Feliks Audio Euforia Headphone Amplifier

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    The Loaner Impression

    TL;DR
    • Pros: midrange to die for, awesome as a preamp
    • Cons: price doubled last year, sub par stage and bass quality
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Associated gears

    • Gustard U16 + DAC-X26 (via AES/EBU XLR)
    • ECP Audio DSHA-3F, Schiit Vidar (stereo mode), JBL NanoPatch+
    • ZMF Verite and Auteur, Raal SR1a

    First impressions
    Opening the box, the first thing I noticed was that the amp was very small and cute. Because of the fairly limited my tube amp experience (mostly OPT), I thought all-tube stage amps must be large in size, which was not the case this time around. Dimension was roughly 8 inches (W) by 11 inches (D), which made the amp quite desktop-friendly. Although Euforia is relatively small, it doesn’t mean to look cheap by any means. I bet its sleek and minimalist design with nice matte black will satisfy more than 90% of buyers. The loaner unit came with a pair of Psvane CV181-TII Gold driver tubes and a pair of Russian 6N13S NOS power tubes (both set claimed matched). The former was the most expensive driver I’ve ever used. Lol. I don’t know how they comparatively sound as I didn’t have other tubes in the house. Bottom line, they look gorgeous. Feel pretty boutique-ish.​

    Treble and top-end extension
    While I don’t think Euforia help any headphone obtain the last bit of speed, airiness and sparkles, the amp did not annoy me at all during my evaluation. Can easily think of several tube amps I don’t like in this criterion -- typically sounds restricted, veiled, unclear, or recessed. Euforia may have some of those. And with Verite, it was a little bothersome, compared to my reference DSHA-3F (it did this job perfectly to my liking). But with brighter Auteur (with Verite pads), nothing really mattered.​

    Midrange
    Sweet midrange and bold timbre were definitely the highlight of the show. And probably it’s the way how Euforia was designed and tuned. Male and female vocals were a little more forwarding than I would expect for this amp category. From the memory, Woo WA5, Decware Taboo 4, and Leptoni DT-Alpha could also satisfy me in midrange sweetness, but vocal presentation was distant or a bit muddy occasionally as long as I remember. Euforia didn’t have such issues. With Verite, I honestly like the midrange performance of this amplifier as much as DSHA-3F. With Auteur, I hate to admit.. But I prefer Euforia, although it’s highly track and mood dependent.​

    Listening to Madeleine Peyroux’s Half the Perfect World with Auteur, I found her voice was a little more sweetened and wetter via Euforia, compared to DSHA-3F. It feels less accurate but I really wanted to give up ABing and just enjoy the music. In another track of Rickie Lee Jones’ Chuck E’s in Love, her vocal techniques were better resolved with DSHA-3F in terms of microdynamics and details to my ears, but Euforia reproduced deeper and more seductive tones. It felt that upper midrange and lower treble of Euforia combinedly rendered a little smaller (narrower and shallower) and closer stage -- with great extent of intimacy.​

    Bass
    To me, this was the weakest link of Euforia’s capabilities at least with my ZMF headphones. It didn’t roll off as early as some old amps like my JLH integrated amp, it’s rather well extended to sub bass for tube gain stages. However, this amp didn’t do bass the way I’d like. With both headphones (Auteur and Verite), bass transition shown in the first part of Beyonce’s Partitions was neither as clearly articulated nor controlled as driven by DSHA-3F. Euforia generated decently nuanced bass, but it couldn’t quite stack against performance frontiers in my choice of bass-heavy tracks. Although all my dissatisfaction didn’t pop up evidently with more normal tracks, I categorize this amp into a specialist rather than a generalist.​

    Other considerations
    Headstage could be another potential show-breaker, depending on what to expect from this amp. Compared to DSHA-3F, virtual stage was narrower and shallower. Instruments were less isolated with less crisp images.Tracks calling for such virtues, for example, Holly Cole’s Train Song or Bjork’s Hunter (spatial cues highly associated with musical pleasure in both), switching from Euforia to DSHA-3F could easily reveal performance delta. In more normal and popular tracks, however, I didn’t care that much.​

