Shortest Way 51 Amp Impressions (Only)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Koth Ganesh, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I took @Zampotech's suggestion, rolled up little balls of Teflon tape, and inserted then into the holes in the center of each socket. A faint red glow is still visible at the base of the tube. The amp sits close to my sitting position and the power lamp is quite bright, so I stuffed a bit of open cell foam into the hole to dim it.
     
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  2. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    After spending a bit more time with the SW51+, I'd like to leave a bit of criticism; this isn't to knock on the amp, as much as provide perspective to the pros, which would be meaningless without the cons. It does miss out on the last bit of plankton, and this combined with the lack of stage size makes it sound a bit claustrophobic. The stage size is smaller on the SW51 with HD800S than the Af with 6xx, but the placement is pretty good. I think there's also a tiny bit of upper mid depression that gets exacerbated by the 800S, which was also a little unpleasant.

    While I'd say it scales with source, I definitely did not feel like I was getting everything the Gungnir Multibit had to offer; it lacks that last inch of resolving power. It would be difficult to distinguish between different transports in the same way the Af can, but still enough to distinguish between different DACs especially when going between the Gungnir Multibit and an ADI-2.

    At the end of the day though, for the size and price, it's hard to beat for the money and I'd say I've heard few things do microdynamics this well at any price point, let alone its price point.
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @famish99 Wouldn't the SE out of the Gungnir Multibit be a bit of a limiter as well in this test case? Unless you used its SE out for comparison purposes on your others amps when gathering that listening point. Just curious, not doubting. I only very recently got my SW, and not enough time spent with it to say anything. I also don't have any balanced gear around.
     
  4. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I used SE for comparison purposes as well as a few different DACs like the ADI-2 DAC and DC-1.
     
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  5. FlySweep

    FlySweep Friend

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    Modi 3 > SW51+ (stock tubes) > HD6XX (~brand new (<10 hrs of use) & un-modded).

    I've had the SW51+ for a week or so, but haven't had a chance to even get it unboxed and running until this morning. Had a very brief listening session (<20 mins). Will get a proper review on it once I've got some time on it and a few tubes.. but early impressions are very promising. Wonderful tonal balance. Neutral, clean, controlled. Speed is just awesome, notes have excellent dimension and note weight is damn near perfect.. excellent resolving & imaging ability. Stage width is not noticeably wide, but not particularly narrow either. What's more important to me is stage cohesiveness and balance.. and this amp has it in spades. Depth and layering is fantastic.

    The sonic character falls somewhere between the Valhalla 2 and & Vali 2 (w/ a 6CG7 tube)..closer to the Valhalla 2, probably... but quite noticeably better than either of those Schiit amps. Add a dash of the delicate bloom that the DNA amps have and you're getting a good picture of this amp's sounds.

    Hat's off to @Zampotech , this thing is a beast for the price and then some!
     
  6. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    The above mirrors my thoughts exactly. Technicalities at least match Valh2 while completely curing its dryness issue.
     
  7. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    Thanks so much.
    Objectively in this project several components, engineering (this my), ideological (a respected @Hands ), financial ( all users SW51). Without any link in the chain, the project would be dead.
    We all deserve gratitude.
    Special thanks to @atomicbob for scientific support of the project
     
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  8. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I don't listen very loudly, but I can't imagine this amp producing unpleasant distortion even cranked way up. Can you describe more under what conditions this was happening?

    I think somebody else mentioned "crunchy guitars" playing rock, so after a little Graceland (OG master) while folding the laundry this morning, I searched my library and found Van Halen I. I was immediately taken back to junior high, grooving and head bobbing while sitting on the couch, and then when I stood up to reach for more clothes to fold I ended up dancing around with Clears on my head tethered by the most excellent cable that @fraggler made for me. This is a totally non-analytical impression, but BF2 > SW51+ You Really Got Me :punk:

    Turns out I was listening to a really old 192kbps mp3 rip of a 2000 remaster. Somebody else mentioned somewhere that compressed streaming sources were sounding good out of this amp. I guess the same holds for medium bitrate mp3s.

    I tried Clear again out of the high Z output with a variety of tracks and still found it too "boomy" in the mid bass. I guess I just prefer a more neutral tonal balance.

