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Transportable/battery-driven high-end amplifiers

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

After meticulous searches I don't seem to find a specific thread for this subject...

 

Background:

 

  • Most can agree that battery-powered electronics removes a lot of problems related PSU's in amplifiers.
  • Some of us still want to be able to move our rig. I know the majority doesn't... But some. [E.g. Audez'e demoed the closed back-prototype with a CLAS+Rx MkIII]
  • The power/sound in most mid-fi amplifiers isn't sufficient for a >1000$-headphone.

 

So... My wish is that we can join all the knowledge available regarding these amps (if there are any).

 


 

Mid-price [400-1000 USD] amps not included; See the "Portable headphone amps" section of Head-Fi:

  • ALO Audio Rx Mk3-B - Price: 649 USD (US); Single-ended/Balanced
  • ALO Audio The Continental v2 - Price: 529 USD (US); Single-ended
  • ALO Audio The Pan-Am w/ Passport-battery-pack - Price: 699 USD (US); Single-ended
  • GoVibe Porta Tube/(+) - Price: 650/750 (+) USD (US); Single-ended
  • RSA SR-71A - Price: 450 USD (US); Single-ended
  • RSA SR-71B - Price: 650 USD (US); Single-ended/Balanced
  • RSA The Intruder - Price 700 USD (US); Single-ended/Balanced
  • Triad Audio L3 - Price: 800 USD (US); Single-ended
  • Vorzüge VorzAMP Pure/Duo - Price 430/520 USD (EU); Single-ended

 


 

Red Wine Audio (RWA) Audez'e Edition

 

In short:

Balanced, Tube-DAC + Headphone amp (4-pin XLR), RCA Pre-out, 4 kg/9 lbs

 

Price:

4000 USD (US) w/o headphones directly from RWA.

4900 USD to 6225 USD (US) with LCD-2 or LCD-3 + ALO Audio-cable + custom carrying case from ALO Audio/Audez'e.

 

Details:

Red Wine Audio - Audez'e Edition - Official product webpage

 

More info and/or reviews:

InnerFidelity review

Head-Fi Skylab's review

Head-Fi Audez'e Edition System - Owner's Thread and Impressions

 

Pics:

 

Pics borrowed from RWA official site; permission obtained to use them in this thread

 


 

Red Wine Audio (RWA) Corvinia

 

In short:

Headphone amp (1/4" TRS or 4-pin XLR), 2xRCA inputs, 2,7 kg/6 lbs

 

Price:

1000/1500 USD (US) Single-ended/Balanced (+100 USD, optional 12Vdc output jack)

 

Details:

Red Wine Audio - Corvinia - Official product webpage

 

More info and/or reviews:

CNET/Steve Guttenberg review

 

 

Pics:

 

 

Pics borrowed from RWA official site; permission obtained to use them in this thread

 


 

Red Wine Audio (RWA) Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition

 

In short:

Headphone amp (1/4" TRS or 4-pin XLR) + DAC, RCA Pre-out, 3,5 kg/8 lbs

 

Price:

2500 USD/3000 USD (US) Single-ended/Balanced (+500 USD Isabellina Pro DAC; +100 USD, optional 12Vdc output jack)

 

Details:

Red Wine Audio - Isabellina HPA LFP-V - Official product webpage

 

More info and/or reviews:

CNET/Steve Guttenberg review

SoundStage review (older non-LFP-V-version)

Head-Fi Skylab's review

Head-Fi librarian's review

Head-Fi Toob-Toob's review

 

Pics:

 

Pics borrowed from RWA official site; permission obtained to use them in this thread

 


 

M2TECH Vaughan

 

In short:

32bit/384kHz DAC-section, Pre-amp, Headphone amp (1/4" TRS), 10 kg/22 lbs

 

Price:

7999 USD (US)

5995 EUR (EU)

 

Details:

M2TECH - Vaughan - Official product webpage

M2TECH - Vaughan - User manual

 

More info and/or reviews:

Head-Fi rudi0504's review

Dé Durob Audio blog mini-review

 