    To me tube gains generally showed impressive dynamics. Euforia is also in line with them. I found DSHA-3F a little better both in terms of macro- and micro- dynamics but likely that’s because I am more familiar with how 3F resolves things. Safely speaking Euforia was far from boring or flat sounding.​

    As a preamp
    I was also wondering how it could serve as a preamp because SR1a’s uptilting tonality and sharp (sometimes strident) timbre could benefit from tube buffer preamping. Euforia-Vidar-SR1a chain immediately struck me more than expected. Strengths (timbre, wetness and richness) mostly remained while weaknesses (subpar technicalities) substantially vanished. Honestly I was ready to be disappointed by more diffusing stages and reduced plankton. It seems that Vidar offsets and complements Euforia greatly. ​

    Surely switching from NanoPatch+ to Euforia resulted in clarity and low-level information reduced to some extent. Background a little grayer, too. It’s not for detail and transparency freaks. However, both added fake and subtracted reality made great sense to me at least with this particular setup. It’s an encouraging experience -- enough to re-think about having active tube preamp for SR1a.​

    Sound aside, Euforia (as a preamp) could be better if it had (proper) muting features. It feeds signal simultaneously to both preamp and headphone outs, which was quite inconvenient. I am not a big fan of automatic muting like Schiit head amps. But I believe having a couple of mute switches enabling to choose outputs to use could make some happier.​

    Conclusion
    I heard this amp was sold at $1,400 in 2017 (tubes not included). For this performance, that price is nearly a no-brainer. If this pops up with 1000-ish in the used market, I can recommend anybody to buy it immediately. Even all the weaknesses I found were pretty much non-issue for a 1k amp.​

    However, Feliks raised the price to 2.6k usd in 2018 (tubes included) [1]. While it still does a few things better or at least differently, I can’t see any sanity to choose Euforia over other well-received and similarly priced (2k-4k range) amps unless specific synergy, tastes, and needs matter. For 3k-ish price or higher, my expectation is that it should perform at least on par with DSHA-3F.​

    To sum, Euforia deserves to my likes. Feliks engineers did a great job. It was the managerial decision that screwed up.​

    Footnote
    [1] Feliks claimed they improved preamp in the upgraded one.. But without detailed explanations, I’d rather doubt it.​
     
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  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Oh, I forgot saying this.

    Euforia has a crossfeed feature. It seems to differ from popular settings such as Chu Moy's proposal or Jan Meier's proposal in that there was no time-delay consideration (impulse responses of both channel started from the same time point).

    Here are from my measurements. Only decibel differences (relative to crossfeed off) presented.

    upload_2019-7-18_18-8-32.png

    For channel A, Output(f) = Main(f) * Input[Ch A] + Cross(f) * Input[Ch B]

    Main means the original channel and Cross means 'the other' channel.

    Ironically, it didn't work well with traditional overear headphones I tested (Auteur and Verite).. but I really like Euforia's crossfeed with SR1a (Euforia as a preamp). It improved imaging reality and staging depth to the substantial extent. I bet Euforia can benefit other treble-bright headphones such as HD800 or Utopia, too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
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  4. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Does the old version have the crossfeed feature? I will have to check mine - I have the old version.

    Also - the stage increases a little with 6336 driver tubes, I highly recommend trying them on the Euforia if you have a pair on hand.
     
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  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    New version has the crossfeed switch on its back (left to the power switch). So you can just check the back panel of your amp. 6336 is an interesting info for the next people in the tour!

    upload_2019-7-19_15-23-41.png
     
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  6. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for the heads up Zach. Going to give the 6336 a go when I pick up the Euforia from Vtory. I’m a little surprised that the amp can take those tubes.
     
