ampsandsound (aka Amps & Sound)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Luckbad, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    http://ampsandsound.com/

    I picked up the Mogwai that was at CanJam SoCal. Really loving it! These amps deserve their own thread. I'd post a pic of it, but it's the one on the website and the pictures are way better than what I can take.

    Since I bought the prototype, I'm claiming the right of prima nocta... or something... and nicknaming my Mogwai "Gizmo."
    Gizmo_Mogwai.jpg

    Mogwai
    Mogwai-036.jpg

    Like many of our products, the Mogwai evolved from our earlier designs, borrowing from the Bigger Ben and Classic Wonder, while embracing the form factor of the Kenzie. The Mogwai offers more than an entry point for tube amps, but a hybrid product, meant for serious headphone and speaker use.

    Our circuit offers the ability to roll a wide variety of tubes inexpensively and bring increased power to headphones without any sacrifice of design choices that conflict with our values.

    The Mogwai combines the features of a full sized amp into a small amplifier package, weighing ~15lbs largely due to its over spec’d custom wound transformers. The Mogwai utilizes Single ended Class A operation with zero feedback to provide the essence of our Classic Wonder sound; strictly old school SET sound, while paired with a more accessible tube selection.

    The performance of the Mogwai is made possible with custom wound ultra-high quality output transformers from Transcendar Transformers providing amazing frequency extension and flat response.

    The Mogwai does not use a voltage divider network, but depends on transformers instead. We chose 32ohm tap for headphones to offer a dedicated selection for the widest range of headphones, and an 8ohm speaker tap to connect the Mogwai to moderately efficient speakers.

    The Mogwai displays its transformers prominently on the chassis to frame in the tube selections, which can vary from a 6L6GC to a KT88.

    Volume control is handled by the ALPS volume pot to allow attenuation and simplify the signal path… no preamp is needed. Zero feedback on the outputs negates the need for a pre, an iPhone can drive the Mogwai without issue.

    The Mogwai differs from the Kenzie as it aims to provide powerful output while remaining true to 50s tube ideals, and single ended sweetness. As with all ampsandsound products, we strive for a neutral, non-fatiguing sound, and demand that all our products be ultra-quiet in operation. Quiet operation is not just a goal but a guiding principle that shapes all design and implementation choices… from pots to resistors we strive for tube amps to never distract from the music.

    Input tube: 6SL7 or equivalent
    Output tubes: 6L6GC, EL34s, KT66, KT77, KT88, 6550s and KT90s
    Personal favorite is the TungSol 6L6GC STR. Warm, strong and tight bass.
    Cathode Bias/automatic bias allows for easy tube changes without adjustment.

    Compatible with 32ohm-300ohm headphones using the “32ohm” 1/4″ jack. (Beyerdynamic T1-600ohm were used successfully but not ideal.)

    Headphones driven successfully or tested with the amp include, Mr. Speaker Ethers, Mr. Speaker Ether Cs, Audeze LCD-2.2F, Audeze LCD-XC, AKG240, AKG701, Sony MDRV6, Sennheiser HD650, Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1-32ohm, HIFIMAN HE400i.

    The Mogwai is made with pride in Southern California with US sourced parts, including our precision transformers.

    Specs:
    Input impedance is 250Kohm with alps pot, .5v for full power.
    Noise with pot fully counterclockwise is 500 micro volts RMS
    Measured with 6550 output tubes on 1/4″ 32ohm optimized headphone jack. 500mW RMS output 20 Hz (-2db) to 17.7 kHz (-3db)
    Measured with 6550 output tubes on 8 ohm tap. 3W RMS output 30 Hz (-1db) to 20 kHz (-2db)

    Please look at our news section for feedback from owners of the Mogwai.
    Mogwai Headphone amp – $1,700 with tube set.

    Kenzie Headphone Amp
    kenzie-headphone-new-12.jpg

    Like many of our products, the Kenzie Headphone Amp evolved from our earlier designs – in this case, rave reviews about the SE-84’s headphone section. The inevitable question followed; why didn’t we build a dedicated headphone amp?

