Love that Bottlehead Crack!

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hibuckhobby

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Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« on: 6 Feb 2013, 12:35 am »
OK...I'm gonna gush a little.  I have been in the audio hobby for over 40 years and
seriously into headphones for about a year and a half.  I've tried ortho's and have
come to the conclusion I prefer dynamics.  I also tend to prefer tubes to solid state.
If you are a detail freak, ymmv, but for me it's tone, tone, tone.

I have heard the buzz for some time about the Bottlehead amps and how good the Crack
is with a high impedance phone.  I have to say...I am NOT disappointed!  I have other
highly regarded, far more expensive tube headphone amps, but there is something about
the bottlehead and the HD600's or 650's that is so far better than it ought to be at the
price point.  I don't listen to metal or much rap, but pretty much everything else.
Diana Krall singing "Little Girl Blue" is the best I've heard it...and "Santiago" by Acoustic
Alchemy pulls you into the soundstage.

I'm not a believer in $50 giant killers...but at the price point, the Crack and the Senns are good
enough that I'm thinking about selling my high priced stuff and getting lost in the music.
regards,
Hibuck....

medium jim

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #1 on: 6 Feb 2013, 12:44 am »
Hibuck:

I love my Bottlehead Foreplay II preamp that has pushed out a couple of more pricey pre's and is now in my main system.  I can totally understand why you would love the Crack for the headphones.  Doc B (Bottlehead Founder) is bringing true audiophile to those on a beer budget!

Jim

eclein

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #2 on: 6 Feb 2013, 10:59 am »
Guys link me up please......sounds like something I'd enjoy. Are they built already??
 Thanks :thumb:

hibuckhobby

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #3 on: 6 Feb 2013, 01:35 pm »
You can buy them as kits or can pay them to assemble them.  The kits are $279 plus shipping.
I'm not sure what it costs to have them built.  www.bottlehead.com
Hibuck....

Douger

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #4 on: 6 Feb 2013, 02:17 pm »
I just tried to find the price for assembly but they ask you to call (206-451-4275) to find out. Also read heavy testimonials on the way down to that number... They will advise price and estimated delivery time... Also read about the Speedball upgrade for the Crack. These folks are wonderful to deal with
and the sound quality is awesome!

eclein

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #5 on: 6 Feb 2013, 04:08 pm »
 :dance: Thanks guys!!!

lextek

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #6 on: 10 Feb 2013, 01:35 pm »
You will not be dissapointed with the Crack.  Get the Speedball upgrade.  Kicks it up another couple of notches.  My HD600s have never sounded better.

Noseyears

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #7 on: 12 Feb 2013, 10:06 pm »
You can buy them as kits or can pay them to assemble them.  The kits are $279 plus shipping.
I'm not sure what it costs to have them built.  www.bottlehead.com
Hibuck....

Add  $150 extra for the pre-built version. Crack and sennhs are meant for each other  8)

Rclark

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #8 on: 12 Feb 2013, 11:07 pm »
Huh... no kidding. Looks like an interesting piece at a nice price. Will this mate well with the "$27 wonder phone"? Is that high impedance enough?

and did you notice its upgrade? http://www.bottlehead.com/store.php/products/speedball-upgrade-for-crack-amplifier


These guys are very local, I'm gonna have to stop in one of these days. Bring my Ncores for fun.

medium jim

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #9 on: 13 Feb 2013, 03:43 am »
Huh... no kidding. Looks like an interesting piece at a nice price. Will this mate well with the "$27 wonder phone"? Is that high impedance enough?

and did you notice its upgrade? http://www.bottlehead.com/store.php/products/speedball-upgrade-for-crack-amplifier


These guys are very local, I'm gonna have to stop in one of these days. Bring my Ncores for fun.

Doc B and Queen Eileen are very down to earth and who knows, you might just come away with a new appreciation of tube gear.  Maybe you will be able to hear Doc's Nagra Reel to Reel setup that is simply sublime.   



Jim

jrebman

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #10 on: 13 Feb 2013, 04:40 am »
The Crack, like all bottlehead products plays well, and I mean WELL above their price points.  Yes, it's a kit, and the basic kits are always good, but when you intelligently and methodically go about upgrading a few key parts they can truly play with the best high-end commercial and custom stuff out there.  I've owned audio note, shindo, Fi, and others and my system now consists of as much bottlehead gear as is available.  I'll never go back, and I'm a really, really hard set of ears to please.  To me it's not a value if the sonics aren't there, but as they just happen to be, the value factor is off the charts.

I also need to say that most of the people who buy and successfully build these kits have no electronics background at all.  The manuals are by far the best in the business.  Not like some other company that will send you a circuit board, a bag of parts and a picture of the finished board.  If you're missing a part, or you ruin it during assembly, they'll send you a new one, free.

As to the Crack itself, I was able to hear the Sennheiser hd-800s on every headphone amp I could find at RMAF 2011, as I was considering the 800s but wanted to make sure they would work for my very particular ears.  Well, until I got to the Bottlehead table I wouldn't have thought the 800s worth the money.  What I heard with the Crack was completely game-changing, made the 800s an easy choice, and introduced me to a whole new level of headphone sonics.  The only other amp at the show that even sounded remotely good to my ears at the show was the ALO continental, but it just was not the same, and was also noticeably noiisy, wher the Crack (even with AC heaters) was silent.  This is a very easy and simple kit to build, is directly coupled between first and second stages and responds extremely well to a few upgrades, which folks on the forum go over in great detail.

If you live  close by, they often have friday afternoon listening sessions on the big system, but don't miss the smaller systems especially with the Blumenstein Orca speakers.  Guaranteed to amaze and enchant.

