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Review: Cavalli Liquid Lightning - Page 6

post #76 of 312

Wow, looks like there were quite a few posts since I last looked. Let's not forget that the actual cost of an amp transcends the sum of its components. Research and development needs to be amortized over the production run, and there won't be tens of thousands of these units to spread them thin. Look at it another way; advanced medicine costing $30,000 for a short treatment has 99%+ of its cost represented by R&D amortization.

 

As far as sharing all the details, well, it's not an open source project. Buy the sound, or don't, but for Pete's sake, stop moaning already.

post #77 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by runeight View Post

It does seem to be a longstanding part of the audio business. For good or ill.

 

But, like I have said, I am happy to discuss the LL and give information about it if people genuinely want to know about the amp.

 

Is there something specific that you want to know? Within reason, I will do my best to answer.


Hi Runeight,

 

I know this was directed at others, but hopefully there are a few folks in the same position as me.  I'm not an engineer, so I don't have any very specific design questions; I'll leave that for knowledgeable folks like Spritzer and Kevin Gilmore.  But I am in the market for an amp. 

 

I own the SR-007, the HE60, and SR-4070.  I've owned a few other SR-007s, the Lambdas, and the Sigmas.  I plan to get the SR-009.  I would like to get a good amp, and am willing to spend the big bucks to get the "perfect" amp, whatever that means.  And I am somewhat allergic to tubes, so I seem to be the perfect client for something like the LL -- I've owned pretty much every Stax amp, as well as the KGSS and recently purchased the Woo GES to hold me over until I finally settle on the right one.

 

The one complaint people have about the Stax amps is that the voltage swing was too low to drive the 007 to its ability.  That was at least part of the reason folks developed the after-market amps:  we have the BHSE at 1600 volts, the KGSSHV at around 2000, Craig's new Electra apparently at 1800, etc.  You mention in the earlier post that we should just go commission the KGSSHV if that's important to us, and I'm open to that and appreciate your honesty, but can you say a little more about why getting to those levels is not something you're interested in doing?  Do you think it's unnecessary?  Or just not something you are able to accomplish at the $4300 pricepoint?  Is there something about the design / circuit that limits your ability to reach the KGSSHV level of power?

 

In short, do you feel like you've done what you wanted and reached a pinnacle with this amp?  Because while I prefer solid state, with the BHSE, the T2, and the KGSSHV I get the sense that those are close to "put everything out there, leave nothing on the table" products.  And when you are spending that much on a headphone amp, you want to feel like you're at least getting the designer's best shot at perfection.  Do you think the LL falls under the same umbrella?  I was hoping that might be the case, but I was a little disappointed to hear "just go commission the KGSSHV" as a response. I'd much rather pay $5000 to get what you think is the best solid state electrostatic amp possible rather than $4300 on a compromise. 

 

 

 

post #78 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post


Hi Runeight,

 

I know this was directed at others, but hopefully there are a few folks in the same position as me.  I'm not an engineer, so I don't have any very specific design questions; I'll leave that for knowledgeable folks like Spritzer and Kevin Gilmore.  But I am in the market for an amp. 

 

I own the SR-007, the HE60, and SR-4070.  I've owned a few other SR-007s, the Lambdas, and the Sigmas.  I plan to get the SR-009.  I would like to get a good amp, and am willing to spend the big bucks to get the "perfect" amp, whatever that means.  And I am somewhat allergic to tubes, so I seem to be the perfect client for something like the LL -- I've owned pretty much every Stax amp, as well as the KGSS and recently purchased the Woo GES to hold me over until I finally settle on the right one.

 

The one complaint people have about the Stax amps is that the voltage swing was too low to drive the 007 to its ability.  That was at least part of the reason folks developed the after-market amps:  we have the BHSE at 1600 volts, the KGSSHV at around 2000, Craig's new Electra apparently at 1800, etc.  You mention in the earlier post that we should just go commission the KGSSHV if that's important to us, and I'm open to that and appreciate your honesty, but can you say a little more about why getting to those levels is not something you're interested in doing?  Do you think it's unnecessary?  Or just not something you are able to accomplish at the $4300 pricepoint?  Is there something about the design / circuit that limits your ability to reach the KGSSHV level of power?

 

In short, do you feel like you've done what you wanted and reached a pinnacle with this amp?  Because while I prefer solid state, with the BHSE, the T2, and the KGSSHV I get the sense that those are close to "put everything out there, leave nothing on the table" products.  And when you are spending that much on a headphone amp, you want to feel like you're at least getting the designer's best shot at perfection.  Do you think the LL falls under the same umbrella?  I was hoping that might be the case, but I was a little disappointed to hear "just go commission the KGSSHV" as a response. I'd much rather pay $5000 to get what you think is the best solid state electrostatic amp possible rather than $4300 on a compromise. 

 

 

 


 

What a civilized, well thought-out and expressed post. I think you speak for a lot of us who are looking for a high-end 'stat amp (especially those of us who are "allergic to tubes" tongue.gif). I await the answer with much interest.

post #79 of 312

i'm on line with u
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

Given my experience with the Liquid Fire, I am sure the LL will be a great amp too. But I have ordered the BHSE today. I hope I can make it into one of the 45.

