Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Let's be honest, the vast majority of SBAF members here like to see audio as a fundamental science rather than a product of engineering. That means for some reason audiophiles have convinced themselves that hearing "how something sounds" in an uncontrolled environment even remotely qualifies as an observation (it does not and never will)

I believe this approach to audio is severely damaging to the hobby, but it has sadly been the standard for many decades. Trust your ego, not your ears, because if you actually trusted your ears, you'd conduct a proper blind test.


However, I did stumble upon this. (Someone reported that this worked, so I decided to try it). Holy moly, this worked darn good. Piety tiny edition is actually subjectively more ballsy (but murkier) in the lows and wetter in the mids than Pietus. The CA-1a are on the cool and dry side, so Piety is great match. (I'm also using Yggdrasil LiM)

Schiit Yggdrasil LiM -> Nitsch Sound Piety -> TI-1b -> CA-1a

The downside is that we need to crank up the volume. I had no issue getting to moderately high volumes without maxing out the volume with rock tracks that are compressed. With classical tracks with high dynamic range, I had to max out the volume. All this in high gain.

I am messing with you guys? Absolutely not. Sure, some of this is a little bit of recoil from my recent experience with expensive amps that did not meet high expectations**. However, I am dead serious.

This is an honest review* of the Ferrum ORR headamp and HYPNOS power supply. Due to the very recent release of a number of headamps which have really pushed what solid-state headamps can do (tube expressiveness), the Ferrum OOR is going to have some stiff competition. I'm going to be direct and succinct without much extraneous bullshit and technobabble (some it probably wrong or misleading) that other Internet reviewers spew.

The HYPSOS is a power supply does guud things. I have not heard the OOR without it and I won't because I don't have the time. Ferrum Audio should just sell both together instead of offer an "optional" power supply that makes the base headamp guuder. For Jeebs sake, f'ing sell the best product that you can instead of something gimped that requires an extra attachment that makes it how it was supposed to be in the first place. If it sounds like this kind of audiophile bullshittery bugs the F outta me, it's because it does. (I mean GM doesn't sell a Vette with a V4 at $50k but ask an extra $30k for the V8.)

After years of moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, I managed to buy a SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC Star which is a low output (0.4 mV), moving iron cartridge. So now I need phono pre with moving coil gain to play the Zephyr.

You are probably thinking, why not just get a step up transformer (SUT) and use it with your existing MM phono? It turns out that the Zephyr has inductance of 2.75 mH per channel. While that is much lower than the 400 mH or so with a typical MM cartridge, it is near the top of the range for an MC cartridge. An MC cartridge can have inductance as low as 5 uH. With a low inductance MC cartridge and an SUT, the frequency response can be flat and extended, but at 2.75 mH, the SUT and the cartridge may interact to generate a significant response peak in the treble region. That can also affect phase over the top half of the audio range. In other words, an SUT with a high inductance cartridge is risky, so I decided to find a phono pre-amp with an active first stage.

A few years ago when I was at an event the Schittr, someone grabbed me to check out the RAAL Requisite SR-1a ribbon ear speakers. "Hey Marv, you gotta check these out!" The rest is history. Read about the SBAF Golden Schlong Winner SR-1a here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...udio-sr1a-review-holy-moly-buy-this-now.8041/

I knew that that RAAL Requisite had been working on a circum-aural version which has come out as the the CA-1a (Yes, I'm a late to the party.) I decided to grab a pair for the SBAF loaner program after a few members mentioned that the CA-1a was worthy, trading off technicalities of the SR-1a for more extended lows and more even frequency response. This is an accurate assessment. The CA-1a comes with two pairs of pads. One set has cutouts to allow more air. The sound of this pad is a cross between the fully encircled pads and the SR-1a. The fully encircled pads actually make the CA-1a tonal response somewhat like an HD650.

IMG_1561 (1).jpg
I recently finished restoring an early model HH Scott 222d integrated amp, which is actually the circuit from the 222c, just with a different face plate. Along the way I decided to add the biasing circuit from the 299b. It turned out great and unseated my Ragnarok 2, not on technicalities, but on musical enjoyment. I've come to accept that I just like vintage stuff and I like tubes and I'm ok with that. Then I came across a cheap Scott LK-48 for sale locally and grabbed it. It's the same circuit as the 222c, but again with a different face plate, and uses 7199 tubes for the phase inverter instead of the 6UB tubes in the 222c/d I restored already, although some 222c's did use the 7199. Anyway I'm starting to restore/mod the LK-48 and will keep a log here.

