Ray Samuels Audio F-117 Nighthawk: Giant Killer?

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by purr1n, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. Mikoss

    Mikoss Friend

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    Just sitting down with the new F-117 today... Didn't realize my set up was capable of sounding this good. Very bright as Marv mentioned, but I'm still on the first 5 hours with it. Scooped up a bunch of cheap used records and now I'm literally Burning Down the House :sail:
     
  2. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    I picked up my lightly used (apprx 100hrs) F-117 yesterday (it was sitting in my PO Box for almost 3 weeks), and have been literally glued to my TT, save for starting a stereo install on my car this morning. I powered it on at 2pm yesterday and have not shut it down since.

    I was chatting with the guys on Discord last night and was blown away by how fast the attack and decay are. My limited phono pre expererience inlcludes the Franken-TC750, and a Pro-Ject Tube Box S, this is in another league.

    I'm going to switch it to MM mode tonight and try it with the Cinemag 1254 SUT.

    Curent set up is VPI Classic 1 w/Paradox modded Denon DL-103 --> Elekit TU8200DX --> HD650m/Fostex 168eZ BLH
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2016
  3. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    My intial impressions of the Cinemag 1254 SUT and RSA Nighthawk are leaving me torn. On one hand the 1254 SUT + F-117 added a touch of sweetness to vocals, but sounded slower and the detail suffered. Faster paced, complex, and dynamic songs were more enjoyable without the SUT.

    30+ hours on one charge so far...

    UPDATE: 49 hours on one charge, then it went poof.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2016
  4. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    I just got mine in today & have been listening for a few hours (after warming up for a few hours). The good news is that I don't feel like throwing my Chinook out the window, the better news is that they're extremely close in performance.

    TBH, I really wasn't a huge fan of the Chinook when I first got it because it was a bit too "tubey" and mid-centric with less than stellar bass & treble definition and extension. All of these issues were remedied to a huge degree (more significant than any other tube swap I've done before) by swapping out the stock tubes with a pair of NOS Amperex 7308s in the gain stage (recently replaced the other two with another pair of Amperex 7308s, but didn't make as big of a difference). Bass definition improved, treble was better extended, and possibly some slight improvements to resolution & soundstage (haven't listened to the old tubes since I swapped them).

    For less than half the price, the Nighthawk gets startlingly close to the Chinook after the tube upgrade. I'll update with some more impressions once I get more acclimated to it (and once it gets more broken in), but I can echo Marv's claims regarding bass definition & overall cohesiveness. Sounds extremely balanced from lows to highs, very resolving, treble is smoother than I was expecting. I listened a bit before warming up and it sounded really thin & harsh as previously reported.

    My only slight criticism so far has to do with synergy. I've been listening to both through my Ragnarok & LS50s, and the Nighthawk makes me miss the slightly lush flavor that the Chinook imparts. Going to have to try out the Chinook vs Nighthawk through the Torpedo with headphones soon.
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Nighthawk + Ragnarok + LS50s. Hmmmmm.
     
  6. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    Hahaha, maybe I should have said that the rest of my chain doesn't synergize too well with the Nighthawk. My amp is definitely next on the list to get upgraded, but unfortunately I keep blowing all of my cash on the turntable as of late so it might be a few months.
     
  7. Mikoss

    Mikoss Friend

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    @Dr. Higgs how do you find the Nighthawk's treble in comparison to the Chinook with the 7308s? The 7308's are one of my favourite tubes for their refined, delicate sounding treble... although I do find it to be slightly rolled off. My Nighthawk with maybe 10 hours on it now is still sounding fairly bright... maybe I should wait and see how you find yours after a long while. Thanks for the impressions as well. My DL-103R arrived today, but I have no time to swap it in. Going to work for 3 weeks, doh.
     
  8. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    I'm traveling around for work right now so I won't be able to compare directly again until Sunday, but the Chinook w/ 7308's are distinctly rolled off in the lows & highs compared to the Nighthawk, but I wouldn't say the Nighthawk is any brighter than "neutral" in the brief time I got a chance to listen to it so far.

    The 7308s were an improvement in extension compared to the stock ElectroHarmonix 6922 tubes that came with the Chinook, but it's still a pretty mid-centric preamp. What are you using as your amp?
     
