ECP DSHA3F Ravenswood 3F

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

  1. Carlos CPA

    Carlos CPA Almost "Made"

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    @dsavitsk, would you expect any difference in performance for the amp between having the volume turned all the way up (corresponding to about 5:00 on a clock’s face) and having the volume turned to unity gain (corresponding to about 2:30 on a clock’s face)?

    I am basing my statement regarding unity gain on prior posts in a different thread by @atomicbob. Like Bob, I have a GoldPoint balanced attenuator that I can place in the signal path between my dac and the DSHA-3F. Just trying to determine which volume level to set the amp to for optimal results.

    (Edited for grammar/syntax.)
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  2. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    The attenuator is after the transformer, and consequently it sees the entire input signal. That's why reducing the volume prior to sending it to the amp can be beneficial.

    I don't want to overstate the benefit - these transformers are very good, and they do not really start to show much distortion until the signal is quite high. So it makes more of a difference with a really hot source.
     
  3. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    The difference is minimal. You would only be able to detect, or even measure a difference in an extreme case with a hot source that was just on the edge of causing issues.
     
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  4. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    For some reason I read your original statement as "inversely proportional" instead of "proportional". Doh
     
  5. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    I have received several emails asking about the status of the 3F. Specifically, whether it is discontinued forever. I thought I should post an update somewhere, and here seems like a reasonable place.

    The Ravenswood 3F is not discontinued. However, because the amplifier is unnecessarily complicated to assemble, and because my metal finisher closed up shop, I am working on changes to make it easier (and less expensive) to produce. The current plan is for the circuit to stay (more or less) the same, but for the casework to change. This should result in a lower price and a potentially faster delivery time.

    I am unsure of the timeline for being ready to accept orders, but I hope to have things ready as quickly as possible.
     
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  6. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    Hi Doug,

    I sent one of those messages

    Do you have an idea of how much cheaper the amp will be ( approximately of course)

    In any case I'm ready with my deposit. Not going to miss out on this again!
     
  7. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    I don't know, and until I work out more details about new case costs, I am hesitant to speculate too much. Suffice it to say that I am shooting for it to round down to $2K rather than up to $3K.
     
  8. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    Thanks for the response and that sounds great, will be accessible to a lot more people at that kind of price point.
     
  9. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    Hi Doug,

    Any update on this?
     
  10. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    Not really. Everything is pretty slow right now as everyone is short staffed, so it's taking longer than hoped.
     
  11. etherealsound

    etherealsound Rando

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    Does this possible reduction in price apply to the dsha4 as well?
     
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  12. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    Not likely. The reduction in cost has to do with a simplification of manufacturing that is dependent upon doing a larger run. The 4, being done one at a time, does not have that benefit.

    More importantly, my metal finisher went out of business. They were unique in that they were willing, and able, to do very small amounts of finishing and anodizing. Additionally, until the pandemic slows considerably, I have lost access to the laser I used for labeling. So until I find a replacement for all of that, one-offs are on hold.
     
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  13. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    question... I know the 3F wants balanced... can the 3F be driving by the Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 Mkii SE+? I know the SFD has xlr outs, but I've seen it described as a single ended DAC. I just want to be sure.

    Thanks
    -----------------Edit----------------

    NVM, I should have read back in the thread first. I had completely forgotten about the prior SE vs Bal discussion that happened last year. Happy to be reminded that SE isn't a problem
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
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  14. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Some preliminary comparisons of the ECP 3F when compared to the Pendant. Note that I've only been using these with a pretty cheap dac ( Geshelli Enog Pro 2), though I'm pretty confident even so, that the DSHA-3F is the superior amplifier. I will post a complete review of this amp with spider charts and pictures once I've received my Soekris 2541. Probably worth noting that I've only been listening to this for two days, though I am pretty confident that this amp is something special with the Auteur. On the whole, I'm extremely impressed.

