Considering GSX Mini and Benchmark HPA4..
Apr 6, 2020 at 9:22 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

number1sixerfan

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Very, very happy with the Electrostatic rig, but I may have stumbled into a good opportunity to grab a pair of Audio Technica ATH-L3000s which I probably won't pass up. So with that, I'm looking at the GSX Mini and Benchmark HPA4. I'm solely only considering the Mini vs. the MK2 due to size reasons, would prefer to have one unit. I'll want at least one other TOTL headphone eventually to compliment the L3000, preferably something newer that's more airy, neutral, detail focused (somewhat like stax), but with slightly warm/forward mids w/ good bass. I haven't heard many of the new headphones, so hopefully stating that can help others think about headphones I may want to pair with this new amp.

Here's what I currently like about each

GSX Mini
-Price
-Available in same design/color as Blue Hawaii..
-Sounds like it has enough power for most, if not all headphones
-Getting really good reviews & I already know a lot of Justin's amps well. Like that it sounds like there's slight warmth

Benchmark
-Great design and reput.
-Seems like an end game kind of amp
-Feedback has been nothing but stellar it seems

With it being $1000 less + the cool factor of having a full set of matching Amps in the GSX Mini/BHSE, I'm really leaning that route. Does anyone here have an idea of the overall performance difference between the two? Is the HPA4 significantly more capable from a technical (sound wise) and power standpoint? If it's much more refined, I'd probably stretch for the Benchmark. Thanks in advance!
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 6:15 AM Post #3 of 25

Arniesb

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I was thinking of a GSX Mini but then thought 'it's just a headphone amp for crying out loud' so today I ordered a Gilmore Lite MK2. I'm sure it will be fine.
I agree, headphone amps very overpriced. Sure Mini Deserve its price considering power supply, parts, Case. Benchmark youre paying for what? Only part that is expensive is Wolume control and it shouldnt make such a huge difference in price. Benchmmark in general is way overpriced and most of its products look ugly.
Now look at Headamp. Products look amazing and you get what you pay. Look at GSX MK2 and Blue Hawai. Al the best parts you can get for a reasonable price.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 11:05 AM Post #4 of 25

Chik0240

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I agree, headphone amps very overpriced. Sure Mini Deserve its price considering power supply, parts, Case. Benchmark youre paying for what? Only part that is expensive is Wolume control and it shouldnt make such a huge difference in price. Benchmmark in general is way overpriced and most of its products look ugly.
Now look at Headamp. Products look amazing and you get what you pay. Look at GSX MK2 and Blue Hawai. Al the best parts you can get for a reasonable price.
actually looking back at my 7 years old burson soloist I still think the higher ends are all overpriced lol
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 11:48 AM Post #5 of 25

number1sixerfan

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I appreciate the replies and I get that perspective too... but I mean... the entire hobby is overpriced lol. The concept of paying $500+ for a pair of headphones is pretty ridiculous, but here we are lol

I have 3 stat amps on hand, all in different price categories.. ranging from $500 - $5k. The differences are absolutely noticeable and drastic in some senses. Could live with the mid-priced amp for sure.. anyways I'd be happy with the Mini, seems like a huge bang for the buck, but it and the benchmark aren't far in price so if there's a substantial performance gap between the two I'd want to know. At the moment leaning towards just getting the mini.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 12:11 PM Post #6 of 25

musicmaker

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I had a gs-x mk2. Was looking at getting a HPA4 but decided not to. While reviews are generally great and it seems like a technically awesome amp i also read reports that its a bit cold, analytical sounding.

I got a great deal on a Violectric v281 with the relay volume and remote. While i really liked the gs-x mk2, i like the Violectric more. It has better low end extension and has this subtle warmth that makes for a very enjoyable listen. The v281 sounds great with anything i throw at it. Superb amp.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 12:59 PM Post #7 of 25

number1sixerfan

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Thank you, that's really helpful. And another user also offered some thoughts that helped. I keep hearing that the GSX mini has a slight warmth to it while still being highly detailed with great dynamics. I think that's the route I'm going, as the BHSE is already very analytical, would like something to contrast against it.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 1:25 PM Post #8 of 25

Womaz

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Great thread and watching it with interest. I have the Taurus mk2 and I have also been wondering about whether I could improve on it much.
Lockdown has meant a lot more HP listening .
I am looking at the Violectric 281 and the Benchmark 4 too, so looking forward to following this post
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 1:54 PM Post #9 of 25

musicmaker

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While I haven't listened to the GS-x mini, I have owned GS-X mk2 for a while. There was a user who reviewed the mk2 against the mini and preferred the mk2. Which would make sense given the price difference. Justin's amps are all great and they sound as good as they look. You cant go wrong. For me, the v281 at the current used prices punches way above its price point and let's me get lost in the music. Something the gs-x mk2 didnt do for me. Good luck with your search.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 2:25 PM Post #10 of 25

number1sixerfan

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Great thread and watching it with interest. I have the Taurus mk2 and I have also been wondering about whether I could improve on it much.
Lockdown has meant a lot more HP listening .
I am looking at the Violectric 281 and the Benchmark 4 too, so looking forward to following this post

That's exactly it. I'm more open to getting new equipment since I'm stuck in the house for the next 2-3 months lol. Will definitely post impressions whenever I have any of these in hand.

