Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jan 22, 2019.
DSHA-3F is a very special amp. Those of you waiting are in for a special treat.
Could somebody point me at how to open the amplifier? There are so many screws attached and I'm a bit worried to unscrew all of them. I need to change voltage to 230v since I'm now in a different country.
There should be 4 black 4-40 screws on the edges of bottom, 4 black 4-40 screws on the back, and 1 black M3 screw in the center of the bottom. Remove those, and the top and sides will come off as one piece. It will not come off easily, but if it is really tight you can loosen, but not remove, the two M3 screws on the far edges of the back.
How does DSHA3F compare to the T4? Do they sound similar?
Is DSHA3F the best solid state amp for Verites?
You are receiving dislikes for not doing your homework. This isn't head-fi or any of the other forums where you walk in and ask "tell me what is best so I don't have to think or exert any effort whatsoever. Spoon feed me."
Here is what you can do for yourself.
Using a search engine such as google enter the following search terms:
dsha3f t4 site:superbestaudiofriends.org
Recommended etiquettereading for first time randos.
Introduce yourself so you may be aquainted with the regulars instead of being tarred and fearhered.
A short thread with info to consider about the 3f and t4.
Measurements of 3f with interjections about its qualities. Atomic Bob
Measurements of t4 with ejaculations about its qualities. Atomic Bob
Read this 3f thread, lots of info. It appears you have the T4.
Sometimes it is good to seek out the opinion of a senior member whose posts, impressions and measurements you admire. Yes I did just say, "whose measurement ls you admire." (There is a tshirt for this too.)
ECP arrived earlier this morning, and holy shit is it gorgeous.
Wood is bubinga, with black anodizing.
Doug is a freaking artist. The wood looks like it's now bookmarked, so is symmetrical on either side, and without the splines the wood just flows smoothly over the side edges. The reddish-orange-brown bubinga contrasts beautifully with the black anodizing, and Doug selected a really really nice piece of bubinga that reminds me of a swirly luscious hot chocolate or a latte. I tried to capture the beautiful wood as best as I can, but an iphone X camera just doesn't do the wood justice.
Rub your hand over the top and everything is smooth to the touch and perfectly flat. The metal plates are also very smooth, with no knife-blade corners or rough spots. The volume knob is weighty and adjusts smoothly, with no channel imbalance above 8PM (but some channel imbalance below 8PM; fwiw I listen at around 8:30-9 comfortably on this amp). (Note that the black widow has no channel balance at all all the way to zero. I can listen at lower volumes more comfortably on the black widow). The colorful LEDs of the past have been replaced by red LEDs on this 3F, which gives it a sorta black widow, dangerous/noir vibe.
Unfortunately no power cord was included in the box (maybe a mistake @dsavitsk ?), so I'm using the Asgard 3 power cord and things are working as expected. Plug-and-play, very nice.
Temperature: Gungnir A2 > ECP 3F >> Black widow
Initial Listening Impressions
Note my initial impressions chain: Spotify (320kbps) -> Gungnir Multibit (2019) -> 3F (amorphous, fed via AQ Yukon XLR) -> Verite Closed (ironwood, universe lambskin pads, 2K cable)
Also disclaimer, very stream-of-consciousness impressions. Also probably a lot of "new toy syndrome". Take all the below with a grain of salt, and are subject to change weeks/months into the future. Also all impressions were done using the chain noted above. Haven't listened extensively with the focal clear yet (but am really really liking what I hear so far)
I'll be honest, listening to the 3F I wasn't wowed at first. First immediate impressions to a friend were: "very transparent, but lean/dry sounding. Prefer the black widow for meatier/more euphonic presentation, more listening is required though."
But as I kept listening for longer, the amp started impressing me more and more. "The 3F is insanely clear, reminds me of the utopia/clear," I said to my friend. "The more I’m listening, the more I’m realizing nothing sounds congested, muddy, imprecise (superorganism in particular is a crazy experience); this is insanely resolving. Okay yeah, first impression wasn’t that impressive, but holy hell it’s utterly seductive a few minutes in; absolutely zero listening fatigue; extremely extremely fast."
I think at first I think my ears weren't used to hearing the high resolve of the 3F. Nothing sounds congested, no matter how complicated the song gets, sounds appear out of this blackground void, and no fatigue after this 30 minutes of listening (edit: now 1.5 hours, holy shit an hour melted away like nothing). It's hard to say if I prefer the 3F to the Black Widow on my chain, though. The BW has a more fuller, wider 3D-sounding soundstage, with a more organic sound and lovely euphonic mids I usually associate with tube amps. Seriously, guitar, vocals, and real-life instruments are so freaking good on the black widow, sounds so freaking natural and beautiful. You can only tell that the 3F is the more resolving, dynamic amp when directly A/B'd in quick succession, and I feel the true beauty of the 3F is only understood when listening for a while and noticing absolutely zero listening fatigue (I feel like there's some fatigue with the black widow after a couple hours). I'll probably keep both and listen for longer.
