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Multi-Portable Amp Thread: 16 amps reviewed (Leckerton UHA-6S MKII added) - Page 5

post #61 of 279
Thread Starter 

Hi Hellenback, thanks for sharing; I am awaiting my 4G.  I have to say I do use the Slim more than my 12HE as the synergy is better across my custom IEMs, but the 12HE can still shine with the right pairing.  And you are correct, the Slim is limited to IEMs.

post #62 of 279

Thanks AvgJoe for the wonderful reviews of the portable amps. I've never owned a headphone amp or portable hp amp, but wow what a hot market!! Any sound equipment manufacturer not aggresively chasing portable hp amps and high quality IEM's definitely need to hire new marketing folks!!

 

Anyway, I don't see the headphones I'm using mentioned much, but I absolutely love the comfort and quality of the Ultrasone Pro750's I've been using for the past 3 months or so. They were not too pricey ($350) and are extremely lightweight. I've been studying reviews on headfi (including yours) very carefully and just cannot decide what portable amp to use. I will be traveling internationally spending many hours alone working behind a laptop and I'm relying on beautiful frequencies to get me through long lonely nights. I would like to keep the price under $500 for the amp. I also have a set of UE TripleFi 10s when I need to move around a lot. The Pro750s are 40Ohm and the UE's are 32Ohm. Which portable amp would pair nicely with both the Pro750 and the UE's? I listen to electronic music mostly but I also enjoy jazz, classical, and acoustic when winding down. Bass depth, accuracy and response is very important to me!

 

Thanks so much for any suggestions. And once again, your reviews are completely impressive, objective, and informative!

post #63 of 279
Thread Starter 

Thanks!

 

I have not heard the 750s, nor do I have access to any for comparison.  In general, the Stepdance has great bass response and control of the bass region to go along with good soundstage size due to the active ground design.  It has been replaced by the 2stepdance, which I have not heard, but I have read it is very similar.  The Arrow G4 is also another contender, as it performs better than the Arrow 12HE, has a slim form factor that is great for travel and it is easily adjustable for swapping between IEMs and cans.  The soundstage is wide, giving up a bit of depth, but I like that in electronic.  I will have a review in a while.  

 

I would recommend the Cruise (Stride is the same without the carbon fiber and cost less), but there will be a low level hiss with the TF10 that you may be able to hear in your winding down music.  The uHA-120 is very neutral and can drive both well, but the bass is more neutral than powerful, however it is not lacking.

 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

post #64 of 279

Thanks for the quick response Joe.

 

I have narrowed my selection to the Arrow 12HE 4G, Cruise, or Ray Samuels Hornet. I'm probably going with the Cruise for the bass drive. I was interested in the Hornet because I've heard it's the most natural of all portable headphone amps including bass so realistic you'd swear the kick drum was a part of your eardrum. I just wish I could hear one. Ray seems like he has taken every meausre available to obtain the highest quality electronic components known to mankind (and perhaps some aliens) judging by his presentation of the products on his Web site.

 

I think at this point, it's time to lay down the cash and just get an amp on the way! The Arrow's form and size is tempting the worldly traveler here but I just can't see how something so tiny could actually drive a full size set of cans with quick responding bass thumping required by most electronic tracks. Most audiophiles write off bass requirements of electronic music saying it's "boomy" or overpowering; however, I feel the challenge of a portable headphone amp manufacturer is to deliver that type bass with purity and control. It can be done and it is oh so sweet when it happens. I've never heard this in a headphone but most certainly have on high quality floor standers and studio monitors. Now keep in mind I've only listened to probably five or so quality headphones in my life and none were amplified. Let's see: the AKG K701, HD 650, UE Pro 11 IEM, my Ultrasone 750, and ummm some very well built Audio Technica but I have no idea which model. I suppose I just have to keep listening to as many high quality sets that I can get my hands on. Inexperienced yes, but it should be interesting to experts what I'm looking for as a middle-aged guy who loves NEW music. I'm not still listening to Pink Floyd or Mozart over and over and over. I want to hear what the kids are producing. What new music instruments are sounding like. What new recording engineering techniques are being applied. Jeez now I'm off topic.