I think Esoteric K-01 -> BHSE -> 009 is the "end game rig" for me.

To me, 2011 is the year of Head-fi. I started having no full-sized headphone at all, and now I have got the stuff in my signature, plus the ED10 and T5p which I think are not worth mentioning any more. Next year I will be into a more important pursuit in life, and I hope that the BHSE can come in time to celebrate that event. biggrin.gif

 


 

 

post #80 of 312

seacard, there are several facets to the answers to your questions.

 

First, the LL is the first electrostatic offering from CA. CA has other products in the works, including additional stat amps. The LL is designed to hit a specific price/performance point (leaving aside, for the moment, others thoughts about the pricing which may or may not reflect real economics). I believe that the amp will satisfy many electrostatic owners who may not want to go to the very top of what can be done. At RMAF there were a number of listens with 007s and 009s. One or two folks (IIRC) were 007 owners themselves. One brought his own pair. No one of these individuals complained that the LL couldn't make both of these headphones work very well, some felt better than the other amps nearby. Nor did they complain about a sense of limitation in the listening. So, if it is indeed true that 007s need a whole lot more voltage (and I certainly can't dispute that this may be true), it was not evident in these listening sessions. It seems to drive other electrostats (HE-60, etc.) very well. There was a reveiw of an extended HE60 listening session in another thread.

 

For this first electrostatic amplifier I have done what was intended. Only the market can determine the outcome.

 

However, the amplifier components themselves don't limit the amp to the 1400V swing. The choice was the PS, with its 400V supplies, to hit this particular spot in the array of stat amps commerciallhy available.

 

It may also be worthwhile to note that, as in my earlier post, the output of a stat amp is not necessarily double the rail difference. Few amps can get to completely to their rails.

 

Getting to the higher levels simply involves more cost, as you say. Power dissipation goes up, heatsink requirements go up, boards usually get bigger to handle the trace spacing needed for the extra HV, transformer costs go up, protection needs to be even more thoughtfully done, etc. Furthermore, when we start going past about 400V I tihnk you've got to be more thoughtful about the design of the amp from the user's perspective.

 

So, I would say that this is something that I am interested in doing and have, more or less, designed an amp that can do it. But it is something that I chose not to do for a first commercial offering since I don't think everyone has to have this level of performance and I believe that headphones like the 009s will do very well with LL.

 

Does this answer your questions?

 

 

 

Dr. Cavalli gained notoriety with his first DIY amplifier projects. His success has blossomed into Cavalli Audio, a world leader in amplifier design.
Reply
post #81 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by runeight View Post

 

Does this answer your questions?

 

 

 


I think so, yes.  I will hopefully have an opportunity to try the amp at a meet and compare it to its competitors.  And I definitely look forward to learning more about, and ultimately hearing, the statement product, whenever that is ready to go.

post #82 of 312
Thread Starter 

I went away for a few hours, and it looks like the thread blew up.

 

I feel like I probably can't add much to what's already been said in the above responses since my last post, but I would like to take this opportunity to stress that this thread exists out of a need for sharing information.  As such, I'd like to request that the contents of the thread remain respectful.  I'm more interested in seeing dissemination of information with the goal of learning something new about a product that will soon enter the market.  I'm much less interested in people with agendas coming here and bandying words with eachother in an attempt to "make a point".

 

@Visualguy: If your requests were in earnest, and you were truly interested in comparative analysis of the acoustic qualities of the CLL, I would make an effort to get a hold of the prototype unit again (even paying for shipping both ways out of my own pocket, assuming such an arrangement would be okay with Dr. Cavalli) if you could provide a 727 for me to compare it with.  However, based on the overall tone of your posts, I get the impression that your requests aren't in earnest, and you're simply trying to "make a point".  I am many things, but I'm certainly not stupid.  I can read between the lines.

 

Do people really feel that this amp is a threat to the existing electrostatic market?  The reactive verbiage I've heard here reeks of fear, that maybe the new kid on the block might actually *gasp* be good.  Why bare prejudice instead of giving the amp a fair shake?  I'm not asking anybody to go throw down $4250 and buy the thing, but to just give it some consideration and an honest try.  I'm not trying to market for Cavalli products.  I'm trying to spread awareness of what exists out there.  It's never bad to have one more option at your disposal.  If you choose not to buy a CLL, and you find that the KGSSHV or SRM-727 better suits your needs, then I'm happy that you've made progress in your journey to audio nirvana.

 

If it's necessary for you to see a photograph of the amp's internals before purchasing, then you should wait until the production model is released to market.  Distributing a photograph of the innards of a preproduction model almost six months prior to market release is basically an open invitation for IP theft and some sort of a reverse-engineering scenario reminiscent of an industrial espionage film.  To put it as bluntly as I can, it'd be a poor business decision, and nothing good would come of it.  The car analogy is frankly not applicable, as there's more to a car than just an engine, and you can't reverse engineer an entire vehicle using a high-resolution picture of the engine.  An amplifier is just a circuit, and I would imagine one would be able to use an internal picture as a schematic for building a clone.  No company is going to give out their "secret formula" prior to selling their product.  Why do you think Apple doesn't let *any* information of their new iPhone products, let alone a picture of the innards, leave Cupertino until they allow it to do so?  The risk is simply too much.

