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What's the best amp for HD800

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by harry170183, Apr 21, 2013.
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  1. purk Contributor

    I think you can get one from ECP Audio for around $3500 for one with less exotic chassis. If you want to bling out on the chassis then it can get up to $5000. Yes, I know that the price is very high but I have never heard the HD800 sounding this good before and I had the GS-X MKII before as well as a better version of it on my SuSy Dynahi.

    Doug's table at the Canlanta Event.

    ECP Copenhagen Solidstate

    ECP Copenhagen Tube

    ECP DSHA-2 (smaller amp at the top)

    These amps are all the successor to the ECP L2, which was rated by Tyll as one of the very best amp for the HD800 Classic.
  2. Failed Engineer
    Is there a reason Doug doesn't participate in the ECP thread here?  It's like he's going out of his way to not give his fans info.  Not that I think there's anything wrong with it per se, as he can clearly sell whatever amps he wants to make from his existing customer base, but I am curious as to his reasons.
  3. reddog
    The best amp for the legendary HD800 is Cavalli Audio's Liquid LAU. I was in awe of the magical synergy between the HD800 and the Liquid Gold.
    bazelio likes this.
  4. listen4joy
    purk did you hear DNA Stratus?
  5. purk Contributor
    This is actually his personal amp, the Copenhagen..but he can certainly make more.  The DSHA-2 is due to release soon and this thing should best the L2 from my experience.
    The Gold is indeed very nice but I think the Copenhagen will likely have the edge.  I personally think that my SuSy Dynahi or L2 are about on par with the Liquid Gold.  
    If you ever get a chance to listen to his amps yourself, I expect you to be more than impressed. I didn't think anything at the recent Canlanta meet can floor me, but the Copenhagen did in such a big way...and yes, the Liquid Gold was there as well as the Questyle Golden Monoblock.  This is basically a meet impression but I always can gauge thing pretty well given I did have my KGSSHV Carbon + SR009 there as a benchmark.
    Nope I have not had the pleasure to listen to the Stratus.
  6. jibzilla
    Where is the attenuator for the SS version? Was doug using a preamp or something to control the gain? Am I missing something here?
  7. purk Contributor
    No attenuator on that particular SS version.  He was using his DAC that was equipped with a preamp function to attenuate the volume.  That particular SS was actually a little better sounding than the tube version.  I think your DSHA-4 is likely slightly behind the Copenhagen SS according to Doug.  If I didn't purchase the Headamp Aristeaus recently..I would likely buy that amp on the spot.   Of course, I would prefer to save some money and get one with a standard power coated chassis.  His woodwork is very near museum quality but I would be afraid to scratch that beauty however.
  8. tomb
    Great info, Purk!  I'm sure Doug will post more when he gets a chance.  I believe he's getting ready for the New York meet, coming up in about a week.
    As far as I understand, the DSHA series is not related to the L-2.  The L-2 is a parafeed output-transformer-coupled tube amp.  The Torpedo 1 is actually a simplified, DIY version of the L-2, and potentially comes close with upgraded output transformers (Cinemags), but we really haven't tested that, yet.  Nevertheless, the Torpedo 1 is also a parafeed output-transformer-coupled tube amp.  Both the L-2 and Torpedo 1 have their origins in Doug's L'espressivo, which in turn trace their lineage back to Gary Dahl's Espressivo tube headphone amplifier.
    The DSHA series, as far as I know (Doug can certainly confirm), is something Doug came up with independently and is unique: an input transformer gain stage with a MOSFET-solid state output buffer.  The transformers provide both gain and phase splitting to provide a fully differential circuit within the amplifier.  In principle, this differential circuit is used not so much to provide "balanced drive" as it is to eliminate common mode distortion with the amplifier circuit.  Complete details are here:
    http://www.ecpaudio.com/DSHA1.shtml.  Anyway, there is really very little, if any, similarity between the DSHA and the L-2.
    The Torpedo 3 actually uses elements of both the L-2 and the DSHA.  Fundamentally, it is a spud amplifier with a parafeed output transformer arrangement.  However, the tubes are configured into a long tail pair circuit that also splits the signal into a fully differential one.  From there, a solid-state output buffer circuit is applied before the parafeed output transformers.  So, similarly to the input transformers in the DSHA, the tubes in the Torpedo 3 act as the gain stage/differential splitter.  Both then use the solid-state output buffer.  The difference is that after the solid-state output buffer, the Torpedo 3 again uses the parafeed output transformer configuration of the L-2.  So again, the Torpedo 3 (T3) is a completely unique headphone amplifier using components of both the L-2 and DSHA design.  Just for the record, Doug has clearly stated that he prefers the T3 to the L-2 and the T3 continues to improve. (Sales plug! [​IMG])
    As always, Doug may need to correct some of the finer points of what I've stated.  I have trouble keeping up with Doug's genius in this stuff, but that's my understanding of the DSHA and L-2 lineage and how both really relate to the T3, but not so much with each other.
    The Copenhagen Glass is really based on a Pentode tube arrangement and we'll have to have Doug explain that one. [​IMG] 
    Thenewguy007 likes this.
  9. tomb
    More: One might ask why not just use the differential long-tail pair tube circuit directly with the parafeed output transformers?  We tried that: The Torpedo 2.  Unfortunately, it simply did not have enough power with the tubes and after 2 prototypes, we didn't pursue it any further.  The L-2 used a very exclusive tube type: the 6C45Pi tube that is very powerful and did not have that problem.  With the Torpedo series, Doug was trying to keep the tube selection in reach of the masses.  The Torpedo 2 used the ubiquitous 6922/6DJ8 tube type, but as stated, was sort of a dead end due to lack of output power.  The Torpedo 3 uses the famous 12AU7 family (gain-optimized for the 12AY7).  At the same time, the solid state output buffer - combined with the parafeed output transformers - provides a bit over a full Watt at both 32 and 300 ohm output impedances.
  10. dsavitsk

