HeadAmp Gilmore Lite mk2 Headphone Amp (on Massdrop)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Peter78, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    Gilmore is a versatile amp. It drives both my headphones quite well, HD600 and PMx2. I have previously relied on specific amps for these headphones (BW2 for HD600, Ragnarok for PMx2) but Gilmore seems to get both headphones ~90% of the way ‘there’. It also drives ER4S really well, probably the best I have heard them.
     
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  2. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    I have owned a number of Justin’s desktop amps over the years (Gilmore Lite, GS1, Dynalo+, GSX mk2). Each have generally been an iterative improvement over the last (with some caveats) and have shared a similar character; dynamic, resolving, linear & uncoloured.

    Gilmore Lite mk2 seems to represent a slight deviation from this traditional Headamp ‘house sound’. While still dynamic and resolving (from memory, to a similar degree as GS1 Dynalo+) I’m not sure I would call it linear; there is definitely some low/midrange colouration which manifests as a bit of a bass lift and some midrange warmth. It is all relative; this is in no way a warm syrupy amp. On a scale of 0-10 with GSX mk2 being 0 and cheap warmpoo tube amp 10, the new Gilmore would sit around 2-3.

    The aforementioned Headamp ‘house sound’ had an increasing tendency towards brutal honesty in the treble region. Careful gear matching was required to make poorly mastered music even remotely listenable. Whether intentionally or not, Justin seems to have also deviated from these genetics with Gilmore mk2. Treble is certainly present and well rendered but is far more agreeable with my HD600 and it’s occasionally troublesome 4khz region.

    I am really interested to see if @Justin continues this change in direction with GSX mini.
     
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  3. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I have noticed that the Gilmore design amp (at last my Rev. 2) can be sensitive to what op amp is used for the DC servo.

    Mine was pretry warmpoo with the OPA2888. When I switched to the OPA602, the same one used in tbe Lite MK2, it sounded much cleaner in the low end and sweetened the highs.

    I wonder what is going on in the scratchy treble on the other HeadAmp Gilmore amps.
     
  4. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    I wouldn’t necessarily characterise the Headamp desktop amplifiers as having scratchy treble. It’s more a case of a tendency to spotlight the treble issues of headphones or music. This was most apparent with GSX mk2. That said, my spidey sense tells me that with good masters and a headphone like PMx2, GSX mk2 could be something pretty special.
     
  5. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Other reviews seem to mirror this.

    The original Gilmore Lite had (to some ears) a kind of sharp or emphasized treble, and that is completely gone in the mk2. I think some people will appreciate this change, but it does make it somewhat difficult to compare the sound of the original GL and the mk2 in other respects.

    I'm quite interested in this amp for now I'll request and see if it would hit massdrop again.
     
  6. Madra

    Madra Acquaintance

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    @Baten

     
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  7. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    The Massdrop offering was a marketing thing, I think. You can get this directly from Justin at the same price as Massdrop.
     
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  8. Justin

    Justin MOT: HeadAmp

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    I can confirm that we won't be putting the Gilmore Lite mk2 on massdrop again
     
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  9. Alaarx

    Alaarx Facebook Friend

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    Justin is the voicing of the new GSX mini slightly forgiving like the Gilmore Lite?
     
  10. I_want_all_the_tacos

    I_want_all_the_tacos Friend

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  11. k4rstar

    k4rstar On a journey... somewhere

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    I was curious about this amp since I first saw this thread, mostly because of its looks and form factor. The price seemed sharp at $499, and I had traditionally had no interest in (read: avoided) HeadAmp products as I mentally associate them with Kevin Gilmore. I was looking for a small form factor solid-state amp to have as a back-up for when I didn't want to turn on my tubes. A few months ago I was hoping that would be the Magni 3 but I found its current-feedback induced warmth and veil annoying. I was willing to pay a bit more for something clearer but equally as pleasant.

