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Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up

Discussion in 'Jason Stoddard' started by jason stoddard, Jan 23, 2014.
  1. bcowen
    "Humans are my favorite snack."
  2. Paladin79
    Are those the tubes for the Cary? If so I had no idea about country of origin. They may well be worth more than the car.

    I may have to up the quality of Bill’s amp now, I knew the tubes he sent were not easy to obtain and they are much more appreciated given 33’s info.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
    33na3rd and bcowen like this.
  3. bcowen
    Yup. Ei KT-90 Type 3's.
    33na3rd, Paladin79 and AudioGal like this.
  4. Paladin79
    Drat, now I can hardly use GE tubes in your amp. I may even use some rare stepped pots that I have in my shop. I need to rebalance the scales a bit, right now your favors greatly outweigh mine.:triportsad:
    bcowen likes this.
  5. 33na3rd
    Oops! Thank you for reminding me that the tube devision was known as Ei, not Yugo.

    I guess that the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet!
    bcowen and Paladin79 like this.
  6. bcowen
    Does that mean I get an upgrade to this? I drive way too fast for anyone to ever hit me from the rear... :smile:

    HK_sends, Paladin79 and AudioGal like this.
  7. bcowen
    Well, they were made in Yugoslavia. Close enough. :relaxed:

    Interesting narrative on those from EveAnna Manley at the bottom of the linked page (have to expand the text). I had always heard that the Type 3's were the preferred ones. You'd think the Type 4's would be better still, but apparently some of the changes they made didn't work out so well.


    I had 24 of those at one time (have no idea why I had exactly 24...LOL!). Some of those have found their way to new homes at this point though....
    Paladin79 and 33na3rd like this.
  8. ScubaMan2017
    Those elderly pull tab-cans were just before my time (as a teenager of the 80s). I remember the push-dimple pop cans too. There was a 1972 show called, Emergency! (aka, Emergency One). Link. I had the lunchbox that I proudly took to Kindergarten and grade 1. I still remember the episode where an obnoxious lookie-Lou chokes on a pull tab. Heh...

    btw - my Sony MDR7510 headphones are also well served by my week-old, matt-black, Asgard 2 (on low gain). :)
    Paladin79 and bcowen like this.
  9. 33na3rd
    Thank you for that link!

    I shouldn't be surprised that Manley had a hand in the development of the Ei KT90. I bought mine from a friend of Eva Manley & Co.

    I'd forgotten that I did have one of those KT-90's red plate after initial installation. That was a spectacular sight that I never want to see again. But after that, the others went for over 10 years without incident.

    So the story about the factory being bombed was incorrect too. I've got to stop spreading bad information!

    So if the factory was spared, what happened to Ei after the war?
    Paladin79 and bcowen like this.
  10. bcowen
    I've had Chinese power tubes red plate, and can't agree more it's a sight that hopefully remains in memory only. :relaxed: Fortunately I never had any issues with the Ei's.

    I remember talk back in the early 00's that shipments had stopped because the factory had been bombed and destroyed. I think that was the general belief back then. Not often these days you can get info directly from someone that was actually involved. Not sure what happened to them after that. I have some of their EL-84's and those too are very nice. Not quite to Telefunken level, but darn close at 15% of the price (back when I bought them).
    Paladin79 and 33na3rd like this.
  11. Tim van der Leeuw
    Well whereas the first car is just boring but I don't care and I don't mind, the second car is just.... ugly and I don't want to be found dead within a 100 miles of it.

    gljus, US Blues, bcowen and 1 other person like this.
  12. ToddAr1
    When I spied the two new Magnis, and the ability to get both in a trial setup, I decided for no particular reason to buy both. I had and have no intention of sending one back. Why bother? It's always better to just have one or two or five extra headphone amps lying around just in case.

    I originally planned on doing an extensive survey of a dozen or so works, including longer ones, but it actually became immediately clear which I preferred after letting both units warm up for about sixty minutes - the Heresy, and it ain't even close. So I trimmed the number of comps.

