Lake People G111 - Impressions and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Impressions for now. Measurements will come later. One thing I want to remind readers is that any subjective impressions I have to offer are only real within the context of SBAF, what I consider to be good sound, and how readers understand where I am coming from. The impressions there forth should be not considered as any kind of absolute truth.

    The search continues for a decent sounding relatively low cost headphone amplifier that does "headstage" well. This statement of course implies that the G111 does not qualify as decent sounding. One prior candidate for "headstages well / affordable" was the Fiio K5 Pro, reviewed here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fiio-k5pro-review-and-measurements.11326/

    I was hoping the G111 would sound more like the V281/280 rather than V200. Unfortunately, it sounds more like the V200. The G111 doesn't even do headstage well. Well, this depends upon your definition. The G111 has a wide wide headstage. It's got a holographic effect as if there was some sort of DSP. Unfortunately, this holographic effect only spans in one dimension, from left to right. The headstage sits on a plane right at my ears. There is zero front to back layering. There isn't much separate either. Imaging is diffuse on that one plane. And because the plane is flat, there is no sense of openness. However, those who really love a wide headstage will find themselves happy. While I do not expect headstage to sound anything like soundstage (speakers), I at least would like headstage to have some depth and a degree of openness. I ain't getting either.

    No matter what source I tried, the G111 strongly imparts it's own sound. This is very much unlike superior headamps such as the Bryston BHA-1 which I recently reviewed. Whether I used the Modius or Yggdrasil More Is Less, it didn't matter much in terms of technicalities. Tonal signature matching is somewhat effective. I found the more neutral less "phat" Geshelli JNOG DAC to have best tonal synergy with the G111. The G111 offers both XLR and RCA inputs. The RCA input sound slightly more resolving. The XLR inputs are less resolving but more cohesive sounding. I will explain this later.

    Overall the G111's presentation is warm, polite, and forgiving, perhaps overly so. That in itself would not disqualify it because a lot of OG Cavalli amps were voiced this way. There are several issues which plague the G111. The first is an artificial timbre in the highs. This one is hard to explain. It's not that the high highs do not sound rough or harsh. It's that they sound fake. It's as rather than be truthful and incisive sounding when the recording calls for it, the G111 pulls it back and applies an AI filter to smooth stuff out which ends up polluting them with a robotic texture. The second issue is that the G111 sounds slightly a bit on the flat and boring side. It's as if the G111 combines the worse qualities of high AmirNADS amps that use opamps and colored discrete amps. It would be interesting to measure and open up the G111 later. Finally, saving the worse for last, the lows are just g** d*** awful. I could not get past how the G111 took the lows, put them into blender, and pressed the mush in baby food button. This aspect of the lows causes a bit of disjointedness with the highs. The XLR inputs impart a slight veil on the highs which seems to even things out a bit more.

    5F4A0045 (Large).JPG

    After measurements, this goes on the loaner program immediately. @rhythmdevils: can you set up a loaner thread for this?
     
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  2. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    So this effectively sounds like the G109A but with ostensibly higher-fi because bigger number? Not heard the V200 before but the way you describe the sound is a dead ringer based on own impressions paired with the HD800 (anax-modded IIRC) and the HP-3s. Did vaguely resemble the Liquid Carbon V1 from memory, only the Cavalli was a bit better with the headstaging as it was more contiguous. Still SS flat and lacking absolute slam, though low end was fairly rumbly if not extended all the way.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Bingo! That totally describes it.

    I do wonder if the G109, G111, and perhaps the V200 to a lesser extent are based on the same topology / design or even parts. I find is frustrating that the V281/280 sound so different from these lower-end entry level models.

    EDIT: Oh geez, just read your G109 review. It sounds exactly like this. We're staying far away from any Lake People / Violectric amps below $1500 in the future.
     
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  4. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Niimbus loaner when? :p

    But yeah I've only ever tried two Lake People amps to date and both of them were somehow both warm-mushy and very "tart" sounding, like the FR was dark enough to tamp down treble but note weights (someone else coined that, love the term) were categorically paperlike other than the mid-subbass rumble.

