Neurochrome HP-1: Ultra-High End Headphone Amp
Apr 5, 2017 at 2:16 AM Post #106 of 148

strangecargo

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Awesome. Here are the tips I use:
STTC-126 (SMD passives and IC pins)
STTC-025 (also handy for SMD passives)
STTC-037 (handy for leaded parts)
STTC-036 (handy for larger leaded bits)
STTC-117 (wide chisel for tabs, DAPs, etc.)
 
I do recognize that they're not all the same temperature. I received about ten different tips with my MX-500 when I bought it. If I was to get a subset of those tips, I'd go with the STTC-026, STTC-037, and STTC-017 (or 117). The first digit denotes the temperature (0 = 357 C; 1 = 417 C AFAIR).
 
I'm puzzled by the ground lifting doing anything. With the resistor tweak I suggested (i.e. plucking R46 and R115 off the board and connecting the "inner" pads of those footprints together with either a 0 Ω resistor or a piece of wire), the ground of the HP-1 is already lifted. The only thing I can think of is that the XLR Pin 1 is grounded to the chassis (as required/strongly encouraged by AES48-2005). Maybe your source isn't so fond of that. That'd be odd, but I suppose weirder things have happened. It's good to hear that a ground lift clears it up, though.
 
Tom

Thanks for the part numbers. I managed to do all the remaining soldering with a STTC-136, though the relays were a little tricky. The STTC-190 tip I thought would work for smaller pads was just absolutely no help. Look out for a 8x2 Preamp order from me tonight:) I'll probably order the tips from Mouser at the same time as those parts.
 
The HP-1 is really an amazing headphone amp. I blame it for for my recent Focal Utopia and Chord DAVE purchases:)
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 2:21 AM Post #107 of 148

tomchr

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  Thanks for the part numbers. I managed to do all the remaining soldering with a STTC-136, though the relays were a little tricky. The STTC-190 tip I thought would work for smaller pads was just absolutely no help. Look out for a 8x2 Preamp order from me tonight:) I'll probably order the tips from Mouser at the same time as those parts.
 
The HP-1 is really an amazing headphone amp. I blame it for for my recent Focal Utopia and Chord DAVE purchases:)


I'm impressed you were able to solder the HP-1 using only the STTC-136. That's a pretty big tip. The li'l bent tip (126) is awesome for getting into tight spaces. For tiny parts (think TSSOP packages with 0.5 mm pin pitch) I often just flood the IC pins with solder and wick up the excess with solder wick. This usually leaves just enough solder on the IC pins to form a good connection. The SOIC packages used on the HP-1 are much larger, so that won't be necessary here. Just mentioning it as an option.
 
I'll keep an eye out for your order. I have plenty of boards in stock. Thanks! I should contact Focal about getting some kickback for referrals. I seem to do quite a bit of marketing for them. :) The Utopias are indeed awesome.
 
Tom
 
PS: Just saw your order trickle in. Thanks a bunch. It'll be in the mail by tomorrow.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 3:11 AM Post #108 of 148

Armaegis

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@strangecargo Did you get some Elear pads for your Utopia? If not, I strongly suggest doing so.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 7:27 PM Post #109 of 148

strangecargo

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  @strangecargo Did you get some Elear pads for your Utopia? If not, I strongly suggest doing so.

 
No, but I've been pretty happy with the overall tonality of the Utopia. I've mostly been concerned with getting the most out of the tranducers. The HP-1 has really impressed me with how unflappable it is in terms of control. I think I upset some people in the Utopia/Elear thread when I mentioned in passing that I was unimpressed by the Hugo TT/DAVE headphone outputs and greatly preferred the HP-1. I hope to get my hands on a GS-X MkII sometime in the next few weeks to do a direct comparison, but I'm having a hard time imagining a more transparent/quick amplifier. Even more impressive is that the HP-1 does it with relatively mundane components, rather than hand-matched discrete audiophile hard-to-obtanium parts that have been prayed over by monks.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 8:39 PM Post #110 of 148

Armaegis

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People in general are naturally going to be defensive when you don't laud and praise their deca-kilobuck toys. Chord owners especially seem to be prone to this and feel the need to explain repeatedly how their tech works and why they believe it's better.
 
I don't dislike the Dave, but... I've got a Prism Sound device on my desk which I felt bettered it for a significant fraction of the cost.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 9:20 PM Post #111 of 148

strangecargo

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  People in general are naturally going to be defensive when you don't laud and praise their deca-kilobuck toys. Chord owners especially seem to be prone to this and feel the need to explain repeatedly how their tech works and why they believe it's better.
 
I don't dislike the Dave, but... I've got a Prism Sound device on my desk which I felt bettered it for a significant fraction of the cost.

 
It wasn't really until I had demoed the Hugo TT/DAVE and put an order in for a DAVE that I really did any deep research. I feel it's a lot easier to evaluate a product when all you know is "people seem to like this and it's probably worth looking at", but don't have a lot of preconceived notions. I can appreciate the levels of obsession involved with the engineering, and I obviously like the end product enough to purchase one, but there is a certain amount of eyeroll-inducing insistence among a lot of products' fanbases on how flawless everything is that is hard to swallow. I'm fortunate enough to be able to keep multiple "statement" products around and I find it much healthier to just enjoy a products' strengths and direct my attention to putting together enjoyable combinations.
 
I hadn't heard of Prism Sound before; I assume you have the Callia DAC? It sounds like an interesting (and recent) product, but I can't seem to find any information on distribution. How is the headphone output? I was pretty unimpressed with the DAVE until I hooked up the HP-1 to the XLR output.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 9:58 PM Post #112 of 148

Armaegis

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Again, I don't dislike the Dave... I think it's quite good as a dac actually. Factoring in price however, it doesn't live up. I would much rather have a Schiit Yggdrasil, with enough money left over for headphones, speakers, amps, and renovations.
 
I have a Prism Lyra, and currently have the Callia on loan for a review. Both are amazing pieces of gear to my ears and best the Dave. Of course I've got owner's bias, so take that with a grain of salt. Then again, considering that Prism makes measurement gear (the dScope), one would assume they know how to make good gear.
 
The headphone output on the Dave is ok. I think the Callia output is better. Neither is as good as the HP-1 though. As dacs, even without considering price, I would pick the Prism over the Dave.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 11:12 PM Post #113 of 148

strangecargo

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I have a Prism Lyra, and currently have the Callia on loan for a review. Both are amazing pieces of gear to my ears and best the Dave. Of course I've got owner's bias, so take that with a grain of salt. Then again, considering that Prism makes measurement gear (the dScope), one would assume they know how to make good gear.
 

 
Oh, interesting... I actually have use for a high-quality USB audio interface. Tell me, is it possible to route the same channel of audio through both the toslink output and the analog line out simultaneously? In my use case, I would be feeding the the HP-1 via line out, powered speakers over toslink, and possibly using one of the microphone inputs at the same time.
 
Apr 5, 2017 at 11:21 PM Post #114 of 148

Armaegis

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Yes, and it's even more powerful than that. You can specify in the software what routes to where.
 
I currently have mine configured so all the inputs combine and feed both the analog and optical outputs.
 
Apr 7, 2017 at 9:11 PM Post #116 of 148

strangecargo

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  @tomchr I may have jumped the gun on declaring my HP-1 build completely functional. I don't get audio from the left SE input (balanced inputs work fine, though). Where should I start debugging?

Nevermind. I found it. I managed to create a tiny solder bridge over the top of C95 when I was soldering the nearby relay with that gigantic STTC-136 bit. 
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