Gustard H20 headphone amp
Jul 20, 2019 at 4:22 AM Post #391 of 502

BassDigger

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Like @Alcophone said my unit is not new. I bought it off another head-fier here. I’m not sure of how many hours he had on the unit but it sounds good in the state it’s in.

I believe burn-in makes a difference and as I put more hours on the H20 I hope to hear it sounding better. I don’t expect it to deviate to far from what I’m hearing now. This amp sound neutral to my ears with the stock op-amps. There not one band of the frequency that stands out more than the other with the stock op-amps. With that said I want a little more bottom end and I want the notes to have more weight to them. What I’m hearing from the stock components is not that so far.

I’m with you on system synergy. Matching up gear is huge. But right now I’m just listening to get a grasp on what this amps does best and how changing op-amps will alter it. After all changing op-amps is part of the fun.

That's great. It's just speaking as an interested observer, sure, the effects of different upgrades are of significance, however I want to read first about 'how this amp compares to other amps', rather than 'what effect do different op-amps have'.

To that point, you refer to bass weight (something close to my heart- hence my moniker): do you mean that the H20 lacks this, compared to other amps?
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 5:33 AM Post #392 of 502

Slim1970

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That's great. It's just speaking as an interested observer, sure, the effects of different upgrades are of significance, however I want to read first about 'how this amp compares to other amps', rather than 'what effect do different op-amps have'.

To that point, you refer to bass weight (something close to my heart- hence my moniker): do you mean that the H20 lacks this, compared to other amps?
That’s a great name, btw. Now it makes sense. I’m going to hold off making any kind of judgement on this amp since I haven’t spent any real time with it. But off the top of my head I can make a quick comparison to the CMA Twelve Master that I had in my possession just a few days ago. The H20 has a lot in common with that amp. It beats in raw power and is just as refined sounding. The CMA Twelve Master has a built in DAC which helps shape its smooth, detailed sound. The H20 is going to sound similar to the source it’s being feed. Which lets you know how neutral and somewhat transparent this amp is. It’s doesn't get out of the way like the Pro iCan I had but it’s darn close. The CMA Twelve Master has very good bass with very good bass definition. But the H20 hits a little harder and seems faster. But the H20 lacks the bass depth of the CMA Twelve Master in stock form. The mids on the H20 is better to my ears. The treble on the CMA Twelve Master has a bit more clarity than the H20 in stock form.

Another that I have in house is the Soundaware P1. The H20 has very similar specs as the P1. The P1 but has bigger low end and brighter treble than the H20 is stock form. But the bass on the P1 is loose and boomy in comparison to the bass of the H20. The mids on the P1 seem to lacking to my ears. The mids on the H20 sound more balanced although a bit forward with the stock op-amps. The treble on the P1 is more extend but is also very bright. It dominates the sound and can be overwhelming to senses. It boomy low end and piercing treble of the P1 makes the amp sound V-Shaped because the mids are so pushed back to my ears. The H20 is stock form is much better balanced.

The H20 is good but I have a feeling it can be better. The stock op-amps at this point seems to holding back some potential. But as you can see it’s very competitive in stock form, which is why I’m so eager to roll some op-amps in it. More impressions to come....
 
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Jul 20, 2019 at 8:59 AM Post #393 of 502

Zennheiser

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Now we're talking! How's the bass and attack with the stock op-amps in your opinion?
Outstanding. Perfect? Pretty close, but just remember that being the "wetware" in the experience our perceptions have more slop in them over time than virtually anything else you can change on a GOOD amp. We all like to tweak our gear to personalize it, but I wouldn't get too bogged down in the micro-minutiae. If the upgrades are inexpensive and reversible, I think all that stuff is great fun. But not (in this case in particular) a pre-requisite for letting the virtuosity of the H20 shine. If it had been built or retailed in the West, the ask would've been what a good condition used Beamer runs. Grab it and Growl and don't look back...
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 12:10 PM Post #395 of 502

