TOTL comparison: Susvara/LCD-5, Holo Spring 3/Wavelight, Ferrum Oor/Enleum 23R... (Now with 1266 TC, Solitaire P, WA33, and more, see post #148)
Apr 29, 2022 at 6:34 PM Post #151 of 168

LarsMan

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What you're describing here fits well with why I think even though the Oor is amazing it does miss a little bit compared to the Enleum. Haven't decided yet if it's worth the extra $$ but that difference is there. Oor doesn't feel complete as the Enleum does. I do have the WA33 on my wishlist but at the moment I don't feel like I'm willing to spend that on an amp.
I also own the Spring 3 now and feeling more and more like my setup would be the Spring and Enleum for the time being and selling everything else.
Your writeups help me a lot to structure my thoughts about this so thanks!
I'd like to try a WA33 myself some time, but meanwhile staying happy with Eddie Current, and in a few more months, I should be receiving my Donald North Stratus! Delighted you're enjoying Enleum!!
 
Apr 29, 2022 at 8:39 PM Post #152 of 168

Nikols

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Ok so I finally had some time to gather my thoughts about all the new gear I got so I wanted to publish an update. To keep this short I won't go over the items I covered previously, I will just give my impressions of the new stuff and talk about what I've chosen in the end.

- Lumin M1 Mini: Wanted to try this cause I heard great things about its SQ. It does sound great but honestly, in my chain, not markedly better than my trusted Ultrarendu, and, contrary to that one, it cannot handle network streaming of the higher bitrates that HQPlayer feeds it. So I felt that the Rendu, being smaller, cheaper and more capable made more sense to keep than the Lumin. But for those who are looking for a beautifully made and great sounding streamer, and have no need for high bitrates, this is definitely a good choice.

- Burson Soloist Grand Tourer: Also read good things about this amp, especially how it's a way to get really great SQ for less money than a lot of the other amps covered here. And that's definitely true; by itself, it sounds awesome, great bass, very musical, good to very good resolution, decent mids. But when compared to the other amps I've tried it still feels like a clear step down. And the fan inside the unit is not super loud but is audible, which ruins the experience for me somewhat.

- Bakoon 13R: After I sold the Enleum 23R and chose the Ferrum stack instead, I was really happy with the sound but I was missing a little bit the sweetness and soundstage that the Enleum had over the Oor. So when I came across a great deal for a Bakoon I got it. And upon second listen I have to be honest, I do prefer it to the Oor, not by much, but enough that I thought that I had found my endgame amp. Of course, as you will see below, that was not to be :)

- Woo WA33: Soon after I got the Woo WA33 tube amp. It's not the Elite version, but it has all upgraded tubes and the volume pot of the Elite so, semi-Elite, I guess? In any case, I think it was @paradoxper who said I needed to try tubes with my gear and boy was he right. Don't get me wrong: the Enleum/Bakoon are amazing SS amps, and if the WA33 was just a good tubey amp I would have probably stayed with them instead. But the WA33 has all the benefits of SS, plus all the things that tubes provide: a bit more warmth (but not overdone), crystal clear but never fatiguing treble, refined mids, insane bass, and even more insane soundstage and dimensionality. In a way it kind of sucks I like it as much as I do, because it is a beast of an amp, in weight, size, heat, price etc. So I would kill for a small SS amp that has the same quality in a more manageable form factor. But the WA33 sounds so brilliant with all the headphones I listed here that there is no way for me to compromise. It's that good.

- Solitaire P: Been wanting to try this forever, as I've read so many good things about it. It's definitely one of the nicest built HPs I've tried, and while somewhat heavy it's not uncomfortable. As for sound, I would say that if I hadn't tried other TOTL HPs I would be more than satisfied; treble sounds great, mids have a lot of body, bass is stronger than the Susvara and the soundstage is at least as wide. In the end though, I felt that all frequencies, while great on their own, didn't sound as well balanced as they do on the Susvara, especially in the lower registers which I felt were somewhat too separated from the rest of the mix. But that could also be because my brain is used to the specific Hifiman sound signature and couldn't make the jump to these. But overall, I felt they didn't offer anything over the Susvaras except maybe bass, so I didn't keep them. If they were cheaper I would say they're a great buy. At their current price, I prefer other choices.

