Mapletree Ear 4 - Completed. First impressions...
May 12, 2002 at 9:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

Nick Dangerous

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Pics to come.

Appearance: Very attractive.
Noise level: Extremely quiet.
Price: Inexpensive.
Difficulty level: Not for first-timers.
Sound quality: Still burning in. Has not been tube rolled.

I need more time to demo it/break it in. I have an issue with the bass response. There is some serious bass rolloff going on here... like around 80HZ or so. Since the Sennheiser 580 is a high impedance headphone, more voltage may be required to get the most out of it.

I'm going to email Lloyd this evening and present my findings. I'll also roll a few tubes through it. I'll update this thread ASAP (like tonight).
 
May 12, 2002 at 9:46 PM Post #2 of 24

2 channel

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Geez Nick,
I'm drooling (wipes his chin with the bottom of his new headroom T-shirt) This is going to be yet another $300.00 i end up spending because of you!

Can't wait for the review (perhaps you can compare to an optimally Tubed MG Head?)

Cheers
2
 
May 12, 2002 at 9:48 PM Post #3 of 24

john_jcb

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Nick,

When you have a chance would you also discuss the assembly of the amp and why you would not recommend it as a first project?
 
May 12, 2002 at 10:33 PM Post #4 of 24

nebuchadnezzar

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That was quick!

can't wait to hear....and see! ....more!
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May 13, 2002 at 12:21 AM Post #5 of 24

flashbak

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Nick,
Could this be a power supply issue? If memory serves me correctly an inadequate power supply design or problem will greatly effect low end reproduction.
 
May 13, 2002 at 3:55 PM Post #7 of 24

jerikl

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ahh and I'm just tryin to get 200 so I can get a Little
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Nick, you better have it in good working condition by tonight so the Ear 4/MG Head differences can be really tested.
 
May 13, 2002 at 11:29 PM Post #9 of 24

Nick Dangerous

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2002_05_13_HEADFI11.jpg


2002_05_13_HEADFI12.jpg


2002_05_13_HEADFI10.jpg


Phew! This is the result of four days of obsessive-compulsive construction. As you can see, it's a very tight fit (particularly in the lower section) but still a clean layout. I paid particular attention to the wire dressing and double-checking of every joint.

Break-in has helped enormously. Bass roll-off is now much better. I'm using a Raytheon 5751 which has improved the highs. For $279 it's a great looking and sounding kit. I'm still waiting for further break-in since it has not yet reached 24 hours of use.

Jerikl will be here in 30 minutes with my old MG Head OTL. We'll report with what we find...
 
May 14, 2002 at 12:28 AM Post #10 of 24

nebuchadnezzar

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great job, nick!!

that's a cool looking little amp....if it sounds anywhere near as good as it looks it's a great deal

do you really think it's too much for a first time? i'm dying to try a diy, but i want to end up with a good sound, ya know?

again...great job!
tongue.gif
and thanks for posting pics!
 
May 14, 2002 at 4:59 AM Post #11 of 24

Nick Dangerous

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Further impressions:

The Good:

Stunning appearance
Affordable
Very quiet
Decent sound for the money
Is a preamp and headphone amp
Improves with tube rolling and burn-in

The Bad:

Chassis gets pretty warm
Bass could be deeper
Soundstage is a bit small
Vocals are its weak point

Surprisingly, the MAD Ear 4 handles rock and electronica better than vocals and jazz. Compared with the MG Head OTL, the MAD has more energy and bite to it. It's an aggressive little guy... not quite harsh, just aggressive.

Concerning the bass issue, Lloyd specifically stated that this amp is not prepared to deliver deep, impactful bass to low sensitivity, high impedance headphones. While my Sennheiser HD600's are not exactly low sensitivity (97db), they are high impedance and tend to work best with lots of power.

The limiting component in the MAD Ear 4 is the output transformer. Lloyd explained that there is a special Hammond transformer that has a wider frequency response and would probably be a worthwhile upgrade. After he performs some more tests, he may offer an Ear 4+ model in a 2" high chassis to accommodate the transformers for about $50 more. It may also expand the soundstage and bring vocals up to the same level of fidelity as the other instruments.

Concerning the difficulty level, it's a daunting task for a first timer. There are lots of connections to make in a tiny amount of space. I think a first timer should only build it if they were comfortable with a soldering iron and had the patience to go sloooooowly and do it right. Take your time with this one.

Overall, I think the MAD Ear 4 offers a decent bang for the buck. It sounds good as-is but there is room to improve. As Lloyd continues to tweak the design, it can only get better.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep mine and continue tweaking it. It sure is pretty... inside and out!
 
May 14, 2002 at 3:35 PM Post #12 of 24

Jim R

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A tube amp with weak vocals and poor soundstage?

Sounds to me that the market will be limited for this amp (assuming others have the same experience). It sure is a nice looking amp though.
 
May 14, 2002 at 6:52 PM Post #13 of 24

Nick Dangerous

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It's not a bad amp. Compared to the stock MG Head OTL, it's different but roughly equivalent. Where the MG Head bloats and lacks detail, the MAD serves it up... but at the expense of some smoothness and a smaller soundstage.

I think it needs more power to drive the Senns. The MAD is probably going to evolve as I (we?) tweak it out.
 
May 15, 2002 at 12:22 AM Post #14 of 24

jerikl

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My thoughts on the Ear 4 concur with Nick's. It is a VERY cool looking little amp. I love the red chassis man... it does get pretty hot though.

Soundstage and voices do indeed lack. The amp still sounds good though... it's just that we were comparing it to an MG Head OTL with two JJ's and a Sylvania and the Melos SHA-1 with some Amperex tubes, both of which are quite a bit more than the Ear.

Hopefully Lloyd will work with Nick on this one and improve the amp a bit more. I'm sure it could sound awesome with a little bit of work. Mainly, soundstage needs improvement. Wish I had of brought my AKG's and Sony's to see how it sounds with some other phones though.
 
May 15, 2002 at 2:49 AM Post #15 of 24

Joe Lau

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Quote:

Originally posted by Nick Dangerous
Pics to come.

Appearance: Very attractive.
Noise level: Extremely quiet.
Price: Inexpensive.
Difficulty level: Not for first-timers.
Sound quality: Still burning in. Has not been tube rolled.

I need more time to demo it/break it in. I have an issue with the bass response. There is some serious bass rolloff going on here... like around 80HZ or so. Since the Sennheiser 580 is a high impedance headphone, more voltage may be required to get the most out of it.

I'm going to email Lloyd this evening and present my findings. I'll also roll a few tubes through it. I'll update this thread ASAP (like tonight).


It seem to be a Problem on output. It made it cutoff around 80 Hz ! I had check to it circuit seem to be everything OK. The only reason to cause roll of is Output ! Do you want free sample of our output Autoformers ? It can use in your amps ! It seem to be 12:1 Ratio. (1200:8 Ohm) I'm sure can improve your bass down to 20Hz
smily_headphones1.gif
- Same technique use in our UHC-Sinature but difference turns Ratio only.
 

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