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Speaker amps for headphones - Page 34

post #496 of 2718
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post #497 of 2718

Very interesting observations, Gary.  My guess, FWIW, based on your description of the sonic differences between the boxes match yours: box 2 = Mills.  

 

Did you notice any difference in sound stage between the two?

post #498 of 2718

Box 2 has a bit larger soundstage, mostly because with a bit less warmth and sustain, the instruments don't seem as close, if that makes sense...

post #499 of 2718

So here's the scoop on the Millenia: 

 

  • It provides detail with accuracy.  While the MJ reveals every detail in a recording, in my view the sounds are not accurate representations.  Pianos don't sound right.  Reeds and horns sound thin and harsh.  High frequency sounds like cymbals are brittle and harsh.  That isn't the case with the Millenia.  Instrument separation is about as good as the MJ.  You hear the strike of the hammer on the vibraphone, but then you hear, and even feel, the sustain of the note.  Same with any percussion instrument.  You hear the stick hit, just like with the MJ, but then you hear a realistic drum sound, or the realistic ring of a cymbal, or vibraphone, or cowbell, or whatever.  You hear the pluck of the guitar string with the Millenia, but what follows actually sounds like a guitar in all of its dimensions, whereas with the MJ, and to some extent the Soloist, you hear something resembling a guitar, but it's not very lifelike -- my earlier analogy in prior posts was the 2-dimensional cutouts the people of Rock Ridge used to fool the bad guys in Blazing Saddles, and I still think that analogy is accurate.  Another way to put it is that the MJ gives you black and white photos that are very sharp, but have no gray scale at all.  The Soloist gives you shades of gray, though you are so far away from the picture that you can hardly tell.  The Millenia gives you full color. 
  • Timbre... on the Millenia, electric basses growl when they are supposed to, high notes on pianos ring while low notes rumble -- like they are supposed to. On some of these amps everything sounds like it is being played on a synthesizer, or being generated by an electric piano.  You can't tell the difference between an electric piano and an acoustic one, or between a drum machine and real drums.  With the Millenia, acoustic instruments sound like acoustic instruments and electric instruments sound like electric instruments.  I didn't even realize that some of the songs I had been listening to for years were using drum machines until I listened to them on the Millenia and then read the liner notes to confirm... yeah, they clearly state that it was a drum machine, but I couldn't hear the difference on my old gear... or on the MJ or Emotiva. 
  • Using Box 2, the frequency response is really flat -- no part of the spectrum seems to be emphasized or rolled off.  Bass drums thump, cymbals ring, voices sound great but aren't pushed overly forward or backward in the mix. 
  • Lack of harshness... There aren't many high-fidelity amps that can make the Red Hot Chili Peppers' recordings not sound overly harsh and irritating.  The music is great, but the recordings just suck.  But they are listenable to on the Millenia, because you are getting the full range and depth of the sound, with no harshness on the high end.  That makes a huge difference, not just on RHCP, but on rock in general.  It simply makes everything more fun to listen to.  And then when you play a good rock recording, like some of Dave Matthews' stuff... man is it ever awesome.
  • Soundstage is not huge, but it probably reflects what's on the recording, as played on headphones (there's a physical limit to what you can do from an inch away from somebody's ears with their head in between the channels -- it is easier to create the illusion of space from speakers that are 10 feet away in open space... yeah, my head has plenty of open space, but not enough to create a full soundstage).  With the Millenia, you aren't on stage like with my Adcom pre-amp, and you aren't in the back row of the theater like you are with the Soloist. You are somewhere in between, about where I think you should be.
  • The amp is tiny, but packs a wallop.  Even with the resistor boxes I'm at 9 o'clock on the dial or less for comfortable listening:  80 dBs of white noise per my cell phone app is right at 9 o'clock on the dial.  No shortage of headroom with the LCD-3s. 
  • It really is portable.  Or takes up almost no desk/shelf space if you don't want to take it anywhere.  Even with the resistor box it takes up waaaay less space than any of the other amps. 
  • For the tinkerers out there who like to roll tubes, you can roll resistors and/or power supplies instead.  From what I understand, the latest rage on Audio Circle is powering the Millenia with linear bench power supplies.  Pretty much anything between 12 and 24 volts will power the amp, and it has a battery compartment for 8 AAs.  I have some lithium batteries I'm gonna try to see if I can tell any difference vs. the AC power brick, which looks like a PC brick.  I can say that there is a difference between regular alkalines and the brick, with the AC power being cleaner and more controlled.  Jan Plummer recommends lithiums for better control, and now that I have the proper resistor boxes I'm ready to start playing. 
  • Finally, I need to state for the record that there is no audible noise in the system now that I have the proper resistor circuits in the boxes. 

