"Shortest Way" SW51 Amp Impressions (Simple SET Amp)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Hands, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. ZampotechNA

    ZampotechNA MOT: Zampotech NA Distributor

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    Hello everyone - we wanted to notify everyone on SBAF that we will not be able to ship any orders placed between Feb 3 and Feb 21 until Feb 22-24. A notice has also been placed on the website.

    This is for two reasons - the warehouse suffered water damage due to the recent heavy rains in Southern California. Although the products were not damaged in any way and were function checked out of an abundance of caution, the mold caused by the rain has forced the building owner to limit access to the building for a the next several days while the issue is addressed. [To clarify - the products were not exposed to the mold in a different part of the building - but access is limited while repairs are being made] We will also be traveling for several days after the expected repairs have been completed.

    We will still be available via email and on this forum during this time if anyone needs to contact us.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2023
  2. Emojiless

    Emojiless Acquaintance

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    I found the Shortest Way 51 to work pretty well for games and movies with HD800S. However I need something closed for whenever my gf is making noises. Thinking about some Beyerdynamic variant. Anyone tried Beyers with the SW51+? Primarily for gaming but also movies and some background listening. Any other HP I should consider that works well with SW51+?
     
  3. JackFruit

    JackFruit New

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    Haven't tried any closed backs on this amp, but TYGRs were fine and DT880s 600 ohms didn't sound good at all. I suggest aiming for 64 to 300 ohms dynamics for the best result. My HD Zeus sounded better on this amp, especially for gaming and movies, and it's also semi-open, but you have to apply heavy EQ IMO
     
  4. TazerMonkey

    TazerMonkey Acquaintance

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    I recently was in a similar situation with my roommate where I needed a closed back. I tried a Beyer DT770 250ohm which sounded ass on a Liquid Gold X, but in a bit of holiday splurging I picked up a HD600 and a SW51+ based on synergistic reviews and prior experience with HD800S on ZDT Jr. While the DT770 did sound better on SW51+ than the Monoprice, I ultimately found the limitations of the headphone to be a damper on my musical enjoyment in the late night hours and I found myself wishing I could listen to my Stax instead. I would suspect if you're accustomed to the precision and detail of an HD800-level headphone, that you would likewise be underwhelmed.

    I ultimately decided to return the Beyers and the Senns to Amazon and instead purchased a set of ZMF Vérité Closed in the stock Sapele wood. They are gorgeous, block more noise than the Beyers, and sound fantastic with the SW51+. I couldn't be happier, enjoying them as much as my Stax or OG HE-6. Your closed back listening won't be a compromise. Obviously, there are a few orders of magnitude difference in the price of the DT770 and the VC, but ZMF also has the Atticus as a (mostly) closed-back and more in-line pricewise with the HD800S.

    As far as I'm aware, all ZMFs are also pretty much universally agreed upon to synergize well with tube amplifiers, with the Caldera perhaps being an exception. I haven't personally heard a pair, but Atticus is still well-liked in these parts and ZMF is one of the most consumer-friendly companies I've ever dealt with. They won't quite be able to compete with the HD800S or the VC technically, but I can pretty much guarantee an Atticus will be more synergistic and enjoyable than one of the closed Beyers. And if the Atticus is still too much, if you can wait for a little while longer, ZMF should be releasing another less-expensive (and I believe fully closed like the VC and new Atrium Closed) closed-back later this year.
     
  5. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    @TazerMonkey can confirm the excellent synergy between the sw51+ and VC/ Atrium… this is not a thick sounding amp, so the combo produces a very good balance to me.
     
  6. Parker

    Parker MOT: Soundsmith

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    I got a broken one. Anyone got the schematic?
    -(edit) Specifically looking for a diagram of the power transformer. I got one with black, white and blue pairs. Another technician disconnected everything and left it. Now I need to figure out what goes where. Would be helpful before I need to reverse engineer it ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  7. Parker

    Parker MOT: Soundsmith

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    Well, I figured it out. If anyone needs any service info on this unit, I would be happy to help you out since I got no response from the manufacturer. It's fairly straightforward.
     
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  8. ZampotechNA

    ZampotechNA MOT: Zampotech NA Distributor

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    Hi Parker - We responded to you [[after the July 4 holiday]] and provided the information about the wiring as well. We apologize about the brief delay in response over the extended July 4 weekend.

    As for the schematics - the biggest issue is that the schematics aren't ours to provide - all schematics and other IP belong to Ruslan. There are also the potential associated liabilities related to the above as well as a few other issues for the time being.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2023
  9. ckhirnigs

    ckhirnigs Friend

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    I’ve found some surprising synergy between the SW51+ and my Meze Elite. I’m using the low impedance jack and some RFT EF184 tubes. DAC is my trusty OG BF2.

    I read that some people were liking the Caldera with their SW51+, and it motivated me to try the amp with my Elite. On paper the Elite is even easier to drive than the Caldera. Turns out the amp drives them really well. If I’m not mistaken, the SW51+ only puts out 220mW into 32 ohms. I was recently using a relatively expensive solid state amp that put out 15W at 32 ohms, and I wouldn’t definitively say it sounded any better. A little different, but not necessarily better.

