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post #211 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve2151 View Post

 

Audio GD dacs usually have 2.5 V output on high gain and 1.25 V on low gain. I normally use the HE-6 at 35 on high gain with the SA-1 also on high gain. My AD1000PRM is normally around 20 on low gain with the SA-1 also set to low gain.

 

That's actually lower than I would have expected given the sensitivity of the HE-6.  I did figure the gain settings were designed more to fit with the slightly higher output of their DACs.  Their DACs that don't have a high/low switch is also 2.5v.  I would be curious to try my old SA-1 with my current setup now but I'm surprisingly satisfied with my current setup.  I also finally have an HD-800 on the way.  Should be here tomorrow.  I think with only one SA component upstream, maybe the soundstage won't be too overly distant but then again, Sabre based DACs are also known for their wide soundstage.  

post #212 of 402

I'm looking to upgrade my DAC as well (from the Essence ST), and both the Audio GD NFB.1.32 and the Concero look like very good choices with the SA-31. The NFB 1.32 has the high/low gain just like the SA-1, and the Concero has the 1.2 V output. They're also both very detailed, as far as I've understood, which should work well with the SA-31 and its warmth/musicality settings.

post #213 of 402

@Steve2151, JWahl: could you please give some inputs on the SA-1 DAC.

I see that you (JWahl) have the Concero too. I have my eyes on this little gem right now and would like to know:

  1) How it compares to the SA-1, technically (I suppose the SA-1 is a more mature DAC, technically)

  2) How is the tonal voicing compared to the others DAC you heard/own.

 

Any input on the SA-1 in general (technically, voicing) would be highly appreciated!

 

For the record:

I own the HE-4 and HE-5LE now.

 

I used to own the Ref 5.32 (too dark) and now the NFB-27 (really good but I prefer(ed) my SA-31 over its internal amp w/ the HE-500 & HE-4. I just received the HE-5LE today but didn't get a listen, the internal amp might be a better fit for them).

 

So far, the most enjoyable DAC was the Metrum Quad. It's a mix between the 2 with a voicing closer to the NFB-27 but more relaxed in the bass (less "tension" in the sound). I sold my Stello U3 recently and am planning to buy another DDC for it.

So far, I'm torn between a custom DI-V3 + DSP or the Concero, which both feature resampling. The concero would be (much) more convenient to use, but it's 2x as expensive as the DI + PSU. If the DAC is any good (by NFB-2 or Bifrost standart), it might be a viable solution.

post #214 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopia View Post

I'm looking to upgrade my DAC as well (from the Essence ST), and both the Audio GD NFB.1.32 and the Concero look like very good choices with the SA-31. The NFB 1.32 has the high/low gain just like the SA-1, and the Concero has the 1.2 V output. They're also both very detailed, as far as I've understood, which should work well with the SA-31 and its warmth/musicality settings.

 

The NFB-1.32 is an obvious choice if you want to maintain Aesthetic integrity and have a nice stack.  If you want to save money I wouldn't rule out the NFB-2.32 as well.  Especially if your only using the SA-31.  I'm using the Concero now with good results.  I especially like the filter options and being able to use it as a USB/SPDIF converter while keeping the inline filters to the main DAC.  Or, if your willing to spend a bit more the new Matrix X-Sabre shows potential to be a promising unit at $1100 from what I've read.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

@Steve2151, JWahl: could you please give some inputs on the SA-1 DAC.

I see that you (JWahl) have the Concero too. I have my eyes on this little gem right now and would like to know:

  1) How it compares to the SA-1, technically (I suppose the SA-1 is a more mature DAC, technically)

  2) How is the tonal voicing compared to the others DAC you heard/own.

 

Any input on the SA-1 in general (technically, voicing) would be highly appreciated!

 

For the record:

I own the HE-4 and HE-5LE now.

 

I used to own the Ref 5.32 (too dark) and now the NFB-27 (really good but I prefer(ed) my SA-31 over its internal amp w/ the HE-500 & HE-4. I just received the HE-5LE today but didn't get a listen, the internal amp might be a better fit for them).

 

So far, the most enjoyable DAC was the Metrum Quad. It's a mix between the 2 with a voicing closer to the NFB-27 but more relaxed in the bass (less "tension" in the sound). I sold my Stello U3 recently and am planning to buy another DDC for it.