 

Anyway, I'm taking the plunge and ordering the Alpha Design Labs Stride portable hp amp. I will provide some feedback after logging 100 hours or so of listening to it. Wish me luck. Your review of the Cruise is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for: an amp with quick dynamics and additional low-end amplitude and image. I'm willing to suffer through a little hiss to get the added dynamics. Possibly my next amp will be the warm transparent approach that the Ray Samuels may offer.

 

Thanks again.

 

Wishlist: Please review more portable amps. A chart of headphone/portable hp amp combinations would be lovely. Please provide a more detailed description of your scoring method if possible. For example, what constitutes a 10 out of 10? Sorry if I'm over simplifying!

post #65 of 279

Excellent writeup!

 

The Cruise/Stride looks really impressive(maybe not my favorite form factor, but dat battery life and 24/96 usb dac). 

 

I'm in the market for an all-in-one amp/dac and with that DAC I think I may have found the one fitting my needs the best. Before I saw this I was almost set on the Practical Devices XM6, but the Cruise/Stride seems have a better USB DAC solution at the cost of being huge.(seriously they probably could've squeezed in a optical/spdif :P )

 

Choices. 

 

Regarding the hiss issue. How sensitive IEMs are we talking? Being able to pair it well with the 104 dB sensitivity and 50 ohm impedance Starkey SA-43 would be a nice bonus right now.

 

post #66 of 279
Thread Starter 

I am glad I could be of help.  The Cruise/Stride are very nice, and it depends on your sensitivity to hiss as to how much you notice it.  I have heard the RSA Shadow and Hornet long ago when I only had the Arrow 12HE.  From memory of my comparison with the Hornet, the 12HE has a very different sound signature as the RSA products are mid-forward in comparison (but most amps are).  Back then I didn't perform the comparisons I do these days, so I can't say for sure just how they compare technically, so I won't.  As far as the Arrow G4, it outperforms the Arrow 12HE, but I have not had the chance to test the final version of the G4 yet, nor have I testing the G4 board with full sized headphones except the LCD-2, which isn't something portables drive well IMO.

 

And I do plan on adding more amps as I have the opportunity.  It does take me quite a bit of time for each review as I A/B with what I have with many headphones/IEMs, but more are coming.  My ratings are based on the simple 1 through 10 scale with a 1 being worst and 10 being best.  If I come across something that is better, I will need to adjust everything down.  A 10/10 is just the best performance I have heard from an amp.  For example, a 10 in transparency vs. a 9 is when I A/B the 2 amps (and I have A/Bed everything with everything else), I have come to the conclusion that the amp with a 10 is better than the amp with a 9.  It took several iterations at first to get the scale right.  There is no perfect rating system IMO since these things can change depending on the headphones/DACs paired with, but other than the outliers, it holds true.

post #67 of 279

OK. I'm sold on the Stride. Now I just need find someone selling it. Looks like import is the way to go.

post #68 of 279
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernAvengeR View Post

Excellent writeup!

 

The Cruise/Stride looks really impressive(maybe not my favorite form factor, but dat battery life and 24/96 usb dac). 

 

I'm in the market for an all-in-one amp/dac and with that DAC I think I may have found the one fitting my needs the best. Before I saw this I was almost set on the Practical Devices XM6, but the Cruise/Stride seems have a better USB DAC solution at the cost of being huge.(seriously they probably could've squeezed in a optical/spdif :P )

 

Choices. 

 

Regarding the hiss issue. How sensitive IEMs are we talking? Being able to pair it well with the 104 dB sensitivity and 50 ohm impedance Starkey SA-43 would be a nice bonus right now.


The Cruise (Stride) match well with the SA-43, however there is some low level hiss even though the SA-43 isn't the most sensitive CIEM.  Let us know how you think they pair.

