B A C K G R O U N D
I have had this amp for a month now and have been auditioning it several hours every day during this time.
I have also been comparing it to other units at hand.
- Sennheiser HD600
- Sennheiser HD800
- Hifiman HE-6
- Beyerdynamic T1
- Audeze LCD-2
It is a pure Class A, all Triode, transformer-coupled design using the wonderful 12AU7 tubes.
There is not much information about the unit on the internet, however the manufacturer's homepage reads that
it is a fairly conventional 3 stage tube design.
Due to the output transformer, and the transconductance of the valves used (12AU7), this amp is unlikely to be
a good match for magnetostatic (Orthodynamic) headphones at high volume levels. I drove the Hifiman HE-6 with no probs.
So far I have compared the standard unit to the following amps.
- Lehman audio Black Cube Linear
- Beyerdynamic A1
- Burson HA-160
- Leben CS-600
- Burson HA-160D
- Naim Audio headphone amp HeadLine
- Ear Yoshino HP-4
R E V I E W
The first thing noticed, is the most obvious with any all triode, amplifier: the high frequencies.
The highs are sooo extended, sooo sweet, sooo effortless, sooo engaging, sooo natural & sooo delicious
that you almost "feel" the music instead of "hearing" the music. Mated with Hifiman HE-6, its high frequency characteristics
is 99% identical to Sennheiser Orpheus.
I don't think I've ever heard the highs rendered so free of congestion, grain and harshness. Bravo.
The midrange is unbelievably gorgeous: very palpable, extremely natural, ver airy, textured & very very beautifully rendered.
Absolutely outstanding. 12 out of 10.
The soundstaging is beyond World Class. This was quite surprising for a transformer-coupled amplifier.
The amplifier so effortlessly recreates the 3 dimensional space of the recording it's spooky. The
objects just keep moving around in your head. Try that with a +3 000 U$ Solid State amp or the massed produced super amps.
LOW LEVEL DETAIL
The amplifiers low level retreival or its ability to retreive audible detail from the background is
beyond ANYTHING that I have heard (except for the HP4).
The only amp with even better performance in this area is the legendary EAR Yoshino HP4 (which is really without equal, hence the price).
The bass performance (with low impedance headphones) is unfortunately ABSENT.
(just like the Orpheus, although Orpheus is not T-coupled)
The amp is simply unable to engage the low impedance drivers with sufficient grip, power and depth,
which tend to make the overall character of the amplifier slightly lightish, but not in a negative way.
This apparent lightness is by no means difficult to inhale, or bothersome to listen to.
Remeber, its overall presentation is EXTREMELY effortless and sweet. This again is so reminiscent of the
Sennheiser Orpheus - with its phenomenal high frequency extension & not so extended low frequency response.
The word effortless keeps coming back to mind:
This very sense of effortlessness helps create a sense of tremendous "ease" and a laid-back, AIRY reproduction, FULL of details
that is so intoxicating, and soooo missing with the other amplifiers.
Don't even bother with the "top" Solid State amplifiers getting all sorts of "awards" every month.
They are light years behind THIS level of sound reproduction.
Other amps in this review just sounded so plain, lifeless, dry, harsh & monotone in comparison (with the exception of EAR Yoshino HP4).
They were simply unbearable.
My all-time love: the Burson HA-160D - just sounded terribly grainy, shut in, and colorless, like watching a Black & White TV screen as
opposed to a full-color TV.
Due to the amplifiers inability to render low frequency information with low impedance headphones, there is less body
and less of that touchable, desirable dimension in the music that only the best thermionic amps can provide (read EAR Yoshino HP4).
This would be a perfect parnter for high impedance loads; the likes of Sennheisers, Beyerdynamics, and specially Grado's.
Remeber: It does not like low impedances (nothing new here).
However the Grados are very efficient, and therefore I beleive they could still be good partners.
It is a newbie. However its sonic performance makes it an instant classic.
HD800 and the GPInto H2A sang so beautifully together that they kept reminding me of the Sennheiser Orpheus combination.
They are THAT GOOD together.
During the past couple of years, I have listened to many expensive multi-thousand dollar Super Amps,
No-Holds-Barred diy efforts & Mega+Ultra+Giga Reference amp-projects, all claiming to have discovered something
extraordinary -- maybe so -- but none have delivered the goods in my opinion, and none grabbed my attention like the Pintos.
Do yourselves a favor and listen to this incredible little amp.
Together with the Hifiman HE-6, its performance was simply mind-blowing at low volume levels. If you tried this and you can't hear it,
re-check everything, you have probably done something wrong. You don't need a fantastic source or a special setup to hear the sonics
this thing can deliver.
Unfortunately at higher volume levels & partnered with the likes of Hifimans or the Audezes, the output transformer
runs out of inductance and the frequency extensions suffer.
However mate it with a good high impedance can (more than 100 ohms) and discover what a marvelous virtuoso it is.
I can't find any amplifier in this price range that can match its sonics. Hell, I can't think of any amp costing 4 times that much
that can pull it off against the Pinto.
So the question is:
did I like it? ...
Edited by zodiac1234 - 3/3/13 at 5:58pm