Garage1217 Project Horizon III / Project Sunrise III

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Luckbad, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Last I heard there were concerns about the price it would have to be set at.
     
  2. Chris45set

    Chris45set Rando

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    I received a quote from the eBay source mentioned about a power supply. Will one amp be adequate with the supercharger or is more capacity needed? Thanks again for that recommendation.
    Chris
     
  3. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    If you get 1 amp instead of 1.25, it will technically work, but...

    Basically, with a 6N6P tube, you'll get more inrush current than that 1 amp can provide. Most likely, the amp will flicker on and off several times until it has heated up enough to stay on. This is what happened when I was using the stock supply from G1217. He sent me a beefier power supply and it never happened again.

    With my bench supply, it can actually only provide 1.025 amps (not 1.25). It has a protection mechanism built in that basically drops the voltage and maxes out current. I have to flip the Horizon on, wait for about 10 seconds, then flip it off and on again to get it to settle in.

    It only maintains 0.4-0.5 amps during normal operation, it's just the inrush of current to get the tube heated up that you need greater than 1 amp for.

    So, the short version is: If you end up preferring the 6N6P tube, it's probably worth getting something closer to 48V/1.25A. Any other compatible tube doesn't require as much inrush and you can get by at something like 0.8A with a 12BH7 (this tube is perfectly content with my 1.025A and never even gets to 1A with it).
     
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  4. starence

    starence Acquaintance

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    What's you guys favorite tube for the Sunrise? I'm planning to get this amp, and when I do, I'd like to just get one good tube and be done. I'm not looking for anything that changes the sound drastically, just a good all-around tube.
     
  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    atomicbob and I both tend to like the new production Electro-Harmonix 12BH7 as an all-rounder, and I also like 6N6P tubes (I have some NOS tubes, but the new EH 6H30Pi are very good).
     
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  6. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    6N6P tube if you want a smooth (non-grainy), tonally somewhat warmer sound signature. I like that this tube mostly makes me forget that Sunrise III is a hybrid (not an all-tube amp) while not lacking in clarity I expect even from tube amps.

    Sylvania 6CG7 if you still want to keep things smooth but prefer more neutralish sound signature. Also a very good choice. These tubes I have reserved for Valhalla2 though since they make the amp just so awesome!

    (Ive also tried EH6922, GL ECC81, JJ E88CC and 6N1P)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  7. starence

    starence Acquaintance

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    Thanks guys. Does bypassing the input caps make a noticeable difference?
     
  8. starence

    starence Acquaintance

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    I've had my Sunrise for over a month now, it's a great little amp. Very good synergy with the HD 650. I ended up with a small collection of tubes, so far the Sylvania 6CG7 and EH 12BH7 are standouts. The 6CG7 has a warm, smooth sound. The 12BH7 is more neutral, but still smooth. I'm not sure what people have against new production tubes, but this particular one is very nice.

    With both the Sunrise and Polaris, I've noticed that using the input attenuator seems to negatively affect sound quality. (In the Sunrise manual, they refer to it as adjustable input gain.) Anyway, music sounds compressed with attenuation on, so I keep it disabled.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  9. sami

    sami Rando

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    So i got my Sunrise 3 a week ago, and the ON/OFF switch seems to have broken

    Now the amp is running with the switch in either ON or OFF postition

    Has anyone faced this before?
     
  10. DD2016

    DD2016 Rando

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    Greetings Sami,

    The switch is spring loaded and can be pressed into the housing a few mm. Please try pressing the switch inward (firmly) as you flip the position back and forth until the amp turns off.

    This occurred with my Sunrise 3.1 after a few months, though I turn the unit on more often than what might be considered frequent use so I removed the power switch entirely. It's one less switch as I greatly prefer to use a linear PSU.
     
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  11. Imraan

    Imraan Almost "Made"

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    Thanks to SBAF’s First International Loaner Tour (See here) I have the Garage 1217 Project Sunrise III, an LPS and some toobs in for the next week. The timing on the loan was great as I am amp-less at the office while waiting for Lyr 3 to ship. I’ve been using my RME ADI-2 DACs built-in headamp as a stopgap. It’s not bad, and great with Andro’s (for me) but left me wanting with my Slants.

    I’d like to share some background info and my audio preferences first (Long versions on my profile) and then my initial stream of consciousness impressions of the amp.

    Background info - In and out of audio for 25 years. Got bit by my Dad’s super awesome vinyl rig. DJ’d, recorded garage bands, built shit, smoked shit, downsized, emigrated, upsized, had a kid, started to get a handle on what I like and why I’m obsessive just recently. Really thankful to be part of this community.