Honestly though, first impressions with both these amps, I didn't find they were that much better than the THX 789 and Asgard 3 I was coming from, at least any improvements were not immediately apparent. If you're satisfied with an Asgard 3 or THX 789, you're only going to get marginally better improvement in dynamics, layering, and soundstage quality that will take some time to hear (diminishing returns definitely playing a factor here I think, at least for me), and you can be perfectly content with either of those amps. It took many hours before I started to really appreciate the non-fatiguing and euphonic nature of the black widow, and I suspect I'll only appreciate the 3F's true strengths after extending listening over multiple listening sessions. (If I were to say anything, I'd say the 3F and Black Widow are pretty even right now, with me potentially preferring the BW overall due to tonality and soundstage. Will continue to compare over time, though.)
I will continue to listen and provide more comprehensive impressions a few weeks to a month later. My amp was one of the first to ship, and other amps are likely to arrive soon. I look forward to hearing those impressions too.
Until then, enjoy these pictures. Thanks for reading!
 That said, I plan to sell my asgard 3 (sold to tommytakis), and thx 789 to clear space for my desk. If you're interested and a friend, feel free to PM me.
(All images: https://imgur.com/a/sKUd2l7)
Nice look — definitely an interesting alternative to my silver/padauk.
Personally, I appreciate your candor. So frequently folks describe their new equipment as ‘life-changing’ or some other BS — less so here than over on HF of course
Amusingly, when I read your ‘first impressions’ statement I thought “I bet he’s using the amorphous core transformers” and then saw that I had skimmed right past a statement to that effect. Nickel transformers add a little body/weight to the sound at the price of a little air and staging. Subtle, but noticeable, I wonder if it would make a meaningful difference to you.
Thanks for your kind words! Yeah I tried to keep things real, although tbh I probably did sound a bit excited still in my impressions haha.
Yeah I knew going in that nickle would offer more body/weight to the sound, but when I talked to Doug over email, he said:
"I'm probably not much help with suggesting a particular transformer for a particular headphone. But I will say that the amorphous are plenty warm sounding and are generally my default recommendation. The mu-metal does bring a little body to the midbass, but it is at the expense of some air in the upper mids and treble. If I offered this amp without the rolling option, I'd use the amorphous."
And I will say after listening to the amp for 2 hours continuously now, I think it's fine. It's pretty neutral, and I do appreciate the open-feeling of the amp. It really compliments well with the black widow, if I decide to keep both.
edit: I'll also add that with the clear, it sounds a lot more full-bodied with a fuller-sounding midrange and superbly tight and punchy bass. Liking what I'm hearing so far, although the black widow has more body still with a fuller soundstage, with a more dynamic and lively sound with the 3F.
@pure5152 great write up, I'm excited to see how your impressions change after long term usage. it's kind of funny because I have pretty contrasting views compared to you regarding 3F vs. BW. Here's what I thought about the two amps:
- BW is definitely more organic/tubey sounding as you said, but I find that at least with my chain, it gets too warm for my tastes. During my honeymoon period, I seriously loved the added richness and warmth, but overtime I felt that it was bordering sins of commission. I think especially with ZMFs with its somewhat rich tonality, I found the 3F synergized much better than the Black Widow. I didn't always appreciate the lack of grip and tightness in the bass of BW while 3F really seems to maximize the driver's potential. One thing I could fault about the 3F in terms of tonality is that with some headphones like JAR600, the upper mids became too pronounced and found it fatiguing to listen after a while. However with HD650/580, I found the 3F do a superb job lifting the Sennheiser veil without too much forwardness in the vocals.
- Transients are also a bit rounded on the BW, which works well for brighter, zippy headphones like HD800, but ultimately I found that it was trying too hard to mask the flaws of the headphone rather than play to its strengths. 3F doesn't try to hide its flaws, rather it unleashes it without any harshness or glare. 3F is also smoother sounding even though its tonality is tilted brighter than the BW, yeah it's fking weird (in a good way)
- stage depth/presentation seems to be a weakness in both amps due to it being solid state designs, but I thought 3F has superbly better clarity with inky black background. The imaging is also laser focused on the 3F, where the BW sounds a bit more blurry, hazy, diffuse.
