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Speaker amps for headphones - Page 53

post #781 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

I have read really great things about the Leben amps. Some people who liked the Millenia with their speaker systems got great results using a tube preamp, to get more of the kind of sound they enjoy. I have used tube equipment with my various speaker systems, on and off for many, many years. Some gave me great sound...... there can be something very special with well designed tube gear that is hard to duplicate with solid state. I have an audiophile friend who bemoans dealing with his tube equipment, but I don't think he would ever be convinced of going solid state.

 

I assume you use the headphone out?

 

I don't. I found that the headphone out did not shake the HE-6s well enough. I started using the speaker output using the resistor box but now I use only two 10ohm resistors in parallel to not attenuate the signal and get the maximum possible power of the Leben which is not that much for the HE-6s.

 

post #782 of 2631

It's just after 1:00 AM here and the alarm clock is going to go five and half hours, but I've only just now managed to hook up the MG3.

 

I decided to hear it at its best for my first impression, so I hooked it up to the 25.2V DC LiPo pack, connected the LCD-2 directly to the speaker taps, attached RCA interconnects from my DACmini CX Line Out, turned the volume all the way down, queued up Patricia Barber's Too Rich for My Blood, from the Cafe Blue album (via Foobar 2000 with WASAPI Event > USB on my Windows 7 laptop), then hit the power button on the MG3 and heard....  lots of hiss.   Haha!  

 

I immediately considered turning it off and just waiting for the impedance match to arrive, about a week from now.  But I hit the Play button in Foobar and was floored.  Absolutely stunning - despite the hiss!  

 

I've been buying, testing, and selling Head-Fi gear for only about three years now (still fairly inexperienced compared to some folks), but this little amp has given me the biggest leap forward since buying the LCD-2 and I'd say it's every bit as strong for shock value.  Amps aren't supposed to make this great a difference - that's been my understanding.  

 

I sold my Burson Soloist because it was boring - too laid back, insufficient dynamics, just lifeless compared to the Emotiva a-100 Mini-X, which only introduced its own failings (bright and harsh) while yielding the dynamics and detail I crave.  But this MG3 is firing on all cylinders - connecting all the dots, ticking all the boxes.  The percussion in Too Rich for My Blood was superb!  Her voice so natural!  I'm surely infatuated at the moment, so I'll leave it at that for now.  I've got to get to bed, before I start hunting up all my faves 'til the sun starts shining.

 

Thank you Stew and Gary, again and again, for leading the way with the MG3. My hat's off to Jan Plummer, too, of course. Well done! 

 

By the way - seeing pictures doesn't prepare you for just how small this thing is.  It's about the size of a 600-page paperback book.  Seriously tiny for what it can do.  I am so ready to go portable with this.  No made-for-headphones portable amp can touch the sound quality. It's insane.  I cannot wait to go to the next Head-Fi meet here in Dallas.  I think I'll hide it all under a cardboard box and make people listen before they look inside.  biggrin.gif

 

I'm not even hearing the hiss now - oh it's there - but I'm so engrossed in the music, I don't even care!  Oh, the music.  It sounds like music.  Where have all the bits and bytes gone?

 

Must... turn... it...  off...

 

Mike

post #783 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

It's just after 1:00 AM here and the alarm clock is going to go five and half hours, but I've only just now managed to hook up the MG3.

I decided to hear it at its best for my first impression, so I hooked it up to the 25.2V DC LiPo pack, connected the LCD-2 directly to the speaker taps, attached RCA interconnects from my DACmini CX Line Out, turned the volume all the way down, queued up Patricia Barber's Too Rich for My Blood, from the Cafe Blue album (via Foobar 2000 with WASAPI Event > USB on my Windows 7 laptop), then hit the power button on the MG3 and heard....  lots of hiss.   Haha!  

I immediately considered turning it off and just waiting for the impedance match to arrive, about a week from now.  But I hit the Play button in Foobar and was floored.  Absolutely stunning - despite the hiss!  