 

The bottom line:  The Millenia with the right resistor circuitry clearly thumps the Mjolnir, Soloist, Emotiva Mini-X  and my Adcom pre-amp.  All for $600 delivered.  Add in superb customer service from TBI (Jan is really great to work with) and the Millenia is an incredible bargain.  I just don't think you can touch it for anywhere close to its price, and anybody looking for an amp for either speakers or headphones for <$1K should definitely try it.

 

You can, however, beat it for a bit more than twice its price.

 

Next up:  The Odyssey Cyclops.

post #500 of 2718

One more point before I shut down for the night.  I will post this in the LCD amp thread as well, when I post my final comparison results there, but since there might be some reading this thread who think the LCD-3s are veiled, or too thick-sounding in the mid-range... that simply isn't the case with the latest drivers and the right amp.  These headphones are simply phenomenal with the Millenia and the Cyclops.

post #501 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

One more point before I shut down for the night.  I will post this in the LCD amp thread as well, when I post my final comparison results there, but since there might be some reading this thread who think the LCD-3s are veiled, or too thick-sounding in the mid-range... that simply isn't the case with the latest drivers and the right amp.  These headphones are simply phenomenal with the Millenia and the Cyclops.

Many thanks for all your hard work. I have been following this thread with interest and it has provided real food for thought.

Do you think TBI would supply the resistor box as part of the package?

post #502 of 2718

I drive my K1000 with a Yahama A-S300  amplifier, a small 60w/ch stereo speaker amp. I use the original speaker wire/XLR adapter that came with the phones. I bought this amp because my headphone amp, a Woo 22, is pushed to the max. to get reasonable volume from the K1000. The speaker amp doesn't strain at all. 

post #503 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat28037 View Post

I drive my K1000 with a Yahama A-S300  amplifier, a small 60w/ch stereo speaker amp. I use the original speaker wire/XLR adapter that came with the phones. I bought this amp because my headphone amp, a Woo 22, is pushed to the max. to get reasonable volume from the K1000. The speaker amp doesn't strain at all. 

I have the Yamaha A-S2000 and they are a wonderful series of amps that are over looked simply because of the name behind it. However, when Yamaha releases statement products, they are almost always recognized worldwide, why not these amps? confused.gif

post #504 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

I have the Yamaha A-S2000 and they are a wonderful series of amps that are over looked simply because of the name behind it. However, when Yamaha releases statement products, they are almost always recognized worldwide, why not these amps? confused.gif

Have you tried the headphone out on the yammy?

post #505 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

Alright ladies and germs, here is another exciting installment of AMP vs. AMP!!!!  Or in this case, RESISTOR BOX 1 vs. RESISTOR BOX 2!!!

Yeah, I know not a very thrilling title.  Sorry.

To recap for those not paying attention, or with short memories, or too lazy to read back a few pages in the thread, I asked Jan Plummer to make me 2 balanced resistor boxes to go with my Millenia amp.  One of the boxes has Jan's standard concrete 5% resistors, one has Mills low-inductance 1% resistors.  I don't know which box has which resistors (though I have a suspicion, probably wrong). I have spent the last several days comparing the two, using the same songs I used to compare the other amps I reported on earlier in this thread.  I matched SPLs, and actually tried a couple of different volume levels to see if that made any difference (it does, a bit).  I first listened to each box for all of the songs, writing down my impressions, then did a back and forth session on individual songs to get a better sense of how they compared on each song.  I did this because I wanted to make sure that the different words I used in the continuous sessions really described differences when listening to a particular song, one box right after the other. 

After several hours of critical listening, I can tell you that there is a clearly audible difference between the 2 boxes:

Box 1 has a richer, warmer sound -- very tube-like.  On some songs that warmth is really engaging, even thrilling, as it provides a life-like presentation that just envelopes you.  On other songs the warmth intrudes a bit, with the bass slopping over just slightly into the mid-range and covering up some of the detail.  Even at its worst though, the sound is still extremely good -- excellent energy across the spectrum, with the high end particularly well-presented:  Cymbals and any other percussive instruments sound spectacular, as the entire range of their sound is transmitted, with clear strike, reverb, sustain and decay.  Cymbals are never hissy. There is NEVER any harshness.  Period.  You can listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for hours and not get a headache (I know, because I did it).   Voices sound particularly good with this set of resistors.  As I said, the price paid for this warmth is a bit more bass boom and a tiny bit of muddiness in the lower registers of pianos and in other acoustic instruments in the lower part of the spectrum.  On a big-band jazz tune, the mids can get a bit overwhelmed, and the overall sound can be a bit muddy.  The problem is less obvious with electric instruments. 

