Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Hands, Jul 12, 2019.
So we should expect... explosive transients?
What on Earth could they even be doing at this point?
I'll live, but it's just mind-boggling how some people with important jobs just have no expectation to do them in any reasonable time frame. COVID is no excuse. This task just shouldn't take over a month in the 21st century for any group of people with things like computers, forklifts, etc.
This is pretty normal. Mine was sent on Oct 6th and it just got scanned in New York on Nov 7th. Just be patient. If you're in the US, I'm sure everything was fucked up because of the election. I get that you're frustrated, but let's try to keep this stuff out of Ruslan's thread. All of the SW51 threads have been significantly better in terms of SNR than the Verum threads. Let's keep it that way~
Not sure what option you took, but for me going EMS, there simply weren't updates after it cleared Russian customs and left the country. They've only just resumed as it entered US customs. It was 3 weeks from leaving Russia to getting here with total radio silence. Give it some serious time. Not sure where you're shipping to or what option you chose. But given circumstances, it can take a while.
Is it possible you're not getting all of the details through whatever tracking you're using? I like Universal Package Tracking for this. It'll check most relevant tracking systems, so you may see updates that another carrier might have. Usually any hands on it will have updates that jive with one another, but sometimes one gets updated earlier, while another skips that update completely.
Also agree, lets leave it at this. Yes, it really can take a loooonnng time to get here. You gotta wait. It's the only way.
Yeah, apparently it actually arrived in the US 2 days ago, and arrived at my door this morning. I had to start work not long after, so still have little listening time, nor much to say other than damn this has P R A T. I have 2 other pairs of tubes I can try, but don't really feel compelled to atm.
This is in my mess-ass bedside setup: PC -> Musical Fidelity V-Link II w/ ifi red ground cleaner thing -> Burson Conductor's okay Sabre DAC -> SW51+ -> TH900's atm and I've really enjoyed it so far. Clean. Energetic.
I find like the amber LED's under the tubes. For some reason I didn't think I would when I read about it before
EMS innit? If I am not mistaken, these guys rely on shared cargo with commercial flights, so pretty much messed up with the drastic reduction in flights worldwide.
Mine is delayed as well. But as a wise man once said... Good things come to those who wait. Hehehe.
Nice. Mine will also have the cat. I like the 60's look. Can't wait to get mine, as soon as the shuttle gets back from Mars, 'cuz I think that's where mine is atm.
This amp and the ECBA get the titular pads with my ZMF Vertie's. Everything less-good begs the less-revealing Universe Hybrids.
I don't even pretend to listen to my gear in any evaluative capacity, but as someone who's owned like 30 headphone amps, most more expensive than this, and many costing thousands of dollars, this has the best price to performance ratio of any of them. The ECBA has a larger soundstage, but without A/B'ing I hesitate to just say it's radically better in any other regard. Point being this amp has subtleties to the sound I usually think of as "expensive amp features". Even if I found the ECBA to be better in every regard A/B'ing on the same DAC, this amp still has the tremendous benefit of using cheap tubes, whereas the ECBA's are like $700-$1000 to replace.
Vocals on the SW51+ have this real clear, crisp quality that makes listening to anime music more engaging because I took Japanese in school a million years ago, and the vocals are so arrestingly clear that the hiragana/katakana starts popping up in my head. And it's accurate.
@Zampotech might be a magician...
...I've been trying to form critical impressions of this amp, but it just... isn't working. I actually can't form the words. It's not that I don't want to sully it with talk of flaws - if they're there, I haven't heard em at any appreciable capacity. I suppose I can get into some technical differences from other amps. No piece of gear is ever fully ideal. You kinda gotta know they're always there.
But no... it's more like... every time I put the HD6xx's on with them plugged into the hi-z output on this amp, my brain's total evaluative capacity just dissolves away. Everything that I know that I know how to define clearly is gone. What trickery is that? It's like the damned thing just pulls the wool over my left hemisphere.
Hmm... maybe that's okay. Plenty of people with good ears and commanding verbiage have already gone all of the way there in describing this amp in sonic terms. I think I'd like to talk a little bit about the experience. That is the reason I keep losing hours of free time to this thing, after all. It's enchanted, I'm sure. How many gopniki die to produce one of these things, eh? EHHHH?! That's it, isn't it? You dip the transformers in their blood, don't you?
I wanna talk a little bit about my problems with headphones in a more general sense. I don't want to get too far into the debates here. But there are some inherent difficulties with getting a convincing, immersive presentation out of headphones. Hurdles speakers don't have. You've got these cups strapped directly to your ears, drivers not even an inch away sometimes. And the reflections you hear are coming right off the cups/baffles... and then there are driver interactions/damping considerations. Even with the best of the best, this is true. They get around it (or use it to their advantage) much better than most, maybe even to the point of providing a new experience in their own right, but they're still *just* headphones. They don't deliver sound to you in a way that is anything like how sounds anywhere in the real world tend to arrive. I'll spare ya'll the details, many already know it far better than I and I'm sure most people can easily tell the differences between headphones, speakers, and live sound.