    The tonal smoothness and hyperpolished detail reminded me of a lot of... more affordable amps, only the blackground was spectacularly voidlike-- it made the three-blobbedness sound even more pronounced! This + the HE-4XX was very odd. Suffice to say not a fan, though the build quality ain't bad.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Here is the AmirNADS measurements, purely for entertainment or academic purposes. The number by itself doesn't tell us much. AmirNADS is a respectable 105db, which is more than good enough. Remember, this isn't a race. (Read here on why AmirNADS doesn't really matter: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-sinad-doesnt-matter.11353/page-6#post-360095)

    Lake People G111 (SE input)
    AmirNADS (1kHz, 2Vrms, 20kHz bandwidth, HPSG/HPSA turned on)
    Note: Amp does not have unity gain. Gain is set to x2.5.
    Higher gain amps will typically have greater distortion because of less feedback.
    upload_2021-9-26_20-29-48.png

    I've always maintained that distortion pattern matters more than SINAD. The following is interesting. Increasing higher order harmonics or as @atomicbob calls it: high crap factor. What's even more worrying is that the odd harmonics are higher than the even. There are alternate THD formulas that punish higher order harmonics geometrically.

    As for the AC mains, I actually don't see it as an issue. Speaker amps typically have all sorts of this stuff and IME it's not very audible. It's noise that we are used to on a daily basis and consistent - that is doesn't change with musical signal. Our brains filter it out.

    upload_2021-9-26_20-29-28.png
     
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  6. Jerseysam

    Jerseysam Rando

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    I brought this up favorably in the "Reference" thread....so I'll take my lumps here ;) I do like this amp, but I also am not surprised at all that more experienced ears aren't a fan. And if someone has heard the G100/109/1XX whatever.....I'm pretty sure the G111 is basically, kinda, exactly about the same thing.

    The two best SS amps I personally own are a HPA-1 and a Vioelectric V550. Worlds better in soundstage, dynamics, tone....you name it compared to G111. Where I started in headphone SS amps was a myriad of $100-$200 range though.....all the usual players. When I decided to dip my toes in the $500-$1K range...boy it was a real mixed sonic-bag...for my newbie ears at least...over ten+ amps in that range. The Gilmore I tried sounded competent in technical presentation but to me was also cold and bit a flat, no matter that DAC I tried with it. The RNHP was better.....but also seemed pretty picky....kind of like my Elex. Really different bag depending on DAC/music selection. The G111 came in the same day my FluxLab FA-22. I listened to the G111 for 30 minutes and thought it sounded like well-driven elevator music. I turned on the FA-22, and after getting over my fright at audible relay volume clicks, yeah......that's pretty much what I went with for a week or so on the SS side.

    But when I came back to the G111....and moved it from my Bifrost 2 to the Soekris 2541....whether letting it settle for a week/my brain burning in/the three gins I had....it worked for me. The soundstage was definitely larger than any of my $100-$200 amps....to be honest to me it sounds larger than my Jot 2 or Lyr 3 (with most tubes). It was not as deep as the FA-22....and a good amount behind the HPA-1 and V550 (which I didn't have yet). But what it did, and honestly still does for me....is drive my HD800s and DT880 (600) very well, presenting no rough edges while keeping a very good amount of resolution. I'm typically listening to classical/acoustic/jazz/etc. in this set-up....and often for weeknight reading/or catching up on work (so not "critical listening", relative). I think it even adds a bit of rumble to the sometimes thin 2541 presentation. When I don't want to get tubes ablaze....man, I do really like the G111 to drive those two headphones in a pleasant but detailed way.

    As noted in the other thread.....I think this amp 100% "shows the signs" of it's providence as a studio amp. Not just in it's tanky design/quirky internal gain adjust.....but in the tuning. Absolutely it "smooths" out the highs and rolls down the lowest of the low. It's probably most akin to the Magnius in SS amps I've come across....not in terms tone/timbre but how it's kind of an sonic oddball that takes over whatever chain you are running it through. To me, the Magnius makes everything sound "Magnius"......and likewise the G111 makes everything "G111-e-er". Do I like it on my Burl B2? Negative. Do I listen to metal on it? No sir. But I can dial up whatever Jazz albulm and listen to the 2541 +HD800s/DT880 for 2-3 hours pleasantly while I work or read a book...and not feel like I'm underplaying either headphone. Usually I'm swapping the G111 with Valhalla 2 for the same duties/headphones.

    I won't be trading in my Starlett because of this Amp, but like the Magnius die-hards.....I'll stand behind this little oddball. I've kept it while sending my Rebel Headamp, Gilmore, and RNHP down audio swap-land.