    I think the Gilmore Lite Mk2; hereby affectionately referred to as the Gilbert; does well to fit those requirements. As @jowls and others have mentioned it is warmish and pleasant, only slightly rounding off transients and lending a bit of body to the lower mids. In terms of headstage it does present a bit of 'fixed' depth which is nice as opposed to the sometimes distracting window pane flatness of other transistor-based amplifiers. I would say the Gilbert is 1 or 2 ticks too warm for metal and punk (for my taste, tested with Megadeth & the Wire) even with the HD600. However sometimes you just want to smooth that 3-4kHz roughness and listen for longer without fatigue as a result. The synergy with HD600 is there, especially for when less care is given to source.

    The above isn't to complain however, it's either what you're looking for or not. If I had to nitpick I would like some greater contrast to textures (moar blackness between notes) and dynamics (the Gilbert does not slam like the current-driven Jotunheim). These improvements may be brought with a dedicated power supply unit as opposed to the included brick.

    The only thing that gives me pause is the price, $499 is a good chunk of change. Understandably Justin is running a smaller operation and it is unreasonable to expect him to keep up with the value of mass-produced Massdrop or Schiit offerings. I can say the Gilbert is well put together and I'm a big fan of the aesthetics. I've grown quite fond of having it on my desk.
     
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  12. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I recently watched the ZReviews video of this amp. He does compare it to the warmth of tubes as well as others have noted. However, in the video I noticed he had the generic bad sounding switching power supply. The one I tested was one that belonged to @Ice-man and it was shipped with two power supplies.

    The other, bettter sounding one, was a switching MW power supply. It made this amp sing.

    I am not sure if there was a running change on the power supplies as I was not a fan of the stock one. The MW, although still switching, their stuff is much better regulated and gets down to nearly LPS land. I wish all my power switching power supplies were MW.
     
  13. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    Justin intends to produce a matching DPS for Gilbert. $300. ETA early next year. It will be interesting to see what it brings to the party.
     
  14. eastboundofnowhere

    eastboundofnowhere Almost "Made"

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    The new toy syndrome still has not worn out for me on this. It drives everything I own well. Biggest surprise so far is it reminded me why I still hang on to my 650s despite owning several more expensive, newewer headphones. I hear more sub bass with the combo than I thought the phone was capable of pulling off.
     
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  15. Justin

    Justin MOT: HeadAmp

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    it will most likely be a "Golden Reference" supply for those who are familiar. The only thing up for debate right now is if it will match the size of the amp exactly, or if it will be built larger and with more available power and ports to use with future stuff
     
  16. Alaarx

    Alaarx Facebook Friend

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    Thats great to hear, I'd love it to be the same size for stacking. Would the addition of the GR power supply essentially make the Lite a SE version of the upcoming GSX mini or are their circuit variances under the hood?
     
  17. starence

    starence Almost "Made"

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    I agree. Actually, there's very little chance I would get one if it was larger than the amp.
     
  18. eastboundofnowhere

    eastboundofnowhere Almost "Made"

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    Whichever way it goes pretty sure the ps is a day one purchase for me as long as it isn’t cost prohibitive.
     
  19. Justin

    Justin MOT: HeadAmp

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    The Gilmore Lite mk2 + a Golden Reference supply might be the closest thing to a purist's modern version of the original Gilmore Dynamic amp -- updated 20 years later with modern parts and power supply regulation, but it still uses the original Toshiba JFET input pairs. Every so often, someone contacts me and has found a stash of them so I've been able to continue building the amps. It's why there was such a long gap between the Gilmore Lite and mk2.

    The "GS-X mini" or whatever the final name is will actually use new-old-stock Toshiba BJT input pairs and twice the number of output transistors, but other than that, yes it would be similar to the Gilmore Lite mk2 + a GR supply.
     
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  20. Justin

    Justin MOT: HeadAmp

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    We're going to have a prototype of the GS-X mini at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in early October. The circuitry actually is significantly new from the GS-X mk2, but as far as features and design it makes sense for this to be the GS-X mini.

    [​IMG]
     

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