    In favor of the ECP DSHA-3F:

    -If there is one word to describe this amp, it is "effortless". It never sounds as if anything is out of place, and despite the sense of quickness and pop that many have noted with this amp, it never seems as if it is trying to make things edgier or more quick than they actually are. And indeed, despite the wealth of detail presented with this amp, it never feels as if this detail is being shoved in your face. Compared to the Pendant, then, this has a notably smoother and more fluid sound, without being any slower. In comparison, the Pendant sounds like its trying too hard to hit you with both slam in the bass and information in the upper treble.

    -As a result of the above, the 3F is a less fatiguing listen, despite hardly sounding "relaxed".

    -Superior sense of stage, and much improved layering ability compared to the Pendant. More "holographic" and tube-like than the tube amp!

    -Better overall sonic cohesiveness. Despite excellent separation, everything sounds as if it is part of the same whole. Pendant sounds a tad disjointed in comparison.

    -A step up in clarity, micro-detail, and overall resolve.

    -Far better microdynamics, and a much more nuanced overall presentation. This surprised me, as I often heard that the DSHA-3F has something "relentless" in its presentation, but in comparison to the Pendant, it is the more subtle, less incisive sounding amplifier.

    -Macrodynamics handled with more -ease-, although not necessarily "Better". Although macro-dynamic shifts are somewhat more easily discerned with this amp in the mid-range and upper frequencies, as are rapid starts and stops in volume in general, bass macrodynamics seem to lag somewhat behind. This makes the amp sound very light on its feet, in comparison to the Pendant, which sounds weightier and more grounded.

    In Favor of the Pendant:

    -Better sense of weight and solidity to the mid-range. At times, the DSHA-3F's midrange sounds just a tad recessed in comparison to the frequency extremes, which results in a sound in which certain mid-range elements are not quite as present as one wants them to be. The Pendant does not have this issue, and instead the mid-range has a great sense of saturation. As far as FR goes, this manifests itself most in a sense of slight "hollowness" to vocals on the ECP DSHA-3F, as if the fundamentals of the vocals are a bit cut out. But this problem can be fixed, on the Auteur, by swapping to Auteur Lambskin rather than Eikon Suede pads - the issue is that I find that Eikon Suede pads to provide a more engaging overall presentation, even with some of its vocal issues.

    -The bass on the Pendant is better textured, slightly better extended, and also slams notably harder, not just because of its increased quantity but also because there is just a more visceral sense of bass macrodynamics. "Slamheads" might very well prefer the Pendant for this reason, even though it is technically inferior to the ECP DSHA-3F in a lot of key respects. I'm not sure if the macrodynamics are actually "better" here, but they definitely seem more "present".

    -As a result of the two points noted above, the Pendant is a more powerful, grippy sounding amplifier than the ECP DSHA-3F. There is a sense of dynamism, punch, and power that the ECP DSHA-3F lacks, perhaps because it is nimbler and lighter on its feet. This is probably also related to the Pendant's more intimate, in-your-face staging.

    -There's no denying it: the Pendant has just a bit more tube magic within the mid-range in particular. Vocals and guitars sound fuller and have somewhat more rounded, rich textures, even though they are microdynamically flatter than the ECP DSHA-3F.

    -Instrument images are a bit larger and more full on the Pendant, contributing to the intensity of its presentation. However, it is not as coherent and natural sounding over the entire frequency range: compared to the DSHA-3F, it actually can sound just a tad disjointed.

    Conclusion

    Overall, I prefer the Auteur with the 3F than with the Pendant by a pretty big margin. More synergistic pairing. However, I think the final verdict is still out for me until I hear the Pendant with something like the ETA Genesis or a Focal (And I get my Soekris 2541 in).
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021 at 6:09 PM
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  15. DJ XtAzY

    DJ XtAzY Acquaintance

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    I can totally agree with those two points! Never did I expect an amp can improve that much on layering and separation. I can listen to this amp for hours without feeling fatigue, and with any of the ZMF pads.

