If you had $600 to $900 to blow...
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BillyHOEZ

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...which amp would you consider for a pair of Grado HP-2s and possibly Sennheiser HD650s? I'm debating between the customized Gilmore V-2SE (for $679) or Ray Samuel's Emmeline HR-2
. I currently own the Grado HPA-1 and i feel that the bass is a bit on the weak side...Furthermore after reading all the rave reviews about these two amps, it seems as if I can't go wrong w/ either one...Thanks for all the input!

BillyHOEZ
 
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usc goose

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i say mg head otl32 and some nice tubes. but i'm biased.
 
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gpalmer

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Well that depends a lot on you and what you like in your sound. I have both and they are both excellent. I think the dynamics of the two amplifiers are very close though the Gilmore SE edges the HR-2 slightly in my opinion. I am not sure whether or not Justin has gone to using the 100K potentiometers in the SE, I think SACD Lover commented that he plannned on it which would probably improve the sound over the one I have.

The Gilmore SE will give you more of a full frequency neutral response. I would recommend a good source highly because it kicks out just what you put in. The SE without a good source can come across as thin even bright to some people but that is the source being accurately portrayed. I really haven't found any type of music that this amplifier doesn't do well, I particularly like it when I want a energetic sound, such as when I'm working and want something that will pump me up. It is a very solid performer with the HP-2s, I personally like it less with the Senns but it's still very good with them. As I mentioned, the SE tends to be a rather energetic amplifier which works against the laid back nature of the Senns.

The HR-2 is a bit darker of an amplifier, the high end is definitely less pronounced. I think the absolute level of detail is slightly higher. This is accentuated by the fact that the high end is less pronounced since it tends to put more emphasis on the fundamental notes. This is a gorgeous combination with the HD-650s, bass notes on the piano are very clear even when the pianist is playing very fast in the bottom octave and the reverberation of the notes on the bottom end of the piano has some real weight. This combination is also wonderful on things like reproducing the sound of violins. If you want screaming guitars though, this is probably not the amplifier for you, at least if you're a quiet listener like I am, the Gilmore screams better.
This amp is slightly less fully featured, you can plug in one set of inputs and one headphone and that's it, whereas the Gilmore SE can double as a preamplifer since it has multiple inputs and outputs both for headphones and amplifiers. Lastly, Ray Samuels is amazing for his customer service, he will bend over backwards, sideways, whatever you need to make you a happy customer.

i don't think you can go wrong with either, it's all a question of taste!
 
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rawhit

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Right now I am listening to the HP-1s with SinglePower MPX3 and to me this combo sounds amazing. Great dynamics, and very natural.
Quote:

I currently own the Grado HPA-1 and i feel that the bass is a bit on the weak side


This is how I felt about the HP-1s when I was using a meta42 to drive it. But with the MPX3 the bass is not a problem atall (both in quality and quantity). With the right set of tubes in it you may just go

Unfortunately I haven't heard the HR-2 or Gilmore V2-SE so can't help ya there.

cheers
Rohit
 
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GlowWorm

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Quote:

Originally Posted by usc goose
i say mg head otl32 and some nice tubes. but i'm biased.



Thats what I would do too, because I eventually want to upgrade to the CD3000, and K1000.
 
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Rob N

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If you wanted a warmer more 'tubey' sound you could go for a cheaper PPX3
 
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go_vtec

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Quote:

i say mg head otl32 and some nice tubes. but i'm biased.


I second that... I'm also biased
It sounds so good with Amperex/RCA cleartops and HD6x0/CD3K!
 
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gradofan

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I'm pretty biased here, but for what it's worth, I like my Earmax Pro more than the Carlo-modded Sugden Headmaster. And if you can buy used, you can get the EMP for under $600, the Headmaster for a bit under $800. They both sound great, too, but I love the warmth of the tubes! BTW, there's an EMP in the F/S forum right now. It's not mine, but I guess it's going for cheap because it's cosmetically damaged. Might be worth taking a look at.
 
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rsaavedra

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For the HD650's I myself went for the LaRocco deluxe PPA with diamond buffers and lab power supply. If I had the HP-2's however, I think I would have probably considered one of the commonly recommended tube options for these Grado's, as well as one of the gilmores.
 
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BillyHOEZ

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Thanks so much everyone! I currently have a Level 1+ Music Hall w/ the LC Audio XO3 clock upgrade, and am using cardas golden reference ICs along with a Signalcable Digital AC powercord. Lastly, I am also using a P300 Power regenerator. So I'm assuming any of these amps you guys have listed will bring out the FULL resolution of this source?

