Aristaeus VS Blue Hawaii
Nov 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 102

DannyB

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How do these two amps compare with each other for an OII?

What was their original cost?

What is their current price range on the preowned market?

Can the Aristaeus be used for both the HE 90 and OII or does it have to be set up for one or the other?
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 5:30 PM Post #2 of 102

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by DannyB /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How do these two amps compare with each other for an OII?

What was their original cost?

What is their current price range on the preowned market?

Can the Aristaeus be used for both the HE 90 and OII or does it have to be set up for one or the other?



I have never heard any of them, but read most of what's written about them. So I'll try to answer as best as I can..

1. The Blue Hawaii (KGBH) are said to be more powerful, and hence should be a better match for the SR-007. It was even developed (by Kevin Gilmore) as a match for the SR-007 afaik.
While the Aristaeus was developed by HeadAmp as a HEV90 clone for the 2005 HE90 batch. 12 units were made.

2. The HeadAmp Aristaeus had a price tag of $4,000, while the HeadAmp KGBH had a price tag of $2,495.

3. HeadAmp KGBH around $1,500-2,000 I would guess. HeadAmp Aristaeus I really don't know. One changed hands yesterday in the FS forum, but it was sold in 15 minutes so I never saw the asking price.

4. The Aristaeus have HE90 and Stax Pro jacks, so it can be used for both.
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 6:22 PM Post #3 of 102

Elephas

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I've owned an Aristaeus for about a year, which I bought used. I'm on the waiting list for a HeadAmp Blue Hawaii SE, and am expecting it to be shipped in about two months. The KGBH-SE is around $4500, plus extra for the RK50 attenuator option.

I think the Aristaeus is a better match for the HE90 than the O2. It isn't exactly bad at driving the O2, though. I owned a HeadAmp KGSS before and preferred the Aristaeus over the KGSS. The KGSS is supposed to be a decent amp for the O2, so I assume the Aristaeus can't be a bad one. I've also heard the O2 with the Stax 727 and 007t amps, and I didn't think they were better than the KGSS.

With 5751 tubes instead of 12AX7, the Aristaeus performs better with the O2. The sound is crisper and cleaner, with better separation. Using 12AX7 tubes, which sound great with the HE90, the O2 is darker and a bit thick-sounding in comparison. Sylvania Gold 5751 are my favorites with the O2, while I like Telefunken and Mullard 12AX7 for the HE90.

I also have a Single Power ES-1, which drives the O2 better than the Aristaeus. It has better dynamics, details and a larger soundstage. The difference is large enough that I prefer the O2Mk2 over the O2Mk1 when using the Aristaeus, but is reversed when using the ES-1.

Both the Aristaeus and my ES-1 have one HE90 jack and one Stax 5-pin Pro jack. The HeadAmp KGBH-SE can be configured with the buyer's choice of jacks.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 5:48 PM Post #5 of 102

Elephas

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I don't think there are many Aristaeus or Blue Hawaii owners who have heard both amps, so maybe the OP won't mind us including the ES-1 in the discussion.

Electrostatics are my favorite headphones, and the HE90 my overall favorite, so the Aristaeus vs. ES-1 is an interesting topic for me. I've owned the Aristaeus for a much longer time than the ES-1, one year vs. one month, so I'm more familiar with the Aristaeus and have had more experience tube-rolling it.

I think the two ECC83 positions affect the sound more than the four ECL86 tubes. I've tried quads of Telefunken, Mullard, Siemens, Valvo and Philips ECL86 with similar results, while the sound varies more when changing the ECC83 tubes. My favorite tubes for the HE90 and the O2 are different.

For the HE90, I like TF and Mullard ECC83, while for the O2 I prefer 5751 types. The TF and Mullard ECC83, and also Amperex Bugle Boy, provide a nice tonal balance and an overall very natural sound with the HE90. Very smooth and organic. Slow-paced, intimate jazz vocals and easy listening-type female vocals (aargh, I'm getting old!) are especially enjoyable.

The O2 benefits more from the 5751's crisper and cleaner sound. I think the O2 driven by the Aristaeus can be a bit dark-sounding and congested compared to the HE90 and HE60, or the 4070 and Airbow SR-SC1, so the hyper-clean and ultra-detailed Sylvania Gold 5751 is a welcome match for the O2. However, I don't think the Aristaeus is a bad match for the O2, because I prefer it over the KGSS I used to own as well as the Stax 727 and 007t amps.

Er, what was the question?
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Ah, I think the ES-1 has better dynamics, more details and a larger soundstage than the Aristaeus. Every ES-1 is different, though, so I wouldn't assume my unit sounds the same as another (hopefully mine is above average at least
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). With the ES-1, the HE90 is a more dynamic and more energetic headphones. Bass impact is stronger. The overall sound is more vivid. It rocks out more, as if it chugged down some Red Bull and a Viagra. With pop, rock and faster-paced music, the HE90+ES-1 combo is more involving and more fun.

I haven't tube-rolled the ES-1 much yet. So far, I've only used the 2C51 adapters and WE 396A, Tung-Sol and Raytheon tubes in the first gain stage, several 6SN7 types in the second gain stage, and a quad of Mullard xf2 or 3D21 tubes and adapters.

