How do you know when you have reached TOTL?
Apr 30, 2020 at 11:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 44

scottcw

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I am currently using a Coffman G1-A to power my headphones, 2 pair of Audez'e LCD-2.1 and 1 pair 2.2 all pre-Fazor. The Coffman uses 2 x 5687 tubes in the headphone stage. I was concerned that the power is only .5 watts, but I've never turned the volume past 1/2 way.

I don't feel that I am missing anything with this set up. Instrument separation, tonality, and scale all sound right. Bass goes down to at least 30Hz and is nimble, hard hitting, and, again, tonally accurate. High end is extended without any harshness or sibilance. Mids are smooth and in perfect balance. Micro and macro dynamics have both detail and scale. I've listened to everything from full orchestra, jazz, acoustic, acapella, Americana, blues, hard rock, to metal. I have yet to find a genre or recording that didn't sound great with this amp. Not to say that I haven't listened to some bad recordings, just that even bad recordings are enjoyable and I feel sound the best they can.

That said, this is the only headphone amp that I have ever heard and FOMO is creeping in. I've looked at the ALO Studio Six, the Coffman Prautes (now the Aenor), some Eddie Current, and the Toolshed Darling. Obviously, I can't hear without buying while the shelter order is in place. And... I may already be listening to TOTL for all I know.

So how do you know when you have reached TOTL without doing a lot of head-to-head comparisons? Do you just trust your ears and ignore the FOMO?
 
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May 1, 2020 at 1:11 AM Post #3 of 44

Redcarmoose

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There can be two arrivals to TOTL.........at least this was true in my trajectory? The first one was a style of over analyzing detail. I actually thought the most detail was endgame. But at that place my music collection seemed to get smaller and smaller, at one point I only had a small handful of CDs that were worthy of listening to?

At times even just parts of albums seemed to work. I had spent thousands and did demos and change-outs.......even went to meets and became exposed to others end games...........yet happiness eluded me, as happiness can. :)

Time passed and my listening sessions became shorter and shorter. I started to question my methodology and understanding of audio. I started to summarize blame and make accusations. All we know we have to learn on our own. The pages of Head-Fi were filled with subjective ideas of what to do. Everyone seemed to have the answers?

But I persisted and found happiness at times. There was times of frustration and times of success. Eventually I found gear I liked which enabled me to get lost in the music. Hours of music and every album sounded correct.

Later I didn’t want any more gear. I didn’t even have curiosity about anything new. I simply didn’t care anymore. That’s when you know.
 
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May 1, 2020 at 8:46 AM Post #4 of 44

Relaxasaurus

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Question: How do you know when you have reached TOTL?

Answer: When your wife threatens to leave you after the latest bank statement.

FOMO definitely sucks as koven mentioned but I will say that a bulk of the fun from this hobby is the journey. Trying out new equipment in your setup is always an exciting thing, especially since no two setups are exactly alike. It's a bit of a mystery how it will sound until it gets to your house. It gets exhausting if you overdo it but our ears and what we consider the "perfect" sound to be evolves over time. I used to think I was done buying things with my Violectric but then I got into tubes.

I'll also say that the higher the tier in equipment the harder it is to audition the competition. Demoing top tier, heavy tube amps like the Studio Six, HA-300, Manley Absolute, Headonia, WA33E, etc... is near impossible unless you blind buy. Makes me wonder how people do it with speakers.

Anyway, try to go to the next trade show/Canjam near you or see if there's a high end audio shop with headphone equipment nearby. You can also check out online reviews of other units you're interested in. @Currawong loves his Studio Six but reviews lots of other equipment as well.
 
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May 1, 2020 at 9:07 AM Post #5 of 44

gimmeheadroom

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Question: How do you know when you have reached TOTL?

Answer: When your wife threatens to leave you after the latest bank statement.

Yeah I was thinking when the repo man breaks down your door; when you get fired from your second job that you only took to pay for stereo gear, etc.

Just enjoy, if you're not enjoying it is no longer enjoyable. There! Let me see anyone dispute my words :D
 
May 1, 2020 at 10:41 AM Post #7 of 44

chesebert

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It’s not TOTL. If nothing else the pot is a compromise. I would expect stepped attenuation, relays or rk501 in TOTL amp. Also not enough power for TOTL. Gain is not the same as power.

TOTL means without obvious compromise and that preamp/headamp looks like one big compromise.
 
