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post #121 of 192

Enjoyed your impressions minimus!  And I really hope this isn't the end of L-2 production, given the info songmic received.  Since first learning about the torpedo and then the L-2 on HC and innefidelity, I've been keeping an eye out for an opportunity to hear one.  I'm all the more interested having recently completed my bottlehead mainline, which is a fairly similar parafeed, single gain stage, constant current loaded 6c45pi wot amp - the derivative of a bottlehead statement piece from many years ago.  

 

Tomb actually noted the similarities in another thread when discussing the virtues of well implemented output transformers:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

OK - I'll chance getting this deleted as shilling my own product, but seriously - there's an easy answer to your question: there are many pure tube amps available.  As someone else mentioned, you need output transformers to handle various load impedances.  That's the only thing that can be made to equally match output between the extremes of 300 ohm Sennheisers versus 32 ohm Grados.

 

Mapletree makes fantastic stuff using this principle.  There's also an excellent amp called the L-2 by ECP Audio.  Tyll mentioned it on innerfidelity.com when he was reviewing the Abyss.  He had the L-2 paired with the HD800's, and stated in so many words, that it takes all the high-end harshness out of the HD800.  There's an offering on Beezar (me) called the Torpedo, also designed by ECP Audio - it's primarily a DIY-kit.  It's a parafeed design, which is a term used to describe how the output transformers are connected into the circuit.  The Bottlehead Mainline is also built on the same principle (parafeed).  Notably, the L-2 and Mainline use the same signal tubes - 6C45's.

 

Just MHO, but output transformers - even relatively cheap ones - blow away the output coupling capacitors in OTL amps.  There's no comparison with the transparency and detail.  Output coupling capacitors put a fog over the entire music signal.

 

Mods, please delete if this was inappropriate.

 

 

Based on Tyll's comments, among others, I suspect the mainline and L-2 share a lot of sonic similarities in terms of making for an excellent match with hd800's.  While waiting for an L-2 to pop up on the market, if you're at all tempted by the prospect of building a mainline, I'd highly recommend it.  For reference, my listening impressions on the mainline -> hd800 pairing are in post #7 on this page: http://www.head-fi.org/t/683012/bottlehead-amplifier-discussion-comparison-thread-crack-sex-mainline

post #122 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post

The Dynahi is absolutely amazing with the 800s and so is the GS-X mk2. I have never found the 800 to be harsh at all, love it on my DSHA as well. My friend has the L-2 and it is great on that amp as well but if I had to choose, the Dynahi wins by a pretty good margin.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post
 

I could see this being the case.  The HD800 driven in balanced mode by your balanced Dynahi should be stunning.  I had a great deal of success driving the HD800 balanced by my Gilmore Reference Balanced prior to selling it.  I remember liking the Gilmore Reference Balanced a tad more than the DSHA & L-2 in a direct comparison.  

 

Hmm... so some of you prefer the GS-X mk2 to the L-2 when driving the HD800. Everyone I've asked so far (who compared both GS-X mk2 and L-2) said although both are great they prefer the L-2 by a small margin, because the L-2 has less shrill and is softer, more pleasant to listen to and remedies the HD800's treble issues which I believe is its greatest fault. Could you tell me why you prefer the GS-X mk2 to L-2, in what ways?

post #123 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post
 

 

 

Hmm... so some of you prefer the GS-X mk2 to the L-2 when driving the HD800. Everyone I've asked so far (who compared both GS-X mk2 and L-2) said although both are great they prefer the L-2 by a small margin, because the L-2 has less shrill and is softer, more pleasant to listen to and remedies the HD800's treble issues which I believe is its greatest fault. Could you tell me why you prefer the GS-X mk2 to L-2, in what ways?

Are we talking about driving the HD800 balanced out of the GS-X MK2 or single-ended here?  

