Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Tube Rolling for Bellari HA540
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tube Rolling for Bellari HA540 - Page 4

post #46 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

Rumay - Can you talk more about any sound difference you experience with the PS15 instead of the stock Power Supply ?  And, can you talk about your experience of using the Bellari with the HE400 (I am interested in getting a pair in the near future) ?   Thanks.

With the PS15 I noted about 10 to 20% added volume (I could roll back the volume by about that much to get back to the db I was used to).  The LED seems to be burning brighter and the tube seems to be burning brighter as well, as noted by desertblues above.  I did not see a great amount of difference in the quality of the sound on the HE-400's via the PS15.  I would add that since I just changed out the power supply today my experience is limited. I plan to swap the PS15 and stock supply out a few more times to see if the audio quality is that noticably different over the next few weeks.  The HE-400"s are easily driven so the Bellari is more than adequate as a headphone amp. 

I generally use two setups 1) at work MBAir>Bitperfect/iTunes>Dragonfly DAC>Senns 595

2) At home MBAir>Bitperfect/iTunes>Dragonfly DAC>Bellari HA540>HE-400 

I have tried the HE-400's and Senns with and without the Bellari.  The Bellari makes such a big difference that I have thought of getting a second one for the office. The refinement in sound however distracts me to the point that I can't get as much work done.

The HE-400's are the best headphones I've ever owned.  They seem to be able to separate sound bilaterally as well as around each ear cup.  When you hear rain on Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey off the album Ram (Paul McCartney), you sonically feel like the rain is falling just outside your ears.  You can literally hear individual raindrops coming down.  They seem to be able to make sound 3D, expanding the soundstage while significantly expanding bass and sub bass. I have heard Uncle Albert many times over the years but now I can hear sounds I have never heard before.  The Senns 595 seem flat in comparison to these. For the price point you can't go wrong.  I can't compare these to the upper end HiFiMan and Audeze headphones.  I wanted to see what Ortho technology was all about and at about 1/2 to 1/3 the price I feel like it was the best headphone purchase I ever made.

With the Bellari the sound coming from the tubes seem to make the biggest difference in sound quality.  As stated before the Telefunken NOS were 2X's sonically better than the JJ gold pins and 4X's better than the stock Ruby's. 

One other thing I would mention about the HE-400's the co. tried to further refine these from the 2nd version (rev 2) to a rev 3 which did not work out. They have since pulled the bad versions and as noted in the HE-400 thread the new version appears to be fine. There are plenty of pictures on that thread to identify the recalled versions.

post #47 of 65

Here's my update on the PS15 vs stock power supply with the Bellari HA540: I've been comparing the two power supplies with my Bellari amp using my favorite tubes, a NOS Mazda 5751 triple mica & a NOS RCA Blackplate 5751. My 'phones are the Grado RS1i & Grado PS500 (two low impedance headphones with very different sound signatures) and the setup is: iMac w Alac Files>Ibasso D7 DAC>HA540>Grados.

Like Rumay states in the above post there is a definite increase in volume with the PS15 (10-20% seems about right). I do hear a bit more depth in the soundstage but I think this comes with a slight loss of detail depending on which tube I'm using. With the Mazda, which has great detail and amazing synergy with my Grados I actually prefer the stock power supply, particularly with the RS1's - the sound quality is as near to perfect as I have heard in terms of detail, warmth, and soundstage with this combination. On the other hand, with the RCA tube and the PS500 headphones I think the PS15 power supply has a slight edge - this headphone has greater bass and slightly rolled-off treble and seems to benefit from the power upgrade. I think the sonic differences between the two power supplies has more to do with the tube choice than anything else.

That said, I am still of the opinion that the Bellari HA540 is one of the best values in a quality tube amp you will find anywhere near its price point of less than $300 (I paid $250 for mine) - just make sure you replace the stock tube immediately! I am quite sure many Grado Fans would be amazed at the synergy this amp has with their favorite cans.

post #48 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertblues View Post

Here's my update on the PS15 vs stock power supply with the Bellari HA540: I've been comparing the two power supplies with my Bellari amp using my favorite tubes, a NOS Mazda 5751 triple mica & a NOS RCA Blackplate 5751. My 'phones are the Grado RS1i & Grado PS500 (two low impedance headphones with very different sound signatures) and the setup is: iMac w Alac Files>Ibasso D7 DAC>HA540>Grados.

