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REVIEW: Ray Samuels Emmeline Dark Star Fully Balanced Headphone Amp - Page 19

post #271 of 295
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post #272 of 295

I'm such a latecomer to this thread, but as I've only just gotten the DarkStar in this past weekend it was unavoidable.  As of this moment, I am officially in awe of the DarkStar's prowess. 

 

Steve, I completely share your sentiments on the HD 650 pairing.  For me, the HD 650 has always been a pair of cans that I've tolerated but never enjoyed, not even once that I can recall.  But through the DarkStar, they have been liberated from their silken cocoon and taken flight... and for the first time ever, I'm liking what I hear.  Mr. Samuels, thank you for redefining my understanding of the HD 650's signature and capabilities.  But that is not what is astounding me at this very moment. 

 

On a whim, I decided to plug in a K240 just to see what would happen.  This is the part where I say OMG!  I know it sounds almost ludicrous to insist that a pair of $75 single-ended cans would be a good match for the DarkStar, but don't snicker until you've heard this fellas.  I'm listening to Sarah Jarosz at the moment (Annabelle Lee, Ring Them Bells, Old Smitty, Mansinneedof), and I'm falling deeper in love than I thought possible.  It harkens me back to my backwater good 'ol boy roots... and I'm an Asian dude from Los Angeles so you can imagine how difficult a prospect that is.

 

If experiences like this keep happening, I suspect that I will have more to say in short order.

post #273 of 295

Imagine if you had a GSX MK11....

post #274 of 295
Justin's been working overtime if he's got 9 more revisions!
post #275 of 295

Finally.... A dark star competitor for the crown of "Best of the Best headphone amp" ?   :D


Edited by bmichels - 9/18/13 at 3:39pm
post #276 of 295

Finally.

post #277 of 295

So you've heard both then and can say the Woo compares?

post #278 of 295

Yes but the Woo is what? about 4 times the price?

I listened to the Woo monos and compared to my fully loaded WA5-LE I don't think I can justify 3 times the cost.

post #279 of 295
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman59 View Post
 I don't think I can justify 3 times the cost.

 

But you must.

post #280 of 295

Use fuzzy math.  All the cool politicians are doing it.

post #281 of 295

If I do that the amps will cost more than the $15,000 list price because my wife will divorce me :(!

post #282 of 295
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post
 

I'm such a latecomer to this thread, but as I've only just gotten the DarkStar in this past weekend it was unavoidable.  As of this moment, I am officially in awe of the DarkStar's prowess. 

 

Steve, I completely share your sentiments on the HD 650 pairing.  For me, the HD 650 has always been a pair of cans that I've tolerated but never enjoyed, not even once that I can recall.  But through the DarkStar, they have been liberated from their silken cocoon and taken flight... and for the first time ever, I'm liking what I hear.  Mr. Samuels, thank you for redefining my understanding of the HD 650's signature and capabilities.  But that is not what is astounding me at this very moment. 

 

On a whim, I decided to plug in a K240 just to see what would happen.  This is the part where I say OMG!  I know it sounds almost ludicrous to insist that a pair of $75 single-ended cans would be a good match for the DarkStar, but don't snicker until you've heard this fellas.  I'm listening to Sarah Jarosz at the moment (Annabelle Lee, Ring Them Bells, Old Smitty, Mansinneedof), and I'm falling deeper in love than I thought possible.  It harkens me back to my backwater good 'ol boy roots... and I'm an Asian dude from Los Angeles so you can imagine how difficult a prospect that is.

 

If experiences like this keep happening, I suspect that I will have more to say in short order.

congrats on your new amp.  I'm also looking at the DS to use with my HD800s and Benchmark DAC2 HGC. I suppose I could email Ray about this, but neither the dimensions or the output impedance are listed for this amp.  Do you (or anyone else) know the answer to either?  Thanks.

 

Chris

post #283 of 295

hard to tell where the parody leaves off - the Benchmark's headphone output "only" drives the HD800 to 122 dB SPL

 

the venturesome could use the Benchmark's balanced audio out, balanced output are usually speced at 600 Ohms load - looks like LME49860 which could drive the HD800 300 Ohms to 2x the power of the headphone output at the chip's current limit

 - at worst you clip the peaks which is suprizingly inaudible compared to crossover distortion

unlike the OPA551's low level crossover distortion:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post

kind of like asking "I've got a high end carbon fiber bike I'd like to carry on vacation - should I buy a Monster Truck with the extra Chrome option??

 

the Dark Star uses bridged output high voltage power chip amps (==op amps, and poorly speced for audio compared to LM3886)

 

its sole objective justification is driving insanely low sensitivity, lower impedance headphones - HiFiMan HE-6, you also could justify using it for the high V swing with AKG pro "monitor" headphones intended to connect direct across a normal audio power amp outputs

 

 

the HD-800 and the Dark Star don't belong together - the HD-800 is a High Z, moderate sensitivity headphone at 300 Ohms, can be driven to >120 dB SPL with ~12 Vpk, 40 mA - no need for 60 V, 4A

 

the objective, manufacturer's datasheet performance graphs for the power op amps used in the Dark Star show evidence for rising distortion at low signal levels - almost certainly crossover distortion - "lower levels" is the only place you would ever use on the Dark Star with the HD-800 - and crossover distoriton is generally considered the most audibly objectionalble

Benchmark DAC balanced XLR out to HD800: 125 dB SPL "can you hear me now..."


Edited by jcx - 11/23/13 at 12:26pm
post #284 of 295

Yes, I realize that the power output of the Dark Star is overkill for the HD800, but I don’t necessarily want to buy another amp down the line if I decide to get some hard to drive headphones. Since I have limited desk space, the footprint of the Apache and Dark Star are of interest to me. And, if you'll reread my original post I asked about dimensions and output impedance, not power output. 

 

While I like the DAC2 with the HD800s, I'm curious if they'd perform better with an amp that has a higher output impedance than it has, especially since Sennheiser's amps output impedance is around 40 ohms or so. It appears that they think a higher output impedance is better for their headphones than near zero like the DAC2. 

 

Thanks for the balanced out suggestion, but I have a pair of Focal CMS 50s and they only have XLR connections, so the balanced outs are taken. If I do get an amp, I want a balanced amp and I'll have to use the unbalanced outs from the DAC2, and the Dark Star has a phase splitter in it so that is another reason I'm interested in it. I suppose I could try an Apache or similar and get a phase splitter from the Cable Factory (they use passive Lundahl transformers). My Linn DS player uses Lundahl transformers too., so good enough for Linn, good enough for me. 

 

As for the carbon fiber bike comment, I do indeed have a custom Parlee Z1, but I prefer to transport it on top of my BMW 535i touring wagon; monster trucks don't do it for me. Oh, and thank you for your concerns about listening levels, I don't know where I'd be without you guys! 

post #285 of 295

A Parlee and a BMW??  But how?

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