Geshelli Labs Archel 2.5 Amplifier

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Raimei Templar, Mar 6, 2021.

  1. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Friend

    Dec 8, 2019
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    At the risk of being labeled a Geshelli fanboy, here is my take on the other Geshelli product I own, the Archel 2.5 including comparisons with Asgard 3.

    I find Archel 2.5 to be a exceptionally good take (via XLR in) on a op amp style amplifier but I dont think it will convince anyone who hates op amp based amps, the way that Erish might based on others impressions.

    Archel 2.5 is surprisingly dark, I would not classify it as a neutral amplifier in spite of its incredible measurements. People looking for a “wire with gain” should probably look elsewhere. I find the midbass to have a slight bump giving it a little extra punch and most notably the treble to be somewhat rolled off. The combo of bass bump and rolled treble does give it a pretty natural sound, but fans of wide airy soundstages will be let down. Like most op amp based designs the sound-stage is pretty compressed sounding, the rolled off treble kind of amplifies this effect IMO. The somewhat compressed soundstage is the biggest downside to the Archel 2.5.

    I find Archel 2.5 to be very non fatiguing, the rolled off treble makes for a really gentle listen and I must say this is my favorite amplifier for listening to things on Youtube as it really takes the edge off the shitty audio you find in most videos.The sort of compressed effect is really pleasant surprisingly. I found the original Magni 3 (not +) to have a compressed sound but it sort of made everything seem LOUD and in your face, whereas the Archel seems like you have a limiter of some sort on which just keeps things from suddenly being ultra loud if this makes sense.

    One unusual thing about the Archel is that I find it to be a very fast sounding amplifier. Typically darker sounding things tend to be slower in my experience, but Archel somehow manages to be quite quick even with its slightly rolled treble. I find the low gain to be extremely fast sounding especially. The high gain still has a good amount of speed but seems slightly slower than the unity gain setting.

    I find detail to be pretty good at its price point but not exceptional, I think the Asgard 3 beats it personally. The somewhat compressed soundstage does make imaging pretty good though and I think the Archel 2.5 is a killer amp for gaming, that nice imaging and non fatiguing sound works really well with the shitty sounds you often find in games.

    The RCA inputs are ok but dont hold a candle to the XLR inputs. Based on others impressions the RCA inputs are supposedly identical to the normal Archel 2 which based on Torq's review at is effectively the same as a Magni Heresy. I cant confirm that myself as I havent tried any of those. The RCA inputs dont have the extra bass power of the XLR input and sound pretty flat/lacking dynamics. They dont sound terrible, but you should get something else if you dont have XLR output on your dac honestly. Just get a heresy and save some money if you want that kind of sound.

    So comparing it to the Asgard 3 was very interesting considering the differences in design philosophy. The Asgard 3 was warmer in that it had more of a upper bass/lower mids emphasis and had more neutral levels of treble and air. The Asgard 3 had a wider more open soundstage and sounded less compressed overall, but the bass was less punchy/impactful than the Archel.

    I thought the Asgard offered a little more detail and completely wiped the floor with the Archel in the intangible emotional engagement category. Asgard has brought me to tears on occasion which the Archel has not managed to do. However the Archel is much faster sounding than the Asgard 3 and even LESS irritating (the Asgard already firmly in the non fatiguing camp as it is). All of this is based on XLR Archel as RCA was a clear win for Asgard.

    Imo the Asgard 3 is the “better” amplifier. I think even though it is slower, its a little more “correct” sounding due to the less compressed soundstage, more present treble and it just nails the emotions of vocals in a way the Archel cant. However the Archel has one major advantage over the Asgard, it has XLR input. I think its one of the cheapest options out there for enabling your single ended headphones to work with the XLR output of your dac without the need to buy expensive cables.

    I also think the gap between the Asgard 3 and the Archel is not that wide and depending on your dac, the gains from using the XLR may be wider than the gap between the amps. For instance with the Schiit Modius I actually preferred the Archel to the Asgard ironically because I found the Modius XLR to be so much better than the RCA that I actually prefered to listen to Archel/Modius vs Asgard/Modius. However with Geshelli's own AKM JNOG I actually preferred Asgard (again ironically enough!) as the gap between XLR and RCA is not that wide. Thus it is quite difficult to say which is better as it really depends on what dac you are pairing it with.

    TLDR Bullet List!


    • Very pleasant inoffensive sound, takes the edge off harshness and pairs really well with brighter headphones, was a killer amp for the DT800 600 ohm for instance.

    • THE SPEED, Very fast sounding doubly so on unity gain which I prefer to its high gain.

    • Wonderful sound for general pc use such youtube/games anything with not great audio
    • Allows you to use the XLR output of your dac with your headphones without buying expensive ass cables and use it with headphones with fixed SE cables like Grados without mods

    • Pretty decent build, loads of cool color options and changeable faceplate

    • You can turn the LEDs off or change between 3 colors, nifty!

    • Nice and compact, uses a wall wart that is world wide voltage compatible


    • Volume pot kind of sucks, its same as Magnis and compared to the Asgard...well there is no comparison!

    • Compressed soundstage, sounds a little congested and doesn't separate elements as well as Asgard.

    • A little dark sounding, nice for bright to neutral headphones, may be too much for already dark headphones.
    • Lacking emotional engagement, probably not going to move you to tears.

    • Rca input not that amazing, but its basically just a bonus

    • The xlr inputs are backwards, the L and R are setup for someone looking at it from behind, rather than being on your left/right from the front.

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