System Synergy - Special Sound

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by atomicbob, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    @Erroneous

    Unless you want to get into expensive territory, just pick up a Bifrost 2.
    I don't know what your budget is. If you have a lot more room in your budget, we can definitely recommend other things.
    Pick up a Tuba for now. If you're able to pick up a SW51+ later, then do that. Either will be great for you.

    Erroneous, Apr 26, 2021
     
  2. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    @ColdsnapBry

    Erroneous said:
    "Unless you want to get into expensive territory, just pick up a Bifrost 2.
    I don't know what your budget is. If you have a lot more room in your budget, we can definitely recommend other things.
    Pick up a Tuba for now. If you're able to pick up a SW51+ later, then do that. Either will be great for you."


    Yea about $700 for the DAC and $700 for the AMP is a good place for me right now.

    Thanks!
    ColdsnapBry, Apr 26, 2021
     
  3. Cooper32

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    @Cooper32

    dematted said:
    "I would recommend the following amps with the Aeolus:

    SW51+ with stock tubes: This is neutral and dryer, and manages to make the Aeolus just a tad leaner while improving its microdynamics and sense of nuance. Aeolus more flairful, macro-dynamic focused presentation matches well with this, in my experience.

    Valhalla 2: If you can't afford a SW51+, the Valhalla 2 ought to go nicely with the Aeolus: it should significantly expand its stage. It certainly is on the "dry" side - its even drier than SW51+, if I recall correctly.

    CTH + Linear Power Supply: This is an amp to consider. A lot of folks on SBAF loved this combo, and it is definitely on the neutral, or even bass-lite side.

    If you're willing to go solid state, I would look into the Rebel Amp or BHA-1. Though neither of those amps have been discussed that much here, they both have been received elsewhere by people whose ears I trust. I've tried the BHA-1 and the Aeolus, and the pairing is generally excellent, with a great sense of tonal balance and punchiness, though I occassionally found the microdynamics to be a little flat.
    ..."


    Erroneous said:
    "@ColdsnapBry

    Regarding system synergy for the Aeolus -

    You can have a dry DAC or you can have a dry amp, but not both. I've gone down the path of rich, slammy, dense DACs (Yggdrasil A2, Bifrost 2, Gungnir Multibit A1) while chasing all-tube amps that are extremely neutral and very linear.
    Don't go Bottlehead Crack or Feliks Echo, or warm on top of warm in my opinion.
    Some people report great things with Liquid Platinum, Lyr 3, but I think you're better off chasing something like a Haggerman Tuba if you can't get your hands on a SW51+. Ideally you'd procure a Studio Jr, but that's a different price bracket.
    ..."


    Currently waiting on BF2, SW51+, and Aeolus. I ordered them throughout 2021 hoping I was going to get one component at a time but now, it's looking more likely that they'll all arrive next month.

    I don't really have a lot of experience beyond entry level setups (currently have: Eitr -> Modi MB v2 -> Asgard 3 / Vali 2 -> HD 6XX) so buying all this is a huge leap of faith. I wanted a super-6XX so went for Aeolus. SW51+ is highly recommended here for a tube amp with neutral signature. Based on reading the SW51 and Aeolus threads, it's a very good pairing. BF2 seemed like the natural step up from Modi MB. I was a bit concerned about a BF2 given it's warm-ish signature with a warm headphone would be too much of a good thing but based on @dematted and @Erroneous, it seems it pairs well with the SW51+ and Aeolus.

    I will post impressions on the new system after a couple months of listening.

    Cooper32, Apr 27, 2021
     
  4. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    @Erroneous

    Bifrost 2 + SW51 + Aeolus is end game. Just stop there and save yourself thousands of dollars chasing the last 2-3%. You've made some great choices and will be heavily rewarded for your efforts.

    Erroneous, Apr 27, 2021
     
  5. Cooper32

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    @Cooper32

    Yeah, I figured out after this, the future improvements will be to my source gear (generic laptop -> Pi2AES coax SPDIF out) and streaming source (currently have Amazon Music HD -> will try Qobuz). All in due time...

