ECP DSHA3F Ravenswood 3F

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    What's the process like rolling transformers? Does it require soldering/desoldering the transformers? or is it like a switch on the back if you chose the upgrade option to roll transformers?
     
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  2. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    The transformers themselves are affixed to a small circuit board, with bottom pins which slot into socket areas on the main amp board itself.
    process is very simple, as long as you practice safe electronic methods, including anti-static pad, and ya know- like unplugging the amp from AC.

    approx. 7 screws can be removed which loosens the top casing (and left / right sides) from chassis, lift up to reveal amp innards.
    2 screws (IIRC) per transformer board need to be removed, lifting up gently on the board/transformer removes it from socket.
    be careful not to bend the thin/fragile pins on bottom of each transformer board.

    align the replacement transformer board carefully, and gently lower/press into the main board socket.
    replace 2 screws.
    repeat for second transformer.

    align top casing over chassis frame and gentle push / wiggle / push down into place.
    be careful to not press on the ECP logo LED circle itself.
    replace 7 chassis screws.
     
  3. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

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    Well in the age of devices that are jack of all trades, master of none, nothing can be as simple as this amp. Plug in the power cable, you have to get your own btw, connect DAC and headphone, turn up the volume and enjoy the blissful sound. There is nothing else in this amp to feed to your nervosa. Well there is an option to roll transformer but get one and don’t bother. There is no single ended input or passthru, no in built DAC, no Crossfeed, no tube buffer , no preamp feature, no remote. It’s built to do one thing and boy does it deliver in that. I guess we can confidently call it as master of one. As soon as you put on your headphone the first thing that you will notice is master slave relationship between Amp and the headphone driver. The amp is in full control of the driver. It never allows the headphone driver to misbehave and the result, you will get fast, neutral sound with very tight and deep bass, focused midrange and treble with enough energy to satisfy anyone who wishes for detailed sound. Even with my non trained ears I can notice that.

    Before I go any further here is my Rig

    ROON-> Digione Signature (powered by LPS)-> Metrum Onyx( RCA Coax with BJC) -> DSHA-3F -> Verite Ziricote/ HD600


    If I have to describe this amp in one sentence then I would say this is a powerful amp with neutral tonality that exhibits the sound signature of DAC without any coloration.

    The bass is very powerful and deep. I could feel the driver moving and hitting my ear drum with full throttle. I guess some ear wax got pushed inside. It conveyed the thickness of Onyx perfectly.

    The best part of this amp is the staging, layering and instrument separation. While listening to RHCP - Blood Sugar Sex Magik or song City, Country, City from the album “The World Is A Ghetto” felt like I was floating in music with sound waves all around me. I could easily see where each instrument was placed. Very well done and fantastic. This strength alone makes good recording sound fantastic. Even with not so well recorded Bollywood music streamed from Apple Music, I could hear detail and could easily discern each instruments used due to better separation. Well I never wanted to say this but due to better instrument separation I could hear some instrument that can be missed out on not so well recorded music from slightly weaker amp if you are not paying closer attention to it.

    Midrange is fantastic but then again so is the midrange of Onyx and Gungnir Multibit however Onyx has little in your face vocals but the amp pushes it few rows back. Making it sound little deeper. But that doesn’t mean you will miss out on any Vocal details. While listening to song Maeri, Hindi Song, by Dr. Palash Sen,the vocal came across as very powerful and impactful. At the same time while listening to Maula Mere Maula, from Bollywood movie, you could feel the soul in the voice of Roop Kumar Rathod, enough to melt your heart and both these songs are heavily compressed and were streamed from Apple Music.

    A shout out to Liquid Platinum and ZDT JR. here. Both never came across as slouch in midrange performance against DSHA

    Treble is as good as it can get. With Onyx and Verite, the treble has enough energy and details.I like laid back sound signature and but not complaining the energy in treble as it never gets sharp and piercing on contrary it helped get minute nuances of music. Sorry for using cliche but that’s how it sounds but again so does the treble of Onyx and that’s why I said it’s a neutral amp. It will showcase the strength of your DAC.