So far, I'm torn between a custom DI-V3 + DSP or the Concero, which both feature resampling. The concero would be (much) more convenient to use, but it's 2x as expensive as the DI + PSU. If the DAC is any good (by NFB-2 or Bifrost standart), it might be a viable solution.

 

Unfortunately, I can't really accurately compare the SA-1 and Concero as when I owned the SA-1 I had completely different amps and headphones than I have now.  I will say the I currently feel no upgraditis for a DAC at the moment but if I do, it's nice that I can keep the Concero as a converter with the excellent Resonessence upsampling filters.  Without sounding cliche, I would say the Concero has a very neutral balance without being aggressive or fatiguing in anyway on it's own.  The Schiit Modi by comparison is rather aggressive and less realistic but it's also 1/6th of the price.

 

Being an Audio-GD fan, I'm generally a subscriber to the old school all-discrete/overbuilt power supply type of gear but, even though opposite design philosophy, the Concero doesn't disappoint.  And also, I haven't heard the Bifrost but every impression I've read of people who compared the Concero to it have said they thought the Concero was clearly superior.

 

Also, I just got my HD-800 today and listening to right now as I type.  Even though only listening for a bit, I think it's safe to say the SA-31 drives it well.  Granted, I don't have much of a frame of reference and maybe other amps put it into a whole new class but it certainly doesn't feel like it's under driven.  It's super dynamic, spacious, excellent timing, and IMO probably the best quality bass I've heard an any headphone I've owned.  I'm shocked that some people consider it bass light.

 

These are early impressions so take it with a grain of salt.  To be fair though, I used the JRiver parametric EQ to cut the 6kz area by 6db due to pretty heavy sibilance but it sounds much smoother now.  Maybe I'll try the Anaxilus Mod later on.

post #215 of 402

I've got some jumpers and playing around with the warmth settings.  I do like the "Warm 2" setting with the HD-800 as an easy listen but I'm still deciding if I want to keep them on as it does seem to trade a little precision and detail for smoothness, but it does also tame the sibilance enough to where I can use them without my slight sofware EQ.  

 

Also seems to have a little more bass quantity but maybe a bit too much bloom on certain tracks.  I just wish the warmth settings were tied to a front panel switch instead of jumpers.  Makes it harder to A/B them.

 

*edit* I went back to "Warm 1" jumper setting and I find it warm enough without sacrificing the precision/detail.  I briefly tried it yesterday and skipped it because I thought it sounded odd.  Maybe I didn't have one of the jumpers pressed down all the way, or something was messing with my hearing because it sounds fine now.  No jumpers almost sounds a little flat by comparison, but I don't want to exaggerate the difference, it's very subtle.


Edited by JWahl - 3/8/13 at 2:39pm
post #216 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

@Steve2151, JWahl: could you please give some inputs on the SA-1 DAC.

I see that you (JWahl) have the Concero too. I have my eyes on this little gem right now and would like to know:

  1) How it compares to the SA-1, technically (I suppose the SA-1 is a more mature DAC, technically)

  2) How is the tonal voicing compared to the others DAC you heard/own.

 

Any input on the SA-1 in general (technically, voicing) would be highly appreciated!

 

For the record:

I own the HE-4 and HE-5LE now.

 

I used to own the Ref 5.32 (too dark) and now the NFB-27 (really good but I prefer(ed) my SA-31 over its internal amp w/ the HE-500 & HE-4. I just received the HE-5LE today but didn't get a listen, the internal amp might be a better fit for them).

 

So far, the most enjoyable DAC was the Metrum Quad. It's a mix between the 2 with a voicing closer to the NFB-27 but more relaxed in the bass (less "tension" in the sound). I sold my Stello U3 recently and am planning to buy another DDC for it.

So far, I'm torn between a custom DI-V3 + DSP or the Concero, which both feature resampling. The concero would be (much) more convenient to use, but it's 2x as expensive as the DI + PSU. If the DAC is any good (by NFB-2 or Bifrost standart), it might be a viable solution.

 

The dac in the SA-1 is more spacious and darker than the dac in my NFB-10. It's on another level entirely when compared to the dac section of the NFB-12 or HUD-MX1, which I used in place of the SA-1 while packing for a move.