I forgot to take before pictures, but the first order of business was to clean off the dust/grime and remove the output transformers and power transformer bell cap for a repaint. They looked similar, but a little worse, to the condition of the transformers on the 222c, which I failed repaint and will do later. Here's the unpainted transformers on the 222c/d

I was reminded the other day that I had this amp in my care when @Luckbad popped up after an absence. @Luckbad actually wrote a comprehensive article on how to put this darn thing together here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...project-horizon-iii-project-sunrise-iii.1478/


I had compared this amp to two hybrid other inexpensive amps a few years ago. I felt it definitely had its place back then and even now it's a contender. The downside to the Project Sunrise is that there's a bit more elbow grease with respect to having to set bias and deal with jumpers, The upside is that people who love to mess with stuff or like to roll tubes can have a lot of fun.

OK, I know somebody has this. Cough up the deets. Donald. KT66. Enuff said.


I haven't really been on top of things and from what I understand, many of you guys have already been tipped off about this or possibly even heard it before me! @jexby sent this to me in a box and after sitting on it for weeks (I have a ton of other boxes of stuff, mostly crap), I finally opened it. It wasn't like @CEE TEE was pressuring me or anything, but I did finally set it up in my bedside rig. I immediately texted Christian. I figured I'd post it here because my first impressions are often the best ones (speaking of myself, because I don't remember ever changing my mind after 1000 hours burn-in, and I kind of know how the burn-in or warm-up deal goes)

Zach is at it again, this time with the latest TOTL $5500 wonder! Just kidding. This time around, Zach heard the pleas of the working class: can't we have ZMFs too! It's my understanding that the Bokeh will be priced affordably. Not only that, the Bokeh is easy to drive. I believe normal impedance is 80-ohms (I will measure later) and it barely takes a turn of the volume to get Bokeh to high volumes. We are taking Grado or ETA sensitivity here. No need for the "most powerful" transformer coupled single-ended triode amps capable of driving the most current hungry planars. (I hope you guys know I am being sarcastic because most of the type of amps only output 1-2W at most into 32-ohms).

Zach sent a bunch of sundry accessories to let me tweak the Bokeh to my liking: two meshes, the Bokeh Burst Mesh and Solid-Mesh; and three sets of pads, Protein, Suede, and Hybrid. I think Zach read my mind or knows what I like because the Bokeh was set up exactly to my preferences with the protein pads and bokeh mesh. I tried other combinations, but kept coming back to how Zach shipped the Bokeh in the box.


The look and feel of the Bokeh is very elegant, perhaps the most elegant of all ZMF headphones so far. The Bokeh really feels like something directly from Fostex. (What's the joke? tTat ZMF makes the best Japanese headphones - except he's not Japanese). The rodblocks are plastic instead of metal, but they don't feel cheap nor do they look designed by a Chinese outfit overly obsessed with SINAD without any design sense. The cable connectors are 1/8" TS jacks instead of the mini-XLRs. I assume this is to keep costs down. The inside of the pads are cavernous, so people with big ears won't have to worry about the tips of the ears being squeezed.
So recently I got my hands on some new toys and thought about writing up impressions, except then there were too many things in front of me (first world problems right?) and the task was just too much because who has the time for that? So instead I decided to make a grid and do a rapid(-ish) fire impressions and scribble down the first things that came to mind.

I *mostly* put on a single set of headphones and rotated through amps over several songs back and forth. There might be a touch of up and down but no promises. Impressions done over three listening sessions on three separate days, at least one repeat of each headphone on different days. Sometimes my impressions changed from day to day and I would squiggle my notes a bit. My hearing ain't infallible, blah blah.

Rankings are purely subjective and at times a coin toss. I might do another table but focused on an amp at a time and rotate headphones. Maybe.

Argh someone help me out, how do I create a table? I've done it accidentally before

Uploading as an image for now...

Amps: Nitsch Piety, SPL Phonitor 2 (balanced tap off the back), Massdrop Liquid Gold X, Nitsch DSHA-3FN
A while back, Audeze released their ribbon LCD-R headphone to much fanfare: ( The package was $2500 and included a Jotunheim-A, designed to drive the 2-ohm ribbon load. Generally, it's considered a bad idea to drive these kinds of loads from regular headphone amps because 2-ohms is pretty close to a short circuit. Maybe not as close as the RAAL ribbons at 0.2-ohms, but close enough to that, or far enough from today's super low Z planars at 8 or 15-ohms.


Evidently, at a recent corpo audio show, the Schiit guys brought along the Audeze LCD-R, and reported that a lot of attendees loved the LCD-R with the amps that they brought, presumably Magni Unity, Mjolnir 3, a few others.