Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Schiit Vali 2+ vs Cayin RU6 for iems Review. This might seem like a silly comparison because they have such different use cases one being a desktop amp and the other a dongle - the most portable device possible. Let me explain.


The RU6 has an R2R DAC and an analog section that has a euphonic richness reminiscent of tube amps. My Vali 2+ rig is a Yggdrasil R2R DAC and the Vali 2+ is a tube amp. The Vali 2+ costs $150 and the RU6 costs $100 more at $250. While the Vali 2+ doesn’t come with a DAC, we all already have desktop DACs, so the cost of adding one of these to your system is $100 less for the Vali 2+. Which is what makes this interesting, along with their similar character - R2R plus tube euphonics.

From my experience and from what others have said about iems that work with the RU6, I think they synergize with a very similar group of iems. However, the Vali 2+ can be tube rolled to tailor it’s sound brigther, warmer, more/less bass etc so it has more versatility than the RU6.

For Audezes, even modded ones made to sound more neutral, there's a weird synergistic thing going on with the LAuX that goes beyond the simplistic mix bright gear with dark gear. This murky bass quality I got with dynamics transforms into textured succulent gripped articulate punchy lows with Audezes. The feeling of excessive body with Audezes, the outer qualities are addressed, while the inner warm is retained. Any fuckery in the highs in Audezes (oh yes, they are there, but just depressed), from oversharped transients, local peaks, is smoothed over without a significant negative impact in other areas. Ultimately while the LAuX isn't the last word in resolution, there's a lot of good stuff going on. By good stuff, it comes down to what matters most to me: does the system speak to me emotionally? And oh my it does. (FWIW, I'm using a MMB DAC with OPA2156 hack).
My roommate gave me a book on Italian cooking. I don't remember who authored it, just that the book was an old paperback with fine print and no pictures, but plenty of explanation. The three things he insisted upon was that we use the pasta with the chubby lady on it, real Parmesan cheese imported from Italy (the Wisconsin Parmesan is something different LOL), and Monari Federzoni balsamic vinegar. (Remember that back then, we didn't have such exotic selections in the USA). I've mostly stuck to these three things. While I'm not an expert in balsamic vinegars, I've found that other brands, even special expensive ones with fancy packaging, never had quite the same taste, complexity, fruitiness, and bite of the imported Monari Federzoni stuff. There was always something missing.


So this was super cool when a couple of you guys sent me a care package. Thank you @Taverius! Wow, what an amazing community we have from people all over the world. Perhaps world peace is possible. But only after we slay those objectivists extremists! :eek:

I've got my stash of bourbons, smaller stash of tequila, soy sauces, and now balsamic. I can really get into this. This is what I got. I have no idea of their history or story. All I know is that one is aged 12 years and the other is aged 25 years, the "extra vecchio" one. And I know that what I've tried so far, the 12 year Afinato, is amazing. If anyone is knowledgeable, please chime in!
I especially loved Grados (the new X models with the F-cush pads) with the Folkvangr. There's some special synergy going on there because most Grados with their efficiency (they really don't need a dedicated amp) sound worse via most amps. I suspect drier sounding headphones such as HD800 would do excellently as well. One would almost be tempted to say that the Folkvangr works best with bright headphones, but this isn't true either. I felt in my gut that it would pair well with the Atrium and I was not wrong. Here's the deal: change the source, use any headphone. Be a "source first" audiophile (the highest level attainable - we can debate this later in another thread)

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Folkvangr stacks neatly over the Gungnir (A2). ZMF Atrium pictured above.

As many of you are familiar with the Valhalla 2, the Folkvangr is basically the Valhalla 2 on steroids, not only more muscular, but having gone through a cutting phase - shedding excess fat, while picking up some smooth poses for the judges. Gone are the Valhalla 2's veil and slightly prickly highs that we must assume comes from the coupling capacitors. The Folkvangr is direct coupled with no capacitors in the signal path, but servos to offset DC. I suspect bipolar power rails for the white cathode follower. Basically what we have is a push-pull power amp without output caps or output transformers. The output tubes on the Valhalla have been increased from one per channel to four. Yup. all of this is pretty crazy.
NOTE: Measurements below use different parameters than other sites, so not directly comparable. I'll be posting these measurements throughout the day. We also use output levels (0dBu/0.775Vrms) which is lower than some other sites. These output levels are still extremely loud, but more reflective of peak volume levels to be expected with very loud listening.