 

It's close enough to neutral that my SA-31 and Arete color the sound more than the dac itself.

post #217 of 402

I've had my SA-31 for a few weeks now and I'm very happy with it. It drives HE-500 effortlessly, and makes Denons just a little bit more balanced, with more control of both bass and treble, IMO. I'm still getting used to the volume buttons, but I think they are ok. It would be great to see that solution put to better use, for instance to have a memory for different volume settings for different headphones - something to add extra value over a regular volume knob.  Either way, overall I'm very happy with the amp.

 

I just wonder how far it scales? I haven't seen any reviews really where it's compared to other amps in the $500-700 range, like Schiit Lyr or even the V200 (more expensive). It seems that the SA-31 is tailored for headphones like the HE-6 or even K1000, but would it really do them justice? 

post #218 of 402

Running my SA-31 with Beyerdynamic T1 now  - I have it for a week to try out smily_headphones1.gif

 

I've only heard the T1 with the A1 amp and I do prefer the SA-31 quite a lot. The A1 is extremely detailed, and it has a lovely volume pot (the whole case looks flimsy to me, like an old router, but it feels very solid). The SA-31 on the other hand is definitely warmer, more musical and engaging. Currently I'm using warm setting 2, which I haven't found useful before, but the T1s are bright headphones - certainly compared to the HE-500, IMHO. Still have more listening to do, but the SA-31 + T1 seem like a great combination. Listening to everything from Guns n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction to Sara Sant'Ambrogio's The Chopin Collection with it, and it's got both warmth, speed, and detail.

post #219 of 402

A question about this amp (sorry if this has been asked/answered already):

 

- Can you control the volume of the rca outputs using the internal volume controls?  Would like to output the rca to a set of studio monitors and control the volume via the headphone amp if possible.

 

Andrew.

post #220 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishyb View Post

A question about this amp (sorry if this has been asked/answered already):

 

- Can you control the volume of the rca outputs using the internal volume controls?  Would like to output the rca to a set of studio monitors and control the volume via the headphone amp if possible.

 

Andrew.

 

Yes, there is built in preamp function. You can also disable the volume control and use the amp in line out mode with a single jumper. 

post #221 of 402
Could anybody share some impressions of this unit paired with a fairly clean, uncolored DAC driving LCD-2.2's?
Thanks!
post #222 of 402

Hi all,

Although it seems this thread is drying up a bit....I have some late to the party stuff to add. 

 

I have an update for my post above. I went ahead with the SA-31 and have had it here for a week. I posted a quick write-up on the "Amp recommendations for LCD-2" thread, but I'll share it here as well. Short version is this is a great amp. Get one if you can!

 

Link:  

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/495631/amp-recommendations-for-audeze-lcd-2/6195#post_947172

 

Aaaaand.. my copy and paste for your reading enjoyment:

 

I have had the Audio-GD SA-31 here for a week, using the DACmini CX (1ohm) > SA-31 > LCD-2.2. I am pretty satisfied with this setup. The DACmini/LCD-2 combo is supposedly nearly a perfect match (from what I've read from several on here) so I was not really expecting to get any kind of improvement. My expectations were low. Before you read on, be aware that I have not used any other amps with the LCD so I don't have any comparisons with the names that always pop up on this thread. Just my portable amp, Leckerton UHA 6S-MKII, and the DACmini all-in-one. 

 

With the DACmini feeding the LCD, the sound is really good. However I couldn't help but feel that I wanted to try an amp with some more wattage behind it to see if I could bring a bit more out of the LCD. Direct out of the DACmini, my issue is wishing for a bit more bass presence. And I also feel the sound of the combo is the best when the headphones are driven at a bit higher volume, and when you go just a bit past that I can feel the amp section is straining just a bit. Bass gets a bit looser, highs a little more harsh. (very very minor amounts) So my sweet spot with that setup is just near the cusp of pushing the amp sections ability. Probably a little room for improvement. 

 

The Audio-GD SA-31 puts out 10 watts @ 40 ohm (so what is that at the LCD's 50 ohm?) I don't know. Maybe 9 watts? Plenty, anyway. Diamond differential design. There are 3 adjustable "warmth" settings that can be set with internal jumpers. "0", "Warm 1" and "Warm 2". This amp, while having the description of "musical flavor" and "warmth settings"...well, don't let that fool you into thinking it will be a muddy mess with the LCD. Quite the opposite.

