Any recommended options on a new Gilmore V2se?
post-749879
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 11
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Messages
3,818
Reaction score
1,236
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Posts
3,818
Likes
1,236
I'm going to be upgrading from a stock V2. Still haven't decided whether I'll order one new V2se or try to track down a used one, but assuming I get a new one, are there any "must have" upgrades that I should request? Specifically:

- On the power supply caps, I've heard something about upgrading to blackgates. Can anyone who's heard both blackgates and stock versions comment on the sonic differences, and how big a difference it makes?

- On the volume control, I am a bit lost. I know the stock comes with a stepped attenuator, but I've heard talks of 50K, 100K, DACT, and ladder attenuators. Again, any significant sonic differences? I will be using Senn HD600/650s, so hopefully I won't have too much trouble finding the right volume with any of these controls.

- I think I heard that a 5-gain switch is an option. Is there any need for this with the Senns?

Anything else I should consider? Is the stock V2se a big enough improvement over the V2 that it would make any optional upgrades seem insignificant in comparison? If that's the case then I may just look for a used one a while longer.

Thanks for any advice!
 
     Share This Post       
post-749908
Post #2 of 11

sacd lover

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 31, 2002
Messages
8,190
Reaction score
33
Joined
Aug 31, 2002
Posts
8,190
Likes
33
The stock caps are fine. I specifically inquired about this and was told cap upgrades in the power supply will not make a major difference relative to the cost.


The v2-se comes stock with a 10k dact stepped attenuator. I didnt like the sound with this one myself. The bass was to damped and lightweight. I upgraded to a 100k ladder attenuator. Justin liked this 100k I had him add and I understand he will be using the 100k on all new production. The higher impedence pot is much more balanced sounding to me. There is more bass weight and power to the sound. The only downside to this 100k attenuator is there is a little switching noise when you change positions; with speakers and the amp powered up. I combined this upgrade with a change back to the original bias LED's used in the v1. This change improves the tonal balance and adds a warmer sound than the stock v2-se. This is whats on my gilmore v2-se now, and I much prefer this amp to the other v2-se I had.


The 5 position gain is not necessary, IMO. I had the 5 position gain on my first v2-se, and I never used the middle three settings. I would stick with the 2 position gain switch. I recommend a gain of 1 and 10. The low gain is fine for grados etc. and works very well as a gain to use the v2-se as a preamp. The gain of 10 is perfect for the dt 880's and senns. I use hd 650's myself.

I think the v2-se in the configuration I stated is definitely a noticeable improvement over the v2. I dont believe it costs anymore to add these options in a new build, you just have to ask for the bias LED's; and the 100k ladder attenuator may be the standard volume control on the v2-se now. I hope this answers all your questions. If not shoot me a pm.
 
     Share This Post       
post-750201
Post #3 of 11
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Messages
3,818
Reaction score
1,236
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Posts
3,818
Likes
1,236
Thanks for the infromative reply, sacd lover! So from that I'm pretty sure I'd go with the 100K ladder and stock caps, and it seems that a 2-gain switch will be fine with the Senns.

The one option you listed that I'm still not decided on is the V1 LED bias. One one hand I want to try it based on all the positive reviews from you and happy V1 owners. On the other hand, having not heard a V1, I really like the tonal balance my V2 gives and I'm not sure if I'd want a move towards a warmer tone. I assume that the trademark gilmore sound - punchy, dynamic, detailed and transparent solid state sound - is still intact? Can the bias be changed back if get it and then decide I don't like it? I can understand that better caps/attenuators gives better sound, but since I don't understand how the LED bias changes the sound, it is a bit mysterious (yet intriguing) to me


Anyone feel free to help me decide on the LED bias issue


Thanks!
 
     Share This Post       
post-750318
Post #4 of 11

sacd lover

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 31, 2002
Messages
8,190
Reaction score
33
Joined
Aug 31, 2002
Posts
8,190
Likes
33
First, the LED's can easily be changed back. The bias LED's themselves determine how far the output stage runs in class A. Generally, the more you run a circuit into class A, the less transistor crossover distortion you have. This in turn generally translates into better sound. The bias of the v1 was pushed LESS into class A, so I dont know why it sounds better to me. Maybe the original bias LED is a better quality part. Justin thought that the lower bias of the v1's output stage made it easier on the preceding stage.

