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Official 2014 Bay Area Meet - SUNDAY - Feb 16th, 2014 Impressions thread - Page 4  

post #46 of 128

Schiit Ragnarok

First of all, and before I say anything, this amp is not yet finished. From what I understand, there is still work to do on the overall voicing, and on the microprocessor control which keeps the amp stable by monitoring and changing certain electrical parameters. The guys at Schiit also told me that the Ragnarok was quickly reassembled a few days before the meet in order to make the meet. So if I hear some n00b trying to call me out about how "voicing" an amp during its development is BS, I will go ballistic with a string of expletives in order to get banned from HF.

 

Close friends who have heard the earlier iteration (at CES or RMAF?) remarked on the treble pecularities but acknowledged the resolving power of the Ragnarok. I have not heard the earlier iteration myself. I do appreciate the Schiit gang from daring to bring the Ragnarok out before it's even finished or 110% stable. And I would like others to keep in mind that the first public appearance of the development Mjolnir at the Village Meet sounded totally cruddy.

 

On this iteration of the Ragnarok (compared to Mjolnir using Abyss):

 

  1. Smooth smooth liquid liquid treble. Really really refined. Like a fine TT arm on the highest quality bearings. The best I've ever heard from a solid-state amp without resorting to elevating the bass or low mids, rolling the treble, or blunting attacks. This is not a laid back purposefully pleasant and forgiving sounding amp (and I don't think it will be given that Schiit's sound tends toward neutral and/or transparent). In terms of tonal color, not too different in the treble from the Mjolnir, but far far smoother. The Mjolnir has a bit of unrefined jumpy rawness to the treble which the Ragnarok does not have at all.
  2. Bass lacks grunt especially down in the nether sub regions. Compared to the Mjolnir, which is explosive in the bass, especially down low. Jason acknowledged this issue and know they need to work on it.
  3. Very clean. In comparison, the Mjolnir has a bit of haze over everything, but especially around the high bass and low mids.

Edited by purrin - 2/18/14 at 12:41pm
post #47 of 128

Thanks @CEE TEE, @zerodeefex, @Questhate, other set-up coordinators, vendors, and members for making this happen (and thanks @SanJoseCanJunkie for the trip there)! It was my first larger meet and I had a pretty good time. Admittedly I would've liked to have met more of you were it not for my being somewhat bashful and apprehensive in consideration of some online personas (some of you have pretty formidable reputations amongst here :o).

 

I was glad to be neighbors to some fellow Stax users @tiberiuspv and @rubenpp, whose modified SRM-727s and KGSSHV were quite good with SR-007Mk1s.

 

The Cavalli Audio table was quite impressive. Having not heard the Kingsound KS-H1 in unmodified form, I was not fully certain on what to make of the modified version but it struck me as quite good out of the Liquid Silk prototype. That amplifier was also very good with the SR-009 and superb with the SR-Omega, and I wish there might've been some type of discount on a pre-order for me to consider during the meet. The LAu was also very good with the Abyss. Don and Alex were of course very pleasant to speak to.

 

I was also impressed with what the DNA Stratus could pull off with budget headphones like the DT 770 and DT 880, and it also performed very well with the LCD-2. I appreciate Donald's philosophy of not nickel-and-diming users for add-on upgrades like transformer upgrades and such that raise questions to the base product. I find his prospect of offering a one-and-only version of his products to be pretty appealing.

 

I do regret not being able to hear the HD 800 + 2A3 combo, @darinf's Vostok Sound ES-21 prototype over in the next room and even some really neat-looking stuff in my very same salon (let alone others). Hopefully another time though. :) 


Edited by 3X0 - 2/18/14 at 1:31pm
post #48 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

 

 

Music Deadalus / Audio DYNA

This is the Cor Caroli LE. I liked this amp (as I also did last year). I don't know if there were changes to it this year.

 

 

Deadalus roped me into the blind AB test. (Oh no! Is the famous Purrin full-of-**** when he says he can hear differences between amps and DACs?)

 

The blind test comprised two systems. One based on the Woo WA5 with a suite of fully upgrades and good quality tubes (the EML rectifier tube is notable, as I know that makes a difference on the WA5) being fed by the Antelope Gold DAC. The other was Audio DYNA's Loupe (DAC / amp combo - not pictured), which seems to have caused some controversy (haha).

