[Review] Atrox V2

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by AudioThief, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Atrox v2 review - revised edition

    Greetings, superbestaudiofriends. We came off on the wrong foot. Me being an audio noob and somewhat of a mumbling idiot, and you being a very picky bunch ( ;) ). I have accepted the flaws of my previous review - perhaps my style was too influenced by reading similar reviews elsewhere on the internet? Either way, I wanted to introduce you guys to this product, so here is my Atrox v2 amplifier review - revised. Hopefully it is not as panegyric this time.

    About me

    I am a 25 year old man from Norway. I got into headphones "seriously" around february this year. I have lots to learn about this hobby both in terms of describing sound, and understanding the engineering that goes into all these devices. As such, this review will unfortunately not be to the level that is perhaps required at this site. All I can hope is that I add some value for those seeking an amplifier in this price range. In return, I hope to learn something from the people here at SBAF.

    Disclaimer

    As I mentioned earlier, I lack some vocabulary - this is where I hope you guys can perhaps arrest me if what I'm saying doesn't make sense. On top of this, the review is hampered by the fact that I have limited exposure to powerful amplifiers beforehand. This means that the review is written from the perspective of someone coming from entry level equipment as far as amplifiers and dacs go. My previous equipment has been a Hegel HD 12 dac ($1400 dac but a measly 2.5V rms out), a dragonfly red, and a schiit magni.

    I suppose at this point we're getting into "objectivist vs subjectivist" territory, as my previous equipment has been able to drive my headphones to good volume levels, and I honestly do not understand how a more powerful amplifier improves the sound.

    Furthermore, my listening impressions will be purely subjective. I will to the best of my ability try to explain what I hear.


    Atrox v2

    [​IMG]

    Cost
    $269

    Specifications

    Weight
    1.6 kg
    Dimensions 22 x 18.9 x 5.3 cm
    Output Impedance
    40mΩ

    Frequency response

    20-20khz -0.1dB
    Input impedance
    60kΩ
    Power output (8Ω)
    2x20W
    Power output (16Ω)
    2×12.5W
    Power output (32Ω)
    2×7.5W
    Power output (50Ω)
    2×5.3W
    Power output (150Ω)
    2×1.9W
    Power output (300Ω)
    2x1W
    Power output (600Ω)
    2x500mW


    More information about the product can be found here

    Build



    The Atrox v2 has a on/off button, a blue light indicator and a volume knob. At the back we find a 4 step gain switch and 2 RCA outs. The finish is stainless steel I believe. The volume knob feels nice and weighty. There is no ventilation on this unit, so it runs quite hot. I would say that considering this is a one man project, it seems competently made.


    Subjective listening impressions

    All listening is done through spotify premium mp3s, dragonfly red as DAC and the Fostex TH 900 and Sennheiser HD650. I have a quite eclectic music taste ranging from classical, jazz, rock, metal, hip hop, pop, trap, deep dubstep, house, post rock etc. I will refer to specific tracks where appropriate.

    The closest competitor to the Atrox V2 which I have had experience with is the Schiit Magni. In my time with the Magni, its power over the dragonfly red and the Hegel HD 12 was made apparant by a much weightier bass, however I felt it was significantly brighter than my Hegel HD 12 which was quite uncomfortable with the TH 900s especially. I believe the TH 900s should be paired with a warm sounding amplifier.

    The Dragonfly Red I felt was pretty bright, lacked some background blackness compared to the Hegel HD 12 and overall sounded less refined.

    TH900

    Bass

    Stacking the Atrox V2 up against the Magni, I feel the Atrox V2 adds a nice bit of bass weight but primarily in the sub regions - if there ever was any bloat with the TH 900s bass, it is now officially gone. This means that it sounds somewhat thinner around mid bass levels, but it rattles more at the lowest frequencies compared to the Magni. Both the DFR and Hegel HD 12 falls short in this regard. The DFR has a tendency to sound a tad bit loose while the HD 12 lacked the quantity to my ears.

    Midrange/Treble

    The biggest difference I can sense here comparing it to the DFR and HD 12 is that the Atrox V2 has significantly better dynamics. Both transient response and decay feels snappier. This gives it a more coherent sound. I feel the overall frequency response is brought a tad bit more "in line" so to speak. The overall tuning of the TH 900 feels less bright, but at the cost of some tracks seemingly becoming more sibilant than on my other amplifiers. I am not sure exactly what is causing this - I imagine the treble peaks of the TH 900 are coming more into play.


    Soundstage/Imaging

    The dragonfly red was my first foray into dac amps, and one of the things I noticed going from unamped to this dacamp with my Denon AH-D5000 were that soundstaging and imaging improved significantly. This is one of the true strengths of the Fostex TH 900, and it doesn't disappoint through the Atrox V2. Soundstage is wide, gives a feeling of depth and height that matches the Hegel HD 12. Imaging is pin point accurate as I have come to expect from the TH 900.

    Compatibility

    The Atrox V2 gives warmth and body, which I think the TH 900s needs. The Fostex, while being a bit crazy in its frequency response, is generally speaking a bit thin sounding and definitely bright. The Atrox is warm and has a good bass foundation, which I feel compliment the TH 900s. It still does not "save" the TH 900 from being too hot in the treble for most people, however. You have to be treble tolerant to accept the TH 900 still.

    Gain setting?

    I am not used to a 4 step gain switch. I did some reading and apparantly you should put it on the lowest gain setting you can get volume on. I'm inclined to disagree based on my findings. At the higher gain settings, the TH 900 got more bass but became significantly more exhausting and bright sounding to my ears. At the lowest gain setting, the bass wasn't as weighty, but the overall sound was more pleasant and realistic sounding to my ears.

