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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. JamieMcC
     
    Capacitor wise I have only experimented with the inter-stage and output caps firstly with some Ampohms and later some Mundorf Supreme silver oils both gave decent gains the resolution and open, precise sound stage of the Mundorf SIO is excellent. I Recently scored some  3.3uf Jupiter HT Beeswax's that will also get rolled soon. The chokes also make a inexpensive and noticeable difference. I added the stepped attenuator from the start so cant really comment on the stock one. Basically I followed the same path as Macandmar explains in his excellent ramblings thread on the Bottlehead forum. I found the stock Sex a little on the lean side with my T1's coming from a modded Crack and I think the mods have helped considerably in addressing this for me. 
     
    Other amps have come and gone but both the Sex and Mainline are keepers for the foreseeable future.
     
    http://bottlehead.com/smf/index.php?topic=5316.0
     
    020.jpg
     
    + chokes added over the 36 step attenuator
     
    002.jpg
     
  2. ZachPtheDude

    You installed the attenuator sold by the Aikido designer I see! Looks like that took some extra work.

    How do you like it? I have an elma populated with kiwame resistors attenuator in my SEX 2.1 (finishing up the final touches before I do tests) and I had a VALab in my old Crack.

    I've read all the threads at Bottlehead, I think you've replied to me on their forum before, lol!

    My SEX will be stock, excluding Mundorf Supremes for coupling and parafeed duties, a mills 5w 0.1ohm resistor (we all hate those cement blocks it seems :D), and PRP metal film resistors in the signal path.

    From there it will be test, burn in, listening test, get used to it, modify, and repeat.
     
  3. JamieMcC
     
    Sonically I like it a lot and have used them a couple of times now in different builds using the Vishay RN55 resistors. It offers good performance and the 36 step fine course  adjustment on a budget and is a breeze to assemble. It seems very transparent and open and is similar in concept to the attenuator switches used in the Mainline however the switches Bottlehead use are of much higher quality in the Mainline and have a nicer switching action to them.  I also liked the Valab I had in my Crack but extra fine adjustment the 36 steps give compared to the Valabs 23 is welcome. Space is the issue with the Aikido A5 for retro fitting the pcb takes up a lot of real estate and it was a squeeze getting it into the Sex.
     
  4. HiGHFLYiN9
    I wonder if Glassware will ever have the board with the 3 Elma switches, I feel like that's been sold out for years now...
     
  5. HiGHFLYiN9
    I have the 2.0 with MQs, could bring it to a meet in the MD/DC/VA area if anyone wants to compare. I do recall the upgrade being worthwhile from the stock config, although as you know it's pretty pricey. Gave the bass more heft, and took it in the right direction with a warm yet detailed sound. 
     
  6. JamieMcC
    I was the only bidder and won (read stole) a Jupiter HT 3.3uf and 0.1uf capacitor on ebay the other week [​IMG]
    Unfortunately this then required the purchase of second new Jupiter HT 3.3uf and 0.1uf to make up the pair for the Sex [​IMG] I'm still recovering from that shock!
     
    So it was out with the 2.7uf Mundorf supreme silver oils and the inter-stage Ampohm 0.1uf paper in wax aluminium foils and in with the 3.3uf Jupiter HT Bees Wax Papers and 0.1uf Jupiter HT Bees Wax Papers.
     
    Burn in is said to be around 100-200hrs sounding very nice so far
     
     
    003.jpg
     
    The 2.7uf Mundorfs and 3.3uf Jupiters are similar in size but check out the difference between the 0.1uf Ampohm and 0.1uf Jupiters
     
    002.jpg
     
  7. JamieMcC
  8. DDDamian
    Glad you mentioned, cause this is just an outstanding amp, Really a champ for any range of phones, and something special indeed. I am staggered by mine: the resolution, lively sound with great dynamics, and the pride of a home-built is so worth it. For basically USD$430 you will not get anything close to it in SQ or versatility. I have two BH amps and building the Mainline soon. Just do it.
     
    Edit: P.S for those searching.....the Crack is hugely popular as a modder's platform and a great amp for high-impedance cans like the HD-650. The S.E.X is just that much more refined a sound, and can handle planars as well as dynamic drivers with ease. If you've considered the Crack, I consider this one-up in terms of SQ and a Swiss-army knife to handle all those other cans that need more current.
     
  9. NightFlight
    Well... if you've the free cash, just drop on the Mainline. I've got a crack sitting here that's fairly modded and it can't touch it. Everything said and done, I think my crack has about 90% of the Mainline co$t sunk into it.  Though, it does preform very well, the Mainline just oozes detail. The crack has life and spark in spades, but after a couple years of that, I began to tire.  I'm thinking of selling it to upgrade my DAC because its now the weaker link.
     
    If you like modding that's one thing. But if your after performance then I would just drop the cash. Then again, if you have about 10K you can get what you want built. I'm thinking like this. You only live once and life is short. Pleasures are few. If this is your thing.. find a way.
     
  10. DDDamian
    Great advice NightFlight. I've seen Crack mods that cost way more than a stock Mainline. The beauty of the Crack is you can start small and take it wherever you want, both mod-wise and tube-wise. Likely the most flexible package out there for high-impedance cans.
     
    I've set my sights on the Mainline based on opinions like yours and so many others here. Just won't be building for a few more months, more just because I have so many other toys to play with right now (Bryston BHA-1 on the way!) and summer in Canada is so freaking short lol. I want to take all the time I need to enjoy the build: stock + a few upgrades + a really really killer finish.
     
    Like the finest Scotch: not going to chug this one :wink: It completes my triumverate of Crack, Sex and Mainline and I want to savour it.....
     
  11. NightFlight
    Jonny Walker Blue Label is around what $30-40 an oz if you can find a bar that stocks it. Slug that back or mix it and I will hit you.
     
    Unless you buy me one that is. :p
     
  12. DDDamian
    Great analogy - may we have the opportunity to test it! Cheers!
     
  13. DavidA

    Come to Hawaii, my friend gets a free bottle of blue when ever he asks for one at the bar we drink at.  First time I tried it, was going to mix in diet coke, lol[​IMG]
     
  14. DDDamian
    Damn, party's at David's place!!! :) Move done yet or still in progress?
     
    NightFlight and I just chatting - he's 40min away in some old stomping-grounds of mine lol. If only the 'net had shrunk the real-worldTM the same amount would be an awesome meet happening right now :)
     
  15. DavidA

    Still in progress, should be done Aug10
     
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