New PPA w/Diamond Buffers & STEPS (pics)
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Sean H

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I got my new PPA! Actually I got it a few weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely for a good couple weeks before sending it back to the builder to have Diamond Buffers installed and received the amp back again last weekend. Who built it? Voodoochile. I thought I might post a link to some pics of the amp as I am extremely happy with how it turned out and wanted to give a shout out to Mark for doing such a tremendous job on the amp. Mark is amazing, it was incredibly satisfying working with him. He's the best. Funny as hell too!
The workmanship, fit and finish is top shelf. Thanks again to Mark, he's been beat up by a lot of work he has committed to lately and has a much deserved break planned to catch his breath and enjoy some music.

Click here to view more pics.

The enclosure is a Pars Metals unit, anodized aluminum which is very attractive and solid. I opted for a cleaner and simple look and had Mark put all switches to the back. I did get the bass boost option - the circuit tweaked a bit. The linear power supply is a Tangent designed STEPS variety with an extra off-board mounted larger sized Nichicon cap for added capacitance. Parts are the usual suspects - Wima, Cerafine, Nichicon, Vishay/Dale and even a few Black Gates - moved to the underside of the board after the Diamond Buffers were installed. The pot is an Alps Blue that I had Mark wire to the board as opposed to directly mounted as it will allow for an easier upgrade to a Goldpoint SA or the like as a planned future upgrade. I went with OPA627 opamps across the board. Last but not least LaRocco Diamond Buffer Board.

How's it sound? Excellent. One big thing with this amp is how darn quiet it is. With HD650's, source and cables connected, I can crank the volume and can't hear anything, nada, zero, zip. Absolutely black background. Very clean and pure sounding with a lot of muscle. Definitely no problem driving the HD650 here. I decided to go for the OPA 627's as I had the impression they were smoother and sweeter sounding compared to the popular 8610's which I had heard in an XP-7 (preferred 797's over 8610's myself). So I think some of the character I hear from this amp are those opamps because this amp sounds quite non-fatiguing and very inviting. I wouldn't call the amp dark by any means but it's smooth and full with a very balanced and neutral character. I don't get a sense that the amp is lacking or over done in any area. Of course it has the PPA speed and quickness, fine detail and a huge soundstage. That black background allows for unbelievably good contrasts in dynamics and sorts out dense and complex music quite well. Bass is very deep, tight and controlled. I haven't used the bass boost much as it doesn't seem needed and only plan to use it with music lacking bass - which it was mainly designed for and does work quite well in this regard.

How's the Diamond Buffers? Well, I had the amp for a good two weeks before sending the amp back to Mark for the installation, burning it in a good 300 or so hours and got to know it's character well in that time. The good thing is the same basic character remained after the buffers were installed but the buffers seemed to offer a level of improvement across the board. As if it couldn't seem possible first thing I heard was an even blacker background than before the installation, where now as I said before I can't hear any noise at all. Basically overall the diamond buffers seemed to allow the amp to be even more transparent, bringing out even more depth and layers within the music along with an added clarity and definition. Dynamics improved, bass deepened some and the midrange seems a bit more full and slightly more forward. The diamond buffers seem to offer more accuracy to the source. I would not call the addition of the diamond buffers a total transformation of the amp by any means but it's definitely a quite worthy upgrade. Special thanks to LaRocco.

Anyway, I'm quite pleased with the amp. It seems to match well with my components and cans too. It's a great little amp and thanks once again to Mark.
 
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rsaavedra

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Sean congratulations!!! Awesome pictures man, and beautiful amp. Man, this makes me even more anxious for my amp, Larry where's my PPA where's mine?!!
Happy listening Sean!!!
 
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doobooloo

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I have to say, Voodoochile's work is always so inspiring. Amazing... I am glad you like your PPA!
 
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lan

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I am the devil sitting on your shoulder.

[size=medium]don't forget the stepped attenuator![/size]


it looks good.... i'd like to hear a PPA one day. hopefully at the next meet. i keep reading about it.
 
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Sean H

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Thanks, guys. It was hearing one of your amps, doobooloo, that got me on PPA's. Another member here, downingp, has a PPA virtually identical to mine but with a Goldpoint stepped attenuator. Beautiful. It's coming one day, lan!! Hah!
Definitely. Needed to do this in steps for the wife's sake. I'm already fantasizing about the aos PPA DAC...there's room for one in there you know.


Hope you guys get your amps soon!
 
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Dan the audioman

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Congrats Sean! The amp looks fantastic, im in awe. Voodoochile's work is indeed inspiring.

I love those pars metal cases! Makes me want to recase my gilmore...
 
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fiddler

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That's absolutely beautiful, congrats! I love the way he mounted the bigass bass-boost caps, very very nice.
 
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ipodstudio

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Quote:

Originally posted by rsaavedr
Sean congratulations!!! Awesome pictures man, and beautiful amp. Man, this makes me even more anxious for my amp, Larry where's my PPA where's mine?!!
Happy listening Sean!!!


No go away, damn it, he's doing mine first!!


Sean H, that amp looks great, CONGRATULATIONS!! Of course, you're torturing me, here, and you know it!
 
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kcaesthete

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I love the minimalist look of the front faceplate. It's freakin' gorgeous.
 
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Dane

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Gaaa.... drooool. That is one cool amp.

BTW, why isn't the volume knob placed in the center?
 
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some1x

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Perhaps he was short on whatever light purple wiring he was using

Quote:

Originally posted by Dane
Gaaa.... drooool. That is one cool amp.

BTW, why isn't the volume knob placed in the center?


 
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Ctn

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Simply gorgeous !
 
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Sean H

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Quote:

Originally posted by Dane
BTW, why isn't the volume knob placed in the center?


Couple reasons I guess. The amp board sits to that side of the enclosure so it's a matter of keeping the pot closer to the amp to keep the signal path shorter. Also, aesthetically Mark and I both liked the asymmetrical look.

BTW, forgot to mention Mark took the pics. The guys got a knack for everything!
 
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elrod-tom

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Very nice work...contrats to SeanH and kudos to Voodochile!!
 
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