 

This amp pumps out gobs of clear goodness and the warmth seems to be affecting harmonics and space more so than primary notes. Compared to direct out of the DACmini, it is actually cleaner and more detailed. Adding the jumpers to the "warm 1" setting gives more depth to the space and a wonderful lifelike sensation while not affecting the clarity whatsoever. I hate to use this term, buuuuuttt..."3D" works here. That's the difference. "warm 2" is just on the cusp of affecting details a bit. Bass/ headspace gets bigger and deeper...still perfectly suitable for the LCD. I settled on "warm 1" for now. Best of both worlds. I have read on some posts describing the Audio-GD amps darkness or warmth as "Kingwa dark". Whatever that guy is doing, he is doing it right. My biggest fear was that this amp would be too dark or warm for the LCD. Not an issue. 

 

Drawbacks? I wish it had a volume knob rather than buttons. But it was a design choice for sound quality reasons. Also, I need to now invest in some good RCA interconnects, since it's not one box anymore . (I'm using kind of cruddy ones now) Also the blue display lights are way too bright, but a touch of window tint fixed that. My wife says it's ugly. But she says that about everything audio related. 

 

Anyway, just initial impressions. This amp gives you all juice you need for the LCD-2 without breaking a sweat. The real surprise here is the added warmth and soundstage without affecting clarity at all. This reminds me of some of my favorite gear, Heir Audio 8.A and the LCD-2. They can be warm, and fun, but serving up details as well. Speaking of which, the amp has no issue driving sensitive custom IEM's as well. Switch it to low gain and you're good. The DACmini is just too strong for my Heir 4.A's (the 8.A's are okay). I had to run the DACMini to my UHA amp to use it with the 4.A's. I can plug those right into the SA-31 and get good results. 

 

Is it worth adding a $500 amp to the DACmini for the improvement? well that's up to you. Everybody has done stupider things! ha ha. I really would love to be able to try some other amps in this price range or some of the other gear discussed on this thread to see how the SA-31 compares. 

post #223 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrobe View Post

Hi all,

Although it seems this thread is drying up a bit....I have some late to the party stuff to add. 

 

I have an update for my post above. I went ahead with the SA-31 and have had it here for a week. I posted a quick write-up on the "Amp recommendations for LCD-2" thread, but I'll share it here as well. Short version is this is a great amp. Get one if you can!

 

Link:  

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/495631/amp-recommendations-for-audeze-lcd-2/6195#post_947172

 

Aaaaand.. my copy and paste for your reading enjoyment:

 

I have had the Audio-GD SA-31 here for a week, using the DACmini CX (1ohm) > SA-31 > LCD-2.2. I am pretty satisfied with this setup. The DACmini/LCD-2 combo is supposedly nearly a perfect match (from what I've read from several on here) so I was not really expecting to get any kind of improvement. My expectations were low. Before you read on, be aware that I have not used any other amps with the LCD so I don't have any comparisons with the names that always pop up on this thread. Just my portable amp, Leckerton UHA 6S-MKII, and the DACmini all-in-one. 

 

With the DACmini feeding the LCD, the sound is really good. However I couldn't help but feel that I wanted to try an amp with some more wattage behind it to see if I could bring a bit more out of the LCD. Direct out of the DACmini, my issue is wishing for a bit more bass presence. And I also feel the sound of the combo is the best when the headphones are driven at a bit higher volume, and when you go just a bit past that I can feel the amp section is straining just a bit. Bass gets a bit looser, highs a little more harsh. (very very minor amounts) So my sweet spot with that setup is just near the cusp of pushing the amp sections ability. Probably a little room for improvement. 

 

The Audio-GD SA-31 puts out 10 watts @ 40 ohm (so what is that at the LCD's 50 ohm?) I don't know. Maybe 9 watts? Plenty, anyway. Diamond differential design. There are 3 adjustable "warmth" settings that can be set with internal jumpers. "0", "Warm 1" and "Warm 2". This amp, while having the description of "musical flavor" and "warmth settings"...well, don't let that fool you into thinking it will be a muddy mess with the LCD. Quite the opposite.