    I'm finding a significant amount of microphonics with both the stock and RCA tubes. When I insert the connector with the amp turned, on I get a "ping" that lasts for several seconds, especially from the right channel, even if I try to be as smooth and gentle as possible. I don't have any problems when everything is static, so it's not a big deal, but connector insertion and gentle tapping on the tubes definitely stimulates some sounds, more so than from NBM and MCTH (with good tubes). Therefore I find it interesting that you mentioned the inherent design of the tube should have low microphonics.
     
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  9. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    Microphone effect is inherent in all tubes. It is characterized by the amplitude and duration of the reaction. Except tubes made of cast iron and concrete.
    Of course it's a joke. The weight of the tube in the photo is the weight of the average woman, about 50 Kg. This tube is very difficult to shake.

    [​IMG]

    6Z51P is one of the smallest amplitudes. The microphone effect of some tubes (for example 6Z9P) is comparable to the sensitivity of seismic sensors and allows being in Moscow to register earthquakes in Antarctica.
     
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  10. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    Or for American Friends, 2/3rds the weight of an average woman, 77kg.
     
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  11. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    In our cities, where there are McDonals, too, their standards of beauty.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    It's been a busy week and I'm tired - but I thought I'd share a few early impressions of my SW51+.
    • Nope. This amp - a total of $375 expressed from Russia, should NOT sound this damn good.
    • Tonality: Pretty neutral. I tend to build my OPT amps with c-cores, so this tone reads as neutral to me.
    • Scale: Damn. This thing scales farther than it should. I've fed it with both of my Pavanes, plus a couple of SE DAC's I've built over the years. Better source chain == better amp output.
    • Micro / Macro: Great / Good. Been discussed. Enough said.
    • Staging: Not small with the Mullards, but not wide. Good layering and depth.
    Details
    • I dropped in some Mullards and haven't looked back. I know what I like, and use either Mullards or Ediswans when available.
    • SW51+ has been so enjoyable, I haven't powered up the 'Beast' (my custom DG300B) this whole week.
    • My main chain is a Pi / PI2AES (with 2 PS') streamer feeding a Pavane I2S.
    @Zampotech - this is just about the highest bang for buck purchase I've made in audio in the past 10+ years, and while I cycle a fair amount of gear, SW51+ joins the Beast and my 3F as gear that I will not move. Excellent amp for 3x the price!
     
  13. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    As much as I like the channel balance on the Alps, I think I am going to try some other pots. I know some of the carbon ones give the impression of a larger stage but can sound dirtier or lack necessary channel matching. I could always order a bunch of cheap ones at $2 a pop and hand pick one. I might also have found a good cermet one to try as well with tight matching, but won't say anything more unless it pans out.

    For tubes, the Mullards might be a bit too forward and warm/thick for me. Works fine with the HD600 but doesn't do the HD650 many favors.

    I found some supposedly rebranded Siemens (Germany made), which so far sound rather neutral and are decent with staging. They do add a bit of sweetness and smoother timbre over the stock tubes.

    The stock Russian tubes are rather decent, though, and pair well with the amp. I wrote them off a bit too quickly, given my experience with the prototype amp, but the better bass extension on the production amp changes things. I need to listen more, though.

    So far, though, I haven't been able to listen as much as I'd like. I did a quick comparison against the Magni 3. The Magni punches a bit harder in the lowest octave and is a bit hotter, or perhaps less even sounding, in the treble, but not what I'd call brighter. At a 50,000 foot view, those are the main differences between the amps.

    Digging a bit deeper, the Magni 3 is a notably more forward sounding amp and condenses layers into more of a 2D plane. It also is much quicker to sound congested or confused, sort of crowding itself out and getting in it's own way.

    The SW has sounds coming out of blackness and is surprisingly fast and clear. Smoother, more proper timbre, but not necessarily particularly tubey. It doesn't suffer the congestion of the Magni 3 and erases any timbre grain or overall haze where things sort of fuse together on the Magni. (It's a subtle thing on the Magni 3, but there...it's really quite a good amp.)