Pics:

 

Pics borrowed from De Durob Audio Blog

 



Edited by ValentinHogea - 11/7/12 at 3:13am
post #2 of 43

I know only of Red Wine Audio...My own review of Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition is here:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634885/isabellina-hpa-lfp-v-edition-review-and-listening-impressions

post #3 of 43
The Koss E/90 (it comes with the ESP/950 headphones, and in theory can drive STAX headphones with an adapter (from the Koss d-sub to the STAX tube plug)) can run on a battery pack (I forget if it's C or D cell batteries). There's also a STAX amplifier that can do the same, SRD-7Pro or something like that (it's old, you'd have to find it used). AFAIK there is no way to get the E/90 separate from Koss though - you gotta buy the whole set, and the ESP/950 headphones themselves aren't exactly portable (fully open and all).

As far as driving dynamic headphones - I got nothing. But will add that any "desktop" unit that takes DC power (and includes an outboard wall-pack) can be rigged up to a battery pack along the lines of the E/90, depending on how many watts it wants to take in will dictate life. It won't look pretty or be light-weight, but it would be feasible for a "transportable" setup (again, like the E/90).

EDIT -

Someone will probably know more about this than I do (in fact, I guarantee you someone will!) - but aren't there balanced and portable amps from RSA and a few other places that are really stellar performers? For example, I found this one with a quick search:
http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/products/intruder (I know nothing about this, it's what the Duck gave me).
Edited by obobskivich - 11/6/12 at 5:22am
post #4 of 43
Please see My best head amp / dac / pre amp review below :

This is the best All rounder head amp i Ever heard to drive My headphones collection like

LCD 2 rev 3 , LCD 3 , HD 800 , T 1 , ath W 5000

http://www.head-fi.org/t/614399/new-high-end-m2tech-vaughan-3-in-1-dac-head-amp-pre-amp-just-arrived-yesterday
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Someone will probably know more about this than I do (in fact, I guarantee you someone will!) - but aren't there balanced and portable amps from RSA and a few other places that are really stellar performers? For example, I found this one with a quick search:
http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/products/intruder (I know nothing about this, it's what the Duck gave me).

IMHO... I don't consider ALO Audio/RSA-amps to have the performance I'm striving to discuss in this thread. They're good. Especially Pan Am pairs well with Audez'e-phones. But still a bit left compared to big desktop-amps.

Regarding battery-powering amplifiers. That could be an interesting, but since most desktop-amps that fit the performance-level have an IEC-connector (with a built-in PSU) it becomes a bit tricker.

 

You have some excellent points though! :)

post #6 of 43
Thread Starter 

I wanted to inform that I'll update the introductory post with the suggestions that come in (and relevant links to threads etc.).
 

post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ValentinHogea View Post

IMHO... I don't consider ALO Audio/RSA-amps to have the performance I'm striving to discuss in this thread. They're good. Especially Pan Am pairs well with Audez'e-phones. But still a bit left compared to big desktop-amps.

Admittedly I don't follow portable amps that closely, because I tend to use open headphones at home, so it's not something I worry about. I just remembered a discussion a while ago about non-standard connectors starting to appear for balanced drive on portable amps, and that's what the Duck gave me when looking for "portable balanced headphone amplifiers" - I want to say there's another company beyond ALO and RSA that does a battery powered balanced amp too.

The other thing I'd consider, unless you're trying to take something like an HE-6 or K1000 out on the road, most higher-end closed headphones that provide serious isolation (like the Signature Pro, Edition 8, T5p, or AH-D7100) are also usually very easily driven (there seems to be a genre for "high end, closed-back, portable, and iPod compatible" headphones starting to take shape) - so as long as your amplifier is "clean" (good channel tracking, low/no noise (remember, these are all generally very sensitive headphones!), etc) it shouldn't be an "out of power" issue. But if you want to truck your K1000 or HE-6 or whatever around with you, that's another story. tongue.gif
post #8 of 43

Heya,

 

I toyed around with a GoVibe Porta Tube (battery powered portable tube amp).

