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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. Wes S
    Hey guys,

    I am really interested in building a crack, but I am a little hesitant. I have used a soldering iron, and have made about 8 headphone cables, so far, with 100% success. How much harder is it to solder on boards, and get this amp built?
  2. attmci
    Dear friend, It's pretty straight forward. And the Bottlehead community can help you when needed. There is a video:

    Have fun!
    Wes S likes this.
  3. adydula
    I like DIY and mucking with stuff....for 40+ years....the diode change is nice, but sonically it IMO doesnt really add much if anything at all sonically to my ears..that said its a really cheap change and who knows to each their own and if it sounds better to you enjoy!

  4. adydula
    The crack is an great first time adventure.

    The hard part is soldering, cutting the wires to length properly...being careful not to have parts short out to each other.

    IF you have patience and TAKE YOUR TIME, work slowly, follow the instructions, read them over and over before you do something.

    You will have a great headphone amp at the end of the project.

    Cables and soldering and terminating them carefully is a good test..if you can do that then you can build a crack.

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
    Wes S likes this.
  5. Wes S
    Cool beans! Thanks
  6. adydula
    Watch the video...great tips ane things to think about...the tools and their proper useage etc...
  7. LarryM
    Bottlehead instructions are expansive and clearly illustrated. Anyone with basic soldering skills and patience can build a Crack.
  8. cddc
    Very good write-up, thou I think HD650/600/800 should have being used instead of T1, especially for the Crack.

    Appreciate the efforts to put together all the stuff!!! Subscribed.
  9. adydula
    I use both the HD600 and T1's....both are great but very different.

    Been listening for a week with 600's just switched to T1's....its like the warmth and musicality that was missing with the 600's are back.

    The 600's by themselves, are clear, clean, articulate and present so well...its just they are missing the "body or soul" of the music IMO.

    When using one or the other for a week or so I get used to the goodness of both...and both on there own are really very good.

    I have got to the point where I can tell which ones to use with which music or recording I want to listen to.

  10. NightFlight
    Hmm, the crappy diodes in the original PS make a ton of noise, thus the choke and other mods down the line. I'd argue that component changes at the right place in the circuit can equate to a circuit change.
    % improvement is also subjective, so were comparing apples to .... something else. The cost involved can also affect subjective interpretation.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  11. adydula
    Funny when I when I listen to my Crack, with the crappy diodes I never hear "tons of noise"???''
    ..and I dont have the choke mod (s)..but I do have a volume pot "upgrade" a nice genuine ALPS.

    The only reason I did this was the tracking on the low end of the pot I got was off....simple as that.

    I hear no real audible sonic difference with the new ALPS pot, but it sure feels nicer and the tracking is
    really very close now...

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
    DavidA likes this.
  12. NightFlight
    Its not like a slap in the face difference. I'm just saying that for me, I found it was worth the time to modify the diode section in the power supply. In fact, I didn't even really do it. I sold my Crack to a friend and he did it. When hearing the changes afterwards I found it audible, so I naturally assumed it was an improvement without being able to go back to the original.
    But then again its a subjective impression and I am easily impressed. Grains of salt apply. Still, I would recommend it as its cheap and relatively easy to do, especially if you have done all the other common mods already. It all adds up.

    The POTs selected for the Crack are entry level and notoriously cheap. Its a kit and kind of expected that you might want to put better parts in.
  13. adydula
    Yup for a "el cheapo" kit with "sub-standard" parts it sure holds it own against many other devices with "standard" parts...


  14. L0rdGwyn
    Have you by chance compared the Crackatwoa to the Glenn OTL? I have a Crackatwoa with a few choice cosmetic and performance mods (film caps, stepped attenuator) and some of the best compatible tubes out there. To me, it sounds excellent with the ZMF lineup, just curious how large the gap is to something like the GOTL. Unfortunately, the Crackatwoa just doesn't have that many followers, so it's difficult to know where it stacks up with what are considered TOTL tube amps from the likes of Glenn, Ampsandsound, Feliks, etc. Wish there was a meet near me so I could bring it along and compare.

    At one point, I did do a side-by-side of my old Crack + SB to the Feliks Audio Esspressivo with some great tubes in both, and it wasn't even close, the Crack blew it away at half the price. It was at that point that I thought to myself "hmm, maybe it isn't worth upgrading much beyond the Crack if more money could potentially get me worse performance," so I built a sweet Crackatwoa instead.
    DavidA likes this.
  15. attmci
    You already have OTL, why not try something else?
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