Like Rumay states in the above post there is a definite increase in volume with the PS15 (10-20% seems about right). I do hear a bit more depth in the soundstage but I think this comes with a slight loss of detail depending on which tube I'm using. With the Mazda, which has great detail and amazing synergy with my Grados I actually prefer the stock power supply, particularly with the RS1's - the sound quality is as near to perfect as I have heard in terms of detail, warmth, and soundstage with this combination. On the other hand, with the RCA tube and the PS500 headphones I think the PS15 power supply has a slight edge - this headphone has greater bass and slightly rolled-off treble and seems to benefit from the power upgrade. I think the sonic differences between the two power supplies has more to do with the tube choice than anything else.

That said, I am still of the opinion that the Bellari HA540 is one of the best values in a quality tube amp you will find anywhere near its price point of less than $300 (I paid $250 for mine) - just make sure you replace the stock tube immediately! I am quite sure many Grado Fans would be amazed at the synergy this amp has with their favorite cans.

I bought the HA540 about two years ago long before I joined Head-Fi. I did a lot of my research at that point off AVS forum and musical instrument driven websites.  I think that the HA540 gets overlooked because they haven't been marketed on headphone driven websites.  The Rolls brand is well known in guitar stores not so much in audio stores.

I totally agree with changing out the Ruby stock tubes.  The stock tubes didn't sound that bad till I changed them out.  I really had no idea what I was missing. The upgraded tubes give the amp a different sound signature.  It felt like I was listening to a different amp, a much better amp.

I actually bought a Grado PS500 HP off Amazon about a year ago from JSound audio.  They were about 40% off retail and I couldn't pass up on the bargain.  I checked the JSound feedback soon after I bought them thinking I knew this was too good to be true.  The only negative feedback was a complaint that an item was bought at a discount and wasn't shipped as it was "out of stock"  I wasn't surprised when I received the "out of stock" notice 3 days after I bought them.  I didn't lose any money in the deal but I was bitter over not scoring the PS500'smad.gif

I think the HiFiMan HE-400 soaks up the energy off the stronger power supply (PS15).  I can't say that I see that big of a difference with a power supply change with the Senns 595's. 

post #49 of 65

Bellari (Rolls) quietly updated the Manual for the HA-540 on their web site (they did not change the file number, but it is longer and is now dated 9/12 instead of 6/10).  The main difference is that - for the first time - they acknowledge that it uses tubes, and talk about different tubes that can be used in it.   They have come to the same conclusion that we have - that Telefunken tubes sound the best in this amp - and mention this explicitly.   See:

 

http://www.rolls.com/pdf/M_HA540.pdf

post #50 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

Bellari (Rolls) quietly updated the Manual for the HA-540 on their web site (they did not change the file number, but it is longer and is now dated 9/12 instead of 6/10).  The main difference is that - for the first time - they acknowledge that it uses tubes, and talk about different tubes that can be used in it.   They have come to the same conclusion that we have - that Telefunken tubes sound the best in this amp - and mention this explicitly.   See:

 

http://www.rolls.com/pdf/M_HA540.pdf

Love those Telefunken NOS tubes.  They seem to melt the edges off the harsh notes.  Smooth as silk.  I saw the info on the Rolls sit, nice they give out a little advice with there products.

 

Lately I've been playing with computer audio.  MBAir>pure music>AQ Dragonfly>Bellari HA540>HE 400's, right now playing Fleetwood Mac Rumours 24/96.  The album sounds crisp and clear.  The Telefunken peel the treble down off the HE-400's which are great at the lower end, but pitch too high at times on the upper ends.  

 

I am using a demo of Pure Music and will try Decibel next, Bitperfect doesn't like the Dragonfly so I am officially done with that, but Pure Music works well with DAC.

post #51 of 65

I purchased the HiFiMan HE-400 headphones, and they do require more power than the SRH-1840.  Using the Bellari HD-540 and the "high" input, the volume knob is usually most or all the way up.  The "low" input is too strong, since the source is the preamp section of my A/V receiver.

 

So, due to the informative posts in this thread, I ordered a PS15 power supply from the ebay supplier.

 

Interestingly, you can get a power supply with the same electrical rating and plug for a lot less money  - except that the polarity is reversed. Perhaps Rolls has a good electrical design reason for doing this differently than Altec-Lansing and the other products that use the normal polarity, or perhaps it is just a marketing gimmick to get you to buy only their accessories.  It's still less than a new vintage tube, so I just gave in and ordered one. :)

 

I'll report back about how it works on my system.

post #52 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

I purchased the HiFiMan HE-400 headphones, and they do require more power than the SRH-1840.  Using the Bellari HD-540 and the "high" input, the volume knob is usually most or all the way up.  The "low" input is too strong, since the source is the preamp section of my A/V receiver.