 

The L2 as well as the DSHA-1 are excellent amplifiers for the price.  I had both in my system and think the world of it. I regret not buying the L2 of from Doug when I had the chance.  Ultimately, I preferred my Gilmore Balanced Reference (original Dynalo module with much more exotic parts) for both of my R10s & Qualia to the DSHA-1 & L2 as well as the GS-X MK2 in a direct comparison.  Between the two ECP amps, I actually like the DSHA-1 better b/c I think the top end of the L2 is a tad roll off.  Sadly, I've never tried the HD800 out of the L2 since I sold it a long time ago.  Only the R10 & Qualia (both superior to the HD800) were used during the comparison.  The DSHA-1 was a loaner from Radio_Head, L2 from Doug, and GS-X MKII from Justin.  I envy Bubliss for owning the DSHA-1 though.

post #124 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post
 

Are we talking about driving the HD800 balanced out of the GS-X MK2 or single-ended here?  

 

The L2 as well as the DSHA-1 are excellent amplifiers for the price.  I had both in my system and think the world of it. I regret not buying the L2 of from Doug when I had the chance.  Ultimately, I preferred my Gilmore Balanced Reference (original Dynalo module with much more exotic parts) for both of my R10s & Qualia to the DSHA-1 & L2 as well as the GS-X MK2 in a direct comparison.  Between the two ECP amps, I actually like the DSHA-1 better b/c I think the top end of the L2 is a tad roll off.  Sadly, I've never tried the HD800 out of the L2 since I sold it a long time ago.  Only the R10 & Qualia (both superior to the HD800) were used during the comparison.  The DSHA-1 was a loaner from Radio_Head, L2 from Doug, and GS-X MKII from Justin.  I envy Bubliss for owning the DSHA-1 though.

 

I'm talking about driving HD800 balanced out of the GS-X mk2.

 

I'm purely talking about the HD800. The R10 and Qualia may be better suited to the DHSA because they are low impedance headphones, but the HD800 is different; it benefits from a higher output impedance and it has treble issues so the top end of L2 could actually help smoothen the HD800's treble. If the HD800 were not my headphone, I would definitely go for the GS-X mk2 (which is similar but superior to Gilmore Balnanced Reference). But because I'm talking about HD800 here, I'm torn between GS-X mk2 and L-2.

post #125 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post
 

 

I'm talking about driving HD800 balanced out of the GS-X mk2.

 

I'm purely talking about the HD800. The R10 and Qualia may be better suited to the DHSA because they are low impedance headphones, but the HD800 is different; it benefits from a higher output impedance and it has treble issues so the top end of L2 could actually help smoothen the HD800's treble. If the HD800 were not my headphone, I would definitely go for the GS-X mk2 (which is similar but superior to Gilmore Balnanced Reference). But because I'm talking about HD800 here, I'm torn between GS-X mk2 and L-2.

 

 

GS-X MK2 is not superior to my Gilmore Ref Balanced, it is the other way around for me and I had both amps side-by-side in a direct comparison. This is due to better parts used through out the amp with beefier PSU on the original Headamp Gilmore Reference Balanced despiting the GS-X MKII having an upgrade electronic module.  I highly recommended anyone that come across this amp to pick it up without any hesitation and the HD800 sounds sublime on this as well.  

 

You don't need a high output impedance to make the HD800 sounded great, as I was able to achieve this very well with my original gilmore reference amplfier.  However, I firmly believed that the HD800 really benefit from driving in balanced mode and a good cable upgrade.  I could see that the L2's sound signature be a great match at enhancing the HD800's short coming though.

 

I say go for the L2 if you can find one given that you are leaning toward the HD800; however, Doug won't be making any more of it.  I heard rumor that he is working on a newer design though.


Edited by purk - 12/7/13 at 12:00pm
post #126 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post
 

 I heard rumor that he is working on a newer design though.

 

That's what I've heard, too.  No indication on timeline, and he recently moved, but I hassled him to get his shop back in order to finish my unit, so I know he's ready to go now.

 

You all might want to reach out and get a sneak peek of whatever's up next.  I imagine it will be excellent.

post #127 of 192
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post
 

I posted this as a product review, but figure I would also post it in this thread:

 

So, what do I like about the L-2?  Very simple:

(1) It has all the positive musical attributes of a good tube amp -- it is slightly warm and full-sounding, not at all dry or boring.  Although Doug Savitsky of ECP Audio is a no-nonsense builder, this amp is not a "straight wire with gain".  It is really immersive and musical. I also don't find it to be at all bright, as Skylab found in his review. I am sensitive to bright, fatiguing sound.  I only could only listen to Grados for about 15 minutes before I needed to take some Advil and return them.  The L-2 is good for hours of fatigue-free listening.  The amount of mid-range and treble detail this amp offers is also really impressive.

