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Speaker amps for headphones - Page 87

post #1291 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckman View Post
 

Looking forward to joining this discussion with some reports on the LCD3/Cyclops. Seems the amp is finished and should be here in about a week.

 

Then three weeks of burn in :-)


Excellent!  I need somebody else to either validate my opinion that it is an incredible combination... or reveal me for the deaf old fraud that I might very well be.  In any case, it shouldn't take 3 weeks of burn-in for you to determine whether you like the amp... I haven't noticed a huge amount of difference in the sound after break-in, and I've used it several hundred hours already (I have to confess that I stopped counting hours a while ago...).  It sounded awesome out of the box, it sounds awesome now. 

 

Listening to Barnaby Bright right now on MP3 (haven't bought a CD yet... will be soon, I think).  Sounds fantastic, and much safer for me than watching Lindsey Stirling videos.  That little elf-ette puts impure thoughts in my dirty old mind.  But wow, can she ever play the fiddle...

post #1292 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 


Excellent!  I need somebody else to either validate my opinion that it is an incredible combination... or reveal me for the deaf old fraud that I might very well be. 

 

Yes, thought you needed some backup, Gary :D

post #1293 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckman View Post
 

 

Yes, thought you needed some backup, Gary :D

But don't be afraid to call him a deaf old fraud ...  :D

post #1294 of 2940

lol gary! I see what you mean by impure thoughts :devil_face:

 

Looking forward to the new member's impressions soon :)

post #1295 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaHamster View Post
 

But don't be afraid to call him a deaf old fraud ...  :D


I've been called much worse, trust me. 

post #1296 of 2940

Duckman:

 

One thing I will say about the Cyclops, it needs to have its own outlet box, or at least relatively stable AC power.  I had it plugged directly into the wall as Klaus directed, but had a power strip with 5 things plugged into it plugged into the other outlet in the box and got a pretty loud buzz out of the Cyclops transformer at times.  Not always, and varying in intensity, but it was irritating.  I moved the power strip to another outlet box, and things are quiet for now.  I'm guessing that dropping voltages in the line were causing the problem, and noted when testing the outlet prior to receiving the amp that voltages varied throughout the day and night, running from ~115 to 120v -- and that was without anything else plugged into it.  Combining a large number of other loads with fact that the Potomac Edison Squirrel has a hard time turning his wheel at a consistent speed likely led to the Cyclops wanting more power, even when idle, and crying loudly about it.  Klaus didn't seem particularly worried about it when I mentioned it to him, and agreed that moving the power strip to another outlet might help... or not.  He just recommended trying it... and so far, so good... 

 

Of course it's also possible that I was either hearing things before or I've become more deaf now.  Or maybe Potomac Edison got a better-conditioned squirrel. 

post #1297 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckman View Post
 

Looking forward to joining this discussion with some reports on the LCD3/Cyclops. Seems the amp is finished and should be here in about a week.

 

Then three weeks of burn in :-)

 

What DAC will you be pairing with it, Also do you still use the Diverter?

post #1298 of 2940

So.. I've been listening to this rig for the past couple of hours:

 

Violectric V800  →  BH Crack (preamp)  →  TBI Millenia (w/ resistor box)  →  HE-500

 

Close your eyes and plug your ears, children.. there's some "double amping" going on here.. blasphemous?  I know!  Setting aside this ethically-questionable maneuver for the sake of enjoying music (what?!).. the speedballed Crack makes for a surprisingly awesome pre-amp.  Noise, hiss, etc. isn't an issue at all (the background remains dead silent far past the range of my listening range).  I've set the Millenia's pot at 12 o'clock and use the Crack's pot to adjust the volume.. and I've got plenty of travel (I hit 11 o'clock on the Crack before it gets painfully loud).

 

To my ears, the HE-500 has never sounded more enjoyable than it does now.  While the Millenia exhibits some 'tube-like' qualities on its own (one of the reasons I like it so much).. those qualities sound more distinct, natural, and vivid when the Crack is tossed into the chain as a makeshift preamp.  The resulting sound is something that blends the best qualities of the speedballed Crack (clear, detailed, spacious, relaxed sound) & the Millenia (effortless dynamics, powerful, tight bass, excellent driver control, instrument separation, smooth presentation, and a tonally "pure" sound).  What the Crack offers is ample soundstage dimensionality (which was already impressive with the Millenia) along with all the articulate qualities of a good tube.  One of the few beefs I have with many of the popular orthos today is the 'wall of sound' quality most of them have when it comes to the soundstage.  The Millenia (or any good speaker amp) seems to address this for the most part.. but a suitable (HQ) tube amp/preamp seems to do an even better job... so I'm really happy with what this combo is achieving.  If I'm not tempted to go chase down a tube (speaker) amp, I may just keep this combo as my HE-500 rig.

post #1299 of 2940

I think there is a difference between double amping and using a preamp. Double amping usually means chaining together two headphone amps, which can degrade the sound and raise the noise floor as the output of the first amp produces too much gain compared to the signal coming out of a DAC. Preamping is done with a preamp and a power amp in a speaker setup. The preamp is a weaker amp much like headphone amps. The power amp, which is our speaker amp, actually delivers the wattage. The difference between a power speaker amp and a second headphone amp is that speaker amps usually have input impedances in the magnitude of 10K-100K ohms. This makes gain much less compared to hooking up to a second headphone amp. This is why preamping is acceptable in the world of speaker amps. In fact, because of such high impedances of speaker amps, most tube preamps are actually OTL.