 

So, due to the informative posts in this thread, I ordered a PS15 power supply from the ebay supplier.

 

Interestingly, you can get a power supply with the same electrical rating and plug for a lot less money  - except that the polarity is reversed. Perhaps Rolls has a good electrical design reason for doing this differently than Altec-Lansing and the other products that use the normal polarity, or perhaps it is just a marketing gimmick to get you to buy only their accessories.  It's still less than a new vintage tube, so I just gave in and ordered one. :)

 

I'll report back about how it works on my system.

How do you like those HE-400's.  My preference has been to keep the input on "high" via MBAir>Amarra>AQ Dragonfly.   

post #53 of 65
Thanks for the heads up on the Bellari manual update. One thing I would take issue with is the statement that tubes need no warmup beyond 30 seconds! I notice a distinct sonic improvement when my amp has been on for 40 minutes or so-and this has been true with many tubes. The overall sound becomes fuller and the characteristics of different tubes are more pronounced to my ears. Anyone else notice this?
post #54 of 65

So the PS15 arrived.  I listened to a bunch of my usual test tracks before installing it and then the same tracks after.  All with the HE400 headphones.

 

After I was done, what I realized was that the difference was similar to replacing a power amplifier (for speakers) with a higher wattage amplifier.  The PS15 seemed to improve the bass quality (not the quantity) - making the bass less "loose" and less "boomy" - in other words tighter.  It also gave everything a little more crispness, impact and dynamics.

 

All of this was just a little - just somewhat - and yet was noticeable on a variety of different tracks.

 

So, my feeling was that it was worth the US$23 shipped - somewhat less than a vintage tube - I bought it on ebay from a store that had a quantity of them to sell.

 

Thanks to the previous posters who shared their experiences with the PS15.

 

By the way, it occurred to me that the Bellari tube phono preamps have undoubtedly sold a lot more than the headphone amp, and so there might be some recommendations for a higher quality DC Power Supply (something like a $50-$100 product)  in audiophile Forum threads on those phono preamps. 


Edited by kstuart - 12/20/12 at 6:42pm
post #55 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

So the PS15 arrived.  I listened to a bunch of my usual test tracks before installing it and then the same tracks after.  All with the HE400 headphones.

 

After I was done, what I realized was that the difference was similar to replacing a power amplifier (for speakers) with a higher wattage amplifier.  The PS15 seemed to improve the bass quality (not the quantity) - making the bass less "loose" and less "boomy" - in other words tighter.  It also gave everything a little more crispness, impact and dynamics.

 

All of this was just a little - just somewhat - and yet was noticeable on a variety of different tracks.

 

So, my feeling was that it was worth the US$23 shipped - somewhat less than a vintage tube - I bought it on ebay from a store that had a quantity of them to sell.

 

Thanks to the previous posters who shared their experiences with the PS15.

 

By the way, it occurred to me that the Bellari tube phono preamps have undoubtedly sold a lot more than the headphone amp, and so there might be some recommendations for a higher quality DC Power Supply (something like a $50-$100 product)  in audiophile Forum threads on those phono preamps. 

 

 

Did you try the PS15 with any other HP's?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by desertblues View Post

Thanks for the heads up on the Bellari manual update. One thing I would take issue with is the statement that tubes need no warmup beyond 30 seconds! I notice a distinct sonic improvement when my amp has been on for 40 minutes or so-and this has been true with many tubes. The overall sound becomes fuller and the characteristics of different tubes are more pronounced to my ears. Anyone else notice this?

I made the mistake of firing up my headphone set-up with the tubes less than warmed up, it was like hearing molasses drip off a table. I leave the amp on   prior to listening for more than 10 minutes now but I really haven't timed it out beyond that.

post #56 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUMAY408 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

So the PS15 arrived.  I listened to a bunch of my usual test tracks before installing it and then the same tracks after.  All with the HE400 headphones.

 

After I was done, what I realized was that the difference was similar to replacing a power amplifier (for speakers) with a higher wattage amplifier.  The PS15 seemed to improve the bass quality (not the quantity) - making the bass less "loose" and less "boomy" - in other words tighter.  It also gave everything a little more crispness, impact and dynamics.

 

All of this was just a little - just somewhat - and yet was noticeable on a variety of different tracks.

