Lake People G109 / G103 thread
Jan 19, 2017 at 11:07 PM Post #542 of 714

Pharmaboy

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Even my recent swap from a fully balanced V181 to a fully balanced V280 was indeed an upgrade. Balanced in/unbalanced out V100 to fully balanced V181 was an upgrade as well. I imagine that a fully unbalanced G109 to fully balanced V280 would be quite the considerable leap.

 
Both the V181 (if a used one pops up) and V280 are high on my "watch" list. Neither can be a pre-amp, but both are said to sound very good in the Violectric manner, and the V280 being equal to 4 X V200s is pretty awesome (nobody manages to dislike the V200...)
 
I have a uniquely flexible desktop set-up that makes the preamp vs no preamp capability less than urgent (thought if I spend serouis $$ to get balanced capability, it would be ideal to also have preamp capability w/same unit):
 
-- I had my Audio GD NOS 19 DAC (an amazing DAC BTW) configured with 2 RCA output pairs
-- 1 pair feeds my beloved Matrix M-Stage HPA-1 headphone amp/pre-amp, which outputs volume pot-mediated signal to my powered speakers + subwoofer
-- The 2nd pair feeds my G109-A, or depending on mood, Burson Soloist, either used purely for headphones & having its own volume pot
 
I can listen to the same music on speakers (NOS 19 output #1) that I'm hearing via headphones plugged into the G109A or Soloist (NOS 19 output #2), with independent volume control on both sides.
 
So I could just drop in a V181 or V280 in place of the G109-A and/or Soloist, and have a very fine balanced HP amp for planars.
 
The M-Stage HPA-1 also is a headphone amp, one I really like. It's not on the same level as the other, technically or sonically, but is still a very capable, pleasant-sounding unit.
 
Jan 19, 2017 at 11:27 PM Post #543 of 714

novicez1

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@Sam21

That's what I initially thought as well.... until I auditioned them personally.

There's a Russian website that has the V281 balanced and unbalanced measurements. It's pretty interesting that the unbalanced outs has better numbers yet the balanced out is still superior.
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 12:49 PM Post #544 of 714

Pharmaboy

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@Sam21

That's what I initially thought as well.... until I auditioned them personally.

There's a Russian website that has the V281 balanced and unbalanced measurements. It's pretty interesting that the unbalanced outs has better numbers yet the balanced out is still superior.

 
I'm starting to realize that when it comes to headphone amp power vs sound, numbers are not as meaningful as one might assume. In other words, you might think there was a linear relationship between increasing power & increasing sound quality. But over and over again, I see comments that this is not true.
 
2 examples:
 
-- One of the most affordable & highest regarded balanced HP amps is the Cavalli Liquid Carbon. It isn't even a "true" balanced design (a phase splitter accomplishes the balanced output vs SE), and its rated power output in either SE or balanced outputs are very decent, but no better than the Lake People G109-A's. Yet reviewer after reviewer comments on the wonderful sound coming out of this box--also the noteworthy way it drives power hungry headphones like ZMF planars, and finicky/demanding 'phones like the 800D.
 
-- I own a Burson Soloist amp/preamp, which has a top power output at 4W. In a communication w/Burson over swapping out the stepped volume pot, they surprised me by offering to trade in the Soloist for their most recent amp/pre-amp design, the Conductor V2--which has a top output of 8W (insanely powerful). This propelled me into research of the CV2, which I never even considered before. And what I found, once again, is comment after comment that the extra power had relatively little effect on sound or ability to drive demanding headphones, as compared to the Soloist. Mostly, what people talk about is subtle sonic differences between these 2 power amps, NOT big power differences.
 
Similarly, when people characterize SE vs balanced sound for any given HP amp, usually what they talk about is subtle sonic differences--often a very slight diminuation of raw bass power, but w/gains in bass quality, and particularly in soundstaging, balanced vs SE.
 
What I'm concluding is it's probably better to select an amp/family of amps based on the sound it's known for (ie, Violetric anything; Cavalli anything)...then start parsing the SE vs balanced capabilities/differences of certain models.
 
Of course, this all presumes you have a pair of really high quality headphones that will "reveal all."
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 3:18 PM Post #545 of 714

Allanmarcus

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@Sam21

That's what I initially thought as well.... until I auditioned them personally.

There's a Russian website that has the V281 balanced and unbalanced measurements. It's pretty interesting that the unbalanced outs has better numbers yet the balanced out is still superior.

 
I'm starting to realize that when it comes to headphone amp power vs sound, numbers are not as meaningful as one might assume. In other words, you might think there was a linear relationship between increasing power & increasing sound quality. But over and over again, I see comments that this is not true.
 
