I'm not trying to be passive-aggressive or condescending - sorry that you read that far into my posts.
Regarding "tube effects can be easily heard" - show me the data! Sighted evaluation demonstrates nothing; you have to "hear" those effects in a DBT ABX or they're all in your head. It's not a matter of "being biased against audible differences" or any concoction like that - it's a matter of accepting that we're all subject to cognitive biases and unless we can control for those, we aren't really testing what we'd like to test. And this extends the other way too - you can have some huge measured difference that should absolutely mean "this will sound like hell" or "this will be a huge improvement" and find out that, no, it really doesn't help or produces the opposite effect (one example, and this is something of a stretch, would be electrostatic headphones - they generally measure about as perfect as you could ever hope to accomplish; so why doesn't everyone universally agree that they're perfect and the best thing ever made? Why don't we have more of them?). So sure, if there was a mass of scientific data that supported a given conclusion, I would have no issues changing my position. I won't, however, jump on any carousel that's built on "well I heard this, this, and this" when I know that it's got too many uncontrolled variables and too many sources of error to be drawing a real conclusion.
Also, nowhere did I say there's no measurable effect - I said that most of the differences you're mentioning are measurable to a scope or APAA, but they're not audible (there is a big difference here); if it's not audible, why pay for it? You won't be hearing it, aside from sighted-evaluation bias. Sure, some people have other considerations, like aesthetics, and that's perfectly fine - if you like the way a given product looks or feels, or makes you feel, then go ahead and buy it; ultimately it is your money.
Regarding the "properly rated" comment - Fiio publishes quite a bit of information, there's that blog post (someone already posted it) where the guy went through the E9, and Fiio does disclose the TI chip used as the basis for the E9, and TI is (absurdly) forthcoming with information about that part. I think it's ironic that the same exact chip is also used in the CI VHP, which (a few years ago) people were decrying as the second coming of the Zana Deux (at a lower price); same exact chip, but at 6x the price - of course that made it better! Now, I'm not saying the Zana Deux is somehow a "benchmark" - I just find it somewhat ironic.
Originally Posted by Magick Man
Ugh, your passive-aggressive personality is a little off-putting, especially when compounded with deliberate condescension. Oh well, so be it.
Tube effects can be easily be heard in tests, some say second-order harmonic distortion tends to be pleasing to the ears, at least that's one of the theories scientists and engineers have put forth. It's an actual phenomenon, not pure cognitive bias. You can be a skeptic, but there's no reason to be stubborn. Predisposition towards believing that there can be no measurable effect is also a type bias.
My comments about the Asgard being USA made was an endorsement to purchase it for economic reasons, purchasing products made in America helps to employ people in this country. The OP is from New York, perhaps that means something to him.
The Asgard has better fit and finish, it's properly rated for the Q701 (FiiO purposely avoids posting certain specs for the E9), and it looks slick. Also, I can assess sound quality when my third E9 has an audible hiss, but I guess that's better than the first I had, which died abruptly after a month, or the second which had a defective E7 dock. No, from experience I'm not impressed with FiiO.
FYI, as I implied before, your tone makes people more defensive. Perhaps you aren't aware of that.
The channel imbalance is inherent to any pot (some are better than others, yadda yadda); I'm guessing if you grabbed a dozen E9s they'd all have different imbalances (this is based on experience with pots and part tolerance). Nobody is doing VCAs in headphone components, I'm guessing it would ruffle too many audiophile feathers, so that's basically what we live with. I disagree with the damping factor argument based on output impedance; this is on technical reasons - it's basically not as huge a problem as we'd like to make it. Noise is nearly -90 dB; that's very low. Very low indeed.
So QA isn't perfect, based on Magick's posts. That isn't surprising. Magick is the first poster I've read about having any real troubles with the E9's QA, and I'm not doubting the claims. I can also understand the distrust/dislike of the company based on that. Overall, I think they do alright, and I think they're offering a competitive product at a lower price.
Originally Posted by stv014
You may already have seen it, but the E9 has an extensive technical review here. It does confirm that the main weak points are noise, low impedance headphones, and channel balance at low volume settings. There is unfortunately no such review for the Asgard (or the large majority of audiophile products, for that matter).