I mean, what I'm looking for is an amp that is more capable of driving a wide variety of phones. My biggest complaint w/ the HPA-1 is that its battery powered, and it is only designed for low impedance phones, which ultimately limits my options if and when I choose to experiment w/ other ones. Lastly, the upper end is nicely reproduced on this amp, but the low end REALLY bites...sometimes i'm listening to hip hop music (songs that supposedly has a lot of heavy beats and bass) and i just find it uninvolving. The Gilmore V-2SE sounds FANTASTIC...and so does the Emmeline HR-2. It seems that the V-2SE is the winner in terms of taking me to front row center with the performers, but I don't want to close myself off from trying the HD650, because it seems as if there are many head-fier's here that claim the V-2se doesn't pair as well with the HD650s. So in short, I want an amp that brings out a bit more soundstage, stronger bass, while maintaining the highs and accuracy...if that's possible
 
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kuginomura

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trevornetwork just sold a hp2/mpx3 combo that he said was amazing...i've heard many good things about the singlepower amps and their amazing synergy with grados. sennheisers? i don't care
 
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ayt999

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kuginomura
trevornetwork just sold a hp2/mpx3 combo that he said was amazing...i've heard many good things about the singlepower amps and their amazing synergy with grados. sennheisers? i don't care



it wasn't sold as a combo unfortunately.
I got his cans, but the amp was sold before I responded. oh well, there are other sources of amps.


btw, nice thread. I was wondering the same since I bought two pairs of HP-2's this week. I'll need to go searching for a suitable amp, and this is a great place to start. thanks for the insightful posts.
 
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gpalmer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BillyHOEZ
So I'm assuming any of these amps you guys have listed will bring out the FULL resolution of this source?


The SE and the HR-2 will.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BillyHOEZ
I mean, what I'm looking for is an amp that is more capable of driving a wide variety of phones. The Gilmore V-2SE sounds FANTASTIC...and so does the Emmeline HR-2. It seems that the V-2SE is the winner in terms of taking me to front row center with the performers, but I don't want to close myself off from trying the HD650, because it seems as if there are many head-fier's here that claim the V-2se doesn't pair as well with the HD650s. So in short, I want an amp that brings out a bit more soundstage, stronger bass, while maintaining the highs and accuracy...if that's possible


I would go with the Gilmore V2-SE since it seems to match up best with what you're looking for here. You could try op amp rolling in the HR-2 also which might get you where you want to go. I don't know that I would phrase it quite the way you have with the SE and the Senns. The SE is a good combination with the Senns, but the HR-2 is a better combination. OTOH, with the Grados, I feel the SE comes out ahead. Any of these combinations though I would rank as excellent versus the entire scope of what's out there on the market.

The tube amplifiers mentioned in this thread are another option if you don't mind the downsides of tubes.
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BillyHOEZ
So in short, I want an amp that brings out a bit more soundstage, stronger bass, while maintaining the highs and accuracy...if that's possible



The Earmax Pro and Singlepower MPX-3 are both excellent tube amps that will meet your needs with the right tubes. Be sure to factor the cost of tubes into the equation. A really nice set of tubes for either could cost $150 on up. The PPX-3 is a big less detailed than the MPX-3, but has nice bass and a real tubie sound...and the tubes are cheap


Solid state is an area that I'm completely adrift about, right now. I've tried a couple of very nice solid state amps that each did some things extremely well. I've A/B'ed Gilmore v1, v2 (not SE) and Emmeline HR-2. I've A/B'ed LaRocca PPA to HR-2. I've A/B'ed XP-7 to anything I could get my hands on. You're correct that the HPA-1 has soft bass compared to current solid state amps. This isn't a function of battery power, as the HPA-1 runs off of AC also, and has a very similar sound. Sugden Headmaster is not the way to go for bass. In all honesty, I don't think any of these represent a major improvement in performance over the HPA-1, except at the low end. To get a real boost in performance out of a solid state amp, the Headroom Max would be my recommendation (which is right out of the price range). However, a Cosmic with reference module is nothing to sneeze at, and just might fit in. I've been revisiting some of the Headroom amps a bit, and am finding a lot to like there. Also, don't forget the Perreaux. Even at its increased price, it's competitive with any solid state amp in its price class, IMO.

However, I will have to admit that of the solid state amps I've heard, I wouldn't trade my PPX-3 for any of them (this could change once I hear a KGSS fully burned in, though
)
 
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zoboomofo

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I was trevornetwork's mpx3 buyer. I was a little miffed aboout some tubey qualities I lost since my last tube amp at first, but now I'm thinking this is one exciting amp. I have to eat crow on my complaints of bass. A cord tweak fixed the bass. This amp, and my Sennheiser 580s are awesome on hip-hop. It has the energy of a solid state amp. My Grado 125s are as lively as the Senns here but I prefer the Senn sound I guess.
 
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