2 examples:
 
-- One of the most affordable & highest regarded balanced HP amps is the Cavalli Liquid Carbon. It isn't even a "true" balanced design (a phase splitter accomplishes the balanced output vs SE), and its rated power output in either SE or balanced outputs are very decent, but no better than the Lake People G109-A's. Yet reviewer after reviewer comments on the wonderful sound coming out of this box--also the noteworthy way it drives power hungry headphones like ZMF planars, and finicky/demanding 'phones like the 800D.
 
-- I own a Burson Soloist amp/preamp, which has a top power output at 4W. In a communication w/Burson over swapping out the stepped volume pot, they surprised me by offering to trade in the Soloist for their most recent amp/pre-amp design, the Conductor V2--which has a top output of 8W (insanely powerful). This propelled me into research of the CV2, which I never even considered before. And what I found, once again, is comment after comment that the extra power had relatively little effect on sound or ability to drive demanding headphones, as compared to the Soloist. Mostly, what people talk about is subtle sonic differences between these 2 power amps, NOT big power differences.
 
Similarly, when people characterize SE vs balanced sound for any given HP amp, usually what they talk about is subtle sonic differences--often a very slight diminuation of raw bass power, but w/gains in bass quality, and particularly in soundstaging, balanced vs SE.
 
What I'm concluding is it's probably better to select an amp/family of amps based on the sound it's known for (ie, Violetric anything; Cavalli anything)...then start parsing the SE vs balanced capabilities/differences of certain models.
 
Of course, this all presumes you have a pair of really high quality headphones that will "reveal all."


The Liquid Carbon is a truly balanced when using the the balanced output. 
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 4:42 PM Post #546 of 714

Pharmaboy

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The Liquid Carbon is a truly balanced when using the the balanced output. 

 
It has balanced inputs & output, so it's "fully balanced." What I meant by "not true balanced" is that it uses the same # of output devices for both SE & balanced outpus, vs using double the # of output devices for balanced vs SE.
 
From the Cavalli website:
 
"It’s fully-balanced as well, on both its inputs and outputs.  In fact, whether your DAC has balanced output or not - and chances are that it doesn’t - the Liquid Carbon accounts for that with phase splitters on its single-ended inputs, so that it can “generate” balanced input signals."
 
Am I misunderstanding this? I've done a lot of reading on SE vs balanced lately, and my understanding was that some designs use phase splitters to convert SE output to balanced; vs other designs that literally have double the # of output devices working for balanced vs SE output.
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 4:54 PM Post #547 of 714

Allanmarcus

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The Liquid Carbon is a truly balanced when using the the balanced output. 

 
It has balanced inputs & output, so it's "fully balanced." What I meant by "not true balanced" is that it uses the same # of output devices for both SE & balanced outpus, vs using double the # of output devices for balanced vs SE.
 
From the Cavalli website:
 
"It’s fully-balanced as well, on both its inputs and outputs.  In fact, whether your DAC has balanced output or not - and chances are that it doesn’t - the Liquid Carbon accounts for that with phase splitters on its single-ended inputs, so that it can “generate” balanced input signals."
 
Am I misunderstanding this? I've done a lot of reading on SE vs balanced lately, and my understanding was that some designs use phase splitters to convert SE output to balanced; vs other designs that literally have double the # of output devices working for balanced vs SE output.

You are.
 
When using balanced inputs and balanced outputs the LC is fully balanced all the way through. When using RCA inputs, the LC converts the SE input to balanced with the phase splitter, then treats it as balanced throughout. 
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 5:12 PM Post #548 of 714

Pharmaboy

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  You are.
 
When using balanced inputs and balanced outputs the LC is fully balanced all the way through. When using RCA inputs, the LC converts the SE input to balanced with the phase splitter, then treats it as balanced throughout. 

 
I'm confused--trying to catch up w/this balanced vs SE stuff & not making much headway... Can I trouble you w/a couple questions based on this post:
 
1 - If inputs are RCA, not XLR), and output used is 1/4", not XLR--is the phase splitter involved? In other words, is the output voltage/watts of SE-to-SE operation less than that obtained from balanced in/out operation?
 
2 - If I owned this unit (and I'd love to), I have the choice of connecting RCA cables to the inputs (the DACs I could use w/it are SE output only); or I could use RCA-to-3pin XLR adapters (R & L) to connect those RCAs to balanced inputs., then connect balanced headphones to the XLR-out.
      -- in that case, am I getting full balanced output signal at the headphones, or just a SE subset?
 
These questions would apply to any balanced HP amp I get, so I'm really interested in the answers. I've been assuming I could get balanced signal to my (on order) ZMF Omni/Ori, but now I'm not so sure....?
 
Jan 20, 2017 at 6:11 PM Post #549 of 714

Allanmarcus

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  You are.
 
When using balanced inputs and balanced outputs the LC is fully balanced all the way through. When using RCA inputs, the LC converts the SE input to balanced with the phase splitter, then treats it as balanced throughout. 

