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Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

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  • Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

    Widgets Magazine
    I could hear the cicadas chirping in this sub-forum, so I thought I would see if there were any other audio geeks who wanted to chat about their gear or their plans for future gear.

    In the time since I was part of the old forum I became quite the tube aficionado, with two tube headphone amps and a tube integrated that is currently away being modded. My first foray into tubes, a Woo Audio headphone amp, was enough to tell me this where I wanted to be in the audio world but it wasn't until I got my current amp (which is custom designed and built by a friend and honest to goodness audio design genius) that things really clicked. I can't imagine listening to music any other way now, it has deepened my enjoyment of the hobby at least 10 fold.

    My headphone amp was such a revelation to me that early this year I commissioned a much higher budget, all out effort, amp to see just how far I could go with it. I'd been saving money for a project like this for a long time, but it wasn't until I met my designer friend that I knew what it was for. The project was delayed by various things, but actual bread-boarding and construction on the amp should be starting soon now. It will be an all direct heated triode amp featuring the 45 as an output tube and the 10Y as an input/driver. If we end up using another stage I'm guessing it will be either a 46 or a 71A, that's still up in the air. Not an undertaking for the feint of heart, but when it is done I think it is going to be something truly special; capable of competing against any commercial amp regardless of price.

    I personally just love to talk about audio gear and to share that enthusiasm with other people who feel the same way.

    If anybody else here is into tube amps, or anything else audio really, share your thoughts here if you want to.
    Last edited by _Ty_; 10-22-2012, 10:48 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

    yeah, it has been a little too quiet...
    though it's cool seeing one of the original hardware-veterans return. The cicadas and I welcome you back to another quiet sub-forum.

    silence aside, that's a pretty nifty endeavor you got going. I've always known you for leaning more towards the head-fi scene and me being on the other end at hi-fi.

    But of all the headphone suggestions you've suggested in the past, I was always inclined to agree with them. I respected a lot of the advice you gave others when choosing particular gear. Actually, I think you were the go-to guy when discussions had anything and everything to do with headphones.

    I would say I'm now as much a video-gear fanatic as am I an audio-gearhead, whereas in the past I was inclined to pay more attention to the audio side of things. Don't get me wrong, I still love audio gear, it's just that I've found myself spending a lot more money and time with video gear (which isn't inclusive to just home theater). But my audio gear interest is starting to spark up again knowing what Dolby Atmos and MDA have in store. I'm not just referring to the output side of things, but also on the production/engineering side of the technology. I know it's definitely a completely different realm from head-fi, but I've always enjoyed the tactile feedback and soundstage you get with speakers. That's not to say I don't use headphones, since I do, but primarily for DTM purposes.

    As for tube amps, I do miss their sound. I say 'miss' because I grew up listening to tube amps and remember them outputting nothing buy solid, clean audio. Could never forget blasting 8-tracks and vinyls on tube amplified gear.

    I seriously would have a tube setup if I could get a laser turntable to match it. awwwww,pipe-dream.... I wish I could win the lotto, that, or I'd have to completely give up my other hobbies, which I doubt will happen :D

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    • #3
      Re: Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

      That sounds like a pretty cool project you've got going, Ty.

      Earlier this year, I made the first change to my head-fi setup in nearly a decade. I replaced my well-worn Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros with a pair of Sennheiser HD 280s. Even though the Senns are roughly half the price of my old Beyers, I almost consider them an upgrade -- their sound is markedly warmer, without the mid-scooped brittleness of the Beyers. And the swiveling, articulated cups make transport a breeze. (I also like that Sennheiser's replacement earpads are less than half as expensive as Beyerdynamic's.)

      In terms of gear, I'm moving more towards audio production than home listening, so I've been slowly retooling my computer setup. Within the next couple of months, I'm scheduled to replace my old sound card (a Creative X-Fi Elite Pro -- hey, it does still work fairly well in ASIO mode) with either a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP or a Saffire Pro 40. Leaning towards the 24 DSP, mostly because of the VRM headphone spatialization, but on a practical level, I could really use the ADAT in/out on the 40.

      My dream head-amp remains the Grace Design m903. Love the feature-set -- particularly the pan/balance control, which I need to correct for a hearing imbalance. It still dismays me that the hi-fi world considers panning adjustment to be a frivolity. I can't place stereo sounds without it -- at center pan, everything sounds like it's coming out of the right speaker/driver.

      Only real downside to the m903 is that ~$2000 USD pricetag. Yeowch.
      Avatar: Ruri "Kuroneko" Gokou from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai.

      I just imagined Najimi wearing a frilly dress and twirling in front of a mirror in excitement... it's horrifying...
      -Tsuyuri, Doujin Work

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      • #4
        Re: Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

        I've heard good things about the Grace unit. I definitely feel you on the price too, I'm expecting my custom project to land well north of $2K in terms of cost. That's just material cost too frighteningly enough. This will be my "moonshot" so to speak, all out. I'm really hoping it is worth it.

        I think the purist approach goes against tone and balance controls simply because it mandates a processing step. There are lots of opinions on it, good and bad, but the reason I personally avoid such things is because I can actually hear the phase and time domain issues those processors introduce into the signal with my own ears. It just doesn't sound right anymore, so my gear tends to have as few buttons and knobs as possible.

        Thanks, Sensuifu, for the kind words too. I genuinely like helping people pick gear that is right for them. It's all about increasing enjoyment after all. The ironic thing about me and headphones is that I wouldn't really call myself a headphone guy. I honestly prefer speakers despite the appealing simplicity of headphones. You are completely correct, the tactile feedback and reproduction of recording space in the room is something that headphones aren't capable of reproducing really. My focus on headphones is driven more by living conditions than anything, I have to stick to small apartments for budget reasons so I just can't accomodate big gear. Otherwise the tube project would be a pair of 845 monoblock speaker amps.

        I have found a lot to like in headphones after I got into tubes though. The OTL amp I have now is strikingly transparent. It gives a real "in front of the microphone" sense of truthfulness with well recorded tracks and give a very strong sense of the type or room the recording was made in. It's missing a few things that speakers do, but it also provides a few things that speakers don't. In the end both are worth pursuits I think, but for my living situation it is far easier to accommodate the headphone side of things.

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        • #5
          Re: Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

          Originally posted by _Ty_ View Post
          I think the purist approach goes against tone and balance controls simply because it mandates a processing step. There are lots of opinions on it, good and bad, but the reason I personally avoid such things is because I can actually hear the phase and time domain issues those processors introduce into the signal with my own ears. It just doesn't sound right anymore, so my gear tends to have as few buttons and knobs as possible.
          I grok the argument against tone/EQ controls, but part of what surprises me about the lack of pan controls is that they don't necessarily add that much to the circuitry. Heck, all you need is a separate volume pot for each channel. Then you can tweak the panning as needed to compensate for imperfections in biology or manufacturing. Headroom used to build their Max-series balanced amps that way, until they inexplicably switched to a master volume knob.
          Avatar: Ruri "Kuroneko" Gokou from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai.

          I just imagined Najimi wearing a frilly dress and twirling in front of a mirror in excitement... it's horrifying...
          -Tsuyuri, Doujin Work

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Any fellow audio gear enthusiasts among us? If so share your current/future equipment dreams here.

            Maybe a headphone amp with a dual mono design and dual volume controls like the top model Darkvoice would work well for you then? You're right in that if all you're doing is running a separate pot for each channel there should be little or no sonic penalty, I was referring more to amps that process it all in the digital domain via DSP or chip based controllers.

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