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Cavalli Liquid Fire vs HeadAmp GS-X vs Woo Aduio WA22, WA5le vs Eddie Current Balancing Act vs...

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Cavalli Liquid Fire vs HeadAmp GS-X vs Woo Aduio WA22, WA5le vs Eddie Current Balancing Act vs Audio GD Master 8 vs RSA Dark Star vs SPL Phonitor

 

Owned one?  Multiple?  There are some major differences between these amps, but if you had to choose one to live with what would it be? Post your thoughts!

post #2 of 23

Whoa, that's a lot of choices!  

 

What headphones are you using? What's your rough system budget?

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Whoa, that's a lot of choices!  

 

What headphones are you using? What's your rough system budget?

 

I am trying not to concern myself with the budget too much,  In the long run I believe you save money by making the right choice the first time.   That being said I think the most expensive amplifiers on the list are around the 4k mark, so if you have other suggestions lets keep them in the sub 4k range.   Headphones?  Who knows what I might throw at it but I want it to able to power any of the titans like the LCD's, Hd 800's, various Hifi Man's, Modded T50rp's and so on.

post #4 of 23

Are you in the US?  The issue is I wouldn't call one amp "perfect" for driving everything from the most to least sensitive in the market.  All the headphones you're looking for though are less sensitive, and for those I woud suggest the Balancing Act or Cavalli Liquid Glass.  Where do you live? (That gives an idea to your ability to audition, demo, etc)

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Are you in the US?  The issue is I wouldn't call one amp "perfect" for driving everything from the most to least sensitive in the market.  All the headphones you're looking for though are less sensitive, and for those I woud suggest the Balancing Act or Cavalli Liquid Glass.  Where do you live? (That gives an idea to your ability to audition, demo, etc)


I can dig the point you are making. The reason I listed the cans I did was to imply that I am not looking for perfect pairing with any particular headphones,  more so something that will not limit my pairing options down the road.   I live in San Francisco (good second hand market out here).


Edited by Maximilian - 10/15/12 at 3:06pm
post #6 of 23

The Balancing Act works the best with the largest variety of headphones.  The Liquid Fire is also good, as is the B22 and GS-X.  Woo is hit-or-miss with different headphones as it has a much more "tubey" coloration.  The other amps on your list I either haven't heard or don't want to comment on.  There are meets and members who live nearby you with a lot of this gear - it may be possible to arrange auditions/mini meets.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The Balancing Act works the best with the largest variety of headphones.  The Liquid Fire is also good, as is the B22 and GS-X.  Woo is hit-or-miss with different headphones as it has a much more "tubey" coloration.  The other amps on your list I either haven't heard or don't want to comment on.  There are meets and members who live nearby you with a lot of this gear - it may be possible to arrange auditions/mini meets.


Useful information!  The GS-X was very attractive to me simply because it has Balanced XLR outputs,  but I read in a thread somewhere that it may be short on power for louder listening volumes.  It sounds like you have owned one, can you comment?   I also read that in the case of some balanced amps, such as the wa22, the balanced outputs are actually there for the convenience of connectivity but do not actually offer any benefits over single ended.   Would be nice to get a list of the "true" balanced head amps. 6moons did an article on the benefits of using double ended balanced headphones that seemed pretty convincing so it would be nice to take advantage of that if at all possible.  On the other if someone like Jack who makes some of the most beautiful and well respected amps around is more concerned with balanced inputs, it suggests maybe I should not concern myself with the matter too much.  I actually emailed him recently to ask that very question to which he replied, "It is not the connector that matters the most. We are concerning the headphone cable quality."  - Seems fair.

 


Edited by Maximilian - 10/15/12 at 3:34pm
post #8 of 23

The GS-X is the only amp I mentioned that I've never owned - I had it on a loan for two weeks from a friend to decide whether to buy one or not.  At the time I didn't own any planars so can't commet on how it would drive the most demanding phones.  Justin is currently reworking it, its possible he is making it more powerful as well.  The only headphone I paired with the GS-X that wasn't optimal was the HD800 but that says more about the headphones' shortcomings than the amp.  Cavalli is also releasing a solid state fully balanced amp called the Liquid Gold in the near future but I have no idea how that sounds.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The GS-X is the only amp I mentioned that I've never owned - I had it on a loan for two weeks from a friend to decide whether to buy one or not.  At the time I didn't own any planars so can't commet on how it would drive the most demanding phones.  Justin is currently reworking it, its possible he is making it more powerful as well.  The only headphone I paired with the GS-X that wasn't optimal was the HD800 but that says more about the headphones' shortcomings than the amp.  Cavalli is also releasing a solid state fully balanced amp called the Liquid Gold in the near future but I have no idea how that sounds.