    My audio preferences - Warm, resolving with a little bass hump, slam and speed. ‘Correct’ timbre, tone and layering is also important. Treble spikes = my kryptonite. No SS. Yes toobs. Multibit=awesome. RME Sigma Delta=very good. EQ->HD800Ss. No EQ->LFF Slants, HD650, CA Andromeda. Genre slut. Wish I could play and sing like my wife, but I suck, so I listen instead.


    Setup for these Impressions>>

    Source:
    • RME ADI-2 DAC out of MBP>>Roon (Exclusive mode, volume leveling and no other DSP)
      • Filter: Stock SD Sharp (Interesting as I can’t listen to that out of the RME amp directly)
      • Crossfeed: 2 (Jan Meier)
      • Line out Ref level: +13dB
      • Main Vol: 0Db
      • No EQ or tone controls used
    • Stock PS and no USB wankery
    • Schiit PYST USB Cable
    Amp:
    • Sunrise as received from @Magnetostatic_Tubephile, his detailed description is worth reading, see here. This is basically a middle-of-the-road setup. I chose to start with the EH6922 tube, which I think is the middle of the road sounding one.
    • Amp was warmed up 20min before listening
    • Jay’s Audio LPS for the amp
    • Schit PYST RCA Cable
    Music Used:
    • A mix of local FLAC and Tidal, mixed resolution
    • My test track playlist on TIDAL.
    NB - Some newer music I’m rotating isn’t on there yet, and none of the high-res versions: Tool, Metallica some Chesky Records stuff, but I’m very familiar with everything used.
    **I do NOT listen to the list sequentially. Jeez.

    Headphones Used:
    • LFF Paradox Slants
    **All the guff below is vs my RME ADI-2 DAC's Headamp (and Gumby/Mjo2 from memory where applicable) on my Slants at the office. It's not silent in here, but normal office background noise, nothing gnarly.


    Ok, enough already - How does it sound?:

    Immediately I noted better bass control and extension vs the RME ADI-2 DAC’s built in amp, and a more ‘delineated’ sound. Instruments and vocals have a better defined placement and separation in the soundstage.

    Hard to discern if any difference in depth or width soundstage between the two amps, likely not if I didn’t notice it yet. So a more intimate stage than an expansive one. I’d place it about the same as HD650M out of Gumby/Mjo2 from memory. Definitely not HD800S territory, but not congested feeling to me either.

    Background on the Sunrise is blacker than out of the RME. Sounds appear and disappear faster and more cleanly, and have the ability to startle you.

    Sunrise is much smoother, much less fatiguing, while being at least equally resolving as the RME’s amp. Potentially this is due to less SS treble bullshit letting me listen louder and with more critical focus, allowing more detail through. The high notes are definitely present, for example the drums and cymbals at the start of Hugh Masekela - Coal Train are all there, with the right volume and impact, just not painful at all. That track’s effects sound so much more like a train than out of the RME direct. I can listen to Florence + the Machine - Dog Days Are Over cranked up without wincing. Micheal Jackson - Smooth Criminal made me turn UP the volume, which doesn’t normally happen. Counting Crows - Anna Begins (Off the Live in NY album) at about 2 mins in gets really busy and can become glarey/congested/smeared out of the RME. It’s very listenable out of the Sunrise, less glare and it sounds like the Sunrise can keep up with the busyness better. I noticed this with some of my metal as well. Metallica and Tool don’t stream, so are not on the playlist. Nile - Lashed To The Slave Stick was definitely less smeary out of the sunrise than the RME, but a touch too slow for me if I’m nitpicking.

    Tone and timbre are much improved out of the Sunrise, everything sounds more cohesive and more natural. Vocals sound like actual vocals, and less like photographs of vocals, as they did direct out of the RME. Much improved realism overall. I would like to say a combination of plankton and tone/timbre. Andy McKee - Dreamcatcher sounds wonderful - actually like a real instrument being played. Birdy - People Help the People (RAK Live Session) made me feel emotions (This is uncommon - I’m a robot). Chesky Records // Macy Gray - Stripped sounds really really good out of this rig, very evocative.

    The Sunrise is slower sounding than the RME, I noticed this first during the first minute of Aloe Black - I Need A Dollar. I don’t like the slower presentation for certain tracks/genres (Mostly Metal). But that’s a minor niggle.