(2) It has none of the negative attributes of tubes -- it is extremely quiet and barely gets warm.  I really like using my JH16s with full-size headphone amps.  The JH16s offer sound quality that rivals the best dynamic open headphones I have owned or demo'd, but they also isolate really well.  The one drawback of IEM's is that they are highly sensitive with very low impedance.  If there is any noise in the circuit or from the tubes, you will hear it with the JH16s.  When I use the JH16s with the L-2, I hear absolutely zero noise.  This amp is as quiet as the solid state Luxman P-1u was.  Also, unlike some tube amps, the L-2 is not a space heater.  You won't risk burning your children or pet with this amp.

Comparing the L-2 to the Super 7: the Super 7 is a great amp, but in my book it gets edged out by the L-2 in every respect except one.  The L-2 is quieter and offers slightly better resolution and detail than the Super 7.  Higher frequencies seem slightly rolled off with the Super 7, something that has only become apparent after owning the L-2 for the last two months.  The L-2 also seems to drive my LCD-2s better than the Super 7 does -- offering better dynamics than the Super 7.  The L-2 also has significantly lower gain than the Super 7, allowing me to use much more of the volume pot than the Super 7 does (a particularly nice feature with the JH16s).  The only aspect of the Super 7 that beats out the L-2 is in the area of bass quantity and depth.  Simply put, the Super 7 has really authoritative bass, easily the best of any amp I have owned.  Bass-shy CDs tend to sound better through the Super 7 than the L-2.  Overall, I am finding that I am listening to the L-2 about 80% of the time, switching back to the Super 7 20% of the time.

Yes, the L-2 is an expensive amp.  But so are the WA22 and the Luxman P-1u, neither of which compete with the L-2.  The Super 7 is a less expensive amp, although when you figure in the cost of finding 7 NOS 6SN7 tubes for it, the spread between the cost of the two amps falls quite a bit.  Although I have no intention of parting with either amp and I still have tremendous respect for what the Super 7 accomplishes at its price point, if forced to I would sell the Super 7 before the L-2.

It’s a shame that ECP Audio is somewhat overlooked as an amp manufacturer on Head-Fi. I have owned a lot of high profile amps in the last 7 years and the L-2, in my opinion, easily competes with or beats all of them in terms of sound quality and build quality.

Thanks for the thoughts, they seem to echo the sentiments of most who get a chance with these amps.  The Super 7 is a great amp to compare it to as they are two of the best bargains in audio before hitting the 3K+ bracket.  The S7 really opens up with an awesome driver, I switched from a BGRP early on to an ECC32 and have not looked back.  Next up is to try the 6BX7 which means I can run the amp with only three tubes instead of seven and it ups the power from three watts to four.  Downsides are as you mention a higher noise floor (though better isolating the transformer to eliminate buzz helps with that), looks (while hefty, substantial, and put together, its not on caliber with the ECP offerings) and lack of balanced input.  The S7 and L-2, while comparable in terms of sonic quality, really do take the opposite approach to things though.  One circuit optimized for a specific tube to set and forget vs an amp that's just begging to be rolled and can be a bit of a sonic chameleon depending on tube choice, especially driver choice.  I don't think I'm done experimenting, but I am fully expecting to somehow run an 833A or something crazy before I'm finished with it.  I doubt Craig will do something this good this cheap again, he looks to be going all out with for the nearish future with the new BA, the 445, 2A3X4, and Leviathan.

 

I share your sentiment about ECP being overlooked.  It shouldn't be like one of those obscure singer-songwriters that get noticed after their death.  Doug needs appreciation so that the amps I own by him can appreciate in value.  


Edited by Radio_head - 12/11/13 at 2:25pm
post #128 of 192

I'm very poor at articulating what I hear but I also did want to mention how brilliant the L-2 is.  I've owned the HD800 twice and sold them both times because I thought they were technically brilliant, but ultimately a group of separate sounds lacking cohesiveness.  The massive soundstage was no doubt partly responsible for the separation of instruments.