I've been buying, testing, and selling Head-Fi gear for only about three years now (still fairly inexperienced compared to some folks), but this little amp has given me the biggest leap forward since buying the LCD-2 and I'd say it's every bit as strong for shock value.  Amps aren't supposed to make this great a difference - that's been my understanding.  

I sold my Burson Soloist because it was boring - too laid back, insufficient dynamics, just lifeless compared to the Emotiva a-100 Mini-X, which only introduced its own failings (bright and harsh) while yielding the dynamics and detail I crave.  But this MG3 is firing on all cylinders - connecting all the dots, ticking all the boxes.  The percussion in Too Rich for My Blood was superb!  Her voice so natural!  I'm surely infatuated at the moment, so I'll leave it at that for now.  I've got to get to bed, before I start hunting up all my faves 'til the sun starts shining.

Thank you Stew and Gary, again and again, for leading the way with the MG3. My hat's off to Jan Plummer, too, of course. Well done! 

By the way - seeing pictures doesn't prepare you for just how small this thing is.  It's about the size of a 600-page paperback book.  Seriously tiny for what it can do.  I am so ready to go portable with this.  No made-for-headphones portable amp can touch the sound quality. It's insane.  I cannot wait to go to the next Head-Fi meet here in Dallas.  I think I'll hide it all under a cardboard box and make people listen before they look inside.  biggrin.gif


I'm not even hearing the hiss now - oh it's there - but I'm so engrossed in the music, I don't even care!  Oh, the music.  It sounds like music.  Where have all the bits and bytes gone?

Must... turn... it...  off...

Mike
You seem happy. You make me want one too. Actually my tp60 should have been a millenia. You're making me feel bad
post #784 of 2631

I'm apparently on Zilch0md DST as well.. just past 1:45am here in the lovely pacific NW.. and I got the Millenia all hooked up.

 

Rig?  Izmo M1 (USB to SPDIF) > Violectric V800 > TBI Millenia > resistor box > Sennheiser HD800.

 

The Millenia is running off AC.. it's power supply brick (as well as the V800) is connected to the outlet with one of those fancy, big time 'audiophile' power cables *ducks*

 

A couple of things about the amp itself.. build quality is terrific.  It's got a weight to it that makes it feel substantial.  I love the all black look.. sleek & understated.  As Mike said, you reall don't appreciate how small/compact this thing is until you see it in person.  One caveat.. even with the resistor box, there's some low level hiss w/ the (fairly sensitive) HD800.

 

The sound?  I'll sum it up with this:

 

3RMyO0t.gif

 

It's disgustingly good.  This diminutive box has NO BUSINESS sounding this good.  I'm impressed.

 

What jumped out at me first?  The transparency.  To my ears, the Millenia sounds extremely clear and doesn't really add any kind of its own 'coloration' to the sound.  It might tilt ever-so-slightly to the 'bright' side of neutral.. but the HD800 itself is slightly bright, so it's probably the amp 'getting out of the way' and letting the HD800 shine through.

 

The amp's tuning feels very linear.. bass is very taut, clean.  I'd like a little more impact.. but we'll see if that aspect improves with use (as the amp breaks in, etc).  Make no mistake about it: the midrange is a show stealer.  Articulate, impossibly clear, utterly effortless, impeccably detailed, airy, and liquid smooth.  Going back to the point about transparency, I don't find the mids particularly lush, warm, or colored.. just very clear and detailed.  The purity of the timbre, vocals in particular, is stunning.  Pianos, guitars, saxes.. everything.. it sounds incredibly natural, vibrant, and dynamic.  Treble was one area I was concerned with.. worrying if this amp might be too warm or rolled off.  Upon hearing the Millenia.. those fears were immediately allayed.  The treble is airy, open, and, again, very accurate.  There's high degree of resolution in this region sounds realistic.. not like it was carved out of stone.. or dissected in a lab.  If you're looking brutal, clinical, sterile, exacting treble.. you won't find it in the Millenia.  There's a slight peak in the upper mids/lower treble.. but again, that's more in line with the HD800's tuning than the Millenia 'adding' or 'emphasizing' a particular freq.  Again, we'll see how this goes as the amp gets use.

