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Audio-gd Compass 2 amp/DAC Impressions thread - Page 22

post #316 of 434
Does it pair ok with HD800 as DAC/amp?
And if so, which version should i get?
post #317 of 434
FYI, I've been contemplating whether to go with the Compass2 or NFB28 and I've discussed this with Kingwa to a great length (much kudos to him). I've come to the following conclusions:

- In single-ended use they're very similar
- The NFB28 has the benefit of a balanced design, enabling one to use balanced inputs (RCA vs XLR related differences) and balanced output (which in theory should make the headphone sound a bit better and more controlled + the balanced design of the amp, which should make the amp section a bit better)
- The balanced output is basically the one thing that makes the NFB28 better (single ended vs balanced termination)
- NFB28 uses digital relay controls and digital volume control, which he says is better even sonically, I personally like ALPS analogue volume pots just as much and not really sure about sonic merits
- NFB28 uses an R-core transformer while the C2 uses a smaller 'high quality' 45W transformer. No idea if that makes a difference
- DAC section is identical
C2 has a line in through an op-amp, NFB28 has a direct input.
- With the stock op-amp, difference [line-in vs direct] should be small if any (my guess)
- C2 can roll DACs, and op-amps for line in, NFB28 cannot
- Both have plenty of power to drive everything short of the HE-6

In the end I went with the Compass because going balanced would mean further investments (cables or even sources or converters) and without using the balanced output the difference is 'slight' since the DAC and single-ended amp sections are almost identical. (C2 is slightly more powerful even).

In conclusion if you are ready for balanced get the NFB28 (or upper models), if you roll single-ended (I only utilize the USB in and line in and a SE output is more viable for me cause most headphones come like that... Reterminatiom or balanced cables = money over budget...) spring for the C2.

Both amazing units for the price smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by conquerator2 - 6/2/14 at 2:14am
post #318 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by conquerator2 View Post

EDIT: But 'tis a different decision :/
EDIT2: Bought the Compass 2 w/ ESS9018! HYPE!
How'd you describe the ESS Compass 2's signature? It's neutral, right? 

Agd has got a house sound of its own, never sound harsh or digital to me. Even though there are different implementation, ess will sound specifically most neutral, no emphasize on a certain band. Different implementation gives you slightly more to the neutral side of forwardness or warmness, making certain bands go ever so slightly fuller dependent on the cans you use with it.
Just remember to give it a few hundred hours of usage to really make an impression, though it might already sound good enough out of the box ,and they matches well with most full size cans, no disappointment with your new cans as well.
Enjoy!
Edited by sayh - 5/29/14 at 5:05pm
post #319 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by sayh View Post

Agd has got a house sound of its own, never sound harsh or digital to me. Even though there are different implementation, ess will sound specifically most neutral, no emphasize on a certain band. Different implementation gives you slightly more to the neutral side of forwardness or warmness, making certain bands go ever so slightly fuller dependent on the cans you use with it.
Just remember to give it a few hundred hours of usage to really make an impression, though it might already sound good enough out of the box ,and they matches well with most full size cans, no disappointment with your new cans as well.
Enjoy!

Nice to hear, thanks smily_headphones1.gif
post #320 of 434

Ok, Just received the Compass 2 ESS9018, going through USB32 [ASIO] - amp part - K612s

And wow :basshead: Loving it, even with the Ks, Mstage is no contest, it's a different sound but it's smoother and so faaaaaaast and tiiiiiiiiiiight but still so dynamic. Damn, hats off to Kingwa.

Mstage sounds slow and romantic in comparison... but different strokes for different people :cool:

 

This is pre-burned in, so I'll receive my final judgment for after that [it's a bit sibilant, but I blame the K612 too as it has more or less sibilance with anything]

 

Also, the knobs - not working as I expected... The other way around they work, it turns out.

 

But so happy so far :gs1000smile: [EDIT: Clinical? Nope... Very neutral & transparent, tons of details... Gives you exactly what's in the recording IMO]

 

EDIT: So far C2 - very good center stage, left and right panning, good holographic soundstage - defines a good very good amp/DAC/headphone. MStage did not exhibit such refinement, but it was more musical and 1/2 price. K612 never sounded better, but it also reveals a headphone's shortcomings.

 

[FYI, line in and USB [selector 1] can't be used at the same time. It just won't work so to use line in, you have to switch the selector to 2 or 3]. I suspect it has to do with the relay muting but it's only a minor hassle. Plus, the USB hum through line in.


Edited by conquerator2 - 6/6/14 at 1:27pm
post #321 of 434

Glad to hear you're liking it Conquerator - yeah it's most certainly not cold and clinical as you point out :) You'll need a lot of burn in to get the sound to mature btw, exactly as Kingwa recommends!

 

I've got to step up and seriously get better headphones to match this amp, but my eyes are on the AKG 712's which people say would suit the warmer Wolfson addon board for the C2 (which I haven't got yet).

post #322 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Glad to hear you're liking it Conquerator - yeah it's most certainly not cold and clinical as you point out :) You'll need a lot of burn in to get the sound to mature btw, exactly as Kingwa recommends!

