NITSCH Sound Pietus Maximus Optimus Prime Review - The Touch

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Nov 19, 2023.

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    $500 (amp only, without DAC card)
     
  2. chesebert

    chesebert Friend

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    Oh…that changes things.
     
  3. Rustin Cohle

    Rustin Cohle FKA jazztherapist

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    FWIW, I also prefer the ESS card but had some difficulty powering it from my laptop (it has higher power reqs vs MB card). I've not seen other reports here so maybe I'm unlucky and my 3yo MacBook is showing early signs of senility. Ultimately, I decided that having an (IMO) inferior card was OK if it allowed the amp to be truly portable. As long as it sits on my desktop, I can use other sources superior to the cards. If I'm traveling, the quality of my DAC is the least of my concerns.
     
  4. NewEve

    NewEve aka: Empeiros Audio

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    How's the volume range with the Grados?

    I was about to order the Pietus Maximus but realised it delivers 4.2W @ 32 ohms and my Schiit Jotunheim 2, SE, delivers 2W @ 32 ohms and I'm maximum at 11 o'lock, low-gain, on the Jot2 with my GS3000x.
     
  5. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    ^Ah, the Low of the 3 Gain levels is actually negative gain...so you can use IEMs and Grados!
     
  6. HotRatSalad

    HotRatSalad Friend

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    I can't speak for grados but I actually use s12 pro IEMs on medium gain on pi max sometimes if that helps.
     
  7. NewEve

    NewEve aka: Empeiros Audio

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    Thanks a lot!

    @CEE TEE Order placed ;)
     
  8. chesebert

    chesebert Friend

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    I am finding Grados sound the best on HIGH gain - better to my ears than mid and low gain. I always try to use the setting with the least amount of feedback (in a voltage feedback amp). IMO everyone should try to use high gain whenever possible on this amp.

    HF2 and HP1000 are both very very good on this amp.

    Focal Clear OG is very good
    Focal Utopia 2020 is serviceable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2024
  9. Poimandres

    Poimandres Acquaintance

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    I am enjoying the Bokeh on high gain as well. The big pee pee definitely hits way above its cost. Utilizing it with the ess card, it has been burning in for about 36 hours. Very enjoyable sound and no tubes to replace!
     
  10. MrDave

    MrDave New

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    I posted in this thread about 2 months ago asking for opinions on switching from my iHA-6 to Pietus for my ZMFs or if I should save up for DSHA-3FN. It seems that Pietus pairs well with Verite but maybe less so with Atticus since Atticus benefits more from high OI amps. Since then, I've gotten a Grado GH1 that I'm loving it so much that I'll most likely be selling my Atticus and just keeping Verite and GH1, so again it has me considering the Pietus as I think it might work better for those two headphones than the iHA-6. DSHA-3FN is probably off the table since I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable spending more on an amp than either of my headphones.

    I currently use a Soekris dac1421 and am curious if anyone uses that with the Pietus, and if so, how they find the synergy to be. I'm also looking at the Qutest as another priority for me is compactness and having an amp/DAC that's easy to pack up and transport. Since the ESS card apparently has great synergy with the Pietus, might that also be the case with the Qutest and its slightly sharper-than-R2R sound? For context, I had some issues with the treble splashiness of the Piety + MMB2 pairing I used to use, but I'm not all that upper mid and treble sensitive since I love the Grados. I just really dislike ringing and splashy treble.

    It's hard to know though if the Pietus would scale enough to warrant getting a Qutest and if it would basically just be a sidegrade from the Soekris so any thoughts are much appreciated!
     
  11. Loomynarty

    Loomynarty New

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    I’ve had the PM for a few days now and I’d like to share my thoughts after some critical listening tests and sighted level-matched comparisons.
    I’d like to keep this comment short and concise so I won’t post my acoustic measurements — there’s nothing to see anyways, both amps create the same frequency response on my test IEM despite them having different output impedances.

    Primary test equipment used:
    -Pietus Maximus (obviously)
    -SMSL HO200 Head Amp
    -Gustard X16 DAC (ES9068AS)
    -Thieaudio Hype 2 IEMs
    -Clone IEC 711 IEM Coupler
    -Hifiman HE6se V2
    -HD 6XX

    Let me start off by saying that I could really only hear a difference between these two amps when using IEMs due to background noise in my listening area. With that out of the way, my sighted listening tests were done by level matching the two amps to 85 +/-0.5 dB in the audible bandwidth using random pink noise generated in REW and measured with my clone coupler. I’ve completed what Harman considers to be their trained listener tests and I can also blind test absolute polarity (at least in the bass region where it’s audible) in case anyone is curious.

    So, the verdict after doing quick sighted switching between the two amps is that:
    1. The HO200 is a very good chip based amp
    2. The PM sounds slightly more rounded in its transient attack and seems to have ever so slightly more sub-bass amount (when I mean slight I mean like how minuscule the difference is between correct vs inverted polarity).