 

I'll close out these initial impressions with (another) one of the most impressive aspects of this amp: the soundstage & imaging.  It's absolutely wonderful.  It's spacious, immersive.. but precise.  Instruments are layered and spatially placed in a very natural, realistic manner... mimicking a live experience with frightening accuracy.  In terms of listener placement.. I feel seated three or four rows from the stage.  I know that's such a vague rubric.. but what I want you to take away from that is that the sound isn't overly intimate (as if you were on stage, surrounded by the band).. but you're not positioned uncomfortably far from the stage where the music sounds like it's coming from some annoyingly distant locale.  IME so far, the space between the band and the listener is perfect in terms of being able to accurately gauge cues and not suffer from listener fatigue.

 

I'm not going to go into minute technical details right now cause I want to spend more time with this amp.  It took me an hour to get this blurb typed up.. cause I found myself compelled to step away from the keyboard and just listen.  If first impressions are important to you (like they are to me).. this amp certainly feels like it's something special.  


Edited by FlySweep - 8/22/13 at 2:45am
post #785 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by spurxiii View Post


You seem happy. You make me want one too. Actually my tp60 should have been a millenia. You're making me feel bad

 

Oh wow.  I feel embarrassed for having "gushed" so candidly about the MG3.  But don't feel bad about your recent TP60 purchase.  You'll find a way to use your TP60 whenever you get around to upgrading, just as I will for my Emotiva.  Remember what I wrote you about "adaptive hedonism?"  Enjoy what you have as long as you can - the TP60 was a big improvement over your iBasso PB2 (with stock op-amps), right.   And here's another perspective:  You'll be buying and selling for years to come, so try to learn as much as you can from each piece of gear.  Your ears are in training!

 

:-)

 

Mike

post #786 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

I'm apparently on Zilch0md DST as well.. just past 1:45am here in the lovely pacific NW.. and I got the Millenia all hooked up.

 

Rig?  Izmo M1 (USB to SPDIF) > Violectric V800 > TBI Millenia > resistor box > Sennheiser HD800.

 

The Millenia is running off AC.. it's power supply brick (as well as the V800) is connected to the outlet with one of those fancy, big time 'audiophile' power cables *ducks*

 

A couple of things about the amp itself.. build quality is terrific.  It's got a weight to it that makes it feel substantial.  I love the all black look.. sleek & understated.  As Mike said, you reall don't appreciate how small/compact this thing is until you see it in person.  One caveat.. even with the resistor box, there's some low level hiss w/ the (fairly sensitive) HD800.

 

The sound?  I'll sum it up with this:

 

3RMyO0t.gif

 

It's disgustingly good.  This diminutive box has NO BUSINESS sounding this good.  I'm impressed.

 

What jumped out at me first?  The transparency.  To my ears, the Millenia sounds extremely clear and doesn't really add any kind of its own 'coloration' to the sound.  It might tilt ever-so-slightly to the 'bright' side of neutral.. but the HD800 itself is slightly bright, so it's probably the amp 'getting out of the way' and letting the HD800 shine through.

 

The amp's tuning feels very linear.. bass is very taut, clean.  I'd like a little more impact.. but we'll see if that aspect improves with use (as the amp breaks in, etc).  Make no mistake about it: the midrange is a show stealer.  Articulate, impossibly clear, utterly effortless, impeccably detailed, airy, and liquid smooth.  Going back to the point about transparency, I don't find the mids particularly lush, warm, or colored.. just very clear and detailed.  The purity of the timbre, vocals in particular, is stunning.  Pianos, guitars, saxes.. everything.. it sounds incredibly natural, vibrant, and dynamic.  Treble was one area I was concerned with.. worrying if this amp might be too warm or rolled off.  Upon hearing the Millenia.. those fears were immediately allayed.  The treble is airy, open, and, again, very accurate.  There's high degree of resolution in this region sounds realistic.. not like it was carved out of stone.. or dissected in a lab.  If you're looking brutal, clinical, sterile, exacting treble.. you won't find it in the Millenia.  There's a slight peak in the upper mids/lower treble.. but again, that's more in line with the HD800's tuning than the Millenia 'adding' or 'emphasizing' a particular freq.  Again, we'll see how this goes as the amp gets use.

