OBH11-SE Amp Quality?
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Alex Altorfer

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I am an audiophile on a budget. I can't spend much of a fortune but I'd like to get me a new stereo for home use. I would be interested in knowing whether the Creek OBH-11 SE would be a good headphone amp to use with an SACD player. Would it be of high enough quality to convey the subtle nuances of SACD listening? Would you consider the Creek proper audiophile gear? I plan to use Acoustic Research LC-OFC caxial audio cables and a pair of Philips SBC HP 890 or 910 Headphones which have a low impedance (32 OHMs).
Thank you all for your attention.
Alex Altorfer
altorfer@macbbs.com.br
 
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HappymaN

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Both of the Philips headphones you mentioned will not benefit very much from dedicated amplification, nor are they that detailed that you could clearly hear the differences between Redbook and SACD players.

The money that you are considering spending on the Creek amplifier would probably be better spent on purchasing some Etymotic ER-4P canal-phones, which do not need dedicated amplification (although will improve if amplified). These are some of the best dynamic headphones on the market, and will do your new SACD player justice.
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Hello HappymaN! :)

Thank you for your prompt reply. My problem really, is more geographical than anything. I live in Brazil, a country that has just recently started opening its borders to better quality imports. The federal government is very protective of the country's trade balance, so it's very difficult to find anything here and once you find it the price is stratospheric due to immoral import taxation. I could import one directly, but the time, financial cost, and the headache of getting anything electronic out of the International Airport's customs wherehouse really discourages anyone. Import taxes can be as high as 60%, the local merchandise 'circulation' tax is 18%, other fees amount to about 40%, and, to make matters worse, one needs to hire a specialised customs 'agent' to get through the bureaucracy and that will cost you about seven hundred dollars. That done it still takes about a month to actually get one's hands on the product. Stores and distributors import whole containers, which helps dilute the cost of the customs 'agent'.

Etymotic Headphones are nowhere to be found here, and Creek is the ONLY headphone amp manufacturer with a local distributor. Getting those items would require me to travel abroad and travel back in the country with them discreetely hidden in my dirty underwear, and pray for green lights when pushing the 'nothing to declare' button.

My ears are not very well trained as far as critical Audiophile listening goes, but as far as the Philips headphones are concerned, I currently own the SBC HP-800. I've tested them in SACD players playing SACDs and they sounded much better there than in my home stereo, albeit Redbook sounded fantastic in that player too! I've compared my Philips cans to the Senn HD 580 which cost 700% more. Sennheiser does have local distributors here but their prices are very high. I found the HD 580 to be smoother and silkier than the Philips, but the level of detail seemed similar to that of the Philips. The Senns were plugged into a Nakamichi Soundspace 8. Like I said, my ears are not very well trained as far as critical Audiophile listening goes, so my judgement may not be very accurate here. I currently cannot afford to buy the Sennheisers.

One more observation, I've read in another post that amps are not only about volume but are also about quality. I've read anyone is better off with a dedicated headphone amp "unless you've got a very high-end receiver, but even then...". If this is so, I would probably benefit from an amp even with the easily driven Philips, but this is all theoretical here as I haven't tested any headphone amps myself.

Again, thank you HappymaN for your reply and I am looking forward to reading more from you. Cheers!

Alex Altorfer
 
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bifcake

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I have the Sennheiser 580's with a Creek OBH-11 (non SE) version. I am EXTREMELY happy with the combo. The SE version should at least as good, if not better. Creek makes very good products at very reasonable prices. Their products are definitely audiophile quality with very neutral tones and laid back presentation. I think you'll be very happy with the SE amp.
 
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Magic77

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Alex,

I have the OBH-11SE and use it connected to my Sony DVP500NS DVD/SACD Player. I don't have the headphones you mentioned, but the Creek amp works great with many different headphones and I think it does a great job with SACD's and regular CD's as well.
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Thank you bifcake and Magic77!

Bifcake, have you used the Creek OBH-11 SE with any cans other than the Senn HD 580? Which ones? Did any feature a lower impedance than the Senns 300 OHMs? What have you found?

Magic77, how big is the distinction between Redbook and SACD playback through the Creek OBH-11 SE? Can you tell a significant difference when it comes to ambiance, soundstage, instrument identification, and high/low octaves detail level?

Again, thank you both for your prompt replies and attention!

Cheers!

Alex Altorfer
 
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Magic77

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Alex,

As of the moment, I only own 4 SACD's. So, most of the time I'm listening to Redbook CD's. But, anyway; I think the SACD's sound excellent but not overwhelmingly superior to the redbooks. But on the other hand, I guess I need to get some more SACD's. Possibly a higher-end SACD player may reveal more differences, but I'm quite happy with the combination. The Sony player cost me only $199, so I guess it's considered a budget SACD player. For that price you can't go wrong, since you may not be able to afford the more expensive models.
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Hello Magic77! :)

Yeah, in fact if you really go high end you can find CD players with such high upsampling that Redbook CDs actually sound better than SACDs in them! The problem is how much such crazy CD players cost.

