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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. mcandmar
    ^ what he said.   I'm currently using Jupiter interstage caps in mine (.1uf), and have tried Russian FT-3's and a few other fancy caps.  They are by far my favorite in that position, i posted more about them in my rambling thread on the Bottlehead forum.  I really like the Jupiters because of their natural sound and transparency, so much so i have used them in a few other amp builds since then. The FT-3's are unbeatable for value, about $8 for a pair, vs the Jupiters at $30-40 each.  For the output caps (1.5uf) i am using Mundorf SIO.
  2. Doc B.
    I would suggest you guys also mention the headphones and front end you used to make these judgments. One person's "detailed" could be another person's "harsh", one person's "mid scoop" might be another person's "flat, extended response", etc.
  3. dmhenley
    Thank you both! Your insight is much appreciated, - JamieMcC and mcandmar.
    I've considered both the Mundorf and Jupiter for the output caps. I have also hesitated due to the cost.
    I have read mcandmar's rambling thread as well.
    I've sold some other bits, so am ready to make it happen.
    The Jupiter are my first choice, based on the sonic characteristics. With my current system, I don't want to lose any midrange texture or touch.
    I'm curious, are you both using 1.5uf rated for the output caps? Had you tested others? 2.2uf, etc?
    I had seen a post from Paul on BH forums regarding deep bass performance with regard to speaker output.
    I am listening with 'phones the majority of the time, but until I build a 2channel amp, the S.E.X. will serve double duty.
  4. JamieMcC

    Hi Darren
    Details of all the caps and mods I tried can be found here http://bottlehead.com/smf/index.php?topic=6924.0 
    The Mundorfs were 2.7uf I picked them up in a promotion for virtually the same price as the 1,5uf elsewhere. Mainly because I remembered reading a few post on the bhf which suggested going a little higher in uf value wouldn't hurt if using speakers with the Sex which I do also.
    The Jupiter HT Bees Wax Papers are 3,3uf only really because I had a bargain via ebay.
    I carried out I think most of the mods to my Sex after following Marks's (mcandmar's) rambling thread and he kindly helped with some guidance whilst I was undertaking them. I have been very pleased with the results particularly liking the effect adding the two chokes and the flexibility offered by the attenuator I used.
    As the good Doc mentions its important to keep in mind the headphones used as this can have quiet a bearing on choice and end signature.
    I will start by saying coming from a hot-rodded Crack using Beyerdynamic T1's the Sex while better in so many areas I found it a bit lean or cool and toppy treble wise in comparison. Having spent a lot of time with the Crack and having it nicely dialled in with mods and preferred tubes for the  T1's which I was my go to headphone at the time.
    My main aim for doing the Sex mods and trying some different capacitors was to try and gain a bit more fullness and magic in the midrange for the T1 that I missed from the Crack and that I knew the T1 could deliver. The combination of mods and capacitors being the reasoning behind why I initially tried the Ampohms as they had a good reputation of delivering nice density of tone which was what I was after followed later by the Mundorfs SIO which easily delivered on this objective and I enjoyed the combination immensely.
    I really had not thought to much about experimenting further until I spotted a sigle 3.3uf along with two 0.1uf Jupiter HT's  listed on ebay I didn't expect to win them and was really surprise I was the only bidder and snagged them for just £9!
    While what the Mundorf SIO brought to the table was excellent with the T1's I was always  conscious the Mundorfs SIO had a brightness to them and I used the Mundorf 2.7uf SIO in combination with the Ampohm 0.1uf  paper in wax aluminium foils as interstage caps as this dialled them back just a fraction and kept them from crossing the line into sibilant territory with my T1's.
    The Jupiters on the other hand have never felt bright and give just as much detail but in a more cohesive and even handed way compared to the Mundorfs.
    I have since moved to the Sennheiser HD800 and found them to be less finicky than the T1 and sound even more glorious. From reading reviews I had imagined the HD800 was going  to be more finicky than the T1's with even more of a hot treble and was a little surprised and relieved when I found this not to be the case.
  5. Doc B.
    I'll also mention at this juncture that  - though not directly related to the S.E.X. amp - if you have high impedance cans like T-1s or HD800s and you want to play around with lots of caps, we have started shipping the Crackatwoa amp which has acres of room underneath for gigantic condensers.
  6. dmhenley
    Thanks again Jamie - this is very helpful. ​
    I went ahead and ordered the Jupiter HTs output caps 2.2uf - actually 25% off at Parts Connexion (no interest). Look forward to working these in - though I'll wait a couple months. Need to let everything else settle. New headphones, etc.
  7. cspirou
    Looks like Loquah is going to have to add a 4th app to this thread. [​IMG]
  8. JamieMcC
    Sorry about your wallet! That's headfi for ya, getting 25% off is nice..
  9. Loquah

    Haha. I'd love to, but my wallet got heavily clamped a while back with no immediate signs of relief. :frowning2:

    I can't complain though. My SEX with Mundorf SGOs and Mainline with Auricaps are doing Bottlehead proud every single day on my desk. The hardest decision now is which amp to use for the Nighthawks once I sell my LCD-2s!
  10. dmhenley
    Can I ask how do you have your SEX wired - for 4ohms, 8ohms?
  11. Doc B.
    I would suggest using 4 ohms output impedance with the Nighthawk.
  12. dmhenley
    I did rewire the amp for 4 ohms after my first session with the Nighthawk. Sounds excellent.
  13. Loquah
    Mine's wired for 8 ohms and balanced (I installed a 4-pin XLR where the HP jack normally goes)
  14. cspirou

    If you already have the Mainline too I don't think you are missing anything. From what I am reading the Mainline is still the better amp but the Crackatwoa is for people that want a premium OTL experience. Basically the pricing is suppose to match the sonic performance of each respective kit. Crack+SB<S.E.X. 2.1<Crackatwo<Mainline
  15. Doc B.
    It's not just a straight more money = better thing. You guys will buy 6 different headphones for their different qualities, and my argument is that is only 1/2 (actually even less when you include source components) of the recipe. Each of our amps has a particular strength, like comic book superheros. The Crack's strength is certainly performance for the price with high impedance cans (think HD600), and Crackatwoa is sort of Crack with all the stops pulled out (think HD800). There are improvements in the circuit design that give you a refined sonic flavor you can't get just by changing out caps and tubes like they are salt and pepper. S.E.X.'s strength is power. It will run pretty much any headphone (think HiFiMan and other power hungry planars) and can run speakers as well. Mainline is, for me, a balance of our best circuit sophistication, simple signal path and component quality at a slight sacrifice power-wise relative to the S.E.X. amp to get there ( LCDs, but HD800s are great too and so are low impedance cans). Then there is Neothoriator which, for me at least, does it all (including K1000s). I should probably throw in Quickie and Quicksand for completeness. That's actually the least expensive headphone oriented setup we do, with the added intrigue of working off the grid, and I'd be interested to hear from more users who have tried it.
    Another thing to think about is tonal balance. I would say that brighter headphones with brighter sources will sometimes benefit from the S.E.X. amp's full and rich sound, whereas a more mellow rolled off headphone and a mellow source might be helped by the Mainline's articulation and speed.
    I kinda chuckle when I see headfier's with a list of 20 different headphones and one amp. IMO you can't possibly be getting the best out of each of those headphones that way and you would be better off selling a bunch of them and buying another amp or two that are known to go well with your favorites. 
    gab840, OJNeg, bigfatpaulie and 2 others like this.
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