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ALO Pan Am desktop/portable headphone amp/DAC: Impressions and Reviews - Page 8

post #106 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmcs414 View Post

 

I was under the impression the burn-in the amp needed was about more than just the tubes...was I wrong in that?  

 

Put the headphones back on my head for a few moments this morning before work.  Still doesn't sound as amazing as I'd expected.  Bass is light, highs are harsh, grating.  I'm starting to get nervous.  Little did I suspect when I went from a EF5/HE-500 rig to a ALO PanAm/LCD-2.2 rig I would be disappointed, but I am so far.  I really hope it's the burn-in thing.  The previous owner of these headphones said they had about 150 hours on them - perhaps they too are still burning in?  I just don't know...reassure me folks?  redface.gif

 

So for clarity my source is a PC running J River, (no DSPs enabled or any EQ) using the Pan Am's DAC, and the amp is connected to the Passport.  I'm on the high gain setting, and have been playing around with adjusting amp volume vs J River volume, but that's the only tweaking I'm doing.  Have been burning in for perhaps 10 hours, give or take. 

Burning process is making the SQ even better but from the start you should already have a good quality... maybe you got some issues regarding your usb cable or usb port??

post #107 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by noxway View Post

Burning process is making the SQ even better but from the start you should already have a good quality... maybe you got some issues regarding your usb cable or usb port??

I just purchased a brand new USB cable for this purpose.  Not an audiophile cable, just a decent Belkin USB 2.0 from Fry's.  

 

What I plan to do when I get home is compare the sound using the Pan Am's DAC against my FiiO E17 as the DAC.  Perhaps I'll notice some differences and can at least rule out something in my rig from potentially causing a problem.  

 

Should I expect that the FiiO will sound considerably worse than using the onboard DAC in the Pan Am?  I'll need to use the E17's headphone out to feed the Pan Am, but I've done so before with my last rig (Hifiman EF5/HE-500) without ill effects.    


Edited by dmcs414 - 1/9/13 at 1:47pm
post #108 of 668

I plan on getting the HE-400 soon and have been debating between the Pan Am and Asgard/Bifrost combo.  Could anyone offer their take on what would be the better combination?  Not really concerned about size or portability.  Main concerns are soundstage and bass.  Also any impressions on the Gateway power supply?  How noticable is the difference?  Any advice is appreciated!

post #109 of 668
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatmanSize48 View Post

Just wondering-how do you know when a tube is towards "the end."

It's the coughing, the sunken eyes, the sudden uptick of lethargy. 

post #110 of 668
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxjam View Post

I plan on getting the HE-400 soon and have been debating between the Pan Am and Asgard/Bifrost combo.  Could anyone offer their take on what would be the better combination?  Not really concerned about size or portability.  Main concerns are soundstage and bass.  Also any impressions on the Gateway power supply?  How noticable is the difference?  Any advice is appreciated!

The GateWay is a nice accessory to be sure, but the absolute killer accessory is the Passport. I simply can't recommend it enough. When you can take a desktop amp around with you (though it is smaller than most), plug into your netbook or your favourite portable system and enjoy massive headphones or smaller earphones from valves - on the go... you have something special. If you had to decide between one or the other, get the passport. Battery power is always cleaner than mains power. And you get 8-10 hours from the pack. It's essential. 

post #111 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

It's the coughing, the sunken eyes, the sudden uptick of lethargy. 

Oh dear.

post #112 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatmanSize48 View Post

Just wondering-how do you know when a tube is towards "the end."

Lower sound output, muddy sound, loss of dynamics and punch, strange noises on quite passages are some tell tale signs.  

post #113 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmcs414 View Post

 

I was under the impression the burn-in the amp needed was about more than just the tubes...was I wrong in that?  

 

Put the headphones back on my head for a few moments this morning before work.  Still doesn't sound as amazing as I'd expected.  Bass is light, highs are harsh, grating.  I'm starting to get nervous.  Little did I suspect when I went from a EF5/HE-500 rig to a ALO PanAm/LCD-2.2 rig I would be disappointed, but I am so far.  I really hope it's the burn-in thing.  The previous owner of these headphones said they had about 150 hours on them - perhaps they too are still burning in?  I just don't know...reassure me folks?  redface.gif

 

So for clarity my source is a PC running J River, (no DSPs enabled or any EQ) using the Pan Am's DAC, and the amp is connected to the Passport.  I'm on the high gain setting, and have been playing around with adjusting amp volume vs J River volume, but that's the only tweaking I'm doing.  Have been burning in for perhaps 10 hours, give or take. 

 

My Pan Am sounded good out of the box, but I'm feeding mine from a stand alone DAC, so changing the DAC up might be worth a try.

 

It sounds like you want less treble and more bass. If it were me, I would try a different set of tubes before you give up on the amp, but that is a choice that only you can make. Unless there is something horribly wrong with your amp, it should sound very good and a tube change will change can change up the amps sound palate quite noticeably. 

 

For example, my 1980's Voshkods are sitting in their boxes. I'm not bashing the Voshkods a lot of people love them and if someone does, then great, but they are not my cup of tea. The highs are too forward for me, but my 1980's set has taught bass, but it was not the deepest. You can find some good tube deals on e-bay or give Brent Jessie a call and have him hook you up with a tested NOS set. 

 

You could also call ALO on the phone either Caleb or Josh might have some suggestions to tweak the setup with JRIVER. Also, ALO has the Siemens tubes which i have read sound bright out of the box, but most say get really good after 40-hours. They might swap them for you if you don't like the Voshkods.

