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Team HD800 challenge! - Page 4

post #46 of 185
Originally Posted by preproman View Post




Before your Stratus purchase did you get a chance to compare it with the:




EC 2A3


Woo WA5


Or any others?

I compared it with the S7 and BA, did not get a chance to hear the EC 2A3 and have never heard the WA5. I think it beats the S7 and plays in the same league as the BA, one of the Stratus owners on the other thread owns both and has made some comments comparing the BA and Stratus. My time with the BA was limited but I do remember preferring Craig's balanced T1 over my stock HD800 out of the BA. In any case, I think these are all fine amps and worthy of consideration and audition where possible.

post #47 of 185
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

Better than Fat Burger?

An emphatic YES!! They hand cut their fries from fresh potatoes as well, great stuff.

post #48 of 185



I would not hesitate to recommend the Stratus for the HD800. It's the best out-of-the-box solution.


The BA with the KR PX4 (most common output tube delivered) with the HD800 may be a bit rough. Of course this depends a lot on personal preferences. I know people running 300Bs (KR, EML, etc.) instead of the PX4 with the HD800. When I had the BA, I went on a special journey to the end of the earth to acquire unobtanium Osram PX25s and performed minor modifications to the BA to run them - just for the HD800. The WA5 will also need some tube rolling to get the best results with the HD800. It's not a particularly powerful sounding amp out-of-the-box, and rectifier upgrades (Sophia Princess or similar) will be necessary to give the amp some balls with the HD800.


The BA's soundstage is much more expansive than the Stratus which is more intimate sounding (NOT to be mistaken for closed-in). Both are equally explosive on a macro-dynamic level. However the Stratus falls behind in micro-dynamics (levels of gradations and authoritative quick changes in volume, i.e. in some respects what Craig refers to as "fast") and micro-detail retrieval. Nothing, absolutely nothing I've heard comes close to the BA in these aspects except maybe the Apex Pinnacle or Manley NeoClassic (in certain configs), and even then they may not be equal to the BA. Nothing I've heard touches the BA in terms of openness or expansiveness except the T2DIY, which is a 'stat amp.


In terms of "lushness", the Woo is the most lush. Haunting would be perhaps another word for the WA5. As for the Stratus, I would not categorize Donald's amp as lush. It's pretty darn honest. But as people have mentioned, it does have a wet or damp sound. Words are always difficult. Maybe another way would be to say the that while Stratus can certainly bite hard when the recording calls for it, the Stratus always maintains an inner warmth (not to be confused with syrupy and slow.)


Now the Stratus can be made to sound more lush with the Chinese 2A3 tubes, but it never quite approaches the WA5 in lushness (when using Chinese 300B tubes of a similar style.) The side effect of the Chinese tubes is that bass becomes soft and the slightest bit mushy (but this is a very minor criticism). The EML 2A3s do tighten things up, but they drier. The BA's bass, while ever so slightly rounded, still tighter with better definition (with KR PX4) than the Stratus with the EMLs. Given equivalent types of tubes, generally the Stratus is between the BA and WA5 in terms of lushness, but closer to the BA. The BA is not lush at all.


The Stratus has the most inner warmth, followed by the WA5, and then the BA, which just has a hint of it. Because of this, the Stratus is the most forgiving in terms of matching appropriate headphone. Is there a downside? It's possible you may tire of the Stratus' "intimate" sound (I believe that's the reason one person was selling his).


All three are good amps and I could easily live with any one of them. If I were forced into one word descriptions:


Stratus: Intimate

BA: Grand

WA5: Lush


None of these tubes amps are colored to the point* where I would want to commit suicide or throw the amps out the window. And trust me, there are plenty of such amps around.


*That is poster childs of bad tube amps which perpetuate the myth, especially to noobs and minions, that tubes sound syrupy and slow; and that moderate levels of even order harmonic distortion sounds good. It certainly does not. Dig up some good recordings of Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole. They all sond fast, tight, explosive, detailed, real. Yeah, they didn't use transistors back then when recording.

Edited by purrin - 1/2/13 at 11:10am
post #49 of 185

Ok gotcha, Thanks for that...


I just don't want to be in the position where my tube amp sounds just like all my SS amps.  I want different: If that makes any sense.  Solude may the total opposite.  


Correct me if I'm wrong here:


The BA goes out only on runs.  If this is the case, when is the next run?


The 2A3 is made to order.


The Stratus is made to order.


Where does the EC 2A3 fit in that comparison?

post #50 of 185
Thread Starter 

I'm a minimalist.  I'll listen to just about anything that passes the sniff test but at the end of the A/B something is going out the door.  1 source, 1 amp, 1 can.  Doesn't hurt that it helps keep the ring on my finger ;)

Edited by Solude - 1/2/13 at 11:36am
post #51 of 185

None of them sound like SS amps. SS amps tend to sound flatter and less engaging. When people say the EC amps sound solid-state, then mean expect solid-state sensibilities (wide FR, low distortion, detail and definition, precision, reasonably low output Z, etc.)


