Cavalli Audio Liquid Crimson Headamp Review Succinct Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

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    What's going on with Cavalli Audio these days? The thought had occurred to me Alex and his gear was more present at CS, but we haven't heard much from Alex in a while.
     
  2. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Unfortunately I'm becoming more and more confident that I'm being scammed with the Liquid Crimson purchase. I can't put a stop to my wire transfer either (thought you could stop domestic transfers before they process, but USAA won't be open until Tuesday). At this point, I'll be ecstatic if I actually get it. Otherwise, goodbye money.
     
  3. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Where did you find the listing? Did the seller have any feedback?
     
  4. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    If they ask for wire transfer only that's a good indicator of a scam. Always use something with buyer protection such as Paypal or at least a credit card.

    Good luck, I hope it works out man.
     
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  5. BillOhio

    BillOhio Friend

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    Browsing CanuckAudioMart and saw a WTB Crimson/Stratus and was like... yeah, bet that's gonna be Luckbad from SBAF. Hope the Crimson deal turns out to be legit.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

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    Wire transfers generally cannot be reversed. If disbursement was made to the recipient, it's pretty much 1000% gone. Trust me on this. I worked in banking (including regulations and compliance) from 2002 to 2014. This is why fraudsters use wire transfer instead of ACH. ACH can be reversed. Wires can't. Sorry for destroying all hope, but I feel that giving people false hope is discompassionate in the long run. Best to move on.

    If you sent this on Friday, there might be a chance. Did you send it to a bank or Western Union? I'd call the police in the other town, or the local bank or WU office. Even then, the police in the other town might not give a shit. Not enough money at stake.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  7. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I have my alarm set for the moment the banks open up tomorrow. Last time I checked, it was still processing and hasn't fully made it to the other bank. I called both banks. Wells Fargo on the other end basically said, "Yeah you aren't our customer so..."

    Edit: Yep, wire transfer went through before the bank even opened. Either I'm getting a Liquid Crimson or I'm screwed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  8. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I've wanted a Cavalli Liquid Crimson since they came out. I've heard one a few times, always in non-ideal situations. Even so, I knew the amp was special, it was just way beyond what I was willing to spend on an amp.

    A few months ago I bought one. Or so I thought. I got scammed and lost the money.

    Thanks to @dBel84 working with Alex Cavalli, I finally have one on the way.

    This will be the first time I've owned two high end amps simultaneously. I'll compare it to the Eddie Current Super 7 and will be selling the one that doesn't work as well for my setup.
     
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  9. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    First impressions time! Remember that these are first impressions from 1.5 hours of listening. I've heard so many amps that I can form reasonably cohesive first impressions according to my own baseline rather quickly. Extended listening will be required for a deeper analysis.

    My immediate impression was: Wow is this thing clean! I've never owned an amplifier this clean before, and it struck me immediately.

    Compared to almost every amp I've ever owned or even heard, this is incredibly resolving, detailed (micro and micro), and dynamic. It's really quite neutral. Some people might consider it a bit warm, but my amp experience has been pretty warm and I don't perceive it as at all warm. With the stock tube, it's a little crisper and brighter than I prefer for extended listening (note for non-SBAF folks: I'm allergic to treble and love bass).

    I swapped the stock tube for a 6N23P-EV after an hour because I tend to like those tubes and had one laying around (bigger bass than the Genalex. I was a little disappointed in the good-but-not-great slam of the LC until I swapped tubes).

    The loop out makes A/B testing with the Eddie Current Super 7 fairly easy. I didn't volume match, just set the knob to my preferred listening volume for both.

    Cavalli Liquid Crimson compared to almost every amp I've ever heard:
    • Better in every way.
    Cavalli Liquid Crimson compared to the Eddie Current Super 7 (with my mods and tube complement):
    • A little bit more detailed
    • Better blackground
    • Cleaner
    • More aggressive
    • Brighter
    • A bit thinner
    • Slightly inferior timbre
    • A bit dryer
    • Soundstage not quite as deep
    • Crisper
    • Marginally less slam with the 6N23P-EV
    From the bullet points, you might expect me to have a clear preference for the Super 7. Note that I have this paired with a Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 MKII SE+, which has marginally relaxed treble and nice slam. My headphones are the Sennheiser HD650 and JVC HA-DX2000, both noted for their slightly dark tilt as well as a bit of thickness to the sound. It complements my gear quite well.

    I could rewrite the bullet points coming from the other direction.

    And I will.

    The Super 7 compared to the Liquid Crimson:
    • A little less detailed
    • Slightly grayer background
    • A bit less clean
    • More laid back
    • Darker
    • A bit thicker
    • Slightly better timbre
    • A bit wetter
    • Soundstage is slightly deeper
    • Smoother
    • Marginally more slam
    I have no idea which amplifier I prefer.

