Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by thegunner100, Dec 3, 2017.
With @Dr. Higgs, @Hooncake, @SteelCannon, @Vansen, @Cradon
More to come later...
What song were we playing from "A Boogie wit da Hoodie" to test the bass capabilities of the amps? I might add that track to my test list.
Big thanks to @Dr. Higgs for hosting us and feeding us. As always, it's a PITA to pack, unpack, and pack all the gear but in the end it was well worth it. Time always flies by with these intimate meets. While the meet was mainly centered around the Phil 3's, we also had a variety of different headphones and amps to play around with. Ever since about a year or so ago, the focus of these little meets have shifted from headphones to speakers (the superior reproduction of music). While we may not have a big room for speakers in the NYC metro area, we make up for it with careful selection of the entire chain and good music. So first off, speaker gear impressions!
Vinyl chain: VPI Classic Signature > Manley Chinook w/ Amperex 7308 > Saga w/ NOS Tung Sol / Freya JFET > single/dual Vidar > Phil 3's
Digital chain: Yggy Gen 5 USB > Saga w/ NOS Tung Sol > single/dual Vidar > Phil 3's
These speakers represent the best that Dennis Murphy has to offer, and the sound really shows. Excellent bass extension, meaty sound, neutral with slightly warm tilt, and surprisingly decent off-axis dispersion. Compared to the Devore Nines, the Phil 3's were more punchy, extended more, and overall fun to listen to. OTOH, the Nines had a wider and deeper soundstage, and a more soothing/relaxed sound. I suspect the amps have a large role to play with this as the Phil 3's are rated for 85dB and recommends a 4ohm capable speaker whereas the Nines are rated 91dB and dips down to 5.6ohms (Vidar for Phil 3's vs First Watt F3 or Almarro A318b). Overall my preference leans towards the Devore Nines, especially because it stands a chance of using a low power tube amp with Freya or possibly a nice class A with Saga (we may have a Pioneer M-22 and M-25 in NYC soon...). The others can probably comment a bit more since they listened to more music that they were familiar with.
Vinyl vs Digital
Kevin put a lot of time and money into his vinyl setup, and it really shows. The vinyl setup had inherent warmth and tonal density that wasn't present in the digital setup. We didn't listen to the same tracks with both setups (or did we?) so it was an apple to oranges comparison. Still though, the Yggy is the better value here at $2300 especially now that it comes with USB gen 5, 5 years warranty, and less variables to mess around with. Being able to easily stream and discover new music is too important for me right now. While the Yggy is perhaps a few steps behind, I believe that Schiit has what it takes to bring the Yggy closer in performance as technology improves.
Manley Chinook vs Ray Samuels F-117 Night Hawk
There was simply just no comparison between the two in this system. The Night Hawk was noticeably thinner sounding and lifeless in comparison to the Chinook. There is a huge price difference between them though, and perhaps the Night Hawk works better in other systems.
Single Vidar (Saga Tube Buffer) vs Dual Mono (Freya JFET)
Thankfully we didn't blow anything up while hooking up the dual vidars to the Phil 3's, which are rated as 4ohm speakers. The differences between single and dual vidars wasn't big. Perhaps a touch more body and bass at the cost of resolution loss and transparency. This probably has more to do with going through the SE to balanced conversion within the freya.
Don't mind the stuff in my living room... I'm rarely ever there and surprised I even had the chance to do my testing there
Saga vs Freya
I did a lot more testing at home with my setup than at the meet. As I've said before, the Saga is the more transparent setup and it shows with the lowly OSMT's. I couldn't tell much of a difference between passive and tube buffer modes, but my room and speakers are likely a limiting factor. The Freya in JFET mode was also difficult to tell from the passive mode. I would not be able to A/B between the two. In tube gain mode (with new prod Tung Sols), the Freya gained a bit of a HD800 effect with the soundstage diffusion. The sound was a bit more bloomy and less transparent compared to Freya JFET or Saga Tube Buffer. I think most people would be better served by the Saga. It's difficult to justify the Freya when you can get the better sounding Saga for less money. If you must go dual mono with a pair of amps, then you don't have too many choices. As for the tube gain, it is a bit too much at 16dB. I'm still unsure if the extra gain to make up for low power SET tube amps and class A SS amps is worth the loss of transparency from the Freya.
ZDT as speaker amp and bi-amp
Unfortunately none of us in the NYC crew have speakers that are ideal for the ZDT's 8W into 8ohms. It worked okay with the Blumenstein Orca's 89dB in that it gave the Orcas a magical midrange, stunning imaging, soundstaging and air. The traits also carried over to the OSMT's despite the lack of overall volume.
We also tried using the ZDT to amp the Phil 3's midrange planar drivers and RAAL ribbon tweeters. It barely produced enough volume to match with the Vidar going into the woofers. Mission failed.
More impressions later...
pics are not showing up I could have lent you guys my upgraded M22 I picked up recently but have yet to try.