    My conclusion is that I like listening to the PM more than the HO200 due to the reduced sharpness in the transients, but at the same time, the HO200 has significantly more power on its balanced out which plays a factor when driving the HE6se. I think the PM is worth the extra cost even if I’m losing some of the I/O that the HO200 offers for less money. At the end of the day, the PM is just easier and less fatiguing to listen to.

    Peace out
     
  12. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Speaking as a guy who hears DAC differences as being exaggerated some days and negligible on others (err within reason-- the treble on the Modi 3+ is just a wee bit too much for me now): critical listening is a pain in the bunghole and really it's more a matter of living with a system for a while that makes any differences really stand out to you. I also live in a fairly noisy spot and mainly use my HD600s, so a lot of the time I do end up taking a while to come to conclusions about things, haha.

    Been hearing a lot of good things about SMSL lately, gotta admit that my curiosity's somewhat piqued. Similar voicing to the Maximus you say, just sharper in transients? Transients aside, any discernible difference in staging that you caught, maybe on your Sennheisers? Kinda curious if you've got other DACs to check out since some impressions of the thing seem to imply that it's not the best at throwing a stage out.

    Curious what other IEMs you've tried to land on the Thieaudios? I don't think I've heard a multi-DD IEM yet, and while I keep telling myself I really ought stay well away from fancy ones cuz of my luck with them so far, but I gotta say that that's another thing I'm curious to demo if I ever cross paths with one.
     
  13. Loomynarty

    Loomynarty New

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    I have noticed that the soundstage on the X16 sounds fairly tight and close to inside my head no matter what headphones I use. If I’m being honest, soundstage size with headphones or IEMs is rather low on my list of priorities. Tonal balance — specifically treble sharpness is much more objectionable for me. As for other dacs, I really only have a Qudelix 5K and a Fiio K11. So not really the best things to compare to.

    I own quite a few other IEMs but all cheaper than the Hype 2. I’ve been using them almost daily since I got them last fall FWIW. I recently got the Truthear Nova and that is a very impressive set for the price. Not exactly the best mids or bass but not bad either, the standout feature is by far the treble smoothness and balance. It has better treble than the Hype 2 for almost half the price.
     
  14. chesebert

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    I had few weeks to compare Pietus Maximus amplifier against many of its contemporaries and past designs. The amplifiers in comparison were the Headamp Glite mk2 with golden reference PSU, Headamp GS-1 mk2 (essentially the single ended output of GSX mini), AMB M3, AMB Beta 22, Topping A90, Headamp GSX mk2, and a couple CFA3s. The dac used were either Emm Labs Dac2xV2, NewOntech Dac07 or Playback Designs Merlot. Cans used were mostly dynamics, such as Utopia, Clear, Grado HP2 (HP1000) and 800S.

    The Headamp Glite and GS-1 models, known for their technical performance, exhibited greater transparency, soundstage, drive, and higher dynamics than the Pietus. However, they were perceived as slightly less refined and less smooth.

    The AMB M3, particularly with discrete opamps from Staccato, aligns closely with Pietus in terms of naturalness, musicality, resolution, PRaT, and dynamics, making it the most comparable in sound profile and performance.

    AMB's Beta 22, while offering a slightly less rich sound, advances in refinement and naturalness with a wider and deeper soundstage, alongside greater dynamic ease and drive. It's an overall better amp as it should be.

    Compared to the Topping A90. (via listening notes when I had the unit on loan), the Pietus stands out for its overall naturalness, warmth, and PRaT, suggesting a more engaging listening experience.

    Against the Headamp GSX mk2, the Pietus is noted for being slightly warmer and rounder sound signature, though it falls short in all other aspects.

    In a direct comparison with the CFA3, the Pietus was found lacking in all areas. CFA3 was in a different plane of existence.

    Despite this, the Pietus Maximus is a great amplifier and an exceptional value at $500.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2024
  15. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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    Pietus vs Ragnarok 2?
     
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  16. darmok

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    I'm still struggling with synergy with the Pietus Maximus. With every DAC I've tried it feels like there's some tradeoff against other DACs. It's frustrating because I feel like there's a really great amp here that's just quite not singing in tune with the sources and headphones I'm pairing it with. Either that or whatever tune it's singing is just not my tune, which is always a distinct possibility. If anybody feels like they have a magic combo with the Pietus I'd be interested in suggestions. I've seen a lot of recommendations for the ESS card and while I'm certainly willing to spring for one, the impressions I've read don't make it sound significantly different than what I'm getting out of other DACs that I already have. I'm more likely to pick up another pair of headphones for the collection if there's an open back that pairs well with the Pietus.

    Long rambling impressions follow. All listening tests between DACs and amps were done sighted and level matched to <0.1dB with a multimeter. Sources were Audirvana Origin on a Mac Mini and Plexamp on an iPad mini.

