Finding An Inexpensive Amp
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Jackangel

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It has come time for me to purchase a headphone amp.

Here are some considerations:

1)Portable (can fit in a shirt or pants pocket without trouble).
2)Respectable battery life running at higher volumes (20+ hours).
3)Excellent bass (visceral, tight, clean, detailed, blah, blah...).
4)Allows for good detail and a clean sound in general.
5)Can go very loud w/o distortion
6)Helps in expanding soundstage, if possible.
7)Works well with my PCDPs and headphones (see profile).
8)Will drive loudly/cleanly those phones I may buy in the future, even if they have higher voltage/current demands.
9)Costs $100 or less.

As far as I know, I can afford a new cha47, cmoy, or supermini.
Among these, my impression is that the SuperMini v3 is the best (i.e., most who have heard it prefer it over the other two).
I don't think a new meta42 can't be had at this price, but perhaps a used one. Can any of the smaller/cheaper amps be outfitted with higher quality components (buffers, opamps, caps)? Does Fixup customize his amps at all based on what someone wants, or is it fixed due to the compact nature of his units?

Right now, I'm considering these options seriously:

1)Buying a new SuperMini v3 at $100.
2)Looking for a used Meta42 for around $100.
3)Spending a bit more for a new Meta42, if it's worth it.

In particular, I'd like hear more on the SuperMini v3. I've read a few threads about it, but don't remember seeing anything that compared it directly to a low-end, portable meta42. If any of you could fill me in here, I would love it.

Thank you.

p.s. thanks to those DIYers who responded to my PMs, you've helped me understand my options, and I may be in touch.
 
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BDA_ABAT

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Jack: Just my $0.02, but I'd be inclined to point you towards the SuperMini, despite having NOT heard V3 (yet!)!!!

Why? I started off with the original SuperMini, updated to V2 and am very impressed. V1 was OK, but V2 was a dramtic improvement. Am sending mine back to Fixup to get the V3, and am having a hard time NOT having it around! BTW: I've primarily been using it to drive Ety ER4P+S adapter.

Advantages: It's extraordinarily compact (really hard to fathom the size... the case is only slightly larger than 4 AAA batteries), has exceptional battery life (a great deal more than 20 hours... Fixup reports over 100 hours! I've had very good success so far... have only replaced the batteries once in mine... the interval between battery changes is such that I don't know exactly how many hours were used), and the bottom line: (V2) sounds very good.

I don't know of any reviews of V3 compared to traditional META42 configurations, but most comparisons of V2 to META were favorable, albeit with the edge going to META. With the improvements that Fixup has made, that should narrow the differences in sound quality further or eliminate them completely.

In addition to overall sound quality, if you're factoring in portability and battery life at all into the equation, you can't really go wrong with a SuperMini.

Good luck!
Bruce
 
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LTUCCI1924

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Jackangel
HI: I had the super mini and sent it back and got the mini amp. The mini amp ant much bigger than the super mini. It is 4 AA batt big. But the AA or 9 volt batt I think give the mini a fuller sound. And batt are supposed to last the AA 400 hours. Is that long enough? Also be sure to get it with the + 10 gain.
 
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kelly

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Stave off your purchase until you can afford a portable META42. Contact JMT and KurtW for pricing and details. It's that worth it. With all due respect to Chu, the CMOY is an old design and the sun has set on its time.
 
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puppyslugg

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Quote:

...the CMOY is an old design and the sun has set on its time.


I think you breathe new life into the cmoy/cha47 by swapping out the opamps and other minor tweaks.
 
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andrzejpw

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True, but the meta really is worth it. Trust me on this one, I made the same step. Simply stunning.
 
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puppyslugg

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No doubt in my mind, the meta is a better amp, too. I was referring to people who already have a cmoy/cha47, can improve the performance of those two amps.
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by puppyslugg
No doubt in my mind, the meta is a better amp, too. I was referring to people who already have a cmoy/cha47, can improve the performance of those two amps.


The person who started this thread doesn't currently have an amp. To me buying in at less than the META42 at this time is pointless.
 
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puppyslugg

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Quote:

To me buying in at less than the META42 at this time is pointless.


Agreed.

I was thinking of the people who already have the cmoy/cha47 and are debating whether or not to incur the cost of upgrading to a meta. Those who can't afford to upgrade to a meta, then tweaking is an option.
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by ablaze
how much is a new meta btw?

i'm in more or less the same boat as thread starter


They vary depending on configuration and who builds it. There are none cheaper than $100 nor costlier than $300 yet to my knowledge. Contact JMT and/or KurtW directly.
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by ablaze
thanks Kelly.
pm-ed them quite a while ago. no response.


That should have come with a warning--both go out of town from time to time. It's worth a little patience here.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by kelly
That should have come with a warning--both go out of town from time to time. It's worth a little patience here.


JMT's portable Meta42 is worth all the patience in the world. Go for it--you won't be disappointed.
 
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Jackangel

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Ok, thank you for your input so far.

I had hoped the SuperMini would be close enough to a low-end Meta42. But, if the prevailing opinion is that even the cheapest Meta42 is at least somewhat better than any other DIYFSE options, I will settle on that.

Now comes the task of determining which components to settle on. I suppose my price range will have to expand somewhat (nothing new for people on Head-Fi, I'd wager) if I want some choices. I'll consider $125-150, hopefully that's good enough for very high quality in a small case. If I can narrow down my choices by selecting a few key components, that will help.

1)The AD8620 opamp looks promising.
2)I want an amp that fits in those translucent serpac cases (or something similar in size which looks as nice).
3)Two buffers per channel

So, given this, what are the best quality remaining components (caps, resistors, etc) I can have and still stay within my price range? Is there significant advantage to getting better buffers (el2009 or el2002 vs el2001, assuming these are all for the same purpose)? And better caps?
 
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