[Review] Atrox V2

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

  1. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Can't see the OP, and while I understand that the impressions therein may be somewhat... less reliable than those of others who've had the opportunity to listen to more gear (thus allowing them the luxury of making comparative statements across price points and whatnot), it may still prove educational for others, especially if you have other gear to weigh it against.

    Then again, you do need a certain skillset to evaluate gear with any degree of accuracy, "accuracy" being really vague in this context since hearing is subjective to quite an extent.

    Also, the HD650 is quite a good pair of cans for the price, especially when you pair it with really nice gear (which I don't have, haha). I'm borrowing a friend's pair soon just so I have a point of reference when reading impressions; they're quite popular on here for a variety of reasons. Only auditioned the TH-900 (Mk 2) for a short while because the treble didn't agree with me. Good soundstage, yeah, and head-rattling bass with a fair bit of detail retrieval, but not quite... excellent.
     
  2. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Are you implying that I'm the guy behind the amplifier or know him personally? I am not affiliated with the guy at all. I simply purchased the amplifier from his advert on a norwegian "used" site (ala ebay but more focus on consumers buying and selling between each other). Did some research and saw that in raw specs it performed very well regardless of price, and upon receiving the product and enjoying what I heard, wanted to make more people aware of it. There have been no marketing behind this product at all, googling for it gives me very few results.

    But yeah I don't know.. sorry for "advertising" about the amplifier I guess.
     
  3. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Thanks for being nice about it, at least.

    I got into this hobby in february this year and through researching different pieces of gear, something I always enjoyed was reading subjective pieces on gear. While always taking what I read with a pinch of salt, and giving more credibility to the "top guys" with a long line of TOTL type equipment in their inventory, I always loved reading about different gear and really all opinion was welcomed. Some I simply discarded as biased / unreasonable, but generally speaking I enjoyed everything from exhaustive reviews about a product, to small comments and comparisons made in various threads across the internet. So I wanted to "give back" by posting my own impressions on a piece of equipment I had.

    I think my review makes it quite obvious that I am in no way someone that has been extended to $2000 amps and dacs (most expensive being a $1400 dac) or headphones like the stax sr-009 or orpheus etc. But I think most readers on various internet boards aren't intimately familiar with such products. On SBAF I am a beginner, I realize this, but I don't agree with being lampooned for posting my opinion on a piece of equipment that, in my mind, should be interesting to at least read about for anyone interested in hi-fi headphone equipment.

    But it is what it is. I guess my mistake was not becoming more familiar with exactly what SBAF is before posting.

    As for the HD650 and the TH 900, I think it should be obvious to anyone that in terms of soundstage, airyness, bass and detail retrieval, the TH 900 is the clear winner. Unfortunately the TH 900 has a very aggressive treble and scooped midrange which makes them fatiguing and not as accurate as the HD650, which is a much nicer listening experience for most music I find - but the TH 900 outdoes it very handidly in music where space, airiness or bass matters a lot.
     
  4. MrTeaRex

    MrTeaRex His head's not fat, he's my brother!

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    It seems that you are taking the comments as a personal attack. I interpreted the criticism as less about who wrote the review, and more about the lack of consistency and unsupported claims regarding what was written. If the review stuck to the comparisons and contrasts between gear with which you have experience, and didn't branch out into broad generalizations about all gear, it would have been much better received.

    For example, the review (from Head-Fi, since it was removed here) starts with:

    "I haven't really dealt with powerful amplifiers before - my previous amplifiers have been a measly dragonfly red DAC and a Hegel HD 12 DAC with a 2.5V RMS. I have also spent some time with a Schiit Magni."

    and ends with:

    "I really do think this is the best bargain in hifi solid state headphone amps right now. Its a niche product that is hand made by some guy in Norway, so it won't be the coolest thing to brag about to your friends - but damnit if it isn't absolutely awesome sounding. And at that price, its just not gonna be beat."
     