    So far the current DAC winners are the dac1421 and the ZEN DAC V2. The dac1421 has the edge on clarity, where the ZEN is thicker and slammier but still very smooth. While there's nothing really to complain about with the dac1421 + Pietus combo, there's nothing that makes me want to keep listening to this specific pairing either. The ZEN + Pietus combo does have that but loses some of the clarity, and as a result it doesn't feel like it's a huge difference when compared to the balanced out on the ZEN DAC + CAN stack.

    On the headphone side, the HE6se plays decently well with the dac1421 + Pietus combo but the timbre is a bit off. It's a bit like looking at food under LED lighting with a poor color rendering index: you can see all the details, but somehow it's just not actually appetizing. The HD6XX with the same combo is very resolving, but for whatever reason my brain can't handle the combination of this amount of clarity and the soundstage and imaging limitations of the 6XX. Everything ends up sounding like it's coming from above me, like I'm listening to the world's best PA system embedded in drop ceiling tiles in a department store changing room. The Aeon Closed with thin black foam plays really, really well with this combo and sounds significantly more open than the 6XX, but this is fairly unhelpful since I'm unlikely to be wearing a closed back at my desk.

    The ZEN DAC V2 + Pietus combo does work pretty well with the Deva Pro. It's definitely not the most resolving, but it plays well to the Deva's imaging and fixes most of the oddly colored timbre that also affects this headphone. My only note of hesitation here is that it may be a bit more fatiguing than the Piety + MMB2 combo, which definitely blunts details but makes for a very smooth listen. The ZEN + Pietus combo also seems to play fairly well with the DT199X, but I'm not happy with the way I've got the Beyers set up right now and I'll try again after I change pads on them in the next few days.

    All in all it leaves me feeling like I'm not sure where to put the Pietus. In principle the ZEN + Pietus combo could replace the Piety + MMB2 stack with the Deva Pro, but that's set up for nighttime tripping listening in a recliner right now with an electrical tape mod on the MMB2, and I'll need to do some surgery on the ZEN DAC to fix its blinding LED ring light if I'm going to use it there. (My Kingdom for an LED kill switch on DACs and amps. Seriously, I somehow ended up with two copies of the FSOL My Kingdom EP and I'll happily give one up to get this.) The Soekris + Pietus combo is nice enough, but right now the Soekris is acting as DAC and preamp for a near-field setup with a Rekkr and a pair of RP-160Ms, and I'm not sure I want to stick the Pietus in the middle of that.
     
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  17. darmok

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    For anyone wondering, the ring lights on the ZEN DAC are mounted on a daughterboard using right-angle header connectors. I was afraid of having to desolder surface-mount LEDs in close proximity to the volume pot, but all that's required is a Torx set and a spudger.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Totally agree with you on all points above. Yes, the Piety + MMB2 combo is smooth. Generally what you are going through is what many of us have gone through: developing your tastes and trying to make mid-fi work (Pietus probably edges toward upper mid-fi). The solution to get everything you want is to level up or build alternative rigs that do things differently. Heck, even in high-fi (or lower high-fi) world, I tend to build alternative rigs these days to get something different.

    FWIW, Pietus can scale with much better sources up to $2k-$5k DACs. I prefer darker / slammier DACs with the Pietus such as the Yggdrasil LIM (the ESS card which is neutralish tonally is the exception, but it seems to gel with the Pietus in a certain way).
     
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  19. Robson

    Robson New

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    Some disclaimers here, in that the Pietus is not my main amp. (DSHA-3FN gets most headphone usage). I got it for preamp duties for my computer speaker setup, and just because I wanted to try it out...

    DAC is Schiit Yggdrasil OG/A2/Unison feeding it, and I really like my Focal Clear OG with the Pietus. It's a nice synergistic combo, and maybe the new Focal open back could also be a good option?
     
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  20. darmok

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    I'm trying to do the alternate rigs thing, knowing that even if I drop $3k on a pair of headphones or a DAC my ADHD will have me switching it out for something else in short order. I'd rather put some effort into finding a few good synergistic combos.

    The Hadenys? It looks like it's sharing parts with the Bathys including the smaller pad size. I don't think my ears will really fit comfortably in that given that the "normal" Focals are already a touch on the small side for me. I've thought about picking up an Elex on closeout.

    In the meantime, I've had my finger hovering on the purchase button for the SR325x for a long time now and I finally decided to jump in. I'll qualify my comments by saying that the F'ed cushions lasted all of about 30 seconds on there before I replaced them with a pair of Dekoni Custom Velours. I'll be trying other pads over the next few days, but so far I think this might have been what I was looking for, especially with the darker/slammier Zen DAC feeding the Pietus. The bass extension is a touch shy of what I'd like for electronic music, but everything else is there - except for comfort. Why Grado puts a more thickly padded headband on the SR60x than the much heavier SR325x is beyond me, and if I decide to keep it, a headband swap will be in order.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2024

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