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Creek OBH 21SE

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have experience with this new (and as the saying goes, "improved") Creek amp? It is getting hyped by some sources but I don't see it discussed on this site, which is a somewhat worrisome sign. It sounds quite good to me, certainly better then the Grado RA-1, but I have a few days left before I have to decide whether to keep it or send it back to AA and want to make sure I'm not seriously selling myself short. For those who have heard it, do you have any suggestions for something better in the price range (i.e. $350 to $400) for a non-portable amp to be used with Sennheiser HD-650's and an Arcam Diva CD 82 source?

All input is appreciated, though as an aside, I am not up for dealing with the uncertainty of a Perreaux, even if I can find one at a reasonable price. Also, if I am overlooking a discussion on this issue from earlier posts, please let me know and I'll do my homework better. Thanks!
post #2 of 65
If it sounds good to you go for it. But don't read the posts.
Enjoy your music.
post #3 of 65
Newmanoc,

The Creeks were more popular around here a good while back before DIY amps became the rage. Some time ago it was pointed out by head-fier Pink Floyd that the Creek OBH-11 (the standard edition with one phone jack) had cheap parts in it such as Samwha capacitors. This was a blow to the Creeks credibility, just when it had become obvious that you can build yourself a better amp for less (or get someone else to build it for you). I've never auditioned any of the Creek amps and I chose the Rega Ear instead. Some have pointed ou that the Rega Ear has better sinergy with the top of range Senns, having even been voiced with the HD 600s by Rega engineers, whereas the Creek OBH-11 is known to be more sinergystic with the AKG K501s to the point providing those cans with stronger bass. The Rega Ear sounds fantastic to me, so you should audition one if you can. A Perreaux would probably be the better than either the Creek or the Rega though.

Edit: sorry I don't have any direct experience with the Creek amps, but I hope the above info helps.

Cheers,
Alex
post #4 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rob80b
If it sounds good to you go for it. But don't read the posts.
Enjoy your music.
Thanks, Rob80b, always the wise bottom line advice regarding audio issues. Unfortunately, headphone amps are not the easiest things to audition in my area (few audio stores have them in stock), and one gets a little nervous about missing out on a better thing.
post #5 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Altorfer


The Creeks were more popular around here a good while back before DIY amps became the rage. ... I chose the Rega Ear instead. Some have pointed ou that the Rega Ear has better sinergy with the top of range Senns, having even been voiced with the HD 600s by Rega engineers... The Rega Ear sounds fantastic to me, so you should audition one if you can.


Alex:
Thank you very much for your thoughtful recommendation regarding the Rega Ear, and especially for providing me with some historical perspective about the Creek amps and the head-fi community. As a newcomer to this site, it is very helpful, and your taking the time is much appreciated.

Have a weekend of joyful listening!
post #6 of 65
Hi Newmanoc,

I'm going to second Rob80b's thoughts. Let *your ears* decide whether the Creek's good enough for you.

Alex actually explains the anti-Creek phenomenon around here pretty well. Up until a couple years ago, the earlier model Creek (OBH-11) gots lots of praise around here and elsewhere. (Check out audioreview.com, for instance, as well as Stereophile and other reviews). Then it was "discovered" that the Creek's parts weren't quite up to snuff. And wouldn't you know: everyone's units started sounding really bad, all of a sudden! Practically everyone became convinced that what had previously sounded pretty good was now a sub-par amp. This is just a classic example of group-think. Before long even people who had never even heard the amp were bashing it, based on "so and so said this about it," or "have you seen the parts in that thing!", etc.

I've owned the OBH-11 for a couple years, and have enjoyed it immensely. I didn't let the herd mentality in here deter me. It's your money--so why let other people dictate how you should feel about your product? If the Creek doesn't meet your needs, then of course by all means get something else. But ultimately you've got to let your ears tell you how to proceed.

Best of luck to you in your decision.

post #7 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by prisoner #6
Alex actually explains the anti-Creek phenomenon around here pretty well. Up until a couple years ago, the earlier model Creek (OBH-11) gots lots of praise around here and elsewhere. (Check out audioreview.com, for instance, as well as Stereophile and other reviews). Then it was "discovered" that the Creek's parts weren't quite up to snuff. And wouldn't you know: everyone's units started sounding really bad, all of a sudden! Practically everyone became convinced that what had previously sounded pretty good was now a sub-par amp. This is just a classic example of group-think. Before long even people who had never even heard the amp were bashing it, based on "so and so said this about it," or "have you seen the parts in that thing!", etc.
You're right about this phenomenon. However, there were a few die-hards: I was one of them. Despite the fact that I'd heard very few other amps, I felt that the OBH-11 was a good sounding piece, at least when using a linear regulated wall wart (OBH-2 or equiv). In fact, I used to recommend it to people as a good, inexpensive entry level amp far beyond the point where others started saying it sucked.

