"Shortest Way" SW51 Amp Impressions (Simple SET Amp)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Hands, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    Different strokes. I don't find them much warmer. Maybe a bit less low-end extension, even. Slight midrange bump? More saturated, definitely. But for me that's where the 'pop' is for them. Less romantic and more lively. I hear that more across the board - not much seemed to change, tonally. It's subtle. That's what I really like about them. They have that harmonic fineness to them without totally futzing the FR.

    I'm sure after a couple of months of swapping them here and there (just 'testing the sockets') I'll have completely different opinions on both. :p
     
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  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Your right, my bad! Due to shit going on in life, my brain isn't functioning at 10/10ths lately.

    Interesting, I just hit up @robot zombie in a PM for his impressions as he'd posted about the Tungsrams on his profile page. They seem to go in a slightly opposite direction from yours. I was just going to share them here, and he beat me to the punch! His PM has a more detailed description, so here:
    I think you're probably right about it being headphone dependent.

    Guess I'll just have to try them for myself.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020
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  3. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    Thanks for digging up the earlier impression from @dematted

    If that's what we're going with, we aren't ALL that far off. The blackness, I think I would have to agree on. That might be part of why the stock tubes register as being punchier to me. They definitely have more of that emergence in their sound. Macrodynamics are worth mentioning here - stock has the Tungsrams beat. That's not something I pay so much attention to with headphones but for those who want it, probably look elsewhere. The Tungsrams, I feel, excel more at low-level transients and dynamics. You lose a little of that exactingness for the more granular details to emerge. This is zooming down past 'attack' and into 'texture' scale.

    I think this might be a case of hearing similar things, but prioritizing and describing them differently. My baseline might be different right now, too. I've predominantly been using the Tungsrams. I may have to go back and use the stock tubes for a while to really dig into this.
     
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  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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  5. dllmsch

    dllmsch Friend

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    Don't forget that even within the same brand, tubes from different factories and produced from different years may contribute to some sonic difference. People often narrow down to specific year, whatever shield, whatever getter for those more sought after tubes. Not that I'm encouraging extensive tube rolling but just from ebay alone I see generic 6j51p tubes ranging from 1974 to 1989, different packages for tungsram and valvo ef184, all may contribute to some variations.
     
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  6. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    So, today I experienced the same buzzing/crackling noise with the other pair of tubes, which made me think it was a problem with the amp. I also noticed that one tube glows significantly brighter than the other (the one on the right, to be specific). I swapped the tubes, and the one on the right still glows brighter - indicating to me that there is some problem with the amp, rather than the tubes. Does anyone have a fix for this?
     
  7. YMO

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

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    Could be an issue with the pins in the socket. Take detailed pictures of both sockets and send it to @Zampotech. My left socket has a minor wide bent pin, which I need to add a very little touch of foil to make full contact with the amp.
     
  8. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Thank you so much to @Zampotech for talking me through what was wrong with this amp despite the fact that I bought this used from a head-fier. For anyone curious, it turns out that there was likely a rare defect in the stabilizer which caused it to overheat - would have never figured this out on my own, and now likely going to get it serviced in Minnesota. Once again, thanks Zampotech! This guy is a class act if I've ever seen it. So excited to see what further products he develops for this community.
     
  9. Mordy

    Mordy Rando

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    Does anybody have experience with EF812 or EF814 in the SW51?
     
  10. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Nope, but it looks like it might work with lower gain, could always give it a shot and report back.
     
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  11. dllmsch

    dllmsch Friend

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    Just received my SW51+, took just 10 days to deliver! Some brief impressions with HD650:
    Comparing to BHA1 with stock tubes,
    Pi2AES w/ 5VLPS >> SPDIF >> Bifrost 2 >> RCA/XLR >> BHA-1 low gain/SW51+ high gain

    BHA has bigger headstage, better imaging, better macrodynamic, plankton and extension. Microdynamic is about the same? Where SW51+ wins, and by a huge margin, is timbre and vocal sweetness(richness? 2nd harmonic?). First time plugging in and listening had me sobbing, for real lol. Granted this is the most expensive tube amp that I've experienced, I feel like this is the "asian female wife poison vocal" that my younger self have been chasing for long, not the audio-technica weird nasal congestion sound. Just that midrange alone can make me not care about any shortcoming.

    I listened to jpop less and less the past few years as I upgrade my chain since they are more and more revealing to the poorly compressed jpop that I used to like. And somehow those jpop are perfectly listenable on SW51+. Instruments sounds like different instruments between both amp, if that even makes sense. Cello on SW51+ have reverb on the instrument itself, making it more realistic. BHA-1 while having tighter faster sound, loses the instrumental "cling" but showcase the reverb from the venue instead. Headstage is definitely more intimate on SW51+, but the added holographic feel is sometimes more preferable.

    I find both amps complement each other perfectly. For vocal focus track, accoustic instrument solo or chamber music, SW51+ hands down. Synthetic music and orchestral music, which benefits from bigger stage and imaging, BHA-1. Can always switch around depends on mood anyway.