    Did I mention the bass yet? It’s deeper, more controlled and hits harder than directly out of the RME without being as bloomy. Definitely a lot more satisfying for me. The bass drop at 0:33 on Portishead - It’s a Fire made me say damn out loud in the office. Sub-bass in Lorde - Royals around 0:24 is clearly audible now, could not make it out from the RME. For sure there is less slam than the Gumby/Mjo2 produces, but I have not yet heard anything that does what that stack does with slam and grip. Sunrise is no slouch and potentially better for work listening - longer sessions and less temptation to crank it.

    As a result of the speed and reduced slam the Sunrise comes across as more polite than the RME direct out. On some tracks - I find myself wanting more bite, and cranking the volume to compensate - Pink Floyd - Breathe for e.g. was not as engaging as I wanted. Oddly this doesn't apply to everything, even all of my Rock listening - Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing in comparison was fine. Perhaps that's a hotter/brighter master?

    This rig remains to be compared directly to Gumby/Mjo2 at home, but from memory (2 days ago) it’s surprisingly close. Potentially as resolving, while being slightly cooler. I think this is mainly to do with the differences between RME’s DAC vs Gumby. Certainly less grip and slam than Mjo2, for e.g. on tracks like Kendrik Lamar - HUMBLE, Daft Punk - Da Funk, Kanye - Love Lockdown - the bass is present, clean and deep, but doesn’t have the same brain shaking impact. I may like the treble better out of the RME/Sunrise than Gumby/Mjo2, but then I’m sensitive there. My good treble might well be someone else’s intolerably rolled off. Curious to see how HD800S fares on this setup now!

    I think a lot of the accuracy, clean treble, controlled bass and black background I noted could be down to the LPS - I plan to swop in the stock PS at home over the weekend and check.

    In closing:

    This rig is really allowing me to pretty much just kick back and let the music happen. I don’t really want to fiddle with any settings, or quite frankly do any work. Sounds very tonally coherent, smooth, warm, slightly wet and just yummy to me.

    I can’t wait to try the other tubes I have on the loaner, and take the amp home for the Senns and a direct compare to Gumby/Mjo2 this weekend.

    ***I will add to this post with HD650/HD800S impressions, comparison to Gumby/Mjo2 hopefully after the end of the loaner next week. I have a feeling those notes will be briefer, and take the form of short additions to what’s already written here.
     
  12. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    This particular amp was, as noted already by Imraan, setup in a way that it is as balanced/versatile as possible. Which means, sonically as well as ergonomically speaking, somewhere "in the middle".
    • A bit more bite and punch can be unleashed by switching from mid-impedance to low-impedance mode. (By moving two jumpers according to the official manual.) That will lead to increased gain and therefore decreased range of comfortable pot travel but may be worth it for you, Imraan. Also, level of overall sound refinement will be a bit lessened.
    • A bit more cleanness can be added by removing gain resistors. That will again lead to increased gain and therefore decreased range of comfortable pot travel.
    • Tube rolling can have a significant impact especially on perceived overall character (tonality if you want) of the amp. None of the supplied tubes with this loaner are particularly bright or warm, maybe some further tube rolling would yield great results to your personal tastes. :)
    In my opinion, Sunrise III is definitely one of the best amps in terms of price/performance ratio on the market. It does pretty much everything right, is highly configurable, provides a good middleground between solid state and full tube sonics. I would like to see a better pot but thats a common for cheap amps. Especially due to the fact Sunrise III has an awesome tone from bass to treble, I would take it pretty much over anything else SS/hybrid.
     
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  13. Erikdayo

    Erikdayo Friend

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    Considering picking up a Sunrise III or Horizon III very soon to compare with my Vali 2. I've backed out of the expensive gear game for now, and these amps look like some of the best value options to pair with my RME when I want to add in some tube flavoring.

    One thing I'm very interested in is whether anyone has compared the 69ohm out of the Sunrise to the 120ohm out of the Horizon with 300ohm headphones like the HD650, Auteur, HD800, etc. If not I'll probably go with the Sunrise. Seems like the safer option for playing with output impedance while still sounding good. I realize that these might not be the most appealing output impedance settings to most people, but it appears to be one of the biggest differentiating factors between the two. That's what makes me curious.
     
  14. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    My impressions of Vali 2 vs Sunrise III vs Valhalla 2 can be found on SBAF if interested. Sunrise III is IMHO the better amp over Vali 2.

