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Parks Audio Budgie SE Build thread/Impressions - Page 2

post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the advice earlier Holland bigsmile_face.gif.  Not sure about the gain.  I did read in the forums that this amp is designed to be used without a preamp; I'll have to try it with my Native Instruments DAC tonight (it has 9db outputs confused_face.gif) to see if any clipping occurs.

post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 

As promised, some better pics of the Budgie SE:

 

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

*edited*

 

Edited by dsound - 8/26/13 at 11:15am
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsound View Post

Posted my initial impressions on the first page bigsmile_face.gif.

 

You can't expect bottom budget SE output transformers to beat an OTL like the Crack,  with good iron you could have a really nice SE amp that far exceeds the Crack.  Just something to consider if went this far.

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input Catfish.  I'm new to this whole thing so I just got the transformers that were listed on the BOM from the maker.  Maybe better-iron should be on my short-list for upgrades.. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by catfish View Post

 

You can't expect bottom budget SE output transformers to beat an OTL like the Crack,  with good iron you could have a really nice SE amp that far exceeds the Crack.  Just something to consider if went this far.

 

post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsound View Post

Posted my initial impressions on the first page bigsmile_face.gif.

 

sorry, I refuse to read posts edited well after a discussion has been made on them.

post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 

Noted.  Moved the info to a new post on this thread.

post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 

Update August 24, 2013

 

 

 


Initial Impressions:

The Budgie's tubes have burned in now for about 6 hours.  Through speakers, it sounds fantastic; the clarity and presentation of vocals are quite an upgrade from my Sony Integrated amplifier.  Since this is Head-fi though, I thought it best to give my impressions from a headphone perspective.

 

Equipment Used:  

 

Sennheiser HD600

Bottlehead Crack with Speedball (Chatham 5998 and RCA 12au7)

Budgie SE (2x JJ EL84 and Tungsol 12AX7)

iPod 5g (FLAC)

 

Tracks:

Guess I'm Doing Fine (Beck, Sea Change 2002)

For Good (Wicked, 2003)

 


 

 

Pros

  • First the positives, I love the aesthetics of this amp.  The top plate is screwed to an upside-down Hammond case which makes for a very polished finished product.  Also, given that this is a DIY amp, you can customize the knobs + transformer bell-colors to your hearts content.  
  • Soundwise, this is a very musical amplifier.  For non-critical listening, this is a wonderful amp.  The rolled off highs and the bloom in the bass give it a warm character.  I don't think anyone would characterize this amp as sterile in sound.
  • It paired pretty well with my HD600's; unfortunately, I don't have any Planars/Orthos to try with it so this review is pretty narrow in scope.  I found the sweet-spot on the volume at around 12:10 on the dial. 

 

Cons

  • I should preface this section with this statement:  Comparing the Budgie to the Crack isn't fair.  People talk about the mythical pairing of Sennheiser & Crack like it was Samwise and Frodo.  That being said, the Crack is my reference amp and so it couldn't be helped.  
  • The first thing I noticed on the Budgie was that the bass could be tightened up considerably.  Also, the Bass notes seemed weak in their attack versus the Crack.
  • The Budgie loses the  3 Dimensional sound and micro details of the Crack on the same tracks.  I'm not saying that the music is life-less, it is still a very pleasing experience, just less dynamic.  I found myself hunting for nuances that were apparent with the Crack but disappeared with the Budgie.  

 

Conclusion

  • While this amp offers alot of features for the money (about $350 minus shipping costs), as a headphone amp (at least for the HD600), I would look elsewhere.  I'm going to try it out with some lower impedance cans to see it it makes a difference in the sound.   As a speaker-amp though, I absolutely love it.

 

 

 

 

 
 
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by catfish View Post

You can't expect bottom budget SE output transformers to beat an OTL like the Crack,  with good iron you could have a really nice SE amp that far exceeds the Crack.  Just something to consider if went this far.

 

You cant expect such a broad generalization to possibly be true. 

 

Both amps are kind of on the low-end side (at the risk of stating the obvious quite bluntly....) but that is fine, everyone needs to start somewhere, and why not down low. This is great. 