- Abyss 1266 TC: These, like the Solitaire Ps, were a pair of HPs I felt I had to try in order to say I've tried all the best. And they certainly didn't disappoint. As I said the Solitaires had nothing that made me prefer them to the Susvara, but in the case of the TC the choice was much, much harder. As everyone knows, the bass on these is simply the best there is at this price point, and unlike the Solitaires it is perfectly integrated in the mix and never overpowers it. Soundstage and layering was a tad better than the Susvara, the sheer impact and musicality were something else too. I honestly feel it takes everything about the Hifimans and turns it up a notch (or two), it's that good. Alas, there were two reasons I decided to part with it: first, while everything sounded so good and visceral, it made for a more fatiguing listening experience. I think I could have gotten used to it in time, but the second issue was comfort, and that's something that, no matter how much I tried, I couldn't get used to. I followed all the tips about how to wear them, adjust them etc but I could never really relax with them like I could with the Susvara and to a smaller extent the Solitaire. Maybe it's just my head size or shape, but in any case that was the dealbreaker for me. If you don't have that issue, and are ok with their price, I would not be able to choose between the Susvara and these, they are for me (and for many others I'm sure) the two best HPs out there.

- Last gear standing: Ok so after all is said and done, what did I end up with? Well I'm keeping my upstream gear (NUC 11/Roon/HQPlayer/Ultrarendu) as is. I'm also keeping the Holo Spring 3 as I feel it's the best DAC for the money, period, and haven't heard enough differences in SQ from more high end DACs to justify an upgrade. I'm definitely keeping the WA33 amp for all the reasons I discussed. And finally, I'll be staying with my trusty Susvara. After having tried pretty much all other high end HPs (with the exception of electrostatics and crazy expensive boutique stuff), I can honestly say that, for my taste, I can find no other HP that does everything the Susvara does. Some others have certain things that they do better, but none of them do everything well like the Susvara.

So, this will be my chain for a while. I hope this year-long journey can give some of you some valuable info, and of course as always, don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need more info about any of this. I have certainly learned so much about all this and made many new friends along the way, so it was definitely worth it. I probably won't be getting any more stuff for a while, as I'm as satisfied as can be right now and don't want to keep upgrading for the sake of it. But then again, that's what I said last time and here we are so, you never know :wink:
Thanks for this, great read,. I'd been keeping an eye out for it since you said you'd post your thoughts. I have the enleum/ susvara combo and absolutely love it but its always great to read others experienced opinions on how this combination compares to alternatives. For me the enleum with susvaras has a familiiar tubey sound for a SS amp with punchy bottomless bass when compared to my old amp the Cayin HA-6A and i still marvel at how dead silent it is. I also completely agree with your reasons for keeping the susvaras, they do everything well and are very comfortable for extended use. Id feel short changed at this level if comfort was lacking and wasnt a major design factor. Enjoy your new setup!
 
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Apr 30, 2022 at 7:39 AM Post #153 of 168

goldwerger

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- Woo WA33: Soon after I got the Woo WA33 tube amp. It's not the Elite version, but it has all upgraded tubes and the volume pot of the Elite so, semi-Elite, I guess? In any case, I think it was @paradoxper who said I needed to try tubes with my gear and boy was he right. Don't get me wrong: the Enleum/Bakoon are amazing SS amps, and if the WA33 was just a good tubey amp I would have probably stayed with them instead. But the WA33 has all the benefits of SS, plus all the things that tubes provide: a bit more warmth (but not overdone), crystal clear but never fatiguing treble, refined mids, insane bass, and even more insane soundstage and dimensionality. In a way it kind of sucks I like it as much as I do, because it is a beast of an amp, in weight, size, heat, price etc. So I would kill for a small SS amp that has the same quality in a more manageable form factor. But the WA33 sounds so brilliant with all the headphones I listed here that there is no way for me to compromise. It's that good.