 

Good Luck

post #114 of 668

Speaking of the Pan Am, CNet from Steve Guttenberg:
When I had started listening with my computer I was using the AudioQuest Dragonfly USB digital-to-analog converter feeding the Pan Am's analog input. The sound was wonderful, but when I switched over to the amp's internal DAC, the sound was significantly more transparent and pure. That surprised me; the Dragonfly is exceptional, so it's nice to know there's no need to spring for a separate DAC with the Pan Am. Spurred on, I plugged in my hard-to-drive Hifiman HE-500 planar magnetic headphones, and the Pan Am obliged again, and delivered even better sound."

 

one comment: "I LOVE the pairing w/ my Audeze LCD3's! I especially enjoy the Pan Am when using the Passport battery pack (such a low noisefloor its phenomenal). I've heard multi-thousand dollar head-amp/DACs that don't draw me into the music like the Pan Am does."

 
So I imagine the DAC isn't this bad...
post #115 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsn View Post

Lower sound output, muddy sound, loss of dynamics and punch, strange noises on quite passages are some tell tale signs.  

 

And depending on the tube and the amp architecture, increased channel imbalances.

post #116 of 668

I appreciate all the feedback everyone!  Some bits of good news to report --  trying the rig out with the FiiO E17 as the DAC only degraded the sound quality - rather horribly I might add.  That experience also lent additional weight to my other theory, that to a certain extent I'm succumbing (and against my better nature) to expectation bias in the worst way.  But we'll see; still some more experimentation to do. 

 

On the topic of tubes, I did roll in the stock tubes last night to see if I noticed any meaningful difference between them and the Voshkods; none I could observe.  I also spent probably way too much time fiddling with a fresh foobar installation to compare with my standard J River, but no meaningful conclusions drawn as of yet.  Also scouring eBay for Mullards & other rolling candidates.  If anyone has suggestions on that front, I'm all ears!

 

All that said, as I sit here listening to Grimes and typing this, I'm noticing only things that impress me about the sound, as opposed to the opposite like I had experienced those first 24 hours after getting everything.  Maybe it was just these tubes needing to burn in after all.  Without any EQ or DSP enabled of any kind in foobar, I'm hearing what to my ears is an exceedingly neutral and delightfully fleshed out presentation across the range.  The bass in particular is not remotely anemic sounding like it was before.  It's not at the level of the other LCD-2 I heard either, but it's most definitely there and I'm liking it.  

 

One last note-  this weekend I'll be getting together with a local Head-fi'er friend for some listening and rig tweaking and whatnot.  (He owns my old Hifiman HE-500s and EF5 as it happens)  So, I'll have a rig to A/B against that I know intimately, should I still require more evidence.  And a proper external DAC to try out to boot, (he bought a Mogi recently) -- but, really at this point I don't think it's necessary.  I'll report back again after the weekend.  Thanks again! 


Edited by dmcs414 - 1/10/13 at 9:04am
post #117 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmcs414 View Post

I appreciate all the feedback everyone!  Some bits of good news to report --  trying the rig out with the FiiO E17 as the DAC only degraded the sound quality - rather horribly I might add.  That experience also lent additional weight to my other theory, that to a certain extent I'm succumbing (and against my better nature) to expectation bias in the worst way.  But we'll see; still some more experimentation to do. 

 

On the topic of tubes, I did roll in the stock tubes last night to see if I noticed any meaningful difference between them and the Voshkods; none I could observe.  I also spent probably way too much time fiddling with a fresh foobar installation to compare with my standard J River, but no meaningful conclusions drawn as of yet.  Also scouring eBay for Mullards & other rolling candidates.  If anyone has suggestions on that front, I'm all ears!

 

All that said, as I sit here listening to Grimes and typing this, I'm noticing only things that impress me about the sound, as opposed to the opposite like I had experienced those first 24 hours after getting everything.  Maybe it was just these tubes needing to burn in after all.  Without any EQ or DSP enabled of any kind in foobar, I'm hearing what to my ears is an exceedingly neutral and delightfully fleshed out presentation across the range.  The bass in particular is not remotely anemic sounding like it was before.  It's not at the level of the other LCD-2 I heard either, but it's most definitely there and I'm liking it.  

 

One last note-  this weekend I'll be getting together with a local Head-fi'er friend for some listening and rig tweaking and whatnot.  (He owns my old Hifiman HE-500s and EF5 as it happens)  So, I'll have a rig to A/B against that I know intimately, should I still require more evidence.  And a proper external DAC to try out to boot, (he bought a Mogi recently) -- but, really at this point I don't think it's necessary.  I'll report back again after the weekend.  Thanks again! 

I bought a pair of Mullard CV4010 from vintage_audio_lab on eBay. They are based out of Taiwan. The shipping to Canada was quick and the tubes arrived in Canada in about a week. The bass reponse of the Mullard tubes is better than other tubes I've tried. Worth checking out if you feel your PanAm lacks bass. 

post #118 of 668

Has anyone tried the Pan Am with custom IEMs? I have a pair of JH5s and HE400s. I'm slightly afraid they are too low impedance for the Pan Am...

post #119 of 668
Thread Starter 

I've tried them with FitEar 333, Sleek Audio CT7 and the universal version of the FitEar MH334, the ToGo! 334. The CT7 is probably the best of that bunch. Still, a higher Ω earphone is recommended. 

post #120 of 668
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrumbleFish View Post

Has anyone tried the Pan Am with custom IEMs? I have a pair of JH5s and HE400s. I'm slightly afraid they are too low impedance for the Pan Am...


I also have tried the Pan Am with UM Merlins, great sound. But they sound much faster cleaner from my VorzAMP.

 

Is the built-in-DAC very important? Because the HE400 is quite easy to drive, and maybe there are better solutions for you to be both portable (if needed) + better driving of your JH5's.

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