    The cleanliness of the the Liquid Crimson is out of this world. It has an unbelievable blackground with a total void between notes. Inky blackness would be absolutely the wrong description--that implies there is something occupying the space between notes. The empty spaces in music are devoid of all matter. The Liquid Crimson presents music from an absolute vacuum.

    It's very unlikely that I'll be able to convince my wife to let me keep both amplifiers for more than a couple of weeks. I've now spent retail on a Cavalli Liquid Crimson after getting scammed on one a few months back, and my Eddie Current Super 7 now has enough mods and tubes that it ought to be worth a fair bit more than I originally paid.

    Since all I need to do to listen to either of the amps is flip the switch on, the ultimate test will be: Which amp do I use the most over the next week or two?
     
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  10. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    Well as you said, since the amps are both different, you probably will be at the crossroads still at the end of next week or two ><. Can't go wrong with either I guess! congrats on acquiring both!
     
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  11. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Luckbad,

    Congrats on ur crimson, man!

    Pse do compare with other amplifiers. Black widow, afficionado, zana deux s, etc. My closest experience with a cavalli product is listening to people's impressions. So, talk more mate. The more you talk, the closer I feel with it.
     
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  12. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I've never owned the aforementioned amps. Once I have a complete feel for it, I can describe it against some other common references points, though (Vali 2, Jotunheim, Sunrise/Horizon are the freshest in my audio mind).

    My current plan is to figure out a way to keep both the Liquid Crimson and Super 7. It would be a shame to let go of either one.
     
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  13. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    It took u a scam to get a crimson. Dont let go, mate. I will also try to get a 220v. This thing is so expensive tho.
     
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  14. bengo

    bengo Friend

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  15. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Love the video LOL. Thats how i feel abt the crimson.
     
  16. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    That was kind of my point. You haven't heard it and you are already super hyped. On Head-Fi this is nothing unusual, but we aspire to better here.

    Try the advice thread for pointers about a good amp for your HD800 / TH900 which you can afford and are obtainable. In fact HD800 has its own recommended amps thread. Crimson is a good amp, but you might find you prefer something else. Given you own a solid state amp already, it may be worth trying a cheaper tube or hybrid amp, to see if you enjoy it, before spending big bucks on a Cavalli or other high end gear.
     
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  17. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    To @bengo ’s point, I have a Schiit Vali 2 sitting just above my Liquid Crimson. The sound is quite similar, and with a decent tube in it (I put a $50 tube in mine) it sounds far better than it has a right to. It gets equal time with my Crimson at 1/20 the retail price for the amp and another $50 for the tube.
     
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  18. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Duly not
    Duly noted. Actually i'm holding on to my wallet real tight. Learnt from past experience.
     
  19. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Thanks
    Thx for sharing, mate. Im looking at massdrop CTH, ECT jr, and schiit amps. But im waiting for the right moment. Not rushing.
     
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  20. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    This seems the best spot for my neophyte tube rolling impressions:

    Cavalli Liquid Crimson Tube Comparisons

    Most of the info below is due to the generosity of a very involved and caring fellow SBA-Friend. Many Thanks!

    Tier 1, EXCELLENT, and EXTREMELY slight variations on a theme, I’d be delighted with any of them:
    EDIT - Adding in the Siemens Cca. Clear, linear, excellent extension at the extremes. A LOT like the Amperex 7308 below.

    Amperex JAN 7308 USA made
    My long term favorite of the bunch. Very similar to the Sylvania noted below. Great extension in the upper and lower registers, wonderful midrange. A bit more linear in presentation than the Holland made tubes. I could live with this tube as the end of the line tube.

    Philips / Amperex Holland 6DJ8 (the first NOS tube I tried, the one that is in th Liquid Crimson right now)
    May be my current favorite. Richer, Lusher, more natural, smooth and flowing as compared to the Genelex. Also more extended at both ends of the spectrum. The Genelex is a fine tube, but has harsher treble, less present bass, and a “hardness” in the vocal range and in parts of the treble. I seem to choose to listen to this tube most frequently. It is bit more bloomy, tubey than the 7308, and works nicely for my shorter listening sessions.

    The “Other” Amperex: 6DJ8 Orange Label
    Very similar to the Philips / Amperex. Really nothing additional to add.

    Amperex “Bugle Boy”
    Very similar to the Philips Holland 6DJ8. A bit more air up top, a bit less forward midrange, similar full bass. Seems just a bit thinner than the Philips and orange label 6DJ8’s, or maybe the other way around - the Philips and orange label 6DJ8’s are a bit fatter, fuller. The Bugle Boy may be a bit more neutral as compared to the Philips and orange label 6DJ8’s. Jury still out. Female vocals are pretty magical. The Sylvania is quite close to the Bugle Boy. The Philips and Amperex 6DJ8’s are ever so slightly euphonic - not sure which I prefer most.