  7. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Well - I should say before throwing them in there - that when I told the Feliks guys when I met them about using those tubes, they seemed a little apprehensive - but I've run them quite a bit and never had an issue. This is with the OG Euforia. So since this is a loaner amp - it might be safest not to take me up on my recommendation for the safety of the amp.
     
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  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    By the way, is anybody willing to explain about psvane tubes (either general consensus or specific 6sn7 products) a bit? I haven't used their tubes before (always fan of cheep ones!). Zach's advice suddenly made me question if what I felt -- regarding both positives and negatives -- could be associated with tubes used to some extent.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  9. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Almost "Made"

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    Feliks Euforia Review

    Gear: PC --> Eitr --> Gungnir Multibit MB A1 --> Single End: Glenn OTL | Feliks Euforia

    Tubes:
    Tung Sol 5998
    Tung Sol 7236
    Svetlana 6H13C
    Fivre, Sylvania Bad Boys, Black Glass National Union - 6SN7

    Headphones:
    ZMF Verite
    ZMF Autuer
    Sennheiser HD650



    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build:
    The amp feels solid all around. Case is sturdy, the switches have a nice click, and the pot is smooth. The tube sockets look to be of much better quality compared to the Glenn OTL. The only place I can really ding it is the material that's used for the amp. It seems to be made from same metal that's used in the MCTH from Massdrop. It collects dust prints, oil, and scratches like a magnet.

    Sound:
    The Euforia has a centered and forward sound stage. Tubes that I found neutral in the mid-range like the 5998 and Fivre 6SN7 seemed to change this by small increments. Sound width and depth were fine but I expected it to be wider and deeper. It has around the same sound stage as the Liquid Platinum with a little more depth. Music is rendered clearly and with detail. It extends well into both ends with the exception of bass. Bass was present, punchy, but the low end rumble was more heard than felt. It was smooth (but detailed) throughout and never did I run into hash or grain. Great micro and macro dynamics. Tone and timbre is really dependent on tubes but with most combinations, it just sounded right. I tried the crossfeed switch on different headphones and each time I turned it off. It seems to push out the images more but in turns muddies up the music.

    Amp Comparison:

    Feliks Euforia vs Glenn OTL

    This is where I'll break down more of the plus and minuses between each type of amp implementation.

    Euforia:
    • Because of the Push Pull nature of Glenn's amp, the sound is not as clear and clean as the Feliks Euforia.
    • I could not perceive any hum on the Euforia using any tube combinations of power tubes and different 6SN7s. It's nice not having to worry about this.
    • No background noise. This may not be a big deal for people who own solid states but coming from an amp that's picky, this is really a big positive for me.
    • Air between instruments due to the very quiet background.
    • No matter what tube combination I used it was fairly quick.
    • I want to reiterate how clean it presents all frequencies.
    • Tubes don't affect the sound as much as it does on Glenn's OTL. For example the 5998 output tube is known to have a very deep and layered sound stage. Sub bass also goes very low with this tube. The Euforia doesn't exhibit this to the extent that Glenn's amp does.
    Glenn OTL:
    • Tubes have a big effect on what you hear in the end. The versatility to adjust the sound via tubes, to fit most headphones, can't be underestimated.
    • Tube dependent but I found in almost all instances the sound stage was wider and deeper.
    • Layering is done much better on this amp. You'll hear the singer close in front of you, then the drums behind them, then the cymbal crash above the drums, then a sax off to the left but behind the singer. It creates believable holographic sound stage.
    • Imaging is more natural on this amp. The Euforia has better delineation between instruments but it never feels like it's all thrown into the middle. Whatever sound stage is presented, instruments fill up the space across it.
    • Instruments have much more substance. Notes are just denser. If you close your eyes it feels like you can reach out and touch one.
    • Both do texture and dynamics equally as well. -Bass not included
    • Bass punch and sub bass are downright satisfying on this amp. It'll rumble.
    • Even with all of the tube rolling I've done, this amp will never be as clear and clean sounding as the Euforia.
    Headphone Pairing:

    Auteur Leather Eikon Perf Pads:

    It's very clean and sounds fast. The Blackwood fixed some of the issues I had with immediacy and speed on the GOTL but you can tell that the Euforia is snappier. It doesn't feel like it has much body because of the bass issue and makes it sound more neutral than warm. Smooth, no grain, and never harsh. I do prefer the weightier and layered sound of the GOTL with this headphone.