 

Here's how I did for a portable setup:

 

GoVibe Porta Tube

Hifiman  HE-500

Pelican 1450 case

 

 

Check out the Vulcan+ from GoVibe. It does half a watt nearly.

 

Very best,

post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

Heya,

 

I toyed around with a GoVibe Porta Tube (battery powered portable tube amp).

 

Here's how I did for a portable setup:

 

GoVibe Porta Tube

Hifiman  HE-500

Pelican 1450 case

 

Check out the Vulcan+ from GoVibe. It does half a watt nearly.

 

Very best,

 

Hi MaLVeauX!

 

Thanks for your input. I've read a lot about the Porta Tube. It looks like a great amp. However I have both the Triad Audio L3 and ALO Audio Pan Am, both packing quite a different sound and probably constituting the largest/most expensive/most elaborate amplifiers that mot audiophile would still consider borderline-portable. My scope with this thread was to find the (un)known gems that pack serious power and sound quality, for driving open-back orthos (in my case primarly LCD-3, not considered a "portable headphone") in the way desktop amps can.

 

So I put a >1000 USD-figure as a minimum. I know, price doesn't always equate to quality... But since most <1000 USD-amps are discussed under "Portable headphone amplifiers" on the forum, having a thread under Summit-Fi for >1000 USD-amps seemed logical.

 

I've added the GoVibe Porta Tube+ to the intro-post.

 

All the best,

V


Edited by ValentinHogea - 11/7/12 at 3:28am
post #10 of 43

The new GSX and 4 x 5AH 12V gell cells certainly fits into the transportable

category.

 

Pretty much any home amp with an external power supply can be driven

by batteries.

post #11 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin gilmore View Post

The new GSX and 4 x 5AH 12V gell cells certainly fits into the transportable

category.

 

Pretty much any home amp with an external power supply can be driven

by batteries.


Hi Kevin!

 

Do you mind telling a bit more about the "4x5Ah 12V gell cells"?

post #12 of 43

4 of these

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Power-Sonic/PS-1250F1/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMv8kklI404Qlaoeq7O50GWo

wired in series as +/-24V.  Probably a good idea to add +/-20V regulators to the output of the batteries.

post #13 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin gilmore View Post

4 of these

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Power-Sonic/PS-1250F1/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMv8kklI404Qlaoeq7O50GWo

wired in series as +/-24V.  Probably a good idea to add +/-20V regulators to the output of the batteries.


So it would take some DIY to build an envelope/casing for the batteries and implement the charging input(s) and voltage output.

Hmm... Is there no pre-made solution? Battery-pack or similar? Otherwise, for my part it becomes too complicated and less transportable than a built-in battery.

post #14 of 43

Very very interesting thread. Thanks a lot ValentinHogea

 

The most interesting of the list seems to be the RWA Audeze Edition, but it's 16/48 kHz limitation from USB is not very convenient since it need a USB-to-SPDIF adapter to get 24/192 kHz.   I sent a mail to RWA to see if they have a new "full 24/192 kHz version" planned...  Otherwise the RWA Corvina + a portable DAC may do the trick, but this becomes a 3 pieces solution (Source + dac + amp)

 

The very best solution could be a battery powered version of the Resonessence Invictahttp://resonessencelabs.com/ ). It has all that is needed (Very modern DAC, Good 2xheadphones amp, small enclosure, and... can decode music directly from it's SD Card reader, so... no need for a source ! tongue_smile.gif).  

 

This project will 'just" need to take the internal power supply out of the case and replace it by a rechargeable battery (thus, it will become transportable and... by having the "noisy" power supply away, this may even improve the S/N ratio when operated from the battery :-)... )

 

Will someone be willing to experimente ?  Or can to do it for me ?  biggrin.gif


Edited by bmichels - 11/9/12 at 4:33am
post #15 of 43

Nice thread but there's one supposition I don't agree with. Batteries bring their own issues so not better than a mains connected PS done right. Just different trade offs to work around. I guess we can't all agree.wink_face.gif

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