    Sunrise vs Horizon better to ask someone like Luckbad but from my understanding, Sunrise is the clear choice unless you truly want/need that 100+ohm output. My experience with Sunrise tells me though that such high impedance may result in too soft presentation, with insufficient bass depth and punch. High impedance mode even on Sunrise is already more than soft enough.
     
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  15. Imraan

    Imraan Almost "Made"

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    @Magnetostatic_Tubephile - I've been playing with the impedance and gain resistor settings this morning with good results. Settled on low-impedance and bypassed gain resistors - the combo has cleaned up the sound a little and made it punchier as you've stated. I'll listen for the rest of the day and see if I really prefer the amp this way for longer sessions.

    Tube rolling adventures planned for the weekend! |\/|


    I also want to thank you again for this loaner and the excellent advice. I (and everyone else I'm sure) appreciate the time and care you've invested, people like yourself make SBAF special.
     
  16. Imraan

    Imraan Almost "Made"

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    Sadly my time with the loaner Sunrise II is over. I had some time over the past few days to roll the other two tubes supplied, as well as some extended listening with my two Sennheisers, and comparisons to Gumby/Mjo2. I also managed to compare to Mimby, and ran the Sunrise out of Gumby to round things off.

    My initial impressions are a few posts up (or here) and it would be good to scan them first.

    Now, my tube (1), headphone rolling (2) and amp (3) comparison impressions in the form of short add-on notes to my previous super wordy post:

    1. Tube Rolling:

    Setup for these Impressions>>

    Source:
    • RME ADI-2 DAC out of MBP>>Roon (Exclusive mode, volume leveling and no other DSP)
      • Filter: Stock SD Sharp (Interesting as I can’t listen to that out of the RME amp directly)
      • Crossfeed: 2 (Jan Meier)
      • Line out Ref level: +13dB
      • Main Vol: 0Db
      • No EQ or tone controls used
    • Stock PS and no USB wankery
    • Schiit PYST USB Cable
    Amp:
    • Sunrise as received from @Magnetostatic_Tubephile, his detailed description is worth reading, see here. This is basically a middle-of-the-road setup. I chose to start with the EH6922 tube, which I think is the middle of the road sounding one.
    • Amp was warmed up 20min before listening
    • Jay’s Audio LPS for the amp
    • Schit PYST RCA Cable
    Music Used:
    • A mix of local FLAC and Tidal, mixed resolution
    • My test track playlist on TIDAL.
    NB - Some newer music I’m rotating isn’t on there yet, and none of the high-res versions: Tool, Metallica some Chesky Records stuff, but I’m very familiar with everything used.
    **I do NOT listen to the list sequentially. Jeez.

    Gold Lion vs EH 6922 Gold Pin

    • Less gain, pot at 12 o'clock vs just over 9 o'clock needed for EH6922 (Both with resistors bypassed)
    • Warmer, more spacious
    • Cleaner treble, less etch, more air. Less treble energy - may sound rolled to some
    • More forward mids, vocals sound good
    • Tighter, more defined (Elastic/muscular) bass, and more of it too. Bass-line on Jimi Hendrix - Born Under a Bad Sign sounds wonderful. On some tracks it’s too much: on Pink Floyd - Welcome To The Machine it bleeds into the lower mids a bit and overwhelms things.
    • Speed sounds about the same as the EH
    **I like this tube a lot - planning to order a set for Mjo2 :)

    JJ E88CC Gold Pin Vs EH // Gold Lion
    • Less gain, pot at 12 o'clock vs just over 9 o'clock needed for EH6922 (Both with resistors bypassed)
    • Cooler, Brighter than both.
    • Noticed a bit of sibilance, for e.g. the vocals in Queen - Killer Queen
    • Slightly wider stage than both
    • Not lacking in bass, but less extension and amount vs both EH & Gold Lion (GL = most bass).
    • A little faster and, snappier than both

    Tube Summary:
    If I purchased a Sunrise III, I would very likely get the Gold Lion as my main tube. The JJ’s are a nice contrast, but edging out of my personal preference zone, and the EH are different, but not massively so, and not in a contrasty enough way to make me want to swop them in often. I have a feeling I would descend into tube rolling madness.


