Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Oct 5, 2015.
Approx 50% of posts in FS threads.
I just came for the Ashley Madison click-bait ad, but this thread delivers.
Common sense guys, you break it you bought it!
Or as I was advising: don’t buy it if you are worried you will break it
I was fortunate enough to join the BW2 club a few weeks back (thanks again @Gaspasser) and have been putting it through its paces with the HD600 (stock) and Gungnir Multibit A2. I'll probably pick up an HD800 again at some point in the future, but I'm happy to camp out here for awhile.
Having never heard a BW myself (or any other EC amp for that matter) my expectations were purely based off of what I had heard about the amp. Suffice to say I'm not disappointed.
The HD600 has been my favorite headphone since I first heard them (in spite of the many pricier pairs I've owned), but that's not to say they're perfect for me either. Their upper midrange "shout" can be annoying at times; and while the bass is pretty well controlled, it still rolls off fairly early and doesn't have quite enough oomph for me. In the past this led me to owning various LCDses to satisfy my closet basshead, but at the cost of pretty much every other conceivable area of performance. These were the two main areas I was hoping would be improved with the BW2. And... bingo.
The HD600-centric tuning of the BW2 is clear – the upper midrange emphasis is completely leveled out. Not to the point of neutering it (brass, electric guitars still have bite), but enough to take the spotlight off of that 3-5kHz region and allow the mid-midrange (is that a thing) and lower midrange to open up. Or maybe it's the beefing up of the lower midrange and bass that brings them more in line. Whatever it is, it works.
As, for the bass, no: BW2 doesn't magically give the HD600 ruler-flat bass extension; but better extension, control, and more emphasis – yes. For kicks and giggles though I would love to hear a good LCD-2 rev2 out of this... Why did I sell mine again?
Speaking of bass, @purr1n did you ever find out the output impedance of this thing? My guess is it's up there given how similar tonally the BW2+HD600 is to my Project Horizon III's higher OI settings (closer to 120Ω than 35Ω would be my guess).
Seriously though, for anyone for whom the BW2 is out of the question (price, unobtainable) PHIII + LPS + decent tube + high OI jumper is not a bad BW2 lite. Can't touch BW's soundstage depth, resolution and bass control but it's a pretty good approximation.
Not much to say about treble. The taste of butter comes to mind.
As I told @Gaspasser shortly after it arrived, the BW2's sound is a paradox to me. Dense, warm, and full but without any of the usual tradeoffs associated with that sound (muddiness, poor resolution or soundstage depth), in fact it stomps every other amp I've owned in the same areas. I've never heard this much soundstage depth without tubes. What is an EC amp with tubes capable of? Ah, yes – the gateway drug. He was right.
Why was I expecting the power LED to be red? It's orange. Looks nice.
Lastly, there are few things more satisfying than a good toggle switch. Buttons be damned.
@westermac You also have a MCTH iirc?
Had, yes – sent it out the door as soon as I snagged the BW2. MCTH is better suited for HD650/HD6XX; it had a bit of upper mid/low treble hardness that didn't jive with the HD600.
Can only support everything @westermac said, only in connection with the HD650 and the HD580 I'm using it with. I generally prefer warmer sound so the BW2 + HD650 combo is just right. Still don't understand how it was possible to achieve this warmth without any loss in resolution. Same goes for the expansive soundstage normally associated with the best tube designs. The HD580 (no experience with the HD600) is still shouty on operatic vocals even with the BW2, just not as piercing. The HD650 is, again, just right.
Just my 2 cents
HD600 off the speaker taps of a refurbed Pioneer M-22 trumps BW2 in my book (but unpractical and hard to source), and is in the same ballpark as the EC AF without the hassle of toobz IMO (especially when used with my mildly efficient speakers) again YMMV and differnet strokes for different folks, whatcha talkin' bout Willis?, which helped sending my AF to a loving home much easier.
I guess the EC Copperhead project died...
I'm curious as well if anyone has measured the OI of the BW2. One up for sale and trying to dig up some info on pairing with focal's, in particular clears and not having a ton of luck yet.
Having had the BW2 for a couple of weeks now I like how @Hands, @captkirk, and @westermac detailed the amp upstream. My chain is Gungnir MB A2 > Jot and BW2 > Clears, Eikon, MD HD6xx. I only want to add that when compared to a Jot the BW2 not only has a touch (just a touch) less bass quantity, but is also a "bit less taunt" in the bass like Hands said. Yet, I like it more! I think it is because of the the bass (and the rest of the FR) "organic" qualities of the amp just lend an overall more cohesive and yes, I am going to say it, "musical" sound. This is especially true with the Clears, less so with the Eikon's.
That said the delta between the Jot and the BW2 is just not that great, and definitely falls into the small/nuanced side of things, at least for me and my preferences/50 year old ears. Not being a head stage guy, I can hear the difference but I don't rate it as high as most others would here at SBAF.
Am I going to keep it? For now I am really enjoying it, but I suspect I will be lured away by another new toy sooner or later - perhaps this 3F folks are discussing or the Ragnarok 2 when it comes out...
Hey folks, trying to see if I can get a BW into my Targus 17" laptop bag laptop slot. More than enough width and depth but height/thickness may be the issue. Do the feet unscrew? How thick is it with and without feet?
Its like 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall. Twice the thickness of your normal extreme gaming laptop.
Definitely will fit the main cavity, should make it into the laptop compartment with some protrusion.
