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. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Decided to upgrade my Cavalli Liquid Crimson photo gallery*.

    Here are some nudes of the Liquid Crimson interior:
    IMG_20180203_130119.jpg IMG_20180203_130013.jpg IMG_20180203_130017.jpg

    * No, I'm not actually upgrading anything, I just wanted to take pictures of the inside because I couldn't find any.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  2. Jozurr

    Jozurr Facebook Friend

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  3. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I was joking (with no clarity whatsoever). I upgraded my photos to include interior pics :p

    I don't have any plans to modify anything in the Crimson. I usually upgrade capacitors but there aren't any in the signal path. There isn't much that can be upgraded in there.

    Maybe better RCA jacks? Shrug. I'm leaving it alone.

    The only thing worth tinkering with at all is the tube.
     
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  4. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    It's just that good of an amp.
     
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  5. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Very wise. There aren't many of these in existence and they represent both a reference and a masterpiece.
     
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  6. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    THIS! Please. Don’t. Touch!
     
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  7. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    didn't stop on EC Super7 before sell off.
    maybe Darwin for the win this time.
    (yah sue me, call me un-forgetting after the lusting, then gut changing, then selling a rare masterpiece amp.)
     
  8. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    From what I read the mods are worth it. I believe the one Hands owns has a bunch of mods.
     
  9. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    @Hands mods to Super7 aren't perfect either. ;)
    there is only one true Uber7. (and it too is his) :D
     
  10. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Thank you @aamefford for the Amperex recommendations. I managed to acquire a few examples and I'm enjoying the Amperex 6DJ8 PQ (Made in Holland, A frame).

    The Liquid Crimson passed the Luckbad test: If it's gone, do I miss it? I didn't get to listen to it for several days. First, because my sister was in town, then @BillOhio took it up to the mini-meet. I was missing it somethin' awful by the time it came home.

    Last week's setup:
    RME ADI-2 DAC → Cavalli Liquid Crimson w/ Reflector 6N23P-EV (or maybe Genalex... I think it actually was the latter) → Sennheiser HD650 w/ PRT

    After hearing the gorgeous ampsandsound Mogwai SE I was left feeling like I was missing some musicality/euphony with my setup. Ultra clean, invisibly black background, great soundstage, some sweetness, great extension, wonderful punch... but admittedly lacking some amount of dreamy fairy tale beauty that only exists in a proper tube amp.

    After buying some transformers from Justin (ampsandsound), additional magic was injected. A nice NOS Amperex tube later, and the setup is worthy of a fable or two. I also acquired a USB PCIe card just to get the DAC on its own controller separate from other components because I wanted to run it at minimum buffer size for no good reason.

    The current setup:
    Allegro Sonnet PCIe USB Card → RME ADI-2 DAC → ampsandsound XLR to RCA Transformers → Cavalli Liquid Crimson → Sennheiser HD650 w/ PRT
     
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  11. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    Wow, my set up pales. 2011 MacBook Air to crappy usb cable to crappy usb hub to decent usb cable plugged into my brand new to me used Gungnir Multibit with gen5 to the Crimson. I then take the loop out into my Vali2, cause sometimes, well.... sometimes the vali2 is just fun.

    The Genalex from the Crimson is in the vali2. The Genalex is really good in the vali2. As good as the NOS stuff is in the Crimson me thinks.

    I currently have an Amperex USA 7308 in the Crimson. I switch between that, and a Philips 6DJ8 or Amperex Bugle Boy. All of these are equally good. A really helpful SBAF-er helped me a bunch around the holidays with picking out tubes I like in the Crimson. I think I have a pair of Siemens Cca’s coming to try. Once I try out the Germans, tube nervousa should be done, and I’ll have a few nice 6DJ8 variants to last me until I go deef.
     
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  12. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Was Always curious about those xlr to rca transformers but never go to try them like I would like to.

    Siemens CC is my current tube since my Telefunken crapped out. I have 2 others that I don't really care for...

    My current setups is one of the following:

    PC with soundworks on hd600 setup (although with other HP)- Eitr- NAD M51/Gungnir DS - crimson - hd800

    Sometimes I like the gungnir more (before a Gungnir Multibit but I didn't feel it was worth the money difference to the DS version) but I like the digitaliness of the NAD and the synergy of the system and use it 85% of the time.
     
  13. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    Thanks to a very generous loaner from @Griffon I was able to demo the Liquid Crimson in-house for a few days. This is my first time hearing a Cavalli amp and I have never been especially interested in any of their products before, however I must say I really enjoyed my time with the Crimson and can safely say I think it is a good amplifier.

    I listened through the 4-pin XLR output in high gain with HD600s and a Yggdrasil A2. While I did not have the time or patience to perform direct comparisons to the Lyr 3 also occupying my desk it is easy for me to declare the Crimson is what the Lyr 3 wishes it could be. Fairly robust bass, a general liquid tone and a slightly gentle or agreeable treble characteristic that ensures mating with a wide variety of headphones and fatigue free listening. The Lyr 3 sounds unfocused, wimpy, confused and decidedly mediocre in comparison.

