Ray Samuels Emmeline XP-7: VALUE?
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hottyson

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hottyson received a personal message from ampgalore which read:
Quote:

Hi Hottyson,
I looked at your gallery, I see that you also have the XP7. What is your experience with the XP7 like? My XP7 is my first headphone amp, so I have no basis for comparison. Do you think the XP7 is worth the money? Canman recently posted in a thread saying that the XP7 is a simple loop design, and has the worst bang for the buck factor. What's your opinion? Right now I am debating whether I should sell my XP7 or not.
Thanks


ampgalore has given permission to post my reply here so that others might benefit from a lengthy discussion of this.
 
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hottyson

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Emmeline XP-7 performance value - by the numbers
The performance of this amplifier has been most compared to the DIY PPA. The PPA can be purchased starting at $350 with no power supply. The Emmeline XP-7 can be purchased for $500 with no power supply. Under the premise that both amps perform at the same level and are of the same build quality, it is logical to conclude that the PPA is $150 of better value.

Real life considerations
Why do people then purchase the Emmeline XP-7 over the PPA? Because they feel spending more money is justified by what they may get with the Emmeline XP-7. Let us discuss some of these details.

The Emmeline XP-7 is a small portable design. A PPA could also be constructed almost as tiny as the Emmeline XP-7 by squeezing the same Bulgin 2x9v battery case with a PPA board into a small enclosure. Mind you, it would take some doing to make it fit. The end result would most likely give you only a fraction of the battery life that the Emmeline XP-7 has.

I think that my Emmeline XP-7 could take my full weight if I were to stand on it. The build quality of the Emmeline XP-7 is backed by Ray Samuels. Much of the cost of any headphone amplifier is also based on the reliability of the unit and reputation of the builder. I am certain that you could have a very fine portable PPA built by one of the reputable PPA DIYFSE builders easily for $500. I almost went this route when I purchased the Emmeline XP-7. However the builder canceled my PPA order and I was soon tempted to own a Ray Samuels Audio product. I wanted the Ray Samuels brand kind of like women want a name brand purse.

Design value
This argument has been brought up quiet a bit with other amplifiers. Often this argument comes down to “Does it really matter what is inside if it performs well?” If you can find a reputable builder that can build you an Emmeline XP-7 as well as one built by Ray Samuels go for it.

Honest candid opinion on Emmeline XP-7 value vs PPA value
The most attractive value feature of the PPA that still attracts me, is the numerous options for power supplies. You can use a $30 Elpac, or $100 STEPS, or even better if you so desire. The PPA is a much better value for home use. For $380 you can purchase a PPA including an Elpac power supply. The cheapest Emmeline XP-7 with power supply is $700.

Conclusion
Having owned the Emmeline XP-7 for over three months, I can say that I do not yet regret my purchase. Had the commissioned PPA builder not canceled my DIY PPA order, I would not have given the Emmeline XP-7 a chance.

The Head-fi DIY community is flourishing. They provide opportunities for our members to attain headphone sound that some could typically not afford. Opportunities have been raised higher yet again with team PPA’s successful design. For value the PPA appears that it simply cannot be beaten.

However for portable use are there many headphone amplifiers that can beat the Emmeline XP-7?
 
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cmascatello

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hottyson
However for portable use are there many headphone amplifiers that can beat the Emmeline XP-7?



Not really. At least until Ray drops the more-portable SR-71 on us.
 
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lindrone

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Only one that comes to mind is the LaRocco PocketReference.. which even at a base level, is very close to the quality of the XP-7. Which some more portable-oriented functionality that's very thoughtful (rechargeable batteries, consistent sound signature plugged into AC power supply and running on batteries).

However, it is very much a personal taste and synergy with matching it up with whatever headphone you're using at the time. So they're about the same class.
 
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mariowar

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I've had the chance to test a lot of solid state home headphone amplifiers and to my ears no amp beats the XP7 in a blind test. What I mean is that the XP7 ( even with batteries instead of the power supply) sounds just like the most expensive solid state amps out there (IMHO).

I have not tested the PPA, it would be like looking for a mistress when you are happily married
...... However, I'll be able to give it a chance, the Larrocco looks awesome...

I'll keep this amp until Ray comes out with a portable amp like this one with a built in DAC.
 
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hottyson

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lindrone
Only one that comes to mind is the LaRocco PocketReference..


The LaRocco Pocket Reference looks very promising. PPL has included many of the technologies used in the PPA and optimized it to run off of two rechargeable nine volt batteries. The fact that you can recharge its internal batteries truly does give it another one up on the Emmeline XP-7. It is only a smidgen larger. I also like the fact that the power switch of the LaRocco Pocket Reference is on the front. This might not seem too important but when you have your gear in a portable bag it makes a world of difference.

You can not go wrong with anything that has the LaRocco name on it.
 
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TB1

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To me, value lies in the “ear of the beholder”. If an audio product sings right in my rig I could care less if it is the simplest design or the most esoteric. To my ears and in my rig the little XP-7 out performed in every way (transparency, PRAT, soundstaging, imaging, tonality, air, liquidity etc.) the Headroom MOH(R) (current model, smooth attenuator) that had been a part of my system for 2 years. I really, really wanted to believe the MOH(R) sounded better, but I always found myself jacking into the XP-7 given the choice. The simple yet well thought out design and quality build of the XP-7 (not to mention the portability and ability to op-amp roll to season the sound) make it one of my favorite headphone amps regardless of design or price.
 
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boodi

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anyone can compare the cosmic ..?
 
