Elemental Watson Class-A Valve/Mosfet Hybrid Headphone Amplifier (Review added)
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PaganDL

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During my music listening (classical music), when i touch the vol knob I heard significant hiss noise. Is that normal?
Amp condition are in standard version
Hi @chaotic_angel,

Depends on several factors :

1. If you are using stock tubes which I presume you are when you say it is standard version, then by nature, stock 6AK5 are 'noisy' or potentially high noise tubes also with potentially high gain as their original purpose was in military specific communications so they tend to be rather sensitive overall.
Which essentially means at any significant volume &/or with low impedence head gear the listener is subjected to the noise generated by the stock tubes regardless of whether amp is touched or not.
So it is normal to a degree, just depends on whether it is louder than the music though if it is most classical, sadly, this is not hard.

2. Elemental Watson M1 & M2 have comparable hiss noise though M1 tends to be a little more sensitive & has no gain control on the PCB which does affect how much noise will be heard.
So if you have the M2, try reducing the gain as much as possible as well as not using any head gear which is overly sensitive.

Hope this makes sense.

Hope you have a great day !
 
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Hi @chaotic_angel,

Depends on several factors :

1. If you are using stock tubes which I presume you are when you say it is standard version, then by nature, stock 6AK5 are 'noisy' or potentially high noise tubes also with potentially high gain as their original purpose was in military specific communications so they tend to be rather sensitive overall.
Which essentially means at any significant volume &/or with low impedence head gear the listener is subjected to the noise generated by the stock tubes regardless of whether amp is touched or not.
So it is normal to a degree, just depends on whether it is louder than the music though if it is most classical, sadly, this is not hard.

2. Elemental Watson M1 & M2 have comparable hiss noise though M1 tends to be a little more sensitive & has no gain control on the PCB which does affect how much noise will be heard.
So if you have the M2, try reducing the gain as much as possible as well as not using any head gear which is overly sensitive.

Hope this makes sense.

Hope you have a great day !
thanks @PaganDL - I think mine is M1 with black pcb and no holes. Talking about gain, on mine also there are 2 blue and yellow thingies behind the vol knob - whats that's for?
 
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Just bought the Watson II, along with a matched pair of GE JAN 5654W and Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV's (mine is coming with Western Electric 6AK5 default).

I'm really hoping that this will be an upgrade from the Aune B1, I'm just hoping this isn't worse (by much) than the MCTH.

Anyone have some impressions with different tubes?
 
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@avitron142,

What is wrong with the CTH?
Curious to know why you think the CTH is bad as it is better to quantify & give reasoning instead of putting out a blanket statement.

Both EWM2 & CTH serve different purposes & uses, not to mention, one is single tube which is capable of handling sensitive IEMs as well as high impedance headgear whereas the other is meant for mainly anything BUT sensitive IEMs.
Single vs Dual or more makes a lot of difference in amps compared to drivers in IEMs as the latter generally requires more tuning, etc

Regarding any sound quality upgrades, it all depends on what you're looking for, etc...
 
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thanks @PaganDL - I think mine is M1 with black pcb and no holes. Talking about gain, on mine also there are 2 blue and yellow thingies behind the vol knob - whats that's for?
@chaotic_angel,

Apologies for the delay in reply, please post a picture then it would be easier to troubleshoot, as your description could mean a number of things.

Hope you have a great day !
 
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@avitron142,

What is wrong with the CTH?
Curious to know why you think the CTH is bad as it is better to quantify & give reasoning instead of putting out a blanket statement.

Both EWM2 & CTH serve different purposes & uses, not to mention, one is single tube which is capable of handling sensitive IEMs as well as high impedance headgear whereas the other is meant for mainly anything BUT sensitive IEMs.
Single vs Dual or more makes a lot of difference in amps compared to drivers in IEMs as the latter generally requires more tuning, etc

Regarding any sound quality upgrades, it all depends on what you're looking for, etc...
Not that it's bad! But that I can get a CTH for $145, and got a Watson for $150. Anyway, I wasn't super wow'ed by the CTH... so I'm hoping I like the Watson. I tend to like budget kings, the CTH was good, but not incredible for the price for me.

I like expansive soundstage, and a strong sound. I think the IEMatch would work for converting IEM's for Watson use anyway :)
 
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I see, @avitron142,


Not that it's bad! But that I can get a CTH for $145, and got a Watson for $150. Anyway, I wasn't super wow'ed by the CTH... so I'm hoping I like the Watson.

As stated, it all depends on use & your expectations as well as how long you had said piece of gear & what source, etc...

All I can say is preferences aside, both amps require a certain source & gear synergy so if you had issues sound wise with the CTH, I would suggest the Watson may not be for you though it does have strong sound.
Expansive will depend on source & head gear, etc


I tend to like budget kings, the CTH was good, but not incredible for the price for me.

When you say budget kings, what are you actually comparing to?
As above $ 100 USD, even second hand as that's why you can get a CTH for that price, is not exactly budget though I will say in general, that $ 100 USD category tends to be considered value add over budget...
So what would you consider incredible for the price, then?


I like expansive soundstage, and a strong sound. I think the IEMatch would work for converting IEM's for Watson use anyway

Personally & subjectively, I have tried IEMatch with the Watson, for me it doesn't work, your mileage may vary of course but almost in warning, I would say don't expect it too...
As stated earlier in this thread, the stock tubes in particular & I will add the circuit is military communications spec so the sensitivity & gain is meant to be high for that reason.
Since I have sensitive hearing as well as sensitive to higher frequencies, this is among a few reasons why something like IEMatch doesn't work for me, once again, your experience may differ...

