Shortest Way 51 Amp Impressions (Only)

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

  1. FatCat

    FatCat Acquaintance

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    Mine's always been silent from outside, but sounds like buzzing when I put my ear up next to it, maybe Zampotech slipped a few bees in there. I'll check again at night to see if it's louder or softer.
     
  2. Zampotech

    Zampotech Friend

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    It's probably a toroidal transformer humming. It is made with 2.5 times the margin (At 60 Hz 3 times), the buzz is not transmitted to the headphones. But a small mechanical hum may be present with a small DC offset. Unfortunately, there is no ideal power supply.
    But the DC offset blocking filter can help
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
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  3. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    I have zero issue.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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  5. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I assumed it must be the toroidal transformer, but the humming seems localized to the OPTs. Quieter when I put my ear over the toroid, albeit it's harder to actually get my ear there. That alone may be enough to make it seem like it's not coming from there.

    I do have one, and need to try it, but was curious for those that might not be using it.
     
  6. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    No issues with mechanical noise here, and by now you all should know my listening space residual ambient noise is below typical.

    Will also add the SW51+ is in rotation a lot when using the HD800-Jmod and Bifrost-2. A very special DAC Amp Headphone combination for my personal preferences.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  7. obsiCO

    obsiCO Thai Fish Experiment Gone Wrong

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    No issues for me as far as I know.
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Ok, good to know, thanks!
     
  9. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    My listening area has ambient noise in the high 30dBs (measured with my phone app) and I can't hear anything (above my tinnitus) putting my ear as close to the transformers as possible.
     
  10. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    SW51+ Impressions:
    I've had the amp for about a week now and ready to share some impressions with you all. Before I start, I'm a HUGE fan of the ZDT Jr. for its meaty/thick tonality and excellent dynamics. So when @Zampotech announced his new amp that had similar design and form factor, I was excited to audition it for myself. After many nights of listening, I'm happy to report that this is an excellent sounding amp and hope more people get to try out this hidden gem.

    [​IMG]
    Listening Chain: Schiit Bifrost 2 > SW51+ | ECP 3F > @ChaChaRealSmooth 's Cocobolo Auteur | Sennheiser HD 580

    - Overall design is still reminiscent of the ZDT Jr./Laconic Night Blues mini but tonality is pretty different. While ZDT Jr. sounds warm/thick, the SW51+ takes a more neutral/slightly lean route. I'm usually not a fan of tube rolling, but I really enjoyed the Mullards that @MisterRogers recommended. (thanks again!) It seems to slightly add some warmth and body to its overall sound, but I can see some people preferring the stock tubes as well.
    - Lively sounding w/ excellent clarity without funky treble issues like the Valhalla 2.
    - excellent macro + micro dynamics. Bass is not mushy like the ZDT Jr. and hits with adequate control. such an engaging sound that keeps me up late at night.
    - people who bitch about Sennheiser HD6x0 series' veil should try to listen to it through this wonderful amp.
    - stage width is nothing to write home about, but has OK depth and I'm not complaining at this price point. I think it's also slightly wider than the ZDT Jr. at least from memory.
    - pretty resolving, but I still notice some missing low level detail when I compare to a big boi amp like the 3F.

    SW51+ vs. 3F
    ***please keep in mind that the 3F is a vastly more expensive amp and I wanted to provide this comparison since many have already done a fantastic job describing the overall sound of the amp.
    - when I was first switching back and forth between the two amps, I was having a hard time distinguishing them apart due to similar overall tonality. SW51+ is a tube amp that sounds solid state, while 3F is a solid state amp that sounds ...tube-ish? After a more extensive listening session, the subtle differences became clearer.
    - SW51+ doesn't seem to have that gripping driver control that 3F possesses. 3F slams harder and tighter allowing the Auteur's biocellulose driver to showcase its abilities.
    - With the Mullards, SW51+ has slight emphasis in the low end while the 3F doesn't try to emphasize any aspect of its sound, while not lacking either. SW51+ has slightly more bass quantity, but is bested in bass quality. Bass sounds more textured and nuanced on the 3F.
    - They both have a great sense of dynamism, but the 3F wins out in Microdynamics and nuance.
    -When playing complex passages, 3F sounds clearer with blacker background than the SW51+. There's more sense of air in 3F. cymbals have a more natural decay on the 3F.
    - Surprisingly, despite being solid state, 3F sounds smoother while maintaining a better sense of clarity. Vocals sound a bit rough on the SW51+. 3F also conveys the breathiness in vocals better as well.
    - SW51+ sounds slightly more forward than the 3F.
    - instruments sounds slightly blurred when compared to the laser-focus pinpoint imaging of the 3F.
    - stage is considerably wider on the 3F along with better sense of depth.