If I was going to be brief... there is an inherent 'fakeness' to all headphones for me, much more so than even the cheaper good speaker options. And while there are many specific things I can point to that I think are 'wrong' with any given headphone, there's no one clear reason for the barrier... no "if x was different, I would believe the experience more."
As in, I always know (even if I close my eyes and meditate) that I am hearing music through the things on my ears. It's not organic, or self-manifesting within my senses. It is generated from somewhere outside of my surroundings, as far as my brain knows. It's something that doesn't belong where it is in my sensory realm - something foreign. My brain is saying to me "this is not how sound normally is" and getting on with combing over it, as it is often prone to do. It stumbles, not sure how to parse it with the much larger pool of data it has on real-world sounds.
So there are all of these little niggles jumping out at me when it comes to the various aspects of how the sounds are presenting to me, as my mind continually seeks to resolve this conundrum. Some are good and interesting for what they are, others are not so good. Of course, I'm still listening to and enjoying music, but another part of me is also 'hung-up' and caught in a loop of identifying and categorizing. Our brains are really good at that. When they sense that something is different from how it 'should' be, they latch onto every attribute, seeking-out prevailing patterns to assimilate. You can swap DACs and SS amps for different flavors. But fundamentally it's like "...yep, still headphones..."
What this often amounts to experientially is the dreaded purgatory of "headphones first, music second" perception. You can't seem to decouple them in your mind. It's not something you can often will yourself out of, either. It's almost as though it is wired-in to leave you dissatisfied - it's that mythical 1% of difference between hearing and expectation that's forever left unaccounted for. That ever-present, inescapable uncanniness. The sense of an auditory event horizon that can't be contacted.
I don't see many people talking about this specifically, but I suspect a lot of the journeys that people take in personal audio are in pursuit of alleviating this part of the experience, maybe even without always knowing exactly what they're chasing or what they expect reaching that point to sound or even just be like. You reach for all of this elaborate terminology in an attempt to ascertain individual attributes of what you think that sound is, without really getting there... without being able to definitively say what is missing or what should not be there. The path to that next plateau in what you experience is simply unclear, as though on the other side of an impenetrable, impassible, and immovable singularity, beyond which your words and ways of making sense of things just don't work the same as they do now. You can *almost* imagine it, and yet it is inconceivable. It's like a vanishing fog line. You are climbing the eternal stairway.
And you know? It's kinda funny. For most, we are looking to find the "shortest way" to getting past that level of need with our kits. Heh heh.
This amp seems to bypass nearly ALL of that stuff getting in the way, seemingly by masking off the subtle clues that I have drivers strapped to my ears, without introducing a lot of things that would cue me into the fact that a tube amp is in play. A lot of tube amps have telltale signs, frequency-specific coloration and artifacts. Once you know, you know and there's no room for illusion or imagination. The SW51+ has more of that broad-spectrum tonal fullness to it. It is nearly 'colorless' to me, if that makes sense. But that's not to say the sound coming through is lacking color. If some of the cheaper tube amps alter certain hues, this is more of a full-tilt, global saturation boost. Just this natural finesse that persists across every note, hit, and subtle reverberation of everything involved, from the lowest percussion up to the highest piano keys. No appreciable 'tubiness' to speak of. If there's anything altered in the balance, it's in the heft department. But even that isn't dominating, not by any means. No compromises on technicalities, either. It is as effortless as it is proficient.
The experience simply doesn't easily register as coming through headphones anymore. If I sit back and relax, it's just me and the music, as though it is directly entering my brain. A barrier is lifted, my analytical faculties bias-out, and I just don't care about certain things anymore. It's all still there... the 'head-phoniness' remains, but somehow it doesn't matter. I'm like a bird in mid-migration-flight slumber, half of me is lucid, while the other half is anesthetized.
It's kind of maddening. Part of me is quietly muttering "What IS that?!" but the rest of me is just... somewhere else. Every time. Sometimes I think maybe I don't really want to listen to music at the moment, can't think of what to put on, etc.. But as soon as I get going, I find that whatever I put on sucks me in, to the point where I forget what I wanted to do before I started the music. Any music-related neuroses I may have harbored effervesce. It may not sound like speakers, but the level of engagement is much, much closer. I'm kind of at a loss on the mix of purity, cleanness and straight-up immersion factor.
I've experienced this sort of immersion before, but not with an amp like this. It's usually more of a big boy tube amp thing. That's really something else. I can't even think about other amps anymore. This amp isn't made for headphones - it is made for music.
