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Bottlehead Amplifier Discussion / Comparison Thread: Crack, SEX & Mainline - Page 22

post #316 of 834
Thread Starter 

Discussion of compatibility, tubes, and general sound review now completed for the Mainline (http://www.head-fi.org/t/683012/bottlehead-amplifier-discussion-comparison-thread-crack-sex-mainline#post_9831533)

 

Comparisons with the Crack and S.E.X. to follow soon...

post #317 of 834

Fantastic work so far, Loquah.. an immensely enjoyable read..

post #318 of 834
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post
 

Fantastic work so far, Loquah.. an immensely enjoyable read..

 

Thanks FlySweep! Glad you enjoyed it!!

post #319 of 834

Loquah super stuff

 

"At first, lifelike reproduction sounds ordinary and everyday - it's only as you spend more and more time with it that you appreciation of it grows because it's completely believable and never fatiguing because nothing is overdone or enhanced."

 

This could equally be describing the T1's imo and its why a lot of folk who just have a quick listen at a high fi meet or a half hours demo just don't get then because of the lack of wow factor. Ordinary and everyday is real and natural and something that very few ever get right.


Edited by JamieMcC - 1/2/14 at 3:00am
post #320 of 834
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieMcC View Post
 

Loquah super stuff

 

"At first, lifelike reproduction sounds ordinary and everyday - it's only as you spend more and more time with it that you appreciation of it grows because it's completely believable and never fatiguing because nothing is overdone or enhanced."

 

This could equally be describing the T1's imo and its why a lot of folk who just have a quick listen at a high fi meet or a half hours demo just don't get then because of the lack of wow factor. Ordinary and everyday is real and natural and something that very few ever get right.

 

I think you're right, although I do find the T1s only really shine with the right amp - they can be a little edgy and biting with some gear I've tried, but with the Bottlehead range of amps they are so sweet!

post #321 of 834

Thanks once again Lachlan for the hard work and the kind words! I think your description is fitting. You have to listen to the amp for a while to figure out that Mainline is not adding the coloration that is present in other amps rather than that being coloration being present in the source material as one might assume. One of the lessons I have learned over the years is to listen just as hard for what an amp doesn't add to the presentation as to what it does add. The better it is at not hyping up the presentation the more useful a tool it is for evaluation of recordings. Sometimes the initial impression is that the amp is lacking something, until you listen a bit deeper.

 

By the way the output impedance of the low setting is 32 ohms, so it may not be optimal for the odd low impedance IEM. It is however optimal for the huge number of 32 ohm cans out there.


Edited by Doc B. - 1/2/14 at 2:48pm
post #322 of 834
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc B. View Post
 

By the way the output impedance of the low setting is 32 ohms, so it may not be optimal for the odd low impedance IEM. It is however optimal for the huge number of 32 ohm cans out there.

 

That's really interesting to know - thanks Doc! How is it that the 32 ohm OI suits 32 ohm headphones without causing damping problems, etc?

post #323 of 834
The same way that an 8 ohm tap is suitable for 8 ohm speakers. What's really going on not the amp has a fixed output impedance at a given tap, but rather that the headphone has a certain impedance and some multiple of that impedance is reflected back to the tube depending upon the transformer's turns ratio. So a "32 ohm tap" really means that a 32 ohm load on the secondary presents the desired reflected load impedance to the output tube. The circuit will be designed to present the best damping factor possible under the given conditions. For sure that will be quite a bit lower in a zero global negative feedback circuit like our single ended tube amps than a tube amp or SS amp with lots of feedback. But different headphones will also respond in different degrees to different damping factors, because if course the impedance varies at different frequencies in different ways for different headphones. So there is never an absolute set of rules for the way of doing this stuff. It's a matter of choosing which you feel is most important - damping factor, gain, zero feedback, etc, from the design choices available and creating the balance of these things that you think will give the desired result. Some times a particular 16 ohm speaker might end up sounding best on the 8 ohm tap of a given amp, or vice versa. Works the same way for headphones.

This is a lot of the reason that we decided to build several different amps for different headphones and spend some time offering our thoughts about what we feel are the best combinations.
post #324 of 834
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc B. View Post

The same way that an 8 ohm tap is suitable for 8 ohm speakers. What's really going on not the amp has a fixed output impedance at a given tap, but rather that the headphone has a certain impedance and some multiple of that impedance is reflected back to the tube depending upon the transformer's turns ratio. So a "32 ohm tap" really means that a 32 ohm load on the secondary presents the desired reflected load impedance to the output tube. The circuit will be designed to present the best damping factor possible under the given conditions. For sure that will be quite a bit lower in a zero global negative feedback circuit like our single ended tube amps than a tube amp or SS amp with lots of feedback. But different headphones will also respond in different degrees to different damping factors, because if course the impedance varies at different frequencies in different ways for different headphones. So there is never an absolute set of rules for the way of doing this stuff. It's a matter of choosing which you feel is most important - damping factor, gain, zero feedback, etc, from the design choices available and creating the balance of these things that you think will give the desired result. Some times a particular 16 ohm speaker might end up sounding best on the 8 ohm tap of a given amp, or vice versa. Works the same way for headphones.

