SPL Phonitor X / Phonitor E impressions and Discussion thread

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by grizzlybeast, Dec 2, 2016.
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  1. Hansotek

    Basically. I sent it priority mail 2-day 18 freaking days ago and this is where we are at now:

  2. WNBC
    I see. Hopefully Grizzleybeast can get another. That's why I wanted to give him a way out from getting another from the vendor. Good luck with USPS.

  3. Hansotek

    I'm sure it will make its way there eventually.
  4. grizzlybeast
    Any more impressions on the amplifier?
    I got the SPL UNIT E back and still find it exceptional sounding. Only complaint is a slight lack of control in the bass. It is here on top of a 2.5k tube amplifier beating it up. I am sure it is not for everyone though. I can understand it's lack of appeal. Also could be that I have it plugged into the PAVANE feeding it via Rednet that helps it sound good. 
    I noticed that unit sounds best from RCA inputs as well.
  5. WNBC
    I wonder if most would consider the latest SPL models a departure from older versions.  I never heard anything from SPL except my older SPL Auditor.  It has pretty good bass control with my HD800S and Z1R.  It does sound pretty good.  Would it be the end all of amps?  No.  I do agree with you all when you say that the SPL amps are very competent, but it might not have that extra bit of musicality or whatever you want to call it that puts it at the the TOTL list.  Maybe excellent for mixing music.  I got the Auditor for $200 in 2017.  Pretty nice.  It's holding me over until the arrival of the GS-X II.  
  6. grizzlybeast
    wow that must be a good bang for buck at 200
  7. Edric Li
    I got my Phonitor E last Friday. Disappointed so far. 
    I am feeding it from the line out of my Lotoo Paw Gold (using balanced analog input), and comparing it to my Paw Gold. Headphones used was my HD800S (balanced output from the SPL and unbalanced output from the Paw Gold). All my interconnects are the Silver Dragon cable. I think my control variables allowed me to compare the Phonitor E to the amplification of the Paw Gold...
    1. I agree with the neutrality compliment about the SPL. 
    2. The treble on the SPL is slightly more precise and defined, by 5%? Barely can tell.
    3. The bass on the SPL is more distorted, by 10%. Easy to tell on some of my reference tracks.
    4. Possibly due to the more sparkling / piercing treble, reverberation on the Paw Gold sounds ... different. I can't say which is better, as this is really a byproduct of tuning. 
    5. Possibly due to the distorted sub-bass of the SPL, instruments in the mid-bass frequency that pan to left/right have better imaging on the Paw Gold. 
    I'll try the RCA input to unbalanced output later.  
    If I still can't find the magic of this amp after this week, I probably will take advantage of 30-day return. 
    Updated after a week of listening: 
    First of all I want to justify my comparison of the Phonitor to my DAP. Before and after me purchasing the Lotoo Paw Gold, I compared it against lots of desktop rigs, including but not limited to: Eddie Current, Schiit, Cavalli, Accuphase, Luxman, Chord, and the old Phonitors. I have been looking for a standalone amp to listen to my vinyls. I want to find an amp that is an improvement in ALL aspects over the Paw Gold, in order for me to sacrifice the portability. I don't have the best ears, nor new-toy-syndrome, but when I do hear a difference, I am very confident about the difference I heard. 
    Bottom line: I think I have found it in the Phonitor e. I agree 99% with the review on earphile.org.
    1. Soundstage: I can't believe I missed it in my first impression. The soundstage on the spl is at least 3-times wider AND deeper than that on the Paw Gold. Once I've notice that, I can't help shaking my head every time I go back to Paw Gold. It was so obvious. The width is particularly amazing. I don't think I have heard anything like it before. 
    2. Neutrality: I am a trance guy. I have never imagined myself caring about gears' neutrality, but the Phonitor e made me do it. @grizzlybeast had plenty compliment about the neutrality of the SPL that I agree with: "
    Basically I am being bold in saying that most other solid state amps may be off in some area by comparison. First impressions led me to think there was emphasis here but that going back to other amps made them seem wrong and the phonitors correct." The Phonitor e is not only dead even in terms of the distribution of bass, mid, and treble, but also dead even within each range of frequency response. For example, I always thought Stairway to Heaven (24/96) is weirdly mastered to sound aggressive, but with the Phonitor e, the track is indeed smooth and enjoyable, without a hint of grain. It made me realize how many bump and dip are there in the frequency response of the Paw Gold, and how unbearable they are. 
    3. Bass issue: I spent some time with my TH900mk2 on the SPL, and realized that the bass only gets deeper and more impactful compared to on the Paw Gold, without being muddier or more distorted. The problem was that the sub-bass on the HD800S is very distorted, but Paw Gold can never go that deep to reveal it! The bass on the SPL is deep and powerful, while being, again, dead even from mid-bass you hear in your ears to sub-bass you hear in your chest. I am curious about @grizzlybeast 's comment on the SPL lacking bass control. Can you share on what track did you come to that conclusion?
    4. Characterless: When I evaluate an amp, I first look at its technical capability: transparency, soundstage, dynamics, etc. Then I'll look at its tuning and how it may affect the timber of some instruments, positively or negatively. With the Phonitor e, you will not get that extra finger-nail-on-the-string sound that you may like from amps that boost treble, nor will you get that extra sweetness on femal vocals that you may like from amps that boost 3k. The Phonitor e does nothing more, nothing less. You will not have to suffer from the piercing hi hat from amps that boost treble, nor will you have to deal with the aggressiveness of electric guitar from amps that boost 3k. It sounds so "correct" due to its neutral frequency response. 
    I highly recommend this amp. 
    grizzlybeast likes this.
  8. Edric Li
    I have updated my impression above. 
  9. grizzlybeast
    Hi Eric,
    It was a while a go. Now with it here before I have to ship it off again, I can't complain about the bass control BUT it did lose in this regards to the Cayin iHA-6 which to date is about as controlled as it gets. It's not bad but that was one area that depending on the headphone, seemed to be just a tad wanting. Specifically t50 mods and some planars.
    I have since moved on to tube amps, not looking back except for at the SPL units and the Pro iCan. 
  10. Edric Li
    Neither me nor my friend can tell the difference between the Cavalli Liquid Crimson and the Phonitor E (unbalanced). Headphones used were HD800S and LCD3. DAC was a Chord Mojo.
  11. grizzlybeast
    This amp is excellent
    Considering selling my tube amps and just using this until the aficionado comes out.

    The downer is that I liked the X unit but the build quality is iffy since it caught fire.

    Today I am going to do a little mini review just dedicated to the E unit and give it an award
  12. Edric Li
    The balanced output on Phonitor E sound weird to me... weird sound stage, weird bass. Measurements are worse than the unbalanced output as well. I am listening to only the unbalanced output.
  13. grizzlybeast
    The balanced output sounds fine to me when using balanced inputs but the amp sounds best using RCA inputs and SE output. 
  14. Edric Li
    The bass is bloated and the soundstage is unnaturally wide on the balanced output. Didn't you hear that? It may sound good with some music, but is just not a very "correct" sound... 
    The unbalanced output sound very "correct" and technically superior to my ears. 
  15. grizzlybeast
    From my review
    The phonitor X sounds good from both jacks and was more powerful it seemed. To get the sound quality of the X unit on the E you need to run RCA inputs and use the single ended jack. To get it almost as powerful you need to boost the input signal through the RCA input dip switch.
    The XLR output still sounds usable though and is still better than a lot of gear that I have compared it to. I didn't notice a larger soundstage, only less control, and less clarity. 

    Edric Li likes this.
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