ECP DSHA3F Ravenswood 3F

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    This amp is a variant of the DSHA3, streamlined in design. See here for more:https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...dio-ecp-audio-history.6996/page-2#post-242188

    The F means this was meant for the Focal headphones. In my mind, that means Elex, Clear, Utopia. This thing sounds fantastic. It's one of the best solid-state amps that I have ever heard. Tried the 3F with a few headphones, and not surprisingly, the Elex (only Focal I had on hand) paired with this the best. HD800S and Verite performed were very good pairings too, but the Elex was just right. My first impressions were Holy Cow!

    Where the 3F excels is with pop and transients. It doesn't do this in an artificial simplified bad hi-fi audio-show way. Sounds pop out from the canvas providing a level of immediacy and realism that I usually only hear from good tube designs. Headstage is deep. Some amps that synergize well with Focal headphones (thinking Utopia and Elex in particular) might have a warmer tonal response or soften the high end - the components cover for each others weaknesses. Another approach, not necessarily mutually exclusive, is components playing to each other strengths. The 3F belongs more in the latter category. Headphones like the Utopia, Elex, Verite are "fast", responsive, and lively. What the 3F does is take full advantage of what these headphones can do. The highs are present with just a small reduction in edge. The Elex and Verite to a much smaller extent have mid-treble peaks, which seem less annoying on the 3F than say on the well-regarded THX AAA 789. However, source is going to matter here too. The low end is not warm. Those who want a warm sound to make up for the frequency response deficiencies of the HD800, Utopia, etc. are going to be disappointed. The T4 is better option here. The 3F is a neutral sounding amp in my book without the deficiencies of lean bass, lack of slam, lack of bite, excess sharpness or stridency. Those who want organic, warm, bassy, full-bodied, dark, rolled-off, smooth, bright, lean, thin, or etchy should go elsewhere.

    Photos below. They don't do the wood justice. The $2800 that Doug quoted is more than fair.
    IMG_20190122_142639.jpg IMG_20190122_142724.jpg

    Oh yeah, balanced in and balanced out only. For serious people.

    A bit more later...
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  2. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    So as a non-Focal owner, i’m curious as to how it does with HD-650s.....For those of us that have them terminated with a balanced cable.
     
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  3. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    When I bought Utopia, I was ultimately torn between this amp and ZDS, though I ended up with the latter because I preferred a more organic/warmer tone (but even then the ZDS/Utopia felt somewhat peaky at times). If my primary headphones were Clear, I would've chosen the DSHA-3F without a second thought.

    Having owned and listened to several of his amps, I can vouch for Doug as one of the best amp designers out there. Like Tyll, he seems to get unanimous love from communities with very different tastes, not only SBAF but also Head-Case. Glad to know the DSHA-3F is finally getting some media coverage it deserves.

    Oh yeah, those photos definitely don't do that gorgeous woodwork justice.

    For HD650 or any hi-Z Senns I would go with the original DSHA-3. Not saying the DSHA-3F won't be a great match but the 3F is optimized for low-Z Focals.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  4. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    @dsavitsk - Nice addition with the miter splines on the case! =) Do you do the case work yourself?
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Actually pretty damn good. I thought I might have preferred the HD600, but this didn't turn out to be the case. I don't mind lower Z from the HD650, in fact I prefer it. The HD58X worked well too.

    My ZDS setup was on the neutral side, from the TT to the phonostage to amp and tubes used. I might have owned the least warm ZDS setup I've ever heard. So the neutral tonality of the 3F was totally good for me - with the added advantage that it also works with the ZMF Verite which tends to be adverse to excess bloom, thickness, and mud.
     
  6. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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  7. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Very special product, but it's out of my price league. Also, I only own a Clear and I prefer an amp that works with all of my cans.

    Thanks for doing this!
     
  8. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Would be interesting if you could get a version that's basically the normal DSHA-3 but the low-z mode bypasses the OPT.
     
  9. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    That would be the DSHA-3F

    Edit: oh you mean a switch or a separate output?
     
  10. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I think the vanilla version has a switch between the different OPT taps, maybe this version could a bypass switch instead.

    Edit: or separate output if this is a more acoustically transparent solution.
     
  11. Andre Y

    Andre Y Friend

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    I wonder if the circuit is tweakable for Sennheiser headphones. Doug says he removed the output transformer from it. Is there something else that's done to match it to the Focals, like impedance matching or something?
     
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  12. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    I'm curious about this too.

    I like the idea above on having an output transformer bypass to switch between 3 and 3F modes, but have no idea if that's even feasible.

    What's the price of the normal DSHA3?
     
  13. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    First, thanks to Marv for saying really nice things.

    Yes, it would be feasible to add a switch to switch between OPTs and direct output, but no it is probably not going to happen. The 3F is intended to be a streamlined design that does what it does well without a lot of compromises.

    To make it match better with Senns, you could just embed a couple of small resistors in the cable. The extra resistance emphasizes the bass a little and can be tuned to your preference.

    The 3 starts at $3800.

    I do the woodwork myself, though ironically I didn't on the Black Diamond in the picture and I don't actually use a CNC for it.

    I have started doing the splines in the end grain as I think it looks better (see attached).
     

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  14. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    That looks great! Thank you
     
  15. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    Hey Marv,

    If ECP DSHA-3F is top 3 SS ever for you what are the other 2? :)
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    McIntosh MHA150 and ECBW (OOP). All different presentations. McIntosh is power/clean/neutral and works well with PMX2, HE-500, HE-5, Clear, Elear, HD650, LCD2/3/4, Verum One, etc. ECBW is organic/tubey like a better Luxman that works for HD600/800. DSHA3F is neutral/lively for Elex, Utopia, Verite, HD650, HD800 (modded), Verum One. Pairings based on my personal preferences.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  17. kevnin

    kevnin #facetweeting - Friend

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    How would you say the DSHA3F compares to a high end tube amp like the 445 in terms of resolution, microdynamics, and 3D layering?

    Sometimes I get annoyed at dealing with tubes and wish I could just go with a SS amp. But I've never heard one competitive in all these areas. I haven't heard any ECP SS amp, or MHA150 though.
     
  18. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Yes, I used the PhilipsECG JAN 6SL7WGT per your advice and it was the best tube I've heard with ZDS. The RCA 5691 did help take the edge off but came at a significant tradeoff in resolution compared to the Philips.

    Do you think the DSHA-3F is overall superior sounding to T4 for Focals and Senns? I haven't heard the T4, but IMO the T3 wasn't very impressive next to the so-called big boi amps I've heard.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I felt the 3F was better than the T4. The T4 with good tubes, e.g. Brimar T came close where tonality and headphone synergy are going to override any slight differences in technicalities. The 3F is not tubey. The T4 is like a mini DNA Stratus.
     
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  20. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Where does Ragnarok fall in your solid state rankings and how does it compare to the top 3 you describe here?
     
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