REVIEW: Purity Audio Caliente vs Audio GD C2C
May 14, 2009 at 9:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 21

theBigD

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Hi everyone. I got an Audio GD C2C about a month ago and really like it. I had been reading lots of reviews on the Purity Audio Caliente and Skylab and Tbonners reviews in particular seemed very favorable. So I couldn't resist ordering a caliente when it became available a couple weeks back. I got a green one and I call it the "Green Machine!" Ive had it running 24/7 for the last week so it has over 150hrs. My first impressions when I opened it up were, its kinda small but very clean and a cool green color with an excellent silver volume knob. I turned it on expecting it to be pretty warm, after all it is the caliente! To my surprise, it was actually a little bass light. But it sounded pretty good otherwise.

Ive been listening to it on and off for the last week. It wasnt changing very much until 2 days ago the bass just exploded! Now I know why its called the caliente. Even though the bass has bloomed I still wouldnt call it muddy or bassy in any way, so it is still a very good listen.

Anyway, I am comparing with the C2C which has over 400 hrs on it now. And I really like the rich warm sound of the C2C with good impact and dynamics. I am primarily using the Denon D7000 headphones which I love, and occasionally the AKG 701s which I keep hoping will sound more like a D7000 with a warmer amp but I dont think this will ever happen but these amps do power the 701s to better levels of performance than anything Ive used before.

Build wise, both amps seem very well built. Both volume knobs are very good with no scratchy noise in the low end. My C2C has a higher gain so, volume never really leaves the 7 to 8 range. With the Caliente the volume is around 9 or 10 with D7000. The other wierd thing about the Caliente is when you turn it off the volume decreases untill it fades out completely. C2C powers up and down very professionally and goes dead silent when you turn it off. Oh, and for some reason I like the little "POOMPFF" sound the caliente makes when you power it on, it sounds very cool like its powered up and ready.

Well I sat down for an organized listen this morning and spent several hrs listening to different music. All the music I used was lossless. And I listened to a variety of Jazz, Classical, Blues, Rock and Heavy Metal.

CLASSICAL: Nikoli Rimsky-Korsakov: The Snow Maiden-Dance of the Tublers
performed by:The Minesota Orchestra

Caliente: With this amp the soundstage is very wide, wider than C2C. Every instrument is very clear and sharp. The bells are very sharp and clear. Strings are a little forward and nice. Horns have just a touch of brassy sound. I never cared for the sound of horns usually sounding to brash with lesser amps but with caliente sounds just about right not to harsh and not to smooth. Overall the sound is a tiny bit sparse maybe becuase of wider soundstage.

C2C: This amp has a little better attack and transition. Drums are a little more emphasized and have better definition. The flutes are clear and very musical. Horns are very smooth and this allows me to listen to more jazz without cringing but it might be a tad too smooth. Overall the sound is lush with more layers and impact, maybe contributed by the smaller more focused soundstage.

JAZZ: Holly Cole "The house is Hounted".

C2C: This amp is warm and resonate especially with sax and holly cole's vocals. The sax in this song is AMAZING with this amp, it is warm and resonate drawing you into the music deeply and then wrapping you in the smooth smooky seductive voice of Holly Cole. This is a very Emotional presentation that caliente couldnt quite match.

Caliente: Amp is a little more neutral. Holly Cole looses that smoky flavor. Everything sounds clear and seperate with wider soundstage. There is more extension in the higher notes and it sounds crisp and clean. It is a lively sound and still engaging but lacks the emotion of the C2C.

HEAVY METAL: Metallica "The Unforgiven"

C2C: Amp is Puncy and Dynamic. Nice intro with resonate strings. Voice is smooth. C2C is very Grado like in that you feel like you are on stage with the band an jamming!

CAlliente: Amp is crisp and clean with a better sense of space. More growl in vocals and the amp puts you a couple rows back listening to the band.

ROCK and ROLL: Primus "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" and "Eleven"

C2C: Amp is Fast, Puncy and Dynamic. Voice is cool with believable echo. More forward and resonate bass. The hard pan left and right sounds cool and is fun to listen to.

Caliente. Amp is clean, clear and dynamic. The sound is a little sparse. Staccatto drums are not as forward or as fun. With a wider soundstage the hard panning on "Eleven" is a bit fatiguing.


Rock and Roll: Lenny Kravitz "American Woman"

C2C: Amp reveals layers of music better especially with bass. Bass drum has more impact. Layers of guitar and voice are very interesting. The bass guitar along with voice synth is more pronounced with C2C.

Caliente: Amp has better extension in the bass. The midrange is a bit more clear, claps are clear and a bit forward, guitar is nicely represented cleanly and more forward. Bass drum is very prominent but not overpowering.

Jam Band: Blues Traveler Live from the Fall "Mountains Win Again".

C2C: Amp has more forward bass and more texture to bass and harmonica sound. Nice layers of midrange and organ is more pronounced.

Caliente: Amp has wide defined soundstage crowd is seperated from band and its easier to listen to music and forget about the crowd. Sound is very clear and crisp with clean taps on cymbals with drumsticks clearly heard. Lower bass extension and can be a bit overwhelming but this is often how live music is presented with more bass to make it more fun for the crowd. I could live with it anyway.

Folk: Tori Amos "Parasol" and "Sweet Sting"

C2C: Amp gives a very sexy sound to Tori's voice and the piano sounds more real and forward, you can tell when she hold the footpedals down to play. Bass impact is very nice and the organ sounds refined and warmer.

Caliente: Amp is very revealing of midrange, you clearly hear the spinning instrument(sorry dont know what its called) and strings are more clear and well defined. When she goes falsetto you hear a bit of edge to her voice, that is smoother with C2C.