Slim1970

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Outstanding. Perfect? Pretty close, but just remember that being the "wetware" in the experience our perceptions have more slop in them over time than virtually anything else you can change on a GOOD amp. We all like to tweak our gear to personalize it, but I wouldn't get too bogged down in the micro-minutiae. If the upgrades are inexpensive and reversible, I think all that stuff is great fun. But not (in this case in particular) a pre-requisite for letting the virtuosity of the H20 shine. If it had been built or retailed in the West, the ask would've been what a good condition used Beamer runs. Grab it and Growl and don't look back...
Well said and this is a very well built amp. Op-amps are fairly inexpensive compared to what some good tubes would cost. Like you said it's not an requirement in this case because is stock form the H20 is worthy of some praise and should be placed in the top tier of amps based on performance. For the price I paid for it I consider it one of the best purchases I've made so far. It's so good....Seriously :)
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 12:50 PM Post #396 of 502

Slim1970

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@Slim1970 ..I think it's time for 994Enh-Ticha :L3000: and powercord upgrade ..my 2c
@spacequeen7 you are right. I got up this morning and that's the first thing I did. The 994Enh-Ticha are installed. Upon listening, it fixes everything I did not like about the stock op-amps especially the midrange and treble. I thought the midrange with the stock op-amps was a little congested and did not tie in well with the bass and treble. With the 994Enh-Ticha's installed the H20's midrange has better presence and the sound is more natural and clear. There's a sweetness to vocals that wasn't there before. The music itself is more much more cohesive. The imaging and instrument separation is so much better with 994Enh-Ticha's. The bass was good before. But now it has much better definition and is more taunt and there's some slam to it. It reminds me of good planar bass but it's much faster and deeper. It's hard to describe honestly. The treble clarity I was seeking it now there. What an improvement to the sound the 994Enh-Ticha have made.

The guy I bought this from included a Tripp-Lite power cord. I know there are better ones out there but I don't want to spend a lot of money on one because I'm not so sure I would hear the improvements. I could be wrong though. Do you have any suggestions?

IMG_1370.jpg
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 1:18 PM Post #397 of 502

Alcophone

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@spacequeen7 you are right. I got up this morning and that's the first thing I did. The 994Enh-Ticha are installed. Upon listening, it fixes everything I did not like about the stock op-amps especially the midrange and treble. I thought the midrange with the stock op-amps was a little congested and did not tie in well with the bass and treble. With the 994Enh-Ticha's installed the H20's midrange has better presence and the sound is more natural and clear. There's a sweetness to vocals that wasn't there before. The music itself is more much more cohesive. The imaging and instrument separation is so much better with 994Enh-Ticha's. The bass was good before. But now it has much better definition and is more taunt and there's some slam to it. It reminds me of good planar bass but it's much faster and deeper. It's hard to describe honestly. The treble clarity I was seeking it now there. What an improvement to the sound the 994Enh-Ticha have made.

The guy I bought this from included a Tripp-Lite power cord. I know there are better ones out there but I don't want to spend a lot of money on one because I'm not so sure I would hear the improvements. I could be wrong though. Do you have any suggestions?

Awesome, glad you like them, too!

My favorite budget cord is the Volex 17604, then quite a bit more expensive, but still cheap by audiophile standards, the Wireworld Stratus 7.

I haven't played with them with the H20, though, so that's more a general suggestion.
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 2:48 PM Post #398 of 502

Slim1970

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Awesome, glad you like them, too!

My favorite budget cord is the Volex 17604, then quite a bit more expensive, but still cheap by audiophile standards, the Wireworld Stratus 7.