Have you tried the Auris Nirvana? I love it with my Susvara. I tried the WA33 at CanJam, and I think I like the Nirvana better but the comparison is based on memory and not in person apples-to-apples.
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 8:50 AM Post #154 of 168

tdx

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Have you tried the Auris Nirvana? I love it with my Susvara. I tried the WA33 at CanJam, and I think I like the Nirvana better but the comparison is based on memory and not in person apples-to-apples.
I haven't though I would love to. It was on my short list along with the Riviera AIC10 and the WA33, just happened to get the WA33 first. Maybe one day...
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 8:53 AM Post #155 of 168

goldwerger

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I haven't though I would love to. It was on my short list along with the Riviera AIC10 and the WA33, just happened to get the WA33 first. Maybe one day...
Yea, my short list isn’t so short either :wink:

FWIW, best amp I ever heard was the Red October (at CanJam NYC few weeks ago). It’s expensive, heavy (68lb), and big. But if I had the space for it I might have been tempted :wink:
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 10:21 AM Post #158 of 168

SteveM324

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Have you tried the Auris Nirvana? I love it with my Susvara. I tried the WA33 at CanJam, and I think I like the Nirvana better but the comparison is based on memory and not in person apples-to-apples.
I have the Auris Nirvana and Enleum 23R. Both are great on the Susvara but different. I love having a great SS and tube amp although the Enleum doesn't sound like any SS amp that I've experienced before it. The Enleum is organic, transparent, effortless, fast and engaging . The Nirvana has a slightly warm and big, meat on the bone sound. The Nirvana's sound elevates a lot with good tubes. I found recently that both amps benefit significantly from a good power cord. I heard the WA33 and the Nirvana (but not in the same system) at a show before choosing the latter.
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 10:55 AM Post #159 of 168

tunes

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I have the Auris Nirvana and Enleum 23R. Both are great on the Susvara but different. I love having a great SS and tube amp although the Enleum doesn't sound like any SS amp that I've experienced before it. The Enleum is organic, transparent, effortless, fast and engaging . The Nirvana has a slightly warm and big, meat on the bone sound. The Nirvana's sound elevates a lot with good tubes. I found recently that both amps benefit significantly from a good power cord. I heard the WA33 and the Nirvana (but not in the same system) at a show before choosing the latter.
What power cord did you like the most for the Enleum 23R??
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 11:28 AM Post #160 of 168

SteveM324

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What power cord did you like the most for the Enleum 23R??
I like the Triode Wire Labs 10 plus. I also tried the Signal Cable Magic Power Cord. I have several other power cords from TG Audio, ESP, Cardas, and Acoustic Zen that are currently connected to components in my other system that I could swap in for a trial but I'm really pleased with TWL 10+.
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 3:10 PM Post #162 of 168

LarsMan

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I've noticed some mentions about the Auris Nirvana - I happen to have a black one for sale on USAM that I just re-listed today. It's a great amp, really, but I just have a preference for my Eddie Current Studio B since I got WE300B tubes for it...
 
Apr 30, 2022 at 3:33 PM Post #163 of 168

goldwerger

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May 4, 2022 at 10:08 AM Post #164 of 168
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And finally, I'll be staying with my trusty Susvara. After having tried pretty much all other high end HPs (with the exception of electrostatics and crazy expensive boutique stuff), I can honestly say that, for my taste, I can find no other HP that does everything the Susvara does. Some others have certain things that they do better, but none of them do everything well like the Susvara.

Those are very accurate observations. There might be cans quicker, harder hitting or more open than Susvara, but this one does everything on a really high level without any obvious downsides and that evenness seems to be its greatest asset.

Your entire story is very cool and I have to say that your choice of audio products was really well thought out. Enjoy!
 
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