    Verite Leather Universe Perf Pads:
    I liked this combination out of the two ZMF headphones I own most with the Euforia. The Verite has bass for days but can sound recessed in certain areas. The Euforia makes it sounds almost Auteur like but with the headphones technicalities, the Verite shores up some of the negatives on the Euforia. Gives a little more depth and layering. Makes notes sound a little more denser and adds just a tad more in bass. This would be a toss up for me on either amp.

    HD650:
    Ho-ly sheet. I'm not sure what magic crack they sprinkled on the Euforia to make this HD650 sound this damn good. I've basically listened to the Euforia for the first two days on Zach's headphones but I plugged these in on the third and went, "Wow"! The last two days I exclusive just listened to these two with big smile on my face. The Euforia has a grip on the driver. Bass is punchy, the whole FR is smooth and crystalline, treble extends high and never gets harsh, the air between instruments and separation are just great. Sub bass is still lacking but really, are you going to be listening to DJ Magic Mike - Drop the Bass with the HD650s? I was very impressed with the synergy between these two that I gave my other two headphones a disappointing side glance.

    Conclusion:
    Technically it's a fantastic OTL with a few negatives. For the price of $2400 I'm just not sure. There are other amps out there at this price range that I feel would have better synergy with more headphones. If this amp was in the $1600-1800 it would be a great buy. If you only own the HD650s and have been looking for a great amp to pair with it, step right up. This is highly recommended for it if you can find it used.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
  10. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Being the first time I've had the chance to hear an OTL tube amp, I was pretty excited since a part of me just likes the look of tubes despite the nervosa.

    The amp is, indeed, "small and cute" to use @Vtory's words. It has some height to it though, which might make it slightly invasive on some desks, but the width and length is definitely desktop-friendly. I dig the all-black minimalist design; it's simple and elegant. Feels very-well constructed and certainly has no parts that look/feel cheap.

    Before I get into sound, I'd like to add a disclaimer that this is my first real experience with a high-end amp (only other real time was at micro CanJam at Marv's, where I honestly spent a lot more time talking to people and drinking). So yeah, I think it's better than the Liquid Platinum and can safely say that this amp represents an upgrade in almost every sonic area (I think the Liquid Platinum really only wins is in some treble detail and air, which it only does if tubes are rolled on the Liquid Platinum. Of course, this assumes stock tubes in the Euforia. This test was done with a Clear and a HD 6XX). So instead of talking about just the sound, I'll talk more about how I found gear synergy and what I heard there.

    DAC used was Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA. This works out pretty well since the X-Sabre Pro doesn't seem to change when used singled-ended or balanced (tested by plugging both outs to my Liquid Platinum and using the front switch while a song was playing). The combination of the X-Sabre Pro and the Euforia seemed to be extremely synergistic; images became more fleshed-out, the timbre thickened up nicely, and the Euforia injected some musicality and macrodynamics to go with the X-Sabre Pro's square and technical presentation. Transients and background were conveyed nicely. Minor loss of treble detail. Honestly was completely addicting (and made me so goddamn sad that I didn't have a cable for my Auteur to plug into it).