 

Part of the reality with this is accepting that these amps BOTH have limitations, and that one of the key things that separates the lower-end from the higher-end is that high end amps are less inclined to show their limits. 

 

Based on an educated guess of what is going on in this amp, and building a Crack - neither amp is really better or worse, its simply a matter of the builder picking his compromise. 

 

The crack, with no output transformers will have wider bandwidth, but watch how it fails with a low impedance load. 

An amp like this will suffer limited bandwidth (maybe not as serious as you think, when you look at how little the range below 50hz matters...) but look at how nicely it performs with a low impedance load. 

post #25 of 29

All I'm saying is an EL34 SET with good iron can be an absolutely top choice for a tube headphone amp.  This amp has a whole lot of potential.  I wouldn't say its a bottom feeder,  maybe with the tiny edcors and the 12ax7 but those things are upgradeable. I guess I'm not an OTL fan and my bias shows but I encourage the OPer not to give up on this EL34, that's all.

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catfish View Post

All I'm saying is an EL34 SET with good iron can be an absolutely top choice for a tube headphone amp.  This amp has a whole lot of potential.  I wouldn't say its a bottom feeder,  maybe with the tiny edcors and the 12ax7 but those things are upgradeable. I guess I'm not an OTL fan and my bias shows but I encourage the OPer not to give up on this EL34, that's all.

 

Thanks for the input re: the Budgie.  I definitely have not given up on this amp.  In fact, I listened to it for ~3 hours yesterday.  I was also able to A/B it with my Sony Integrated and was able to discern more details in the mid-bass as well as the midrange that were not present before (through speakers). 

 

I also love the fact that the Budgie uses readily available EL84 and 12AX7 tubes, cheap (for the most part) and plentiful. bigsmile_face.gif

post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post

The crack, with no output transformers will have wider bandwidth, but watch how it fails with a low impedance load

An amp like this will suffer limited bandwidth (maybe not as serious as you think, when you look at how little the range below 50hz matters...) but look at how nicely it performs with a low impedance load. 

Great input, thanks nikongod.  I tried out the Budgie yesterday with my wife's HD598 and loved it.  The detail was still there but the graininess normally present throughout the spectrum was smoothed-out considerably.  To your point this headphone has an impedance of 50 Ohms vs. the HD600's 300 Ohms.

post #28 of 29

Very nice work DSound! I'm in the process of building one of these. Shannon's projects are always nicely documented and it's a friendly board over at DIYTube.com. I haven't determined an application for it yet (maybe give my ST35 in the work room a little vacation and let this guy run for a little bit).

 

The main objective of this little amp definitely seems to be keeping the cost down (hence the Budgie name). I'm using a number of scrap bin parts and building my own chassis from some molding and a scrap copper plate. The only real cost is the PCB (~$40), the low $$ Edcor transformers (~$110 shipped), and treating myself to a few parts I didn't have. 

 

Bumping up to Transcendar iron might be a worthwhile upgrade, but would probably need a different chassis layout. 

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiGHFLYiN9 View Post

Very nice work DSound! I'm in the process of building one of these. Shannon's projects are always nicely documented and it's a friendly board over at DIYTube.com. I haven't determined an application for it yet (maybe give my ST35 in the work room a little vacation and let this guy run for a little bit).

 

The main objective of this little amp definitely seems to be keeping the cost down (hence the Budgie name). I'm using a number of scrap bin parts and building my own chassis from some molding and a scrap copper plate. The only real cost is the PCB (~$40), the low $$ Edcor transformers (~$110 shipped), and treating myself to a few parts I didn't have. 

 

Bumping up to Transcendar iron might be a worthwhile upgrade, but would probably need a different chassis layout. 

 

Thanks for the kind words!  I hope you have as much fun as I did putting this together; I agree, Shannon's documentation is great.

 

I've been listening to the Budgie each night after I get home from work and love it.  One thing I've noticed after a couple nights of using the amp is that it seems to love volume; tracks still sound dynamic and musical even at high-volume.  I've noticed that with my Sony-integrated, that music becomes shouty and compressed when played loudly but this is not the case with the Budgie.

 

At any rate, please post pics of progress/completed build!  bigsmile_face.gif


Edited by dsound - 8/29/13 at 12:53pm
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