    Why the Heresy? It's cleaner, lighter, more precise, and better sorted. I've read the last term from various British audio reviewers, and typically it means nothing to me, but here it is the best way to describe what's going on. No matter what piece of music I listen to, the Heresy presents all instruments and voices in a more clearly defined space and with greater precision. Four strings sound like four strings. Two voices, even when singing in harmony, sound like two voices. While apparent stereo depth seems limited - maybe - stereo lateral spread is supremely fine. Also, another audiophile term I typically dismiss becomes useful here: backgrounds are black with the Heresy on low gain. For me, that refers to perceptible noise. There's none on low gain. There is on high gain, and noise is evident through the 3+ at both settings, less on low, more on high. The absolute lack of noise with the Heresy means that some recordings sound almost off; there's supposed to be something there between notes. One adjusts. And it's less of a "problem" with recordings of acoustic instruments in properly recorded spaces. Indeed, the room sound (or the wonderful German word Raumklang if you prefer) is more evident through the Heresy. And though the distortion numbers are low enough such that I shouldn't be able to detect any difference between the units, when I use the 3+ it took longer to get to a volume I liked, with me always having to turn down the volume. There were and are no such concerns with the Heresy. The 3+ sounds, at times, harsher, edgier, and while beefier and darker, comparatively unorganized. Is it the less vanishingly low IMD of the 3+? I can't say for sure.

    For the comps, I made the amps the weak links in the chain. For the DAC, I used one of my Yggys. For headphones, for the serious listening, I used my high end cans: Beyerdynamic Tesla T1, Audeze LCD 2.2, and Focal Elear. It is worth noting that while the power ratings seem adequate to run the Beyers, on low gain one has to use near maximum volume for some selections. I used the Beyer DT880 600 Ohm cans a bit, too, but one must use high gain when using the Heresy, so I left the 880s out of the comps. Both amps were set to the much preferred low gain setting throughout.

    Here goes:

    PART 1


    Vampire Weekend, Unbelievers from Modern Vampires of the City:

    Magni 3 +
    Focal Elear - Quite the pairing. The upper treble dip is offset somewhat. Everything is in correct proportion, and if some fine details go missing or are understated (the doubling whispering), the presentation is most engaging.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - Perhaps too weighty. Finer details are less evident. Not especially engaging.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - Weighty and groovy, the sound is also comparatively congested.

    Magni 3 Heresy
    Focal Elear
    - Strangely, the combination sounds harsher, rougher than with the 3+. No real presentation differences otherwise.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - The Heresy keeps the sound nimbler and lighter than normal for these cans. Rolled highs and superb detail presentation throughout.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - Ridiculously good sound. Bass is leaner and cleaner than with the other cans, the whisper doublings throughout are clear, the combination of the pseudo (Irish?) folk tune over deep synth bass is separated perfectly, and well sorted.


    Lana Del Rey, Norman ****ing Rockwell from Norman ****ing Rockwell!

    Magni 3 +
    Focal Elear
    - The 3+ and the Elear prove to be something of a magic pairing. The presentation is dynamically wide ranging and the duo sounds nearly as well organized and sorted as the Heresy/T1 combo, but with less evident detail.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - Bottom heavy and rolled off, per the headphone's signature, the mids seem a bit congested and compressed. Grant's voice sounds just fine, but the music around her is not quite ideally crisp 'n' clear.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - The weightier, heavier, congested sound pervades. Individual instruments emerge out of a more undifferentiated sound. Vocal sibilance seems more prominent than through the Heresy.

    Magni Heresy
    Focal Elear
    - The superior dynamic performance of the Elear is strikingly evident, but the clarity and instrumental detail is less evident than through the other cans.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - Bass is less prominent, and sound is more orderly. Grant's voice is a bit less full and a bit cooler.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - Smooth and clear, Ms Grant's vocal lines are insanely clean and pop out of the mix. The song sounds lighter than through speakers and almost seems sped up. The ending sounds purposely flattened and frequency limited; the studio trickery is more obvious. Groovy.