    Cooper32, Apr 27, 2021
     
  6. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    @ColdsnapBry

    Yea, that's going to be an awesome setup! Something I'm working towards.

    As someone who owns the 58X, 6XX and 600, I was very happy when my Aeolus arrived and wasn't dissapointed. It does still make you appreciate how great the 6XX is though as it can still hang with the Aeolus, but it gets outpaced in most areas.

    ColdsnapBry, Apr 27, 2021
     
  7. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    @atomicbob

    Seduced by the dark side ... R2R ladder DAC with near NOS filter into an extraordinary 300B amp. This combination has exceptional alignment with my personal auditory preferences. More DAC + Studio B + HD800-Jmod evaluations to occur over the next several months.
    DSC_0610_small.jpg

    atomicbob, Monday at 9:34 PM
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
  8. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    OKAY, THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE. Hopefully we can rebuild as many awesome SYSTEMS as possible.
    (Feel free to PM me if you need any help.)


    SAVED PAGES: 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 27, 29, 36
    COULDN'T RESTORE: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35

    • This was one of my favorite threads and had to be rebuilt as much as possible.
    • Really appreciate those of you who take snapshots in time of the combos that you really love.
    • This is like going to a meet and at least seeing how people craft rigs for serious enjoyment.
    Please continue to share complete synergistic systems as inspired by atomicbob!
    |\/|
     
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  9. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    Thanks @CEE TEE. Wow, almost 7 years ago ! Now, the chain is

    Rockna Wavedream Net > Rockna Wavedream Signature Balanced/Convert 2/Forssell MDAC 2A > Schitt Freya S > Auris Headonia/Auris Nirvana/Leben CS 600/Ferrum OOR/Phonitor 2 > Abyss 1266 TC/Focal Utopia/Susvara/HE 6/ZMF Atrium/JAR HD 600 (sure I'm missing a few more).
    One freaking long sentence, I know. The number of intermediate boxes (and cables) I have in this chain are quite a few. I need to make an excel sheet (like @atomicbob ). The journey towards this chain has been interesting primarily as I struggled to make the pro DACs be nice to my consumer amps (except the Phonitor).
     
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  10. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    Thanks again to AtomicBob and CeeTee for this thread. I'm going to update my system synergy post with where I am now.

    BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): I am a grey muzzle with demonstrably flawed hearing above about 12 khz. Young pups, don't be an idiot like I was and avoid the following: full 4X10 guitar cabinets played at 11, explosions, and concussions.

    System notes and chain:

    Innuos Zen Mini running Roon Core -> HQ Player Embedded outputting over USB in either PCM or SDM -> Holo Audio Spring 3 DAC -> Knozmo Acoustic Passive Pre. - to either the TTVJ FET-A Headphone Amp or an Ampsandsound Kenzie Ovation.

    DDC:

    The Innuos Zen provide me one central place to run Roon and store my music library. I have around 17,000 tracks and appreciate the library management, music discovery, and deep meta data information. Music listening for me ranges from achieving a flow state while working to sitting back with a tasty beverage and getting lost.

    I migrated from a Pi2AES HQPlayer Embedded built on a Raspberry Pi4 to a Small Green Computer Sonic Transporter i5. I personally favor timbre, space, and a dark slightly warm sound. These preferences inform the choices I made.

    The Pi2AES had more than enough power to render PCM audio at 192K with the Sync-Mx filter. If I wasn't trying to wring the last bit of control and quality from my set up, I would have gladly stoped there. I had heard from a number of sources that DSD upsampling offered that last bit of sonic enhancement and control. So when I found a used Sonictransporter, I jumped at the chance.

    I continue to play around with filters to find what works best for me. I have set to tuning the filter and shaper to something that would work with my music library that includes everything from fifteen year old MP3 rips (VBR) to AIFF 24/192.