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  5. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    The last sentence is simply refering to the specs. Since I make it very clear that I haven't heard any of the equipment I compare it to (the list of high end gear I made), it is a statement made in regards to price to specs ratio.

    As for the personal attack.. I mean, the first post answering the threads mocks my opinion about how the TH 900 and HD650 sounds, then another guy asks me why I even bothered posting this and that I should stick to head-fi, others calling me a shill etc. Its very hard to not take it as a personal attack, to be honest.

    While my review is amateurish as I am an amateur, I do not feel I have written anything dishonest. And I stand by that for $269, this amplifier in pure specs and the soundquality it brings is a great bargain. I, unfortunately haven't heard its competitors - but then again you guys haven't heard the Atrox, so its a bit word against word either way. All I can do is post my opinion on the product, the specs and price and where I think it stands based on those factors. Obviously, this is entirely unwanted on this site.

    edit: oh, and all subjective listening impressions were done in relation to my previous experience, obviously. This is made clear, and there is no reason to interpret my comments about added bass weight from the atrox v2 means that I say atrox v2 gives more bass weight than any other amps than those of which I have experience with.
     
  6. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    Do you remember reading this from the New Member thread?
    That is all I'm saying. Stick around, this is an awesome place that will save you time and money and increase your appreciation of music and equipment.
     
  7. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    I will edit my OP and write a new, SBAF friendly review. I think I get the general jist of how reviews should be done at this site. One of the main issues with writing a very high quality review, apart from me lacking experience, is expressing myself in a foreign language. Its easy enough when I can use lazy terms like "great this" and "incredible that", but it gets a lot harder when I have to really mind my audience and have a more refined tone overall.

    We'll see how it goes. I think its fun writing and it can't get any worse than it already is.
     
  8. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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  9. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    Updated OP, revised review. Hopefully someone enjoys it. Peace
     
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  10. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I must have missed the getting off on the wrong foot part, but this seems to be a fine review. He qualifies his impressions with his experience and communicates his opinion based on that.

    Thanks for the review!
     
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  11. Melvillian

    Melvillian Friend

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    Thanks for the review. May I ask how you found this amp and what made you buy it?


    Edit - I want to echo others that I do find that comparing to other gear really gives context to the review. I'd also like to add that I appreciate when a review actually has some negative things to say about the gear because nothing is perfect. I understand if someone is inexperienced then it's difficult to point out flaws. I was recently reading Chord Hugo 2 reviews at some other popular forum and I would just skip any review that had "Cons: Nothing I can think of". It's difficult for me to take those reviews seriously.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
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  12. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    I found it on a local Norwegian site scouring for used equipment to upgrade. At the time it was the only sales channel for the amplifier. I purchased it basically off of raw numbers and a couple of Norwegian netizens giving it positive feedback on regional websites. I thought hey, purchasing from a guy who makes this stuff out of the garage is probably a good idea as far as bang for buck goes.
     
  13. Melvillian

    Melvillian Friend

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    Thanks for the clarification. It does seem interesting for the price. Definitely has a ton of power for a headphone amp. I'm glad you're enjoying it
     
  14. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Having owned TH900 and HD650, I do agree that the TH900 does bass better than HD650, and that it could sound airier than HD650 under certain conditions. I also said something similar in my impression of TH-X00 vs HD650 in the link below. FYI, the TH-X00 is a $400 mass-produced version of TH900 which forgoes the urushi lacquer (audio jewelry factor) in exchange for a less V-shaped, more balanced sound signature which IMO makes it a more enjoyable headphone.

    http://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fostex-x-massdrop-th-x00.628/page-18#post-25910

    But the TH900 has significantly better soundstaging and detail retrieval than the HD650 regardless of amplification? Sorry to break it to you pal, but I think a comment like this only proves that you heard the HD650 nowhere near its potential. I don't think you're misusing audio terminology, given how perfect your English is despite your claim it's not your mother tongue (it's not mine either). On lesser setups, the TH900 may perform a bit better thanks to its low impedance/high sensitivity and and easy-to-drive factor, but once you start moving up the chain, the TH900 eventually hits its ceiling whereas the HD650 just scales and scales. If you think the HD650 has worse resolution and soundstaging due to its so-called "Sennheiser veil", using proper amps will make you forget such a veil ever existed.