However, the v2-se I have still remains much more like the stock v2-se than the v1. The v2 and stock v2-se are quite a bit alike, except for the v2-se having a degree of refinement and resolution beyond the v2. You have to remember you also get several features in the v2-se not in the v2. You have a gain switch, 3 inputs vs 2 inputs, a passive preamp output and a pass through or processor loop (thats very handy
) the v2 does not have. The v2-se also has upgraded output caps, and of course the dact or ladder attenuator.

Unfortunately, you cant hear the stock v2-se to compare it to my version. However, you shouldnt assume that because you like the v2 you will like the stock v2-se better. I used the term warmer which goes against one of your preferances in the v2. But warmer is my mental association with a better more realistic tone; example: instruments sound more complete by having more body and warmth like real guitars or drums. The sound is MORE punchy, dynamic and detailed, not less so; and just as transparent. You dont lose anything. You gain a greater sense of power. The modded v2-se sounds like THE SAME AMP in a 100 watt version vs a 50 watt version.

I dont know if anyone can do anymore than speculate why the change sounds better or different, but trust me it does. I have had three v2-se's trying to get the punch and power back the original v1 had. Bottom line, I enjoy the v2-se immensely now. I never get the feeling something is missing or not right like I did with the stock v2-se.
 
     Share This Post       
post-751073
Post #5 of 11
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Messages
3,818
Reaction score
1,236
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Posts
3,818
Likes
1,236
Great stuff, thanks again! Your definition of "warmer" sounds a lot better than my definition
 
     Share This Post       
post-876219
Post #6 of 11

DrewWinters

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 9, 2004
Messages
204
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jul 9, 2004
Posts
204
Likes
0
I hate to dig up an old thread... but do either of yall, or anyone else, have any new recommendations after several months of listening? I am most likely going to order V2-SE very soon and since I'm new to headphones and headphone amps I can use all the advice I can get right now! Thanks.
 
     Share This Post       
post-876589
Post #7 of 11
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Messages
3,818
Reaction score
1,236
Joined
Jan 9, 2003
Posts
3,818
Likes
1,236
Quote:

Originally Posted by DrewWinters
I hate to dig up an old thread... but do either of yall, or anyone else, have any new recommendations after several months of listening? I am most likely going to order V2-SE very soon and since I'm new to headphones and headphone amps I can use all the advice I can get right now! Thanks.


Hi,
I ended up getting the V2-SE with the V1 LED bias and 100K ladder. I haven't had heard a stock V2-SE, so I can't tell you myself what those options alone do to the sound, but the amp overall is a nice incremental improvement over my stock V2. The most noticeable improvements were dynamics, resolution, and soundstage, in roughly that order. Also, I believe I can sense that the channel balance is better on my V2-SE (potentiometers don't track as well as stepped/ladder attenuators). I really like the amp and it will probably be in my system for quite a while to come. The urge to upgrade has really died down, since I got this amp and my Jolida CD player. My system is listed in my sig.

I recommend you also look at gpalmer's excellent review of the Gilmore Balanced Reference:
http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=69564
IIRC, his balanced reference amp also has the 100K ladder attenuator and V1 LED bias. Additionally, he also got blackgates for the power supply caps. Since his amp gets such rave reviews (from himself and others at the SoCal meet), I don't think you can go wrong with the 100K ladder + V1 LEDs options (might want to PM gpalmer to verify his amp has those options, though
).
 
     Share This Post       
post-877532
Post #8 of 11

Andrew_WOT

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 18, 2004
Messages
5,874
Reaction score
116
Joined
Jan 18, 2004
Posts
5,874
Likes
116
V2SE comes with 50k attenuator standard, and this is what Justin recommends over 100k. V1 bias in his opinion does not change anything.
And I'm still waiting for mine, takes longer than I expected.
 
