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Upgrade to Old Max or HA-2?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by zebra, Feb 14, 2003.
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  1. Zebra
    I have the opportunity to upgrade my OLD Headroom Home to an OLD Max for $300, but I am now wondering if I would be better off selling my HR Home and purchasing the Corda HA-2. Any opinions?

    Thanks
     
  2. grinch
    the ha-2 is said to sound incredible. i have not heard it, but the reviews of the prehead so far are quite good. i cannot speak for you, but from what i've read, i would go with the ha-2. just my opinion though, and i haven't heard headroom's older line or the ha-2.
     
  3. evilcthul
    This is a difficult choice because they're both fine amps but I'd also probably go with the HA2. The HA2 is newer and I think there has been a comparison between the new Max and HA2 but I'm not sure. Like Grinch I've heard none of these amps though so I can't really decide for you...
     
  4. jude Administrator
    I own the Max and the PreHead (AD8610 version), and both are fantastic. Cost no object, I'd personally recommend the Max over the PreHead (which is the big brother of HA-2). I prefer its crossfeed to the PreHead's; I think there's a more organic image fullness with the Max, too (crossfeed on or off). When, for example, I'm listening to orchestral music or live jazz recordings, I find the Max gets me a bit closer to the feeling of a live experience.

    I think the PreHead is a stellar value, though, and maybe one of the best audio values I've come across. It is not priced like a cost-no-object piece, but it performs very much like one. It's good enough that the Max and PreHead regularly swap places in my home and office rigs to give me the different flavors of each, which isn't something I would've expected from something this affordable. What doesn't it do that the Max does do for me? It ain't missin' much, but its sonic refinement is, overall, just shy of the Max's. If I had to choose only one (yeah, right -- they're both staying), again, the Max would get my nod if you can front the price of Max admission. NOTE: I prefer the Max with the Sennheiser HD-600, Grado HP-1, Beyer DT-931, and Etymotic ER-4S. The PreHead sounds better than the Max when it comes to driving the AKG K-340, though.

    On the crossfeed specifically, I like the greater tonal neutrality of Meier's crossfeed more; but I like the HeadRoom crossfeed's spatial qualities more -- I feel that HeadRoom's crossfeed better maintains the integrity of the space. A crossfeed with the HeadRoom's headstage qualities and the Meier's tonal qualities would be, to me, just about the perfect crossfeed.

    A little off-topic, the TwinHead MK II will be on my desk next week, so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing (well, hearing) how two of the very best solid state headphone amps compare to what's anticipated to maybe be one of the best tube headphone amps out there. Considering Antique Sound Labs' later products appear to be reaching greater levels of refinement, this should be a good time. By the way, did anyone else notice that Harry Pearon of The Absolute Sound, in the latest issue, rated ASL's Hurricane monoblocks as the best amps (speaker-driving, not headphone) he's ever heard? I hope the TwinHead MK II has some of the Hurricane's apparent magic.

    EDIT: As though this post didn't stray enough from the original post....I just noticed that he was asking about the old Max. Sorry 'bout that, man.
     
  5. Zebra
    Thank you everyone for your responses.

    Jude, Is the new Max that much different than the old Max? I look forward to reading your thoughts on the Twinhead MK II.
     
  6. evilcthul
    I think the OLD max doesn't have the processor tuning options like "Bright/Brighter/Brightest." From memory, it only has on/off for the processor.
     
  7. jude Administrator
    Quote:

    Originally posted by evilcthul
    I think the OLD max doesn't have the processor tuning options like "Bright/Brighter/Brightest." From memory, it only has on/off for the processor.



    Funny, evilcthul, that you posted this, as I was about to post the same thing, but wanted to first confirm it. I found this pic of the old Max, however, and noticed that it does have the processor and filter switch, but the filter switch is two-position (on-off), whereas the new Max has a three-position filter (off-bright-brighter). Oddly enough, with the new Max, I find the "brighter" setting to be more natural sounding than "bright" -- it sounds to me like the tonal rise of the *brighter* filter has a smoother onset than the *bright* filter, which sounds more abrupt and disjointed to me. I tried confirming this by ear with a bunch of test tones, and I'm pretty sure this is how it plays out. Here's a pic of the old Max, by the way:

    [​IMG]

    Zebra, I only heard the old Max briefly, and I believe it was at HE2002 in New York at the Sennheiser table. Due to differences in rig setup, and the short time spent with it, I can't give you any meaningful sonic comparison between it and the new Max -- sorry 'bout that.
     
  8. Sean H
    Hey Jude... (sorry, no pun intended - how many times have you got that before.) [​IMG]

    Very interesting impressions of the Prehead and Max, thanks. Just curious, have you heard the Gilmore amp before, and if so where does it fall compared to the Max and Prehead?

    Do you use x-feed most of the time?
     
  9. eric343 Contributor
    THere it is again! At the Winlock meet, I commented on the green sheen of the Old Max, and was told it was the lighting... now I see it again in the picture.

    How's THAT for offtopic?
     
  10. rarsen
    Eric,

    Curious about your comment on the old Max.

    rarsen [​IMG]
     
  11. eric343 Contributor
    [​IMG]

    I was just commenting that there's a green overtone to the front panel of the Max, which is supposed to be pure black.
     
  12. grinch
    Quote:

    Originally posted by eric343
    THere it is again! At the Winlock meet, I commented on the green sheen of the Old Max, and was told it was the lighting... now I see it again in the picture.



    the old maxes turn green as they get older, just like the new hd600 cardas cables are beige.. [​IMG]

    any update on your decision zebra?
     
  13. jude Administrator
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Sean H
    Hey Jude... (sorry, no pun intended - how many times have you got that before.) [​IMG]

    Very interesting impressions of the Prehead and Max, thanks. Just curious, have you heard the Gilmore amp before, and if so where does it fall compared to the Max and Prehead?

    Do you use x-feed most of the time?



    Sean H,

    I apologize for the delayed response -- I noticed this thread again after grinch's response.

    I haven't yet heard the Gilmore, so I can offer no comments on how it compares to the Max and the PreHead.

    Yes, I use crossfeed pretty much all the time.
     
  14. Zebra
    Thanks for all the responses.

    Just to update everyone, the Max that I was trying to buy was just sold to someone else.

    However, I am still unsure what I would so if it was still available. It would be nice to listen to an HA-2 to compare it to the Max, but the Max is definitely a statement product. However, if the HA-2 can come close at a substantially lower price then maybe it is the better route for the budget conscious (myself).
     
  15. Jan Meier Contributor
    Just one note:

    Whereas the HA-2 sonically compares well with the standard LM6171 version of the PREHEAD, it does sound different from Jude's AD8610 version.

    The LM6171 version has a faster and cleaner sound. The AD8610 might have a little bit more dynamics at the lower frequencies and is more forgiving for bad recordings and sources. I suggest to read the reviews of Jazz (HA-2) and Kelly (PREHEAD) to get a better impression on what the HA-2 can do.

    You might also ask Rameish for his opinion. He has both a PREHEAD 8610 version and a HA-2 (LM6171 based).

    As you will understand, I won't give you my own opinions.

    Cheers,

    Jan
     
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