Best Home Amp for Etymotic ER-4S
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duetta

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I've owned my Etymotic ER-4S for a couple of years now, but have yet to completely settle on an amp for them. Since the Etymotics are so amazingly transparent and tonally neutral, I've thought that tubes might be the way to go with them -- and have been using an X-Cans V2 with the X-PSU, Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8 tubes (I also have a couple of Bugle Boys around, but haven't tried them yet), connected via an MIT Terminator 2 interconnect. I previously auditioned a @1999 Maxed Out Home a few years back, but found that the difference between it and similar vintage Airhead via the Etymotics didn’t justify anything like the difference in price (which might simply be a function of the ER-4S being relatively easy to drive). As far as I was concerned, the most musical amp I ever heard was the headphone output of a Sonic Frontiers Line 1, even with the awful stock Sovtek 6922s (which unfortunately didn’t sound nearly as persuasive to me as a preamp, but had that killer hockey puck remote). My current front end consists of a Pioneer 525 DVD feeding a Bel Canto DAC1, running through a Musical Fidelity A3cr preamp.
Any recommendations on a superior amp for using the ER-4Ss at home?
 
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JaZZ

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Hi Duetta

Until a while ago I believed that solid state technology be the only way to amplify a music signal adequately. But beside my Aries sun there's an Aquarius moon – I have discovered that I can live in both worlds: SS and tubes.

At the latest since I have the Earmax Pro I'm convinced that tubes are not inevitably less honest than transistors. I like the sound it provides with my ER-4X (also S) very much: deep bass, smooth mids and delicate, smooth highs, accompagnied by a very wide soundstage. So music listening is a pure pleasure. And there's room for improvement, I'm about to do some tuberolling.

The Corda HA-1, too, sounds very well with the Etys: energetic and fast, with super accurate mids – altogether better than the X-Cans (...V1). Or if your source signal is strong enough and you want maximum theoretical fidelity, you can use an attenuator (switched resistors or approx 1 kohms potentiometer) instead of an amp. The Etys work very well this way.

JaZZ
 
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duetta

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Thanks for the input. Have either of you tried the Sudgen Headmaster with the ER-4Ss? I'm finding that tube noise can be a problem, especially with a transducer as sensitive as the Etymotics -- and the cost of NOS tubes is only going up (although I was able to get my current supply of Amperex 6DJ8s fairly cheaply). But I'm thinking that, down the road, a solid state headphone amp might be easier to maintain, and quieter.

Matt
 
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andrzejpw

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I've heard that the corda + etys play nicely. Haven't heard the combo though. . .
 
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scottpaul_iu

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Quote:

Originally posted by duetta
Thanks for the input. Have either of you tried the Sudgen Headmaster with the ER-4Ss? I'm finding that tube noise can be a problem, especially with a transducer as sensitive as the Etymotics -- and the cost of NOS tubes is only going up (although I was able to get my current supply of Amperex 6DJ8s fairly cheaply). But I'm thinking that, down the road, a solid state headphone amp might be easier to maintain, and quieter.

Matt


I have not heard the Headmaster yet. The Micro ZOTL is dead quiet. Before the ZOTL I had a Headroom MOH (new model), the ZOTL is just as quiet as this amp with Grado RS1s. I wouldn't be scared of tubes, I have used tubed amps/preamps for a long time (18 years). Sure, NOS tubes are getting scarce/pricey, but I have not heard many solid state amps that can deliver what valve amps do. To me the maintainance on a tube amp is no big deal.

Good luck in your search.
 
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