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Bottlehead Amplifier Discussion / Comparison Thread: Crack, SEX & Mainline

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by loquah, Sep 24, 2013.
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  1. Loquah

    How did the mulling go? I still highly recommend the Mainline, even after a couple of years!

    I had the LCD 2.2 and S.E.X. but never Lyr... Sorry :frowning2:
  2. dannybgoode
    If mulling includes waxing the budget on some Focal Utopia's its gone really well!

    I really didn't mean to but just had to try a pair. Early days yet-only got a couple of hours on them but I can't see them going anywhere!

    So mull number is what a Utopia / Mainline combo would sound like!
  3. Allanmarcus
    Is the mainline harder to build than the crack? I really enjoyed building the crack + SB. I think I'm ready to "move up". I need a little more warmth in my amp, and $1200 is about the limit of what I'm willing to spend. I think it's coming down to a mainline, a Woo. Unless there are other suggestions for a used amp that can add a little warmth.
  4. deserat

    It is.  Requires about twice the hours and a pretty serious concentration.  Also I'd recommend having at least two solder heads. One small for the through hole work on the boards, and one chisel, for everything else.  You could use one it's just tougher. One thing that is nicer and easier about the Mainline is the wire size. Smaller gauge wire leads to less congestion in  the workspace particularly when working on and around  the tube sockets.
    Allanmarcus likes this.
  5. A2029

    If you are looking for an amp that is warmer than the Crack + speedball, the Mainline is not the place to find it. The Mainline is much more neutral (i.e. less warm) and more resolving than the Crack + SB. If you want a better amp than what you have, and want extra warmth, you could get a crack-a-twoa and invest in tube rolling and finding a tube pairing with the right tubes to give you your desired warmth.
  6. Misterrogers

    Didn't have my mainline when I picked up Utopia. I've learned though, that Utopia is happiest with very very low output impedance (amp). I'd say no more than a few Ohms at the most. Don't remember the specs for mainline 'Z' out, but amps with low output impedance tend to drive Utopia better.
  7. Allanmarcus

    I'm not looking to replace the crack with a mainline; I'm looking to replace the Taurus MkII. My main cans are the utopia, and I would like a little lushness. The Taurus is an excellent SS amp. I don't think it colors the sound at all, and I can get most of what I want with a tad of eq. That said, I really enjoyed building the crack, and I would relish the hours building the mainline.

    As rogers points out, though, there is a concern about the low impedance output needs of the utopia. Anyone tried the utopia with the mainline? Alternatively, what about a TH900 or an Ether C 1.1?

    Oops, post 1572 says the TH900 and mainline aren't a great match.
  8. dannybgoode

    If you do get the Mainline I'd love to hear your thoughts on it driving the Utipias.

    A mid term aim of mine is to perhaps get this pairing for a second listening station.
  9. NightFlight
    I was hot on the Utopia until I heard them. The bang for your buck factor is definitely not there. They are excellent, but about 2K overpriced.  I'd rather go full Stax 009 if I were going down that rabbit hole.
    I had the my mainline and the Utopia right beside each other and gosh, I can't remember if I plugged them into each other. I was more interested in how much detail I was loosing when I pitted my Mainline/HD800 vs the STAX SR009/KGSS - both sourced off the Yggy.  The 009 was a clear winner. I did prefer it over anything I heard, and I did hear a lot of great rigs that day.  My only complaint with Stax is build design. Its just piss poor. Its blocky, IMHO cheap looking and actually fall apart fragile.
    However, the headphone that stuck out the most was an IEM - the CA Andromeda. So much so I bought a pair next day. The Andromeda seem to pair best with AK products. For $1099 they are a downright bargin. But they sound anemic on the Mainline. The output Z is way too high for them, even on the low setting. The AK document their output Z in the specs as 2ohms.
    The measured output impedance on the mainline doesn't appear to be printed anywhere. I haven't dug out the manual, but I doubt its there either. 
  10. dannybgoode

    So you did not listen to the Mainline / Utopia combo because you were disappointed by the lack of detail from a far less capable headphone?

    That said an 009 is on my list of headphones to try in the future however an 009/KGSS combo is even more obnoxiously expensive than the Utopia!
  11. Doc B.
    That would be an alternative fact. From the Mainline manual, page 6 :
    Output power is about 600mW. Input impedance is 25Kohms minimum. The output impedance is switchable between 16 ohms and 128 ohms.
    CAPT Deadpool, Allanmarcus and Loquah like this.
  12. NightFlight
    Thanks Doc. I was beginning to think it was top secret. :wink:
  13. NightFlight
    Sorry, no. I was distracted and forgot to. FYI the Utopia owner was experiencing buyers remorse over the Mainline/HD800 combo. *shrug*  Again, I heard it on several sources and while a good headphone, the price is still not justified. Then again I don't think any of the top tier prices are - but that's me. There has to be a better way to make good headphones cheaper. Maybe I'll make it a mission.
  14. dannybgoode

    It would be interesting to look at the accounts of say Focal to see just what the profits are for a high end speaker / headphone maker.

    I think the bottom line number may be much lower than people imagine...
  15. Loquah

    Marketing, R&D and distribution aren't cheap...
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