    EDIT: I have the Liquid Gold X on order, from RD's recent impressions. I'm very interested to see if that amp can slide into the same chain/same musical selections and be "better" than the G111. Will it keep the pleasant, but not undynamic, approach while giving more "true detail" on the highs and lows? Will it play as well with the HD800S and DT880? Or will the plucky G111 survive yet another amp cutdown? Creeks don't rise and if tracking proves correct...I'll find out this coming Friday and post some comparison impressions ;)
     
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  7. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I guess the one thing that doesn't ring quite right to me is that an alleged "studio amp" need smooth over texture since that implies mixes getting approved without the engineers knowing what in tarnation they're putting out into the world. The headstage thing I can kinda get since knowing whether something is LEFT, RIGHT, or CENTER with no real in-betweens might be useful in certain situations but otherwise... blergh.

    I'm a wee bit picky about headstaging :p

    On the topic of resolution: the whole "macrodetail" v "microdetail" is horse bones at this point but glad you found something that works for you-- I do agree that the G109 (and presumably the G111 based on how the impressions aren't worlds apart) do certain things inimitably, it's just not anything some may not find anywhere near interesting to listen to. It did make the treble-tizzy-whizzy cans a bit more tolerable which is a neat trick for a SS amp, but frankly the Samsung Galaxy S9+ was more engaging to listen to the HD600s out of.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    This is a quality which I find problematic and contrary to what I would consider good sound. No rough edges with headphones which do have rough edges. Maybe take the edge off a bit, but to erase them is too much. If I wanted an Audeze or HD650, I would have gotten an Audeze or HD650. Not an HD800 or DT880 and an amp that turned them into Audezes.

    That makes absolutely no sense. If you are an engineer in mix stage, you want to hear problems. You don't want them smoothed over. I see this amp very similarly to the V200, an amp that synergized with the HD800 and was recommended for it over ten years ago. Except today there is much better stuff which achieves the tonal synergy while being transparent enough to allow a good source to shine through to the HD800.

    The Magnius (Topping L30, HDVD600/800) is horrible, especially for this oddball quality that "takes over". Good amps should scale with better sources. We are talking about heavy sins of commission and omission at the same time. I don't know why it's so popular. Oh wait, I do. At least the Magnius is only $200. This is $550.
     
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  9. señorhifi

    señorhifi Friend

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    This came out right on time! I was debating myself if I should pick up a Jotunheim 2 (around 550€ after import), or the LP G111 (500€ no imports needed). I am glad I picked up the Jot2 for my first nicer SS amp.

    I totally hate this weird 0 depth effect of the THX AAA 887 I had. Seems like this has the same effect but is worse in technicalities.

    BTW, even though I hated the THX, I still think it's interesting for studio use, to check mixes. I mean this thing didn't color the sound at all. The bass was a bit soft/subdued on it, but maybe that's because other amps I had exagerate them. Seems like the LP and cheaper Vio stuff, isn't quite neutral either. Weird.
     
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  10. not_root

    not_root Rando

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    I picked up one of these about a month ago. While my impressions are, in broad strokes, pretty similar, I'd like to offer a 'feature-not-a-bug' sort of take.

    Not having had the chance to sample higher-end amps (the G111 is my most expensive headamp) the lack of source discrimination ability isn't quite so apparent, and it has a weird sort of synergy with the woodies I've been using - the highs are tamed and make some subpar recordings sound more pleasant, and the headphones' inherent transient snap keep things from getting too boring. I actually don't dislike the lows at all - midbass texture is indeed relatively absent, but the added subbass punch gives the illusion of greater extension. The woodies don't really have any sort of headstage, so its absence isn't terribly conspicuous.

    I think I understand why - speaking from experience, this is my first headamp outside of the usual entry-level suspects, and the fact that it sounds so distinct from anything else I owned definitely created an impression that this was some "reference" sound that I was hearing for the first time. It's inoffensive with pretty much any source/transducer combo, and I'll risk my credibility by saying that I did prefer it to the Asgard 3 - not quite matching its sparkle in the highs or the bombast in high gain, but adding what I perceived as "refinement".
     
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    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Nope, not at all. I'm not a big fan of the Asgard 3 either.
     
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  12. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Compare and contrast to a really good sounding amp Studio B with Genalex 300B:
    FFT_2_L1T12_1_A.png
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Here's the GONAD panel. I'm always worried about these being too simplistic as well.

    Lake People G111
    GONAD Panel
    upload_2021-9-28_15-33-56.png

    upload_2021-9-28_16-51-35.png

    I had a hard time believe the poor THD for the highs, so I did a reality check to confirm and also see the harmonic pattern.

