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Old 25th March 2012, 07:23 PM   #121
exa065 is offline exa065  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wirewiggler View Post
Finished this up last night letting it burn all night.

Bill
Great design, very impressive!
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Old 25th March 2012, 08:35 PM   #122
sek is offline sek  Germany
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Hi Bill,

congratulations on the build. That's a nice enclosure idea, simple, yet sturdy, shielding and stylisch.

On another note, I see you use the same audio interface as I did in my tests. Did you have a chance to try the combination of M-Audio FTP and SE-SE? I'd be interested in your impression.

Cheers,
Sebastian.
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Old 25th March 2012, 09:22 PM   #123
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Default First impressions...

I have listened to The Wire extensively for about two weeks, and compared it to other headphone amplifiers, among which Dispre-2 (JFET version), Beta22 (balanced and single-ended) from AMB labs , Hypa-300SE from Customworks, as well as commercial products like SPL Auditor, and Avenson headamp.

After making some measurements to check if the amp was working as intended (dc offset, stability, distortion), I sat down wearing my pair of HD-600 and HD-650 for a first long series of listening sessions.
The second listening session was on a speaker system, to assess the performance as a preamplifier. While it is a modest system, I was still able to pick the differences, although with less clarity than through headphones.

Here are my impressions so far on how it sounds:

The Wire is a very capable amplifier indeed. Comparing it to the source has been a very difficult exercise as the difference was very hard to discern in quick A/B-ing. It was only after several minutes of listening that I was able to notice quite accurately its own character.
The Wire is a very honest amplifier overall: neutral, precise, and matter-of-fact. The drive ability and control over the headphones are excellent, and dynamics, which never show a sign of compression, are also very good. Bass in particular is tight and resolute. My concern is on the upper registers, where a slight midrange congestion and treble coarseness can be noted. In direct comparison to the source and to its discrete competitors, this leads to a slight "mechanical" feel to the reproduction, and a lack of fluidity, and air. The wire also demonstrates a little forward presentation, and I could experience a sort of "masking effect" of the instruments and voices over the very fine spatial cues and reverberation sounds of the venue. The main consequence was a bit flatter soundstage than usual.

In comparison, the Dispre-2 JFET created by PMA is as detailed and precise, but smoother, more vivid, and more subtle. Dimensionality is better portrayed as well. But in compensation the Dispre2 doesn't have the same authority in the lower register, making it sound a bit more airy and less solid than the Wire.

Comparing the Wire to the Beta22 was interesting, as they have a very similar character, trending towards strength and boldness rather than suppleness and delicacy. The wire is a bit more energetic in the treble, which I think is truer to the source since the Beta22 has a tendency to sound a bit warm and soft in this particular area. But the Beta22 takes the lead on other departments; it has better soundstage, separation, smoothness, and the ability to "disappear" - meaning you don't have the feeling to listen to an amplifier anymore.

Comparison with the Hypa-300SE yielded similar findings: the fluidity, clarity, and life-like character of the discrete preamplifier won over the slightly more rigorous but also more constricted reproduction of the Wire.

Overall, the difference is subtle and only noticed on the long-run. This difference, if I had to sum up, is the ability to hear deeper in the recording.
It is surprising that I have not found this quality to be directly related to neutrality; I would say that the Wire is probably the most neutral (in terms of subjective frequency balance) compared to the Beta22 (warmer), the Dispre2 (cooler), or the Hypa-300SE (livelier), but those latter, despite their slight deviation from neutrality, do provide to various degrees this inner resolution I am looking for.

Last edited by CaféNoir; 25th March 2012 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 25th March 2012, 10:19 PM   #124
IanAS is offline IanAS  England
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Which "The Wire"? Single or Balanced?
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Old 26th March 2012, 12:15 AM   #125
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Sek,
Thanks, I have not played with the M-audio much yet (new), In fact one of the one of the reasons I built the wire is Owen documented it so well when I start making test I can compare then to his results to quantify if they are correct and I am measuring properly. I would like to see a thread on measurement procedures. I would be curious on your experiences and results with the M-audio. I am very pleased with the playback through the wire I have been burning it for most of a day when I walk by it and take a listen it is hard to break away. Cafe interesting review I have a 4 channel Beta 22 I am close to finishing looking forward to side by side comparison.