    After much trial and error, here is where I landed:

    closed-form-M, NS4, PCM, 352.8kHz
    poly-sinc-guass-long, ASDM7, SDM output, DSD128

    Much has been written on other forums about the choice of up-sampler algorithm and shaper. I'll describe why I made the choices I did, these setting balance lag during startup of a playlist with impact, space, timbre, and weight. Individual notes arrive from a black background and transients appropriately fade. When listening to complex folk metal such as Windfaerer's latest album, no instrument gets lost in the mix. I can subtly focus shift to follow any instrument or vocals.

    Amps:

    TTVJ FET-A Headphone Amp - this is a Pete Millett designed amp. I keep this amp around because it synergizes with my HE560 Planar headphones. The amp has power to spare and produces a clinical, immediate sound with no major flaws of omission or commission. While I am curious about high end solid state amps such as the Ferrum or Phonitor, with my investment in the Kenzie Ovation, I find little reason to replace this amp.

    Ampsandsound Kenzie Ovation - I shared my thoughts and impressions on the dedicated thread. This is an end game tube amp for me, tailored to my preferences after conversations with the esteemed Justin. We chatted for over an hour about my preferences, hearing, musical taste, and sonic goals and this is where we landed. The amp has a romantic, holographic sound. After reading and researching, I think my favor characteristics that this amp has in spades are 2nd order harmonics, slight euphony, and sense of space. I typically listen around 78 dB with peaks up to 85 dB. The volume knob is generally set between noon and two o'clock. The ability to impedance role also means I can tailor my sound to my tastes. The amp offers five jacks ranging from: 8, 16, 32, 100, and 300 ohms. I generally play my ZMF headphones out of the 100 or 300 ohm jack while HE560 are played at 16 or 32 ohms.

    I moved to these two amps as they took all the qualities I appreciated from the Headroom or Cavalli amps and provided far more quality of the same. It did take me a while to move from the software based plugins I used before to achieve analog equivalency, but I find this set up is less likely to suffer software bugs. The Kenzie Ovation naturally provides the crossfeed I used to add and I no longer feel the need to EQ as the headphones match my personal preferences.

    Headphones:

    ZMF Auteur in Blackwood - purchased from a SBAF member, these outstanding headphones were a major upgrade. It did take me awhile to wrap my head around what the ZMF Auteur brought to my set up. I had previously only heard these under meet conditions. Given all the filters I had applied, it took me removing these to really understand how refined the Auteur can be. Honestly it sounded awful on my Cavalli with the same EQ as the Mad Dog Pro or Beyer. I'm glad I kept fussing and didn't give up. Once I turned off the plug-ins, I finally recaptured the sound I remembered from meets. Yes, system synergy bites me in the butt once again! The Auteur has a neutral, slightly dark leaning to my mind. If there is one thing the Auteur lacks, it is the slam found with the HE560 or Atrium.

    HE560 v2 - another purchase from a SBAF member at a great price. These fairly neutral headphones contrast with the more romantic sound of the Auteur. The HE560 sounds okay on the Kenzie Ovation, but I prefer to play them from the FET-A. The headphone seems to have less shimmer up top, with more slam than the Auteurs. As far as texture and extension in the bass, I think these two may be roughly the same.

    ZMF Atrium in aged Cherry - TBD as I have not had enough time to evaluate, but these seem like the love child of the Auteur and HE560. I love them, but much like my three dogs, I am keeping all three headphones because they are different enough from each other.

    Closing:

    If you have managed to read this far, my thanks. I will gladly answer any questions about my set-up or decades long journey to land here. As far as a headphone rig, I think I have achieved my personal end of the line. Anything I might change or audition at this point would likely be a lateral move. I have passed the threshold of liminality to a system that synergizes around my unique desires and preferences. Thank you to every member of Changstar and SBAF who has guided me on this path.
     
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  11. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Simple Pleasure

    DSC_0885_cropped_small.jpg

    This system has good tonal balance and a pleasing harmonic distortion profile. Modestly priced, it is hardly a starter system. Ascending the ladder of higher end components will result in refinement, greater depth of immersion. However I am finding a great deal of enjoyment in simplicity with a very small footprint. After settling into a listening session I don't feel fatigue or annoyance; simple listening pleasure.

