Shortest Way 51 Amp Impressions (Only)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Koth Ganesh, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I ordered some 6EJ7s from Viva, but when they pulled them for shipping they found they were broken. Guess I dodged a bullet.
     
  2. FlySweep

    FlySweep Friend

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    Dang.. sorry to hear about the issues w/ Viva.. I ordered My Amperex and Mullard from Viva and they arrived very well packed and have worked w/o a hitch.
     
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  3. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    Buying tubes is probably like buying a old gun from a military warehouse. One buyer gets a gun that went through all the wars, the second buyer gets a gun that was not removed from the factory packaging.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  4. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    @Zampotech - do you have favorite tubes, besides the stock ones of course?
     
  5. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    No, I have practically no foreign tubess, only Soviet-made ones. But there are several tens of thousands of Soviet tubes)
     
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  6. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    Initial Impressions

    I’ve spent the past two weekends with SW51+ and have come to similar conclusions as those before me.

    I would first like to comment on a few things related to the purchasing and customer service.
    @Zampotech is a professional, he knows how to make amps AND deal with customers. His communication, despite different time zones and languages is top notch. The buying experience I had with this $400 amp was what I hoped for when buying a $3000 boutique amp.
    A really nice touch I was unaware of is he puts the owner’s SBAF username on the amp. Again, something I wouldn’t think of on a budget product.

    137A3ADF-EB29-4BFB-A065-56D16800490C.jpeg

    I guess this is where I will divert away from all the reviews of this amplifier strictly in relation to its cost.
    This amplifier simply can hang with the big boys. It is not a knock on an expensive amplifier when a product like this shows up. Sure, it makes me question my purchase of expensive amplifiers. However, that is what I chose to do: chase that last 5-10% of performance and I paid a lot for it.

    The biggest take home message is echoing what others already said:
    The performance of this amp should satisfy pretty much everyone who wants High End™ levels.

    Listening to many high level tube amps from EC and DNA showcases a more neutral and not overly “tubey” sound. Many above refer to this as a solid state type of sound. I think it is just how an excellent tube amp should sound: neutral with a hint of bloom. This portrayal allows for all of the details, spatial cues, dynamic contrasts, etc to be brought out. It is more a matter of how capable your headphones are and if they are a good tonal match for SW51+.

    The HD650 (HD6XX) seems the popular choice for SW51+ and is my personal favorite (from HD6XX, JAR600, & HD800SDR). I‘ve only used the stock tubes which seem to be well chosen for this amp. I don’t feel compelled to tune roll at all.

    The tone of SW51+ has that “rightness” to it. Voices and instruments are presented as sounding correct and realistic to me. I really, really enjoyed listening to Bob Dylan’s new album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” via Qobuz->Roon->Pi2AES-> Bifrost2 ->SW51+->HD6XX KISS
    Dylan’s new album has quieter passages with string accompaniment as well as louder blues tracks. Through the entire album Dylan’s voice appears clearly in the mix and the setup allowed the nuances of his music to come through easily. I could easily engage emotionally, which is a quality I find usually endemic of higher end amps. I experienced no fatigue from SW51+.

    Since the SE and Balanced outputs of Bifrost 2 are essentially the same I could easily A/B SW51+ and Aficionado in real time.
    There are mainly differences in spatial cues, air, openness, & stage. Not huge, but they are there. Maybe a good comparison: SW51+=BF2 and Af=Yggdrasil.
    So bottom line is SW51+ about 90% Af. This is craziness.

    SW51+ stage is really good for a non-EC amp. It is mainly in front of your face with a small expanse laterally to the ears. Instruments and voices are silhouetted and layered nicely coming from a black background.

    I’m extremely impressed with SW51+ and I recommend it to anyone looking for a high quality tube amplifier.
    The only faults of this amplifier are apparent when comparing it to the big boys. I think it is unreasonable to expect any more performance from this amplifier and I eagerly await what @Zampotech is cooking up next.

    I’m personally shocked that SW51+ didn’t get a Golden Shlong award. It is that good. Maybe it didn’t get to enough ears?

    As I mentioned to Friends here I regularly text with: I had the choice to listen to 3 amps (Af, Liquid Crimson & SW51+) last night. I chose SW51+ and didn’t feel any urge to switch.
    That should say all you need to know.

    FDD3318E-EE03-4E73-BCB8-3330A00C1EDE.jpeg
     
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  7. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    @Zampotech if we want a stock tube replacement, we get them from you or any US tube site that sells Russian tubes?


    Also, what's a good different sound tube pair that doesn't cost too much?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  8. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    Yes, I have tubes and I have them on ebay. This is not a tube that millions of people are chasing, like the ECC88.
    This is a tube they probably only interests SW51 owners
     
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    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  9. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Link?
     
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  10. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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  11. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    del/dubl
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Thanks!

    Everyone else: Any recommend cheaper Western Tube Set I can try out that sounds different from stock? Key word is cheaper. Just wanna have one different sounding pair that's all.

    Edit: I should do my own research, saw some success with Telefunken EF184s. I'll order a pair and call it my only Western Tube for the day. Also order some stock tube backups (10 of them for some reason), thanks @Zampotech!
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  13. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Almost "Made"

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    Great review @Gaspasser! We are on the same page on all points. This is why I am happy that @Zampotech is developing the SW4 -- ultra linear tube running a bit more juice and transformer with better saturation and hysteresis. Could get us another 5%?
     
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  14. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Agreed 1000%
     
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  15. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    @Zampotech there is a big hole in the market of awesome affordable preamps (with tubes that are cheap and in abundance).
    I have not heard the SW51, yet my guts say that this would make a good platform.
     
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  16. dark_energy

    dark_energy Friend

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    I'd like a good value preamp as an upgrade to my Jotunheim. It is quite good but not Eddie Current good. Not even close.
     
  17. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Look for NOS USA equivalent tubes. GE, for example. Often you can find these in a 5-pack, or greater, in what looks like fairly generic, white packaging. Probably lots of surplus of these floating around. Generally pretty cheap.
     
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  18. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    Ok, I took your post I disliked as saying the SW51+ as not close to EC level, am I correct? Now I'm thinking you're saying the Jot isn't EC level? If so I will retract the dislike, but your post is somewhat confusing at first glance because this is the SW51 thread.

    Actually, earlier today I pm'ed @Zampotech asking if a pre out on his new amp in development was a possiblity, especially if it carried a similar timbre as the SW51+, but with a little more space in the sound stage. That would be devastatingly good as a headamp and pre.
     
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  19. dark_energy

    dark_energy Friend

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    @YMO seems to be an open-minded guy, I don't mind him (not saying I am not annoying at times), just I don't know him here that well. So it was like out of the blue, not saying I don't respect other members here. I am working on being less of a nihilistic, careless person everyday. Actually trying to make things work in life. So this is all I have for you guys. As I said please continue and ignore.
     
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  20. dark_energy

    dark_energy Friend

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    I read one member comparing the SW51+ to Af some Cavalli if I remember correctly. And he liked the SW51 in comparison. This seems to be high prize. I am well aware of what the EC 2A3 do. I am not interested in EC amps currently, because they are impractical for me. You arent going to run a 2a3 tube amp as pre when tubes cost like 500€ a pop. I am not going to do it anyway. If you cant fully apply EC amp in your setup, maybe this isn't the best choice, but they are damn good amplifiers.

    I have developed thick skin, so I don't mind the dislikes. It is as they say a medal here. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020

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