    Didn't try low gain on SW51+ or my other headphones, too much for now.

    Some notes on tube rolling,
    CV5810(ebay seller said they are mullard): warm warm typical tube sound, don't like it.
    Polam EF184: Mid-upper mid forward, but loses the mid range magic from stock tube.
    EF184 REDIFUSION(per ebay listing, light blue box with sun logo): best macrodynamics of the bunch, matches BHA-1 I think, but mid magic kinda gone? A bit warmer than stock.
    Tungsram EF184: Better bass extension than stock, best microdynamic, even better than BHA-1, while retaining 8-90% of stock midrange magic. Tad bit warmer.
    I think I am sticking with stock tubes for now, and perhaps revisit tungsram and redifusion. Polam and CV5810 are no go for my chain.
     
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  12. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Great impressions! Think you really articulated the way I felt about these two amps better than I did. Its interesting how good the stock tubes are...keep coming back to them myself too.
     
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  13. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    HAHAHA, yeap. I think I had about the same experience. Somewhere between laughing and tearing up. Also ASMR. I'm not sure how that phenomenon really works but sometimes with the SW51+ some pathway opens where once the right song sets off the tingles, nearly every song will have that point of ASMR euphoria.

    I guess people sometimes describe sounds as 'tactile' but I don't think this is what they mean, heh. I wonder if there is a link between whatever makes something 'involving' and ASMR. Because incidentally I find the SW51+ extremely involving.
     
  14. Mordy

    Mordy Rando

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    Having had the SW51+ for almost two months I feel that the sound has improved, especially after around 100 hours of playing. In addition, it seems to me that it needs around 1/2 hour to warm up to sound it's best. Anybody else has similar experiences?
     
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  15. dllmsch

    dllmsch Friend

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    It's really hard to explain that experience without listening, I guess it applies to all other TOTL tube amps. First time listening to BHA-1 had me thinking wow the bass is tight, wow imaging is good, wow I'm hearing much more nuances than before. On the other hand SW51: Wow....??...... ;)
     
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  16. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I get this effect at home every time I do something stupid and piss her off.
     
  17. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Look here to see the warm up characteristics for tube amplifiers. Scroll down to see SW51+:
    Tube warm up time technical measurements
    90% of the change is often in the first 10 minutes. But it takes 20 to 30 minutes for temperature to fully stabilize.
     
  18. Mordy

    Mordy Rando

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    Good to see that my observation can be confirmed with measurements.
    Is there any way to measure when an amp with a specific set of tubes is burned in?
     
  19. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Refer to post above for @dematted and @robot zombie's Tungsram impressions.
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...sions-simple-set-amp.8042/page-21#post-326251

    The following impressions are with modded and EQ'd HD800.

    So mine are somewhat different from both, just to make things even more interesting, though not far off from
    @robot zombie's. Compared to stock I find the Tungsrams to have more mid-bass and to also lift the lower-mids. But I definitely wouldn't say they're warmer. Treble is also lifted and a touch tizzier, with a bit more sibilance and shout (which I'm pretty sensitive to). I'm not able to discern and describe macro/micro-dynamics that well lately, and tinnitus makes listening for blackground difficult, so I won't comment there. So I prefer the stockers to the Tungsrams. If not for the increased treble, they'd be warmer and have a more "fun" sound. I like the emphasis in the lower mids.

    Going in the other direction, in contrast to my initial impressions which were overly enthusiastic with new toy syndrome, the RCA Mullard Blackburns have slightly less (but more than adequate) bass, and smoother more natural sounding treble than the stock tubes. These are still my preference overall with SW51+.

    I got a set of matched quad Tungsrams in case I needed spares and because a pair was less than the shipping costs, and both pairs sounded the same. So I will sell 2 and send @atomicbob a pair for science. PM me if you're interested ($25 shipped standard int'l parcel worldwide).
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
  20. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    @gixxerwimp : are these the Tungsrams from NOS Tube Store? I just received two matched pairs from them this last week. Thank-you for thinking of me.

    I created a custom distortion measurement suite for SW51+ and have the following measured so far:
    Russian 6Z51P (stock)
    Mullard EF184 from https://www.watfordvalves.com
    CGE 6EJ7 (courtesy of @gixxerwimp )
    Westinghouse 6EJ7 (courtesy of @gixxerwimp )

    Tubes in hand awaiting measurements:
    Telefunken EF184 (courtesy of @Changeling )
    Tungsram EF184 from http://www.nostubestore.com
    As of 20201130 Telefunken and Tungsram are now measured

    Tubes sent by @gixxerwimp sitting with @johnjen waiting for me to get off my butt and go get them:
    Amperex Holland 6EJ7

    Maybe I should post the first four and add the others as I get to them.

    20201130 update
    With six of seven complete I will put together a post today or tomorrow for the first six.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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