    I currently have it at the lowest gain setting and the volume knob at around 80%.


    Sennheiser HD650

    I will keep my impressions about the HD650 short. Both because I know this is a holy headphone at this site, and I wouldn't want to commit heresy, and also because I don't have enough experience through other amplifiers to compare it. What I will say is I believe I have severly underamped these headphones. After introducing it to the Atrox V2, it came more in line with the quality I've read about on various internet sites including this one.

    Putting the gain switch on the higher tiers gives the HD650 a new level of clarity and realism I had not previously heard from them. They have become my main headphones, taking the spot from the TH 900 after I upgraded to the Atrox V2. The overall sound I get from HD650 is a very realistic, high resolution sound with no treble fatigue which is obviously an issue with my TH 900s. They are simply silky smooth while also full of life and detail.


    Verdict

    Keeping in mind my lack of experience, I cannot tell you that this is a good amp at its price range or not. What I will say is that I am very happy I spent the money, as it brought my headphones to a new level of enjoyment. Its raw specs seem to be competitive at the price point however. The overall sound character of the Atrox V2 is full bodied, warm and somewhat laid back. I also feels it has good instrument separation and background blackness. I would also like to add that the Atrox v2 is leaning toward a less analytical sound comparing it to the Schiit Magni which I felt was more analytical.

    I could not detect any hiss or noise, or really any obvious flaw except the lack of ventilation. The amplifier is rid of any utility. You plug in your headphones and go.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  2. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    So, this amp makes the HD650, which should resolve much better than TH900, have the same resolution level of TH900? Furthermore, it makes the HD650 lose to TH900 in soundstaging and detail retrieval? Must be a terrible amp choice for HD650.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
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  3. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to start, but the TH 900 has significantly better soundstaging and detail retrieval than the HD650 regardless of amplification. Sorry.
     
  4. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    My whole life was a lie... :eek:
     
  5. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    You are entitled to your opinion, but to my ears its like saying HD650 has better bass extension than the TH900. It simply isn't the case. Actually, I am surprised at how popular it has become to rag at the TH 900 because of its unpopular tonality. And it has seemingly come to the point where we are putting HD650s soundstage ahead of it. Incredible.
     
  6. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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  7. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    @AudioThief FYI I can't even read the text of your post, I see white on white.
     
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  8. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Thats strange - It was black on dark blue for me so I changed the text. I'll try to edit it again. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  9. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

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    Was it really worth opening another thread for this review?
    I think you should stick to HF.
     
  10. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Ok, sorry for bringing content to the site. Bye.
     
  11. OlafR

    OlafR Acquaintance

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    At least the "Edvard Grieg - Morning Wood" gave me a good laugh.
     
  12. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    It can never be unseen, unfortunately. The norwegian name is "morgenstemning" so "Morning Mood" just looks weird to me and always makes me think morning wood instead. Feels bad.
     
  13. OlafR

    OlafR Acquaintance

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    "Feels bad" What?

    Sorry, AudioThief. but the review looked very much like an advertisement. Incredible blackness and all that.
    And you call it class A, say, while it is obviously AB. It need not be a bad amp, and the price was nice.
     
  14. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    It is an advertisement in the sense that I feel more people should know about this product. Can you explain how it is an AB amplifier? It gets very hot, is described as pure class A by the creator himself. I see no reason to believe it is AB?

    As for the review, I can only tell you what I hear. I didn't know reviews were only to be conducted by professionals. I've learned new things about this site, one of them being I don't belong here.

    Edit: Oh and the "feels bad" part was in reference to embarrasingly miss-spelling morning mood by edward grieg.
     
  15. OlafR

    OlafR Acquaintance

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    If "The output stage consists of a class AB push-pull transistor pair" (your quote from maker ) this is per defintition a class AB amp. A high-ish bias current giving class A up to a certain level does not make it class A, as you call it. A true class A 20W in 8 Ohm amp would dissipate 10 times as much heat as this.
    (But 15 W without cooling fins or vent opening is bad enough. Would it survive a hot summer month in Florida or Greece, I wonder.)
     
  16. OlafR

    OlafR Acquaintance

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  17. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    Look, thanks for wanting to post subjective impressions (something I have not done), but your review was a Head-Fi review - SBAF is different. Have you looked around here and seen how it's done? For example, you can't make a sweeping claim that this amp is the best buy in solid state HP amps especially when it's obvious you haven't listened to a lot of equipment. Maybe Tyll can get away with that, but he would be the first to acknowledge that his is just an opinion.
     
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  18. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    I see - thanks for the explanation. At least I learned something.
     
  19. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    I wrote in my review what my earlier experience was. If the way things works around here is that the only people allowed to review products are those with the most experience, i.e a "beginner" such as myself's thoughts and opinions are wortheless, then I apologize and I obviously don't belong at this site. I don't think I made a claim that this was the best buy in solid state amps, I simply compared specs and prices with other equipment and found the Atrox v2 to perform well. Would you disagree with this assesment?

    @OlafR

    I went back and read the words of the guy behind the amp. He keeps saying its a class A design. Is he misleading customers? Or is class AB also labeled class A? Here is a direct quote from his web page

    "Class A
    In addition to having very high output power capability, I wanted Atrox V2 to have a distortion that was way below what the human ear can hear. To accomplish this I chose a class A design which means that the amplifier transistors have a continuous current throughput regardless of the output level. This is a very inefficient design as much of the power consumed by the amplifier is converted into heat, but it’s not without reason that this design was chosen as class A completely removes what’s called crossover distortion to make sure that the sound is not adulterated in any way."
     
  20. landroni

    landroni Friend

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