Review: Analog Design Labs Svetlana 2 tube headphone amplifier

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by project86, Jul 6, 2011.
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  1. cky8

    I marked your words! Hope turned into trust. I remember I asked the very same question in June to Analog Design Labs and they too said in a few months which was rather vague. I seriously do hope they would make it before the end of this year so I can order. In the meanwhile I am waiting for my Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV to arrive and I too hope it pairs well with the Svetlana 2.
    Looking forward to your detailed impressions. If you could keep in mind I'm also a D1 owner so I hope you can also test it in this setup: D1 > Svetlana 2 > W1000X. And the difference when used directly from the D1 headphone out.
  2. project86 Contributor


    They actually sent me an update not too long ago. Apparently the website is on track to be running before the new year, so keep an eye out for it. 
    I'm waiting to hear opinions on the W3000ANV. If the word is good, I might pick one up as well. I'm switching to all closed cans or IEMs for the next year (new baby on the way) and there aren't a lot of choices, relatively speaking. So I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
  3. cky8
    You have to be fast though as there are only 2000 pcs. worldwide [​IMG]
    It seems like I will have exactly the perfect setup just before the new year! How many hours have you already logged with the Svetlana 2 and Grandioso?
    And congratulations!
  4. project86 Contributor
    Eh, I'm not too worried about it. Since the "Audio Technica house sound" tends to be polarizing, I'm sure there will be some of them available used in the near future. I might not save any money going that route, but that's OK.
    I've probably only got ~10 hours on the Svetlana/W1000X combo. That's all I've been listening to the past week but it's been a busy week. Switching back and forth between DACs I'm familiar with (Anedio D1, Violectric V800) and some new acquisitions (Kao Audio UD2C-HP, Yulong Sabre D18). So I can't be very definitive at this point. But I can say I love it! Shipped out the W1000 yesterday.... I'm still sad to see it go. But then I put the Grandioso on and I'm not sad any longer. 
  5. snappyd
    Well, just received the T70s, so will spend the weekend burning those in.
    I found a second-hand Svetlana 2 on ebay and bought it, so that should arrive next week.
    I've also got a pair of Audio-Technica W5000, so it'll be cool running those through the new amp and comparing them with the T70s, and also comparing both headphones with my Neco Soundlab solid state amp.
    Will update when it all happens. It's exciting...
  6. WarriorAnt


  7. project86 Contributor

    That IS exciting! Being all self centered, I didn't even consider the possibility that you could be in a different country than me. Analog Design Labs is apparently quite well established in Korea (having been around for many years) so it makes sense that there would be a used market for their gear.... just not in the USA yet. I'm glad you found one to try out - I don't think you will be disappointed. 
    I've only heard the T70 very briefly and not with the Svetlana, so I'm curious to hear your impressions. The W5000 should be a great match though.
  8. cky8

    Okay I think I have got about 20 hours with the W3000ANV. And I think it does many things much better than the W1000X. I would call the W1000X romantic sounding which is not per se a bad thing if you have more vocal focused genres. The W3000ANV to me is more liquid sounding in the mids and the bass is tighter and cleaner. There is more but my vocubulary is rather limited compared to you. All I can say is that you should try it if the W-series catched fire on you.
    If I had to choose one I would confidently choose the W3000ANV over the W1000X personally. I hope you had more time listening to the W1000X and Svetlana 2 combo. You seem busy now that you have a new Yulong D18 DAC on the bench too.
  9. project86 Contributor
    Thanks for posting your thoughts on the W3000ANV. I'll certainly try it at some point. Do you think it is more of an "all around" style performer as compared to the W1000x? Because I feel that the W1000x has a more broad appeal than the W1000, but not as broad as the W2002. Which is why I recently sold my W2002. I love that specific AT woody sound, and I would rather stick to it, even at the cost of some "genre bandwidth" as it has been called. The W1000x seems to me like a perfect balance between those two. But maybe the W3000ANV is even better?
    As promised, my impressions of the Svetlana 2 powering the W1000x. Source is a JF Digital HDM-03S media streamer, coaxial SPDIF out to the Anedio D1 DAC. Music is a mixture, from standard redbook quality all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz.
    The Svetlana/W1000x combo is simply brilliant in my opinion. Some of my other amps sound pretty respectable with these headphones: The M-Stage is a good baseline. The Yulong A100 is stunningly detailed but a bit on the crispy/thin side. The Violectric V200 is excellent, to the point where I wouldn't expect much improvement. But the Svetlana does just that. 
    Lows are not exactly the strong suite of the W1000x, but they are far less objectionable than the W1000. This still wouldn't be my top choice for bass heavy music like dubstep, but it sounds very pleasing with blues and jazz. The Svetlana has the ability to dig very deep. Textures are clearly rendered, and control is seemingly absolute. It approaches the low frequency performance of the Violectric, and honestly you need a headphone with better bass reproduction to discern the small advantage possessed by the solid state design. 
    Mids are just lovely on this setup. Despite the overall romantic feel of the headphone as a whole, the mids are largely uncolored. There is a smooth transition between mid-bass and mids. Vocals are extremely articulate, to the point of sounding lifelike on better recordings. At the same time, upper mids never sounded edgy. Ultimately the tube advantage is still evident here in the mids - the amp section of the Anedio D1 presents things in a sort of "matter of fact" way, while the Svetlana has more of a liquid, whimsical, airy presentation that just oozes with emotion. There's nothing wrong with the amp in the D1; in fact for certain headphones I prefer it. But this headphone is happiest with the Svetlana. It is hard to put into words though.
    Highs are another chief advantage of the Svetlana with the W1000x. Things can get a bit sharp up top under certain circumstances, and you really need an amp that controls them well, without taking too much of the edges off. The Svetlana is that amp. While the Anedio can sound a bit harsh, and the Violectric a smidge too restrained, the Svetlana has the perfect balance. It really brought out the capabilities of the Grandioso while minimizing grain and glare. This was similar to the way I felt with the HiFiMAN HE-500 when paired with Svetlana. 
    Soundstage size and instrument placement, as usual for this amp, was phenomenal. These sealed cans are not the last word in spaciousness but they do a very nice job for a closed model. The Svetlana has a wider and deeper presentation than any of my other amps. It doesn't strike me as artificially stretched though, which is something that popped up on occasion with my DarkVoice 337SE. I really like this combo for classical music. 
    In conclusion, I think the Svetlana 2 is a perfect match for the W1000x. It's like they were made for each other. This assumes of course that the listener is a fan of the Audio Technica W-series sound. I recognize that not everyone is. But for me, this setup is a keeper. Some people build their system around the LCD-2, HD800, or HE-6, choosing the specific source and amp to compliment those models. I strongly believe that the ADLabs Svetlana 2 is the perfect amp to build a system around the Audio Technica W1000x. For my tastes, this headphone is good enough to justify its own rig. 
    This combo might not be the best all around performer for every type of music - it isn't perfect. The Violectric V200 pairs better with the LCD-2. The Anedio D1 amp section is the best I've heard for high end customs like the UM Merlin or my new Heir Audio 8.A. But the Svetlana is my first choice for the W1000x as well as the HE-500, and it is never leaving my system.
    By the way, I noticed some new pictures posted on the Analog Design Labs website:
    With Ultrasone Edition 10 
    Some feel that Edition 10 is too harsh - perhaps Svetlana can help tame it?
    Finally, good pictures of the output transformers. I tried to get some when I had the case open but it 
    didn't turn out very well. 
  10. WarriorAnt
    Thanks for the update.   The Svetlana is still at the top of my interest list competing with Decwares Taboo.  Right now the Taboo has the edge because it is made closer to home and Svetlana is not yet marketed here, as far as I know.   
    What is that larger tube amp just to the right of the Svetlana in your recent photo?
  11. project86 Contributor