    Moral of the story, don’t assume the SW51+ is only cut out for driving dynamics. It can do a fine job with easy to drive planars like the Elite and Caldera as well.
     
  10. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Did I miss any updates on the SW4? Remember reading about it way back in the thread and never heard anything since.
     
  11. ZampotechNA

    ZampotechNA MOT: Zampotech NA Distributor

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    Thank you for asking ColtMrFire - this is actually a good time to give everyone an update.

    We have several projects that are currently delayed. Unfortunately, with the war, exporting virtually anything out of Russia right now is extremely difficult to say the least. This is due to both internal hurdles within Russia and external hurdles set up by just about every other country. Several key components of the amps are also custom made in Russia from materials not readily available elsewhere so there's not really any other way around this either.

    Additionally - Ruslan has not had an easy time accessing SBAF after the start of the war. Out of an abundance of caution for him, we will not get into additional details about this for now.
     
  12. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Appreciate the update. Best wishes for yall out there.
     
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  13. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I've heard plenty of great stuff in my time in the hobby, but I don't often hear "spooky" stuff. Being fed by the Soekris DAC2541, the SW51+ sounds just plain spooky with the HD650, which I've always shit on for having zero head stage.

    Compared to the balanced out of the Singxer SA-1, there's just no comparison. The SA-1 sounds fine, plenty of power on tap, but switching to single ended into the SW51 high-z input (with Hart cable) something truly holographic happens. I don't use these terms often as this hobby is so subjective and people can have varying impressions/perceptions of things, but this was one of those "aha!" moments for me. The bottlehead crack has always been a great pairing with the 650s, but it's not the most detailed tube amp out there, glossing over some of the details and blunting resolution in favor of overall tone. The SW51 takes that natural tube timbre/tonality, gives better resolution and throws the soundstage wide, which is a huge feat for the HD650. I guess this is what "scaling with better gear" means.

    Thanks to @HotRatSalad for the opportunity to buy this second (or third?) hand as prices have gone up on this amp. This thing has always been repped as performing beyond it's initial "friends" price, and it's still worth the asking price at current retail as it is just crazy great sounding. This pairing definitely goes in the special synergy category.

    Another pairing with this amp that I think deserves mention is the Meze 109 pro. I've got about 50 hours or so on the cans, but they already sound incredible. These headphones have great soundstage and good imaging to begin with and the SW51 magnifies that natural talent. The Shortest Way may not be the most slamming amp ever in the bass department (while still being excellent), but all the bass inherent in the 109 pro is still there, with the lower mids sounding just a tad more natural than through the SA-1, and softening the sky-high air frequencies just a bit, making it sound more natural in delivery. For those that own this amp, or these headphones, this is a pretty special pairing worthy of consideration.

    Edit: Impressions were with the Amperex/Mazda tubes. Playlist was Eric Johnson-A Via Musicom, Queensryche Empire (OG Japan release), Rush-MP, Counterparts, Hemispheres, Opeth-Ghost Reveries, Simon Phillips-Protocol 3 and 4, John Williams-ROTJ OST.

    Well done @ZampotechNA . I can't wait to hear further designs!
    PXL_20240102_222310594.jpg
     
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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2024
  14. HeyWaj10

    HeyWaj10 Almost "Made"

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    Curious question for the SW51+: specs state Dynamic range at load from 24 - 600 ohm, so would it be impractical or, worse, improper to potentially use LCD-X with the amp? Rated at 20 ohm, they are very close to the lower end of the spec'd range, but understand that it may still have a negative impact.

    Asking as I'd love to get something that provides the magic with the likes of HD6~~, but also still deliver the tube flavor and benefits with the LCD-X. The price is certainly right, just hoping I wouldn't be restricted from use with a low impedance planar.
     
  15. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

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    Perhaps a tube pre-amp would get you some tube sound and leave you with the ability to amp with something more suited to planars. SW51+ has been said to be solid state sounding, so it may not provide you with what you seek anyway. The Vali 3 with it's hybrid topology might be something to consider. I've read a lot of very good things about it.
     
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  16. Pancakes

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    I really enjoyed @rhythmdevils modded LCD-X with my SW51+ and sometimes run my Diana V2 off it. Impedance-wise it's not an issue, synergy-wise you may or may not like it.
     
  17. ZampotechNA

    ZampotechNA MOT: Zampotech NA Distributor

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    @HeyWaj10 So we're obviously biased here, but much to our surprise, there have been some planars, including a few modified planars, that sounded better than any of us expected on the SW51 given it's relatively low total power output. And one of us did hear a modded LCD-X on the SW51 and enjoyed the combo as well.

    With regards to the "functional" compatibility of the LCD-X with a SW51, the short answer is yes, this particular pairing is compatible, as long as you don't use marginally functional tubes.
     

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