    Staging is still compact but does not seem as narrow as the prototype. It's not a big issue, given sounds come and go from blackness, and there's still a decent 3D element to the soundstage. It's just not mind boggling big sounding. But I think the timbre, clarity, and tone are the real stars here, and done well to the point I'd argue it's a better behaved amp overall than most others at any price point.

    I will slowly play around with it more and add thoughts as I'm able. But I like that others are covering the amp pretty extensively instead of myself. :)
     
  14. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    I picked up a few pairs of tubes and so far what I'm liking the most are the Amperex from Holland. It just has dense tone that I love but will admit the bass rolls off. It's overall just fun and easy listening.

    I hate to say it but whatever. This whole setup I have is Liquid as fuck.
     
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  15. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I did some comparisons focusing on stage and imaging between my NBM (GEs) and SW51+ (Mullards) fed by Bifrost 2 and outputting to Clears from low Z. @Ksaurav402 specifically asked me about image height in a PM. I generally don't pay much attention to height with regards to sound stage. I find that with headphones, the center image is usually slightly above the horizontal plane, around forehead height. I think this might be intrinsic to the way headphones interact with our ears (and brains). Even with the Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc where they walk in a circle around the dummy head, I find the image travels in an inclined arc like the path the sun follows during arctic summer.

    The 4-toober definitely has an enveloping stage, but I think it might be partially due to things being a bit smeared in space(time?). Imaging is taller than the SW51, but it's more a vertical blobbiness than an actual impression of height of the sound source. The ZampAmp isn't as "holographic", but imaging seems cleaner with better localisation and sound sources being placed more precisely in the space around you. The NBM has a marginally wider stage, but the SW51 is a bit deeper with better layering, and has a clearer more transparent presentation overall.
     
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  16. Raicorl

    Raicorl Acquaintance

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    Brief impressions with stock tubes: Digione sig > Gustard x26 coax > SW51+ > modded HD800


    Pretty much the same with everyone here. Fast (little bit faster than my v280 amp), quick decay( may be too much for my taste), very good tone( drums kinda spooked me since I never heard something like this), decent impact ( few things that v280 can do much better, which is ss amp), zero harshness, kindna bass light but with good texture (hope I could fix this with tube rolling).


    Image and layering is good, better than v280. Stage is neutral, not too forward. Soundstage is ok(smaller than v280 but I didnt care much). instruments seperation is ok( due to smaller stage?)


    Best things I want to mention about this amp is the timbre sounds real/immersive? to me(ofc ymmv) on certain records. You might find no differences on some modern pop/rocks, or coldplay guy. IMO, is amp can scale well with better chain. I think r2r dacs should pair well.


    SW51+ is not perfect by anymean, but It could beat the hell out of my previous amps ( CTH, V280)
    V280 balanced out is ok with my HD800, fun, v good impact/bass, seperation but it comes with harshness ( If I lower the gain, music go lifeless and may fk up soundstages) but SW51+ tops it with superior timbre and involvement. This is my first SET tube amp tho.
     
  17. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @Raicorl HD800 be picky when it comes to bass. :)
     
  18. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    It's too early to say what tubes I like best, but the stock Russian tubes definitely seem to have the tightest sound. Punchy, good bite, little to no bloom, best clarity so far. Might be the most outwardly resolving of the lot, or at least transparent.

    Downside is they're less forgiving if your source has any treble issues. Or it could be the tubes themselves. They are quick to show any sibilance, grain, etc. Schiit stuff is fine here, generally. Lower or no oversampling works well too. But I still need to put some hours on the tubes.

    Unrelated, @Zampotech, I saw my potentiometer is 10K. If I were to replace the pot, are there any particular impedance values, or a range, you'd recommend? Or is it relatively inconsequential and just down to noise rejection and source interaction?
     
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  19. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    I prefer to set potentiometers in the 10K-50K range. 5K potentiometers can load the source, and with 100k potentiometers, the electrical capacity of the connecting cords begins to affect. Especially long ones.
     
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  20. sidq

    sidq Acquaintance

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    Has anybody tried the SW51+ with a JAR HD600? Looking to grab the amp and wondering whether it pairs better with 600s or 650s. @Zampotech do you think you'll take another set of orders before Christmas?

    Would be such a nice, affordable stack with a Bifrost II.
     
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