    That's the Analog Design Labs Prelude 3.1 as seen HERE. It looks essentially like a balanced version of the Svetlana 2. The trick though is that it doesn't have balanced inputs. So that made it less desirable for me. I imagine it would be more useful for someone who wanted a "real" pre-amp for their system. The Svetlana 2 makes an excellent sounding pre-amp, but a single input is just not realistic for most people. 
  12. cky8
    The W3000ANV is definitely not that genre limited like the W1000 and more alike the W1000X. The W3000ANV is IMHO even better. Closer to neutral but still colored and presented in a brilliant and appealing way.
    Then I believe the W3000ANV paired with the Svetlana 2 could give some new insights. The bass on the W3000 to me is tigher and cleaner whereas the bass on the W1000X seems richer due to its romantic signature.
    The mids are extremely important to me as I'm looking for somewthing that is really involving and haunting. Especially for female vocals which is one of the reasons for my love towards the W-series. And yes I think what you desribed here is exactly what I was looking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with D1 amp as presents it just the way it is. But for some recordings I have that is really the best I could get and the Svetlana 2 can overcome that and probably like you said before, make it sound just the way we want it to be.
    The mids on the W3000ANV for is more liquid like and the W1000X would be romantic and sweet.
    Exactly what I was looking for! You described this in your OP as well. But it is now confirmed for another A-T woody [​IMG]
    The W3000ANV does soundstage more precise and truthful to my ears so I'm curious.
    Fan of Audio Technica W-series sound wouldn't need an introduction from my side. The decision has been made and I need to get myself a Svetlana 2. Please get that site up up Analog Design Labs! This review was really helpful and I thank you for this. Really whenever you feel the need or get the chance. Try the W3000ANV.
    With this amp linked to my D1 I think I can finally stop looking and just enjoy the music for both of my A-T W-series headphones [​IMG]
  13. WarriorAnt

    Just happens to be a  W3000ANV hitting the FS boards tonight

  14. project86 Contributor
    cky8: Thanks for your impressions again. Once I sell my HD800 and HD600 I will seriously consider the W3000ANV. It's hard to let the Senns go though, as I really enjoy both. But I guess if they won't get used much then there is no point in keeping them.
    By the way, I notice an updated version of the Svetlana page. It's just pre-translated into English, not a huge difference. But scroll to the bottom for the important stuff - International price of $1499 shipped, overseas sales starting in January, 1 year warranty that does transfer to the next owner with no questions asked. Obviously they are confident in their work!
    WarriorAnt: Don't tempt me! I just spent a ton on other stuff and can't make that purchase right now.... and here you are waving it in my face! Seriously though, thanks for posting, I hope they are easy enough to find later on. 
  15. cky8
    Thanks for mentioning project86! (John was it right?)
    After New Year money is gonna ROLL and it is a good start for my audio system. As it seems the "CMC Super Cu RCA Upgrade" is standard already for overseas customers?
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