 

@Seacard: Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful post.  Your post exemplifies a respectful attempt to learn more about a product, utilizing well-constructed questions and avoiding accusatory and/or aggressive language.

 

Once again, I'd like to request that this thread remains civil.  Civil disagreement is welcome, and differences in opinion are accepted here, as everybody is entitled to their opinion.  However, libel and smear tactics will not be tolerated.  I'm hoping that we can remain respectful of one another and share information in a constructive manner, exercising behavior befitting a group of polite and knowledgeable individuals.  If we can't maintain the peace, I fear this thread may need to meet a premature end.

post #83 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

Do people really feel that this amp is a threat to the existing electrostatic market?  The reactive verbiage I've heard here reeks of fear, that maybe the new kid on the block might actually *gasp* be good.  Why bare prejudice instead of giving the amp a fair shake?  I'm not asking anybody to go throw down $4250 and buy the thing, but to just give it some consideration and an honest try.  I'm not trying to market for Cavalli products.  I'm trying to spread awareness of what exists out there.  It's never bad to have one more option at your disposal.  If you choose not to buy a CLL, and you find that the KGSSHV or SRM-727 better suits your needs, then I'm happy that you've made progress in your journey to audio nirvana.


I don't think anyone is afraid that the LL is going to somehow disrupt the status quo due to its amazing awesomeness, and we just can't handle it, man. I'm sure I don't need to bring up the very checkered history of high-priced third party Stax amps. I am NOT saying that this is another ES-1. What I am saying is that for a $4250 asking price, I need more than "just listen to it, it sounds great!".

 

post #84 of 312
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

What I am saying is that for a $4250 asking price, I need more than "just listen to it, it sounds great!".


I'm not sure what more I can do within reason, honestly.  I can't tell anybody to buy it, because that's going to depend on personal taste.  I can't say much about the engineering of the amp, because I don't know much about engineering in general.  All I can do is give a subjective run-down of what I thought it has to offer, based on my own listening experience.  I don't see any reasonable way to convince somebody that it's worth $4250.  I don't think I have the capacity to do so.  Does anyone, really?

 

I'm not trying to be facetious here, but it doesn't cost $4250 to try the amp and decide what you think about it.


Edited by sridhar3 - 12/11/11 at 9:28am
post #85 of 312

popcorn.gifGutz man, jus spill dem gutz. Aerial topo will do.

A schemo would be welcome too!

Am I gonna buy one? H3LL NO!

Defnitly outta my ballpark, although I hope you hit a home run widdit!

post #86 of 312

As a builder of a KGSS & KGSSHV, I find this thread intriguing.

 

Yes, I would like to know all about the internals of the LL.

 

Do I need to know this?    No, I don't.

 

Why don't you railers of Cavalli get onto Woo's case for his amps?

 

If the DIY info for Dr. Gilmore's amps are readily available, GOOD.

 

If Justin (HEADAMP) is making a commercial success of these designs, GOOD.

 

If Cavalli, Woo and Eddy Current are selling their offerings to people who can't DIY, That's life.

 

I know my builds take up a lot of time resourcing parts and information. I don't have to account for this.

 

If I had to price my builds with the payment for time at the rate I get paid for my work, they would be prohibitively expensive.

 

Costwise, with the time payment element added, any commercial offering is a bargain.

 

But, then, us DIYers don't get paid for our time, do we?  - except in the sheer knowledge and enjoyment derived in using our gear when it is operational.

 

 

post #87 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by wink View Post

 

Why don't you railers of Cavalli get onto Woo's case for his amps?

 


Actually, if you search the forums, there's plenty of criticism leveled at Woo's electrostatic amp designs from certain members. Just FYI.

 

post #88 of 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post


Actually, if you search the forums, there's plenty of criticism leveled at Woo's electrostatic amp designs from certain members. Just FYI.

 

 

Indeed. Ray's A-10 has also received very harsh criticism. $2,000 amps are one thing, but $4K+ amps are the big leagues, and you're expected to do things properly. Cut corners on design or quality, and you should expect to get an ear full.
 

 

post #89 of 312
Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 $4K+ amps are the big leagues, and you're expected to do things properly. Cut corners on design or quality, and you should expect to get an ear full.


I agree here, there have been too many high ticket items hewn together and mikhail was not the only culprit. One thing I respect Alex for is his perfectionist sensibility of providing his custom base what they are paying for. He is a stickler for design and finish.

 

From the DIY world, people who are impressed by the gucci of electronics will be less dazzled as his designs have always focused on the integrity of the design itself and not the jewelry needed to be hung from it to impress. I have always built his amps with run of the mill components, chosen to achieve the spec of the design not because of some perceived audiophile advantage. Naturally this includes low esr caps were needed etc. Overall my experience has been an affirmation of this philosophy. 

 

..dB

 

post #90 of 312

^^x2 

 

 


Edited by sachu - 12/18/11 at 10:05am
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