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lindrone

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TB1, I agree with you completely. I had the chance to audition the MOH as well as the Blockhead.. and the truth is.. they're pretty good with Sennheisers... but not much more (if any at all) than many amps at half, and even less than half of its price.

For example, side-by-side, I much preferred MPX3 and HR-2 over the MOH for a variety of applications. Furthermore, I thought Headroom's amps really only sounded good with Sennheisers, they fail to bring out any sort of great synergy with any other brand headphones, imho.

Headroom's amps are grossly overpriced... the quality of the construction is pretty solid.. but there are many other DIY amps, or smaller manufacturers that designs amp which are equal or better in both build and sound quality at much lesser price.

So... as far as the Cosmic.. I don't believe any Headroom amps are worth what they charge people... I bet you can find better amps in the same price range, or the same quality amp in lesser price range.
 
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Ticky

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Its easy to get caught up in asking "which equipment has the best value." But the real question, and the one that matters, is which equipment sounds best to you the purchaser. Keep in mind that different amps - and for that matter most audio equipments - have different sonic signatures. It is possible that some might like the XP-7 "house" sound to the PPA's, and vice versa.

While making an informed purchase - i.e., good value for the money - is important, personal preference also matters a great deal.
 
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I had an opportunity to use the Cosmic for about a week prior to one of the Detroit meets. I also own an XP-7, so I think I can speak to the benefits of each.

You wouldn't go wrong with either, by the way. They are both very good amps. Things that I like about the Cosmic included on-board crossfeed, and the various gain settings and brightness controls. It's sonics are warm and well balanced. I liked it a lot, and almost bought one.

The XP-7 is built like a tank...I'm convinced that I could jump up and down on mine without damaging it. It has the Emmeline "House Sound" (which tends to be forward without being too bright...actually somewhat warm), which I liked a lot. I think that in some respects it's more portable than the Cosmic (on-board batteries vs battery pack), but in some respects less so (the Traveller bag is very nice).

I used to own an older series Max, and wanted more portability. That's why I ended up going with the XP-7 (and considered the Cosmic). I find my XP-7 to be comparable to the Max, though clearly not its equal. The Max was just a bit better in most respects, and that's what we pay for when we buy one.

I've heard the PPA side by side with the XP-7, and I preferred the XP-7. The sonics seemed to have more heft and depth, although the PPA was a nice product.

Hope this helps...
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by hottyson
The LaRocco Pocket Reference looks very promising. PPL has included many of the technologies used in the PPA and optimized it to run off of two rechargeable nine volt batteries. The fact that you can recharge its internal batteries truly does give it another one up on the Emmeline XP-7. It is only a smidgen larger. I also like the fact that the power switch of the LaRocco Pocket Reference is on the front. This might not seem too important but when you have your gear in a portable bag it makes a world of difference.

You can not go wrong with anything that has the LaRocco name on it.



I have no experience with the LaRocco Pocket Reference but I have had considerable time with the XP-7. I got over 40 hrs. on a pair of 9V batteries with the XP-7. How long will the LaRocco go without a charge? I think the XP-7 is a great value and the real decision comes down to how it sounds with your equipment to your ears.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by lindrone
Headroom's amps are grossly overpriced... the quality of the construction is pretty solid.. but there are many other DIY amps, or smaller manufacturers that designs amp which are equal or better in both build and sound quality at much lesser price.


OK, for one, comparing a commercial entity to that of a DIY builder as far as comparing costs is pretty off base, no matter how you cut it.

And as far as build, there's a LOT of quality equipment out there, but I really don't see how you can say any of it is "better built" then the headroom stuff.

By the way, I also agree about the XP-7 being a great value. The fact that it can be compared to an amp like the Cosmic or others shows and proves the worth of the XP-7, not neccessarily the "unworthyness" of the Cosmic or others.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Ticky
Its easy to get caught up in asking "which equipment has the best value." But the real question, and the one that matters, is which equipment sounds best to you the purchaser. Keep in mind that different amps - and for that matter most audio equipments - have different sonic signatures. It is possible that some might like the XP-7 "house" sound to the PPA's, and vice versa.

While making an informed purchase - i.e., good value for the money - is important, personal preference also matters a great deal.



I agree entirely. It's at this point that our discussions, whilst interesting, lose abit of their point, as no-one here uses the exact same system and you just can't order them all...System synergy has got to be a huge factor in how amps sound to us, or we wouldn't spend so much time upgrading cables and the likes and finding new tweaks. Auditioning is great (though I haven't managed to auditon a thing before purchasing
), and this is where those meetings kick in, but for those of us in more remote geographical locations, they're tough to get to, as well.
At the end of the day, if you can't audition, ask plenty of questions, read as much as you can and then make a decision using your knowledge of yourself and your preferences, a little instinct and hope for the best.
You can always sell it again here and go for another one if it's not quite what you wanted and you probably won't lose too much in the process.
Just my ramblings whilst reading this thread...
 
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lindrone

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Slimm
OK, for one, comparing a commercial entity to that of a DIY builder as far as comparing costs is pretty off base, no matter how you cut it.


Commercial entity's amps should actually be cheaper, not more expensive than DIY amps. Mass production should reduce the cost.


Quote:

And as far as build, there's a LOT of quality equipment out there, but I really don't see how you can say any of it is "better built" then the headroom stuff.


Perhaps not "better" built, but at least on the same level. When it comes down to it, the only difference between parts used by Headroom amps and any other DIY amps is the casing they put around it... they might have thicker plates. When compared with builders like LaRocco or Ray Samuel, they are certainly not any better. The ugly "black box" look for their amps isn't something I appreciate aesthetically either.
 
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