    Overall, both amps will bring much enjoyment to its listener with its engaging and lively sound. Yes, the 3F outperforms the SW51+, but it's not that far behind in most aspects. A reasonable consumer/hobbyist will enjoy the amp for what it is and stop chasing for that last couple %s. If you primarily use traditional dynamic driver headphones, SW51 will serve you greatly for many years. I would say the SW51+ has fewer technicality flaws such as mushy bass and is a better buy than the ZDT Jr. (unless you like the warmer/thicker sound better). I'm kind of sad that most people outside of SBAF will probably never get the opportunity to hear or own this fantastic sounding amp....but I got better things to worry about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
  11. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Any chance folks have tried Telefunkens in their SW?
     
  12. mdr30

    mdr30 Rando

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    Sound mighty fine, just like Marconi (G.E.C.).
     
  13. mdr30

    mdr30 Rando

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Guys seriously don't go crazy tube rolling this amp, maybe get one set of Western tubes (or hell stick with the stock pair) and listen to music.
     
  15. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    With the stock tubes and a HD650 and Focal Elex sound great out of this amp. If you can find a pair of Mullards then you’ll have yourself a more full and warmer sound without sacrificing detail. Didn’t enjoy the Amperex too much. Found them too warm and sacrificed resolution/detail.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
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  16. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    listeners found themselves too quickly in the future from engrossing auditory experience.
    stock 6z51p russian tubes.
     
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  17. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    Just wanted to add a quick comparison between SW51+ and recently obtained Black Widow and JAR600.

    Bifrost 2 > Black Widow > SW51+ > JAR600

    - To me, JAR600 has excellent synergy with the SW51+ even more so than the BW.
    - Because the BW has a warmer/lusher tonality, I thought I would prefer it to the SW51+ when pairing with JAR600 which can sound a bit shouty (no where near as bad as the stock HD600) when put into the wrong amp. For example, when pairing with the 3F, it quickly became a fatiguing listen. maybe too much of a good thing?
    - while I do enjoy the slight low end emphasis and forgiving treble of the BW, as a trade-off, it got in the way of JAR600's liveliness and excellent transients. SW51+ manages to maintain the same level of excitement and clarity without causing fatigue to my listening experience. While the BW can make the music sound sweet, with some genres it can sound a bit dull and muted. In comparison, Instruments do not sound muted or veiled when I listen to it through the SW51+.
    - The BW has better stage width, but I feel that the SW51+ has similar depth, or maybe even slightly better.
    - BW has better macro-dynamics, while SW51+ is couple steps above in micro dynamics.
    - Bass can sound a bit bloomy on the BW while it is fast and tight on the SW51+
    - Oh and with the JAR600, I actually preferred the stock tubes over the Mullards. While I enjoyed the slightly added warmth, mids sounded a bit too forward for me with the Mullards

    I'm once again amazed at how great this amp sounds and rivals that of more "premium-priced" products. This thing should not cost this little!! I would take this amp over Valhalla 2, ZDT Jr., Lyr 3, or Liquid Platinum. I can't even imagine what @Zampotech can produce if he had a much bigger budget for his future projects. Some of you may know I recently sold my beloved 3F. While I do miss the grippy control and athleticism of the 3F, I no longer feel the crave for it as SW51+ keeps me satisfied. I just want to listen to music now and not fuss over minute differences. While I no longer have a "TOTL" setup, I feel much better knowing that the accrued fund from the sale will be invested in spending time with my friends and family.
     
  18. Dzerh

    Dzerh Friend

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    - I suspect that the profit margin is very slim if any on this amp, and it is kind of gift to SBAF members
     
  19. ader

    ader Friend

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    If I order a "Shortest Way 51" from the z-ampo.tech site, am I ordering what everyone's calling the "Shortest Way 51+"? Sorry if that's a dumb question, but the site just says nothing about this "+" and I don't want to bother zampotech with an email over this if someone here just knows. Do I have to specifically tell zampotech I want the "+" (whatever it is)?
     
  20. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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