    By the way, which transformer core do you have installed in your 3F? I haven't listened to the Auteur yet, but at least for my VC, I find that the nickel transformer has a pretty nice slam (I can also hear a nice nice sub-bass rumble at the tail end of a kick drum) and more warmth, compared with the amorphous transformers, which gave me a really nice airy presentation near the top end and made the VC even less congested. Although I never heard any tube amps yet, I am hoping be able to try out some amps with even harder slams.
     
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  16. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    I'm using the Nickel Transformers. The tonality is pretty perfect for me, though I was lucky enough to get one of the amps with both transformers so I am going to try swapping to the amorphous sometime + lambskin pads sometime. Perhaps that will be the "Goldilocks" setup, though again, I haven't tried this with a higher-end dac yet!
     
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  17. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Day 2 of listening, and the 3F's advantages are becoming somewhat less clear (perhaps as "new toy syndrome" fades off). Though it undoubtedly has superior clarity and layering, the Pendant has a magic to the way it resolves mid-range textures in particular: Voices, guitars, and pianos have more saturated and convincing textures, making me think that the Pendant has a better handle on "micro-detail" than the 3F. In Otis Redding's rendition of “a change is gonna come”, the vocals sound notably more tactile and fleshy than those of the 3F, which in comparison makes the vocals sound extra-ordinarily clear but also somewhat ethereal and weightless. Although it is easier to discern each individual word spoken on the 3F, the Pendant gives a better sense of the deep fundamentals of the vocals, making them sound more realistic, soulful, and emotional. My connection with this kind of music is just a tad more immediate with the Pendant.

    The Pendant's bass undoubtedly digs deeper and hits harder. The kick of a kick drum is more immediately visceral and slamming here, while the 3F is much more reserved with this. Despite the Pendant's sense of slam, though, bass is excellently controlled and never sounds as if it is bloated, even though it is very -active-.

    Though the 3F reproduces finer gradations of volume, the Pendant is more up-front about the way it presents dynamic contrast and has more flair and vibrancy to its overall presentation (think Auteur (3F) vs. Aeolus (Pendant)). Think of @Hands metaphor of the Aeolus as an OLED with the "naughty" settings on: if the 3F is more resolving of fine differences in volume and resolution, the Pendant nonetheless has a higher contrast ratio at first listen. I find that this element of the Pendant actually matches up quite well with the Auteur, which can occasionally sound somewhat sedate and dull if not properly driven.

    The 3F is more "Refined" sounding, and overall, it actually has a smoother timbre than the Pendant. But as a result, the Pendant is occasionally better at displaying the "grittiness" of various recordings. On "Wonderful World", performed by Otis Redding, the sense of raspiness in Otis Redding's voice is better portrayed by the Pendant, and the vocals sound much larger and are projected further forwards toward you, while on the 3F it is easier to follow the nuances of the vocals over time but at any given time-splice they have less filled-out textures.

    The 3F is better at presenting a unified sonic portrait of the music, with each of the musical elements layered in a pleasing way. But on the Pendant, individual instruments pop out more with greater flair, contributing to a more "fun" presentation. On Otis Redding's performance of "Rock me Baby", the horns sound as if they pop out of the soundstage on the Pendant, whereas they stay integrated within the rest of the music on the 3F.

    I'm increasingly impressed by the Pendant. I think this amp is definitely a sleeper, and after comparing with the 3F, I'm actually more confident that I made a good purchase here, despite doing so primarily from the advice I received from @Phantaminum and @johnnypaddock. I think that technically speaking, 3F still has it beat, but I increasingly feel which you prefer is going to be a matter of what sonic presentation you prefer more than anything else. The real test will be once the Soekris 2541 rolls in and these amps can show off how they really scale...
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021 at 12:22 PM
  18. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Well said... different but roughly equal. I feel the same way about my 3f and Mogwai SE.
     
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  19. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Thank you for very detailed, insightful impressions. These are the same reasons I keep DSHA-3F and EC Af (with well-chosen tubes) side by side. I prefer DSHA-3F for long listening of spacier ECM jazz and minimalism, but I prefer Af for grittier acoustic fare, whether jazz, blues, West Africa, or orchestral.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021 at 3:33 PM
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