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burson new soloist headphone amp - Page 53

post #781 of 1177
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

It's my understanding, but I stand ever willing to be corrected, that when you change the Soloist's gain setting from Low to Medium (or from Medium to High), then adjust the attenuator to restore the original volume at the headphones, you are not changing the sound signature at all.  

 

The Soloist's gain setting is a multiplier of power.  The attenuator is a divider of power.  

 

So, increasing the gain then rotating the attenuator counterclockwise (for more attentuation), to restore the original volume level, accomplishes nothing other than shifting the range of volumes covered by the attenuator.  

 

It's best to leave the gain set on Low, increasing it to Medium (or to High) only if you are unable to achieve your desired volume with a given headphone, when rotating the attenuator fully clockwise.  The lower the gain setting, the more gradual will be the 24 steps of the attenuator - allowing you to more finely tune the volume level.

 

All that said, if you (or anyone else) is hearing a difference in sound signature, such that the Soloist sounds "better" when operating at high gain, I have no explanation - but I believe you.

 

redface.gif

 

Mike

For what it's worth, that's how I've always understood it to work too. You should always use the lowest gain setting that will allow you to achieve your desired volume levels. If people are hearing a sonic difference it may just be that the Amp is reaching it's distortion point faster on the dial.  


Edited by bareyb - 3/17/13 at 7:22pm
post #782 of 1177

Let me be the first to admit I am no sound engineer, but it seems the relationship between gain modes is not flatly linear.  That said, the amp sounds good either way.  I am certainly nitpicking the sound of a very good headphone amplifier.  But given that I am an academic (in an unrelated field), nitpicking is what I do.  Also there are some indications in professional reviews that how the gain stages are achieved has a "potential" impact on the sonic qualities.  Here is the 6moon's reviewer:

 

 

"The different gain settings are created with local feedback. Higher feedback in the voltage gain stage creates lower gain. Thus regardless of setting the actual output stage remains unaltered. Low-gain mode doesn't somehow 'switch out' some of the quad-paralleled transistors to decimate the stage. "No matter what gain level, the output stage's single-ended class A idle current remains an ideal constant. It delivers the same sonic performance at all gain settings..  6moons"

 

From what little I understand about class A and Class AB designs, a key difference is attempting to eliminate the use of feedback wherever possible.  Now, potentially adding feedback in the input stage has negligible effects.  But from what I have read, using feedback to accomplish anything requires carefully manipulation to control distortion effects.   This is why class A is generally preferred to class AB.  The minimal use of feedback in Class A designs produces better sonics (or at least better sonics with fewer manipulations to control distortion), but also produces an inefficient (hot) amp with limited practical output.  I don't know if any of this matters.  I am more questioning than commenting.  I trying to make some sense of the differences I thought I heard.  

 

Here is the reviewer at Headfonia also noting some potential (non-linear) sonic effects:

 

"I think the first headphone I tried the Soloist with was the Hifiman HE-500. After discovering that the Soloist drove it easily, I proceeded to the HE-6. This time it’s a bit harder, but it was doable in medium gain, with the volume knob almost maxxed out. Just for the record I always prefer having the volume knob close to or fully open, and as long as the amplifier doesn’t have a high noise floor, and is able to supply the current without distorting, it always yield a more open sound. Surprisingly the high gain setting didn’t really add that much loudness on the HE-6, and so it was simply a matter of preference if you want to go with the high or medium gain with the HE-6. A while ago I wrote on this post that I mostly prefer my amps on low gain. Not the Soloist. While the same low gain = lower noise floor theory applies to the Soloist, the low gain didn’t quite have the forwardness that made the Soloist a lot of fun to listen to"  ...Headfonia

 

Interesting...but not too much so.  Just listen and smile :-)  This is a good amp.

 

Cheers,

   


Edited by Pasquale - 3/17/13 at 8:36pm
post #783 of 1177

Changing the gain does lower the feedback but the chances of being able to hear the difference between XdB feedback and X-10dB of feedback... no.

post #784 of 1177

This is likely an open question and a matter of preference.  There seems to be sufficient evidence that something sonic is going on, however slight.  But, as they say in my hood..."This amp is pure butta!"  That is "butter" for the unfamiliar - that means excellent, smooth, fluid, worth calling a friend!  The Soloist has that quality I look for in hi-end gear.  The ability to be smooth and detailed simultaneously.  I achieved this effect in my full-scale system after too many dollars in Sonic Frontiers (now defunct) tube gear - including monoblock amps that could warm a house - and Revel speakers.  

 

BTW, please don't sleep (another hood term) on the capabilities of the Soloist as a preamp.   Reviewers have commented on this for reasons I didn't completely understand at the time.  I have a pair of Audioengine A5's on my desktop.  I have never thought much of them.  I have fed them with both a Benchmark DAC1 and a Lyr - with unremarkable results in each instance.  Reviewers said these speakers were overachievers at $300USD or so for powered speakers.  I didn't get it.  But...led by the Soloist these puppies sing...details and controlled bass!  They report on changes in the front end.  I don't completely understand why such a difference.  The A5's are not going to convince you they are Proac's tablettes or anything (yah, I know not a powered speaker, not a desktop, expensive, etc..but my reference in a dynamic compact speaker.), but quite satisfying when you want to take the phones off - and pretend to join the rest of your family..lol.       