Anyway, I'm giving Sinxger the benefit of the doubt and excluding the defective channel measurements* Here's a GONAD panel, but only with the good channel. It actually looks pretty good. Definitely "objectivists" wet dream territory or what "subjectivists" would associate with dull or bland sound from too much negative feedback.

For subjective impressions, read here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...a-headphone-amp-reviews-and-discussion.11513/
On our way back to Corpus from Houston (the Space Center was kind of lame), we passed by a dumpling place called Bao Shi Yi. They had the typical fare from beef noodle soup, xiao long bao, dumplings, Chinese donuts, and soy milk. How cow, Chinese donuts and soy milk! That's usually breakfast fare, but I longed for this. The best Chinese donuts I ever had were in Taiwan. I have memories of a kid of old ex-soldiers (likely conscripted when they were young in China by Chiang-Kai Shek, and taken to Taiwan after the Nationalists lost to the Communists) making donuts on the side of the street. The Chinese donuts, or iû-chiā-kóe (油炸粿) "oil fried pastry", always had that perfect combination of crispiness and pliability. Too crispy and hard, and the donut cuts into the top palate of your mouth. Not crispy enough and we get a limp dick donut. (My dad says baking ammonia as the secret to their great iû-chiā-kóe. However, too much and it smells like... However, these guys were the Jedi Masters of Chinese donuts, they knew what they were doing.)


A bowl of warm sweetened soy milk often goes with these Chinese donuts. It's common to dip the donuts into the soy milk. Less common I guess is dipping the donuts into soy sauce. Sometimes I'll get a comment from another Chinese or Taiwanese person: oh you dip the donuts into the soy sauce too, haha!
I went around the house trying to my bargain Electro Harmonix 300B so I could do a direct comparison. I wasn't able to find them. I figure having one reference point for direct comparison would help me more accurately triangulate with my memory of other 300B tubes I've heard on the Studio B. For now, it's all based on memory. You can call me full of shit, but I think you guys know by now that I have a pretty good memory of how stuff sounds.


The is the third coming of the Western Electric 300B. There was a second coming sometime in the 2000s. I'm not sure exactly when. Please correct me if I am wrong. I believe Craig Uthus at Eddie Current / Moth Audio may have had a pair of Western Electric 300Bs, but ended up not having them and then regretting it. Or maybe not because Craig doesn't listen to tubes. He sells the good tubes that he gets to customers.
I used some test tones today to test my hearing, and that left me wondering what others actually mean when they say they can “hear” sounds up to certain frequencies. I had done such tests before, which left me a little worried, as it seemed I could only hear up to sth between 14 and 15 kHz, i.e. I could still hear the 14 kHz sound, but not the 15 kHz. But it had never occurred to me to crank up the volume, and the sound files I used (from Qobuz, actually) were all at a level of -10 dB.

Also, my usual listening volume is quite low, some 60-65 dB according to smartphone measurements. Now I read that the level required to hear anything at all goes up steeply with higher frequencies. So when I listened louder, I could hear higher frequencies, and at a position of the volume knob that yields 80-85 dB with music, I could even hear something with the 18 kHz tone.

“Something”. The 14 kHz tone was the last one I could actually attribute a pitch to, maybe the 15 kHz one, too, but that’s already a stretch. The higher tones are only a rather faint noise to me. At 18 kHz, barely anything at all was audible, but there definitely was “something”.

Is that the same for you at frequencies you say you can “hear”? Am I actually hearing the tone at all, as I can’t attribute a pitch to it? Or more something like undertones?

Do any of you guys remember the phil.askey site before it became And when Ken Rockwell actually wrote good informative reviews, going quite a bit into the nuances of operation? Sure Ken Rockwell was 100% Team Nikon back then, but that's what made him great. He offered a reference point where people could understand where he was coming from, even if you used Canon. Between those two sites, readers could get a pretty good picture of camera gear. Askey's site would do all the pixel peeping work. Ken could just call it as it is. Sadly those days are over. They are still good resources, but they have lost a bit of what made them special. Ken reviews everything and anything that comes out as soon as possible, sort of rapidly going through the same old motions. DPreview is mechanical and soulless. Things are made even worse because every single YouTube review of camera gear sounds like an extended informercial advertisement. Basically camera gear reviews in 2022 are like HF and ASR for audio. This is why I'm going to take a stab at it.