That is, I was a hold out until I heard several other amps (including a maxed out Meta42) and began to get suspicious. Then I did a number of carefully controlled tests that determined the OBH-11 had a major bass hump (measurable) and a dramatically high level of intermod distortion that gave a false impression of being "revealing." After comparing these figures to what my ears were telling me, my opinion changed and I sold off the Creek as fast as possible.

I state this only so that you don't paint everyone with the same broad brush... some of us used our ears and thinking capabilities to determine that the OBH-11 was indeed a POS (Creek discontinued the OBH-11 by the way).

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the OBH21SE, but what you said called for a response.
post #8 of 65
Newmanoc,

Quote:
Originally posted by newmanoc
Alex:
Thank you very much for your thoughtful recommendation regarding the Rega Ear, and especially for providing me with some historical perspective about the Creek amps and the head-fi community. As a newcomer to this site, it is very helpful, and your taking the time is much appreciated.

Have a weekend of joyful listening!
You're welcome. It is an honour to be of help. Again, I'd like to emphasize that I haven't auditioned any of the Creek amps and so I am in no position to either recommend them or condemn them, especially considering opinions regarding the OBH-11 are so polarized both ways. I suggest the Perreaux could be a good buy even without auditioning it as there are so many people in the forum who are happy with it. I believe the same applies to DIY designs such as the PIMETA, provided that you build it with quality parts. From personal experience I can only recommend the Rega Ear and I do so heartily.

EDIT: It has come to my attention that the Perreaux's price has gone up significantly and many people are not happy about it. It may no longer be worth the money.

Cheers,
Alex
post #9 of 65
Fewtch,

Quote:
Originally posted by fewtch
I did a number of carefully controlled tests that determined the OBH-11 had a major bass hump (measurable).
Hmmm. This could explain why some claimed the OBH-11 and the AKG K-501 are so sinergistic, the AKG being renowned for weak bass.

Quote:
Originally posted by fewtch
Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the OBH21SE...
So true. And it is a pity that the Creek amps disappeared from this forum so ubiquitously. I guess owning a Creek became a reason for embarrassment around here, even after the OBH-21 releases, so no one cared to buy them or review them or compare them to the original Creeks. Once some images of the OBH-21 circuitry were posted here and they looked significantly neater than the OBH-11's guts, which seemed glued together by a drunk teenager. Yet nobody took the initiative of finding out whether the OBH-21 sounded any better than the OBH-11. I find that unfortunate. Maybe the newer Creeks are better after all, but the stigma keeps them from being acquired and reviewed by forum members.

Cheers,
Alex
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by fewtch
That is, I was a hold out until I heard several other amps (including a maxed out Meta42) and began to get suspicious. Then I did a number of carefully controlled tests that determined the OBH-11 had a major bass hump (measurable) and a dramatically high level of intermod distortion that gave a false impression of being "revealing." After comparing these figures to what my ears were telling me, my opinion changed and I sold off the Creek as fast as possible.

I state this only so that you don't paint everyone with the same broad brush... some of us used our ears and thinking capabilities to determine that the OBH-11 was indeed a POS (Creek discontinued the OBH-11 by the way).

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the OBH21SE, but what you said called for a response.

You've supported my point quite well, fewtch. Thanks!! All those folks who used their "ears and thinking capabilities" came to a sudden, complete 180-degree turnaround: what was previously a good-sounding amp was now a "POS." And your careful tests undoubtedly played a crucial role in converting them! More power to you.

It would probably be worth explaining, though, why discontinuing a product has anything to do with it being a "POS." Based on that reasoning we'd have to conclude that all those Meier HA-1s that jude's been auctioning over on ebay are being unloaded because they're clearly unlistenable. I mean, after all, they've been discontinued! Better get the word out!
post #11 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by prisoner #6
You've supported my point quite well, fewtch. Thanks!! All those folks who used their "ears and thinking capabilities" came to a sudden, complete 180-degree turnaround: what was previously a good-sounding amp was now a "POS." And your careful tests undoubtedly played a crucial role in converting them! More power to you.
You give me much more power than I'm due. Let's look at the overall situation:

(1) The OBH-11 was already discontinued at this point, and the common selling price in Gear FS/Trade late last year was about $100 for one in perfect mint condition. These days, you rarely or never run into one being sold here, period. If someone asked me directly I'd say go for a Headsave MiniMe (maxed out MINT) for around $100, if they wanted to buy in that price range -- unless that pretty black screen-printed case was of overriding importance to them. That's because the MiniMe just sounds better... much better. If you've got $110 lying around, try one and decide for yourself.

(2) The default OBH-1 wall wart supplied with the OBH-11 is a 10-cent Chinese-made piece of junk (and the much better OBH-2 was selling for more than the cost of a used OBH-11). Dunno if you've recognized the benefits of clean power yet, but once you do you'll be a believer for life.

(3) I was one of the main people recommending the OBH-11 around here for awhile last year, well after PinkFloyd posted an "expose" of the crappy parts used in the amp. In fact, I was angry with PinkFloyd for judging the amp mostly based on the quality of parts without taking SQ into account.

