PPA vs CK2III comparison
Sep 11, 2009 at 7:02 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

ksu06

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I currently have both a PPA and a CK2III on my desk and just sat down for the last couple of hours doing some listening comparisons, so I thought I would post my thoughts. I did all my listening with my foobar2000 set for KS and my Gamma1 Lite DAC with either 320kbps mp3s or flac.

So the first and most noticeable difference is bass tightness. The PPA tightens the bass and increases bass impact more than the CK2III. Not much else to say here.

The mids are a bit of a different story. The CK2III brings the mids more forward than the PPA, almost as if the singer takes a small step closer to the microphone. The mids are also smoother with the CK2III, very creamy and enjoyable. On the other hand, the PPA is more detailed and brings out more of the natural graininess (if present of course) of voices. For example, grunge sounds a bit more ... well, grungy. Also, vibrato in voices is more apparent/defined with the PPA. Not sure which amp I like better for midrange, basically they do different things well. I can imagine people would prefer the CK2III for midrange recessed headphones such as the D2000 (FWIR) while people would prefer the PPA for bass light headphones that already have a great midrange such as the K701.

In terms of highs, I hear a bit more treble detail with the PPA, but the difference is not nearly as apparent as the bass.

Soundstage is about the same, maybe a slight nod to the PPA.

Bottom line is, both have great synergy with the Sennheiser, and if either one were taken from me, I would still be happy with the other. Now comes the hard part of deciding which to keep ...
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM Post #3 of 12

K3cT

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Is the CKKIII clearly a step-up from the Compass' amp section? The Compass is surprisingly decent with a linear response, tonally closer to bright but overall the sound can be a bit thin. I think this type of sound is representative of Audio-GD's philosophy.

I'm still not sure whether to aim straight for M^3 or the CKKIII first.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 3:29 PM Post #5 of 12

ksu06

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Quote:

Originally Posted by K3cT /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Is the CKKIII clearly a step-up from the Compass' amp section? The Compass is surprisingly decent with a linear response, tonally closer to bright but overall the sound can be a bit thin. I think this type of sound is representative of Audio-GD's philosophy.


I too am curious about the comparison with the Compass, it seems the DAC section gets relatively more praise but I am not sure if it is because it just has a really nice DAC or the amp section lags behind in terms of SQ. People who have heard both, please advise.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 3:31 PM Post #6 of 12

ksu06

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Also I should mention that I am powering the PPA with an Elpac, will most likely get a dedicated power supply in the future. Oh yeah, and it is a V1.1A board but with discrete diamond buffers, so I assume it sounds the same as a V2.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 3:52 PM Post #7 of 12

strid3r

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I had the Gamma-1 for a while with the PPAv2 and it is pretty much as you say. Great bass impact and good treble extension with fairly neutral mids. I'd like to hear the CKIII someday as well. Thanks for the comparison.
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Sep 11, 2009 at 8:02 PM Post #9 of 12

ksu06

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Quote:

Originally Posted by FallenAngel /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What opamps are you using?


All three are OPA627.

You just reminded me, is there a noticeable sonic difference using OPA637 in the L/R channels? Is it worth the extra $$$?
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 9:40 PM Post #10 of 12

Shahrose

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Quote:

Originally Posted by K3cT /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Is the CKKIII clearly a step-up from the Compass' amp section? The Compass is surprisingly decent with a linear response, tonally closer to bright but overall the sound can be a bit thin. I think this type of sound is representative of Audio-GD's philosophy.

I'm still not sure whether to aim straight for M^3 or the CKKIII first.



Quote:

Originally Posted by ksu06 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I too am curious about the comparison with the Compass, it seems the DAC section gets relatively more praise but I am not sure if it is because it just has a really nice DAC or the amp section lags behind in terms of SQ. People who have heard both, please advise.



The CKKIII that I heard was very close to the M^3 in performance and IMO, bested it in terms of soundstage slightly. Thus, I'm fairly confident that it's a step up from the Compass' built-in amp.
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 10:24 PM Post #11 of 12

ksu06

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shahrose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The CKKIII that I heard was very close to the M^3 in performance and IMO, bested it in terms of soundstage slightly. Thus, I'm fairly confident that it's a step up from the Compass' built-in amp.


I agree, the CK2III goes toe to toe with the PPA, I note the differences only because differences are worth noting! In reality the CK2III is 90+% the PPA to my ears, and if I didn't get such a good deal on the PPA, I might not have thought it worthwhile in regards to price/performance ratio. Still having a hard time deciding which to keep haha ... I've asked at least 10 different people, some with trained ears and some without, to compare the amps and offer opinions (which I can trust are unbiased as I mentioned nothing about price, parts, or anything to these people, not that it would mean anything to them for the most part) ... I get slightly more nods toward the PPA just because like I noted, the bass is noticeably tighter and punchier. I don't know, vocals on the CK2III are just sooo nice! I need to do more listening.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 4:11 PM Post #12 of 12

K3cT

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shahrose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The CKKIII that I heard was very close to the M^3 in performance and IMO, bested it in terms of soundstage slightly. Thus, I'm fairly confident that it's a step up from the Compass' built-in amp.


Is this M^3 with or without its dedicated Sigma 11 PSU?

And going off tangent, I just heard the HF2 through a ß22 today in a gathering and it was quite the revelation. That IS the sound I'm looking for in this hobby!
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