Garage1217 Project Horizon III / Project Sunrise III

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Luckbad, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Update 09/07/17 - Marv reviewed (and enjoyed) the Project Horizon:
    http://www.audiophool.org/blog/inde...headamps-garage1217-project-horizon-compared/

    Update: I did a review of the Ember, Horizon, and Sunrise on Basshead.Club a while back:
    http://www.basshead.club/garage1217-project-ember-horizon-sunrise-review/

    The Project Ember II gets all of the love as one of the best bang-for-the-buck tube amplifiers out there with its ability to power almost any headphone, roll a crazy number of tubes, its impeccable build quality, wonderful customer service, and ease of use.

    But what of the other offerings from Garage1217?

    http://www.garage1217.com/

    The Horizon and Sunrise are twins. Which twin is the hot one is in the eye of the beholder.

    I currently own the Ember II, Horizon III, and Sunrise III. @atomicbob does as well, and he's spoken very highly of the Horizon and Sunrise as second only to true TOTL tube amplifiers like the Cavalli Liquid Crimson.

    See Sunrise measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ge-1217-project-sunrise-iii-measurements.552/

    And special synergy: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/system-synergy-special-sound.54/

    I had previously heard/owned the Project Polaris (amazingly flexible solid state with a touch of tube sweetness) and Project Ember (the one everyone knows about), but decided to check out the Sunrise after reading atomicbob's posts.

    I was not disappointed. Not in the least.

    I've had the Sunrise III at work for perhaps a month now, and it was an amazing upgrade to what I had there. Now, at home, I have a Horizon III.

    The combination of the MHDT Labs Atlantis dac (which can tube roll) and the Project Horizon III is a special synergy that can be tuned to my liking. It has an amazing combination of tube sweetness and accuracy that I've never heard before.

    Indeed, I sold my Audio-GD Master-11 so I could get two of the same ~$1000 setups. Now, I have an MHDT Labs Atlantis and Garage1217 Project Sunrise III at work and an MHDT Labs Atlantis and Garage1217 Project Horizon III at home.

    The Project Ember II, while outstanding and ultimately far more flexible than the others, is going to go back to Jeremy soon.

    I'm working on a review right now for all three.

    Here's some info on the twins:

    Sunrise, now in version III is our best selling budget monster! She has some serious grunt into low impedance headphones in which she is designed for allowing her to power most headphones on the market with ease! And of course she can roll a huge qty of 6 or 12v dual triode tubes. This is one that really hits well above her price point!​

    Horizon is the sister amplifier to our Project Sunrise amplifier even sharing the same PCB. Horizon was designed specifically for higher impedance headphones and covers many lower impedance cans as well. In short, Horizon covers the impedance ranges that Sunrise does not!
    Actual Project Sunrise Measurements:
    • Single ended OTL class-A output stage.
    • Power consumption: 13W continuous 19W peak
    • Power supply: 24VDC (0.55A cont, 0,8A peak)
    • Input Resistance: 11k / 31kOhm gain module dependent
    • Input Sensitivity (6N23): 270mV (dependent on tube)
    • Gain: 14-26dB (dependent on tube)
    • Max Output voltage (no load): 5.4V
    • Output Resistance: Selectable 1, 32 or 69Ohm
    • Frequency Response: 4 Hz – 350 KHz (-3dB) with 32 Ohm load
    • Signal to Noise ratio: 91dBA (dependent on tube)
    • Crosstalk: -88dB (dependent on tube)
    • THD: > 0.013% (dependent on tube)
    • Suitable for: 32 - 300 Ohm Headphones
    Actual Project Horizon Measurements
    • Single ended OTL class-A output stage.
    • Power consumption: 13W continuous, 19W peak.
    • Power supply: 48VDC (0.55A cont, 0,8A peak)
    • Input Resistance: 11k / 31kOhm gain module dependent
    • Input Sensitivity (6N23): 270mV (dependent on tube)
    • Gain: 20dB (dependent on tube) Changed from the original higher 26dB specification
    • Max Output voltage (no load): 14.1Vrms at 300ohm
    • Output Resistance: Selectable 1.5, 35 or 120ohm
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 160 KHz (-0.5dB) with 32ohm load
    • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 400 KHz (-3dB) with 32ohm load
    • Signal to Noise ratio: 91dBA (dependent on tube)
    • Crosstalk: -88dB (dependent on tube)
    • THD: > 0.013% (dependent on tube)
    • Suitable for: 120-600ohm Headphones
    Both can roll an insane number of tubes. However, the Project Horizon III needs the Supercharger option ($40) to run high current draw tubes like 6N6P / 6H30Pi (taking the tube heater current support from 600mA to 1A+). You can also roll 6SN7 tubes and some others via adapters that Garage1217 makes.