    2. Headphone comparisons >> All VS Slants

    Setup for these Impressions>>

    Source:
    • RME ADI-2 DAC out of MBP>>Roon (Exclusive mode, volume leveling and no other DSP)
      • Filter: Stock SD Sharp (Interesting as I can’t listen to that out of the RME amp directly)
      • Crossfeed: 2 (Jan Meier)
      • Line out Ref level: +13dB
      • Main Vol: 0Db
      • No EQ or tone controls used
    • Stock PS and no USB wankery
    • Schiit PYST USB Cable
    Amp:
    • Sunrise as received from @Magnetostatic_Tubephile, his detailed description is worth reading, see here. This is basically a middle-of-the-road setup. I chose to start with the EH6922 tube, which I think is the middle of the road sounding one.
    • Amp was warmed up 20min before listening
    • Jay’s Audio LPS for the amp
    • Schit PYST RCA Cable
    Music Used:
    • A mix of local FLAC and Tidal, mixed resolution
    • My test track playlist on TIDAL.
    NB - Some newer music I’m rotating isn’t on there yet, and none of the high-res versions: Tool, Metallica some Chesky Records stuff, but I’m very familiar with everything used.
    **I do NOT listen to the list sequentially. Jeez.

    HD650 (Coin, no spider, no rear foam, Dynamat)
    • More open and airy
    • Slightly larger stage
    • Slightly warmer
    • Looser bass
    • Less extension in the bass than Slants
    • Slightly more natural timbre overall
    • Least aggressive, least fatiguing

    HD800S (Cork ring + trapezoid - NO EQ)
    • Much more open and airy
    • Much larger stage
    • Much more resolving
    • Much cooler and brighter
    • Tightest bass
    • More bass texture
    • More bass extension - less quantity
    • Most accurate and revealing
    • Most aggressive sounding, potentially more fatiguing (** Listening without EQ on the HD800S, which is unusual for me. Nonetheless this combo is definitely listenable for at least 45min at reasonable volume, if not longer.)

    3. Amp/DAC Comparisons:

    Sunrise III compared to Gumby/Mjo2:

    • Not as resolving in the absolute last few %
    • Better tone on the Gumby/Mjo2
    • Sunrise is much less aggressive and forward
    • Sunrise is much less fatiguing

    Sunrise out of Mimby compared to RME ADI-2 DAC:
    (RPi HiFiBerry Digi + Pro -> Roon + crossfeed DSP, Vol Leveling. No EQ -> Mimby)
    • More closed in, more forward
    • More aggressive, brighter
    • Equally resolving
    • Not really any difference in tone/timbre (to me)
    • Mimby was running for a day prior to testing, and it’s an old, well loved unit. Usually lives at my Dad’s place.
      **Mimby at 2V was a very hot source with the resistors bypassed on the Sunrise, had to adjust the volume a lot to level match, and had much less useful pot travel

    Sunrise out of Gumby SE compared to RME ADI-2 DAC:
    (Mac Mini -> Roon + crossfeed DSP, Vol Leveling. No EQ -> Eitr -> Gumby SE)
    • Very very close to out of RME
    • Gumby one (small) step better across the board
    • A little warmer maybe, or ‘sweeter’, slightly more slam, engagement, bass.
    • Splitting hairs here and spent the least time on this comparison.

    Closing

    I’ve been (and still am) very happy with my Gumby/Mjo2, but this has been an interesting experience for me. I could be perfectly content with the combo of RME ADI-2 DAC, Sunrise III + LPS.
    • Mjo2 does what it does exceptionally well, and I think is a better fit for the Slants than the Sunrise, but it’s close
    • Gumby edges the RME DAC in terms of tone, and naturalness
    • RME and Sunrise is a much smaller stack, more flexible and more transportable
    • For the Senns I prefer the Sunrise (out of either DAC) for anything but short sessions where I really want to crank it up and rock out
    It’s been said a million times, but it’s really satisfying to confirm it empirically with one’s own hand as it were, something like: RPi / Digi+ Pro >> Mimby >> Sunrise III + LPS >> HD650 has an insane value proposition, and is such a great all-round performer at about 1150USD before shipping. Not that there aren’t gains going up the chain, but the added cost is significant.

    Overall a very useful experience for me, I had a blast too!

    Thanks @Magnetostatic_Tubephile and SBAF, when’s the next loaner?? ;)
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
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  17. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    My writeup on the Sunrise III is going to be much simpler than Imraans. Talk about a hard act to follow :)

    Physically, the amp looked a lot better than I had expected and the semi-open aluminium casing was surprisingly solid. The exposed electronics and heatsinking was a bit of a worry- I had to take care to avoid touching heatsinks when turning it off (no prizes for guessing how I came to this conclusion). I wouldn't have this amp sitting out with kids running around the house. On the upside, access to jumpers and dials very convenient.