I haven't played with them with the H20, though, so that's more a general suggestion.
Cool, I'll look into them. Power cords are one thing I know very little about.
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 3:35 PM Post #399 of 502

spacequeen7

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@spacequeen7 you are right. I got up this morning and that's the first thing I did. The 994Enh-Ticha are installed. Upon listening, it fixes everything I did not like about the stock op-amps especially the midrange and treble. I thought the midrange with the stock op-amps was a little congested and did not tie in well with the bass and treble. With the 994Enh-Ticha's installed the H20's midrange has better presence and the sound is more natural and clear. There's a sweetness to vocals that wasn't there before. The music itself is more much more cohesive. The imaging and instrument separation is so much better with 994Enh-Ticha's. The bass was good before. But now it has much better definition and is more taunt and there's some slam to it. It reminds me of good planar bass but it's much faster and deeper. It's hard to describe honestly. The treble clarity I was seeking it now there. What an improvement to the sound the 994Enh-Ticha have made.

The guy I bought this from included a Tripp-Lite power cord. I know there are better ones out there but I don't want to spend a lot of money on one because I'm not so sure I would hear the improvements. I could be wrong though. Do you have any suggestions?


I don't know much about Tripp-Lite but I use Pangea AC 14SE MK II on all my gear (around $60.00 ) ,if you using none balanced source I would highly recommend 18 AWG RCA Quad Shield RG-6 Coax 75 Ohm with Solid Copper Center (ebay -cheap ) for interconnect
Good balanced source should improve overall experience
I'm glad you enjoying it
Cheers
 
Jul 20, 2019 at 5:51 PM Post #400 of 502

Slim1970

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I just put a offer in for a 2 meter WireWorld Electra 7 power cord. We'll see if my offer is accepted. This amp is a keeper for sure
 
Jul 21, 2019 at 2:10 AM Post #401 of 502

BassDigger

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@spacequeen7 you are right. I got up this morning and that's the first thing I did. The 994Enh-Ticha are installed. Upon listening, it fixes everything I did not like about the stock op-amps especially the midrange and treble. I thought the midrange with the stock op-amps was a little congested and did not tie in well with the bass and treble. With the 994Enh-Ticha's installed the H20's midrange has better presence and the sound is more natural and clear. There's a sweetness to vocals that wasn't there before. The music itself is more much more cohesive. The imaging and instrument separation is so much better with 994Enh-Ticha's. The bass was good before. But now it has much better definition and is more taunt and there's some slam to it. It reminds me of good planar bass but it's much faster and deeper. It's hard to describe honestly. The treble clarity I was seeking it now there. What an improvement to the sound the 994Enh-Ticha have made.

The guy I bought this from included a Tripp-Lite power cord. I know there are better ones out there but I don't want to spend a lot of money on one because I'm not so sure I would hear the improvements. I could be wrong though. Do you have any suggestions?


.....

Can't quite wrap my head around an $800 amp that intentionally uses op-amps, and the horror of op-amp rolling as a feature. There are amp's half the size and price that are fully discrete, or class A transistor. Rolling Op-amp's and Capacitors' in then signal chain is not the same as rolling tubes. As tubes are used for flavor on purpose, op-amp's and caps in the signal path are done for cost cutting and/or poor design.

That thing's got a ****-load of Wima Film caps in it too... I sure hope it doesn't have more then one or two in the signal path.

I wonder if Gustard intentionally included op-amps in this design, as some-kind of marketing ploy. From what I recall of the H10 thread, and now this one, much interest, discussion, and daresay, purchasing appears based upon the op-amp rolling potential!

As @MikeW said, first and foremost, op-amps are a cost saving compromise; a discrete (printed board) circuit should always (potentially) be better; just look at these premium 'op-amps': actually, they're mini circuit boards!

Are Gustard going to be selling their own line of op-amps? Do they not trust themselves to design a discrete circuit? What's going on here?

I think that I've posted this question, earlier in the thread: The H10 is/was an updated Violectric design; does anyone know what the H20 is based on?

