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. project86 Contributor
    I just did some rough conversions: Their pre-amps range from a bit over $2k to roughly $4k, though there is one model (a passive attenuator design) that didn't have a price listed. So they are pricey but not as much as I had thought. I guess it was the monoblock models that I was think of as being really high priced. 
    Ugh, College! I can't even imagine. I bet many high-priced speakers and other gear on Audiogon can be directly linked to a kid needing funds for college. Which I guess is a good thing - prioritizing your child's future over your own hobby. Still..... college is just SO expensive these days. I can't even imagine what it will be like when my kids get that old. 
  2. cky8
    I changed the analog interconnects and that made up some good improvements. Bass and treble extension is actually just as good as I used to hear on the D1. Microdetails are easier to track. Soundstage depth and layering is more truthful. Imaging and pin-point placement of objects is equally as impressive now. All this while still preserving that 'liquid' signature of the Svetlana.
    I actually thought the SignalCable Analog One made the Svetlana sound pretty awful.. I didn't want to believe it. I initially thought the tubes went mad. The sound was flat, restless and harsh until I changed it for another similar priced analog IC it was much much better. But I am using the SignalCable Silver Resolution IC with ETI Silver Bullets now and to me it performs admirably. Just sharing my thoughts on my own setup YMMV. 
    For me it is still absolutely a dynamite combo! Happy listening with the W3000ANV [​IMG]
  3. project86 Contributor

    Interesting. I'm using the Analog Two with the Svetlana and the Anedio D2 right now, loving the sound. Never had an issue with the Analog One though.

    I've got my D1 listed for sale since I have the D2 now. Will likely use those funds to purchase the W3000ANV (can't resist!)