Different tubes may work for both EW M2 & CTH but as I am outside the US where it is tricky to get decent tubes or tubes of any sort worth their value, I tend to refrain from tube rolling though I would prefer to do so.
 
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avitron142

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I see, @avitron142,





As stated, it all depends on use & your expectations as well as how long you had said piece of gear & what source, etc...

All I can say is preferences aside, both amps require a certain source & gear synergy so if you had issues sound wise with the CTH, I would suggest the Watson may not be for you though it does have strong sound.
Expansive will depend on source & head gear, etc





When you say budget kings, what are you actually comparing to?
As above $ 100 USD, even second hand as that's why you can get a CTH for that price, is not exactly budget though I will say in general, that $ 100 USD category tends to be considered value add over budget...
So what would you consider incredible for the price, then?





Personally & subjectively, I have tried IEMatch with the Watson, for me it doesn't work, your mileage may vary of course but almost in warning, I would say don't expect it too...
As stated earlier in this thread, the stock tubes in particular & I will add the circuit is military communications spec so the sensitivity & gain is meant to be high for that reason.
Since I have sensitive hearing as well as sensitive to higher frequencies, this is among a few reasons why something like IEMatch doesn't work for me, once again, your experience may differ...

Different tubes may work for both EW M2 & CTH but as I am outside the US where it is tricky to get decent tubes or tubes of any sort worth their value, I tend to refrain from tube rolling though I would prefer to do so.
Ah, alright, didn't realize you've tried the IEMatch already. Thanks!

Stellar budget for me is a combination I can live with, and not want more. It's the version of "endgame" that lacks refineness, but makes me happy regardless.
Asgard 2 for example is a good amp... but it doesn't make people go "wow". I've never heard anyone shocked about it. The CTH people say "it's good." They don't rave about it like they did by the Shozy Alien, and the K7XX when it first came out at that price. Is the CTH better than the Alien? Absolutely. Is it irresistible? Not from what I've heard.

Monoprice Spark is another good example - many people are fine if they begin and end their journey with it. They don't say the same thing with, say, the Magni.

It's purely subjective at the end of the day I guess. But many people seem to agree on certain items that is once and done (that iFi micro idsd black label is one, though it isn't budget).
Since I liked the Spark, but it didn't end up being for me, I was hoping to find something similar that I can end this search with. Already found my IEM happiness with the Pinnacle P1 + Zishan Z2, hoping to get the same for headphones.

A good DAC won't limit headstage. A headphone like the K7XX won't make headstage small. I'm looking for some amp that won't impede the headphone, like many do. It seems the K7XX has good luck with hybrids, so I hope this will do the trick.
 
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Hi @avitron142,

No problem,

That is more than fair, budget is important in any area.
Personally & subjectively, it is about value for that budget when I consider gear at any level.
Then if it is justifiable, it is something worth getting otherwise I usually forgo it.
Which is one reason why demos are so important & it still boggles the mind but not surprising by any measure many don't bother to test gear, as usually it can be easily returned.
As someone who lives outside the US, change of mind is generally not an option which can be a pain but it does make considering things more measured...
Not to mention the fact for those say they have potentially negative opinions on said gear usually don't spend at least a week listening &/or have terrible gear synergy...

From what you just said, it seems you should be swinging to solid state over tube, for close to what you would consider end game until the next thing that is...
Personally & subjectively, I am far from that myself & while I could exit any time & be certainly more than happy, I appreciate sound, doesn't matter what it is & if a particular gear improves my experience, all the better...

Spark would be nice but as the exchange rate makes it including shipping worth way more than it should be, happy to forgo it till the exchange rate becomes reasonable...

On it's own, I don't put much stock in DACs being the only thing, which yes, I know that's not what you meant, some idiots will argue this point so as long as someone reads this properly, that can be belayed...
My DAC is actually an audio interface, Lexicon Alpha, which I pretty much had for close to 20 years & still going strong.
I could replace or upgrade it at any time but since it works perfectly & I'm more than happy with it as it is my main audio source, it is not necessary but yes it would be nice to do so.
Maybe one day but I rather find complimentary amps which work for me.
Anyway, whether an amp has a DAC or not is irrelevant, headroom or whatever you want to call it, a good amp will always have good headroom or space...
Whether it is noticeable enough to the listener depends on on the listener & what kind of experience they are after...
So overall, I wouldn't be too obsessed whether an amp has a good DAC or not though it certainly helps, especially if one uses it....

In closing, I can suggest three amps which come to mind which may appeal to you in no particular order :

RNHP
Presonus HP 4
Loxjie P 20
 
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P_20190211_131951_1.jpg
@chaotic_angel,

Apologies for the delay in reply, please post a picture then it would be easier to troubleshoot, as your description could mean a number of things.

Hope you have a great day !
This is my Watson pict, what is that in the red circle, please.
 
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This is my Watson pict, what is that in the red circle, please.

These are the gain switches, use small screw driver to turn left to right to adjust gain level.

Hope you have a great day !
 
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These are the gain switches, use small screw driver to turn left to right to adjust gain level.

Hope you have a great day !
I see, where have I've been in the last pages back hahaha... noted, another question should I turn it both (L&R) on the same level?
 
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I see, where have I've been in the last pages back hahaha... noted, another question should I turn it both (L&R) on the same level?
@chaotic_angel, unless you want to hear mismatched audio levels, I suggest having them the same rotation is a good idea.

Hope you have a great day!
 
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@chaotic_angel, unless you want to hear mismatched audio levels, I suggest having them the same rotation is a good idea.

Hope you have a great day!
wellnoted, will try. Thanks lot for the replies.
 
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