    The best I've heard the TH900 and TH-X00 from was my Eddie Current Zana Deux, which is quite synergistic with both headphones as it brings the recessed mids forward and throws a deep soundstage while maintaining their characteristic colored (in a tasteful way) sound. The ZDS, however, also happens to be a great match with HD650. On this setup, there was no comparison really, the HD650 handily beat the Fostex in both resolution and soundstage. The Fostex boasted excellent resolution and soundstage "for a closed-back headphone" and I daresay it does them better than certain open-backs, but the HD650 was simply on another level. Moving further up to EC Studio, the HD650 sounded godly.

    Now, you may feel I'm being unfair because I'm using $$$ uber amps as examples, some of which are unobtanium for many. I only brought up the ZD because that was the best amp I've heard the TH900 with, and even in that case the HD650 easily bested it in resolution and soundstage. The truth is, you don't even need to look up this high to squeeze some decent performance out of the HD650. Try Schiit Valhalla 2 (better soundstage) or Jotunheim (cleaner and better detail retrieval), both of which could be had for less than $500, and compare them with Atrox V2. Not kidding, SQ-wise I would take Jot/HD650 over ZD/TH900 any day.

    If you felt the the Atrox V2 brought the HD650's level of resolution to that of TH900, that probably means that the previous amps you've used with it were not a good match with HD650 or simply didn't perform well enough to even get a taste of its incredible potential. And with the Atrox V2, you may be just getting started.

    By the way, being a very sensitive and easy-to-drive headphone, the TH900 doesn't really need such a powerful amp. From my experience, the TH900 wasn't such a good match with amps that are advertised to drive even the most power-hungry headphones.

    Also, if you are a fan of TH900, I recommend you give a listen to the TH-X00. The TH900 is a hair cleaner sounding than TH-X00, but as you pointed out, its sound signature may come off as a bit too colored and sometimes sibilant. The TH-X00 is still colored but less so, more balanced and easier to listen to for longer sessions, and most importantly, for a tiny fraction of the TH900's price.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
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  15. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I wasn't trying to be nice, just factual. Hell, I'd probably have gotten my rear end torn into twelve different pieces and shoved through as many natural orifices if I'd posted any of my HF write-ups here (shudder).

    But hey, everyone screws up when they're just getting a feel for a new place, nothing to feel bad about. About the only difference I can tell between SBAF and other fora is that this place is generally stricter about value-for-money without falling into the "Objectionable-ivist" camp that absolutely insists anything costlier than the O2 is snakeoil. Not saying there isn't enough snakeoil to lube up a (improper analogy) in the audiophile industry, but there are appreciable differences higher up the ladder.

    Anyway, there's a reason people are encouraged to lurk here a lot before they begin contributing. Me, I just hang around the funny subforums and ask questions about pieces of kit that catch my fancy— not sure my evaluative skills meet SBAF standard, lol.

    And the revised review really does a good job of giving one an idea of what the amp sounds like. Awesomesauce! I just worry that the "SBAF-friendly" tag might stick around; it gives you the impression that the forum has an agenda of its own, though that could simply be me picking nits (plankton?). Seems like it'd be a great amp for people looking to try something different without breaking the bank, though I think a peek at its internals might go a long way towards figuring it out.
     
  16. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Wait, the X00s use the same drivers as the TH-900? I was under the impression that the Massdrop babies used the less superlative TH-6X0 drivers and that the 900 ones had stronger magnets (giving them improved efficiency etc)? Or were you speaking strictly from a SQ perspective in that, reduced clarity aside, the X00s are arguably superior to their urushi-coated flagship?
     
