R-10 with Sugden Headmaster
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Nik

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Sugden Headmaster/R-10: impressions of listening.


I knew the MDR R-10 only with the EAR HP-4 tubes amplifier, and I can’t to tell that this combo isn’t a splendid kind of musicality and intimacy in the music. But my suspect now, testing the Sugden Headmaster, is in effect founded: the HP-4 gives his own contribute to the sound, typical tube work. For this reason all my CD sounds very, very well, but I would to tell: all in the same style even if, I repeat very, very well. The new version of the Sugden Headmaster with the remote control is a little jewel, you can to command the volume pot and even the source you have connected. The construction is perfectly finished and massive, impossible to open (unfortunately, because I would like to see inside…). I know what Vertigo-1 told about bass response of the Sugden (and Vertigo is Vertigo…) for this reason I’m thinking that really this new version of the amp has something changed (for ex. the little interrupter on the back panel), the little window for the infrared transmission on the front panel. And I suppose that the extraordinary bass response is something of the new version too.
The Sugden needs a few days of serious break-in, and than you can notice yours compact disks sounding each in a very different mode, like if this solid state amp do not exist, his work is only to let go the sound from your source. The first consideration that you can’t to forget is an ultimate transparency and speed (I never heard a transparency at this level before the combo R-10/Sugden), for this reason I see a very good combo with the R-10, that is a cans that helps the sound to be warmth and musical, like in a triode typical sound aspect. The Sugden, in my opinion, is the best solid state headphone amp in the market and I believe hi recommended for the R-10. The bass response is phenomenal, more “slam” than the HP-4, his clarity let to ear the more bass band a little much transparent than the HP-4 (I’m speaking considering my source and my cables), the hi-band is a little more brilliant and, the med-bass is not so present as with the EAR is, this quality is what the R-10 needs. The R-10 with Sugden goes to the "electrostatic" direction, I can to say. At last, with the R-10, the Sugden goes better than the EAR HP-4. Following the experience with my new Sugden the positives aspects of this amp increased (I think even for the break-in), for ex.: I never heard with the HP-4 the perfect intelligibility of the voices (male and female), if the HP-4 presents the voices with an intimacy that really capture everybody, the Sugden offers more clarity and perfect understanding of each syllable. The left-right balance are simply perfect on the Sugden even at the first step of the low volume, this amp has a perfect calibration. Very difficult to choice: the intimacy of the tubes or the transparency of the solid state? I would like if exists an amp that has both these qualities… After a week of serious listenings the Sugden is acquiring smoothness and warmth, but all his transparency is present and you can to hear it especially in the live recordings, all the old cd or remastered, are much better with this amp. The only thing that I can to tell of negative is a kind of “aseptic” aspect of music, impression that you never have in a live performance (rock or classical, electric or acoustic). At this moment I resolve to keep the Sugden and to sell the HP-4 even because I’m waiting for (I hope) the last test for the R-10: the custom hand made tube amp. I’m thinking to keep both these amps having so two differents kinds of sound. But I want to close my words with a great judgement for the Sugden Headmaster.














 
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mbriant

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Thanks for the review Nik. I'm a big fan of the Sugden myself, although I wish now I'd waited a little longer before I purchased it so I could have had remote control.
 
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Dnic

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mbriant,

Sugden is shipping out their Headmaster of new version with remote. I got mine recently from an UK dealer and they only quoted the new version. Don't know if this is the case in your area.
 
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flashbak

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Same here. I'm also a very big fan of the Headmaster! Thanks to mbriant for turning me onto it! Mine is also the non-remote unit and I like it that way!
 
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grinch

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nice review, but i want to say that there is no "new version" of the sugden headmaster.. although i heard they stopped making the non-remote version, the version with the remote control has been around for months. i've had mine since the end of last year actually and mine has the remote control.. i did have to pay an extra $100 for it as well, but i guess that's what happens when you purchase from a local hi-fi store.
 
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