 

But the HD800 paired with the L-2 retains the soundstaging, with the benefit of filling in the massive space with the music.  The HD800 is really musical now, probably the most musical dynamic headphone I've heard.  I'm toe-tapping like I haven't before, even compared to my SR-007 rig.  I'm also very brightness sensitive, and why I love the SR-007 so much, and the L-2 tames the HD800 treble and I can and have had 6+ hour listening sessions with the pair in the last week.  The L-2 addresses the listening fatigue issue of the HD800 with aplomb.

 

The W3000ANV sounds bloody amazing too with the L-2.  The vocals get richer and more romantic than I've heard on other amps.  The L-2 brings out more of the W3000ANV magic than anything else I've tried.  I've also never heard the JH13 better, and like mentioned above, it's absolutely quiet with the CIEMs.  The L-2 has low enough gain that you can use a decent amount of the pot to dial in the CIEM volume.  The L-2 also performed a nice little trick in making the Heir 8.A tolerable.  I really do not like that CIEM at all, but I keep it because it's so pretty.

 

Lastly, the L-2/HD800 is remarkable at low volumes.  They do not beg to be turned up for all the goodness like the SR-007, and that to me is such a valuable trait.

 

The L-2/HD800 do not take a backseat to my KGSSHV/SR-007MK1, and that's a great compliment from someone who was about to quit dynamic cans.

post #129 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Failed Engineer View Post
 

I'm very poor at articulating what I hear but I also did want to mention how brilliant the L-2 is.  I've owned the HD800 twice and sold them both times because I thought they were technically brilliant, but ultimately a group of separate sounds lacking cohesiveness.  The massive soundstage was no doubt partly responsible for the separation of instruments.

 

But the HD800 paired with the L-2 retains the soundstaging, with the benefit of filling in the massive space with the music.  The HD800 is really musical now, probably the most musical dynamic headphone I've heard.  I'm toe-tapping like I haven't before, even compared to my SR-007 rig.  I'm also very brightness sensitive, and why I love the SR-007 so much, and the L-2 tames the HD800 treble and I can and have had 6+ hour listening sessions with the pair in the last week.  The L-2 addresses the listening fatigue issue of the HD800 with aplomb.

 

The W3000ANV sounds bloody amazing too with the L-2.  The vocals get richer and more romantic than I've heard on other amps.  The L-2 brings out more of the W3000ANV magic than anything else I've tried.  I've also never heard the JH13 better, and like mentioned above, it's absolutely quiet with the CIEMs.  The L-2 has low enough gain that you can use a decent amount of the pot to dial in the CIEM volume.  The L-2 also performed a nice little trick in making the Heir 8.A tolerable.  I really do not like that CIEM at all, but I keep it because it's so pretty.

 

Lastly, the L-2/HD800 is remarkable at low volumes.  They do not beg to be turned up for all the goodness like the SR-007, and that to me is such a valuable trait.

 

The L-2/HD800 do not take a backseat to my KGSSHV/SR-007MK1, and that's a great compliment from someone who was about to quit dynamic cans.

Those are very interesting impressions and they are very similar to mine.

 

I just got a pair of HD800s yesterday because I am next up to receive the loaner of the Apex Teton, a new amp similar in design to the Singlepower Extreme, from TTVJ.  (Todd wants those receiving the Teton to hear it with the HD800s, since the Teton is an OTL amp that might not sound its best with low impedance headphones like the LCD-2/3 or custom IEMs like my JH16s).

 

Wow! -- the HD800s sound fantastic out of the L-2.  Every time I have heard the HD800s before I thought they were either boring or bright, sometimes both at the same time.  Out of the L-2 though, the HD800s deliver a level of resolution, soundstage, coherence, and bass that is really impressive.  (Out of the L-2, the HD800s are certainly not bass shy.)  My head is bobbing and my toes are tapping.  I don't own Stax, so cannot make comparisons on that front.  But the L-2/HD800 combination beats any other dynamic setup I have heard yet. It will be interesting to find out if the Teton, at $5K, can compete with the L-2.  At this point, I have some doubts.

post #130 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Failed Engineer View Post
 

I'm very poor at articulating what I hear but I also did want to mention how brilliant the L-2 is.  I've owned the HD800 twice and sold them both times because I thought they were technically brilliant, but ultimately a group of separate sounds lacking cohesiveness.  The massive soundstage was no doubt partly responsible for the separation of instruments.