 

So, my feeling was that it was worth the US$23 shipped - somewhat less than a vintage tube - I bought it on ebay from a store that had a quantity of them to sell.

 

Thanks to the previous posters who shared their experiences with the PS15.

 

By the way, it occurred to me that the Bellari tube phono preamps have undoubtedly sold a lot more than the headphone amp, and so there might be some recommendations for a higher quality DC Power Supply (something like a $50-$100 product)  in audiophile Forum threads on those phono preamps. 

 

 

Did you try the PS15 with any other HP's?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by desertblues View Post

Thanks for the heads up on the Bellari manual update. One thing I would take issue with is the statement that tubes need no warmup beyond 30 seconds! I notice a distinct sonic improvement when my amp has been on for 40 minutes or so-and this has been true with many tubes. The overall sound becomes fuller and the characteristics of different tubes are more pronounced to my ears. Anyone else notice this?

I made the mistake of firing up my headphone set-up with the tubes less than warmed up, it was like hearing molasses drip off a table. I leave the amp on   prior to listening for more than 10 minutes now but I really haven't timed it out beyond that.

I have not yet tried the PS15 with any other headphones... holiday stuff is going to push that into January...

 

I seem to remember  reading "20 minutes" as a recommended period of time to warm up audio tubes before listening.

post #57 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post

Bellari (Rolls) quietly updated the Manual for the HA-540 on their web site (they did not change the file number, but it is longer and is now dated 9/12 instead of 6/10).  The main difference is that - for the first time - they acknowledge that it uses tubes, and talk about different tubes that can be used in it.   They have come to the same conclusion that we have - that Telefunken tubes sound the best in this amp - and mention this explicitly.   See:

 

http://www.rolls.com/pdf/M_HA540.pdf

 Hey The Telefunken tube for these.. What is the number I am looking for? Is it a 12AX7 as well?

post #58 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by ematthews View Post

 Hey The Telefunken tube for these.. What is the number I am looking for? Is it a 12AX7 as well?

12AX7.  Look for NOS and preferably from the 1960's or earlier.  Unless you really care what the stenciling looks like you can buy for less than $60 off several eBay sites.  

post #59 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUMAY408 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ematthews View Post

 Hey The Telefunken tube for these.. What is the number I am looking for? Is it a 12AX7 as well?

12AX7.  Look for NOS and preferably from the 1960's or earlier.  Unless you really care what the stenciling looks like you can buy for less than $60 off several eBay sites.  

If you are patient, you can get them for under US$40 on ebay.   Look for both sides of the tube (left and right channels) to be as close to each other as possible.  Look for tube meter test readings in the description (don't settle for mere descriptions like "look and sound great!", only  buy if there are test readings for both sides of the tube).   Of course, look for sellers with good feedback.

 

See my long post in this thread at:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/618667/tube-rolling-for-bellari-ha540/30#post_8831503

 

for a description of the sound difference between ribbed and smooth plate Telefunkens.

 

BTW, "NOS" means New Old Stock which means a tube that has never been used, and that is actually rare and expensive, and unnecessary, since a good used Telefunken can provide years of good service.  I prefer "Vintage" as a term for tubes that were not made in 2012.


Edited by kstuart - 1/16/13 at 8:18pm
post #60 of 65

By the way, while I have lots of experience with a variety of speaker amps, and have used headphones for years with receivers and pro gear, I have only used a couple of specialized headphone amplifiers - the Bellari and a CmoyBB.   So, I decided to try the new Schiit Magni US$100 solid state headphone amplifier.  Schiit makes exclusively headphone amps and DACs, and are well regarded (with lots of high-end audio experience).  Hearing the Magni with my Shure 1840 and HiFiMan 400 headphones would give me a good, modern reference point.  (And of course, if they were better than the Bellari, then I would keep the Magni.)

 

Overall, I found that the Magni had some good qualities, it was relatively detailed - especially for a US$100 amp.  However, I found it to also be somewhat "congested" and had a slight very fine grittiness at times to the sound.   In contrast, the Bellari is always very smooth and clear.  In addition, with the HE-400, the Magni has insufficient quantity of bass - something that requires the HE-400's excellent bass performance to bring out.  (Another reviewer of the Magni has also commented about this.)

 

I ended up using Schiit's 15-day return policy, but it was interesting to finally compare the Bellari directly to another high quality desktop headphone amplifier - it gives me more confidence that the Bellari is indeed a good choice in its price class.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Tube Rolling for Bellari HA540