    20220509 Headphone System List  Modi 3E  Vali2+ 7DJ8  HD650.png

    The 7DJ8 / PCC88 was a gift courtesy of @Changeling a few years back. I am estimating the current price from what I see on ebay and tube vendors.
     
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  12. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    "Don't Try This At Home" System

    After spending two quarters and a little more, I almost completed my 2022 starting-over quest.

    [​IMG]

    Probably no less than 75% of this system looks silly, stupid, maybe even offensive to many in this forum. I get it. Call me a weirdo, heretic, hipster, or whatever. But there are two ground truths. First, I chose every piece with my ears and multiple AB tests over reference or target gears (including some blind tests). The sole exception is Susvara which I purchased based on faint but super-fond memory. Second, I'm -- tbh unexpectedly -- content with the synergistic sound I hear.

    A few additional comments.
    • None of these gears are recommendable with confidence atm yet. I need to collect more thoughts why they do sound so good to me. Safely speaking, avoid all of these if you don't like what you can imagine from the brands I listed below.
    • Most of the gears were discovered by developing initial thoughts of "How can I enjoy X's quality without paying X's price?". But I haven't found a convincing answer for Sus.. TBD in the future.
    • The headamp shown in the pic isn't doing much job for Sus. Mostly for other headphones. LA90 is primarily driving Sus.
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: May 22, 2022
  13. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Comparison of two DAC – Amp combinations with very good system synergy.

    00 20220614 Studio B Spring 2 - Vali 2+ Modi 3E.jpg
    Schiit modi 3E + vali 2+ is approximately $280 including the Ultron 7DJ8 tube.
    Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE + Eddie Current Studio B with Linlai 300B tubes was approximately $7500.

    Common to both is low listening fatigue, immersive musical rendition, high engagement and general fun factor.
    The more expensive system has greater refinement, more luxurious presentation, greater sense of space, etc.
    But it is interesting that the difference between the high end system and this specific low cost system is not as great as many other present day low cost systems and those of the past.

    For a complete description and interpretation guide for the following graphs, read this tutorial:
    https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...distortion-vs-amplitude-a-visual-guide.12279/

    04 202200514 vali 2+ 1 KHz distortion vs amp A=0 dB high gain 300R annotated.png

    While there are many amplifier attributes that may be measured, 4+HD+N (Crap Factor™) is particularly interesting.
    Observe the 4+HD+N red trace for Vali 2+ above and note considerable similarity with Studio B below.

    07 202200514 Studio B Linlai 300B 1 KHz distortion vs amp A=0 dB high 300R annotated.png
    Studio B has lower distortion in every attribute. However below 0 dBu the similarity of trace morphology between the two systems is intriguing. 4+HD+N is nearly identical between the two amplifiers in this region. However Studio B has lower distortion with 4.5 times less NFB required.

    08 Studio B - Vali2 1 KHz distortion vs amplitude animation.gif
    Animation allowing direct visual comparison of each trace between the two amps.
    Pay particular attention to the red trace, 4+HD+N, inside the yellow box. They are nearly identical in morphology and only slightly difference in level.

    09b 20220612 s-curves annotated v2.png
    Today’s audio engineering artisans are moving the curve in a direction such that much more satisfying performance may be had at modest cost than of years ago. Consider a modestly priced system of the past just beginning the ascent towards high end performance whereas some systems available today yield significantly higher performance as indicated on the green curve above.

    In my lab the Spring 2 + Studio B represents a very high level of performance, far to the right on the green curve, which I enjoy greatly. The Modi 3E + Vali 2+ is high enough on the curve to provide quality musical engagement.

    Having spent two weeks comparing and another two weeks restricting listening sessions to Modi 3E + Vali 2+ the latter provided very good musical immersion without fatigue.
     
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  14. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    This is my Val1 and Yamaha headphone 3.
    I quite enjoy this and just recently I have obtained a Hosa 1/4 to rca cable to match with my motu m2’s 1/4 out.