 
I'm confused--trying to catch up w/this balanced vs SE stuff & not making much headway... Can I trouble you w/a couple questions based on this post:
 
1 - If inputs are RCA, not XLR), and output used is 1/4", not XLR--is the phase splitter involved? In other words, is the output voltage/watts of SE-to-SE operation less than that obtained from balanced in/out operation?
 
2 - If I owned this unit (and I'd love to), I have the choice of connecting RCA cables to the inputs (the DACs I could use w/it are SE output only); or I could use RCA-to-3pin XLR adapters (R & L) to connect those RCAs to balanced inputs., then connect balanced headphones to the XLR-out.
      -- in that case, am I getting full balanced output signal at the headphones, or just a SE subset?
 
These questions would apply to any balanced HP amp I get, so I'm really interested in the answers. I've been assuming I could get balanced signal to my (on order) ZMF Omni/Ori, but now I'm not so sure....?


No problem. First, don't be too concerned about "fully balanced". It's one of the audiophile things that only the most truly ardent supporters of objective listening claim they can hear a difference. 
 
1) yes, the phase splitter is involved. Output is the same no matter which input you use. Balanced output is much higher on the balanced output. If you use SE in and balanced out, you are getter all the features of a balanced amplifier.
 
2) use RCA.
 
I highly recommend you take this conversation to the Liquid Carbon thread. 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/787608/cavalli-audios-liquid-carbon-owners-impressions
 
Also, this topic has been beat to death in that thread, so lots to read there.
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 12:55 PM Post #550 of 714

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Hey guys Ive had this amp for a few months now.. and recently made the purchase of the VIOLECTRIC HPA V200, Im starting to think that there is no sonic difference...can anyone help me out here maybe im doing something wrong.
 
 
maybe its my dac I have a dragon fly 1.5
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 1:35 PM Post #551 of 714

Allanmarcus

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Hey guys Ive had this amp for a few months now.. and recently made the purchase of the VIOLECTRIC HPA V200, Im starting to think that there is no sonic difference...can anyone help me out here maybe im doing something wrong.


maybe its my dac I have a dragon fly 1.5


You have to pretend there is a difference, then you can justify your purchase. You can also justify it by buying a more expensive DAC and headphones.

:)
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 1:39 PM Post #553 of 714

Pharmaboy

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  Hey guys Ive had this amp for a few months now.. and recently made the purchase of the VIOLECTRIC HPA V200, Im starting to think that there is no sonic difference...can anyone help me out here maybe im doing something wrong.
 
 
maybe its my dac I have a dragon fly 1.5

 
Are you referring to the Lake People G103? And that sounds similar to V200?
 
If so, lack of noteworthy sonic differences shouldn't be that surprising--same mfr, though more transisters & output from V200 than G103.
 
Not sure what headphones you're using, but if they're relatively low impedance/efficient headphones, they're less likely to reveal amp differences than higher impedance or less efficient headphones that "push" 1 or both of the amps.
 
While your DAC isn't what some consider "endgame"--if you use it to compare 2 different amps it should be just fine, unless its output voltage is too low or too high for either amp, which probably isn't a factor here.
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 2:37 PM Post #554 of 714

Hypespazm

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Are you referring to the Lake People G103? And that sounds similar to V200?
 
If so, lack of noteworthy sonic differences shouldn't be that surprising--same mfr, though more transisters & output from V200 than G103.
 
Not sure what headphones you're using, but if they're relatively low impedance/efficient headphones, they're less likely to reveal amp differences than higher impedance or less efficient headphones that "push" 1 or both of the amps.
 
While your DAC isn't what some consider "endgame"--if you use it to compare 2 different amps it should be just fine, unless its output voltage is too low or too high for either amp, which probably isn't a factor here.

I have HD558's HD600's Vmoda M100's and Philips SHP9500's on the ones I noticed the biggest difference was on the HD600's as they OPENED UP once i had that extra power... and did not distort what so ever... So what Im thinking is that maybe I need higher end headphones to actually see the advantage of having such headphone
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 3:01 PM Post #555 of 714

Pharmaboy

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  I have HD558's HD600's Vmoda M100's and Philips SHP9500's on the ones I noticed the biggest difference was on the HD600's as they OPENED UP once i had that extra power... and did not distort what so ever... So what Im thinking is that maybe I need higher end headphones to actually see the advantage of having such headphone

 
That makes total sense. The HD600's (which I've never heard) are frequently described as taking quite a bit of power & "scaling up"/changing in sound when they do.
 
I'm about to find out this stuff for myself. Have my 1st planar on order (ZMF Omni/Ori, arriving soon). And about to buy a used Audio GD SA-31SE, an extremely powerful SE amp (10W at 40 ohms). Getting it not just because of power for the reputedly power-hungry Ori, but even more because people say great things about its sound.
 
Anyway, I suspect the SA-31SE + Ori will prove what we're talking about here. The Ori will be my 1st headphone that can really "scale up" with increasing power...
 

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