 

I'll close out these initial impressions with (another) one of the most impressive aspects of this amp: the soundstage & imaging.  It's absolutely wonderful.  It's spacious, immersive.. but precise.  Instruments are layered and spatially placed in a very natural, realistic manner... mimicking a live experience with frightening accuracy.  In terms of listener placement.. I feel seated three or four rows from the stage.  I know that's such a vague rubric.. but what I want you to take away from that is that the sound isn't overly intimate (as if you were on stage, surrounded by the band).. but you're not positioned uncomfortably far from the stage where the music sounds like it's coming from some annoyingly distant locale.  IME so far, the space between the band and the listener is perfect in terms of being able to accurately gauge cues and not suffer from listener fatigue.

 

I'm not going to go into minute technical details right now cause I want to spend more time with this amp.  It took me an hour to get this blurb typed up.. cause I found myself compelled to step away from the keyboard and just listen.  If first impressions are important to you (like they are to me).. this amp certainly feels like it's something special.  

 

Glad you (and Mike) like the Millenia. I liked it so much with my Paradox headphones, I tried it with my speaker system, and promptly sold my Musical Fidelity A1 amp, using the funds to purchase a second Millenia.

 

I agree with your assessment. I find the Millenia to be, more than anything, a very transparent transducer of what is coming into it. I don't recall hearing bass as deep and as taught, a midrange as clear and lifelike, nor treble any more extended  but without etch or brightness - attributes I cannot tolerate in the least. I believe, from all I have read about the HD800s, that what you are hearing is that headphone. The things that are standing out for you, appear to be strengths of the HD800, and the things you are wondering about, well, from what I have read, they are attributes of the headphone as well, as you were yourself wondering. With my speaker system in particular, I have never heard as dimensional a sound, even when using tube gear that is known for that. This may be highlighted again in your instance with the HD800 headphone in particular (soundstaging). With regard to that hiss, I assume you had told Jan what the impedance of your headphones were, and that he didn't just go ahead and make a resistor box like what he made for others? In any case, I would not give up on getting rid of that hiss some more, so definitely get in touch with him and see what he thinks. Make sure he has the stats for the HD800 to go by (impedance, efficiency, etc.) But of course he may have that info! rolleyes.gif

 

best

Stew

post #787 of 2631

Fly and Zilch:

 

Thanks for the write-ups, and for giving up sleep for the cause.  It's good to know that it wasn't just me and SMG imagining that the Millenia was really good... You folks at least have as good an imagination!

 

Fly:  if you bought the box from Jan, let him know you are still hearing hiss.  He might be able to drop the noise floor some more with additional/different resistors.  I believe the box is covered under the trial period, and I know that when I had problems with my first box, he replaced it for no charge (I had to pay for return shipping, but the box weighs so little that it didn't cost much).  Of course I didn't settle for that and also bought a second box with Mills resistors... all for the cause!

post #788 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

[snip]

 

The sound?  I'll sum it up with this:

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

3RMyO0t.gif

 

It's disgustingly good.  This diminutive box has NO BUSINESS sounding this good.  I'm impressed.

 

[snip]

 

Haha!  I hear you FlySweep!   And I love the way you can articulate what you are hearing!   I wish I could write about sound the way you and Gary can. But I agree, vigorously!  This amp is something special.

 

Not having the resistor box yet, I plugged some 8-Ohm speakers into it this morning before going to work.  No more hiss.  And whoa, what a difference that makes in being able to hear all the low-level signals against the blackness!  The imaging and sound stage suddenly popped.  And with near-field monitors, you get a much more pronounced and realistic soundstage than with headphones.  I might have to buy another MG3.  redface.gif 

 

I'm using Definitive Technology SM 45's - like the MG3, they are affordable giant-killers, highly praised in this review by Chris Martens of The Absolute Sound.