  17. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    No, I don't think the TH-X00 uses the same drivers as the TH900. It's not just replacing the urushi-coated cups with gloss finish cups that results in a different sound signature. And yes, I do think that the TH-X00 is superior sounding to TH900 from a SQ perspective.
     
  18. AudioThief

    AudioThief Acquaintance

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    @songmic

    edit: disregard my points about the th-x00. You seem to hold them in significantly higher regard than many other impressions I have read.

    With some of your points, I cannot argue - I haven't heard the HD650 with tubes, and definitely not something like the Zana Deux. With that being said, I'm questoning the impact an amplifier can truly have. The TH 900, to my ears and I am sure many others, have a very impressive soundstage and certaintly much larger than the HD650. The HD650 to my ears has an intimate sound which is good in some cases, while in others a larger soundstage is to be prefered. So while I concede that I have indeed not had the joy to drive the HD650 through the top of the line tube amplifiers, I have power in spades which should bring out its best qualities as far as solid state goes, and I just can't see the HD650 besting the TH 900 in soundstage, detail retreival and bass. I will admit, however, that in overall resolution the HD650 may best the TH 900.. Or clarity, perhaps. I'm not sure.

    As for TH-X00 vs TH 900, I have to disagree wholeheartedly. While I haven't personally heard the TH-X00, I have read a lot about them and own the Denon AH-D5000, and based on the comparisons I've read, those two headphones are overall pretty close in sound quality. The Denons vs the the TH 900 is a knockout victory favoring TH 900. I would say that based on my readings about the th-x00 and listening to the th 900, the headphones are really nothing alike.

    I have to ask myself if your perception of the TH 900 might be influence by the fact that you do not like the headphones (too bright, uneven frequency response etc). I have no issue believing that from an audiophile perspective, the TH-X00 is clearly the better choice because of its even FR, however.

    But yes, my previous amplifiers has been underwhelming as far as driving the HD650 goes, which I suppose is why I am so impressed by the Atrox v2. Hopefully in my revised review this is made clear. As for my english, I think both me and you being foreign results in each other viewing the others english as perfect - I can't detect any errors in yours either, but I am sure a native speaker will easily find flaws ;)

    @Lyer25

    Well, you were being civil, and for that I am grateful. The technical stuff about the amplifier were omitted from the review in an attempt to avoid being called a shill. Here is quote from his website

    "Atrox V2 is divided into an input stage and an output stage. The input stage consists mainly of the high quality rail-to-rail operational amplifier OPA551 which has a THD+N of only 0.0005%. The output stage consists of a class AB push-pull transistor pair which are biased well into class A with a continuous current flow of 150mA leading to 15W of heat generation. The power supply is made up of a 50VA +-18VAC toroidial Triad transformer with 4x2200uF rectifying caps leading to a maximum output voltage swing of +-25V. The input capacitors has a capacitance of 4.7uF making the amplifiers lowest crossover frequency of only 1.7hz, this is to make sure that the frequency response in the audible spectrum is completely flat. To keep the output impedance as low as possible, no electronics are to be found in the output path other than a mechanical relay and thanks to the JFET input of the OPA551, the output offset voltage is less than 2mV. No shortcuts has been taken when designing Atrox V2. All of its components are bought from recognized and quality assured vendors. "

    I don't understand any of that stuff. Hopefully you do lol.

    As far as objectivist vs subjectivists ... Over at the reddit subforum, it seems that most people believe absolutely everything is snakeoil. At head-fi things can get a bit crazy in the other direction. These were reasons for why I wanted to check out SBAF. Also I found out MuppetFace had come over here from head-fi (I read many of her posts while researching). I think that perhaps users at this site are overly bitter/protecting or what should I call it... I didn't get much slack being a newcomer to the hobby, and that certaintly can scare users away. I mean, I'm a newcomer spending a lot of time doing a writeup and hoping to give you guys content, and through my inexperience it wasn't the content that you were after, but still I got completely lampooned.. I think thats the kind of stuff that scares people off a site for good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017

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