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EMAC 535SE Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by kimbawlion, Jan 28, 2017.
  1. KimbaWLion
    I will get to hear this tomorrow at the Philly Meet where it makes it first Head-fi meet debut. So more to follow afterwards.
  2. jacal01
    The EMAC 535SE is a pleasure to listen to.  It’s immediate standout quality is a smooth, melodious midrange that is both engaging and non-fatiguing.  Beguiling might also be an apt description, although the solid state amp is not as colored as you might expect; its tonality still tending more toward neutral sounding, so that a sense of clarity still manages to convey more musical detail than would a more veiled warm tube sound might normally impart.
    This may also be in part because of the amp’s circuit relocation of the output transformer to its input side, avoiding the inherent distortion of the transformer’s DC current isolation required iron core, according to its designer.
    Treble was never harsh, brittle or digital, even through my unmodded HD 800 headphones, and bass was always tight and controlled, even though I might have detected some slight rolloff at both ends compared to some other amps I rotated it with for my review.
    The Eddie Current Black Widow (v.1) is one amp that the EMAC 535SE compared to favorably.  Their tonality or timbre were actually similar, that richness or complexity of midrange giving both amps their easy listening qualities.  Here the EMAC amp seemed to convey an additional level of clarity to detail that I referred to earlier of the two.  The BW by contrast may have had a bit more bass extension.  I think that overall the 535SE is a more than worthy successor to the EC Black Widow no longer in production.
    The Eddie Current Studio 2A3 tube amp is also an amp that the EMAC 535SE garnered some surprisingly high marks in comparison.  Again both amps’ tonality matched up superbly, although in fairness, the Studio managed to convey discernibly more musical depth, more sonorous, or perhaps a deeper soundstage.  Musical placement within the soundstage seemed somewhat more articulated with the Studio.  However, the deep richer midrange quality of the Studio may well have been a function of the 2A3 tubes used by the amp in the review, the RCA tubes, especially the black plates, well known for their lush vibrant midrange sonic qualities.
    Most of my amp audit was done wearing a pair of Audeze LCD-2.2 headphones.  I favor these headphones because they are relatively neutral, clear and faithful to frequency and transient reproduction, while still notably responsive to good bass.  However, I did spend some time reviewing the 535SE with other favorites, the Fostex TH900 and the aforementioned Sennheiser HD 800 headphones, as follows.
    The TH900s paired up quite synergistically with the EMAC 535SE.  The TH900 is known for its euphonic sonic coloring, and the amp’s smooth midrange laid a solid foundation for enhancement.  The amp also managed to keep the TH900 noted bass enhancement well under control, never bloomy or overly pronounced.
    Upon donning the HD 800s, I was actually surprised to hear how much detail resided in the amp’s output signal.  I was not hearing any discernable loss of detail previously, such as percussive decay and piano key strikes, which seemed to me natural, but I was taken back by how much microdynamics and intricacy remaining that the headphones were able to extract out of the music.  Love those Sennheisers.  All this while the HD 800 remained non-fatiguing throughout its session, with none of its notorious 7 KHz treble spike seemingly in evidence.
    Remarkably, this EMAC 535SE amp came through my review unscathed and endearing.  I love its sound.
  3. Audio Addict Contributor

    Thanks for your experience with it. Could you list out your source that mated to the EMAC and EC BW.
  4. jacal01
    I used both the Schiit Yggy and the Audio-gd M7 DACs for my amps review. My source was the PS Audio PerfectWave CD transport, AES/EBU to Yggy and LVDS I2S to the M7.
    liamstrain likes this.
  5. CarlosUnchained
    I found this amp thanks to Massdrop.
    Damn expensive but damn beautiful!
  6. gward4
    I just saw this on Massdrop too. Looks wonderful. Any specific impressions with the LCD4?
  7. jacal01
    The general EMAC 535SE thread can be found here:
    Happy motoring if you've elected to join the 2nd production run.
    Well, reviews are still limited as the amp's 1st production run hasn't yet made it out to its customers.  However, given similarities with the Audeze planar headphone house sound, hifirocks reviewed the demo amp with LCD-3s, and the bulk of my review was with my LCD-2.2s as noted above.
  8. drbobbybones
    I'm on this drop as well. As long as it can power the HE1000 V2 well, I'll be golden. All of my other cans are more efficient.
  9. CarlosUnchained
    I'm a bit jealous of your signature. Nice income, mate!

    Let us know your impressions on the EMAC.
  10. drbobbybones
    Thanks! Will let you know how the EMAC sounds. I am planning on using the EMAC and HE1000 V2 in my office at work. I love the sound and look of tubes, but I go in and out of my office frequently so turning a tube amplifier on and off frequently and waiting for it to get to the sweet spot in temperature, or forgetting to turn it off is something I really hate doing. So I think this will really work for my needs, as long as it has enough headroom to power the HE1000's. I think it will though!
  11. doraymon
    This link is dead and so looks this thread,
    Any news about this amp?
  12. liamstrain
    Sorry for the lack of communication. We are not dead - it's just been complicated. I should opt for more communication rather than less, but my tendency is to clam up until I am sure, and in this situation, sure is hard to come by.

    Barring anything else unforeseen (and we've had enough of those, thank you) - we are expecting that a couple units will ship out at the end of the month, with the remaining units shipping in the second week of November.* At that point we will revisit the timeline for the next production run and consider re-opening sales.
    kazsud likes this.
  13. doraymon
    Arrr... I guess this means several months for a unit in the next production right? :frowning2:
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  14. liamstrain
    Not necessarily. We have a few orders that were cancelled due to our delay, so we'll have a number available from the first run. I just don't know when the input transformers will be delivered for those units, so I don't want to promise an availability date yet.
  15. doraymon

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