 

Using the Fostex TH900, I could easily pick out the amps, even in poor meet conditions with excess noise (it was fairly loud and the TH900 despite being a closed headphone, does not isolate well.) The Woo had better bass control and was smoother in the treble (just at my threshold of tolerance for treble spikiness). The Loupe was much more strident in the treble (actually just past threshold of pain), didn't have as good as control in the bass, but was actually more euphonic, i.e. tube-like in the mids. (BTW, I've used the TH900 for an extended period, and I always ran that headphone with EQ to correct for its FR irregularities.)

 

Overall, I'd had to give the nod to the WA5 / Antelope setup. Smoother treble, more accurate, better bass quality. But the differences weren't that huge right? taking into consideration the price differential...

 

I think that assessment depends upon the individual. We all know there are severely diminishing returns in this hobby. I tend toward the school of "insanity" or "no reason" where I am willing to spend thousands of dollars more to get increasingly smaller increases in sound quality. Although I still do appreciate good schiit for cheap.

 

The DAC/amp combo is called the Loups.

 

And it comes in a variety of colors, FYI :)


Edited by ChiAki - 2/18/14 at 6:05pm
post #49 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by magiccabbage View Post
 

anyone have any more info on that custom 2A3? 

 

I assume you mean the 2A3mk4? Two people took delivery of their mk4s at the meet. Mark (I forgot his HF handle) and zerodeefex. My only long term exposure to the mk4 was when I borrowed zeedee's mk4 for the OB speakers, so I cannot comment on the sound of the mk4 with headphones in comprehensive way. Free free to contact zeedee though. He, like the other pirates, is a nice chap always willing to help. He also has some good references too, such as the balanced Dynahi, KGSS, so you can give you a wide perspective.

 

From a speaker POV (and I don't see why this wouldn't also apply to headphones too) I would say the 2A3x4 is better than the 445 development amp (the one with the EP interstages and Ludahl OPTs). The 445 development amp was sort of a testbed to create offshoots from the Levi project since those unobtainium Tango interstages and OPTs are no longer available (Tango just went out of business). 

 

I borrowed the 445 development amp for some time in my home to drive high-efficiency speakers; and I thought it was the best thing ever. However, the 2A3mk4 is even better. It's hard to make an apples to apples assessment because tubes do matter, but I will offer the following observations. The Lundahls can have a bit a stridency depending upon the tube. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad at all. And it's absolutely nothing like SABRE DAC nonsense. It's just one of those things that after hours of listening, you start to notice it. Note I didn't say run away in horror. On the bench, the Lundahl OPTs of the 445 had a pretty funky square wave at 10kHz with some overshoot and dive. The Hammond OPTs of the mk4 measured with square looking square waves. 

 

One other observation is that the 445 DA had a tendency to create a wall-o-sound effect, a bloom. This was evident on the old stock Ken Rads, EML mesh plates, EML solid plates, and Sophia punched / pseudo-mesh plate 45s. It's not a bad property, and actually helped the dirt cheap Sophia 45s to sound not as dry. Unfortunately, this attribute doesn't allow the superior tubes (in terms of articulation) such as the EML meshes to fully shine. In other words, tubes tended to sound more similar than different on the 445 DA. Note that the 445 DA should not be confused with an 445 custom which may or not may be offered to the public.

 

So the 2A3mk4 corrects this measurement anomaly. How does this translate to the listening experience? We now start to hear significant differences with the EML solid, Psvanes, Shuguangs, etc. These tubes start to be very discernible from each other.

 

In comparison to the BA: obviously, if someone wanted an amp that could drive both speakers and headphones, the mk4 is the way to go. If I wanted to drive current hungry orthos, I'd opt mk4. The BA, while obviously a great amp, is not the best with the LCD3, Abyss, HE5, etc. For efficient headphones, I'd give both the BA and mk4 an equal shot. I do feel the mk4s have better soundstage precision though - again tubes withstanding.

 

As far the 2A3mk4 on the OB speakers. It was pretty darn wonderful. Just a great sense of immediacy, realism, and tonal accuracy. The mk4, at 6 watts, pretty much destroyed the ~20 watt solid-state amp which was powering the OB speakers the night before. To the point where I will be having pains listening to the OB speakers at home. It's always hard to go backwards.


Edited by purrin - 2/18/14 at 5:42pm
post #50 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiAki View Post
 

 

The DAC/amp combo is called the Lopus.