    Headphone notes:
    • HD 6XX: To quote @Phantaminum, ho-ly sheet. NOT neutral, at all (at least with the stock HD 6XX, which is what I have), but supremely musical. Euforia adds such good texture and slam to the bass, which I think is the most noticeable improvement coming from Liquid Platinum. Midrange shines because the Euforia does such a good job of cutting through the "veil" and "greyness" of the HD 6XX. Treble seems slightly more recessed oddly, but it's so easy to listen to. I always felt the HD 6XX had an ease to its presentation, and the Euforia compliments that so well. If you had to criticize the pairing, it just doesn't resolve treble very well and leans on the side of being really rich in tone and timbre, so I wouldn't use this with a rich-sounding source. But with the X-Sabre Pro, sheesh.
    • Focal Clear: Again, ho-ly sheet. Also definitely not neutral, which is really ironic since the Clear is meant to be very neutral. Boosts the bass a few dB, making the tonal response just a touch U-shaped, but very tastefully done. Does a lot to make the Clear sound less lean and less metallic. Voices and instruments in particular sound more fleshed-out. Like the HD 6XX, demonstrates great control over the driver. If you think the Clear is a bit too "moar hifi than HD 650" sounding, this won't entirely convince you otherwise, but it does make the Clear much more musical and easy to listen to. Treble can still be a touch strident on certain tracks, but definitely much improved over Liquid Platinum. My favorite pairing really.
    • AKG K7XX: A really shitty pairing. Took me about 20 seconds before I decided it just sucks ballsacks.

    Since the Clear and the Euforia was my favorite pairing (and since I couldn't test the Auteur on the Euforia), I decided to compare the Euforia + Clear with my current rig, which is Liquid Platinum + Auteur. Here are my impressions:
    • Euforia + Clear: demonstrated greater sense of macrodynamics. Slams harder and is faster-sounding (in particular, in "Pressure" by Muse, when the bass and drums come in it's almost felt). Bass textures are excellent. Moar bass than other system. Midrange seems slightly recessed, so vocals seem pushed back into the mix (not a negative thing). Despite Euforia, Clear still sounds drier and more lean than the other system, which shouldn't be a surprise. Treble not as smooth as the other system. Still a touch metallic (the piano in the beginning of "Hold The Line" by Toto sounds a bit strange, and the beginning of "Mr. Crowley" by Ozzy Osbourne is just hard to listen to). Jazz can be really fun to listen to, but can get a bit treble strident..
    • Liquid Platinum + Auteur: much more laid-back. More even tonally. Timbre is better, but not what I'd call neutral (those familiar with ZMF know what I'm talking about). Sounds wetter. Vocals are brought a bit more forward. Doesn't slam as hard, Hard for me to tell if the bass has worse texture, or if that's the Auteur's timbre (which I find much more pleasing than the Clear, but that's something I touched on in the other thread). Treble is slightly better detailed, more sparkly, and has more air. Andrea Bocelli on this system is just incredible; whereas I felt it was pretty meh on the Euforia + Clear (I felt this way about classical music in general, especially on the piano solos). Jazz wasn't quite as fun, but the timbre of vocals and instruments was better.
    Honestly, I really like the Euphoria and do wish I could keep it around longer to see how it works with my Auteur since I'm getting in some cables anyhow (also, Verite will be coming in at some point and would love to test). As far as if it's worth its high price though, I'm really not sure if my opinion counts for much since this is, after all, the first high-end amp I've evaluated, and the first OTL. So I got to defer to the other posters here.

    However! If you own a Sennheiser HD 650/6XX, and/or Focal headphones (and also don't have a rich-sounding source), I highly, highly recommend giving this amp an audition. I've heard that Focal like to demo their stuff on Feliks gear, and if this is true, there is a good reason; the synergy is incredible! If you can find the Euforia for a discounted price, definitely worth. At MSRP, I'm not sure of its value due to prior reasons stated above.

    I'll add my impressions of it as a preamp with the Freya+ later. Still in the preliminary evaluation stage.