    I will say since gluing the tubes back to the Sorbothane it has been quite pleasurable still some microphonics but quite enjoyable. This may be a case that I enjoy the value and lore above else.

    it’s been my rig for a few months maybe nearing a full year now. I’ll leave the top on for now, but maybe next time I will take it off or I will acquire a 2nd one and really go wild. A5B8B204-3747-4AAA-9902-880005093179.jpeg
     
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  15. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Simply Awesome

    DSC_0916_small.jpg

    There are many impressive new products being introduced at the 2022 Texas Audio Roundup today. I am going to suggest products already in production, Schiit Modi 3E, Vali 2+ are among some of the greatest Schiit achievements, bringing impressive performance to a modest price point. When combined with ETA Mini Closed, the combination deserve recognition for achieving exceptionally high performance with respect to a modest price.

    This very low distortion system invites one to listen far louder than is probably healthy for the ears. Normal volumes are so clean, but when the toe tapping begins it is hard to refrain from cranking it up. Be forewarned.

    20220722 Headphone System List  Modi 3E  Vali2+ 7DJ8  ETA Mini Closed.png
     
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  16. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    My Portable Rig

    In the spirit of this thread and giving back to the community, I'll share my journey to a portable rig that works for me. I am greying about the muzzle, and my hearing doesn't extend much beyond 12khz, so please keep this in mind. Headphone and portable audio is my hobby, and I am fortunate to be able to invest accordingly. I spend eight or more hours a day at my desk and have the luxury of spending considerable time writing.

    Preferred System:

    iFi Gryphon ($499 open box)
    Empire Ears Odin ($2799 open box) or Timeless 7hz ($220)
    Qobuz annual and i-device sources

    Goal:

    I am okay with a colored, dark sound for my portable rig. I'm not too fond of compressed, recessed vocals. I have also found through considerable trial and error that I like DD bass for the texture and quantity of bass.

    My desktop system: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...nergy-special-sound.11676/page-19#post-381246

    Sources:

    iPhone or iPad Pro with Quboz to an iFi Gryphon (or direct when I'm feeling lazy).

    Portable Amp & DAC:

    iFi Gryphon (my prior post here)

    IEM & Ear Tips:

    I own the Timeless 7hz, Campfire Lyra II, Campfire Vega, and Empire Ears Odin.

    Campfire Vega: When I'm in the mood for crushing bass with a compressed, dark sound, I reach for the Campfire Vega with Comply Medium ear tips. These lack mids and cause complex extreme metal tracks, whether instrumental or vocal, to get muddy. It does not make much difference which source I tried, and the outcome is the same. I don't have a firm opinion on whether cables make a difference in sound, but I do care about microphonics and aesthetics, so I have a 4.4mm terminated Eletech Fortitude cable.

    Timeless 7hz: To my ears, this IEM has a better overall performance across the spectrum. The bass is present and impactful but lacks a bit of the slam of the Campfire Vega. These have much better mids and some sparkle up top. I am running these with stock tips and a 4.4 mm Alibaba cable. These are my walking around and commuting headphones.

    EE Odin: I have long wondered what climbing up the price/performance ladder would bring to the table. After considerable research reading the forum here and youtube "research," "I decided to take the plunge on the Odin. I purchased from Bloom Audio as they have always provided excellent customer service. The Odin combines the bass texture and impact of the Vega with the excellent mids of the Timeless 7hz. I find detail retrieval, micro, and macro dynamics to be outstanding. The cable has no microphonics and little weight. While the cable doesn't tangle when stored, I am a bit bothered that I can't get it to straighten fully. I'm used to Norne and ZMF cables that have mass and lay flat. The 108 DB efficiency also means that amp pairing matters. With the iFi Gryphon and the 4.4 mm balanced jack, I can choose slight hiss or a change in the sound with IE Match enabled. I generally don't mind the slight hiss when listening to metal, rock, or alternative music, but I find it annoying when listening to classical or jazz. Ear tips are Sedna Earfit Xelastec.