  9. Mikoss

    Mikoss Friend

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    Actually, I was looking for a decent amp. I was thinking maybe something solid state, class A, preferably $3k or less. I'm just using the Yamaha AS500 right now, with PMC Twenty.21 bookshelves on mass loaded stands. I had posted in the advice thread for a new amp, but no suggestions... the speakers sound decent with the Yamaha so I'm not in a huge rush. I don't listen at loud volumes ever, so I don't think I need anything overly powerful. PMC lists them as 87dB/8ohms.
     
  10. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    The more I listen to RSA Nighthawk, the more it pulls me in. I haven't used the ol' Gungnir Multibit for days... and without further adieu, I would like to nominate this Mighty Mite to the SBAF Leaderboard, 2016 Golden Schlong awards, and 2016 Platinum Dong for excellence.

    Thanks @shaizada for nudging me in the direction of this fantastic piece of gear, and @purrin for the great write up bringing it to the attention of the SBAF Vinyl syndicate.
     
  11. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I hope there are some left by the time I can order mine next month! :p
     
  12. madwolfa

    madwolfa Rando

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    Sorry for lame question, but why batteries for something that looks quite stationary? Just for the clean power?
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Certain small signal solid state electronics circuits don't suck much power. This makes them ideal for battery. Also no need to design a quiet power supply circuit.
     
  14. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I got my used one from Audiogon yesterday. Emailed Ray and got the warranty transferred. I plugged it in real quick with my existing cartridge (Stanton 680), and while I feel like I still have some weak links in my chain (the cartridge which will be replaced soon, and my Andrew Jones Pioneer speakers that are good for the money but still very entry level), I think it sounds quite good. I only ran the Ziggy Stardust AAA reissue and the Mofi The Stranger to test, and they both sounded substantially better than my old phono stage.

    I'm running the phono out to an Onkyo AV receiver, and with my old phono, the sound was so thin that I always had to run an EQ preset and music optimizer to get it to sound good. With the Nighthawk, I turned all that off and ran it in direct mode, no processing at all, and it sounded better than the old phono did with the processing. I'm excited to get the new cartridge installed to level up my rig even more.

    I'm going to hook up my Valhalla 2 to the Nighthawk as well, that should be a good combo out to my HD600.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  15. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    EDIT 4 years later by @sphinxvc : don't listen to this noob. See what he thinks now on page 3.

    Nice, @Merrick.

    I got the Nighthawk in my system last night too. Thanks a ton for letting me borrow this, @Dr. Higgs.

    My thoughts:
    • I'm finally starting to get a better picture of where the Space Deck stands as a source thanks to the Nighthawk. Mani was cock blocking badly earlier.
    • The attack here is just startling, just as @purrin said. Horns, percussion, deep bass, everything just bursts out on to the scene. Conversely, things creep up when they're meant to.
    • Good depth and discernible layering. On the Mani, everything sounded diffuse. On the Nighthawk, spatially concentrated sounds come through as intended.
    • Things can sound really big. If big horns are playing, you'll wonder how your 8" drivers are generating a wave front so large. This means it's diffuse where it needs to be. The result is a cohesive yet detailed sound, one of the things I consider a hallmark of so called "natural" sound.
    • It's chameleon enough with recordings to call accurate.
    • The analog qualities are still present, like great dynamic range. Found myself turning up the volume to swim in it.
    Edit: Listened to The Dark Knight, Mezzanine, Lateralus, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, Veneer and Junun.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
  16. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Hooked up the Valhalla 2 and put on the Mofi Sketches of Spain. The sound is so direct and clear, but without losing the subtleties and details of the overall tapestry.

    Now I've got Moving Pictures on and this is easily the best I've ever heard this album. The sound is big and full but coherent and unmuddied at the same time. I always thought the production on this album was dense, and the Nighthawk puts everything in its place. The Val2 and HD600 pairs wonderfully with it.
     
  17. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Okay, last comment for now.

    The "Erotic City" 12"...my god, the detail, layering, and depth. I'm pretty sure any future money I spend on audio will be for my vinyl rig. I feel like I could get more noticeable gains improving my analog setup than I will going further into the digital rabbit hole.
     
  18. eastboundofnowhere

    eastboundofnowhere Facebook Friend

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    I just moved and cannot figure out which charger is for the nighthawk. If someone gets the chance could you please post a picture of the wall charger so I can figure out which one it is supposed to be? It was a rushed move and I cannot find anything. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  19. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    image.jpg
     
  20. eastboundofnowhere

    eastboundofnowhere Facebook Friend

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    Wow! This community is awesome. Thank you so much!!!!
     

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