    There is an ecp thread? I didn't even know. Do you have a link? I'm not trying to ignore anyone, I just haven't seen it.

    I am a fan of the headphone power amp concept - basically, for people with a DAC that has a volume control, or for people who are going to just drop the amp into a rack with a preamp, forgoing the volume control, and in some cases the input stage, can save considerable money and space. And it eliminates a component that may compromise sound quality. Really, I do this for myself since I build dozens of different amps and it is easier to not have to equip every one with a volume control for testing.

    Here are a couple pics of the Ravenswood (DSHA4) built that way.



    Definitely not. The Ravenswood has a slightly different sound signature than the Copenhagen, but I don't think it is a lesser amp. Ravenswood is a little more relaxed sounding, Copenhagen is more visceral. I like, and use, them both. I think many people would prefer the Ravenswood.

    On that note, to clarify: Different price points has more to do with cost of parts, and time to build. Other than the DSHA2, these are all semi-bespoke and my pricing is more or less done on a cost+ basis. But I think they are all equal in quality, choosing one over the other depends upon needs (DSHA2 is not going to drive the Abyss) and sound preferences.

    The basic rundown is that the Ravenswood (DSHA4) is a high power, transformer gain, differential amp that will drive anything.

    The DSHA2 is small (though still surprisingly powerful) meant for most dynamic and planar phones, but they must be balanced as there are no output transformers. It is our lowest cost amp by a fair margin.

    The Apsara is the spiritual successor to the L-2 - it uses the same driver stage as the Ravenswood but has a differential triode output stage.

    And the Copenhagen comes in a variety of flavors. It is a differential cascode circuit. The Copenhagen-V uses a JFET/Pentode cascode and is mid-powered. The Copenhagen-s (small "s" not shown, but basically the same as the V version Purk posted) is basically the same circuit but uses a JFET/MOSFET cascode while the Copenhagen-S (big "S", not small "s") is a MOSFET/MOSFET cascode and is considerably more powerful. The various versions sound more alike than different.
    purk likes this.
  11. Failed Engineer
    Here is the ECP thread:
  12. jibzilla
    Woo, Cavalli, and used to be Ray Samuels have quite the stronghold in this price segment and market. It is also a very niche market and it looks like doug is going to take a more bespoke route. Even Headamp and DNA have a pretty large following at this point. It really is a hard market to break into imo. Look at Apex audio, Todd went out of his way with a loaner program and Pete is the best, most experienced headphone amp builder out there. Apex sold very few amps despite the fact that their amps blew away the first 3 guys I mentioned, so why waste money on marketing and time posting when 9 times out of 10 your customer is going to dig for you anyway.
  13. tomb
    Maybe I won't get into trouble if I state this more clearly than my posts above:
    ECP Audio non-bespoke, production designs are available at beezar.com.  For now at least, that even includes DIY-kits along with assembled versions: the Torpedo I and Torpedo III.
  14. kelly200269
    I just took delivery of my HD800's this morning, and have the following observations:
    Using with an Audiolab Q-DAC with 24/96 files: HORRIBLE! The music has no power, pace of presence. The Audiolab is obviously out of it's depth here.
    Using with a Heed Canamp with SACD: Lovely! Listening to this combination, I now can't listen to my HD700's anymore. I've now ordered a Lehmann Black Cube Linear for use with SACD/Vinyl, as this is meant to be an improvement on the Heed.
    Now, tonight's mission is to dig the Hugo out and listen again to some Lossless FLAC files :)
    It just goes to show, in my limited experience, how amp-sensitive the HD800's are. The Audiolab is going straight on eBay...

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  15. hfflt
    Hi guys, I am currently in process of saving up for my end-game rig. I know I will miss much as I want to make a jump from iFi iDAC 2 and HD598 to Yggy/Rag + HD800S. Any owners of particular combination? Would it be a good combo? I am very interested in Schiit stack and it's easier to purchase one in EU because of http://www.schiit-europe.com
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