(4) I've really only "dis-recommended" the OBH-11 a few times -- there's no reason to anymore. They aren't being sold new and they've become very scarce. There are now a ton of choices on the headphone amp market, including some excellent DIY models that deliver far beyond what they cost. If certain people really lack the capability to think/decide for themselves, you can't blame me for someone blindly following my recommendation against the OBH-11. I'm just a single person, not a one-man army.
Quote:

It would probably be worth explaining, though, why discontinuing a product has anything to do with it being a "POS." Based on that reasoning we'd have to conclude that all those Meier HA-1s that jude's been auctioning over on ebay are being unloaded because they're clearly unlistenable. I mean, after all, they've been discontinued! Better get the word out!
Sorry we disagree about the OBH-11. I'm not going to go on with this and turn it into a thread crap. It's nearly pointless now, because it takes real work to find an OBH-11 at this point... you just don't run into them much anymore.
post #12 of 65
I have noticed that the Creeks have largely disappeared around here. If I were to sell mine, there's no way I'd put it for sale on this site. I saw one go up recently, *with* the OBH-2, for $150 or so, and it sank like a rock. No one went near it, apparently.

But that just demonstrates my point about the group-think. If you go over to Audiogon, you'll see a whole different culture. OBH-11s turn up pretty regularly over there. In the last month, several OBH-11s have sold, most in the neighborhood of $140-150. One with a OBH-2 went for almost $200, and it was even a little dinged-up. One Audiogoner recently wrote a really strong, very detailed review of an OBH-11 he had just added into his system.

Now you tell me: do the people over there simply not know what sounds good? Are they mysteriously unable to identify a "POS" when they hear one? A lot of those guys have systems I can only dream about. Yet you just haven't seen the kind of OBH-11-bashing over there that was all the rage around here. In fact a number of people with absolutely kick-*ss systems have OBH-11s in them as well. I've not seen this kind of negative reaction at AudioAsylum either, for that matter.

Of course, this is a headphone-enthusiast site--so naturally I do expect people to be more informed (and more enthusiastic!) about amp opinions, pro- or con. But even taking that into account, it's hard for me to understand the Creek-dumping, unless some pretty serious group-psychology dynamics are thrown into the equation.
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by prisoner #6
Now you tell me: do the people over there simply not know what sounds good? Are they mysteriously unable to identify a "POS" when they hear one? A lot of those guys have systems I can only dream about. Yet you just haven't seen the kind of OBH-11-bashing over there that was all the rage around here. In fact a number of people with absolutely kick-*ss systems have OBH-11s in them as well. I've not seen this kind of negative reaction at AudioAsylum either, for that matter.
Look, I can only speak for myself. I already told you that I liked the sound of my OBH-11 for awhile (never having heard anything better), but after (A) comparing it directly to a well built maxed-out Meta42 and (B) running various tests on it showing its flaws (which are serious), I concluded that there are far better options available. This is hardly an example of "group think," I did a great deal of testing and comparing before forming my conclusion.

As far as I'm concerned, you're selling yourself severely short if the OBH-11 is the only headamp in the under-$200 price range you've ever heard. Why anyone would blindly follow an affection for an amp, I haven't a clue. If you've extensively auditioned other amps in the price range and just prefer the sound of the OBH-11 over them all, then more power to you. However, it doesn't change my opinion that the OBH-11 sounds bad and measures poorly.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by fewtch
Look, I can only speak for myself. I already told you that I liked the sound of my OBH-11 for awhile (basically never having heard anything better), but after (A) comparing it directly to a well built maxed-out Meta42 and (B) running various tests on it showing its flaws (which are serious), I concluded that there are far better options available. If you consider this to be "group think" and can't respect my opinion on the matter, then go get stuffed.
Thatta boy! When all else fails, make an insult out of it. Don't bother considering the argument, whatever you do! Peace, bro.
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by prisoner #6
Thatta boy! When all else fails, make an insult out of it. Don't bother considering the argument, whatever you do!
Argument? This is purely a classic case of "defending your choice" -- as if insulting your amp of choice was insulting *you*. So absurd and childish as to be laughable. Do yourself a favor, get out of your rut and audition a few of the more recent, high quality DIY amps (the Headsave or JMTAudio models are a good starting point, imo).
Quote:
Originally posted by prisoner #6
But that just demonstrates my point about the group-think. If you go over to Audiogon, you'll see a whole different culture.
Yes, it's not a dedicated headphone culture like we have here. The level of knowledge there regarding headphone gear in general is the pits. There isn't even a separate category for headphones... if you want to sell them you have to pick a category like "tweaks." Headphones and associated gear are considered as a possible minor system addition after buying everything else.
Quote:
OBH-11s turn up pretty regularly over there. In the last month, several OBH-11s have sold, most in the neighborhood of $140-150. One with a OBH-2 went for almost $200, and it was even a little dinged-up. One Audiogoner recently wrote a really strong, very detailed review of an OBH-11 he had just added into his system.

Now you tell me: do the people over there simply not know what sounds good?
Exactly. The people over there, in general, simply do not know which headphones and headamps sound good and which do not.
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