    What caused this amplifier to grow on me for the few days I've had it is a seductive nature with few sonic distractions that makes it easy to simply zone out listening to music. I typically do listen to gear I write about as I am writing about it and I had to pause from typing several times to just enjoy what was playing, which is a very good sign to me. Clarity and blackness are pretty good, impeded only by a slight bloom which may be an unavoidable side effect of achieving the easy-going liquid tone in a hybrid design. This masks some guitar detail and vocal intelligibility but is no where near as offensive as the homogenization and veil of the Lyr 3.

    Where this amplifier falls short of what might be considered truly top-shelf gear are areas such as ultimate bass authority & extension, ultimate decay in the treble & presence region, ultimate openness & layering and ultimate resolution. It is important to note the ultimate denotation to indicate these are nit-picks against an ideal rather than compromises detracting from enjoyment. It may even be possible to slightly shift these around by rolling the single 6922 triode, which I did not change from the included Amperex USA.

    I would say this amplifier is worth circa $1000, relative to more inexpensive but high value amplifiers below it and costlier but more compromised units above it that I have tried. I am now fairly excited for the release of the Liquid Platinum as similar performance at the $700 price point would be a real winner.
     
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    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

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    My bet is that you will hate the Liquid Platinum given it's SMPS and more laid-back traditional Cavalli tuning. The Crimson is the least laid back of the Cavalli amps.
     
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  15. Hammy

    Hammy Friend

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    I'm a big fan of the Cavalli amp sound when combined with Audeze headphones. The Fire, Crimson, or Glass with Audeze headphone is sonic heaven for me. The sound is so comfortably good. But pair those amps with a HD600/HD650 and the sound is too laid-back for most people, and more laid-back than I prefer as well. If my favorite and primary headphone was an HD600 or HD650 I would not get a Fire, Crimson, or Glass. There are better amps to optimize the Senn HD600/HD650. But for me, I'm optimizing on getting the Audeze to sound awesome for the style of headphone sound I like. And for that the Fire, Crimson, and Glass are perfect for me for that. The Fire, Crimson, and Glass also work well with the Focal headphones. I like the Utopia on the Fire, Crimson, and Glass (I haven't tried the Clear yet).

    I'm listening to the HD580 on the Cavalli Tube Hybrid right now. More bumping. More forward. Better for rock. Comfortable sound with depth, but not too laid-back. I think many people would actually prefer the HD580 on the CTH compared to my Fire or Glass. The Fire and Glass have a bigger soundstage and more depth and nuance, but CTH has more energy with that headphone (and the 600/650). The 580/600/650 sound audiophile nice for Diana Krall on the big Cavalli amps, but too laid-back to be a primary amp for those headphones.
     
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  16. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    I own and love this amp. It suits my listening preferences perfectly. It might be interesting to try a Siemens Cca, or Amperex US made 7308 in it, assuming (bad idea - assumption is the mother of all f-ups) you have a Harleen tube in it. These seem to reduce the bloom ever so slightly. I mean really slightly. It’s enough so that these two, or the Sylvania USA tubes are a preference for me. They won’t change the character of the amp though.

    This amp seems to be one that most people like, and some, such as myself love. Like all of the Cavalli full sized amps, a high price premium came with the boutique manufacturing.

    I enjoyed reading your comments. They were very thoughtful and well considered. It may not be an ultimate amp for everyone. For me, it’s relatively compact size, heavy-ish weight, single tube, build quality and sound characteristics (well described by you) make it a perfect fit.

    Nice review of an amp dear to my heart.
     
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  17. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I’m reviving this thread because I recently got Liquid Crimson. It is easily my favorite amp for HD800SDR and because of the above I tried and loved LCD2.2.

    This is truth and renders moot the following impressions with HD600:

    This amp saved HD800SDR for me and has opened the possibility of planars as well (normally not a fan). I have not encountered another amp that can do this with such power and finesse.

    My real reason for posting is: besides HD800(S) and Audeze stuff, what other headphones are good matches for this killer amp?
     
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  18. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    I liked the Auteur and Aeolus with the Crimson. As I recall, you were less impressed. I loved my Ether C v1.1, non flow with it. Right now, the HD800S is working well for me. It may be the last (only) headphone for a while, based on light weight, comfort, relatively indestructible, and available spare parts, and the sound sig works for me most of the time.
     
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  19. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Yes, easily for me as well and that's why it's my favorite. Plays well with most, if not all, that I've thrown at him. One of those that people usually end up regretting selling.

    It's less laid back than the glass and the fire imo. In case of the fire it just had *more* of the good things.

    Works very well with some Audezes, Focal and with Verum (i can only talk about the ones I tried ofc).

    I am not a ZMF fan but I actually liked it with the Auteur (haven't tried Verite, which I would like very much) and have been waiting to have enough money for one (if I ever find one at 1k anyway).
     
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  20. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    The Cavalli Liquid Crimson is the only amp I've ever owned that I completely regret letting go.

    The closest second would be the Eddie Current Super 7, but that had enough annoying qualities (mostly the need for 7x 6SN7 tubes) that I'm fine with letting it go.

    If I actually listened to traditional headphones more often, I would've been on the hunt for one. The only full-size cans I use anymore are the Sennheiser HD650, and I really like those out of my Garage1217 Project Sunrise III w/ LPS.

    The Liquid Platinum is a good amp, but it's its own thing and is not as good as the Liquid Crimson as far as I'm concerned.
     
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