EC2A3 is a BA with slightly less expansiveness and micro-detail retrieval with a 2A3, which sounds different from KR PX4 or most 300Bs. 2A3 is silkier in treble. 300B's tend to be bloated (not all). Rumor mill says the EC 2A3 is undergoing changes to transformers, parts, and possibly the addition of the BA heater. So hard to say at this moment.

Edited by purrin - 1/2/13 at 11:22am
post #52 of 185

I am still astounded that you aren't discussing the Phonitor/Auditor pairing with the HD800 as I believe it is one of the best pairings you can make.

post #53 of 185

I've used this combo for a while now, I do enjoy it.  It does have a more clinical sound than a really good tube setup.  Some people will definitely not like any SS amp with the hd800s, especially if they have a peaky 6k pair.  The right tubes can definitely calm that 6k peak.  My pair does not have this peak, so I ennjoy the phonitor and its clean sound. I do like tube amps, I find them easier to get lost in a song.  However, I personally can't go back to listening to music without being able to fine tune the center.  Making my headphones not sound like headphones is much more enjoyable than getting that last 0.001% of sound quality.

Originally Posted by dukeskd View Post

I am still astounded that you aren't discussing the Phonitor/Auditor pairing with the HD800 as I believe it is one of the best pairings you can make.

Edited by TWIFOSP - 1/2/13 at 1:08pm
post #54 of 185

I heard the Phonitor at a meet with the HD800s along with other headphones.  I personally like a well put together 4 channel B22 at 8X gain or lower much better than the Phonitor.  I'm now also liking a well put together balanced M^3 (with the right opamps) more than both paired with the HD800s.

post #55 of 185
Originally Posted by Solude View Post

It would have to be a balanced one for sure since the AD caps out at ~4V and 14V/uS to the B22 15V and 198V/uS.  But he is excited about it :D  Can be bumped to 13V on higher rails but the slew stays slow :(


i don't want to derail a great thread, but just to clarify.  the slew rate for the M3 will depend on the opamp used - and can deliver more V-swing depending on the opamp and PS voltage.  yes, the AD8597 is slower at 14V/uS, but the AD4627-1 will do at least 40V/uS.  in the case of the completely discrete design like B22, the slew rate will be determined by the V output swing - the larger the V swing, the larger the slew rate.  14V/uS is way more than enough to give a high bandwidth frequency response from the amplifier, especially at the power needed to drive HPs, but subjective differences between opamps could be in part due to slew rate differences. 

Edited by fishski13 - 1/2/13 at 3:39pm
post #56 of 185

I have the WA5LE, and love it for many many reasons with the HD800.  I love the tube sound, and this amp mellows the high end on the HD800 which can be bright with the wrong SS amp (never enjoyed the HD800 with the Burson 160D).  But if buying new-- it's on the ragged edge of your budget, and almost no one keeps the stock tube setup.  Unlike other tube amps I've owned, I got the greatest change from swapping out power tubes-- opting for PSVANE 181-TII's in place of 6SN7s.  But this setup, while great for alternative, might not be the best choice for punk and metal.


One thing I've discovered, choosing an amp which delivers loads of clean power seems to extend the bass on the HD800, to my ears.  A weak sub-bass has often been the knock given by Audeze owners.  When paired with weaker amps like the WA6, I would concur.  But I've found that I gained a lot of low kick in the HD800 when moving up the amp ladder.  Now this could be simply the difference in tubes (and tube quality), but other reviews have also suggested it's the power increase.  


The WA5LE was my top choice (I also have a soft spot for Woo's industrial design).  But if I were going to look at another amp, it would have been the Cavalli Liquid Fire.  You can find them used within the budget you listed.  I haven't personally heard the Cavalli, but it seems to get universal raves when paired with... anything, really.  

post #57 of 185
Thread Starter 

I love the WA5LE look but wish it was shall we say not the size of two little kids ;)


I owned the LF actually... never again.

post #58 of 185
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

Better than Fat Burger?

Yup.  Freshness is In-n-Out's USP.  Neither beef nor potatoes are ever frozen.  In fact, each store buys whole potatoes and cuts them up on-site.

post #59 of 185
Originally Posted by Solude View Post

I love the WA5LE look but wish it was shall we say not the size of two little kids ;)


I owned the LF actually... never again.


Interesting on the Cavalli-- I've yet to hear anything negative.  What didn't you like about it?

post #60 of 185
Thread Starter 

Quicker to say what I liked about it... that I sold it without losing money ;)  It wasn't a bad amp per say, just poor value given there are at least three amps I prefer under $1000.

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