    Edit: Preamp Impressions:

    I'll cut to the chase; I found the Euforia to be an inferior preamp. Euforia kept much of its character as a preamp, but for my setup it was too bloomy, too tubey, and was too rich. Also, the soundstage seemed a little flat and didn't pull off that 3D thing. Crossfeed switch helped with the 3D thing, but seemed to accentuate the tube bloom, which as I said was already much for me. That being said, on some leaner systems I could see this having pretty good synergy. It also still works as a headphone amp obviously, and the convenience might be worth it for some.

    Won't say too much here, but honestly, if you just need a preamp and want some of that "tube magic" get the Freya+ and spend the rest of the money on your family. The Freya+ kicks major ass and is better than the Euforia as a preamp.

    That said, it's a good headphone amp. I do definitely agree with @Vtory here; it's a specialist piece of gear. Audition before buying a must.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  11. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    After some deliberation and talks with my family, as well as having them enjoy some listening, I've decided to purchase the Feliks Euforia for dual use as a preamp and as a headphone amp.

    "WTF? Didn't you just say it was inferior as a preamp to the Freya+? And you can buy amp argle-bargle for headphones, and both the argle-bargle and the Freya+ together is like $1000 cheaper!"

    Well, yes, I did say that. I still stand by what I said earlier; for my taste I find the Euforia to be a bit too bloomy and tubey as a preamp, as well as being a touch too rolled in the highs. However, since I've been able to keep the loaner a bit longer because @fp627 has had some work-related vacation going on, I've spent more time with the Euforia just messing around and having fun.

    Some notes:
    • After more extensively exploring the crossfeed circuit, my thoughts on this more closely line up with @Vtory's thoughts above. I didn't really like this at all with headphones, but with speakers the additional depth and stage was super-noticeable, to the point where it becomes one of the Euforia's strengths. It becomes more like a tradeoff here; you're sacrificing ultimate treble sparkle and detail for the stage. Honestly, this doesn't bother me too much since I lean towards preferring a slightly dark sound despite not really having any treble-sensitivity.
    • The Euforia is charming. This has been alluded to by me and others, but it's not reference-grade in any real acoustic category. However, it doesn't try to be and I imagine that this is not Feliks' vision for this product anyhow. They wanted something to be tubey, fun, and slightly dark while maintaining an engaging, non-fatiguing lesson, and it does all that while not completely throwing out all technicalities. At the very least, it's more technically capable than the Liquid Platinum, and I presume probably all midrange amps, but at its price it better be. In its tier it's not a top technical performer for sure.
    • Once again, synergy with Focal Clear and Sennheiser HD 6XX is just jaw-dropping. It makes me want to either KISS mod my HD 6XX and try it again (probably won't do it because I'm more than a bit nervous of screwing things up), or get a HD 600. I'm willing to bet that the HD 600 would actually pair better.
    • And still a pity that I don't have a cable to test my Auteur out of this, although since I bought one I'll be able to test this when my Verite arrive (should come with one 1/4 inch terminated cable). That being said, I've heard conflicting opinions on how well the ZMF cans synergize here, so I'll have to wait to find out for myself what I think. Goes to show that you really should try gear out yourself if possible (or have shit tons of disposable income).
    Honestly, I'm still not sure it's worth its price tag brand new. But I can't deny that it's a solid performer if its sonic signature is something you enjoy. And it's at least nice to look at.

    Edit: Received my personal unit today. I'm assuming the loaner unit is well broken-in, so based on that the Euforia, before it burns in, really doesn't sound good (about what I expected). Tonality is mostly there, but bass is less present, sound is thinner, and the sense of space isn't there yet. The manual does say to give it 30-50 hours, so I'm expecting improvement as time goes on. Plan is to just use it as normal and let normal use break it in. *annotation: I've already noticed some improvement to the sound perhaps around ~5 hours in.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019 at 12:24 AM
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  12. Aeron

    Aeron Almost "Made"

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    I absolutely love the Euforia with my Vérité, Aeolus and Atticus, I’ve switched tubes to the Mullard EL32 and
    Telefunken EL12 Spez. I look forward to reading your impressions!
     

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