Box 2 is cleaner, clearer, more analytical-sounding -- more like what many of us expect a solid-state amp to sound like.  Bass is tighter, with less boom.  The mids are less rich and warm, voices in particular sounding colder.  The high end is slightly hissier.  There is a tiny bit of harshness up there on horns and reed instruments.  Nothing awful -- not even close to the MJ or Emotiva levels of harshness.  Just more than the Millenia has with Box 1.  I will note that when I first connected Box 2 after hours of listening to Box 1, I was dismayed by the initial sound.  Where did the Millenia go?  How'd the MJ get back in here?  But after only about 1/2 an hour, the sound clearly changed for the better, so I'm guessing that these resistors needed to warm up or break in or something in order to sound decent.  After a couple of days of listening, Box 2 is much closer to Box 1's sound, particularly if I bump the volume up from 75dBs on my phone sound meter to 80dBs.  Then the second box's sound gets a bit richer, the high end gains a bit more depth, seeming less hissy, without losing the cleanliness in the bass and lower mid range. 

Which is better?  I guess that depends on which you like better:  tube amps or solid state. On balance, I think Box 2's flaws overall are smaller, less intrusive and less obvious than Box 1s, and I think the sound has improved enough that it will carry the TBI flag into battle against the Cyclops.  But I reserve the right to change my mind (hey I paid for both boxes!).

Oh, and I'm guessing that the Mills resistors are in Box 2, but I'll ask Jan on Monday for the answer (I'm not opening these boxes...).

Next up I will provide a more complete write-up on the Millenia's sound.  I've been hinting at it in various posts (including this one), but never really provided details.  First, however, I have to go feed the dogs, and then pick some peaches before the bugs and groundhogs eat all of them.  Stay tuned for another installment later (probably much later) tonight.

Infinite accolades!

Thank you, Gary!
post #506 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

I have the Yamaha A-S2000 and they are a wonderful series of amps that are over looked simply because of the name behind it. However, when Yamaha releases statement products, they are almost always recognized worldwide, why not these amps? confused.gif


No reason... Try it and let us know how it sounds!  It was out of my price range, but so was the Cyclops, for that matter.  Oh well, somehow my price range extended a bit... but not to $2K.  In any case, if you already own it, and have a set of speaker taps that will work with your cans, plug in and try it.

post #507 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by alvin sawdust View Post

Many thanks for all your hard work. I have been following this thread with interest and it has provided real food for thought.

Do you think TBI would supply the resistor box as part of the package?


He sells the resistor boxes for $100, making the whole package $600 shipped.  Just let him know whether you are using single-ended or balanced connections on your speaker tap/headphones, and he will set up the box to meet your needs. 

 

Of course I happen to have an extra one set up for balanced output... if you would like to buy it!  I'd sell it for less than $100, but by the time I got it shipped to the UK it might be about the same price...

post #508 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

I have the Yamaha A-S2000 and they are a wonderful series of amps that are over looked simply because of the name behind it. However, when Yamaha releases statement products, they are almost always recognized worldwide, why not these amps? confused.gif

Their lack of recognition in the US must be because of a lack of advertising, the brand is very well known in the rest of the world. My headphone system CD player is a Yamaha CD-S2000, the companion CD to your amp. I bought it because it's  a CD/SACD player and has Balanced XLR outputs. A really beautiful performing piece of equipment. Hi-Fi Hevaen in Green Bay, WI (http://hifiheaven.net/store/) carries a complete line of Yamaha gear, It's where I bought mine. They have excellent discount prices and internet/mail order service

post #509 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat28037 View Post

Their lack of recognition in the US must be because of a lack of advertising, the brand is very well known in the rest of the world. My headphone system CD player is a Yamaha CD-S2000, the companion CD to your amp. I bought it because it's  a CD/SACD player and has Balanced XLR outputs. A really beautiful performing piece of equipment. Hi-Fi Hevaen in Green Bay, WI (http://hifiheaven.net/store/) carries a complete line of Yamaha gear, It's where I bought mine. They have excellent discount prices and internet/mail order service

I used to own the CD-S2000 as well, but found the OPPO 95 the overall winner for me. I really enjoyed the "silence" between the notes in the Yammy, but the overall wobbly tone (?) sound and not being able to play SACD-R and multi-channel killed it for me given its price. Sure as heck is built like a tank though, gotta love that CD tray.

post #510 of 2718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post


No reason... Try it and let us know how it sounds!  It was out of my price range, but so was the Cyclops, for that matter.  Oh well, somehow my price range extended a bit... but not to $2K.  In any case, if you already own it, and have a set of speaker taps that will work with your cans, plug in and try it.

I use it with my HE-6 on the speaker taps and it's the most transparent, ultra-bandwidth, distortionless and neutral amp i have ever heard. The 90 wpc is very misleading too, because it really makes the house shake compared to an Emotiva XPA-5 that i have.

 

As a side note, BTG Audio ran into an order mishap with hardwiring my HE-6 so its delayed by atleast a week now :( The cable has a high level of workmanship and is beautiful though.


Edited by brunk - 8/4/13 at 9:04am
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