 

Right now I'm using the Crack with Emotiva, and it's truly something else. All the transparency and detail of a solid state with the warmth and reduced harshness of a tube. I went ahead and ordered the Bottlehead Quickie since it's only $99 and it's a dedicated preamp that is supposed to perform even better than the Crack as a preamp.

post #1300 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

I think there is a difference between double amping and using a preamp. Double amping usually means chaining together two headphone amps, which can degrade the sound and raise the noise floor as the output of the first amp produces too much gain compared to the signal coming out of a DAC. Preamping is done with a preamp and a power amp in a speaker setup. The preamp is a weaker amp much like headphone amps. The power amp, which is our speaker amp, actually delivers the wattage. The difference between a power speaker amp and a second headphone amp is that speaker amps usually have input impedances in the magnitude of 10K-100K ohms. This makes gain much less compared to hooking up to a second headphone amp. This is why preamping is acceptable in the world of speaker amps. In fact, because of such high impedances of speaker amps, most tube preamps are actually OTL.

Right now I'm using the Crack with Emotiva, and it's truly something else. All the transparency and detail of a solid state with the warmth and reduced harshness of a tube. I went ahead and ordered the Bottlehead Quickie since it's only $99 and it's a dedicated preamp that is supposed to performing even better than the Crack as a preamp.

The power amp having an input impedance of 10-100 kOhm doesn't have much bearing on the Voltage gain.
And it won't have a great deal of effect on the S/N ratio of the pre-amp either.
It will mean that the power amp draws nigligible current from the pre-amp.

Two of the biggest differences between a pre-amp and a headphone amp is that the headphone amp can (usually) output more output current and will have a lower output impedance than a pre-amp.
Edited by Chris J - 11/5/13 at 4:47am
post #1301 of 2940

Hey FlySweep!

 

I can't keep up with you!  My Sennhesier HD600 is due to arrive today and now you're singing about the HE-500!  

 

Note to self:  Remove FlySweep from #27 on my list of 100 people I will allow to live at the end of the world.  :mad:  Moo-haha!  

 

LOL

 

No, from what I've read elsewhere, you're giving the HE-500 exactly what they need, but that's what I love about the LCD-2, when it's given a neutral and transparent signal, it adds exactly the colors I want, where I want them.

 

I know well the advantages of a tube pre-amp, and although I found it undesirable into the MG3 to LCD-2, I have no doubt it would be just the ticket with the somewhat dry HE-500.

 

I just yesterday shipped out a Decware ZSTAGE (triode pre-amp) that I sold via the Decware forum.  There's a twelve-week wait for a new version from Steve Deckert, so I didn't have much trouble selling it used. 

 

With a choice of five 12AU7 and one 12AT7 (three of them NOS), I was forever rolling, but I can say this with certainty - none of those tubes offered enough transparency to suit my affections.  When used with the Emotiva Mini-X a-100, the ZSTAGE did a wonderful job of taming the too bright and harsh treble - into my LCD-2, which is known to have shelved highs, in the first place (that's how bad the Mini-X was.)

 

 

 

But these improvements came with a loss of transparency, some tubes being worse than others, but none of them lacked an unmistakable, yet faint, resolution-degrading "veil."  And I'm not talking about the even order harmonics one can "enjoy" when clipping with a tube (where the grid current increases, causing a "desirable" distortion as the wave forms are clipped asymmetrically when overdriven vs. the undesirable symmetrical clipping one gets when op-amps or discrete component solid state amps are clipped.)  

 

Well short of clipping, I, personally, have never heard a tube that wasn't adding at least a little bit of distortion, all the time.  Keep in mind that my only experience with tubes is that had with the Decware ZSTAGE, but I find my observations to be consistent with a consensus of more experienced Head-Fi and HiFi enthusiasts.

 

Without question, every tube was a sonic adventure, injecting their individual personalities into the signal, with each of them offering varying degrees of warmth and color that were very appealing, but all with that slight degradation of transparency.  And keep in mind that the LCD-2 is not known for being a highly resolving headphone.  