But with that said, I'm not sure if I would say the ES-1 is a better amp for the HE90 than the Aristaeus. The Aristaeus equals the ES-1 in refinement, my most important factor for comparison. It loses in dynamics, details, separation, and soundstage, but is basically equal in tonal balance and realism. And I think the Aristaeus is smoother-sounding, with more of that sense of music flowing easily like liquid. This is with some rare and costly ECC83 tubes, though.
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With the O2Mk1 and O2Mk2, I think the ES-1 is significantly better than the Aristaeus. The ES-1's superior dynamics, details and soundstage benefits the O2 greatly, and makes it better-balanced and not slightly dark-sounding. The O2Mk1 in particular can seem a bit sleepy and sluggish driven by the Aristaeus, but the ES-1 wakes it up. The O2Mk2 is more forward-sounding and has more mid-bass impact than the O2Mk1, so I think it is less sleepy when driven by the Aristaeus and benefits less from the ES-1's dynamics. But it definitely does benefit. Both sound very good driven by the ES-1, with the O2Mk1 and O2Mk2 becoming my second and third favorite headphones, respectively.

My rankings with the Aristaeus: HE90, SR-Omega, O2Mk2, O2Mk1

My rankings with the ES-1: HE90, O2Mk1, O2Mk2, SR-Omega
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 10:32 PM Post #8 of 102

4N6

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Quote:

Originally Posted by leberserkfury /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Wow... rich folks. Are you all doctors?


No, but they play one on TV.
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 4:09 AM Post #9 of 102

HugoFreire

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Thanks a lot for the insightfull review.
I know what you call "music flowing easily like liquid". That's what I really appreciate on the Aristaeus/HE90 combo. Forget about how clinically the music is being played and what's the amount of detail, turn off the analytical portion of your brain and just listen to the sweet music. This should be enough to enjoy this combo to the utmost.
What telefunkens are you using for ECC83s? I've got smooth plates here and Amperex for the ECL86s. I've recently swapped to the stock JJ ECC83s and it's not bad at all. The sound seems to be a little crispier.

I think the slightly euphonic character of the Aristaeus (which is actually said to be less euphonic, more detailed than the HEV90) can be nicely counterbalanced with a resolving source. The EMM Labs seems to be a nice compliment (although I haven't heard other sources of the same level).

I've thought about trying the ES-1 before, but I still doubt it would satisfy me more than the Aristaeus.
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 8:44 AM Post #10 of 102

Elephas

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Yes, I would also characterize the Aristaeus as slightly euphonic compared to the ES-1. The source and other components are also factors, of course.

I really like the TF ECC83, both smooth and ribbed plates, and also Siemens E83CC, Mullard 10M ECC83 and TF ECC803S. Most of the old brands made in the 50's and 60's sound quite good.

I think I have a pair of JJ ECC83 I haven't tried yet. They're distinctive because of their smaller than usual cardboard boxes.

If you haven't already, you might try a pair of Sylvania 5751. It doesn't have to be the Gold version, the regular ones are very good. The first time I tried them I was bit shocked at the clean, crisp and clear sound. I like them more for the O2, but they are also good with the HE90 and electronica music.

I don't have any Amperex ECL86. The ECL86 seems to have been made mostly in Europe. I have a set of Sylvania-brand that look like they were made by Mullard/Philips.

I've also had good results with an all-Siemens complement, which was recommended by braillediver, another Aristaeus owner.
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 9:19 AM Post #11 of 102

krmathis

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Elephas. Thanks a lot for the information and impressions.
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An electrostatic nut like me are always on the lookout for more information.
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 11:53 AM Post #12 of 102

Elephas

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I've been contacted by Justin for final payment due for the BHSE, so it seems that it will finally be ready within two months. I placed the initial deposit about a year ago, and I fully expect the wait to be worthwhile based on the quality of the Aristaeus.

I'm listening to Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight with the HE90 + ES-1 and it sounds very good. Anything that makes me feel 10 years younger is good. Great dynamics, bass and details. I don't think the Aristaeus can do Linkin Park as well.

I'm borrowing a set of Philips metal base EL34 that I've been saving for the BHSE, and using them on the ES-1 for now along with a pair of Tung-Sol 2C51 and a pair of Sylvania 6SN7W metal base. Too bad the 2C51 tubes don't come in metal base.
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Team Metal Base rules!

ES1tubes.jpg
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 7:32 AM Post #14 of 102

Ricey20

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someones ready to pounce already!

But yah I'm on the waiting list for the BHSE too. I just paid it in full a week ago. Justin said the first ones should start shipping within a month and he hopes to have them all complete and shipped before the end of the year. Heres to hoping! Got a quad matched EL34 XF2s waiting for a few months now
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Nov 10, 2008 at 12:32 PM Post #15 of 102

Elephas

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Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What are you gonna do with the ES-1 and Aristaeus if the KGBHSE beats them all?


I don't expect the BHSE to beat the ES-1 or Aristaeus.
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But then, that's what I thought before I heard the ES-1; I didn't expect the ES-1's greater dynamics and details versus the Aristaeus, and the improvement with the Stax O2 driven by the ES-1.

I might sell one of the three amps... and use the funds for more metal base!
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Actually, less expensive tubes also do quite well in the ES-1. For example, I put in a quad of RFT East German EL34, branded Telefunken (don't be fooled by these dimple tops/four holes crimped plates) and a pair of Sylvania 6BX7, while keeping the Tung-Sol 2C51 in place. The sound is not bad.

I tried the Airbow SR-SC1 in place of the HE90 and it also sounds reasonably good. I guess the moral is that as long as the headphone system is an electrostatic one, and the source and amp is decent, you don't need expensive tubes or headphones.
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