 


Edited by average_joe - 3/8/12 at 9:37pm
post #69 of 279

Did you receive your Arrow 4G yet?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

I am glad I could be of help.  The Cruise/Stride are very nice, and it depends on your sensitivity to hiss as to how much you notice it.  I have heard the RSA Shadow and Hornet long ago when I only had the Arrow 12HE.  From memory of my comparison with the Hornet, the 12HE has a very different sound signature as the RSA products are mid-forward in comparison (but most amps are).  Back then I didn't perform the comparisons I do these days, so I can't say for sure just how they compare technically, so I won't.  As far as the Arrow G4, it outperforms the Arrow 12HE, but I have not had the chance to test the final version of the G4 yet, nor have I testing the G4 board with full sized headphones except the LCD-2, which isn't something portables drive well IMO.

 

And I do plan on adding more amps as I have the opportunity.  It does take me quite a bit of time for each review as I A/B with what I have with many headphones/IEMs, but more are coming.  My ratings are based on the simple 1 through 10 scale with a 1 being worst and 10 being best.  If I come across something that is better, I will need to adjust everything down.  A 10/10 is just the best performance I have heard from an amp.  For example, a 10 in transparency vs. a 9 is when I A/B the 2 amps (and I have A/Bed everything with everything else), I have come to the conclusion that the amp with a 10 is better than the amp with a 9.  It took several iterations at first to get the scale right.  There is no perfect rating system IMO since these things can change depending on the headphones/DACs paired with, but other than the outliers, it holds true.



 


Edited by Hellenback - 3/12/12 at 8:47pm
post #70 of 279
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellenback View Post

Did you receive your Arrow 4G yet?


Not yet, but it should be soon.

 

post #71 of 279

Great thread!  Thanks for the info.  I'm a big crossfeed fan, and wondering if anyone could also compare crossfeed on the practical devices XM5, or any other portable's with crossfeed.  My current favorite is iphone 4>Headroom Static> SM3V2.

 

Would using the DAC from the Headroom total bithead (or portable micro) improve the iphone 4 more than the DAC less airhead?

post #72 of 279
Thread Starter 

The Portaphile...

 

P1020367.JPG P1020363.JPG P1020366.JPG

 

I do have to say I was shocked by the combo above the first time I heard it and with some of the CIEMs I have used it with so far, it takes the performance of my modded iPod to the level of my 801 with GAME card!  Of course, the amp is not perfect as it is rather large (see below), expensive, and has a 4 hour battery life, but oh the sound!  


Quote:

Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

Not yet, but it should be soon.


Or now.

 

P1020374.JPG P1020376.JPG P1020373.JPG P1020378.JPG

 

The iPod is a Touch 3, which is thin and the Arrow is thinner!  I have not listened to it yet, though as it just came in today, so more to come in the coming weeks.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitzijak View Post

Great thread!  Thanks for the info.  I'm a big crossfeed fan, and wondering if anyone could also compare crossfeed on the practical devices XM5, or any other portable's with crossfeed.  My current favorite is iphone 4>Headroom Static> SM3V2.

 

Would using the DAC from the Headroom total bithead (or portable micro) improve the iphone 4 more than the DAC less airhead?


Thank you.  I haven't heard the XM5 unfortunately, and unfortunately am not qualified to answer your question since I have not owned the total bithead or airhead.

post #73 of 279

Thanks Joe, but I put the Portaphile in the same drawer I have mentally placed the Xin amps - many raves about the SQ over the years, but some major downsides. In the case of the Portaphile, it would cost me almost 600 USD to buy an amp which lasts 4 hours on a single charge - no thanks. That is awfully close to the current asking price for the Lisa III (the original Lisa III is now cheaper than the L3 at Triad's Thai reseller) - neither amp would ever leave my bedside table, so I may as well buy the 'brick'. 

post #74 of 279
Thread Starter 

The Portaphile seems like it would be perfect for bedside use, especially since it has an auto off feature after 4 hours ;)

 

post #75 of 279
Thread Starter 

Epiphany O2 has arrived.  It is large!

 

P1020393.JPG

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