 

Balanced Cavalli sounds promising,  any idea of the pre-order/release date or price?  Too bad about the Hd800 pairing, will certainly be using those from time to time.  May I ask what you have now and why?

post #10 of 23

The Cavalli won't be released in the next couple months, so if you're in the market now it's a no-go.  I'm sure there are those who enjoy the HD800 with the GS-X out there, but I wasn't one of them.

 

I've owned or auditioned quite a few the last three years, but have stuck with the Balancing Act.  I guess I've never spelled out on these forums why I like this amp so much: I haven't found a headphone yet which it didn't do well.  I guess the HE-6/K1K could be better served  at ear-splitting volumes on other amps but that's about it's only limitation.  Can also be used as a darn good pre if you have a speaker system, has a wealth of good tube rolling options, can output to three headphones at once using it's three jacks (if that's something you would need), built well for a fair price compared to components and build time and is gorgeous (to my eyes) to boot.  The only "downside" is that it's a dynamic amp and I find myself gravitating towards electrostats more and more these days...

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

The Cavalli won't be released in the next couple months, so if you're in the market now it's a no-go.  I'm sure there are those who enjoy the HD800 with the GS-X out there, but I wasn't one of them.

 

I've owned or auditioned quite a few the last three years, but have stuck with the Balancing Act.  I guess I've never spelled out on these forums why I like this amp so much: I haven't found a headphone yet which it didn't do well.  I guess the HE-6/K1K could be better served  at ear-splitting volumes on other amps but that's about it's only limitation.  Can also be used as a darn good pre if you have a speaker system, has a wealth of good tube rolling options, can output to three headphones at once using it's three jacks (if that's something you would need), built well for a fair price compared to components and build time and is gorgeous (to my eyes) to boot.  The only "downside" is that it's a dynamic amp and I find myself gravitating towards electrostats more and more these days...


I hear you there,  I myself have been lusting at the 009's.  I convinced myself against it for the time being just because I do enjoy heavy bass from time to time and for the price of a 009 rig, I would feel a bit limited.   As of now you have put the BA at the top of my list, how long did the build take?  What was the final ticket price?

post #12 of 23

My build took 8 weeks.  A bit over 4K with the pot upgrade I took, which is purely optional.  There's a big thread on it here.  There's plenty of people in CA who own EC gear, so chances of getting to listen before biting the bullet are good.

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

My build took 8 weeks.  A bit over 4K with the pot upgrade I took, which is purely optional.  There's a big thread on it here.  There's plenty of people in CA who own EC gear, so chances of getting to listen before biting the bullet are good.


Thank you for all the info!   Just curious, since you are a BA owner you might have looked at some other balanced amps,  if so,  what were they and how did they stack up?

post #14 of 23

For tube amp you will need to factor in tubes cost as well. For BA, you got a choice of either having your amp wired for PX4/300B or 2A3/45 (not both), and different type of tube (& the quality of tube) will price differently. Apart from this, for BA you might also want to upgrade the volume pot which costs $320 and there is of course P&P cost as well as tax.


Edited by SleepyOne - 10/15/12 at 4:29pm
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximilian View Post


Thank you for all the info!   Just curious, since you are a BA owner you might have looked at some other balanced amps,  if so,  what were they and how did they stack up?

Tried others, the B22, GS-X, LF, WA5 - they all had their plusses (WA5 was great with the K1000, LF was a good all-arounder, B22 was a solid amp for planars) but as I said the BA did the best with the most - especially the HD800 and Audeze, which are my favorites.  It is also supposed to mate wonderfully with high efficiency like Grado, Denon, Fostex dynamics, etc., though I haven't owned any of those since I've owned the BA

 

The ones I have not had the chance to try that I have wondered about is the DNA Stratus and the Apex Pinnacle

 

As sleepy said, tube cost is also a factor, though the stock EH for $150 and TS for $20 are still pretty darn good. 

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