 

I've got to step up and seriously get better headphones to match this amp, but my eyes are on the AKG 712's which people say would suit the warmer Wolfson addon board for the C2 (which I haven't got yet).

Yeah, thanks Sal,

The C2 certainly sounds better each day.

Also, FYI, the K712 [K612s higher brother], that is if it's signature is like the K612s, but perhaps even more musical, might not benefit so much from the Wolfsons IMO...

Certainly would first try the K712 with the Sabre and only then think about the WMs.

 

I thought about getting the WM chip right away when I heard the C2 with the K612 but with time [and burn in] that notion is fading away :]  

post #323 of 434

Take some times for your brain to adjust.

As long as it's not hard or glary (as in lack of refinement), a brighter sound is not a bad thing per se.

post #324 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

Take some times for your brain to adjust.

As long as it's not hard or glary (as in lack of refinement), a brighter sound is not a bad thing per se.

Not even bright, just very neutral & revealing.

Possibly the most revealing piece of kit I've ever owned.

Makes distinguishing between different music genres & quality so easy for better or worse, but it's quite amazing.

I am thinking this is the brink of diminishing returns as there's not much more improvement I could imagine, at least now.

Things sound just so clear and easy to pinpoint, it's mental!

post #325 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by conquerator2 View Post

Not even bright, just very neutral & revealing.
Possibly the most revealing piece of kit I've ever owned.
Makes distinguishing between different music genres & quality so easy for better or worse, but it's quite amazing.
I am thinking this is the brink of diminishing returns as there's not much more improvement I could imagine, at least now.
Things sound just so clear and easy to pinpoint, it's mental!

popcorn.gif
Great, now that it is turning out to be amazing.
Not trying to tempt you, but wait you hear its upper tier siblings and has an intention to go balanced some day.
Keep reporting back till you hit the 300hr mark then. wink.gif
post #326 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by sayh View Post


popcorn.gif
Great, now that it is turning out to be amazing.
Not trying to tempt you, but wait you hear its upper tier siblings and has an intention to go balanced some day.
Keep reporting back till you hit the 300hr mark then. wink.gif

That's something I am always ready for, provided I have funds to spare :D

I am sure it gets a little better with each tier but right now I am not feeling like I am missing anything with the C2 and I really know that feeling very well :cool:

I'll be reporting back :]

post #327 of 434

Maybe it's in this thread already, apologize if not searched well enough.

 

Has anyone compared the Compass 2 to the NFB-11 with SABRE?  I'm curious if there are any sonic differences.

post #328 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSandDigital View Post
 

Maybe it's in this thread already, apologize if not searched well enough.

 

Has anyone compared the Compass 2 to the NFB-11 with SABRE?  I'm curious if there are any sonic differences.

I'd imagine the C2 is quite a bit better.

- The amp part is more powerful [and I think I remember reading somewhere NFB11 being worse in this regard]

- C2 is twice as heavy and eats twice as much power

- DAC part should be similar

- C2 uses higher quality parts [better potentiometer, higher grade transformer, better resistors, etc] but no idea if that actually affects things much

 

On the outside the NFB11 looks like a poor man's C2 but the insides leave me a bit dubious... You can always ask Kingwa, he's honest about this stuff.

post #329 of 434
It will get confusing if you guys starting calling the Compass2 "C2" like the series of A-gd amplifiers of the same designation.

Kingwa might not have any C2 variants for sale right now, but I wouldn't bet that he has discontinued them permanently.
post #330 of 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by conquerator2 View Post
 

I'd imagine the C2 is quite a bit better.

- The amp part is more powerful [and I think I remember reading somewhere NFB11 being worse in this regard]

- C2 is twice as heavy and eats twice as much power

- DAC part should be similar

- C2 uses higher quality parts [better potentiometer, higher grade transformer, better resistors, etc] but no idea if that actually affects things much

 

On the outside the NFB11 looks like a poor man's C2 but the insides leave me a bit dubious... You can always ask Kingwa, he's honest about this stuff.

 

 

Yeah, it's questionable if the parts are higher quality or not other than maybe potentiometer since even Bryston doesn't use the discrete resistors Kingwa likes to use.  And it's also questionable if those "higher" grade parts would provide better sound which is why I was asking.  I know there have been complaints about the previous NFB-11/12 for the amp.  

 

I have the NFB-12 I believe, dual WM8741 and I use the 8x minimal phase, 24/48 with all my music, movies and games.  I have a DIY modded Tripath chip amp, converted to power amp, the NFB has been great functioning as a pre-amp.  So that's where I am right now.

 

I'm looking to create a second system with possibly a Compass/NFB-11 (Sabre), a better Tripath Amp.  Also considering getting the Oppo PM-2 when it's released, so looking for a Amp/DAC worthy of it without upsetting the significant other :/


Edited by SSandDigital - 6/10/14 at 10:52am
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