Reference Amp recommendations

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by rhythmdevils, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Here is my take on a Violectric amp that may be similar and how it sounds compared to standard stuff like Benchmark. And yea, it is quite a bit better than the capable Magni and the sterile THX.

    http://digitalaudiodirections.blogs...rst-and-last-headphone-amp.html?q=lake+people
     
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  2. Jerseysam

    Jerseysam Rando

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    The G111....to me....is "deeper" and wider in soundstage than the Jot2 ( I got recently), Magni, THX 887. I really dig high-gain Heresy, Geshelli Archel 2.5 and Erish... amps I started with and still enjoy.....but the G111 is notably deeper\wider than SS amps in that $ class. Someone may like the tone or timber of those better... but they are "flatter" sound stages. Jot 2 gets a bit closer, Lyr 3 even closer with certain tubes.....but the G111 really "fills" a headphone at that $500-$600 amp level. Better than my SS amps at the $1k price-point? No. But when I came up from the under $500 category, is was notable.

    It's a niche amp....it really is what you would expect from a well-designed\long-tenured studio amp. Against a Jot 2 or Lyr 3...and this is a loose analogy....you'd be happy if you are expecting a "Soekris" sound profile as opposed to something thicker\warmer\bassier. It's neutral but not etched....kind of rolls the edge off of sharp treble or deep bass. Doesn't kill transients or decay, but more rounded. Pretty solid detail retrieval and does have some decent if polite macro dynamics. And when you think about it....that's probably exactly what you'd want if you were sitting for hours in a studio....good soundscape, neutral with good details, but non-fatiguing.

    The other side of the coin is the neutral\smooth profile can strike the ear as a bit boring compared to more flavored or organic SS amps. I was a little 'meh' at first, but as my brain burned in to the sound I was more and more impressed with what it could do. I usually run it off my DAC2541 when I don't want to get a tube amp warmed up for jazz\acoustic\classic....and it is a very good partner for that duty. Quality detail and very easy to listen for a long session. Again...my biggest personal caution is this is lkmely not the amp for the person looking for bigger tone-flavor\grab your short hairs dynamics. It present a more controlled profile....but it has not embarrassed itself in any genre I've listened to through (down to Death metal of my Burl B2).
     
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  3. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    You can sometimes snatch a Phonitor E for < 1k. There was one on head-fi for $850 recently.
    The Phonitor X was one of my favorite SS amp (the E sounds the same).

    Only sold because I had the DSHA-3F incoming.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Thank you for the G111 recommendation. I rather liked the V281/280, but found it's price hard to stomach. The G111 is priced very reasonable, especially for a EU product. In many ways I was scared off from the lower end of the Lake People / Vioelectric brand because of the V200. The V200 worked well with the HD800 because it was murky sounding, but it was still murky sounding. Also it was quite expensive back in the day. From your description, it seems like the G111 is more like the V280/281 than the V200.

    This may be a good loaner program idea. We've been looking for a good solid-state amp with deep and open headstage. This headstage was found in the Fiio K5, but all other aspects of the K5 were kind of bleh.
     
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  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I reached out to Lake People about a loaner G111, and they responded already. Hopefully it pans out.

    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll look into a Lavry @CEE TEE . My experience with Benchmark is that they are on the Gilmore cold/sterile side of things and I woudnt' want to use that as a reference. Isn't the Lavry gong to be the same way?

    The idea of a reference amp is pretty challenging. I'll keep an eye out for a phonitor on the cheap. I guess I'll have to buy a few things and then sell them later on.
     
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  6. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    @rhythmdevils what's wrong with your SOHA as a reference?

    I would look into a pass WHAMMY. to me reference means normal sounding. I think it's hard to get more normal than the WHAMMY. you can roll the op-amp for slight flavor changes. I don't think you want benchmark.
     
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  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I've realized my SOHA has slightly recessed vocal range, well I think anyways. I always planned on using it as a reference but this realization suddenly made me not trust it, especially because I'm very picky about recessed vocals and I dont want to spind time fighting them when it's actually the amp.
     