    Overall:

    While the pairing of the Gryphon and Odin brings the most detail and overall enjoyment, the Timeless 7hz, with or without the Gryphon, provides a considerable amount of portable sonic improvement at a fraction of the cost. Adding the Gryphon brings more sound shaping features including the inbuilt DAC filters, XSpace, and XBass II, and for that final bit of sonic enjoyment and refinement at the edges of diminishing returns, the EE Odin provides me a portable system that matches my preferred desktop rig. I hope if you read this far that you found some of this helpful.
     
  17. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    Abbas 2.3SE DAC + HD800

    I recently picked up an Abbas 2.3SE DAC for my headphone system. It just so happens the characteristics of this DAC works so well with the HD800, that I think, this is probably one of the most synergistic DACs for the HD800. For reference, the Bifrost2, the Wavelight and the Mojo2, despite being great DACs in their own regard, were never an ideal match for the HD800. The Bifrost2's lower treble stridency, Wavelight's boosted treble, Mojo2's lack of meat-on-bones rendered these DACs almost unusable with the HD800.

    It is not that difficult to find a DAC that is free of treble issues for the 800. But saving the HD800 from the treble is only half the challenge. The remaining half is to retain the strengths of the 800 and also getting rid of its boring nature. Pairing the HD800 with a very energetic chain can kill the boring nature. But the energetic DACs I had tried until now, have always had some form of treble issues. The Abbas 2.3SE may be the first DAC that seems to have an energetic sound, while being free of treble issues.

    The DAC has a bit of a forward presentation, which helps fill out the mids and bring the withdrawn presentation of the headphone to the foreground. This enhances the energy and tactility in the presentation. Not in a ‘smothered by a wall of sound’ way. But rather ‘hits you with the tactility of the notes/music like you are standing fairly close to the stage’ sort of way. This makes for a gripping and an engaging listen. And because the DAC does all this while having minimal treble issues, the remnant of 6k peak and the lifted mid-treble region of the HD800 become inoffensive. As a whole the DAC fixes the tonal quirks of the headphone and brings out the good timbre the headphone is capable of. I should state that the Abbas has the best timbre I have heard to date on a DAC.

    My chain still throws a large stage when the recording calls for it and, is able to portray the front-to-back layering of instruments in a stage. I think a good tube amp will have you covered in that aspect. Also what surprised me was the black background, which I did not expect. I was worried about congestion and smearing, but so far, it hasn’t bothered me with the genres I listen to, which does not include extremely busy and overlapped music. If I have one gripe about the DAC so far, I am missing some of the details that I am used to hearing with the Wavelight. But I hear the RCA Meatball 5Y3 rectifier can help with that, so I am looking forward to it.

    So what we have now is a HD800 chain that is inoffensive, energetic and engaging, all that while having as good a timbre as a good HD650 chain. I do think my Elekit amp helps with reinforcing the DAC's strengths and mitigating some of its weaknesses.

    Chain: Hydra Z > Abbas 2.3, Mojo2 > Elekit 8900 (2A3) > HD800 (SDR + SBAF mods), HD650

    IMG_0930.JPG
     
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  18. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    a tip for the Vali 2+ and ETA Mini C-
    some 6922 can be overly warm with Mini C, blunting its capabilities of micro detail and bass clarity.
    proceed with a 6922 adapter to 2C51, pop in a Bendix 2C51 and unleash clarity and space for the Mini C presentation.
    much improved.

    newer Vali 2+++++ owners starting in this month of September 2002 can roll in the Bendix 2C51 directly with no adapter.
    lucky them. no diff.
     
  19. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    I see that you're using Psvane Cossor 300Bs, am I right? If so, do you like them? And were you able to compare them with any other 300B? I know, these questions can lead really deep really fast, but had to ask anyway :)
     
  20. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    These are basically Cossor branded Linlai WE300Bs. I have compared these only with an entry level 300B from Linlai and the WE300B clones are a clear step up from those. From what I have gathered, these don't play in the same league as the big boys (new prod WE300B, Elrog 300B), but are a step up from the entry level 300Bs (Gold Lion, JJ, EH and Shuguang). Linlai Elite and Psvane Acme are more linear sounding than these with a slightly better performance. But at $550/pair, these seem to have better value proposition than the Elite and Acme.
     
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