This is a lot of the reason that we decided to build several different amps for different headphones and spend some time offering our thoughts about what we feel are the best combinations.

 

Wow. That's (also) great to know - thanks Doc!!

post #325 of 834
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loquah View Post
 

 

For sure!!! How do you like the Crack + T1 compared to Crack + HD650?


Hi Loquah,

 

About the Crack + T1 vs Crack + HD650, it's pretty difficult for me to tell you which one is BETTER, because they're DIFFERENT and very attractive in their own ways.

 

The Crack + T1 is more neutral and realistic; the treble, sound stage and imaging are clearly better. But the HD650 + Crack has one of the best mid range and bass I've ever heard, the sound is much fuller and more intimate. So I think it all depends on your listening preference. If you like vocals, you would definitely prefer the HD650, otherwise, I would go for the T1. The T1 is probably the best all-rounder headphones I've had, I can actually enjoy almost everything I throw into it.

 

But if I still have to choose just one between them, maybe I would go for the HD650 and save pennies to get a HD800. The female vocal of HD800 when paired with the Crack is simply fantastic :D

 

P/S: I don't know why my nephew actually did not really like the HD650. He couldn't listen to the HD650 for over 2 minutes, but you can see how he loved the T1 in those pics :beyersmile: :

 

 

 

 

post #326 of 834

Lachlan I really like this pic from your review, evolution, refinement, individuality but also familiarity and continuity.  Nice pic.

 

 

900x900px-LL-8937fccc_12290001.jpeg

post #327 of 834
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolus Kratos View Post
 


Hi Loquah,

 

About the Crack + T1 vs Crack + HD650, it's pretty difficult for me to tell you which one is BETTER, because they're DIFFERENT and very attractive in their own ways.

 

The Crack + T1 is more neutral and realistic; the treble, sound stage and imaging are clearly better. But the HD650 + Crack has one of the best mid range and bass I've ever heard, the sound is much fuller and more intimate. So I think it all depends on your listening preference. If you like vocals, you would definitely prefer the HD650, otherwise, I would go for the T1. The T1 is probably the best all-rounder headphones I've had, I can actually enjoy almost everything I throw into it.

 

But if I still have to choose just one between them, maybe I would go for the HD650 and save pennies to get a HD800. The female vocal of HD800 when paired with the Crack is simply fantastic :D

 

P/S: I don't know why my nephew actually did not really like the HD650. He couldn't listen to the HD650 for over 2 minutes, but you can see how he loved the T1 in those pics :beyersmile: :

 

 

That's really cute - and interesting. I wonder what those little ears were hearing different from ours?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieMcC View Post
 

Lachlan I really like this pic from your review, evolution, refinement, individuality but also familiarity and continuity.  Nice pic.

 

 

Thanks Jamie - it was fun taking the shots and seeing how tiny the Crack is in comparison to the Mainline. I almost want to buy another Crack kit now though because it only got a stained base with no other custom work - it seems unfair! ;)

post #328 of 834
Thread Starter 

Hi all, it's done!! I've finalised the Mainilne review and comparison of all 3 Bottlehead amplifiers: http://www.head-fi.org/t/683012/bottlehead-amplifier-discussion-comparison-thread-crack-sex-mainline#post_9831533

 

I thought an overall summary of the 3 amps might be helpful too so here goes:

 

Crack

Crack is easily worth more than its price tag and offers outstanding stock performance with the opportunity to scale up using various premium tubes. The Speedball is a must-have in order to hear the Crack at its peak and it's a cheap, easy and reliable upgrade. Easily the easiest Bottlehead kit to build, even for beginners, the Crack is a highly recommended addition for anyone with a pair of 300+ ohm headphones.

 

S.E.X.

More versatile, more powerful and more spacious - the S.E.X. is great if you want to use speakers and headphones from a single amplifier. It can run lower impedance headphones while still having plenty of power for high impedance and / or low efficiency cans. It's definitely a harder build than the Crack, but just requires time and patience, not greater skills. Similar to the Speedball for the Crack, the C4S upgrade is a must-have for the S.E.X. and transforms the amp from good to outstanding in a matter of minutes (it's a simple kit you can build and install in <1 hour). I'd recommend to the S.E.X. to anyone looking to spend less than $1000 on a headphone amplifier to drive a range of headphones.

 

Mainline

The easily justifiable flagship of the Bottlehead range is harder to build than the Crack, but not vastly different than the S.E.X. It's sound is much more akin to the Crack than the S.E.X. and is intimate rather than spacious, but it's presentation is so perfect that imaging is outstanding despite having slightly less stage space to work with. The Mainline will easily fill the role of end-game amplifier for many people, especially with its ability to drive balanced or unbalanced headphones and with switching to optimise output impedance to suit the headphones used. As always with Bottlehead products, the kit design means you get the satisfaction of building (and possibly customising) your own amp as well as an incredible price-to-performance ratio.

post #329 of 834

Yay!

 

Thanks for doing this.  Going to give a read tomorrow.

post #330 of 834

blue colour looks ace ..well done :) nice review

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