Travagan's White - micro review
Jul 3, 2008 at 12:44 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

DemonicLemming

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Posts
953
Likes
24
I'll make this disclaimer at the start - I'm in no way an expert in headphones or headphone amps, nor perfect at describing what I hear in audiophile terms. Anyway, to the review.

Got my Travagan's White in today, after ordering it about 2 weeks ago. Customs had it for a few days or I would have had it at the end of next week. The box the amp was rather nice, and everything inside was well-situated. USB cord, RCA lines, external power adapter, and some small plastic cards that you can place over the amp openings (the cards are cut to fit over the switches, so you really can't place them wrong) that point out what is what, just in case you can't figure out what's what.

USB and RCA input with a small switch for input selection, another small on/off switch, and a high/low gain switch on the front. Single 1/8" jack, non-balanced output on the front of the amp.

The amp itself is actually a lot smaller and lighter than I had expected. It's about as wide/long as a normal deck of cards, and as tall as the average cell phone turned on its side. All the selector switches are tight and precise - no wiggle on any of them. Volume knob is click-graduated, and again, tight and precise with no wiggle to it. There's a small, discrete white LED that lights up when the amp is on, and an even smaller green LED that lights up when the USB input is being used. Overall, a very attractive, quality little amp. It's also small enough to be portable (for me, at least) and works perfectly, as I take my headphones and now amp to and from work every day.

Sonic impressions - with stock 780s first. Wow. The 780s sounded pretty detailed to me at first, but now, I can hear the rasp of the pick on guitar strings - just about everything is much more precise. The bass, which I've seen people call bloated and overdone on the 780s, is curbed back quite a bit, while being more controlled and less "blobby". Listening to bands like Conjure One and Scar Symmetry, where before, the bass was quite evident - kind of like a great black shadow lurking in the background, fuzzing edges up - it's much more cleaned up and precise now. It's maybe a little bit on the light side as far as total bass output for me now, but I'm a basshead.

This amp, along with the 780s, to my little nooblet ears, bring out a LOT of details I had missed in songs, even songs I've been listening to for years - like Whiplash, by Metallica. The imaging and staging is intense, drums have an all new presence - much "thumpier" now, the way I'm used to drums sounding at things like metal concerts. There are bass passages I never knew existed in songs, lute strings seem to be little strings of light hanging in the air, and female vocals - from bands like Within Temptation, Delain, and The Gathering - are bloody perfect. There's also ungodly headroom on this thing with the 780s - volume 4 is about as much as I need, and that's on older, thinner recordings.

Now, to the White with 2500s. The 2500s have always stuck me as a bit bass deficient in the past, and paired with the White, are definitely missing some bottom end. Russian Circles - Station has less of a visceral feel to it, and the highs are a bit "sssss"-y and distant. Drums have less impact, and everything seems just a bit lacking. Going back to Conjure One - Tears from the Moon, the soundstage is MUCH opened up, there's more separation between instruments, although highs are a bit toned-down and seem just a tiny bit thin. Just for fun, I tossed on some Turisas - Rex Regi Rebellis, just for fun. Run away! Quick! The 2500s have never seemed to be able to handle anything approaching speed when it comes to metal, and the amp makes this even more clear. Fast passages turn into muddled messes. To my ears, the 2500s and the White just don't mesh. Conversely, RRR on the 780s was extremely nice.

However, as has been said before, there seemed to be a slight lack of mids with the White and the 780. Not sure if that's related to my 780s being stock right now, but most of the time, it's not noticeable, and not a huge deal for me. The added detail also makes it more apparent when a recording or copy of a song is low-quality. Only major gripe I have with the amp itself is that the volume knob isn't graduated quite fine enough - one click makes music a decent bit louder. Course, that can be adjusted using whatever music player is being used, but I personally like "non-click" smooth volume knob controls. Just a minor detail thing. I'm not huge on the recessed mids, but perhaps a recable will help that a bit, plus, I've only put about 5 hours on the amp. Who knows what time will do.

Sort of interested to see how the K501s I have in the mail sound with this amp. Overall though, I do rather like it, especially as it's the first amp I've picked up.

Some pictures to follow in a bit.
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 6:26 AM Post #2 of 6

HeadphoneAddict

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 18, 2007
Posts
17,425
Likes
788
Nice review!

I think you will find the White improves in the bass department over the first 250 hours or more. The PL2500 will sound better then. You can also change the LM4562 opamp to an AD8397 and get an immediate bump in the bass level and bass control too, but it might be a little brighter too (not always a good thing with HFI780).