    Why indeed? After some research, we came to the conclusion that the Kenzie amp using the much loved darling circuit was the right choice for us. The outstanding performance of the Kenzie Headphone amp is made possible with custom wound ultra-high quality output transformers providing amazing frequency extension. The Kenzie does not use a voltage network, and has more than enough power to drive even the most difficult headphones. We chose 32ohm and 600ohm to allow use with the widest variety of headphones.

    The Kenzie Headphone amp showcases the transformers on the chassis to frame in the amazing 1626 tubes in all their single-ended direct-heated bliss. We have included an ALPS volume pot to allow attenuation and simplify the signal path… no preamp is needed.

    The 1626 AKA Kenzie is one of the sweetest-sounding amps you will ever hear. The 1626 is commonly referred to as the poor man’s 300b; all the same great imaging, texture, and single-ended sweetness without the cost to break the bank.

    The 1626 is a WWII era tube used as a transmitter tube in radar installations. The design is shy on pure output, but is overflowing with texture and drive, and is paired with a massive choke and robust output transformers for ultra-quiet operation. As with all of our products, parts selection was crucial during this build and each chosen not for price, but for best quality and synergy.

    Input tube: 12SL7 or equivalent
    Output tubes: 1626 or VT-137 which is a WWII transmitter tube and characterized as sounding like a mini 300b.
    Cathode Bias/automatic bias allows for easy tube changes without adjustment.

    Compatible with 32ohm-300ohm headphones using the 32ohm 1/4″ jack.
    Headphones above 300ohms will benefit from using the 600ohm 1/4″ jack.
    Headphones driven successfully or tested with the amp include, Mr. Speaker Ethers, Mr. Speaker Ether Cs, Audeze LCD-2.2F, Audeze LCD-XC, AKG240, AKG701, Sony MDRV6, Sennheiser HD650, Sennheiser HD800 (though reduced volume), Beyerdynamic T1-600ohm, HIFIMAN HE400i.

    The Kenzie is made with pride in Southern California with US sourced parts, including our precision transformers.

    Specs:
    Input impedance is 250Kohm with alps pot, .5v for full power.
    Noise with pot fully counterclockwise is 5mV RMS (Average)
    All measured at 32 ohm tap. All power measurements in RMS
    100mW 20 Hz (-1db) to 17.7 kHz (-3db)
    150mW 20 Hz (-1db) to 14.8 kHz (-3db)
    200mW 20 Hz (-1.25db) to 16.7 kHz (-3db)

    Please look at our news section for feedback from owners of the Kenzie Headphone amp.
    Kenzie Headphone amp – $1,500 with NOS tube set.

    Note that development continues over at @ampsandsound and additional amplifiers have come to be since the post was originally made.

    The following headphones amps are now being made by ampsandsound:
    • Kenzie: Based on the Darling circuit. Now has a coupling cap upgrade option.
    • Kenzie Encore: Bigger than the original, headphone jacks now up front. Now has 2 inputs and 1 preamp out. Also comes in a Deluxe version with input transformers and upgraded coupling caps.
    • Mogwai: Headphone / speaker amplifier in one, old school SET sound. Coupling cap upgrade now available.
    • Mogwai Special Edition: Not yet widely available. Includes a tube rectifier and moves the the headphone jacks up front.
    • Agartha: Uses 300b tubes, SET sound. Cap and input transformer upgrades available.
    • Leeloo: Uses 12AX7 for input and a pair of EL-84s for output.
    • NOTE: You can talk to Justin Weber and order different output impedance on the headphone jack than what's listed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
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  2. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    Justin is awesome! In terms of customer service he is the real deal. Point in case: I told him I was selling my HA-1 to make the bones for the Kenzie, and he took it off my hands for himself. Let's just say it was a deep discount; I couldn't believe he offered to do that. Plus a lifetime warranty.
     