 

And it comes in a variety of colors, FYI :)

 

LOL, I apologize. I'm pretty much a retard at reading cursive. I was horrible at cursive while I was in elementary school 40 years ago. And this was with the superior Canadian school systems (vs. USA) too. Does anyone have a photo of this all-in-one DAC/amp?

 

I'd like to see more photos of stuff. C'mon guys. Post more photos. Does anyone have that photo of Alex in that awesome cowboy hat?


Edited by purrin - 2/18/14 at 5:40pm
post #51 of 128
AMB captured him in the hat. Looked stylin', Alex!

http://www.ibiblio.org/tkan/audio/chang20140216/chang20140216_08.jpg
post #52 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post
 

 

LOL, I apologize. I'm pretty much a retard at reading cursive. I was horrible at cursive while I was in elementary school 40 years ago. And this was with the superior Canadian school systems (vs. USA) too. Does anyone have a photo of this all-in-one DAC/amp?

 

I'd like to see more photos of stuff. C'mon guys. Post more photos. Does anyone have that photo of Alex in that awesome cowboy hat?

I don't have photos of the Lopus from this particular meet, but if you would like photos taken by other owners of this combo... :wink_face: 

 

FYI, spelling check on my part, it's the "Loups", not "Lopus"


Edited by ChiAki - 2/18/14 at 6:11pm
post #53 of 128
@purrin, didn't realize the speaker rig was yours. I spent about 5 or 10 minutes in there first thing in the morning, no one else in there. It was a lovely sounding set up. I am always surprised by ob set ups. Very open, airy, full sound. Dynamic and detailed, but not obnoxiously so. Thank you for bringing it.
post #54 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by gepardcv View Post

2. HE-6 paired with a Yamaha DSP-A1 through a hand-made connection to the speaker taps. Incredible bass impact, never heard anything like it from headphones before.

That's neat! I have a Yamaha DSP-A1 as well, you're talking about the surround receiver from like '97 right?
post #55 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiAki View Post
 

I don't have photos of the Lopus from this particular meet, but if you would like photos taken by other owners of this combo... :wink_face: 

 

FYI, spelling check on my part, it's the "Loups", not "Lopus"

 

LOL. By the time we are done correcting ourselves, it's going to be Lupus. :-)

post #56 of 128

@3X0, I think I spoke to you briefly and listened to your fantastic SR-Omega rig — could you jog my memory about what amp and DAC you had set up?

post #57 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupRKnowva View Post


That's neat! I have a Yamaha DSP-A1 as well, you're talking about the surround receiver from like '97 right?

 

Exactly right. I unfortunately do not remember the name of the gentleman who brought that setup, perhaps he'll chime in here.

post #58 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by gepardcv View Post

Exactly right. I unfortunately do not remember the name of the gentleman who brought that setup, perhaps he'll chime in here.

I never did try the HE-6s on mine, never thought to...maybe I should have. Though I had the First Watt f1 at the time so probably not much point
post #59 of 128

I suck at photo-journaling. I start taking pictures then get distracted as my ADD kicks in. Here are some of the few shots that I took:

 

Purrin's open-baffle speaker setup. He went through the costs and estimated maybe $600-$700 for the pair? Kinda puts the value of high-end headphones in perspective. Then again, he ran it through about 8K worth of source and amp. These things sound very realistic though. A few people mentioned once Purrin threw on some live recordings that it really felt like we were in the crowd. 

 

Blurry picture of zerodeefex's brand spanking new Eddie Current 2A3mk4 driving the speakers. This thing is sublime. 

 

Balancing Act --> LCD-2

 

EC 2A3 --> Fostex TH900, Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC

 

Zerodeefex and Craig Uthus in discussions about starting a Carla Bruni fan site. 

 

CEE TEE manning the Ultimate Ears station

 

CEE TEE's Balancing Act --> HD800

 

uzi's setup: Bottlehead Crack, Burson Soloist, Alpha Dogs, HE-500's, DT770's, HD650?

 

SanJoseCanJunkie's setup. 

 

Jazzfan's table. He ran his HE-6 out of the speaker taps of that Yamaha receiver. 

 

Just realized I only took pictures of ONE ROOM. Gosh I suck at this. 

post #60 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by gepardcv View Post
 

 

Exactly right. I unfortunately do not remember the name of the gentleman who brought that setup, perhaps he'll chime in here.

 

It was Jazzfan's setup (see pictures above). 

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