 

Quote:
First, they sounded unexpectedly full-bodied and offered an astonishing amount of bass reach (down into the upper 30Hz region)—reach few other small monitors can match. Frequency response is smooth but perhaps not strictly neutral, as the speakers do introduce a broad, gentle touch of bass lift from about 80Hz on down. However, there’s not so much low-end emphasis as to sound garish, but rather enough to remind you that this is a serious, near full-range monitor—one that seeks to provide big-speaker depth and richness.
 
In terms of dynamic energy and significant bass extension the SM 45s manage to sound bigger and more full-bodied than their appearance might at first suggest. I found the speakers easily filled my mid- sized listening room with sound and that they readily embraced quiet and contemplative as well as more rambunctious types of musical material with equal measures of poise and good-natured grace. What is more, the SM 45s tackled records with significant amounts of punchy bass content in a fearless and for the most part very satisfying way.
 
---
 
Second, the Definitives are much more dynamically expansive than most other monitors their size and price that I have heard. Many small monitors tend to dictate terms as to the types of musical material they can or cannot handle well, but happily Definitive’s SM 45s are not like this. No fuss, and no whining; just music—almost any kind of music—rendered with big-hearted warmth.
 
Third, I found the SM 45s were relaxed, effortless, and at times down right holographic imagers. Many small speakers claim to have these properties and can even achieve them to some extent, but the Definitives take ‘disappearing act’ imaging to a much higher level and do so without requiring endless tweaking, fiddling, or fine-tuning.

 

 

The MG3 has "unlocked" the SM45s!  In comparison, the Emotiva was a ball and chain for those fine instruments, but I didn't know what they could do until this morning.  I think I'll just leave the MG3 on the speakers until the impedance match arrives.  It's very happy there.  They deserve each other.  

 

So let's do some math here:  $300 laptop + $800 DAC + $500 amp + $400 speakers = $20,000 sound.   (That extra zero is no mistake!)

 

biggrin.gif

 

Mike

post #789 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

It's just after 1:00 AM here and the alarm clock is going to go five and half hours, but I've only just now managed to hook up the MG3.

 

I decided to hear it at its best for my first impression, so I hooked it up to the 25.2V DC LiPo pack, connected the LCD-2 directly to the speaker taps, attached RCA interconnects from my DACmini CX Line Out, turned the volume all the way down, queued up Patricia Barber's Too Rich for My Blood, from the Cafe Blue album (via Foobar 2000 with WASAPI Event > USB on my Windows 7 laptop), then hit the power button on the MG3 and heard....  lots of hiss.   Haha!  

 

I immediately considered turning it off and just waiting for the impedance match to arrive, about a week from now.  But I hit the Play button in Foobar and was floored.  Absolutely stunning - despite the hiss!  

 

I've been buying, testing, and selling Head-Fi gear for only about three years now (still fairly inexperienced compared to some folks), but this little amp has given me the biggest leap forward since buying the LCD-2 and I'd say it's every bit as strong for shock value.  Amps aren't supposed to make this great a difference - that's been my understanding.  

 

I sold my Burson Soloist because it was boring - too laid back, insufficient dynamics, just lifeless compared to the Emotiva a-100 Mini-X, which only introduced its own failings (bright and harsh) while yielding the dynamics and detail I crave.  But this MG3 is firing on all cylinders - connecting all the dots, ticking all the boxes.  The percussion in Too Rich for My Blood was superb!  Her voice so natural!  I'm surely infatuated at the moment, so I'll leave it at that for now.  I've got to get to bed, before I start hunting up all my faves 'til the sun starts shining.

 

Thank you Stew and Gary, again and again, for leading the way with the MG3. My hat's off to Jan Plummer, too, of course. Well done! 