Conclusion: I was hoping to come up with a clear winner here, but these two amps are very close. I would say if you like warmer more intimate music with more emotion, then the C2C would be the amp. If you like live music or symphonic music then the Caliente would be the amp. Maybe for Rock and Roll I still prefer C2C becuase of its punch and impact and Grado like sound.

EDIT: One thing I did want to mention, I am using 1/2 Markl Modded Denon D7000. Bass is quite controlled compared with stock and especially compared with d5000 and I assume d2000. I think the Caliente might be a bit much bass for an unmodded Denon with certain mixes. YMMV.

I dont think you can go wrong with either amp. They are both incredible. In fact I really kinda want to narrow it down to one amp because I shouldnt have both, but I am currently unable to decide!

So I guess help me out. Which one should I keep?
 
May 14, 2009 at 10:05 PM Post #2 of 21

gevorg

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Another informative review BigD, thank you! If you can't decide, just keep them both for now, since you just got them. Over time, you'll find out which one you like more.
smily_headphones1.gif


Based on your conclusion I will probably prefer C2C, but I give props to Caliente for being on par with C2C while having a much simpler design (electronically).
 
May 14, 2009 at 10:07 PM Post #3 of 21

musicmaker

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Nice review. Thanks.

My Caliente should be here anytime. Can't wait.
 
May 14, 2009 at 11:03 PM Post #4 of 21

tonsosnot

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Is there one you prefer with the K701? It seems the wider soundstage of the Caliente may be a bit too much with the already huge soundstage of the K701.
 
May 14, 2009 at 11:38 PM Post #5 of 21

theBigD

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tonsosnot /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Is there one you prefer with the K701? It seems the wider soundstage of the Caliente may be a bit too much with the already huge soundstage of the K701.


That's a good question. Maybe even the real reason I got the caliente hoping it would mate well with k701. And actually I may slightly prefer calient to c2c with akg701 mainly becuase the 701 doesnt reproduce the warmth of the c2c like the d7000 does so it doesnt have the emotion the d7000 presents. and the wide lively soundstage is what the 701 does really well so caliente just enforces that strength a bit. lately it seems to me that an amp should enforce the strength of the headphone not necessarily try to counteract its weakness. anotherwords an amp that extends well into the basement will enforce the d7000 strength of good bass as long as the amp isnt muddy or vailed in the midrange it will sound quite good. An amp with good soundstage alows the 701 to show its stuff wheras a tight soundstage would throttle the 701 to some extent. although I do like the way the 701s sound with C2C warm and rich mids are always a plus for 701. Ill need to spend some more time with both amps before I can say which one I really like with 701.
 
May 15, 2009 at 12:32 AM Post #6 of 21

peanuthead

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Good read. Thanks for the review.
 
May 15, 2009 at 2:09 AM Post #8 of 21

triode12

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Thank you for the review.

How does either amp compare with your EF1?
 
May 15, 2009 at 4:01 AM Post #9 of 21

Drosera

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Nice review BigD, and very valuable to have a direct comparison of an Audio-gd headamp and one from a competing manufacturer in the same price bracket. This should be helpful to a lot of people.

Funny, in many ways I'm reminded of my own comparison of the Meier-Audio Corda Opera and the amp of the Compass. It really appears that having a wider soundstage is a trade-off with punch, body and clarity. I would love to have both though...
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May 15, 2009 at 6:55 AM Post #11 of 21

soidera

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Yes I hope we can have that direct comparison from you
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.

Quote:

Originally Posted by triode12 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thank you for the review.

How does either amp compare with your EF1?



 
May 15, 2009 at 2:09 PM Post #12 of 21

theBigD

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I did more of a comparison a while back between compass and EF1 and feel they are more comparable. I think these two amps are on a higher level than either of those amps. The EF1 in its stock configuration, I find a bit slow and less revealing than these amps. I think these amps mate better with low impedance headphones with better punch and dynamics.

I just added some additional info regarding my headphones being moded D7000 and to be careful regarding Caliente with unmodded or D5000 or D2000 headphones as they may exhibit more boomy bass with certain mixes.
 
May 15, 2009 at 3:15 PM Post #13 of 21

el_monkey

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Quote:

Originally Posted by theBigD /img/forum/go_quote.gif

EDIT: One thing I did want to mention, I am using 1/2 Markl Modded Denon D7000. Bass is quite controlled compared with stock and especially compared with d5000 and I assume d2000. I think the Caliente might be a bit much bass for an unmodded Denon with certain mixes. YMMV.



I have a Caliente amp and an unmodded Denon D5000. I agree 100 percent with the quoted text above. For my taste, the Caliente's warmer presentation results in a wee too much bass. However, the Caliente does do a nice job with the D5000's treble. Overall, I prefer to use my Millet Max with the D5000 and D7000 than the Caliente.
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May 15, 2009 at 9:20 PM Post #14 of 21

launche

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Thanks for your thoughts.

I wonder if the bass boost of the Caliente is giving the impression that it has better extension. A boost or fuller sound in certain low freqs can give a listener a sense of deeper extension when that may not be the case.

Looking at your notes it seems you have a classic heart vs. head decision to make.
Good luck.
 
May 16, 2009 at 10:13 AM Post #15 of 21

triode12

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Quote:

Originally Posted by theBigD /img/forum/go_quote.gif

So I guess help me out. Which one should I keep?



I would keep the C2C because a musical amp is better than one that isn't - even if the Caliente is a better in a couple of areas over the C2C.

As a matter of fact, your review has me considering the C2C.
 

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