 

But the HD800 paired with the L-2 retains the soundstaging, with the benefit of filling in the massive space with the music.  The HD800 is really musical now, probably the most musical dynamic headphone I've heard.  I'm toe-tapping like I haven't before, even compared to my SR-007 rig.  I'm also very brightness sensitive, and why I love the SR-007 so much, and the L-2 tames the HD800 treble and I can and have had 6+ hour listening sessions with the pair in the last week.  The L-2 addresses the listening fatigue issue of the HD800 with aplomb.

 

The W3000ANV sounds bloody amazing too with the L-2.  The vocals get richer and more romantic than I've heard on other amps.  The L-2 brings out more of the W3000ANV magic than anything else I've tried.  I've also never heard the JH13 better, and like mentioned above, it's absolutely quiet with the CIEMs.  The L-2 has low enough gain that you can use a decent amount of the pot to dial in the CIEM volume.  The L-2 also performed a nice little trick in making the Heir 8.A tolerable.  I really do not like that CIEM at all, but I keep it because it's so pretty.

 

Lastly, the L-2/HD800 is remarkable at low volumes.  They do not beg to be turned up for all the goodness like the SR-007, and that to me is such a valuable trait.

 

The L-2/HD800 do not take a backseat to my KGSSHV/SR-007MK1, and that's a great compliment from someone who was about to quit dynamic cans.

 

Are these impressions based on using the Metrum Hex as your DAC?

post #131 of 192

Yes.  I haven't swapped DACs yet, and I'll only do so for testing.  The Hex isn't going anywhere.

post #132 of 192

I'm in the market for headphone amp(s), and the top two tube amp on my list are the ECZD and the ECP L-2; could some kind soul with knowledge of both amp explain to me the pros and cons between the two amps. I posted iin this thread because the likelihood of a person hearing both amps is higher here than in the ECZD thread. thanks in advance

post #133 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxerOrBag View Post
 

I'm in the market for headphone amp(s), and the top two tube amp on my list are the ECZD and the ECP L-2; could some kind soul with knowledge of both amp explain to me the pros and cons between the two amps. I posted iin this thread because the likelihood of a person hearing both amps is higher here than in the ECZD thread. thanks in advance

 

I own the EC ZDSE, and while I haven't heard the L-2, I think the L-2 is a better amp for HD800 than the ZDSE based on what people are saying. I'm currently enjoying my ZDSE with HD800 and TH900. The ZDSE is the best amp I've heard with the TH900, though.

 

It depends on which headphones you're planning to use with either amp.

 

Unfortunately though, the L-2 is permanently discontinued. The L-2 is also on my list, but the only way I'll be able to get one is if someone is willing to sell his L-2. If you really want one, you have to get in line. ;)


Edited by songmic - 12/14/13 at 9:28am
post #134 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post
 

 

I own the EC ZDSE, and while I haven't heard the L-2, I think the L-2 is a better amp for HD800 than the ZDSE based on what people are saying. I'm currently enjoying my ZDSE with HD800 and TH900. The ZDSE is the best amp I've heard with the TH900, though.

 

It depends on which headphones you're planning to use with either amp.

 

Unfortunately though, the L-2 is permanently discontinued. The L-2 is also on my list, but the only way I'll be able to get one is if someone is willing to sell his L-2. If you really want one, you have to get in line. ;)

 

thanks.... nvm then. Guess I'll be ordering the ZDSE.

 

I did not see any notice on ECP audio's website stating that the L-2 is discontinued... but I guess if they are going to be in business, a new version must be in the works. Best of luck to you in acquiring the amp. please share your impressions between the two amps if you ever get the chance.

post #135 of 192
Thread Starter 

If you're looking for a "tube" amp, something like a ZDSE also makes more sense as it has closer to what you would expect a (good) tube amp to sound like.  The L-2 retains more of a "solid state" characteristic.  The ZDSE is lusher than something like an S7 which is in turn lusher than the L-2 (with the tube combos I've tried.)  For AT's (W3000ANV specifically) I like the ECP sound better, just a little too romantic sounding with EC.  Same thing with the R-10 (which pairs best with the PS'd DSHA of any amp combo I have ever tried.)

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