I guess the real issue is knowing whether your finding SACDs not overwhelmingly superior to Redbooks is caused primarily by the 'entry-levelness' of the player or by the Creek's quality or lack thereof. Proof could be obtained by testing your creek with a better quality SACD player and listening to see if the distinction between formats becomes clearer. Maybe you could arrange that at a local Hi-Fi dealership.

Cheers!

Alex Altorfer
 
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Corak

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I also own the Creek OBH-11 (non SE) and I am very happy with it. I don't think it's worth paying much more for the SE when you only need to drive one phone after reading these forums for quite some time.
I'm using Sennheiser HD600 headphones with them. My source is only my computer right now though. An audiophile grade soundcard (M-Audio Audiophile 2496) will arrive tomorrow hopefully.
I didn't get to test the amp with lower impendance phones yet. I don't have the proper stereo adapter for my old phone and it would be a waste to buy one anyway. :)
 
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bifcake

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Quote:

Originally posted by Alex Altorfer
Thank you bifcake and Magic77!

Bifcake, have you used the Creek OBH-11 SE with any cans other than the Senn HD 580? Which ones? Did any feature a lower impedance than the Senns 300 OHMs? What have you found?

Alex Altorfer



I heard the HD-590's with the OBH-11. BTW, mine is not an SE. It's the regular one. Due to 590's lower impedence, they sound louder at a given volume setting. However, I do like the 580's better because the 590's are a bit brighter and the bass is more exaggerated. The 580's sound smoother, flatter and more refined.

I have no issue with the quality of the Creek amp. I think it's well made and it's a good sounding amp.
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Hello Corak and bifcake! :)

I see you both own the basic OBH-11 amp. I was originally turned off by the fact that it is a Class B amp, but I take it by what you are saying that it may well be just about as good as the Class A OBH-11 SE version. Maybe I should look into the basic OBH-11 with the source upgrade.

The Senn HD 600 must be a slice of heaven sonically but they cost over U$ 800,00 here and I'd struggle to pay for it along with the other audio components. As for bifcake's description of the Senn HD 590's, it closely matches reviews I've read of the Philips SBC HP 910: very bright on the upper octaves, strong quick overexited bass, and a recessed midrange. The Senn 590's aren't yet avaliable in Brazil.

Cheers!
Alex Altorfer
 
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Corak

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Quote:

Originally posted by Alex Altorfer
Hello Corak and bifcake! :)

I see you both own the basic OBH-11 amp. I was originally turned off by the fact that it is a Class B amp, but I take it by what you are saying that it may well be just about as good as the Class A OBH-11 SE version. Maybe I should look into the basic OBH-11 with the source upgrade.


If you check this forum you will notice that some members who actually compared the OBH-11 to the OBH-11SE sometimes even preferred the OBH-11.
Some opinions say the OBH-11 would be rated Class-A by magazines if it would simply cost much more than it does.

The OBH-11 is a really underrated amp.

JMT, Jude and tangent all spoke very highly of the OBH-11 which was one of the reasons I pulled the trigger myself. Just look for posts from them with the keyword OBH-11.
They certainly have the experience to know their stuff. I'm just a newbie here myself. :)

Tangent didn't even notice a diference between the OBH-1 and OBH-2 power supplies so I didn't upgrade my power supply either.
The main reason for the OBH-2 is the need for more power to drive 2 cans simultaneously on the SE.

I'm very sorry to hear that the HD600 is so ridiculous expensive in Brazil. I paid about 1/4 of the price you quoted here in Germany.

Good luck!
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Hello there Corak! :)

Thanks for the search suggestion. I have actually found a VERY enlightening post by TUBEROLLER with detailed info on the Creek amps and also on a REGA EAR amp. That's when it clicked that REGA does have a local distributor here as well! There's something I read at Rega's website I find funny though. It says: "The Ear simply connects to the tape output of an amplifier via phono leads." This conveys the idea that one NEEDS a loudspeaker amp to plug the Rega into as if it was some kind of a preamp for headphones, but I suspect this is not so. It seems from Tuberoller's review that the Rega is a full headphone amplifier that can be directly connected to a digital source. Here goes the link to the review:

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...light=rega+ear

I am still considering both Creeks and I don't even know what the Rega would cost here compared to the Creeks but now I have one more amp, the Rega Ear, to look into. Also, the review clearly states that the Creek is good enough for high resolution formats.

Cheers!

Alex Altorfer
 
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bifcake

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Quote:

Originally posted by Alex Altorfer
Hello Corak and bifcake! :)


The Senn HD 600 must be a slice of heaven sonically but they cost over U$ 800,00 here and I'd struggle to pay for it along with the other audio components.
Cheers!
Alex Altorfer



If you can get the Senn hd580's, get them. They sound just like the 600's. In fact, I couldn't hear the difference between the two when I did a side by side comparison.
 
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Alex Altorfer

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Hi bifcake! :)

The Senn HD 580's cost about U$ 350 here. I still think they're expensive, but I'll keep your suggestion in mind.

Cheers,

Alex Altorfer
 
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