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Project Ember Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by razrr1275, Aug 7, 2013.
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  1. ericr

    OK, I believe.

    And I agree with you that hiss sucks - can't tolerate it either. If I wasn't able to work out the hiss issues when using IEMs (see the replies others have made) the Ember would be long gone.


    Out of several answers as to why I use the Ember, the best two would probably be:

    - Output impedance of .1 Ohms (one tenth Ohm)
    Very few amps offer an output impedance this low. As you stated, the impedance of IEMs is very low and seemingly going lower. As I stated in the post you originally replied to, proper bass control of these very low impedance IEMs requires an even lower impedance amp.

    - The Ember (with the correct tube and settings) sounds phenomenal with these newer multi-BA (balanced armature) IEMs.
    I wish I could give you a detailed technical answer as to why, but TBH I can't. But once the Ember arrived my Schiit Asgard II sat in the box cold. In multiple places I've read the impedance of BA drivers will swing quite signicantly across the frequency spectrum - and I suspect this is where the Ember shines. That due to it's ultra low output impedance and maybe it's significant power reserves, it expresses authority over (it doesn't get pushed around) by the impedance swings of 12 BA drivers (4 each, high, mid & low) of my 64 Audio A12 or the 10 driver Noble K10.


    "There's not much point in using an iem in a home set up IMO. Even the lead is a bit short normally"

    It appears you may be a bit out of touch with the capability (and comfort/convenience) of the latest IEM/CIEM offerings. At local meets I regularly try full size headphones (including modded HD-800) and am rarely left wanting. (though I'll admit the HE-1000 on a Decware amp via a Theta DAC was a very excellent combination to listen to). Just last month I sold my HE-560 since they rarely saw the light of day after having them for over a year. I've also bought and sold the Beyer T90 and T1 since the Ember arrived. I just much prefer my A12 IEMs. And with the ADEL Technology in the A12 that preference includes soundstage (yes an IEM can now have a very real, open and natural soundstage/imaging/placement vs.the down-the-ear-canals sound of the past).

    I agree with you on the cable length of most IEMs! Thankfully the option for a 64" cable was only a few dollars more. And as with full sized headphones there is a healthy aftermarket cable offering which allows you to go as long as desired.

    After falling in love with the Ember in my home rig I wanted to replicate the experience at work. As this was just as the Polaris was released I ordered it instead. It was really nice, came close, oh so close, but it didn't have 100% of the tube goodness of the Ember. Within a couple of months the Polaris was sold and now I own two Embers that I only use with IEMs.

    Since then I've acquired the Garage1217 6SN7 adapter and several Sylvania 6SN7W tubes and have fallen for the Ember (and the 64 Audio A12) once again.

    All of the above is "according my ears".

    Cheers!

    -Eric
     
  2. DavidA
    A little off topic but it still involves the Ember, I see the appeal of IEM's but I'm one that just can't stand them in my ear, I've tried a few and after a few minutes I feel like a snake is trying to go down my ear.  But for the short period that I was able to listen with them they are quite good sounding.
     
    The Ember is/was a great amp to start this journey, it was able to match/pair up with almost any headphone that I wanted to try, and with its ability to adjust settings on the fly it made me more aware of little changes from various tubes and impedance settings.
     
    HOWIE13 likes this.
  3. iancraig10

    I fully understand the Ember sound that you like Eric. I got a similar feeling believe it or not with the old Little Dot II but build wasn't as good and mine actually did a fireworks display in the front room. I was frightened to touch it or even move!!! When it finished, it went straight into the bin.

    My Ember is a proto since I know Solderdude and he sent it to me for a good listen. I mentioned noise to him then but by that time, the V1 was on its way as far as marketing goes. It's likely that the V2 is better in that regard. I also mentioned the gain being very high and had replaced the vol pot with a bigger (gold!!! knob which gave me a little more refinement in adjustments.

    The Ember is a real beauty. I have found it quite funny how many people have become Schitt guys or Garage Guys!! I keep the Ember for higher impedance headphones and the Polaris for lower.

    The iem thing is unusual for home use perhaps? For me it's the comfort thing and I never really feel right with plugs in my ears. I use a Fiio/Dunu iem with comply tips which is ok. I also use a Senn ie8, but have never considered using them at home with an amp TBH.

    I might well be out of touch with iem since I recently watched Lachlan and his exploits with an iem in Hong Kong. I like Lachlan on Lachlan likes a Thing :wink: because he doesn't get himself into an 'I love this corner and I know I'm right'. He generally has a very balanced view and his video on the iem that he was buying got me very interested.

    I generally use an iem for convenience and at one time, for working with in live performance. I have custom tips on the Senns which make them at least comfortable for a couple of hours for feedback from consoles.

    I am curious how an amp would improve them other than put a tube 'colour' into the sound, which I can fully understand. Certainly, power wise the iem must be a doddle to drive. So dynamic range is probably pretty much ok without an amp really. I see though, that you have some really posh ones, so perhaps there might be some difference on the end of an amp. The Ember has a ton of power for an iem though.

    I use the Ember to smooth off my AKG K712 but with the K553 and th900 which has very low impedance, I can detect hiss. Perhaps it's time for me to get a V2?