 

This amp pumps out gobs of clear goodness and the warmth seems to be affecting harmonics and space more so than primary notes. Compared to direct out of the DACmini, it is actually cleaner and more detailed. Adding the jumpers to the "warm 1" setting gives more depth to the space and a wonderful lifelike sensation while not affecting the clarity whatsoever. I hate to use this term, buuuuuttt..."3D" works here. That's the difference. "warm 2" is just on the cusp of affecting details a bit. Bass/ headspace gets bigger and deeper...still perfectly suitable for the LCD. I settled on "warm 1" for now. Best of both worlds. I have read on some posts describing the Audio-GD amps darkness or warmth as "Kingwa dark". Whatever that guy is doing, he is doing it right. My biggest fear was that this amp would be too dark or warm for the LCD. Not an issue. 

 

Drawbacks? I wish it had a volume knob rather than buttons. But it was a design choice for sound quality reasons. Also, I need to now invest in some good RCA interconnects, since it's not one box anymore . (I'm using kind of cruddy ones now) Also the blue display lights are way too bright, but a touch of window tint fixed that. My wife says it's ugly. But she says that about everything audio related. 

 

Anyway, just initial impressions. This amp gives you all juice you need for the LCD-2 without breaking a sweat. The real surprise here is the added warmth and soundstage without affecting clarity at all. This reminds me of some of my favorite gear, Heir Audio 8.A and the LCD-2. They can be warm, and fun, but serving up details as well. Speaking of which, the amp has no issue driving sensitive custom IEM's as well. Switch it to low gain and you're good. The DACmini is just too strong for my Heir 4.A's (the 8.A's are okay). I had to run the DACMini to my UHA amp to use it with the 4.A's. I can plug those right into the SA-31 and get good results. 

 

Is it worth adding a $500 amp to the DACmini for the improvement? well that's up to you. Everybody has done stupider things! ha ha. I really would love to be able to try some other amps in this price range or some of the other gear discussed on this thread to see how the SA-31 compares. 

 

That sounds like a pretty accurate description.  I think it's an optimal amp with the LCD series, though didn't hear the LCD-2 with it, just the LCD-3.  As an amp for the HD800 though, I ended up replacing it with a Burson Soloist as I feel it pairs better with the HD800.  Not that it was bad with the HD800 by any means, especially for the price, I just felt the Burson had better synergy.  Although I really liked it the the LCD-3, I also tried the HE-6 on it expecting good things but was honestly underwhelmed.  

 

I think HE-6 owners looking at this as an amp would need to do the gain mod to better match with the HE-6.  Even with high gain and a higher than average source, I was still almost maxing it out.  I still contend that speaker amps bring out the best in the HE-6.

 

And also, the Audio-GD gear doesn't have knobs, not because of sound quality.  He previously integrated that type of volume control with knobs.  The knobs were removed because his customers were complaining about the knobs breaking during shipment, so he stopped putting knobs on them.  

post #224 of 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWahl View Post

 

That sounds like a pretty accurate description.  I think it's an optimal amp with the LCD series, though didn't hear the LCD-2 with it, just the LCD-3.  As an amp for the HD800 though, I ended up replacing it with a Burson Soloist as I feel it pairs better with the HD800.  Not that it was bad with the HD800 by any means, especially for the price, I just felt the Burson had better synergy.  Although I really liked it the the LCD-3, I also tried the HE-6 on it expecting good things but was honestly underwhelmed.  

 

I think HE-6 owners looking at this as an amp would need to do the gain mod to better match with the HE-6.  Even with high gain and a higher than average source, I was still almost maxing it out.  I still contend that speaker amps bring out the best in the HE-6.

 

And also, the Audio-GD gear doesn't have knobs, not because of sound quality.  He previously integrated that type of volume control with knobs.  The knobs were removed because his customers were complaining about the knobs breaking during shipment, so he stopped putting knobs on them.  

 

I'll keep in mind not to set my sights on the HE-6 with this then. But yeah, I can certainly give the LCD a thumbs up with it.

 

That's interesting about the volume knobs! I read something about the volume control being "relay based to prevent channel imbalance and improve sound quality". I was assuming that was explaining the buttons but I guess the knobs use the same circuit. I any case, sounds good! I pretty much use replay gain and set it, so it's not like I'm fiddling with it much. 

 

I see you sold yours, congrats. I'm glad you found a buyer quickly!

post #225 of 402

Yes, I wish they still did use the old volume knobs with the Relay-Resistor volume Control.  Here is a picture I found of an old Audio-GD Phoenix showing the same volume control type but with a knob.  The buttons are kind of a pain if you want to make a quick volume adjustment.

 

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