    6V TUBES: 6922 7308 8223 6AQ8 6DJ8 6GU7 6CG7 6BQ7A 6H23 6H23N 6L12 6N11 6N23 6N1P 6N2P 6N6P 6N30P B719 Cca CV2492 CV2493 CV5358 E88CC E89CC, E188CC E189CC E288CC ECC85 ECC88 ECC89 ECC188 ECC189 ECC288 ECC289 JAN 7308 6GM8 6N27P ECC86

    12V TUBES: 5751 5814 5814A 5963 6189 6201 6681 7025 7058 7729 6L13 12AD7 12AT7 12AU7 12AX7 12BH7(A) 12DF7 12DM7 12DT7 A2900 B152 B309 B329 B339 B749 CV0455 CV0491 CV0492 CV4024 E81CC E82CC E83CC E181CC E183CC E283CC E811CC E812CC E813CC E2157 E2163 E2164 ECC81 ECC82 ECC83 ECC181 ECC182 ECC182 ECC801 ECC803 ECC803S

    Both are available in acrylic or CNC aluminum (costs extra):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
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  2. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    So what makes these better than the Ember in your eyes?
     
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  3. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    A little smoother, a little more tube sounding. Maybe atomicbob will have a better description.

    I find them a little more musical and toe-tappy. Zero grain, buckets of euphony.

    They have a little extra personality and color sprinkled in that the Ember doesn't with the same tubes.

    Maybe you can get there with the right tubes on the Ember.

    Could be the Class A OTL non-feedback business, but I'm not exactly sure what that does to the sound.
     
  4. RiddleyWalker

    RiddleyWalker Friend

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    With the HD650 do you notice a big difference between the Horizon and Sunrise?
     
  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Not really. The Horizon is probably slightly better for the HD650 in theory, but my ears aren't good enough to tell a difference to be honest.

    I mostly got the Horizon for the Sennheiser HD650 for home because it should theoretically be better and the Sunrise for work for the JVC HA-DX2000 because it should theoretically be better.

    In reality, both work extremely well with both headphones. Since the JVC is pretty sensitive, the amount of power the Horizon puts into 64 Ohms is more than enough (it can work down to 32 Ohms with sensitive headphones).
     
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  6. RiddleyWalker

    RiddleyWalker Friend

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    Thanks! I have a Project Polaris and I've enjoyed it's versatility, but now that I'm using my HD650 almost exclusively I'm considering trying out one of their tube amps. Do you have any notes on Polaris vs. Horizon/Sunrise?
     
  7. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Nothing direct, unfortunately. I had a Polaris and Ember together briefly. I preferred the Ember slightly because you could get more out of the tubes via rolling... plus it looks pretty!

    I prefer the Horizon and Sunrise to the Ember. So I'd likely prefer them to the Polaris in most cases as well.
     
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  8. GettingBuckets

    GettingBuckets Almost "Made"

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    I think I'm going to make the transition to a tube amp soon, and I think the Garage1217 amps would be a great starting point. I'm running through a m9xx right now, and I'll probably end up selling it to get a separate amp + dac.
    However, which one of them should I go with (also running with a HD650)?
     
  9. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Depends on your needs.

    If you only need to run the HD650, the Horizon with a supercharger is awesome.

    If you want maximum ease and flexibility, go for Ember.
     
  10. GettingBuckets

    GettingBuckets Almost "Made"

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    Just put my m9xx up for sale on HF. Will definitely end up missing the convenience of that amp/dac transportable combo.
    Probably going to go for the Ember due to its flexibility.
    My next question would be what budget DAC would pair up well with it? Also, what tube would go well with it and the 650?