May 1, 2020 at 11:49 AM Post #9 of 44

scottcw

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There can be two arrivals to TOTL.........at least this was true in my trajectory? The first one was a style of over analyzing detail. I actually thought the most detail was endgame. But at that place my music collection seemed to get smaller and smaller, at one point I only had a small handful of CDs that were worthy of listening to?

At times even just parts of albums seemed to work. I had spent thousands and did demos and change-outs.......even went to meets and became exposed to others end games...........yet happiness eluded me, as happiness can. :)

Time passed and my listening sessions became shorter and shorter. I started to question my methodology and understanding of audio. I started to summarize blame and make accusations. All we know we have to learn on our own. The pages of Head-Fi were filled with subjective ideas of what to do. Everyone seemed to have the answers?

But I persisted and found happiness at times. There was times of frustration and times of success. Eventually I found gear I liked which enabled me to get lost in the music. Hours of music and every album sounded correct.

Later I didn’t want any more gear. I didn’t even have curiosity about anything new. I simply didn’t care anymore. That’s when you know.

This is where I am now, which is why I suspect I may be set.


It’s not TOTL. If nothing else the pot is a compromise. I would expect stepped attenuation, relays or rk501 in TOTL amp. Also not enough power for TOTL. Gain is not the same as power.

TOTL means without obvious compromise and that preamp/headamp looks like one big compromise.

Have you heard one? If not, you can only make assumptions, you can't make any definitive statements. Many headphone amps that are considered TOTL on here don't have stepped attenuation or the like. You could claim that a SET amp doesn't have enough power without hearing one driving the right speakers, but you would be wrong.
 
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May 1, 2020 at 12:44 PM Post #10 of 44

Redcarmoose

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This is where I am now, which is why I suspect I may be set.




Have you heard one? If not, you can only make assumptions, you can't make any definitive statements. Many headphone amps that are considered TOTL on here don't have stepped attenuation or the like. You could claim that a SET amp doesn't have enough power without hearing one in the right system, but you would be wrong.
Congratulations!
 
May 1, 2020 at 3:44 PM Post #11 of 44

chesebert

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This is where I am now, which is why I suspect I may be set.




Have you heard one? If not, you can only make assumptions, you can't make any definitive statements. Many headphone amps that are considered TOTL on here don't have stepped attenuation or the like. You could claim that a SET amp doesn't have enough power without hearing one driving the right speakers, but you would be wrong.
I guess we differ on the definition of TOTL. Also I owned a pair of LCD2 for almost a decade and that headphone needs clean power, high current and low output impedance, which I highly doubt some boutique preamp with headphone option can provide.
 
May 1, 2020 at 6:17 PM Post #12 of 44

Relaxasaurus

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I guess we differ on the definition of TOTL. Also I owned a pair of LCD2 for almost a decade and that headphone needs clean power, high current and low output impedance, which I highly doubt some boutique preamp with headphone option can provide.
Depends on the application. Some swear a HP like the HD800S really shine on OTL amps (Glenn OTL, Euforia), which have higher impedance and don't need all the fancy volume pot options.

Edit- I see the OP originally mentioned the LCD-2 up top. Now I understand your post better :wink:
 
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May 1, 2020 at 6:28 PM Post #13 of 44

ThanatosVI

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Guess you have reached it when you're satisfied with what you're hearing.

Personal endgame is subjective and may even change over time.
 
May 1, 2020 at 6:55 PM Post #14 of 44

chesebert

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I recommend Op find a dealer with a HE1 (obviously after Covid) and spend a good hour and listen intensely. Not saying HE1 is perfect - I think the internal DAC is subpar for the price (plus if you can get the dealer to use a separate high end DAC like Meitner MA-1 or similar quality). Once you have your ears calibrated to one TOTL amp/headphone/source combo you can figure out if your own setup belongs in that category.
 
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May 1, 2020 at 7:01 PM Post #15 of 44

Sonic Defender

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There is no such thing as TOTL, it is beyond subjective. There are $200 amps that output plenty of clean power. Clean and steady power is clean and steady power. Enough to drive the load is enough. If you like the sonic signature there are many, many amps that can get you where you need to be. People are sucked in by marketing hype about solid milled aluminum, inert cases, boutique capacitors and exotic internal wiring. Wonderful stuff when you have money to spare/waste, but really, if the power is adequate and clean, that is enough.
 

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