Thanks
Bill
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Old 26th March 2012, 05:02 AM   #126
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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with your setup i'm afraid although it will be an interesting exercise for you, there will be no way for you to know if you are correct as the M-Audio has distortion, crosstalk, noise, every single spec is worse than the wire, so you will just be measuring your audio card
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Old 26th March 2012, 11:23 AM   #127
sek is offline sek  Germany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wirewiggler View Post
when I start making test I can compare then to his results to quantify if they are correct and I am measuring properly
I'm afraid qusp is right, the SE-SE measures better than the FTP.

Quote:
I would be curious on your experiences and results with the M-audio.
Originally I purchased it for measurement and recording purposes, too. That's what I've used it for, but only a couple of times since. Its microphone preamps are alright, but nothing special. The gain pots are a serious pain, but for line level applications that doesn't interfere.

I modified mine for DC coupled operation and cleaned the signal path a little. This way it makes for an acceptable two balanced in, two balanced out interface that supports 24/96 without the need for special drivers.

Opamps and power supply are okay for a bus powered device, but are not up to the standars of THE WIRE. The headroom is limited by the 5V supply voltage (although the device has additional internal voltage regulators), thus it's output drive capability is not quite sufficient for the SE-SE (with it's preset gain of one), but it'll work.

That being said, the initial impressions with both the SE-SE and the BAL-BAL were very good via the FTP. It's of course way better than any internal line output in a (laptop) computer. A couple of these impressions I described in one of my posts above.

Cheers,
Sebastian.

Last edited by sek; 26th March 2012 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 26th March 2012, 11:30 AM   #128
sek is offline sek  Germany
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Hi CaféNoir,

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaféNoir View Post
I have listened to The Wire extensively for about two weeks, and compared it to other headphone amplifiers, among which [...] commercial products like SPL Auditor
Can you please add your impressions with the Auditor and how THE WIRE compares?

Additionally, it really matters which one you used and how you powered it.

Thanks,
Sebastian.
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Old 26th March 2012, 12:37 PM   #129
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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yeah sorry i didnt mean to sound flippant, Owen was bouncing off the AP's noise floor with the SE-SE and although the M-Audio gear is OK for some measurements, this isnt one of those occasions. ive had M-Audio gear in the past, I suppose actually it was the purchase of a Delta-66 that was my entry into the pursuit of high quality audio, i bought it to make some tunes in Logic with, along with some Alesis M1 active monitors. It blew me away at the time and it served its purpose pretty well, but it was swept aside fairly quickly due to its mic-pres being of fairly poor quality and i bought an RME Fireface 400 which dealt a swift blow to the head in all aspects. the drivers were so much better than the M-Audio and the sound was a definite step up too.

so while you can probably use it for speaker measurement, or some power amps (not the wire as both of them will beat the M-Audio too, even at full power) to get any kind of meaningful result measuring these type of amps you need some VERY high end kit and generally some sort of way to amplify the distortion in a controlled manner that you know by what factor its amplified; that way you can get above the limits in a known way so you can then apply the math to divide/factor out what the real performance is. the wire by itself will outperform the highest state of the art performance commercial ADC chips on the planet like the ES9102 and ARDA; the only way something like the AP will get a line on it is by using a very high performance analogue input preamp

Last edited by qusp; 26th March 2012 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 26th March 2012, 02:23 PM   #130
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Guys thanks,
I knew the performance would be sub par going in and planned using it as a quick check to see if my DUT was operating close to it stated performance. The wire gives me me a base line, though it appears I could have just looped a wire (wonder of all wonder) on the unit and got the same results. I have a ultra low THD sine oscillator based on the AN67 to build up for serious testing, and plan a ADC after that but until then M-audio will have to do. I have to admit I was greatly disappointed in its performance but I picked it up on ebay cheap so no great loss.

Thanks
Bill
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