Best amp for Etys
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Vertigo-1

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I don't think I've ever really heard/read a consensus on this before. So what do you think is the best amp out there for the Etys, cost no object?
 
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kelly

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I'd hire an Italian to build an ebony coffin filled with tubes.
 
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duetta

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Great question, and one always on my mind!

My best results were with a Sonic Frontiers Line 1 Preamp (even with the stock Sovtek tubes), although I've become accustomed to the performance of a humble X-Can V2 (with the X-PSU, Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8s and an MIT Terminator 2 interconnect -- the last two additions, in an attempt to minimize the X-Cans brightness problem when coupled with the ER-4S). If money were not an object, I would consider the newer SF Line 1SE, 2SE or 3SE, or the Cary integrated amp -- and maybe a re-tubed Melos of some sort (although I'd probably want to shy away from their stuff due their customer service problems). The ER-4S strike me as very Quad-like, and hence I would think tubes are the way to go (although Musical Fidelity has had a lot of success creating SS preamps that sound virtually identical to their tube gear, so I wouldn't rule out a transistor based amp -- especially one that combined defeatable tone controls like did the MF X-Tone). Too bad Conrad Johnson hasn't gotten around to making a headphone amp.

Matt C
 
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john_jcb

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For me one of the benifits of the ETY's is their portability. I would not travel without them. That being said, I would recommend the Headroom Cosmic as the best portable amp for them. Actually they aren't that hard to drive and most amps do a very good job.
 
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dvr

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I listen to Etys exclusively, so I'm wondering the same thing. So far I've heard: the Melos, the RKV, the ZOTL, and the Max. I should have a Headmaster arriving next week.

The ZOTL was my least favorite. The term used by many to describe the amp is 'polite', and I think that nails it. The amp lacks bite. The midrange is lush, but almost too lush. Detail isn't particularly good.

The RKV is a step up from the ZOTL. Better detail, better separation. But this combination also lacks bite when compared to Melos.

The Melos (with Sylvania 6922s) is better than both the RKV and the ZOTL. The midrange is just as good as that found on the RKV, but the Melos has better detail and impact. If there's one thing that the RKV does better, it's bass. But it's not great bass, there's just more of it.

The Max was amazing with the Etys. At this point you're getting into making trade-offs. The Max doesn't have the "midrange magic" of the other amps, but it does nearly everything else better. On a good acoustic recording like Clapton's Unplugged, the Max is the best I've heard. The bass is also the best so far -- with the Max, the Etys achieve a satisfying thump that I didn't think was possible from the Etys.
 
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timoteus

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Quote:

Originally posted by Vertigo-1
So what do you think is the best amp out there for the Etys, cost no object?


Possibly Dan Schmalle aka Doc Bottlehead and his cobalt trannied, transformer attenuated, studio-grade, parafeed, 6CK4 triode headphone amp. $2000-$4000 and custom-built by the man himself.

Or for solid-state the Grace 901?
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by john_jcb
Actually they aren't that hard to drive and most amps do a very good job.


I agree! I have found that the Etys have a tendency to still do their thing without having state of the art amplification. Of course this doesn't mean that a good source, or amp isn't recommended.
I feel the best possible quality per dollar in headphone fidelity is achieved by the ER4 of choice with budget amplification, but opinions vary.
 
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kelly

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Hrm. Tubes. Medium impedance. No price limit. I'd give Doc B a call.
 
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Cost no object indeed.
I may in the future build a balls out side system around Etymotics. There's some traits they continue to hold over all headphones I've heard, including the Omega IIs.

I'm thinking I may not even have to look very far up pricewise to find a top amp for the Etys. Both the Gilmore and the PreHead are sounding like good candidates that I may try sometime in the future. The Sugden would've been an ideal transparent amp for it except for its overly smooth highs and weak bass.
 
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I'd have to disagree about the"weak bass" of the Sugden. Are you using the 4P's or 4S's?

IMO the Sugden has a good, low, deep bass. Not boombastic at all, but it's presence is strongly felt and heard.
The highs are definitly smooth, no question about that.
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by dvr


The ZOTL was my least favorite. The term used by many to describe the amp is 'polite', and I think that nails it. The amp lacks bite. The midrange is lush, but almost too lush. Detail isn't particularly good.



dvr,
That is exactly what I am looking for, but it seems to go against the grain of all the ZOTL reviews I've seen so far. Are you able to expand on that at all? Specific music tracks etc?
 
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Vertigo-1

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When I paired the R10s with the Sugden, I found the bass rather on the weak and polite side. With Etys (I have the 4Bs BTW), the bass weakness would probably be better blamed on the Etys than on the Sugden, but from the R10 experience, I can say Sugden's bass lacked "slam". And I mean it audibly, not viscerally (I am not a fan of excessive visceral bass). I know I am not alone on this one either...there's at least two other people on Headfi who have commented on the Sugden's bass being too polite. The Sugden has what I would call a musical, tightly tuned bass, but when you pair headphones that already have that characteristic with an amp that has that characteristic too, the bass response can be a bit underwhelming.
 
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dvr

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Quote:

Originally posted by pigmode
dvr,
That is exactly what I am looking for, but it seems to go against the grain of all the ZOTL reviews I've seen so far. Are you able to expand on that at all? Specific music tracks etc?


I posted my impressions to the ZOTL tube-rolling thread a while back: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...6&pagenumber=3

There are two longish posts from me, one on page 3 and another on page 4.
 
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With cost as an object(I can't think of a cost=no object situation without my wallet-brain connection imploding) and observing the tiny size(great portability) of the Ety's, and the fact that they aren't hard to drive, I would say the super-mini v3 should be a good match for an ultraportable.
 
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