    The biggest transformation came to my HD600. No this amp doesn’t make it laid back sounding. It sounded like HD600 with enough energy in upper mid but the soundstage was big. Definitely bigger height wise. The driver was moving as fast as it can with good bass. I really enjoyed 600. I guess that’s the best 600 can do technically. It may sound more musical out of OTL.


    TL/DR

    1. Great Control on headphone drivers. Very fast.
    2. Great dynamics - tight and deep Bass and energy up top. Crispy and crunchy
    3. Exhibits the strength of DAC and doesn’t color it.
    4. Great imaging and separation - feels like floating in sound. Can see thru complex songs. Even bad recordings are fun some time as this puts separation between instruments.
    5. Depth is good. Compared to ZDT jr. vocal sounded just a bit deeper and wider
    6. Won’t soothe out compressed music but Great recording will sound excellent
    7. Thumping and deep bass removed ear wax or pushed it back not sure.
    8. Biggest transformation came to HD600. Was able to hear some details from HD600 which I could hear from Verite. Could feel good bass coming from 600
    9. If you are coming from mid range amp like ZDT Jr or Liquid Platinum, then you will get perfect channel balance at low volume from this amp. A relief for low level listener. No need of preamp unless you need remote volume control or need to use DAC with multiple amp.
     
  4. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I am indebted to @sheldaze for the loaner of this fantastic amplifier. He is kind and generous with his knowledge and gear!

    Edit: this particular DHSA-3F has the nickel core transformers

    TLDR: this amp exceeded my expectations that many reviews here set pretty damn high.

    My gear is listed in my profile and pictured below. For comparison my reference is the EC Aficionado (Af) run with tertiary feedback into Ziricote Verite with Universe pads.

    My previous SS experience was with EC Black Widow 2. Ever since hearing the clarity of that amp, I’ve been chasing a setup that would give that as well as a more expansive headstage. I didn’t know about the DHSA-3F, but it pretty much answers what I was seeking. I ended up going the tube route with Aficionado and tweaking it toward a more neutral sound. If you are adverse to tweaking a tube amp through rolling tubes, caps, etc. to get the sound you want then DHSA-3F may be what you want as long as you are seeking a neutral amp.
    I’ve owned a decent number of midfi amps including Schiit offerings as well as Torpedo 3. I’ve listened to many high end offerings from EC, DNA, etc. The DHSA-3F is the quickest and clearest amp I’ve heard. It owned the Verite’s drivers as was mentioned by @Ksaurav402.
    The clarity of sound allowed for all details, sound cues, reverb of acoustic space to be easily heard. I listened to familiar tracks that I know very well through my reference system and certain parts especially in the midrange are more clearly delineated via DHSA-3F. This was because the amp doesn’t accentuate bass (up through the lower mids) at all. I like some meat on the bones, which I get in my reference setup. The interesting part is that although the DHSA-3F is a bit thinner sounding than Af, I was still easily able to enjoy kick drums and bass. I had no issues with emotional involvement with the music. The DHSA-3F passed the test where I listened and didn’t feel the need to look at my phone or iPad.

    The headstage is nice and wide expanding past the headphones but it lacks some depth and layering compared to the Af, but most amps lack in this area compared to their competitive Eddie Current offerings.

    I think the Colorado crew @MisterRogers @Elnrik & @jexby are really onto something special here with the combination of this amp with ZMF headphones like Auteur and Verite. I think the drama earlier in this thread was justified. I feel even more strongly now that @ColtMrFire got it wrong. This amp just fucking crushes the Torpedo 3 (as it should). I got away from that amp because the lack of clarity and murkiness in the midrange that for me the Super 7 easily exposed. The Black Widow 2 was another step up over S7 in the clarity game. If you want a real comparison, read @Elnrik review earlier in this thread.