    Svetlana also does very well with the HE400. Not quite the best match I've heard but still very good, and somewhat unique.
  4. ishmael
    2 things:
    I checked and it lists "coming soon" - a 24/192 tube DAC with async usb and balanced or single ended outputs. Any news on that? That seems like it could be a big deal.
    Also, I heard form a friend in Korea who was swearing up and down about how amazing the Prelude 3.1 headphone amp is. He is using it with a set of recabled balanced Edition 10 and also the AT W3000ANV. I guess it costs about double what the Svetlana amp costs but he thought it was worth it. Seems weird to me that it only has balanced out but no balanced inputs. I guess that is how hifiman does it with their new EF6 so who knows. 
  5. project86 Contributor
    I believe they have been working on their DAC for a long time. It was theoretically going to be released by now, but it seems they have expanded the design to make it balanced and give it Async USB. Good call imo. I'm pretty sure they are using the ESS Sabre ES9018 Reference chip so it should be an interesting DAC.
    Maybe I can get a hold of one to check it out. Hopefully the price is in the same range as the Svetlana 2.
    I don't really understand the Prelude 3.1 either. But it looks like a lot of tube amps have balanced out even though they don't have XLR inputs: DNA Sonett and the new Stratus, Eddie Current Super 7, Woo Audio WA5.... so there must be something to it. 
  6. cky8
    What a unpopular amp this is! But still a very happy owner [​IMG]
    I ordered some Voskhod 6N1P-EV-OC, EHX 6H30Pi and Sovtek 6H30Pi-EB tubes and I just plugged them in. Let's see what different flavoring comes out. It will need some time to burn in anyway while my Anedio U2 transport is away for modding.
  7. project86 Contributor
    Yeah I can't understand it. I've got a really nice tube amp from a different company in for review (who will remain nameless for the moment). It sells for just under $1k. It is quite good but the Svetlana just walks away from it in several areas. I guess nobody else wants to take a chance on this little beauty....
    Keep me posted on the tube rolling adventure. Even if nobody else is interested, I sure am.
  8. nigeljames
    The EF6 does not have balanced out, it's just a XLR because the HE6 come with an XLR terminated lead. The EF6 is not a balanced amp.
  9. project86 Contributor
    That's true. Others call their XLR output "balanced" even though inputs are limited to RCA only. It can be understandably confusing. I say we just listen and enjoy.
  10. Rossliew
    Hi Project86, you mentioned in your earlier threads that the Svetlana2 sounded good with HE-500. Do you reckon it will sound as good (if not better) with the HE-5LE? I'm getting a one of those and using a Opamp modded EF-5 amp to run it. Am curious how the Svetlana2 would sound with the HE-5LE as compared to the EF-5. If anyone has any comparisons done, please post them here :)
  11. project86 Contributor
    I've only heard the HE-5LE briefly but I see no reason why it wouldn't work out well, just like the HE-500.
    The HE-5LE is slightly less efficient than the HE-500. When I use the HE-500 I tend to have the volume knob turned to around 1 o'clock. The HE-5LE may require cranking the knob farther to get enough volume, maybe even maxing it out for some quieter music. But with it's rated power it should be able to play the HE-5LE at 112dB or so. That's loud enough for most people :)
    I've got the HE-400 paired with the Svetlana right now and it sounds great too. Beautiful mids. It doesn't need to go past 11 o'clock on the volume knob most of the time. 
    Unfortunately I have very little experience with the EF-5. It's certainly a very different amp than the Svetlana - one is a hybrid, the other single ended triode. One has really high current output into low impedance loads, the other has high voltage swing into high impedance loads. One is significantly higher priced than the other. But beyond that I couldn't say.
  12. Rossliew
    Thanks for the feedback. Looks like it may play the HE-5LE loud but will it play it to its full potential. I guess the Mjolnir might be a better option but the balanced output means I would have to get some aftermarket balanced cables. Would there be a big difference going balanced?
  13. project86 Contributor
    People have different opinions about balanced. For me, I've heard some balanced gear sound better than single ended, some sound the same, and some sound worse. It just depends on the design. 
    I'd say that Mjolnir and Svetlana are two very different amps with very different goals. You have to choose based on what topology you prefer, what you can afford, looks, etc. 
    BTW just out of curiosity, have you ever compared your HE-5LE to the HE-500? Many people prefer the newer 500 but I do know someone who likes the 5LE best. 
  14. Rossliew
    I'm awaiting the arrival of my HE-5LE i bought off this forum :) Another buddy of mine has the HE-500 on the way as well so we will listen to the cans on our respective gears then possibly swap to have an audition. I specifically chose the 5LE as feedback from the forums mention it as being closer in sound to the HE-6 but since I couldn't afford that, the 5LE was the next bet choice. I understand the EF-5 is a very good match for the 5LE so i want to listen to this pairing first whilst my buddy will match his 500 with a modded Benchmark DAC/headamp.
    I suppose I won't be going balanced anytime soon since my source/CDP/TT are not balanced.
    I checked with ADLabs on the Svetlana2 and its potential pairing with the 5LE and feedback was Mr Kim didn't think it a good match, more the ATH woodies. On another note, the EF-5 sounds great paired with the Grado RS1 :)
  15. cky8
    So after a week of trying the Sovtek 6H30Pi-EB and Electro Harmonix 6H30Pi as the output driver tubes..
    I think the Svetlana is really build around the 6N1P-EV and 6N6P-I tubes. I will have to ask Kim about this. Eventually I returned back to the stock configuration and there is no match. The stock tubes were Voskhod and Novosibirsk respectively. I am finally recognizing the different logos on Russian tubes.. 
    Searching for any impressions and information about the 6N1P-EV and 6N6P-I tubes, I have gotten some insight of the era when these tubes were made. It seems these tubes can sing when the amp is really designed for it. Strong against microphonics, silent operation, militairy spec and long life. They are dirt cheap and have good availability. The NOS 6DJ8/6922 variants can vary.
    Going the NOS route with 6DJ8/6922 tubes for the input stage can be quite a gamble. It is pricey and I am not sure if it gives a sonic improvement with the Svetlana, aside from your preferences. For any future owner of the Svetlana. If you like the amp in its stock configuration right from the start keep it that way.
    Part of me really hoped the new tubes would be different or better, along with the excitement that rose as a first tube rolling adventure. On the other hand it just made me appreciate how excellent performing the Svetlana already is! It is a nice amp with Audio Technica woodies.

    - Editied my original post..
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