    Arcadi Volodos, Franz Schubert Minuet D334

    (Selected for the almost superhuman, nuanced to the Nth degree pianissimo playing)

    Magni 3 +
    Focal Elear
    - The Elear upper treble dip is unacceptably evident, as on all piano recordings, and the upper registers are congested and not properly defined in some of the best defined piano playing of the century. One gets to hear the pedaling clearly, though. The ultrafine dynamic gradations are plain as day.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - The slightly rolled very top end is evident, and the congestion manifests itself as glare. The glare sort of leads to the playing sound more legato than it is, which almost compensates.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - Easily the best overall presentation of the lot, with Volodos' tone unfailingly even and beautiful, and his absolute control over every aspect of every note evident. The sound is a bit closed in compared to normal with these cans, but it works well.

    Magni Heresy
    Focal Elear
    - The upper treble dip is ameliorated a bit, though still evident. The sound is less congested and even more finely nuanced, with the ultrafine dynamic gradations even more evident. There's something of a haze over the recording, though.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - A step up from the Elear in every way, though the very top treble is rolled. But that is far less damaging. Superb, with the dynamic gradation even more finely realized.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - Nearly perfect. The sound opens up a bit more than with the 3+, and Volodos' playing sounds even more beautiful. It is this type of presentation that makes one wonder how he does it.


    Esa Pekka Salonen, Silvestre Revueltas Sensemaya

    (Selected because this was one of the tracks that immediately demonstrated what the Yggy can do that lesser DACs cannot in direct A/B/C comparisons.)

    Magni 3 +
    Focal Elear
    - The dynamic presentation excites, but it sounds imprecise and sort of unruly, which suits the music but not the conductor. The tuba overtones smear, though the higher brass have lots of bite. Too uneven overall.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - Probably the best overall presentation for the 3+ in these works with these phones. Tiny hints of congestion and glare remain, but rhythm, dynamics, and weight are all most impressive. Nice, but not as nice as the Heresy.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - The tuba sounds good and the brass have bite, but also sound a bit dark. Detail is obvious, but it's harder to follow individual sections when compared to the Heresy. The tuttis sound less well controlled than through the Heresy.

    Magni Heresy
    Focal Elear
    - The 3+ performance is tightened up in all regards and sounds much more to my liking. The upper treble dip still renders sound that seems less clear than with the other cans.

    Audeze LCD 2.2 - The missing top frequencies is the only downside. Weight, scale, rhythm, detail, overtones, everything else sounds just swell.

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 - The tuba has them overtones, and the brass have plenty of blat. The lateral placement of instruments is super-precise, the ability to pull out the strings or the individual brass or wind sections from the cacophony most impressive - like when one can follow out the violins as the coda approaches. Only the comparatively light bass can be counted as a minus, but then, is the bass weight in other presentations excessive? Best of the lot overall sound.

    After determining the winner from the new Magnis, I decided to comp the 3+ to the original Magni 3 in a quick shootout using the Beyers and involving just one track, the opener to this little known album:


    (What, like I wasn't gonna buy the anniversary reissue?) The 3+ is as clearly superior to the Magni 3 as the Heresy is to the 3+. The 3+ sounds bigger, more open, cleaner, and better sorted. It's obvious and immediate. To be sure, I'm not describing fundamental differences, but rather small improvements in every single area, all at once.

    PART 2

    Since the Heresy emerged the clear winner, it needed to face tougher competition in the form of the Jotunheim.

    Starting with the same Beatles track, it's clear that the Jotunheim is better, and it's better in every way, though only by a little. The biggest relative difference is in scale: the Jotunheim presents a larger scale sound, spreading to outside the headphones, while the Heresy is more confined. The bass line sounds exceedingly close between the two units, but the guitar work has more edge, but just as much as it should, through the Jotunheim, and the chorus of voices sounds ever so more distinct. The Jotunheim actually sounds more sorted, too, though just a smidge. Instruments have a bit more body; the sound is fuller while retaining full extension in the treble. Nice.