 

Prior to selling my Beyerdynamics T1 - for which I had never found a proper amp (the Burson Soloist came close) - the ZSTAGE, when equipped with a made-for-3M-Wollensak, 1956 NOS Mullard 12AT7 did wonders for the T1, but I had to apply 6 dB inline attenuators at the ZSTAGE inputs because the 12AT7 is a "high mu" triode, offering about twice the gain of the 12AU7's.  This worked very well at giving the T1 a signature I liked, but... it threw a fine gauze over the T1's spectacular resolution.  Arrrgh!  Everything's a compromise!

 

DACmini CX > Decware ZSTAGE > Burson Soloist > Beyerdynamic T1

 

DACmini CX > Decware ZSTAGE > Burson Soloist > Beyerdynamic T1

 

Ironically, given the T1's resolving power, a majority of folks in the T1 fan club recommend tube amps for the T1.  So, somewhere, there must be a tube or two that are truly transparent, but I haven't heard them.

 

Lastly, the rolling of tubes drives me crazy, anyway - as does the rolling of op-amps!   And by the way, I'm such a transparency hound, that I run my iBasso PB2 portable amp with dummy buffers - they're just shunts (nothing active in the output gain stage), using only LME49990s in the input voltage gain stage, because I have YET to find a sufficiently transparent op-amp for use as a buffer (the HA5002 comes close, however.)  

 

I love me some transparency!  

 

And THAT is what I am getting with the Resonessence Concero > MG3 (made especially evident by my highly-resolving Definitive Technology SM45 near-field monitors).

 

Mike

post #1302 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 

[snip]

 

Right now I'm using the Crack with Emotiva, and it's truly something else. All the transparency and detail of a solid state with the warmth and reduced harshness of a tube. I went ahead and ordered the Bottlehead Quickie since it's only $99 and it's a dedicated preamp that is supposed to perform even better than the Crack as a preamp.

 

It seems I'll have to follow FlySweep's advice to build myself a Crack.  There goes another $279 and I haven't even started building my scarab beetle robot!   

 

But, thanks to Sonido, I'm putting FlySweep back on my list of 100 people I will allow to live at the end of the world - at #99.  I'd put you at the bottom, but the #100 position is permanently held by my wife!

 

Mike

post #1303 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

 

It seems I'll have to follow FlySweep's advice to build myself a Crack.  There goes another $279 and I haven't even started building my scarab beetle robot!   

 

But, thanks to Sonido, I'm putting FlySweep back on my list of 100 people I will allow to live at the end of the world - at #99.  I'd put you at the bottom, but the #100 position is permanently held by my wife!

 

Mike

Lol Mike you're funny. I also favor transparency higher than other sonic aspects. It's so much easier to work with a top flight reference, than trying to get multiple pieces of gear to play off eachother's weaknesses. Been there done that... I let my headphones and speakers do the butchering, instead of further up the chain ;) I have also found the LME49990s to be my favorite opamp for compatible devices. Now, I'm not going to say someone is 'wrong' double amping power amps, but it certainly isn't recommended, it's akin to using a sledgehammer when what you really need is a chisel. I'll leave it at that.

 

The Crack is an excellent piece of kit and I tell everyone who PMs me about getting into DIY and mentions the Crack is to just say "F*** it and jump right in" Like the old Nike slogan - "Just Do It!" :D 

 

I have found that tubes in the signal path, and solid state for power is the best way to get a tube sound, with SS power. I am considering the possibility of selling off my HD800 and Crack because i just love the HE-6 so much off my First Watt F5. I'll keep you in mind should i decide to do so :)

post #1304 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

 

It seems I'll have to follow FlySweep's advice to build myself a Crack.  There goes another $279 and I haven't even started building my scarab beetle robot!   

 

But, thanks to Sonido, I'm putting FlySweep back on my list of 100 people I will allow to live at the end of the world - at #99.  I'd put you at the bottom, but the #100 position is permanently held by my wife!

 

Mike

Lol Mike you're funny. I also favor transparency higher than other sonic aspects. It's so much easier to work with a top flight reference, than trying to get multiple pieces of gear to play off eachother's weaknesses. Been there done that... I let my headphones and speakers do the butchering, instead of further up the chain ;) I have also found the LME49990s to be my favorite opamp for compatible devices. Now, I'm not going to say someone is 'wrong' double amping power amps, but it certainly isn't recommended, it's akin to using a sledgehammer when what you really need is a chisel. I'll leave it at that.

 

The Crack is an excellent piece of kit and I tell everyone who PMs me about getting into DIY and mentions the Crack is to just say "F*** it and jump right in" Like the old Nike slogan - "Just Do It!" :D 

 

I have found that tubes in the signal path, and solid state for power is the best way to get a tube sound, with SS power. I am considering the possibility of selling off my HD800 and Crack because i just love the HE-6 so much off my First Watt F5. I'll keep you in mind should i decide to do so :)

Im up first in line if you sell your crack :veryevil:

post #1305 of 2940
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post
 

Im up first in line if you sell your crack :veryevil:

You bet! :D

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