I don't know how the M-22 would fair with a 4 ohm load. Tried to look it up but couldn't find anything regarding that.
Edit: M-22 specs on some sites say 8 ohm minimum. The M-25 operating manual says 4-16 ohms and pushes 120W into both 4 ohms and 8 ohms. We'll need to get @AdvanTech to bring his M-25 over to Kevin's place sometime
- Very impressive.
- Seemed neutral with nothing to fault for.
- Soundstaging was smaller than Devore Fidelity Nine's just going off the memory but I am sure this is because of Vidar. Devores were driven by Almarro 318b which threw huge vertical/horizontal soundstage but changing to FirstWatt F7 narrowed the soundstage considerably and listening to Vidar vs ZDT on my Orcas, I can confirm similar experience but not to the extent of Phil 3's for obvious reasons...
- I was surprised how little room interaction it had including the bass, room was assymmetrical, untreated, with a huge ass reflecting TV in the middle, but it sounded fantastic.
VPI Classic Signature(?) vs Yggy
- yggy seemed a bit congested and unfocused?
- turntable was very enjoyable to listen to.
Modibit vs Yggy
- Listening to these with EC ZDT -> HD650, it's the first time I actually heard difference in DACs..lol
- modibit was pretty fuzzy but I can still detect the multibit-ness compared to fulla 2
ZDT vs ZDT Jr
- Jr got broad strokes right but way less technicality compared to big boy amps, like a class or two below. I wouldn't say it's a great buy. It performs expected for it's price and nothing more.
- ZDT- better soundstage, air compared to Liquid Gold listening off Abyss. Liquid Gold has better technicality though.
650 vs HE-500
- HE-500 is more my type of headphones.
- 650 bass is kinda meh.
Yeah, yeah enough about the speakers. Someone tell me about that fantastic piece of furniture under the tv with the wood frame and smoked glass doors. What is that?
Salamander Oslo. Really beautiful in person. I'll have to get myself an Archetype rack pretty soon myself .
It's actually the Salamander Barcelona. I love it, it's really solidly built.
Thank you to everyone for the impressions.
The price-performance ratio of the Phil 3 make them hard to ignore. Unfortunately I've not been able to experience them firsthand here in SoCal.
Would anyone like to offer their thoughts on Phil 3s compared to Harbeths, namely the 30.1 or SHL5+, or a similar BBC type monitor like Spendors?
I HATE the flu for having missed this. Nice write up, @thegunner100.
Take real vitamin C (not gummies)
Take few drops colloidal silver under tounge.
5-7 drops of hydrogen peroxide in ears, one ear at a time.
Do not ever take flu shots.
Anybody heard my moded purplehearts ?
I left them with Craig.
I bet everyone paid attention to the Abyss and left my pupleheart alone & sad lol.
Part 2, Headphones
ZDT Jr (Low output impedance jack) w/ Yggy & modded HD650
I appreciated the ZDT Jr a little bit more than the others here due to my own preferences.The ZDT Jr is a slightly warm, lush, and liquid amp that will appeal to a certain demographic. It's definitely not for everyone, and the rest of the chain should be carefully matched. I would not recommend a dark or warm dac with this amp, and you would most likely be best off with a pair of HD600/650 or modded HD800. Still, the ZDT Jr is a good taste of what OPT tube amps are capable of at a low price point. The biggest negative that you would have to live with is the claustrophobic (or very intimate if I put it in nicer terms) presentation.
ZDT (Sylvania 5751 or Telefunken 12AX7) vs ZDT Jr (stock tubes) w/ Yggy & modded HD650
Keep in mind the price difference between the two is a massive $350 vs $2500 (don't know how much the upgrades costed). Going from the Jr to the ZDT, pretty much everything is improved: soundstaging width and depth, imaging, bass slam and texture, smoothness of treble, dynamics, realism, etc etc. With the sylvania tubes, the ZDT's presentation was a bit more similar to the Jr than with the telefunkens. With the telefunkens, the ZDT is more clearer sounding and hard hitting with an even larger soundstage. There aren't too many options available in the $1000+ range for OPT Tube amps, with most of them either out of production or with long wait times. If you have the money for them, those amps are on another level from the ZDT Jr.
Abyss Phi w/ Yggy, Liquid Gold / EF6 / ZDT
The only time I've heard the original Abyss was with a pair of Woo Audio monoblocks. Not gonna comment too much on that since its been so song since I've heard them, and the Woo setup is of questionable quality. The Phi with @Cradon's setup was not to my liking either from my short listen. The best part was the speaker-like soundstage. Otherwise I did not like the forwardness of the treble, the thinner mids (compared to HD650), and the somewhat diffused bass (yeah it's weird. Maybe I didn't get a proper fit). The Phi with the ZDT faired better in regards to soundstaging, resolution, and mids/highs quality, but loses in overall power and volume when compared to the Liquid Gold.
@Maxx134 Sorry, I only briefly heard your modded headphone. Not long enough to comment on it.
@ohmaigulay Never heard a pair of Harbeths before and don't know of anyone in NY who has a pair.