    Philips Sylvania 6922 made in USA
    Quite similar to the Holland 6DJ8’s. Might be a dead ringer, might be a touch better, and might be a touch more pronounced on the lower end and lower mids. Lovely with female voices. This is a really nice tube. Further listening, and this time the Sylvania is more on the order of the Bugle Boy as opposed to the Philips and Amperex Orange label (nuance, not dramatic differences). Oddly, no gold pins on the Sylvania, but 6922 label.


    Tier 1.5 good, but second best (definitely a personal preference)
    Valvo 6DJ8, German made
    I like this tube a bunch. Just not as much as the tier 1 tubes. Nice extension, linear, a bit boring. Oddly, it is my favorite in my Vali 2. Go figure.

    Genalex 6922 Gold Lion
    a “fine” tube, just a bit hard or strident in the treble, and a bit flat as compared to the NOS Tier 1 tubes. Still, I lived with this tube for 2 years just fine. I’d rather have one of the tier 1 tubes, but I could certainly live with this one. I would probably prefer this tube to the Voshkod, again as a personal preference.

    Voshkod Rockets
    I like these, but they are different from the Tungsram and Philips / Amperex /Sylvania tubes. A fair bit more froward in the lower mids / upper bass. I think that’s what I hear - possibly a bit less defined as compared to the Amperex brothers. Nice female vocals. All in all, for my taste, just a bit too much lower mids and bass. Might be particularly good for prog-rock? Rush?


    Tier 2 good, but not for me.
    Tungsram PCC88 / 7DJ8
    Further listening and I noticed significant (for me)SIBILANCE on male and female vocals, slight tizzyness on cymbals. Otherwise, very smooth, lovely female vocals, less bass than the Voshkod. On par with the Philips / Amperex /Sylvania tubes if one can ignore the sibilance (I can’t). Maybe a bit more present in the lower mids and bass. Closer to the Bugle Boy than to the others. Surprisingly nice. I really didn’t expect this. My sensitivity to sibilance kills this one for me unfortunately. NOTE that this tube sounds pretty nice in the Vali 2. Another NOTE - this has become my default tube for the Vali2. Go figure......


    Tier Differences
    Tier 1 - think “Nuanced”. All are excellent, the differences slight, but noticeable. This kind explains the frequent *might be* type disclaimers in my descriptions.

    Tier 1.5 - quite good, with reservations. The Genalex is a decent tube. I could, and have, lived with it without issue. The Voshkods are not quite my cup of tea after a couple of songs, but they are quite good, and if you like forward and punchy, they would likely be near the top of your list.

    Tier 2 - Adequate. The Tungsrams - sibilance. Slight, but too much for me, noticeably more than the others.


    Stream of consciousness:

    The Philips Amperex 6J8 was surprising in how much better it was compared to the Genalex, though I could live with the Genelex just fine. The three Holland tubes share a family sound, with the Philips and Amperex Orange label 6DJ8’s sounding essentially the same. The made in Holland tubes are just a richer, fuller more luxurious sound, and to me, significantly so. Worth the price of entry. So far, the Bugle Boys are probably the most “true” sound, and might end up being my long term favorites, especially in the context of longer listening sessions. Given my usually much shorter sessions, the Philips and Amperex Orange label tubes are a richer, lusher, more luxurious interpretation that is a good fit for a short musical interlude.

    The more I listen to this Sylvania, the clearer it becomes that I’ll need to do a back to back with the Philips and Amperex Orange label 6DJ8. They sound really similar, but there are more differences than between the two Holland Amperex 6DJ8 tubes (the non-Bugle boys). I did the comparison with the Holland tubes. The Sylvania is actually quite similar to the Bugle Boy, and both are a bit more linear? Flat? Non-emphasized? Than the Phillips and the Amperex orange label. The Sylvania is a nice tube, and has me looking forward to the USA made Amperex 7308 plus another Bugle Boy (hopefully neither are counterfeit), along with a a couple of 12AU7A tubes with an adapter (to try in my Vali 2) that I found on head-fi as a package bargain (hopefully.....)

    So far, I’d like a pair or 3 each of the Philips Amperex 6DJ8, the Bugle Boys, and maybe a Seimens / Telefunken German tube to compare. Maybe not. The Tungsram is pretty impressive. Ok, so far, a stash of a few of any of the tier one tubes, and a German tube to compare.

    I should have gotten the Tungsram out of my Vali 2 and into the Liquid Crimson earlier on. (Further listening makes the Tungsram a bit less exciting than I originally thought due to sibilance.)

    As I listen more, the Amperex tubes definitely have a family sound that I like, and the Sylvania is definitely a close cousin. The Voshkod is a bit more forward in the lower mids/upper bass. In the long run they seem a bit more fatiguing due to the more extreme bass. Just a bit too punchy for me.

    All of these comments are descriptions of variation a theme, though. Smallish differences. Worthwhile exploring for me, and worth picking a favorite or two (for me), but small differences.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

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