    Next up is one of my favorite piano recordings, one I know well and have listened to dozens or hundreds of times, and it was the one that was playing when I had an amp fail and almost take a speaker with it, Chopin's B Minor Scherzo played by Ivo Pogorelich. The differences between the two amps are minor, but they are there. The Jotunheim does an even better job of presenting the recorded venue. The upper registers of the piano sound simultaneously brighter and smoother and sweeter and cleaner. The lower registers have more heft, though both are equally clean and clear. In the fastest passages of the opening section, the Heresy actually sounds fleeter than the Jotunheim, but in the lullaby section, the delicate and tender melody sounds more moving and nearly funereal through the Jotunheim. (I've always thought that Pogorelich was playing the music as a sorrowful contemplation of his then ailing wife.) The stark dynamic contrasts sound starker through the Jotunheim as well; when Pogorelich wacks out sforzandi, you know it. Still, the Heresy does extremely well, and in the absence of the Jotunheim, would offer near terminal performance in its own right.


    For about two decades since I first bought this record it has served as a test recording for all stereo gear I buy. With lower end gear, the ensemble's wiry sound comes off as too bright and sharp, but with better gear the edge is removed and the supremely fine execution and musicianship remain. The first night I got the two new Magnis I spun this, and after about the first twenty seconds I realized I preferred the Heresy. Comparing the Heresy and the Jotunheim was more interesting yet. Taking just the vibrant, quick, dynamic Presto con fuoco opening movement, the Jotunheim offers more room sound, a more relaxed (in relative terms!) and fuller sound, and more bow on string sound, while the Heresy is more upfront and makes the dynamic contrasts more obvious. The Jotunheim has the slight overall edge, but the Heresy really ought not to be this comparatively good.


    For the final Heresy-Jotunheim comp I went with the greatest of all symphonies, though just the Allegro con brio. The Jotunheim offers the listener the ability to appreciate how great the Pittsburgh band is under Honeck, with tight string playing and great brass playing. The piece moves forward swiftly, energetically, heroically through the Jotunheim. The tuttis and the timp thwacks all emerge as well as in any recording ever (seriously, no one, not even Toscanini or Klemperer or Giulini or Schuricht or Karajan or <insert other stick waving giant> has one up on Honeck). It's tip top. Through the Heresy, again space goes missing a bit, and though the sound is a bit more upfront, the scale is reduced; it sounds like a scaled down orchestra, closer to Paavo Jarvi's reduced forces than to the full PSO playing the music. The effect is not unpleasant; it may actually punch things up a bit!

    So, the Jotunheim emerges the winner, but not by as much as one might think. While it's impossible to quantify performance differential, for 25% of the price, the listener gets 85/90/95% the performance. That's a bargain. The Heresy will be moving to its new long-term home in my bedroom system where it will be used more for watching movies and television in the evening than anything else, replacing my old Magni 3. Now, what to do with two lesser Magnis?

    The results do make me wonder if it's possible to up the ante in op amp based headphone amps. Add a bigger, linear power supply, tweak this, that, and the other thing, and who knows. Maybe Jason could build a Jotunheim price point op amp product to see what can be done. I'd buy one without a moment's hesitation.

    PART 3


    I wanted another set of ears on the amps, so I enlisted my college aged son to do some quick comps. Physical Graffiti got the nod, with the focus on Ten Years Gone. His impressions were:

    1.) Immediate and obvious soundstage difference.
    2.) Immediate and obvious difference in precision and clarity - the Heresy is superior.
    3.) The Yggy is too good; it reveals too much information and ruins the recording by allowing one to hear the flaws without effort.
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  13. Paladin79
    It is really not about the cars.:smile_phones:
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  14. Tim van der Leeuw
    Any thoughts on the Jotunheim in low vs high gain from you, perhaps?
    bcowen likes this.
  15. Tim van der Leeuw
    No of course not but still.... :floatsmile:
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