sound) that some prefer the KGSS to the BHSE: convenience of solid state.  

 

As for price, same tired arguments back and forth.  


I find it funny that we keep going back to the argument of "tube versus solid state".  The BHSE is a tube/hybrid amp, but it sounds solid state.  The CLL is solid state, but sounds like tubes.  So, what matters more, whether it's tube/hybrid or solid state, or how it sounds?  I'd argue the latter is more important.

 

As far as price goes, the same rings true for any product: It's worth what you're willing to pay for it.  If you're not willing to pay the price, then it's not worth it to you.  That's a personal decision, and a highly multifactorial one at that.  Although, it seems odd to me that individuals would argue over whether or not the amp is worth it, without even having heard it.  So yeah, I guess we're beating a dead horse.

post #40 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


I think if you wanted a BHSE, you're just going to buy one. The LL I think is aimed at those who specifically don't want one, for whatever reason. I'm in that group, which is why I commissioned a KGSSHV. That I think is the real competition for the LL. A production version might be $3500-4000.

 


I may have been reading different threads but I recall a well respected member of the stax mafia saying that the SR009 was not optimal on the BHSE and that the SR007 mk 1 is in many ways preferable. Others have reported that the former was a match in heaven - this comes back to personal tastes and thus a niche market for other options other than the current industry standard. The LL is one of several to fill this niche. Of course , your route of commissioning an HV KG SS is one way to go but there are few skilled builders capable of competently assembling high voltage amps. I am a DIY person and thus have no qualms building whatever I want. Not everyone is this fortunate and thus people look for alternate options. Posting on the DIY thread is one way - generally people who sell their projects do so to cover parts, commissioning an amp is not restricted to these limits but there is a lot of gray area. When do you pay for the work to be done, is there a guarantee that you will end up with a fully functional unit , what sort of back up support is there for the amp and for how long will you be entitled to return to the commissioned builder for further service work? I am sure if this amp was a viable commercial product at much less than a BHSE, it would be offered. Truth is these things cost money and having built a commissioned amp once before, I know how inaccurate initial cost projections can be. Not to get on the band wagon about the tenuous area of DIY for profit , there are many risks involved in this process which are not a concern in a commercial product ( unless you bought a single power amp ) . But with peace of mind comes a premium above pure cost of components


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post


I agree that the KGSSHV is the real competition for the Liquid Lightning, and personally I'm going with the KGSSHV as well. I think the BHSE gets mentioned a lot because it's considered "the best" by a lot of people, so it's sort of the 'stat amp par excellence that gets mentioned anytime a new contender appears.


I think the KG SS HV is going to be a good amp, even a great amp and it should favourably compare with the BHSE. By this token if the LL fares equally well, it will provide that commercial alternative for a great solid state amplifier for those who cannot pick up a soldering iron or commission someone to do so. I wish there was not all this competition to find the "best" because anyone who has been in this hobby for long enough really gets that this is but a fleeting moment. 

 

..dB

 

post #41 of 312
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

Thanks for the review. Any new solid state Stax amp is always welcome. The 727 is fine, but it's made to a price. With the KGSS gone, if you want something better than the 727 and you don't want tubes, you were basically SOL unless you're willing to build the amp yourself. I don't think the LL is terrible looking, but for $4200 I don't think it's good looking either. The Headamp KGSS was also pretty ugly, but it cost half as much. The short lived KGSS DX definitely looked better than this. The BHSE and the WES look like $5,000 components. This looks like a $1500 component. I'm not saying it needs to look as good as a Pathos or EAR, but something better than just a black slab with some blue writing would be a start. Any idea what Cavalli chose for volume control? Is it a pot or a stepper?


Most welcome, sir.  The CLL is certainly minimalist, but once again, preference of how an amp looks is going to vary from person to person.  Some people love how the Liquid Fire looks, and it apparently has a high WAF.  I personally think it's fugly, despite sounding quite excellent.  To each his own.  And the volume control is a stepper.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

That is exactly my question. I have the 727 and I want to know how much the CLL is better than the 727. As for "why not get a BHSE for just a little more" I guess the problem is not the cost, but the wait time...

 

I am very impressed by my Liquid Fire so far - really looking forward to see what magic can the LL do with my 009.


I wish I could comment on the 727, but alas, once again my efforts have fallen short.  I don't think that the factors in purchasing decisions should be taken in isolation, though.  The BHSE is both more expensive and has a longer build time.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachu View Post

From what little i know, the pre=production version featured in this review apparently has a stepper in it, but the production will almost surely have a potentiometer.

 

Decent write up Pras. Looking forward to hearing the amp myself soon.


Thank you for the kind words.  I hope to hear your impressions on the amplifier soon as well.  And I'm glad to hear the final product will have a different volume pot.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post


I agree that the KGSSHV is the real competition for the Liquid Lightning, and personally I'm going with the KGSSHV as well. I think the BHSE gets mentioned a lot because it's considered "the best" by a lot of people, so it's sort of the 'stat amp par excellence that gets mentioned anytime a new contender appears.

 

I actually disagree about people who want the BHSE buying it though. I've seen more than a few posts where people are saying "I'd go with a BHSE but I don't want to wait." That's where my post was coming from, really. Going with a Liquid Lightning just because you don't want to wait for a BHSE strikes me as poor decision making.

 

I've certainly been impatient now and then, so perhaps that's a bit hypocritical of me to say.


If you might be so kind, could you please share why you would pick the KGSSHV over the CLL without hearing both?  Please note, I'm attempting to be neither accusatory nor condescending.  I am simply gathering information on the train of thought you've used to come to your conclusions on a purchasing decision.

 

I don't know if the issue is that you have to wait for the BHSE, as much as it is *how long* one may need to wait.  People have been waiting for a year or more, which is not a short time.  I've also been told on more than one occasion by multiple people who are currently waiting for their BHSE that lack of communication is a cause of frustration, especially in conjunction with the staggering cost of the component in question.  It might not be viable for everybody to make a $1500 deposit, and then have $4500 sitting in their bank account indefinitely, waiting to complete payment and take delivery on a build with no foreseeable ETA.

post #42 of 312

For me, the real question is also how the LL fares against the 727A in regards to driving. Apparently, the stock Stax amp pairs very well with the 009 and it's quite affordable in Japan (like ~1000USD on the used marked). So, the LL really needs to push the envelope significantly to justify itself in my home... I like the looks (probably white/light blue engravings will be better though), small weight (intern. shipping) and hopefully additional inputs (unless it drives the cost further up). I'd be totally ok giving impression from a pre-launch unit at home! ;)

post #43 of 312

sridhar, the BHSE is a hybrid amp

post #44 of 312
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by n3rdling View Post

sridhar, the BHSE is a hybrid amp


Thank you for the clarification.  I stand corrected.

post #45 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

 I'd expect the KGSS (and, by proxy, the KGSSHV) to be extremely neutral, and without warmth.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but the KG designs all seem to share a common thread, which is the "wire with gain" topology stressing neutral presentation.  The CLL is about smooth, liquid tube sound.

 


Yes - the KGSS is indeed very neutral. That's a very good thing in my view... If the CLL isn't quite neutral, and it tries to emulate some sort of "tube sound", then I'll personally skip it.

 

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