Oh don't take me to be totally unbiased - pure objectivity is an illusion. That said, I do err towards what the data says (as Frylock said once "Well, it's what I *and the computer* project will happen"), as opposed to subjective qualifications. I'm sure it ruffles some feathers. I don't intend to start any sort of "fight" over it though; I'm not trying to beat people over the head to "feel smarter" or anything.
What I would suggest as a suited amplifier...hrm, the Fiio E9 comes to mind. So do a lot of AV receivers/SSPs/etc (if you have such a device already, that is). I like CI Audio, but I think they're overpriced beyond anything reasonable - they're very nice to deal with though, and their products work. I'm not really a fan of most "audiophile" components. Oh, you might also look at the various soundcard/headphone amp hybrids. And if Asus ever releases their external device, just based on it's feature-list, I'd give it a very serious look (it looks like a Grace m902 minus about $1300 of clout).
Regarding the Schiit, I remember seeing something on YouTube about one of their amplifiers dumping massive DC into a pair of headphones, and thinking "where's the "click click" for the relay?!" - no idea if that's been fixed or if it was a defective amplifier, but it certainly doesn't inspire confidence. Protection relays should be standard across the board, but aren't. Just like VCAs should be standard across the board, but aren't. And the reason for both? If I had to guess, audiophiles. Now, I'm not trying to inspire fear or anything like that - for all I know the guy was being cute and had hooked up a battery inside the housing just to torch a pair of cans (like that *other* guy who took a pair of scissors to a DT990). Basically, I've got no respect for paying more than you need to pay, and don't understand why people insist it's needed - of course I understand the "upset-ness" from someone hearing that out of me, after having spent a small fortune, but I'm just trying to be the messenger (don't shoot! don't shoot!). Following that logic, the E9 is a better choice; it costs less and gets you to the same place. It also has protection relays, and one out of two ain't half bad.
Originally Posted by HighFiguy
I really like the fact that you come from a total unbiased point of view, and I agree with most subjects you happened to mention, the others were somewhat incomprehensible to me because as a Medical Student I don't really understand all that engineering stuff .
I'd like to know what would you personally suggest (preferably naming a few contenders) as a "suited" full-sized amp for the 70x's. I was planning on going for the Asgard but i'm a bit confused now from the aforementioned statements.
Or will the Asgard do the job just fine?
Even if they haven't sent out review samples, they should absolutely be testing their components internally. If you're legitimately serious about competing in the amplifier market, you better have at least someone who understands the engineering and is going to measure your designs with legitimate engineering/scientific methods. That equipment costs money, yes, but "very small company" is not an excuse for not doing it; would you buy a car from a manufacturer that performs no tests or validation on their components before deploying them? Or an airplane? What if the guy designing it assures you he's "really good" and "has experience?" Does that change anything? I consider such measurement just part of the territory. Just like chefs have thermometers, or astronomers have telescopes - it's just something you assume.
And yeah, I doubt people would take their numbers as canon law, but it'd at least be somewhere to start. An example of a company that *does* publish a range of numbers would be Woo Audio. And sure, if they're milking them a bit, that's still okay. Call it "manufacturing variance" and be done with it. I have no idea if Schiit actually does this, but I'm guessing (based on your posts) that they don't - it isn't a "knock" against them, but it would certainly inspire more confidence than fist-pumping about COO (which tells us nothing about the quality of a product).
I also never said I wasn't biased, I said that we are all subject to cognitive biases, but that our measurement equipment is not. Further, just because you can measure something, doesn't mean you'll be able to hear it (or see it, or whatever). I'm just as biased as you are, or anyone else is. So what you basically do is figure out, as best as you can, what the thresholds are for perception or recognition of a phenomenon and then measure your device; if it sits below those limits (which are not a "person to person" thing when you've done your perception research right, which has been done in a lot of cases), it ceases to matter in a "real" sense (sure, it may bug you to think about, and it may even convince you that it's contributing to "defects," and that may even lead to obsession and a desire to replace the component - but that's a psychological process, not an electrical one). Like I said, if there's some breakthrough in perception that upsets the entire balance, I'm entirely okay with that - science is not set in stone, that doesn't mean it should be dismissed though.
Originally Posted by Magick Man
That laregely has to do with them being very small companies who haven't paid to have those tests officially performed. To be honest, they should. If they're going to compete, they need to fully disclose that information.
That said, for $250 the Asgard is a very good value for an attractive, quality amp of its caliber.
Actually, he IS
biased, just in the other direction.