Cavalli Liquid Crimson Impressions and Discussion Thread
Feb 25, 2015 at 12:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 43
I'm starting a new impressions thread for the Liquid Crimson!
 
Anyone who was with me at CanJam @RMAF 2014 probably knows that one of my favorite listening experiences was at the Cavalli booth rocking out with the Liquid Gold/Abyss rig. So I was pretty excited when Alex got in touch a few weeks ago to see if I wanted to spend some time with the Liquid Crimson as well. “Uh, hell yeah!” was my immediate response, and about a week later I was signing for a package at the door. So after a couple of weeks of listening and jotting down impressions I feel fortunate enough to have spent some quality time with the good doctor’s newest creation.
 
Upon first inspection, the amp is on the lighter side of things at 10 pounds and is a smaller sized unit which works really well in desktop situations. The cooling vents on the sides give the amp a very sleek, streamlined, and serious look. Overall, I really like the aesthetic but I have to admit my first reaction was, can this guy perform and does it have enough juice for the “hungrier” headphones I have on my desk at the moment including the Abyss and HE-6?
The Liquid Crimson is an embedded hybrid amplifier, with tube and solid state elements that are blended together in the circuit to create a solid state sound with great balance and tonality along with inner tube warmth that adds real finesse. The amp ships with a single 6922 tube that is embedded into the chassis; the tube can be swapped by simply unscrewing the smaller top panel above the tube chamber.
 
As many know, the HD800 is a fairly easy headphone to drive, but an exceedingly difficult headphone to optimally match. It’s a fussy headphone that can sound shrill, bright, and downright grating with many solid state amps. Which is why many HD800 users mod their headphones, swap out cables, and also gravitate towards tube amps. I can say that I was really impressed with the Crimson/HD800 pairing. Although it lacked some of the ultimate resolution of some of the bigger tube amps, it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable listens and took a lot of the edge off while at the same time providing a clear and resolving window into the music. Moving on to the “hungrier” Abyss and HE-6, the Crimson impressed with its ability to be aggressive and powerful when called for but still retain finesse with it’s somewhat softer treble. A good example of this is listening to Mazzy Star’s excellent Seasons of Your Day. Listening to Hope Sandoval’s dreamy vocals on the track California was just a truly emotional experience.
 
Overall, this “little” amp has some “big” balls and made me forget about trying to listen to all of the technicalities and just allowed me to become completely engaged with the music. The Liquid Crimson hits hard but with enough finesse to smooth over the imperfections of some of my “lesser” recordings. Or put another way, the amp's passive/aggressive nature is akin to getting hit with a velvet covered fist when called for but at the same time soft and emotive. The Cavalli Liquid Crimson is a highly seductive and musical amp that is enjoyable across multiple genres and was a great match with all headphones used such as HD800, LCD3, Abyss, HE-6, and HE-560.  
 
Feb 25, 2015 at 6:48 PM Post #2 of 43

Afghan Vet

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Thank you very much for the insightful review. Your impressions of the pairing of the HD800's helped with my thoughts of how this amp may pair with my headphones. I'm hoping to get a demo at some point. Thanks for sharing!
 
Feb 25, 2015 at 9:25 PM Post #3 of 43
  Thank you very much for the insightful review. Your impressions of the pairing of the HD800's helped with my thoughts of how this amp may pair with my headphones. I'm hoping to get a demo at some point. Thanks for sharing!

 
Absolutely! The amp is well deserving of consideration especially as it handled a variety of TOTL headphones with ease. 
 
Mar 2, 2015 at 11:12 PM Post #4 of 43

dBel84

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Hi and thanks for sharing your impressions. I agree that this amp has an incredible footprint - small but surprisingly substantial in that very sleek understated "stealth" look of Alex's products. I was surprised that you felt it smoothed things out and made poor MP3's tolerable as my experience with this amp has been anything but. Poor recordings grate worse than any number of nails on a chalkboard and peaky headphones are barely tolerable to my ears. 
 
 
As many know, the HD800 is a fairly easy headphone to drive, but an exceedingly difficult headphone to optimally match. It’s a fussy headphone that can sound shrill, bright, and downright grating with many solid state amps... I was really impressed with the Crimson/HD800 pairing. ...it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable listens and took a lot of the edge off while at the same time providing a clear and resolving window into the music. 
 
The Liquid Crimson hits hard but with enough finesse to smooth over the imperfections of some of my “lesser” recordings.  
 

 
I do not own the HD800 - I have had it in my possession on a number of occasions and although I can appreciate the technicalities, it is not something I enjoy listening to for any period of time as the treble becomes overbearing. I have heard a singular pair that I would be happy to give up all my other headphones for but I would have to wrestle them from the corpse of a dear friend. 
 