While I haven't listened to the GS-x mini, I have owned GS-X mk2 for a while. There was a user who reviewed the mk2 against the mini and preferred the mk2. Which would make sense given the price difference. Justin's amps are all great and they sound as good as they look. You cant go wrong. For me, the v281 at the current used prices punches way above its price point and let's me get lost in the music. Something the gs-x mk2 didnt do for me. Good luck with your search.

Yea, I read that review really thoroughly and for the most part it seems to boil down to the presentation of the amp and preferences. The MK2 seems a bit brighter and thus a bit more detail oriented/analytical, while the mini seems to have some warmth.. I would definitely assume the mk2 is a bit better in some regards though. And I agree, for his amps there's definitely more of a premium. Hopefully I get to check out the Violectric at some point. Congrats on your purchase!
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 2:37 PM Post #11 of 25

sonance

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I've never heard the mini but spent some time with the GSX mk2 and without an HPA-4 to compare it to found it very neutral, not particularly warm. From memory (not that trustworthy for small audio differences) it did sound very similar the THX AAA 789 amp I have in my bedroom overall - i.e. neutral. I'm sure the HPA-4 is clinical textbook perfection, and in that sense should sound very similar to the GSX mini unless you hit power limits (like with the HE-6 or something). Nothing like the difference you hear with tubes and not like the BHSE at all - I love the BHSE!
Driving HE 1000SEs I'd take the v281 over either of the other 2 choices. The only ATs I own are the W3000anv, and it sounds very good from any of these amps, being easy to drive. I like it out of my audio-gd master 9.
 
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Apr 7, 2020 at 5:16 PM Post #12 of 25

Relaxasaurus

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For me, the v281 at the current used prices punches way above its price point and let's me get lost in the music. Something the gs-x mk2 didnt do for me.
Thanks for the comparison, have been curious about this as well. How do you compare the V281 to your Moon?
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 6:30 PM Post #13 of 25

musicmaker

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I never understood why the Moon 430HA isn't celebrated more here. But again, there are some amazing products (eg: RME ADI-*, Ultrasone Signature Pro/DJ) which dont get a lot of press for reasons I don't want to get into.

The moon 430HA and the v281 are two of the best solid state amps I've heard. It would be hard for me to pick one over the other. The 430HA sounds even more neutral than the v281 although I do love the slight warmth of the Violectric. The v281 has a more prominent bottom end and sounds a bit meatier if you will. The 430HA has a better sense of space (few more seats behind) and that's lovely too. The v281 is the faster sounding amp. The moon relatively is slower / more relaxed. The moon has a better volume control (the clicking on the v281 when you turn that know bothers me). But, we're talking two world class amps IMO.

If I can only have one, it will be the moon 430HA.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 6:47 PM Post #14 of 25

Arniesb

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I never understood why the Moon 430HA isn't celebrated more here. But again, there are some amazing products (eg: RME ADI-*, Ultrasone Signature Pro/DJ) which dont get a lot of press for reasons I don't want to get into.

The moon 430HA and the v281 are two of the best solid state amps I've heard. It would be hard for me to pick one over the other. The 430HA sounds even more neutral than the v281 although I do love the slight warmth of the Violectric. The v281 has a more prominent bottom end and sounds a bit meatier if you will. The 430HA has a better sense of space (few more seats behind) and that's lovely too. The v281 is the faster sounding amp. The moon relatively is slower / more relaxed. The moon has a better volume control (the clicking on the v281 when you turn that know bothers me). But, we're talking two world class amps IMO.

If I can only have one, it will be the moon 430HA.
Best amps based on what? Based on massive coloration and because it can tame a little bit of piercing highs from TH900? Both are very average and overpriced amps.
Only good thing they do is that they provide colored sound.
 
Apr 7, 2020 at 7:09 PM Post #15 of 25

Womaz

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Very, very happy with the Electrostatic rig, but I may have stumbled into a good opportunity to grab a pair of Audio Technica ATH-L3000s which I probably won't pass up. So with that, I'm looking at the GSX Mini and Benchmark HPA4. I'm solely only considering the Mini vs. the MK2 due to size reasons, would prefer to have one unit. I'll want at least one other TOTL headphone eventually to compliment the L3000, preferably something newer that's more airy, neutral, detail focused (somewhat like stax), but with slightly warm/forward mids w/ good bass. I haven't heard many of the new headphones, so hopefully stating that can help others think about headphones I may want to pair with this new amp.

Here's what I currently like about each

GSX Mini
-Price
-Available in same design/color as Blue Hawaii..
-Sounds like it has enough power for most, if not all headphones
-Getting really good reviews & I already know a lot of Justin's amps well. Like that it sounds like there's slight warmth

Benchmark
-Great design and reput.
-Seems like an end game kind of amp
-Feedback has been nothing but stellar it seems

With it being $1000 less + the cool factor of having a full set of matching Amps in the GSX Mini/BHSE, I'm really leaning that route. Does anyone here have an idea of the overall performance difference between the two? Is the HPA4 significantly more capable from a technical (sound wise) and power standpoint? If it's much more refined, I'd probably stretch for the Benchmark. Thanks in advance!
Are you considering any others ? I have been reading about the new Burson Conductor 3 too . A lot of good reports on this too .......where do we stop though :wink:
 

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