     Share This Post       
post-878211
Post #9 of 11

gpalmer

We are the weird ones.
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Messages
7,080
Reaction score
12
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Posts
7,080
Likes
12
I got together with Fliz, haycheng and ayt999 a couple weeks ago for a stealth meet where we compared the stock and upgraded Gilmore References so I have a pretty good idea what the Black Gates do.
They make the sound far smoother than the stock caps and take away a lot of the solid state signature from the amplifer. Personally I have been on a smoothness jag ever since Hirsch sold me his HP-4 a while back and the upgraded Gilmore Balanced Reference is perfect for me. The stock unit has more of a solid-state signature and I actually found it harsh on some of the tracks, that is, in comparison to the HP-4 and upgraded Gilmore Balanced Reference level of smoothness. I don't think it would be noticeable or objectionable if you weren't used to that level of performance though. Personally, it made me very, very happy I had gone ahead with the upgrade. I have some long term plans for that baby!


For what it's worth, ayt999 actually liked his stock Balanced Reference better since he felt it had a more aggressive sound to it and fliz thought it was a matter of taste which a listener preferred. Personally, I think they just need to listen some more, but that's me!


After that comparison, my V2-SE went back to Justin for silver wiring and Black Gates. I'm also probably going to try the 41 position attenuator these folks sell:

http://www.acoustic-dimension.com/

to get more attenuation so I can use it as a preamp. I listen very, very quietly on my speaker systems, often as much as 72-75 dB down on my main system during late night listening sessions. There are two reasons for this, to begin with I often want music playing as background while I read and also because my wife is a light sleeper. Since my primary use for the V2-SE is as a preamp for my second system I needed more attenuation than the 24 position switch would give me and the Acoustic Dimension attenuator will give me the ability to go 80 dB down with 2 dB steps which should get the job done. I'd really like a 50 position with 1.5 dB steps, or gasp, 60 position with 1.5 dB steps, but I couldn't find anyone making one.
The Acoustic Dimension attenuator is in the realm of stupidly expensive though, unless you really NEED what it's doing. I don't have the final figures but it's going to add at least a couple hundred bucks in cost over the standard attenuator. Other than the amount of attenuation though, I really didn't have any problem with the stock attenuator and I've never compared it to the newer one.

I found the stock V2-SE sounded very good both as a headphone amp and as a preamp. Other than the limitation of me not being able to adjust the volume to a low enough level, it was better than my Sunfire Theater Grand III in 8 channel mode (which is it's best one). I couldn't believe the intro to the Fellowship of the Ring with the V2-SE in the system. It not only had better localization of sound sources, there was a palpability to the sound that I couldn't put a finger on in the short time I listened to it, but the voice over introduction to FOTR had me in goose pimples in a way that the Sunfire just didn't do. It was also really interesting to hear the voices of the characters since they were so clearly located, you could track exactly where they were onscreen with your eyes closed (and I did!
)
 
     Share This Post       
post-878367
Post #10 of 11

Reader

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2004
Messages
158
Reaction score
19
Joined
May 13, 2004
Posts
158
Likes
19
Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
the Acoustic Dimension attenuator will give me the ability to go 80 dB down with 2 dB steps which should get the job done.


I just went to their website and it says it's 1.5 db per step, do they also have a 2 db per step version somewhere?
 
     Share This Post       
post-878786
Post #11 of 11

gpalmer

We are the weird ones.
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Messages
7,080
Reaction score
12
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Posts
7,080
Likes
12
Quote:

Originally Posted by Reader
I just went to their website and it says it's 1.5 db per step, do they also have a 2 db per step version somewhere?


Whoops, I think Justin must have said that the one he uses now is 2 dB per step for 24 steps, so if one is infinite resistance, 46 dB of attenuation. I actually prefer the 1.5 dB per step even if I have to settle for only 60 dB of attenuation. (Don't ask me why, personal habit, but I almost always adjust things in three dB increments and then fine tune from there if needed, so 1.5 dB suits me just fine...)
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top