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  3. TomNC

    TomNC Facebook Friend

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    Nice looking amp! Curious about how well it can drive HD800. But "neutral non-fatiguing" sounds promising.
     
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  4. jexby

    jexby Loves propane and propane accessories

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    Very interested in reading more impressions of these as you guys listen.
    Especially with planers such as HE1K, HE-560, HE-400S.
     
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  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I think @ohhgourami listened to it with the HE-6. I don't have any planars, though.
     
  6. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I listen with the LCD-2f myself. The treble is much more refined on the Kenzie then with my previous HA-1. Smoothness, detail and tone. One of the best things about this amp is that the tubes are cheap, and they sound great. There's no major flaw that I feel I need to rectify by tube rolling
     
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  7. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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  8. ohhgourami

    ohhgourami Friend

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    I listened to both smaller models. The medium sized model sounded quite good with HE-6. For the price, it had decent depth to the music and borderline powerful enough for HE-6. They got a slightly warmish sound to their amps though just a bit. I didn't get a chance to listen to their big amp but that's the one I'd recommend to those with planars and it cost only a bit more.

    I think this would be a hit for most people. I approve.
     
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  9. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Yep, they have a nice warm vintage sound to them, which is what I love. I had him swap some tubes while I was listening and got some extra bottom end out of them.

    He included some really nice expensive tubes with the Mogwai for me. When it comes time to replace them, I'll probably have to do so with something a fair bit cheaper than what's in there now.
     
  10. No_One411

    No_One411 Fired by Jude

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    Big thanks to Justin from Amps and Sound for loaning 12AU7s since Jude was kind enough to misplace the tubes while shipping the Shangri-La to CanJam...

    His amps also sound very nice for the price.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

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    How dare you accuse Jude of misplacing tubes! What heresy! You will suffer the consequences of such slander against the King.
     
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  12. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    @Luckbad hope you can get around to posting a descriptive review of the Mogwai.
     
  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I'll definitely be reviewing it. The Mogwai seemed a little warmer to me than the Kenzie. Could've been the tubes, could've been the source. I found the Mogwai to have a very old school sound to it. Like a badass old receiver/integrated amp with some nice tubes in it. The sound is a little thick, but really musical and fun to listen to.

    Maybe not to the level of a TOTL DNA, Eddie Current, or Cavalli amp in terms of resolution and audiophile-ness, but right up there in terms of toe-tapping and enjoyable to listen to. Smooth, nummy mids, nice bass, really organic sound.
     
  14. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    Luckbad you are my new thought leader, I emailed Justin and begged him for CJ discount and he said ok. this will be my first real tube amp
     
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  15. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  16. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    DO IT. :)

    The only thing I'd caution you about is that these things get HOT AS BALLS. Like, burn you hot if you touch the tubes after it's been on a while.

    I'm a little worried that my toddler can reach the switch of the Mogwai and might burn himself or screw up the rather expensive tubes I have in there.

    STAX are pretty cool, but not my cup of tea.

    If you can get the CanJam discount, I'm sure you could resell without a loss if you needed to.
     
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  17. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    Welcome to tube life haha. Yah tubes get really hot when they are that small.
     
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  18. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I can't speak for the Mogwai, because the show sample got dropped before the show, but the Kenzie is not overly warm, but is very smooth and detailed. Some of the best treble I've ever heard. No harshness whatsoever. This amp has actually made me like the top end response of my LCD 2f's; I found them slightly dry before, now they're just about perfect.
    I was a little anxious about going back to single ended after listening balanced for so long. After two days, I've stopped caring. It sounds superb
     
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  19. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    It wasn't actually the Mogwai that got dropped. Sadly, the woodwork was ruined on whichever amp he dropped (and it costs him a couple hundred to have it done).
     
  20. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I'm pretty sure he told me the Mogwai sample got dropped and cracked the wood. Not your exact one, mind you. The only other amp on Saturday was the Bigger Ben
     

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