- Overall resolution and microdetail, I felt the 3F was also a couple steps above the BW
- In terms of macrodynamics, I think the BW cheats a bit by with its warmer tilted tonality, but in terms of subtleties and nuance, 3F is easily the more microdynamically superior amp.
- Ultimately, they're both wonderful amps, but I found the BW colored the sound too much and made me miss my 3F even more...Where ever you are I hope you are happy with your new owner
Edit: Oh and also, make sure to try the 3F with a ZMF Auteur... I found the synergy was much better with the Auteur than the Verite! 3F really helps with improving Auteur's macrodynamics and staging doesn't feel like a weakness with it.
Thanks for your long-term impressions. Now that you mention it, I do think that the 3F has tighter and more textured bass, whereas the bass on the BW sounds looser. I do feel the 3F has faster transients too, and agree the BW sounds a little more rounded in compariosn. That said, I actually don't find the imaging that off between the BW and 3F so far -- could be I don't have enough time with the 3F, or that the BW stage sounds wider and therefore has more room to position things. Yeah I agree that the 3F has better microdynamics.
Hmm, I wonder how much of our impressions are due to differences in chains though. I know in your impressions you used a gungnir A1 and now use a bifrost 2, which I've heard to be more warmer/organic sounding than the gungir A2 I used, which is supposedly a leaner/more neutral amp (purr1n A1 vs A2, purr1n Bifrost 2 vs A1 vs A2). The more neutral/leaner Gungnir Multibit A2 could have better tonal synergy with the warmer BW2 than the ECP 3F as chacha alluded to with his comment about amp synergies, whereas your warmer A1/bifrost 2 might have better tonal synergy with the leaner 3F. Notes on the better technicalities for the 3F remain though.
edit: can't stop listening to this thing since arriving 3-4 hours ago...
I would say the same about 3F/Utopia pairing.
3F/Auteur pairing is great — and I really enjoy the slightly different flavors nickel vs amorphous bring to Auteur. I don’t have a preference. PITA to swap them though
This exactly. At this level, synergy/preference matters a lot more. Some may find the 3F, while excellent, to be too grippy in transients and in controlling the headphone driver. Some might find the BW to be too relaxed and gooey.
I doubt that you'd find a reasonable, non-deaf person that would find either amp anything short of excellent.
In my experience this amp is very transparent and will let your source shine. Pair it with nice R2R DAC, you will get good body and dense tonality, pair it with brighter DAC and the amp will change its color.
Mine has nickel transformer.
I do agree that this is very non fatiguing amp. I was so close to selling my 800s but after pairing with 3F and Onyx, I decided against it.
New DSHA-3F (nickel, maple) in the house. First impressions are not to be trusted, especially since my DAC had to be turned off for the day while the local utility did scheduled maintenance. Roon>Pi2AES>Yggdrasil A2>DSHA-3F. ZMF Verité closed monkeypod. Listening to my standard test album, Vijay Iyer Trio's Accelerando. Drums and cymbals are super clean, fast, full of detail. Bass is dense, digs deep. Piano a tad rough, grainy. Decent left-to-right image, but not much depth. Nevertheless, everything hangs together, dynamics are superb, the full range from bassiest bass and kick drum to brushes on cymbals well displayed. From memory, this amp has more substance and bite than the totally cool Phonitor XE I had in the same place. I'll have to wait a few days to start comparing with the EC Af that sits next to it.
Keep listening to it. Doug mentioned to me that, unlike most amps, the 3F will get mellower and warmer with burn-in as the magnetic cores in the transformers align. I've actually noticed this a bit, with the amp sounding less lean and more full-bodied since Saturday, and being a lot more enjoyable as a result. Here's exactly what Doug told me:
Enjoy your 3F man! Yours looks great, cheers, welcome to the 3F club
Here's my conundrum: I had bought this amp for my work setup, but because of the current viral situation, I'm spending my days at my home office with it. When SARS-CoV-2 finally retires, I'm not sure I will be able to follow the original plan. I may "need" a 2nd DSHA-3F for work-work...
Another observation: listening to the Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio's Sources (ECM 44.1/16, Sclavis on clarinets, Gilles Coronado on electric guitar, Benjamin Moussay on various keyboards). Electric guitar and Fender Rhodes have an exceptional grip, the subtle vibrato of tones "thickens" the notes and brings them to par with the clarinet's breathiness. A more material presentation of this work than I remember.
If you can focus at work while listening to that amp then you’re a stronger man than me. I’d have a serious productivity loss while listening to the 3F.
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