Couldn't agree more with everything you've said. Except the personal observations of the SW51, since mine is STILL STUCK SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MARS AND EARTH!! (OK, I'm feeling calmer now.)
You know, with all the descriptions of the sound of this amp, if it were made here in the US, it would be in a fancy enclosure and cost 10x as much. Instead, it's made elsewhere by someone with a passion for good sound and not profit, who hasn't been infected with the 'if it's better it must be worth more' mentality. (Crap, I hope Ruslan doesn't read this and go all 'Western' on us.)
I received this amp yesterday, and have been listening to it with a ZMF Aeolus Sapele (Universe Suede Perforated Pads). The source is a standard USB out on a Macbook Air fed to a Soekris 1321. Any impressions right now are preliminary, but I feel compelled to share them anyways. With the stock tubes, the sound feels somewhat mid-focused. The tone and timbre are, to put things colloquially, "just right". There's speed in the transients but nothing that feels unnatural. Instrument separation, layering, and microdynamics are all a notable step up from Lyr 3, the amp that I previously listened to the most. Vocals have an interesting quality: they are crisp, clear, and present, excellently isolated from the rest of the music. In fact, much of the music sounds like this. Instruments pop out of darkness, making their show before receding. It is easier with this amp to tell where each note begins and ends than with any amp I have heard.
My only critique of this sort of sonic presentation is that because all the elements of the music are so clearly separated and delineated, they don't always come together as a cohesive whole. The Lyr 3 was better at doing this, even if it did sometimes blur the sound together compared to the SW51+. Undoubtedly, the improved technicalities are a good thing, but at times I felt as if the sound was - to use an odd phrase - almost too clean. Perhaps it was merely exposing bad recordings, but at times I felt as if the amp was letting me peer so directly into the music that the music itself lost some of its magic. Regardless, that only happened on two or three tracks. Overall, this amp is undoubtedly a step up from the Lyr 3 in most areas: music has a crystal clear, pristine quality, and individual instruments are much more easily discerned and isolated than with the Lyr 3. The only areas where it significantly lags the Lyr 3 are macrodynamics, bass impact, bass extension, and treble extension. Compared to the lyr 3, it does feel like it doesn't extend fully to both ends, and the macrodynamic punch of bass is relatively muted, as well as the tightness and control of bass.
In terms of sheer technical prowess, this amp is quite impressive, especially for its price point. I cannot recall my exact listening impressions with my BHA-1 (which I'll be receiving back from storage soon across the country), but from what I remember, this amp matches many of the BHA-1's best qualities at less than a fourth of the price. Once I get the big-boy solid state amp, I'll leave some direct comparisons between the two.
I did, probably against my better instincts, roll some Tungsram tubes I received with the amp. It did not drastically change the sound signature, but it did lead to an overall warmer presentation, one that was not quite as clean, speedy, or "Black", but which had just a tad more sweetness in the notes. I'm not sure I prefer these: they take away some of the sheer definition, clarity, and speed which makes this amp so enjoyable to me. Perhaps I'll keep these tubes in case I decide to buy a more analytical headphone in the future - I think they'd pair better with something like a Focal than with a ZMF.
This emotional response is the sign of a system with great synergy. Sign of a great amp is when it synergizes well with more than a few combinations of headphones and DACs. Such is the SW51+.
I can definitely see that. Modi Multibit, SW51+, and HD6xx/650 seems to be an excellent combo in that regard. No doubt it pairs just as well with other Schiit multibit. Though it's worth mentioning, I don't feel like I want to upgrade at this point. Gets me every time. Really doesn't take much. I feel like every component in this chain really shines with the inclusion of the SW51+.
Does anyone know where its possible to get the stock tubes for these? Every three or four hours or so when I listen with the SW51+ the sound just completely distorts and is unlistenable. I attribute this to the tubes as it hasn't happened while listening to the other tubes, but I'm still listening with the stock tubes as they're preferable to me than my Tungsram's (the problem seems fixed by unplugging and replugging the headphones in).
I bought a couple of spares off @Zampotech when I got my SW51 for $10 more. Someone asked about tubes on ebay on the other SW51 thread and he posted below:
Oh great, I knew I saw that somewhere and I couldn't find it in this thread! No wonder...thanks!
My SW51+ arrived.
Had to reverse image search that one.
Can you provide impressions of the differences? There's been lots of mention of the Tungsrams, but I haven't seen any definitive descriptions of their sonic character.
I think I left some impressions a few posts earlier in this thread! Basically: the Tungsram's are warmer, and to me they take away some of the clarity and speed of the amp while lending a more romantic presentation to the sound, with a slightly larger soundstage more saturation/richness to notes.
Separate names with a comma.