Recent content by Tobes
  1. Tobes

    Focal Utopia General Discussion

    The "never harsh" comment is a bit of a red flag for me as I wouldn't want to lose too much of the Utopia's highs. However a lot of people seem to like the Black Dragon and the price is pretty reasonable for the long length I require. With every cable there seems to be naysayers. The cable that...
  2. Tobes

    Focal Utopia General Discussion

    Is this OEM cable the original black Utopia cable or the newer stiffer cable? Asking because I wouldn't characterise the older 4m cable I have as harsh - at least not in a general sense. It sounds a bit on the warm side and the highs can even exhibit a touch of liquidity. Sure I've heard some...
  3. Tobes

    Focal Utopia General Discussion

    I never considered calling someone 'unlucky' was impolite. I'll add that to the list of words I can no longer use. Thanks for providing that info on your Utopia failures, it adds some data points though the reason for the failures remains mysterious. My understanding, from much earlier posts...
  4. Tobes

    Focal Utopia General Discussion

    Err, 3 failures in 4yrs - I'd can that very unlucky. But if not 'unlucky' there may be some other explanation. And if it's the latter an examination of the use/circumstances/environment/partnering equipment may provide useful information for all Utopia owners - including the OP, don't you think?
  5. Tobes

    Focal Utopia General Discussion

    I bought my Utopias new in 2016 as well but have had zero problems/failures. Either you're incredibly unlucky or something else is going on.
  6. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    I think its fair to say that Benchmark don't design equipment to 'flavour' sound. That approach won't suit everyone's personal goals or equipment taste, but I think its a reliable baseline for broad compatibility and long term enjoyment. FWIW, I had the BHA-1 prior to getting the HPA4 and...
  7. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    Absolutely. The majority of my listening is via the HPA4 to my ATC active speakers - sounds awesome. The dual attenuators in the HPA4 are great if you enjoy switching between headphone and speaker listening. However if I am reading you correctly you want to have independent control of HP, Bal...
  8. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    Interesting impressions, I can't say I really recognise them in my system - except that I'd agree the HPA4 doesn't add any 'warmth'. Curious what you say about the Pass sounding more extended - since the Pass is 3dB down at 60Khz and the HPA4 is ruler flat to 200Khz (-3dB bandwidth > 0.1Hz to...
  9. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    The DAC3 HGC? That has preamp functionality and 2 analog SE inputs + digital inputs. Do you mean a preamp with analog XLR inputs?
  10. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    In all seriousness this will be no issue at all. The HPA4 will maximise the S/N potential of any DAC you connect to it. The wide range attenuator and gain adjustment in the HPA4 will ensure that you'll always be able to get finely adjustable volume suited to your system.
  11. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    Thanks for the thorough explanation John.
  12. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    Ah, I see. I don't have any experience with the Audiolab amp but Googling some interior pics it appears to use some sort of chip based volume control. I'd definitely try the HPA4 as a preamp and would be very surprised if it didn't outperform the preamp section of the Audiolab. Certainly it...
  13. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    So if I'm interpreting your setup correctly you're using the network player to adjust the volume in the digital domain? The HPA4 is a first class analog preamp and I would definitely recommend using the HPA4 to provide volume control. This will avoid any loss of resolution due to digital...
  14. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    FWIW, I use relatively inexpensive Mogami Gold Studio (pro star quad) XLR cables between the DAC3 and HPA4. I have some significantly more expensive Wireworld Eclipse 7 XLR cables but prefer the Mogami. YMMV.
  15. Tobes

    Benchmark HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier Impressions

    I use the dac3L/HPA4 combo with the Utopia and think it sounds excellent. Super resolving and very natural/neutral. If I recall I was initially impressed but didn't find it overwhelmingly better than what I was using (Bryston amp). Over the next few days I began to notice and appreciate many...
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