One of the strengths of the Crimson for me is it's ability to resolve microdetail while retaining a large soundstage , full dynamic swings and just the perfect amount of body to the bass = ultimate marriage of tube and solid state without any of the tube deficiencies - which to me are the smoothing and not reflecting the quality of the source components/material. I know we all hear ( and see ) differently and this hobby is driven by subjective experience , for this reason I am really looking forward to what the new owners of the amp feel about the amp as well as any others who are fortunate enough to get a chance to hear it at Canjam. 
 
My question for Alex is : where do you go to next? He seems to have nailed SS and Hybrid designs. A Cavalli tube amp with big gorgeous glowing bottles and all the ghetto bling one could dream about. 
tongue.gif

 
..dB
 
Mar 5, 2015 at 8:40 PM Post #5 of 43

Mullet

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Apr 12, 2015 at 7:35 AM Post #7 of 43

longbowbbs

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My question for Alex is : where do you go to next? He seems to have nailed SS and Hybrid designs. A Cavalli tube amp with big gorgeous glowing bottles and all the ghetto bling one could dream about. 
tongue.gif

 
..dB

Donald, Alex would have to call that the Liquid Christmas! 
biggrin.gif

 
Oct 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM Post #8 of 43

atomicbob

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Though exhausted from a 19 hr day of research, a Liquid Crimson showed up today. In spite of the warnings that the best will come in about 150 more hours, I can't stop listening to yet another major step up in the level of realism realized by this system; Bifrost MB+LiquidCrimson+HD650. A MFSL CD, Muddy Waters Folk Singer has been heard multiple times and a re-exploration of the entire library is in order. I haven't tried the Gungnir MB or Yggdrasil from my lab yet. Heard this combination and have been captivated by the auditory delight experienced.

 
Oct 30, 2015 at 9:02 AM Post #9 of 43

longbowbbs

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Enjoy! That was one of my favorite review pieces.
 
beerchug.gif

 
Oct 30, 2015 at 10:32 AM Post #11 of 43

longbowbbs

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  I can hear why reviewers have trouble staying focused on writing about the Liquid Crimson when they are deeply engaged in the auditory experience.
atsmile.gif
 
beerchug.gif

I coped as best I could...
biggrin.gif

 
Nov 2, 2015 at 2:05 AM Post #12 of 43

Viper2005

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What tube is everyone using for their Crimson?  The included Genalex or an upgraded tube?
I'm using a Amperex Golden Globe 6DJ8 (Holland), and find it has a good slam but the top end is a bit soft.
 
Nov 2, 2015 at 9:49 AM Post #13 of 43

smitty1110

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I'm using the stock tube for the time being, It sunergizes well with my HD800's. I'm looking into getting a bit of a warmer-sounding tube for use with my HE-6's, and maybe a few reasonably-priced Russian tubes. I've been told a Telefunken 6299 is very good with the HD800's, but prices on those are getting a bit absurd.
 
Nov 9, 2015 at 12:31 AM Post #14 of 43

reddog

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I rolled out the stock tube and slipped in a NOS Telefunken E88CC platinum tubes and it sounds great. The stock Gold lions sounds very good. I just wanted to know how the Telefunken E88CC platinum tube would sound. And it sounds great. The bass is spot on, with this textured impact, that allows the music to be natural. The mids are so sweet, lush and textured, very revealing to the source. Likewise the treble is spot on perfect, perhaps adding more micro detail to make the sound, ever so resolving and natural sounding. The soundstage seems larger, more detailed, thus more three-dimensionally holographic. This impression is based on 4 hour use of the tube. I plan to burn in the tube for the required 200 hour burn time. I used my MacBook pro hooked up to my GMB to my Liquid Crimson to the HE1000. The HE1000 just sings like a muse of old, when driven by this combination.
 
Nov 9, 2015 at 12:37 AM Post #15 of 43

atomicbob

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Hey @reddog
 
For a teaser here is a peak at some measurements I have been making with 300 ohm load and approx 3.9 Vpp, 110 dB peak for HD650  / HD800.
20 Hz square wave response 500 uS / div:

 
20 Hz square wave rising edge expanded to 500 nS / div:

 
Dr. Cavalli has designed an amazing DC coupled amplifier capable of DC to 438 KHz (estimated). Wow!
My listening has been so captivating with a Schiit Bifrost MB and Liquid Crimson. Every single track in the library that I have managed to audition.
The only thing bad about this is the potential time sink risk. With zero listening fatigue it is waaay too easy to lose track of time.


 

 

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