    It's not just the Ember. I can hear hiss from other amps too sometimes, but I am extremely sensitive to hiss and buzz. If I ask my wife, the can't hear it. Sometimes I've wondered whether I have tinnitus or something, but plugging in and out reveals it plainly to me. (In a quiet room)

    So it's not meant as a criticism of the Ember. It's quite common with other amps too. The answer for me is simple ... Go to a higher impedance headphone. I get hiss from a Fiio Mont Blanc, the e12 but not from the e12a which is quieter. Many don't seem to notice.

    Maybe I should try my ie8 with an amp then?

    Truly, I wasn't trying to be funny. I really can't see why other than perhaps you like the tonality of the Ember?
     
  4. iancraig10

    That's the problem that I have David. Iem's are a convenience and I wouldn't choose to sit in an armchair with one.

    Having said that, there is another issue....

    I'll be going to the USA in a few weeks and the heat makes headphones a bit hot sometimes. At least with my Senns, my ears will get air!

    That's something that us UK people don't need to think about so much.
     
  5. DavidA
    Living in Hawaii its not as hot as some areas but since I live right next to the Alawai canal the humidity is quite high most of the time so I understand the feeling of headphones getting hot.  That's one of the reasons I don't use my MDR-1A outside at all, its super comfortable but it gets hot in a few minutes, best I've found for outside are Momentum on-ear, SennGrado or the HD-700, all three stay pretty cool, even on a hot sunny day.
     
  6. HOWIE13
    I have a hum problem with Vali 2 on high gain with most tubes and headphones that most other people don't hear. 
    It's definitely present, and messing around with earth wires doesn't get rid of it. I don't think it's a fault because a few other posters hear it and the music sounds very good.
    Idiosyncrasies of individual ears must be contributing to the background noises some can hear and others can't.
     
  7. HOWIE13
    Certainly no problems with overheating in Scotland!  [​IMG]
     
  8. RedBull
    I will try with my IE8 and 6SN7 if I can detect any hiss.
     
    What DAC do you use Ian?
     
  9. iancraig10

    I think some are more sensitive to noise than others Howard. Once I detect any electrical noise, then generally, I don't use the gear again. Unless I can cure it......

    The heat problem isn't bad in the South. Sometimes, outside in the summer requires a lighter headphone on the ears. Florida, I think will be terrible. The last time I was there it was 45c and I was literally staggering and wouldn't have had the strength to put a headphone on!! It was ridiculous. Worse, I had to play, so I did, in my undies!!!!

    I might have been really thankful for an iem then....
     
  10. HOWIE13
    Yes Florida is very humid.
    I remember years ago I attended a conference in Orlando and for 4 days I couldn't leave the hotel until the late afternoon thunderstorm when it cooled down and became bearable.
     
  11. SuperU
    I enjoyed your post.
     
    And I think I too must be out of touch with IEM's today. My last purchase was about 8 years ago. LOL
     
    Can you recommend a couple of the type like you are mentioning?
     
    The cans I use with my Ember are LCD-X and love them. So if there are any IEM's that can give me as good of sound, I would be interested.
     
    Thanks
     
  12. iancraig10
    Actually I enjoyed it too. I'm also very curious about modern iem's now!! The ones that Eric mentioned aren't yer everyday iem either for sure.
     
  13. ericr
    It's kind of funny. Several of you guys don't like the feel of an IEM, and then I don't tolerate big headphones well at all. Never cared for hats either.

    It's nice we have many great sounding products to choose from.
     
  14. ericr

    Both of my Embers are V1 with the Supercharger. Yes, initially there was hiss and so as @dpump mentioned above, Jeremey fixed this by changing out 2 resistors near the gain jumpers. It took a few trips of the Ember back and forth to Arizona to get the resistor values right and so I like to think I had some influence on the resistor packs Jeremy offers on the Polaris and Ember II. And as also mentioned up-to read you ll need to avoid the higher MU tubes such as 12AX7 and even the 12AT7. Since you seem to own some lower impedance headphones the resistor mod is something to seriously consider. One nice thing is it doesn't affect the high gain setting so it won't hamper the ability to drive power hungry or high impedance h3adphones.

    Yes, if you have a low gain tubes such as a 12AU7, 12BH7 or 6SN7 it might really be worthwhile to take your ie80 for a spin with your Ember. IIRC, the IE80 is a dynamic driver and I'm more familiar with BA drivers, but there is a fair chance the Ember will do good things for the bass.
     
  15. iancraig10

    Never thought of that!!! For me, it's the way that iem's push outwards on the inside your ears, although with my custom Senns, I don't get that.

    I might try my Senn with an amp I think....

    I do remember that one of the things that I liked with the Ember and higher impedance headphones, that one thing that I loved was the 'authority' that it gave to my headphones. I noticed that you said the very same thing about iem's on an amp.

    Another advantage is that the signal would be coming from a line out which might well actually reduce noise as long as the amp is a quiet running one.

    The ie8 is ok. Not brilliant IMO. Bass heavy but at least it doesn't 'shriek' as many cheaper iem's do. Trouble is that here in the UK, there aren't really many places that we can go to hear headphones let alone iem's. In fact, I've never seen iem's on display for people to try. (Understandable I guess) so spending big money on a high end one is a bit of a gamble.

    I've never even thought about using them as a home headphone, ever!!! Reasons being sound (on the whole) and imaging, but if the newer ones have improved it might be worth a go.

    What have you got me into now? :wink:
     
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