    I’m glad many continue to buy this amp and heed the advice of the Colorado crew, I don’t think you will be disappointed. If you are hit me up on PM, I may be interested in buying ;)

    Pic or it didn’t happen EA409029-009E-4ACD-BA47-134A5006BF67.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
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  5. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    the above is truth, mostly in depth. the Af puts vocals and "center channel" out in front of listening space that is for certain! it's the main aspect I admire most from Af, a presentation of the room complete with queues out ahead with spatiality.

    listening to the 3F now, there is layering. separation front to back are evident just less expansive and less of an acoustic element of the room / studio / live stage. chalk that up to tubes I reckon.

    am torn between these amps. electronic, industrial and noise genres with the 3F deliver a great energy with gobs of detail, bass kick with cohesiveness and clean separation of waves of sound. yet queuing up more traditional rock or Pacific Coast jazz and the Af with feedback mod enabled just nails the realism of sound in space.
    both gems as your stack shows.
     
  6. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Curious if anyone can compare/contrast the 3F with the 3?
     
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  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    @Gaspasser

    I never said the T3 was better, I said I preferred it at the time. This isn't even getting into the murky subjective waters of "better", especially at these high levels and especially when comparing tubes to solid state. I don't know how many times I have to correct these errors. I really wish this competitive versus mentality would go the way of the dodo. I went way out my way to be as clear as possible in my review, and weeks later I am still being singled out. I don't appreciate it.

    The 3F is well worth the asking price and anyone would be lucky to own it. Nice review btw.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
     
  8. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I agree with @ColtMrFire since I was able to hear it briefly while he had it on loan (I believe with the amorphous core). There's no doubting its technical superiority to the T3 and to the Af in a few respects as well (microdynamics and microdetail namely), I too ultimately preferred the Af and the T3 over the 3F when listening via Senns. It is definitely an exceptional amp and I could imagine it would have great synergy with ZMF headphones.
     
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  9. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Piggy backing on what Colt and Famish mentioned - The amp deserves all the praise it's given. I found that it hit everything I wanted in an amp: fast, great micro/macro dynamics, detailed, air, separation, layering, holographic, pacing/rhythm, depth, width, and a tube like sound.

    One thing that Vtory mentioned in his review is that he found himself turning it up much louder than most other amps he's owned. I found I was doing the same until I realized it was because the mids were so neutral. I compensated for this by cranking the knob while using the Verite. Didn't feel the need to do this with the Auteur and the Eikon perf pads as the pads pushes the mids forward. It was a perfect combination to my ears.

    Now owning the HD800 I wouldn't like it paired to the amp in it's stock form. Since i'm a mid head I think I'd find it too neutral. So it really comes down to what type of sound signature you're looking for.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  10. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I felt I was doing this too, but to get more bass emphasis.

    To address any elephants in the room:

    I do think everyone here is “right” and entitled to their own opinion which is specific to their desired sound signature. However, I try be honest in my impressions and I think SBAF is a place where we are free to call BS if needed.

    AND

    I’m probably being overly critical of Colt’s review, but there are not “slight” differences here between DHSA-3F and Torpedo 3.
    I thought it was disingenuous to compare a mid-fi amp with the DHSA-3F and come to the conclusion that there were only “slight” differences.

    I think it gives people the wrong idea that the T3 is somehow competitive with top shelf stuff (or worse that DHSA-3F under-performs for its price point). I too suffered under this delusion when I first owned T3, even telling people that it was “end game” for me #facepalm.

    I keep saying it, but the DHSA-3F simply is in another league when it comes to technicalities compared to most amplifiers except top shelf stuff.
     
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  11. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Personal preference is absolute. One cannot argue with an individual's personal preference profile. When a system has a high degree of match the result is listening enjoyment.

    I agree on all three points. Competitive winners / losers implies an absolute that may work well for the person making the statements but not necessarily hold true for others unless they share preference profiles. It appears there is a group sharing preference profiles including DHSA-F and ZMF which may provide a special system synergy. Having both the DSHA-3F and T4 I've found myself listening more to the T4 with Mullard tubes when using my HD800-Jmod. This often reverses when using the Focal Clears.