    Lake People G111
    -10dBu 9.3kHz 300-ohm load
    upload_2021-9-28_15-39-22.png

    The stimulus is a 9.3kHz signal. We are seeing increasing distortion, particularly odd order, as move to successively higher orders. What's really interesting is that distortion in the lows is good, contrary to what I may have thought based on my subjective impressions and also that of others. THD+N doesn't explain everything all the time. Or could it be that we are looking at the wrong thing?

    Lows in bass (for music) is going to to be a complex signal. Perhaps the mushy bass, the lack of articulation, is explained by the distortion behavior seen in the highs and to a lesser extent in the mids?
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Here's the same stimulus, 300-ohm load, although linear scale

    Lake People G111
    1kHz 300 ohms 0dBu (linear scale for frequency to 24kHz)
    upload_2021-9-28_15-51-9.png

    Mostly odd order. And it keeps going and going and going...

    Lake People G111
    1kHz 300 ohms 0dBu (linear scale for frequency to 90kHz)
    upload_2021-9-28_15-52-32.png
     
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  15. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    That's.... weird. At what point would such regular noise like that be classified as oscillation?
     
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  16. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    These amps have several gain and ground lift jumpers inside. Perhaps something to play with?
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    In a nutshell:

    The Lake People G111 is a colored headphone amplifier which strongly imparts its "sound" regardless of source. For those whose priority is headstage, it's very wide with a holographic quality from left to right, albeit on a flat plane at the ears well behind the eyes of the head. Those who want depth or a headstage in front of the eyes or sense of openness that goes outward to infinity may come away be disappointed. The G111's presentation is polite and forgiving. The lows lack texture and articulation and can come across as "mushy". There's plenty of rumble however. The highs have an artificial quality that is difficult to describe - perhaps "robotically reticent" or diet-soda? The optimistic view is that these sonic characteristics are features which can be utilized synergistically with certain headphones to deliver desired results. There can be no doubt that the G111 sounds unique. The G111 can be described as being voiced similarly to the Asgard 3, Magnius, and A-GD NFB-1.

    With respect to simplistic measurements, we have a mixed bag. The AmirNADS (traditional SINAD metric using ASR standards and parameters) is 104db. Not bad by their standards, but probably not good enough given the plethora of Chinese headamps using two stages of nested opamps within massive feedback loops. (Note that the G111 manages with x2.5 gain, which puts it at a disadvantage because less global feedback is used.) However, when we look past SINAD at 1kHz, to the only slightly more complex GONADS THD panel, we see the highs (9.3kHz) as being flagged in the yellow, orange, and red zones. Further examination yields the discovery of increasing levels of successive harmonics, primarily odd order. Although each harmonic is well below the fundamental, the aggregate of the all the harmonics results in a rather mediocre or poor THD figure, even by 1940s standards.

    I leave with no further comment other than the photo that I provided in the first post of this thread.
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    From what I understand, oscillation should show up as an ultrasonic peakage, with maybe harmonics from that peakage. I'm not totally sure if this is oscillation. This almost looks like crossover distortion. However, I'm not seeing any on the scope. I may have to ask the last three guys I know on the planet who can design discrete what this is.

    I'd love to, but my time is limited. TBH, I'd rather spend my time elsewhere. I'm not hearing enough potential to optimize this amp.
     
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  19. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    Yeah no worries, it’s quite unsanitary trying to polish a turd.
     
  20. Jerseysam

    Jerseysam Rando

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    purr1n, thanks for the follow-up charts....for sure an interesting read. I've picked up a lot of very nice equipment in my year getting into headphones....and a majority of those best choices have been things I've come across lurking here. Checking out Pro Audio DACS like the Solaris or Burl B2 (which I ended up buying).....never would have found those if not following the conversations here. My Starlett that is freaking awesome....ditto learned about it here. I do hope if the G111 goes out on loaner, folks who have a mind to do try it. Not because I think it's the worlds best amp at $XXX...but whether it's the noob in me talking or not...I've found the landscape SS $500-$1K amps to be a world of compromises. Rebel, RNHP, Gilmore, Flux Labs (FA-12S. FA-10/12/22)......some things I've really liked in there, but very little I would recommend to someone confidently as a "most audiences" pleaser like a Magni or Erish in the lower budget brackets.

    I think Lake People is an interesting company (from what I've read up on).....I really like their higher end Vioelectric and Nimbus lines.....I've winced hard budget-wise on the Nimbus and not yet had the nerve to pull that trigger after sampling twice. I do love the G111 on my home-office desk for jazz/ambient/acoustic while working....'better' than most all non-tube amps in the price brackets beneath for that task. But I totally dig many veterans would not find how it goes about it's business worth their ear time against other options.
     
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