    I'm a complete newb when it comes to tube amplifiers, so a hybrid like the Ember would probably be a good starting point.
     
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  11. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Best budget dac is probably the Schiit Modi 2 Uber. You might want to ask in the all purpose advice thread here though.
     
  12. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Mirroring some thoughts I posted at Head-Fi of the Horizon and Sunrise vs. the Ember:

    Innigkeit is a great word! Je ne sais quoi is another way to describe why I prefer the Horizon and Sunrise to the Ember.

    Concinnity is another ridiculous word that nobody uses that descirbes the feeling these amps provide.

    Frankly, it's like trying to describe to someone why I prefer R/2R dac chips to Delta-Sigma.

    Perhaps a better way is to describe why I prefer non-oversampled (NOS) R/2R dacs to oversampled R/2R dacs.

    A natural euphony, musical elegance, organic timbre, romantic delicacy.

    The Ember comes close and is much more convenient with its auto-bias and ability to be used with pretty much any headphone in existence.

    But something about the harmonious musicality of the Horizon and Sunrise draws me into their sound. If I have the Ember and either one of the other amps sitting next to it (like I do right now), I always use the non-Ember option.

    If I didn't have the other two, I'd be perfectly content with the Ember.

    Everything on the Horizon/Sunrise is just slightly more effortless, slightly more immersive, with a slightly more poignant intimacy of feeling.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Having the Ember at work and the Horizon/Sunrise at home or vice versa has further convinced me that I prefer the Horizon/Sunrise.

    When I only have access to the Ember, I always feel like I'm missing an extra touch of musicality. While the sound is more dynamic, there's also something slightly dryer about its sound.

    It's hard to describe. It's not exactly grain, and it's definitely not treble rolloff. It's more like... if you've ever stepped in fresh snow--a fine powder snow in very cold, dry weather, when none of the individual tiny flakes has congealed. That swishy soft sound that it makes. It's a little like that.

    I'm obviously exaggerating for the sake of explanation, as the Ember isn't at all grainy or soft sounding as compared to your average amp, but compared to the fully liquid and euphonic Horizon/Sunrise amplifiers, that's what I hear. I think @Hands heard something similar at one point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  14. sashafuckinggrey

    sashafuckinggrey Acquaintance

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    Any idea how Horizon pairs with hd 800?
     
  15. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Nope. It's great with the HD650 though.
     
  16. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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  17. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I'm such a fickle POS. I love the Horizon. It's an absolutely epic wonder of an amp, especially for the price.

    And yet I just dropped four figures and replaced it.

    I honestly have still heard nothing I prefer to it for under $1000.

    That absolutely still holds true. The first amp I felt bested it remotely within my budget was the ampsandsound Mogwai, which is a $1700 amp.

    Now I'm trying to decide if the Horizon is going on tour, replacing the Sunrise at work, being sold, or staying at home for the occasional cameo.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Possibly psycho

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  19. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    A couple of notes for the Horizon you tested:
    • Gain is almost entirely tube dependent. That has a 6H30Pi (new production Electro-Harmonix) tube in it.
    • While that is my favorite tube, the 12BH7 (also new production Electro-Harmonix) that @atomicbob favors is more neutral with better technicalities, just a little less fun to listen to.
    • I probably had the input attenuation/gain module disengaged completely. You can use jumpers in the front right to quiet the thing down to get more volume knob play. Not sure if I sent the 100k ($1 from Jeremy) or 31k (stock) one with it.
    • You can bypass the input capacitors for theoretical gains with the consolation that you'll get scratchy sounds when turning the volume knob. I don't hear those gains without a linear power supply.
    • I probably had the output resistance set to the lowest because it sounds the best to me and provides the most power. You can tweak that for headphones that need more meat on the low end.
    Anyway, glad you gave it a shot and enjoyed it!

    Now people here know not to avoid Garage1217 stuff. The Project Horizon and Sunrise are both outstanding and sound nearly identical. If you have lower impedance headphones, get the Sunrise. It's virtually as capable even with the Sennheiser HD650 as the Horizon. And it's a bit cheaper.
     
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  20. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Nice comparison. Second paragraph needs a slight correction. You have Ember on the brain. Need to change Ember to Horizon.
     
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