 

Cheers, 

Pasquale

post #785 of 1177

Nods, Soloist is an awesome preamp.

post #786 of 1177

Note to self:

 

Always use the lowest gain setting allowing the desired volume.

 

Note to everyone else:

 

Use whatever gain setting which sounds best for you ...

 

(This comment after having discussed the matter looooong enough with Solude and Mike/zilch0md)

post #787 of 1177

Is this amp the best you can get for the T1's? Is it even better than the Beyer A1 amp? My T1's sound good with my Marantz PM8004 amp but are terrible with my Emotiva gear.. Want the best sound but can NOT afford the Solo amp rigth now. Any help?

post #788 of 1177
Quote:
Originally Posted by ematthews View Post

Is this amp the best you can get for the T1's? Is it even better than the Beyer A1 amp? My T1's sound good with my Marantz PM8004 amp but are terrible with my Emotiva gear.. Want the best sound but can NOT afford the Solo amp rigth now. Any help?
the best I've heard the T1s sound with are the decware csp2 and ray samuels darkstar amps, in that order. The decware is definitely a much better deal. Need to upgrade the tubes with Mullards, though!
post #789 of 1177
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolBurn View Post

Note to self:

 

Always use the lowest gain setting allowing the desired volume.

 

Note to everyone else:

 

Use whatever gain setting which sounds best for you ...

 

(This comment after having discussed the matter looooong enough with Solude and Mike/zilch0md)

 

biggrin.gif

 

I tried to shield you...  

post #790 of 1177

Hi emattthews,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ematthews View Post

Is this amp the best you can get for the T1's? Is it even better than the Beyer A1 amp? My T1's sound good with my Marantz PM8004 amp but are terrible with my Emotiva gear.. Want the best sound but can NOT afford the Solo amp rigth now. Any help?

 

Just curious - are you using the PM80004's headphone jack or the speaker taps?  

 

I've heard and read such great things about the PM8004 as a speaker amp, it's been on my horizon for a while now, as a possible headphone amp.

 

In either case, do you find yourself relying on the PM8004's tone controls when using the T1?

 

With your having mentioned your Emotiva gear, I'm thinking you might be familiar with this thread:  HE-500, LCD2, D5000, DT770, SR80, on a speaker amp (Emotiva mini-X A-100) Project

 

MalveauX uses an XLR <-> XLR adapter containing a 500-Ohm resistor to drive more sensitive headphones from his Emotiva mini-X A-100, but there are some other folks, like Prepoman, who have hooked the T1 directly to that speaker amp, without a resistor - with good results, using an adapter made by BTG - like the one ToInfinity recently sold.

 

Since I've opened this can of worms, let me warn that you shouldn't use a banana-plug to single-ended headphone jack without first making sure that the the left and right channels of your speaker amp share a common ground.  

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

post #791 of 1177

For whatever it's worth, I got Burson to comment on the gain setting for the HE-500.  They definitely recommended the high gain setting for the HE-500.  In their view, it is one of the most challenging loads due to the low sensitivity of the phones.  Is there a sonic difference using the medium setting versus the high setting?  To me, yes.  It seems evident throughout the volume range.  The HE-500's can get to ear splitting levels in the medium position with clicks to spare, but don't sound their best...to me anyway.  Logically, it would not matter medium or high if there were not some sonic differences.  Although this may not have much to do with the implementation of the gain settings - just a matching issue.  To each his own.  They also commented that the medium position is fine for LCD2's.

 

Party on,

Pasquale 

post #792 of 1177

The only thing medium and high do is run out of power faster.  The Soloist has a maximum output power of 5-8Vrms depending on the load.  HE-500 falling closer to the 5Vrms line.  So unless you have a very weak source, even low gain wide open will clip the Soloist.  Gain doesn't effect power only how much of the pot sweep you need to clip.  Now if you have a very weak source, say a Zune or iPod, then a higher gain maybe needed.

post #793 of 1177

As far as HE-500 being a harder load... it's only 30% harder than an HD800 and at 1V is around 99dB SPL which is very very loud.  You don't need or want to be multiplying the 2V input by 11x(22Vrms) when 3x(6Vrms) will give you better control and full power.

post #794 of 1177

OK...Cool. Set the gain where it sound best to you with your associated equipment.  I am intrigued by this argument that the gain changes essentially "shift" the curve with no audible effects represented by a change in the shape of the curve.  I tend not to believe that curves (particularly outside of overly simple, pure science) can be shifted with no shape effects - as if the independent variable(s) affects all dependent variables equally...tough argument.  Audio is not pure science.  But, that's an empirical question that can be tested.  Though I tend to discount somewhat the validity of calculations, graphs, etc. in "audiophile-dom" when it comes to auditory effects, given that the key variables in a rather complex system are absent - namely people's ears and auditory centers.  Drives my engineering friends nuts.  And, keeps a lot of equipment firms, designers, and engineers in business as we try to find the "right" matches.  If numbers told the story so well, forums would not be so busy.  We could just dial these things up.  I use the term engineers somewhat lightly as even they would readily admit it's not all science (or at least too many known variables to control and some unknowns as well).  That's why development cycles take so long...tweak-listen, tweak-listen.

 

Party on! 


Edited by Pasquale - 3/19/13 at 4:48am
post #795 of 1177

That because it doesn't change the curve ;)

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