Ray Samuels Dark Star vs Cavalli Liquid Gold
Aug 10, 2016 at 12:54 AM Post #17 of 40
Get the Headamp GX Mk II..  

Nov 7, 2016 at 7:28 PM Post #21 of 40
Congratulations! You've picked the 2 most overpriced amps ever made!
Really, with that budget get a Master 9 (under 2k), is miles better than any of those two.
Didn't heard the ECP DHSA-4 (Ravenswood), but it's a solid contender for the best headphone amp ever made.
I would get the Ravenswood or save money and buy Master 9, skip Cavalli and Ray Samuels.
Nov 7, 2016 at 8:36 PM Post #22 of 40
The GX and Darkstar have very similar designs. I wouldn't be surprised if they sound exactly the same. Aren't both companies build to order?

Um, no, they are quite different.  The GSX is an all discrete transistor design.  The Dark Star uses a monolithic IC chip amp (see the RSA * Dark Star * SE and balanced... Head-Fi thread which has an internal picture in post #104 3rd picture down, and compare with the picture of the amp internals on the HeadAmp site).  The GSX is class A, the Dark Star is most likely Class AB.  The only thing they have in common is they are both solid state.  Also, IMHO, based on what's inside the box, I would agree with ToroFiestaSol that the Dark Star is overpriced.
Nov 10, 2016 at 8:41 AM Post #26 of 40
I don't think the GS-X is overpriced at all based on its parts cost and quality of build.  If you look at the schematic of Kevin GIlmore's design you can see that there are a lot of parts in there, and build quality is unsurpassed.  Now, not everybody likes the sound of the GS-X driving their headphones, saying it is lean-sounding or artificial sounding, and feel it is overpriced based on that, but that is a more subjective judgment.  Others feel its sound quality is dead neutral, detailed, and as good as anything out there at any price.  I have a HeadAmp Gilmore LIte which I bought used.  Its a discontinued model, very well built and I like it quite a bit.
Nov 11, 2016 at 9:40 PM Post #28 of 40
There can be a number of reasons that can justify a higher price, such as higher quality casework (there are cases where the case with a thick front panel costs more than the components and circuit board inside), higher quality parts, e.g. expensive jacks, DACT or Goldpoint attenuator instead of an inexpensive pot, and so on.  These may or may not improve the sound (a sturdier case may arguably be more resistant to vibration).  You're not going to get a Goldpoint attenuator in a $500 amp.
Nov 12, 2016 at 1:09 AM Post #29 of 40
That's true. But at the end of the day, it's all about sound.

An ugly piece that costs $150 but has the performance of $4000-$7000 cool brand name amps is the real winner to me.
Nov 12, 2016 at 11:11 AM Post #30 of 40
As something of an audio cheapskate myself (that's why I build stuff instead of buying it a lll at the local shop) I completely sympathize with the sentiment.  I used to belong to the Boston Audio Society, who one audio reviewer sneered "wants audio nirvana for $79.95."   But sometimes more expensive is better, and occasionally (rarely?) a lot better.  I think it is just as wrong to say expensive is always better as to say they all sound the same, and paying more is just getting ripped off.  Use your ears, but keep a tight hold on your wallet.

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