We listened to a bunch of @Vansen's vinyl on Kevin's speaker setup and it was hard to give a crap about anything else. Female vocals melted my brain. They were pristine in a way that digital can't compete with. How many times did we listen to that one "Men I Trust" record? Bass was stable down to about 40hz maybe a bit lower . When the music called for it the slam was like a punch to the neck. However for the most part the low end was neutral and there was absolutely no mid bass hump. The highs were nimble and gentle, I think it would be very rare for someone to be offended by them. I couldn't hear the crossover and the overall sound was really organic with a lot of life and it was slightly lush. Although I greatly enjoyed the vpi classic/ chinook/vidar/Phil 3, I would personally prefer some more low end grunt, a spicier treble and a pinch of wetness. Soundstage was excellent, It was easy to visualize where on a Broadway stage each instrument was located and there was a good presentation of depth. Singers both male and female felt grounded and life sized. Dynamics were impressive, I wish I'd had a chance to listen to some classical music. Also, music sounded good from very low volumes to party levels.
I really enjoyed "a boogie wit da hoodie" with 650s and the zdt. In some ways I prefer the zdt over the zds, the s pulls ahead in realism, is more liquid but it is also softer/less dynamic and warmer. With the telefunken tubes the zdt had great impact and sharp attack. Personally I found the zdt to be a torpedo 3 with larger soundstage. ZDT also has that aggressive very slightly metallic treble that I don't mind but some wouldn't like. I did not like the sylvanas tubes, they were warmer, flatter and lacked the thump and zip of the telefunkens.
I am not fan of the zdt jr. It isn't a resolving amp. The soundstage is a bit claustrophobic and the bloominess is too much with the hd650s. It might work with the hd800. The bass was horrendous though, no definition extension slam anything. All that said, I can totally see someone getting addicted to that dripping wet syrupy euphonic sound. It was super enjoyable for about 5 minutes, but then my tastebuds were satisfied and I started hearing distortion, small soundstage, mediocre imaging, so so dynamics, noise, wooly bass and so on. Please keep in mind I am super picky when it comes to amps. for the price it might be worth it for some especially since it would be hard to find this particular type of sound for the same price elsewhere.
Modibit sucks. It makes anything played through it sound compressed and has offensive highs. I made the mistake of trying modi bit, jot, he500. Obviously that wasn't a recipe for success but my god the horror of that treble.
I also got to hear @Dr. Higgs fully modded torpedo 3 and honestly it was so much worse than before it was modded. It saddened me because I wanted to hear the t3 as I remember it. All the synergy with the hd650 was lost as was the slam and aggressive sound. The soundstage still had the same issues as before. I hate to think that so many torpedo 3 owners never got to hear how magical it originally sounded like with just cinemags and epcos and a pair of 650s.
@Maxx134 Compared to my old mahogany th-x00 I found that your modded purple hearts had a larger soundstage, cleaner treble and were dryer. What were the pads you used, they were a lot nicer than stock? Id like to hear your ah-d7200.
Wait do you mean the mimby or jot has terrible treble? From your comment about being amp picky above I'm guessing its Jot?
mimby. but the jot treble isn't great either and I tend to prefer brightish amps with the 650s. The combination of the two is particularly egregious leading to a compressed, depthless shrill.
Were you guys using USB for the mimby? When I would use the usb Input with my Macbook as a source, the upper midrange/treble emphasis and glare made it very difficult to listen to. I settled with using optical out of my macbook and I think the mimby is better than anything I’ve heard in the price range. And to be fair, even a high end DAC would sound compressed after hearing a good vinyl setup
Haha I like how everyone is pulling no punches.
The pads used were Ether Electrostatic pads..
Spoiler: Extra pad info
They help open up the stage a bit, especially the bass area which then has more room to breathe and integrate with rear of spectrum, instead of slamming clostrophobically in your ear, which a lot of hradphones do.
Also those pads get out of the way in the upper spectrum, unlike most pads which alter the trebles .
Although I extended the bass on my unit,
Those pads generally lower bass intensity, and they won't cure cup resonances, clarity or other issues though.
Also, about the Purple Heart you heard..
I not only moded the insides to clear up the sound,
But I also increased performance.
Spoiler: Extra non topic mod info
with modification of driver itself,
with a design which increase motor strength
Resulting in increased resolution and performance.
The end result is it artificially creates a "better performing" motor structure.
I have so far had success with it the Denon 7200 ; Denon mm400, TH-X00, and also currently the HD580(HD600 lesser brother)
I haven't spoken much about it yet as I am not finished yet and considering what step to go next.
Anyways, next time you have a speaker equipment meet,
I can have my Infinity Alpha 50 towers ready to compare.
It is an old model which has Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragms and I Also in process to replace the stock crossovers with high quality replacements.
Out of curiosity was the ZDT Jr going straight from the source or was there a preamp in between?
I believe it was connected directly to yggy when we compared against zdt. I am curious to hear what you think of the jr
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