  8. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    second the nomination of G111 for the loaner program,
    ^^ the idea seemed good at first until Marv showed the muck from this amp.

    would (not) run my Yggdrasil A2 XLR outputs into G111 vs. SE outputs into the EC Black Widow 2.
    I suppose my one headphone (ZMF Verite Closed Blackwood) would limit triangulation possibilities.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  9. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    I kind of see it like mixing - as a general statement the end result you get will sound inverse relative to what's upstream. So I'd rather mod with a gently rolled, slightly soft, possibly mildly grainy amp if I want to end up with a hard-hitting, smooth and extended sound. Valhalla 2 fits the bill for me.

    If you call BS on that type of thinking, +1 for Phonitor E as a decent 'reference' amp - insofar as it sounds like a tepid glass of alkaline water at least in terms of the tonality / timbre. Bland, maybe even a little dry, but clear. Haven't heard the SOHA personally - does it sound recessed in the vocal region in general or just relative to other amps you have? How can you be sure the other amps just aren't forward and the SOHA more 'correct'?
     
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  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    doesn't this mean you will wind up with a brighter headhphone than you are thinking you have? The inverse of gently rolled, slightly soft is bright/sharp.

    Maybe my SOHA is neutral I have no idea. I'm going a bit nuts I admit. I want to figure out what is neutral so I can feel confident about it.

    Thing is I've been fighting recessed vocals in a disproportionate number of orthos. I might buy a few things used and then sell them...
     
  11. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    I meant gently rolled in the sense of LF, not HF. I find I have the least amount of control in the >10khz region in terms of mods anyway (I just leave that up to driver behavior since rolling drivers gives me the most variation up there compared to damping or enclosure tweaks), but I can adjust bass much more easily when all else is the same. I don't hear most amps (at least the ones I've owned) as rolled on top.

    At the end of the day maybe the best 'reference' is just a variety of very different-sounding amps. That's the only real way to get a general sense of how the headphone will scale upwards, downwards, sideways, etc.
     
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  12. miter53

    miter53 Rando

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    I've got a Whammy I built and it sounds quite neutral to me, though I don't have a lot of experience. I'm in the Bay Area if you want to try it out for a bit. PM me if interested.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    There's really no such thing as neutral. Depending upon who you talk to, the GSX2 is either so transparent that it's wire-with-gain or a torture device.
     
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  14. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    I would add +1 to the phonitor. It's quelled any amp thirst and pairs well with even the hd800. It's not polarizing, so it won't be totl in one aspect but i find it pretty good all around. Better than any ss amp ive heard so far. You can get it to sound like a tube amp by running vertigo vsm-3 plugin.
     
  15. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Acquaintance

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    You're right of course. One thing I learn the hard way is system synergy is really important. I have a GS-X MK2 and I wouldn't call it sterile (sterile would be something like THX, Phonitor or Benchmark amps), it's a combination of extreme clarity, muscular sound and deep, 3D-like (but not wide) soundstage.
     
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  16. señorhifi

    señorhifi Friend

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    If you can, ask them about their lower end amps too: the "G-103" (comes with balanced inputs as G-103P, and also with SE ones called the G-103S) and the "G-105". They also have a DAC called the RS06 which retails at around 800€. I think these are equally as interesting.

    Very much affordable in EU (ok, maybe not the DAC) and there is this odd mystery around them. Are they boring? Outdated? Sterile? Bright? We shall find out :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  17. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Will do! Thanks for the suggestion!
     
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  18. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I am surprised no one has brought up iFi yet at all. I think any of their products would fit in your category from the low end to the high end stuff. Even the Zen stuff, although not for me, still represents a lot of value there.
     
  19. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    The Pro iDSD is not neutral.
     
  20. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    I would say the WHAMMY is on the warm side (almost regardless of op amp). Also, one thing that's driving me crazy with it is the noise floor. On very sensitive cans I can sometimes just make out the "shhhhhh". It's not there on something like the HD6.. line but once you've heard it, you can't unhear it. Have been through various tweaks and still can't get rid if it.
     
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