I just got my BW2 home to 230V land, opened her up to switch the jumpers and lo and behold, mine doesn't have the U.S. jumper config in the pic posted above. Instead I have:
I've sent a mail to Craig to see what can be done, but I though I'd post here as well for comprehensiveness. My guess is this is an earlier run that was U.S. only, before he settled on the actual swappable jumper method.
For now I can run a converter - anyone have a clue how many amps this thing would need?
Sorry, not a direct answer as I can't find my meter, but when I had a Black Diamond and an MCTH they used 12 and 17 watts respectively. For the Black Widow 1, I literally got the smallest step down converter I could find in standalone box form factor, rather than a wall wart. 80VA which is probably gross overkill for the application.
Edited for clarity and typos.
Did you hear back from Craig about this? What is the serial # of your unit? Mine is #45. From reading the first many pages of this thread, I got the idea that serial #1-50 was a first run. And everything after 50 was a second run. I wonder if he decided to do this for the second run.
Nothing yet from Craig. I did offer to pay for his services, but I would understand if this is just not relevant to him anymore. I believe mine is #5 so your theory holds so far.
I am using a 100w 220 to 110 transformer with no conditioning capability. I do get a gathering buzz from about 6 on up with hd600, but I need to test and confirm that it really is the transformer. I'm assuming so for now. I can't really get much over 3 on the dial without pain, so it's practically inaudible, and there is no audible hum from the transformer itself, so it's an ocd exercise really.
Based on my experience with my BW2, the amp seems to pick up noise from the power, quite easily. In my apartment in the US, on average, I would start getting the hum, once I crossed 1 O’Clock on the volume pot. For reference, my Lyr3 didn’t pick up such hum on the same power sockets in my apartment. In my house in India, on some sockets, I start to hear the hum even at 10 O’Clock. All these observations using my HD800.
I did some testing to see what's up with the buzz.
tl;dr the 230v-110v transformer is pretty clean and is not the source of the buzz. This is good news for folks wanting to run a first-run BW off 220v. The transformer I bought is a simple el-cheapo thing for $25 - https://www.communica.co.za/products/trf-tc100?variant=19918039056457 and does the job nicely enough.
I have DAC1541 connected to my Genelec 2.1 setup via XLR, going though a GoldPoint switch/attenuator. The Gennies are on the other side of the room, powered off a different socket, same circuit. There is a light dimmer on the wall near this socket, different circuit though. I have DAC1541 connected to BW2 over RCA. Both XLR and RCA are active at the same time, but I have the GoldPoint switched to an empty output so the gennies are 'off' though ground will presumably be connected.
All the below is with music paused. I tried silence and it's exactly the same. Digital Volume on the DAC1541 at 0. Volume on the phone at max. Using fairly sensitive KEF M500 so I start to hear buzzing at about 10'oclock and it's quite loud at max.
BW2 on max, I unplug the input RCAs and the hum drops to about 40%, but still very clearly there. Pull the power plug ( I get about 20 secs of audio after power is off) and it drops away completely. So the amp is good, I get about 20-30 sec of audio after the power is cut to BW2, so if the buzzing were local to BW2 it would be evident.
Powering off the 110v transformer doesn't seem to have any audible effect on the buzz with RCAs connected.
I tried putting the DAC1541 and 230-110 transformer on a separate multiplug with only that multiplug plugged into the wall socket, so no computer, printer etc. at all plugged in, but it seemed to make no difference.
Next I thought to try my phone as input, as I have a 3.5mm TRS to RCA cable. There is a buzz, but it is hardly noticeable, say 15% of before, peaking at 12 o'clock (interesting) and fading out in either direction from there. It changes slightly if I touch the volume knob, and does have a meandering quality where is fades in and out in a semi-rhythmic fashion.
Since I had the 3.5mm cable hooked up, I tried the DAC1541 headphone out with a 1/4" adapter. Well fook me, the buzz is gone completely. I don't know why that would be the case, but my guess is the ground is lifted before the HP out or something.
There some gathering hiss as you crank the volume up and the hiss reduces as you lower the DAC1541 digital volume, which is also pretty weird - you'd think the noise floor wouldn't affected by the digital volume control.
Switching the DAC1541 to line in this configuration out shows there is a clear bleed to the HP out as you can still hear a thin, brittle version of playing audio.
The HP out at 0dBFS is pretty hot, but adding in about 25dB digital attenuation brings it generally in line with the RCA outs.
So it would seem the 230v-110v transformer is pretty clean, and is not the source of the buzz. Rather it is something associated with the line out on the DAC1541 and/or some ground issue.
Next step is to unplug everything on the other side of the room to completely isolate DAC1541/BW2 on that circuit. And to yank the XLRs out of DAC1541 so it is only RCA outs connected. It will be interesting to see if the common ground on that room's circuit pulls in the buzz with the XLRs disconnected.
I'm stoked that BW has no issue itself, and I'm actually kinda having fun chasing this down since I'm getting results.
Sorry to enter in the middle of the party. I had a hum problem in my house that was driving me crazy. It was worse in specific time of the day. I opened almost all my gear, sent 1-2 to the technician. Resume: it was resolved using a isolated step down transformer , and a furman power strip. Connected everything (my Genelec, bw, iggdrasil and preamp to the same power strip and Ta dah!! Hum it’s gone. Hope this can help you
furman strip https://www.amazon.com/Furman-Alumi...8893&s=gateway&sprefix=furman,aps,219&sr=8-16
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