I've always wanted a big wide aperture portrait lens. A few years back, I got to try out the Fuji XF56 f1.2 (full frame 85mm equivalent), but really wasn't happy enough to buy it. Well, I was happy with it's size, but it never got the background right - the bokeh was unimpressive. The XF56 wide open is f1.2, the depth-of-field is really more like that of an f1.8 or f2.0 lens because of the APS-C size sensor. But maybe it wasn't necessarily the bokeh. I rarely shoot totally wide open with super fast lenses (will say a bit more about this later). The XF56 just looked too perfect. Too sharp. The photos I took with it looked too antiseptic for what is supposed to be a portrait lens. (I blame the high capabilities of today's digital and the Internet's tendency to go "NWAVGUY/ASR/DXO" for this trend toward moar sharper, moar details, moar megapixels.) What I wanted was the Fuji APS-C equivalent of the Canon 85mm f1.2 for full frame. This Canon ain't exactly the sharpest lens in the world, many have criticized it for this, but the photos that it takes are stunningly beautiful. These kinds of lenses are supposed to evoke emotion. I guess pick your poison: 8K Gonzo Porn or Bob Guccione / Penthouse.
Switched between the B3 and Yggdrasil A2 in my system for about a month. Was initially planning on letting this go after a week but a friend told me to hold it longer to give it a fair take. True enough, I started liking it a little more after swapping firmware on my DI20HE but most of the major hangups I initially had didn’t change.


It sounded decent with the stock tubes (Pavane 6sn7 “blue balls”, Sylvania grey plate 12BH7, RCA 5U4G) but was a little too laid back. Switched to Raytheon VT-231s and Marconi 12BH7 which gave things a bit more sparkle in the treble. Overall, the impact of tube rolling was noticeable but not as dramatic as other tube DACs I’ve tried (Abbas, Audionote ect.)

On a scale from 1-10 with 5 being neutral and 10 being cold. The A2 would be a 4.5 and the B3 a 4. I’d describe the B3 sound signature as lively, midrange forward, somewhat warmer than neutral, with a moderate touch of bloom. The latter effect was similar to having something like a mild sepia filter turned on. This helped soften the edges of sibilant recordings but also somewhat exaggerated tonal colors. Compared to the A2, tones are slightly denser and more vivid but have less texture and variety. This is a pleasant sounding DAC but achieves this at the expense of some transparency.
So I was thinking about putting this DAC on the APx555, doing an SINAD panel, posting some THDN and IMD sweeps, cranking the up volume, proclaiming I hear distortion, posting a vote for how I should my Pyrate Skull figure, and then calling it a day for my "review". Except I would be a complete total asshole if I did this. I just can't see anyone who would do such a thing and call it a review. :)


I've had the Pasithea for about a week now, listening to it here and there, comparing to other DACs, comparing to my vinyl rig, letting it warm up. @GanGreinke was kind enough to loan this DAC to me. He uses it with the EC Aficionado, runs i2s from a Xingxer SU-6 DDC, and runs upscaling software. I think @GanGreinke was using the Yggdrasil A2 with the EC Aficionado which I personally don't think would be a good combination. As the Aficionado can be dry sounding, it pairs better with richer, lusher, smoother sounding DACs. I think it's important for readers to understand that my set up is different and that any serious listening is from my record player through speakers.
I’d like to introduce the ETA Mini Closed headphone! We have been selling this headphone for a few weeks now, but I finally have enough parts on hand to go slightly more ‘public’ with this launch. I have enough to make about 9 pairs in the next few weeks, with more parts on the way on a routine basis. There are currently over a dozen pairs already in the wild. Each headphone is made to order.


This headphone was optimized for general purpose use, comfort for longer listening sessions, and passive isolation. The tuning goal was a sound signature that suits a wide range of genres and systems. It can be ordered through our website for $400USD -