Seriously, the bulk of my system is all bottlehead gear, and all speakers here are blumenstein.  There's a real good reason for that -- not just that I love to build and tune these things, but that they really do deliver the goods.  The Crack is a great place to start, but the Quickie Preamp and the s.e.x. amp v2.1 are also insanely good for the money.

-- Jim

Rclark

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #11 on: 13 Feb 2013, 06:02 am »
Well that's a ringing endorsement. What's better for headphones you think? The upgraded Crack or the S.E.X? They aren't that far apart in price.


hibuckhobby

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #12 on: 13 Feb 2013, 01:36 pm »
The S.E.X. is better with low impedance phones and is more powerful,
so it plays well with orthodynamic  cans.  The OTL Crack is IMO better
with high impedance cans such as the Senns and Beyers.  There seems
to be a particular synergy with Sennheiser phones.
Hibuck....

jrebman

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #13 on: 13 Feb 2013, 02:13 pm »
Yes, to some extent it will depend on the impedance of your cans -- but some people have liked the Crack with their low impedance cans too, and still others simply like the sound of the s.e.x. 2.1 -- which is a totally different animal soundwise from the 2.0.  If you're closebhy, the best thing to do is to just make an appointment and go over with your cans and listen to both.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but the s.e.x. 2.1 can be setup as a balanced amp with just a few parts and changing the headphone jack.  I've not finished my s.e.x. 2.1, so I can't comment on it's sound with the hd-800s, but I did hear one at RMAF with my Shure SE 425 IEMs and it sounded very nice with them.  And as hibuck says, the s.e.x. is very nice with the orthos and even the AKG K1000s.

Good folks over there at BH and the forum there is the best one I've ever been on -- friendly, helpful and encouraging, not to mention full of a lot of very smart and creative folks.  The one thing about the forum that can be a bit misleading is that most people post there looking for help, and that can skew the view a bit and make some people think these kits are nothing but trouble, but the fact is that most people are only posting for help when things go wrong, and the vast majority of BH owners never have to post there unless they are posting pictures, asking questions about upgrades, or simply singing the praises of BH gear and how fun and addicting the kit building is.

-- Jim

Rclark

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #14 on: 13 Feb 2013, 10:53 pm »
Ok, I'm a total headphone noob. I had a pair of Sennheiser 212Pro's running on an deluxe Audigy Soundcard that had a headphone preamp built in with volume knob. That's the extent of my experience.

I do eventually want to get into phones, just for that something different, and to also be able to rock out at night.

What do low or high impedance phones bring to the table? I'm assuming they're both good?

underdawg

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #15 on: 14 Feb 2013, 12:06 am »
I am considering giving their battery operated preamp a try, anyone had experience with it?

jrebman

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #16 on: 14 Feb 2013, 12:32 am »
Randy,

You can't really generalize based on impedance alone -- it's more about individual cans, though impedance can play a part.  To answer your question even remotely completely would take a book. :-)  They do have a fairly good selection of different headphones at BHQ, but they also from time to time host local get togethers for head-fi enthusiasts, in which people bring all kinds of stuff -- so much so that it is nearly impossible to hear everything at eevery gathering.  If you want to get into headphones, this is really the best way to go -- to hear lots of different headphones on a variety of amps -- the range of sound signatures can be very wide and until you try a few differentpairings, you'll never know what floats your boat.  Or you can buy a bunch of stuff, find you don't like it, sell it and try again -- very expensive and you may never find exactly what you want or know if there's something else out there that just does it for you.

Underdog, strongly suggest you check out the bottlehead forum -- more than enough impressions there, as well as ideas for modification, including how to modify the Quickie for headphone use.  Though it is said to be only so-so as a headphone amp, but easily competes with preamps 20+ times it's cost as a preamp.  Not my words, those of several other folks who have done side-by-side comparisons.  Now they have a brand new 1.1 version that is even simpler, has fewer parts and is said to sound at least as good.  As usual, the bottlehead forum and web page is the best place to et a sense of what the products are like.  After all, I'm just one person with my particular tasts in audio and music and one who happens to love a good SET amp and single driver speakers (when they're right, which is really, really hard to do to my satisfaction), and who can't stand things like planar speakers, multi-ways, big SS amps, Grado headphones, etc. -- their sound signatures simply do not work for me, not that they are bad or flawed in anyway.  I've had all such things over the 40+ years I've been into audio and have finally figured out what, and what compromises fit me and my listening space and musical tastes.

HTH,

Jim

underdawg

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Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #17 on: 14 Feb 2013, 12:47 am »
Thanks I will try their forum direct, I just prefer this forum to most others.

Rclark

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #18 on: 14 Feb 2013, 12:59 am »
There you go making it waay too complicated, the typical audiophile answer of there is no answer, first attend a local palm reading, all that stuff.  :thumb:

How about just list a few headphones that might match well with either amp and I can take it from there? If I could replicate the sound of my planar speakers powered by big SS amps I'd be in heaven  :green: :lol:

medium jim

Re: Love that Bottlehead Crack!
« Reply #19 on: 14 Feb 2013, 01:39 am »
There you go making it waay too complicated, the typical audiophile answer of there is no answer, first attend a local palm reading, all that stuff.  :thumb:

How about just list a few headphones that might match well with either amp and I can take it from there? If I could replicate the sound of my planar speakers powered by big SS amps I'd be in heaven  :green: :lol:

How about you taking your favorite phones on a boat trip out to the island that Bottlehead is headquartered and report back to us which one sounds best for you and your headphones. 

Come visit Bottleheadquarters

9415 Coppertop Loop NE Suite 101

Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

best to call ahead so we can have our listening rooms warmed up for you 206-451-4275

Heck, they have a cool Headphone room with several of the top Headphones:



Jim