----

I've never been much of a fan of spending 'hard-earned' on power cables; I've always been happy with the performance of the TNT Twisted Snake DIY cable. If that's too much work, then just make one run (using some good quality shielded cable), and remember to connect the shielding to the earth at the power source end only.
 
Jul 21, 2019 at 2:43 AM Post #402 of 502

Slim1970

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Burson is another company that designs their amps around a particular sounding op-amp. For their upper tier equipment they do have discrete circuit boards in them. Their newer products are designed for op-amp rolling, which they design their own. I think it's good that you can tailor the sound of an amp to how you want it to sound. Tube amps are the same way. But having a good fundamental design to start with is a must. In the case of the H20 this amp seems to be designed for sound regardless of op-amp. The stock op-amps are good but changing them out gets you a better, more refined amp that sounds like a $2000 dollar amp. I've heard some of these $2k dollar amps and I'd take the H20 over them.

On a side note, I'm not sure if changing out the power cord will net you more improvements than changing op-amps. But if you're a tweaker like me it's something I want to try. If i can get another 3 - 5% of improved performance out of this amp I want it. Others may disagree and I'm okay with that. Everyone hears things differently. Good sound is purely subjective and is up to end user to decide what sounds best to them. I'm not going to go overboard on a power cord though. The H20 sounds good as is with the 994Enh-Ticha's installed. So I'm waiting for the right deal to get a good power cord.

I would also like to know what amp the H20 is designed after. Some reviewers said it sounds like the Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold. I've listened to that amp and it's way to warm sounding for my taste. The H20 brings out more details and it much more livelier sounding. I take the H20 over it as well.
 
Jul 22, 2019 at 6:36 PM Post #403 of 502

Slim1970

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@spacequeen7 I ended up ordering the Pangea Audio AC 14XL MKII power cable for the H20. After reading many reviews on other power cables from different companies I settled on this one. What sold me was Jay Victor's other project work before joining Pangea. Also, the price to performance ratio of his cables and the many accolades his series of power cables have garnered. Thanks for recommending these cables to me.
 
Jul 23, 2019 at 9:54 AM Post #404 of 502

Icekuma

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@spacequeen7 you are right. I got up this morning and that's the first thing I did. The 994Enh-Ticha are installed. Upon listening, it fixes everything I did not like about the stock op-amps especially the midrange and treble. I thought the midrange with the stock op-amps was a little congested and did not tie in well with the bass and treble. With the 994Enh-Ticha's installed the H20's midrange has better presence and the sound is more natural and clear. There's a sweetness to vocals that wasn't there before. The music itself is more much more cohesive. The imaging and instrument separation is so much better with 994Enh-Ticha's. The bass was good before. But now it has much better definition and is more taunt and there's some slam to it. It reminds me of good planar bass but it's much faster and deeper. It's hard to describe honestly. The treble clarity I was seeking it now there. What an improvement to the sound the 994Enh-Ticha have made.

The guy I bought this from included a Tripp-Lite power cord. I know there are better ones out there but I don't want to spend a lot of money on one because I'm not so sure I would hear the improvements. I could be wrong though. Do you have any suggestions?

Hi @Slim1970 is this the one you bought! A pair? After reading your impression, I am now tempted to try.

https://www.amazon.com/Sonic-Imagery-Labs-994Enh-Ticha-Operational/dp/B0776QQD78

Thank you.
 
Jul 23, 2019 at 11:09 AM Post #405 of 502

Slim1970

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Hi @Slim1970 is this the one you bought! A pair? After reading your impression, I am now tempted to try.

https://www.amazon.com/Sonic-Imagery-Labs-994Enh-Ticha-Operational/dp/B0776QQD78

Thank you.
It is but you're going to want to get them from here:

Sonic-Imagery-Labs-994Enh-Ticha

You're also going to need the right angle adapters as they are too big to sit in the dip8 slots in the H20. Just request them in the final sale or in your offer because there is a fee for them.
 

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