    Reviews that describe differences perceived between components in context of the listening chain are very helpful. Winners / losers, not so much. I've been guilty of this last point as well. We all get excited when a system renders familiar music with some special attribute that wasn't experienced before.

    Now being a moody bastard, both T4 and DSHA-3F are offline while I'm enjoying indulgence in 2nd harmonic heaven with the Shortest Way 51+ and HD800-Jmod fed from a bifrost-2. Is this a technically or subjectively superior system? Probably not, but it certainly has been providing exceptionally enjoyable listening sessions for the last week or so. Must be my current preference, which is subject to change with my mood.

    Bottom line: I consider myself very fortunate to have these three special amps, DSHA-3F, T4 and SW51+. None will be departing the listening lab.
     
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  12. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Perhaps there was a better way to word this. Context/meaning does tend to get lost while reading text.

    It's also difficult/impossible to give subjective impressions that are free from this sort of bias. My posts on Starlett are pretty HF-gushing gross (even though I'm still trying to reign the horses in), partly because it's genuinely good, and partly because it fits my preferences perfectly.

    All this being stated, when reading impressions it's important to note two things: the reviewer's preferences and how those preferences correlate to how you might hear the product. I've seen on older posts on this forum (before I joined) where people would look at the impressions/measurements and say "nope, not for me." There's nothing wrong with this if you can even somewhat accurately and precisely match the above two notes.

    In the end, it's okay to disagree.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  13. mkozlows

    mkozlows Friend

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    How do you think it compares to the T4?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  14. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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  15. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    Wow... just wow. Apart from the gorgeous wood panels, it's actually a lot smaller and compact than I thought.

    I'll try to write some impressions later today. I think I understand what others have mentioned about how the 3F really "grips" and has full control of the headphone's driver. My Verite is still out with @zach915m for repair, but it sound pretty darn good with the JAR600.

    Very effortless, immediate, dynamic, highly resolving sound. MCAT studying can wait. Today will be a time for music.

    3F.jpg
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The 3F is more transparent than T4. The 3F commits far fewer sins of commission and a bit fewer sins of omission. The presentations differ with the T4 sounding warmer, more romantic, more tubey, and the 3F sounding harder, faster, stronger.
     
  17. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    I have had several requests to do so, so I am now taking orders for the next batch of the Ravenswood/DSHA3F headphone amplifier. I'll leave it open for a few weeks, and depending upon numbers (and based on the last batch) I would expect a January delivery. Maybe December if lots of things go just right ... but maybe February if lots of things go wrong :)

    Price and terms are the same ($2800 + shipping, 1/2 down at time of order, choice of amorphous or mu-metal transformers, and choice of wood [walnut, mahogany/sapele, padauk]). I've also had at least one person ask about black anodizing, so I'll make that an option, too.

    This is likely to be the last batch at this price point, and possibly the last one for a while.
     
  18. pure5152

    pure5152 Acquaintance

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    Recently purchased a 3F, thanks again Doug for opening up another batch!

    Just curious @dsavitsk if the transformers for the new batch are different from previous batches, and if there’s any noticeable differences in sound quality/any reasons for the change. When I ordered, the transformer options were LL1676 (amorphous) and LL7903 (nickle/mu metal), which seems different from before (from what @Vtory said at least, quoted above).

    FWIW, I ordered the amorphous LL1676 (after Doug mentioned it was plenty warm enough, and would be the default option if he didn’t allow rolling transformers).
     
  19. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Mine was a little different because I discussed my situation (very hot dac output level = 18-22 dbu) with Doug before. LL1690 has a little higher distortion character than usual options instead of the capability to handle high level signals.

    Your Gungnir would have no problem with default choices of transformer.
     
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  20. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    Transformer options are, and have always been, the LL1676 (amorphous) or the LL7903 (mu-metal/nickel). There are other possible options that some my prefer in certain specific circumstances, but those two should cover 99% of people.
     
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