 

By the way - seeing pictures doesn't prepare you for just how small this thing is.  It's about the size of a 600-page paperback book.  Seriously tiny for what it can do.  I am so ready to go portable with this.  No made-for-headphones portable amp can touch the sound quality. It's insane.  I cannot wait to go to the next Head-Fi meet here in Dallas.  I think I'll hide it all under a cardboard box and make people listen before they look inside.  biggrin.gif

 

I'm not even hearing the hiss now - oh it's there - but I'm so engrossed in the music, I don't even care!  Oh, the music.  It sounds like music.  Where have all the bits and bytes gone?

 

Must... turn... it...  off...

 

Mike

Maybe sometime after you have the resistor box, and the better signal to noise ratio, you could compare  battery vs  ac power. I realize that many prefer the amp on battery power and that battery power may be how you will end up using it because of its' portability, but, well, inquiring minds need to know. wink.gif

post #790 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

Glad you (and Mike) like the Millenia. I liked it so much with my Paradox headphones, I tried it with my speaker system, and promptly sold my Musical Fidelity A1 amp, using the funds to purchase a second Millenia.

 

I agree with your assessment. I find the Millenia to be, more than anything, a very transparent transducer of what is coming into it. I don't recall hearing bass as deep and as taught, a midrange as clear and lifelike, nor treble any more extended  but without etch or brightness - attributes I cannot tolerate in the least. I believe, from all I have read about the HD800s, that what you are hearing is that headphone. The things that are standing out for you, appear to be strengths of the HD800, and the things you are wondering about, well, from what I have read, they are attributes of the headphone as well, as you were yourself wondering. With my speaker system in particular, I have never heard as dimensional a sound, even when using tube gear that is known for that. This may be highlighted again in your instance with the HD800 headphone in particular (soundstaging). With regard to that hiss, I assume you had told Jan what the impedance of your headphones were, and that he didn't just go ahead and make a resistor box like what he made for others? In any case, I would not give up on getting rid of that hiss some more, so definitely get in touch with him and see what he thinks. Make sure he has the stats for the HD800 to go by (impedance, efficiency, etc.) But of course he may have that info! rolleyes.gif

 

best

Stew

Oops. I meant to also include the word "neutral" in describing the Millenia. Transparent and neutral. Which also means that you could 'adjust' the sound a bit if you  wish by using different interconnects that may have particular traits. I have several different brands, and could readily hear differences. I settled, though, on the most neutral of the bunch - which surprisingly were the least expensive (using Mogami wire, but with lots of break-in time). I even changed the short speaker leads to the resistor box to Mogami wire, finding that even that short piece of wire impacted the sound. 

post #791 of 2631

Mike:

It appears that the stats on those SM45 speakers make them an excellent match for the Millenia (8 ohm impedance and 90db efficiency). Sounds like you may be going down the same road as me.....two Millenia amps. We'll get to share a room in the asylum.....redface.gif

post #792 of 2631

Zilch or somebody else, could you please send me the schematic of the resistor box used with this amp? Is the millenia shared or separate ground? My amp has separate grounds...thanks.

post #793 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

Zilch or somebody else, could you please send me the schematic of the resistor box used with this amp? Is the millenia shared or separate ground? My amp has separate grounds...thanks.

Grounds are not shared on the Millenia.

 

If no one is able to send you a schematic, Jan may be willing to offer it. I assume values would vary depending upon the headphones used.

post #794 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

Grounds are not shared on the Millenia.

 

If no one is able to send you a schematic, Jan may be willing to offer it. I assume values would vary depending upon the headphones used.

Ahh yes i forgot to mention the HD-800. I am not sure how it would work out since they vary from 300-600 ohms. Pretty high.

post #795 of 2631
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

Grounds are not shared on the Millenia.

 

If no one is able to send you a schematic, Jan may be willing to offer it. I assume values would vary depending upon the headphones used.

 

Schematics from Jan here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/629352/he-500-lcd2-d5000-dt770-sr80-on-a-speaker-amp-emotiva-mini-x-a-100-project/1020#post_9364493

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