    My chain was: Pi with Digi+ Pro -> Mimby with RCA splitters -> [Sunrise with EH tube / MCTH] -> HD6XX(K)

    Sonically, I simply couldn't tell a difference between this and the MCTH- I enjoyed both equally well. They seemed similar both tonally and in the amount of detail I could make out. I now have three distinct levels of amp that I can discern any difference between at all:

    • Fulla 2- pretty amazing for $99 including a DAC.
    • Sunrise III / MCTH / Black Diamond- all sound very similar. And frankly, good.
    • Black Widow- noticeably more dynamic and punchy, and coming from the other amps this takes a bit of getting used to. Definitely more enjoyably immersive than than the others, but I can also see how some people might find it a bit over the top.

    On the one hand, it's a bit of a downer to realise that my listening ability is so undiscerning compared to other people here. On the other hand, this does simplify things for me considerably and I can comfortably sidestep many forms of audio nervosa. And minor side-grading is largely wasted on me- if I change anything, it should only be for dramatic differences in sound. This probably also means that I should concentrate on headphones, and not worry about DACs.

    Again, my thanks to @Magnetostatic_Tubephile for the loaner.



    * With the Black Diamond, there may have been differences to the MCTH, but to my perception they were borderline and I couldn't say that one was more enjoyable than the other.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  18. Retrovertigo

    Retrovertigo Rando

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    My dac / preamp is an iFi micro iDSD Black Label, I have sunrise 3 and the horizon 3, the horizon is my main with the Kameleon.
    The Horizon, i'm using 2 6J5GT Tung-Sol , the first tubes I got were OSRAM 6J6GT Ampliitrex they were fine with a nice sound stage but not enough warmth.
    The sunrise i'm using 12BH7 Electro Harmonix or Valvo E188CC or BRIMAR 12AU7 with Grado sr80e.
    The Kameleon.I prefer it with he Horizon I got it for Monolith M1060. I do plain on getting a pair of HD650 I'm just not a fan of Sennheiser highs that I've tried before.

    On the power upgrade I had to wait about a month from the manufacturer to get the gsm60a48 for the horizon.

    Oh if you do decide to use 2 6J5GT the tubes are too close to the amp, it did seem to affect the sound I got a Socket Saver adding another inch fixed the problem.

    I do have a question is it worth it upgrading to linear power supply?
     
  19. Imraan

    Imraan Almost "Made"

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    Hi @Retrovertigo,

    Please introduce yourself here, at the very least read this & this, and take some time to lurk and get familiar with things here. While you're doing that - read the rest of this thread properly, I think you'll find we've discussed this topic in a fair amount of detail.

    TL;DR - An LPS makes an audible difference TO ME & OTHER PEOPLE. Is it worth it FOR YOU?
    I can't (and don't want to) make that decision for you.

    Having said that - I know it's a pain if you don't have the opportunity to demo stuff, but why not buy it, try it and then sell it on if you don't like it - chalk up any (minimal) losses to learning costs. My 2c of advice.
     
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  20. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    I managed to pick up a Project Horizon III last week and spent a little time today comparing it to my MCTH w/Acopian LPS with the HD6XX and LCD-2 rev2 (I used the same GE 5-star 5670 tube, a favorite of mine, in each amp).

    For the most part Marv's observations comparing the two amps ring true for me as well... the MCTH is more neutral and a bit better retrieving low-level details, but at the expense of a bit harder/more aggressive treble. This isn't a problem for me at all with the stock HD6XX's smooth-as-butter treble but it comes across more apparently with the LCD-2.

    Another area where my MCTH excelled (and this is not a fair comparison given the better power supply) is bass control. The Horizon III has more quantity but comes across a little slow next to the MCTH w/LPS. I've since ordered an Acopian LPS for the Horizon as well, and given the improvement an LPS made in this area with the MCTH (and given the similar topologies according to sources more knowledgeable than I) I fully expect the Horizon to step toe to toe with the Cavalli. I'll come back and add any further impressions once the second LPS arrives.

    The MCTH also bests the Horizon in soundstage width, but it's by such a small margin it wouldn't be noticeable to me in everyday listening.

    On the flip side, the Horizon III with both headphones yielded a fuller, lusher signature with a bit more emphasis on bass and lower mids. I can see this not doing some systems/headphones any favors, and it could sometimes be too much of a good thing with the LCD-2; but it fills in the low end of the HD6XX really nicely.

    Comparisons aside, the two amps really are more similar than different... it's really a matter of which "flavor" of good, $250ish hybrid amplifiers suits you best.
     
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