It is also nice that you CAN move the volume knob to a spot between the clicks, to get a finer degree of volume control.

I too did a review a while back: REVIEW: Travagans "Green", "Red" and "White" with "Colors" thrown in for good measure
 
Jul 3, 2008 at 11:34 AM Post #4 of 6

jpelg

Needs a regular fix of 'Fi
'06 Nat Meet Co-Coordinator
Joined
Jan 19, 2002
Posts
8,675
Likes
26
Location
The Elm City
Quote:

Originally Posted by DemonicLemming /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The 2500s have always stuck me as a bit bass deficient in the past, and paired with the White, are definitely missing some bottom end.


eek.gif


I can't imagine the Prolines being bass-deficient plugged into anything Quote:

The 2500s have never seemed to be able to handle anything approaching speed when it comes to metal, and the amp makes this even more clear. Fast passages turn into muddled messes.


Sounds like an Ultrasone burn-in thing. How many hours do you have on the 2500's?

Or it could be... Quote:

To my ears, the 2500s and the White just don't mesh.


 
Jul 3, 2008 at 12:51 PM Post #5 of 6

DemonicLemming

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Posts
953
Likes
24
Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You can also change the LM4562 opamp to an AD8397 and get an immediate bump in the bass level and bass control too, but it might be a little brighter too (not always a good thing with HFI780).

It is also nice that you CAN move the volume knob to a spot between the clicks, to get a finer degree of volume control.



The op amp rolling was something I was curious about, but short of pulling fuses on my car, I've never really played with anything in that area of electronics. It seems from reading that they're just plug-and-play, but I'd honestly have no clue as to where to get new ones, or how to tell which of the current ones in the amp could be replaced, nor what to swap in, aside from recommendations.

I did notice I could put the knob between volume numbers, but since it didn't click there, I wasn't sure if that might cause some sort of issue with resistance or something like that. My dad had an old Sony receiver that had a graduated knob using the clicks, and if you left it between those, it tended to heat up quite a bit. No idea why it did it, but I didn't want to test if the White did it too, especially after just getting it. Nice to know I won't break anything if I do that.

Your review on those amps was actually the reason I picked up the White.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpelg /img/forum/go_quote.gif
eek.gif


I can't imagine the Prolines being bass-deficient plugged into anythingSounds like an Ultrasone burn-in thing. How many hours do you have on the 2500's?

Or it could be...



Well, I bought them used as b-stock from Ultrasone, but judging from the pads and the headband, I'd say they have a fair amount of hours on them. I've used them for about 2 weeks now and the sound hasn't varied at all, to my ear, so I believe they're burned in fully. I know my 780s have about 30-40 more hours to go until 200 hours.

To me though, the bass on the Prolines is adequate when plugged into my Audigy2 sound card, which dumps in so much bass it almost makes the 780s unlistenable. I'd imagine what's adequate for me would be sufficient for most people. The 2500s are a bit strange to me.....sometimes I can plug them in and go for 2 hours straight without any problems, and sometimes I take them off within 10 minutes and go back to the 780s. They're good cans, they just seem to be very picky about what type of music they sound good with.
 
Jul 4, 2008 at 5:45 AM Post #6 of 6

DemonicLemming

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Posts
953
Likes
24
Bit of an update with some more time on the amp.

Been doing more listening with the 2500s, and it seems like they're very, very picky about what sort of music they want to do well. Achillea, Nik Barstch, Conjure One all sound great. Bass is definitely present, plenty of mids, sharp clean highs. Lots and lots of detail. But, these things just simply cannot keep up with complex, fast metal. The highs are also overly sharp for most metal. However, for quieter vocal-oriented stuff, and for music that's not fast or heavy on the low end, they do well enough here.

I think one issue pairing this amp with a pair of detailed or analytical headphones is that it's just going to exacerbate that detail-focus, where instead of the music blending around the edges, one gets a sense of many individual threads running past, but they're not connected. One thing that is interesting, though, is how much it emphasizes the fact that music is made up of a LOT of sounds - a lot of time, one gets the sense of the vocals or guitar, whatever is going on in the foreground, and then some polite filling background noise happening back there to sort of provide filler. With the White and both the 780s and the 2500s, the plethora of different sounds occurring all at once is just amazing.

I'm actually quite interested to see how the K501s pair up with this amp, given what I've read about those phones.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top