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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. Jimmy24
    Anyone here listen to the Mainline with the HD 800s? How does it compare to the Ragnarok?
  2. deserat
    The things the stood out most, cymbal hits sound more natural and are more "detailed" and shimmer longer. Soundstage is slightly larger and noticeably more precise. Better Dynamics. More space between instruments. They didn't change tonal character of the amp, just made all the things that are already wonderful, better (which i really didn't think was possible). Cost $85 with shipping and 20 minutes to install.


    I did a bass sweep the mundorfs are audible down to about 5-10hz ( rolled off but audible ). The stock Daytons were only audble to 20hz. This is just my ears no equipment. Also the hd800 are only rated to 14hz so I may be delusional.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  3. NightPhotograph
    Is the C4S upgrade incorporated?
  4. Doc B.
    The C4S upgrade is separate and should become available this summer.
  5. NightPhotograph
    Thanks for the info Doc. By the way, specs say that the mounting hole has been modified to accommodate a Goldpoint attenuator. I'm wondering if Goldpoint V24 fits. Here is the dimension requirement for the panel thicker than 0.07". http://www.goldpt.com/dims.html
  6. deserat
    So my Mundorf Supremes in the coupling position have settled in delightfully. Now I'm wonder what to mess with next. Am thinking of replacing the Daytons on the c4s board or possibly doing a bypass on the coupling caps. Anybody done either? Thoughts on effectiveness or capacitor values for doing a bypass?

    Will start the Crack-a-twoa soon.
  7. deserat
    Kinda amazed this thread is so quiet. Just an update. I took Gumby to work and used it to feed an MJ2 - brought Bimby home to the Mainline. I've just reversed that situation. It is hard to believe I let it go so long. The Gumby + Mainline paring is delightful - so natural - so smooth so much more detail than either the Bimby + Mainline or Gumby + MJ2. I've started work on the Crack-a-twoa and ordered a Yggy.
    dmhenley likes this.
  8. deserat
    More notes over time...

    #1 I find the tubes need to be re biased about once a month or the mainline starts sounding very loose. Every time I've done this I've found the voltage had drifted 5-10V. Also I've found letting the amp warm up before biasing and going double, triple checking my biases on the left and right channel yeilds the best results

    #2 Am Auditioning a Yggy in place of the Gumby. Aside from the OMFG factor of the Yggy... I found this is the first time I've ever switch the Impedance to low. High impedence with the Yggy makes the bass bloomy, low, makes it amazing. Yggy is at 50 hours ( warm up ) 70 (burn in).

    I tried started the Yggy on an Mjolnir 2, Mainline is much more revealing. Love this amp.
  9. adydula
    I am a Crack/speedball owner for a year and have 9 head amps, mostly diy....looking at the mainline or a WA6SE. Anyone have any thoughts or comparisons? I use Beyer T90 and T1's 2nd gen mostly 250/600 ohms.

    I love the soundstage of the Crack, but am wondering if the more power at 600 ohms available with the wa6se would make any real workd difference?

    I really enjoy building ...

  10. Loquah
    Hi Alex, I can't comment directly on the Woo amp by comparison, but I can confirm that you'll love the improvements offered by the Mainline over the Crack. The only thing the Mainline doesn't do that the Crack does is allow for significant tuning via tube rolling. I've used T1s, HD800s and HD800Ss with the Mainline and there's always plenty of juice to spare, plus you can switch between high and low impedance mode to tweak the sound just a touch (assuming there is enough power in low impedance mode). Add to that the fact that the Mainline build is by far my favourite of all the Bottlehead kits I've tried and I'd say it's a winner. Hopefully someone else can provide some Woo insights though...
  11. deserat
    Have only heard the WAS6E at shows. I built the Mainline and figured I'd sell or keep. It's now my favorite amp by far, and I've stopped looking or wondering entirely about other amps. Loquah has written some excellent reviews on the Mainline vs Crack etc... well worth the read.

    I find it very hard to mention Crack and Mainline in the same sentence. To my ears they sound nothing alike, kinda like the difference between open ( Mainline ) and closed ( Crack ) headphones. If memory serves me right, WAS6E sounds alot like a very souped up Crack ( I spent alot of time in the WooAudio Room in the LA show ). It was more Tubey than the Mainline. The Mainline sounds like Gain on wire, which if you look at the circuit, that's pretty much what it is, almost nothing in the signal path. The tube is extremely linear so it imparts just enough harmonic distortion to be blissful and provide a sense of dynamics but I would never describe it as lush.

    The Mainline does require maintenance. I find myself every month or two re-biasing the tubes. Also while tube rolling isn't really an option, capacitor rolling is. The Daytons that come stock sound really good, but putting in "better" capacitor, for me anyway really kicked the slam and dynamics into high gear - without affecting the sense of realism that is so much a part of the Mainline. ( I have an MJ2 and Ether C Flow and the Mainline/HD800 hits harder ).

    Lastly I also enjoyed building the Mainline more than the Crack. It takes longer but it's easier to work with - less tight spaces.
  12. adydula
    Loquah, deserat....

    Thanks for your comments. Its a tough decision I am sure they both are great amps.

    I really like building stuff and its a good feeling when you turn your project on the first time etc and hear it play!

    The Crack has a magnificent soundstage IMO and sounds very musical to me, but its not as "crisp" in its presentation to me compared to other amps.
    Saying that is in no way diminishing the Crack...I would never sell it, my kids will inherit it....may not appreciate it, but none-the-less..lol

    So it looks like the Mainline might be the one that would please me the more?

    Because I use mostly higher impedance headphones I was looking fr a really great amp that delivered the most amount of power in the upper impedance range.
    The Mainline according to PJ at BH stated its about 64mw at 600 ohms...other amps have more RMS power at 600 ohms...so the concern is the Mainline might
    not drive the T1's as well as these others?

    Other than the asethics thats my biggest concern..

    Again thanks for your comments!
  13. cspirou
    64mW is PLENTY for 600ohm headphones. With a sensitivity of 102dB/mW you will get 120dB at full power. You won't even be using 1mW most of the time.
    Loquah likes this.
  14. adydula
    Thanks for that info....
  15. JamieMcC
    Hi Alex the Mainline will have no trouble driving your T1's, I have used T1's (first gen) with Crack, Sex and Mainline and the Mainline easily bests the Crack and Sex the sound staging and resolution is a significant in fact the whole sonic experience is a solid step up in performance. I might add the Mainline and HD800 are also an incredibly good combo.
    gab840 likes this.
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