ampsandsound improvement on an already Awesome headphone amp

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joessportster

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My History:
I am 49 years old and have been an audio enthusiast since I was 10 years old, when I was old enough
and joined the military for my first real job, my first purchase was a Sansui stereo, I loved that thing
till it died, Once i Hit Germany my eyes were opened to a whole new level of audio.  I left Germany with onkyo m504, and P-308
running infinity sm150 much to my neighbors chagrin.........fast forward to 2004 and an audition of a friends tubes and
Klipsch K-Horns. and audio took a turn for me...........I immediately went home from that audition and sold every piece of
gear I owned and proceeded to build several Horn SET High efficiency bi and tri amp systems.
That journey led me through dozens of amps from the likes of Joule Electra Grand Marquis, Joule Electra Stargates, Welborne
Labs drd45, Laurel, and Moon Dog 2A3, Coincident Frankenstein, Deja Vu 45 PP monos. Transcendent SEOTL, Sun Audio 2A3 Mono's,
Korneff 45, Canary Ca-339
and speakers like Edgar Titan, Oris orphean, Klipsch K-Horns, coincident victory, Horn shoppe Horns, avantgarde duo,
Klipsch Lascala, Belle, Cornwall, Hersey,  Zu Audio Definition Pro, Talon Khorus, Talon parigrin,Pro-ac, SAS
and the list goes on and on and on.................
As often happens life changes and I was forced to move to Headphones and so began my hunt for a headphone setup
that rivaled some of my previous systems

I auditioned the initial version of ampsandsound SE84 and was so impressed with it that I bought it

Below is my initial Review of the SE-84:

("First i want to say you wont find better customer service, Justin actually cares about his product and his customers.
He just wants to build quality products that keep his customers happy
 
The amp is built like a tank, when you open the considerable packing and finally do get to handle the amp it is immediately
obvious how well built this amp is, Very solid.
Aesthetics are nice as well, No gold this and silver that to increase the price, Just very nice attention to detail
and quality craftsmanship, with quality components for a handsome, solid small
foot print amp, that would look great on your desk or in your rack
 
I don't typically get into the review process, I don't know the terms used. I know what sounds good with over 25 years in the hobby,
I just never got into all the hype, and lingo. I love music !!!!!!!
 
Sound: If your a fan of single ended amps (and I am)  then you will like what this amp has to offer,
It gives you all the good attributes  without the syrupy warmness. The SE-84 still leans a bit warm as tubes should but its not
over done. Detail retrieval is as good as it gets IMHO, I am loving my music collection all over again.
The balance between lows mids and highs Is very good with no one thing sticking out above the rest. I often see reviews where
one singles out treble etc... as bright, or harsh and so on,  Upon listening to this amp my first
thoughts were WOW this thing is musical, toes tapping, air guitar strumming, head bobbing.............Looking like a 48 year old fool,
I don't care I was in the zone. With more time I began to notice the finer points. I Heard new details in old favorites,
the cymbals just seemed to shimmer through decay (no sizzle), note would hang in the air longer, voices were more life like with
wonderful breadth, Bass was deep and defined with decent impact.
 
This amp has found a permanent home in my headphone rig, and with a quality build I feel I could pass it down to my son.
Hopefully a long time from now")
 
since that purchase I have listened nearly every day. My affection for the amp grew
to the point I honestly felt like it would be my end game amp for my headphone setup.  I received an email
from Justin describing his idea of how he planned to improve on the amps performance. I responded I would be
more than happy to audition the amp but that I truly felt he had already reached the pinnacle of
sound quality with the initial offering. I told Justin I found it hard to believe he could actually improve
upon the amps sound and therefore doubted I would be interested in switching amps. He responded "Just give it
a listen, and if you like it or not I want your impressions" 
 
Initial Impressions ampsandsound se84 special edition:
First there is an obvious improvement in extension both top and bottom, Running test tones
reveals I can clearly hear 5hz improvement for a solid 15hz audible and I can feel a 10 hz rumble
on the other end of the scale with tones I gained 1Khz I now have audible extension up to 16khz
 
What does this mean for the overall performance of the ampsandsound se84 special edition: 
First it means Improved separation and air
which tends to make the presentation feel cleaner, it improves on the sense of separation by adding more air
around the individual instruments making it easier to pinpoint where the individual instruments reside within the stage

The added extension also adds to the detail retrieval, things that were previously obscured are now evident

The added bass tends to add weight to the overall presentation, impact was improved as well.
The ampsandsound se84 special edition as its early version is still DEAD SILENT with HiFiMan HE500 hooked up, no music playing and volume at max
I hear nothing except a black silent background, experimenting with cheap earbuds and IEM have proven it is still VERY quiet
 
Build Impressions:
The ampsandsound se84 special edition feels very solid built, with first class construction, and top quality components.
It is obvious this is a build of passion not just profit. as one could certainly skimp to save a few bucks
on the build while still charging the same price for less quality

I asked Justin to Hi-Lite some of the details of the ampsandsound se84 special edition, and below is a quote from him.

("Tube sockets are from Belton... the really high quality sockets... should never come lose. Molded in place instead of ceramic.
Coupling caps are sprague orange drops Polypropylene which are know to be super reliable and sound great.
Resistors are 1%.
Power transformer is Hammond and conservatively spec'd.
Choke is large at 1.75H and sourced from Chicago magnetics.
Outputs have received the largest upgrade. 5K with 40%  Ultra Linear tap to 8 ohms,
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 90 kHz, Maximum DC Bias Current: 90 mA, Primary DC Resistance: 370 ohms, Primary Inductance: 40 H.
I don't have the freq response in front of me but was something like 12hz-37kz @ -1db")
I don't personally know of any other tube amp that boasts 3 watts per channel into speakers and or headphones with this
build quality and sound quality for anywhere near this price
If you use Headphones especially the Audeze, HifiMan Ortho Dynamics, Sennheiser HdXXX, Grado you owe it to yourself to give
the ampsandsound se84 special edition a listen.
After approx. 40 hours listening on the ampsandsound se84 special edition it has only gotten better, Looks like I am buying another amp.

joessportster

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Re: ampsandsound improvement on an already Awesome headphone amp
« Reply #1 on: 10 Jun 2014, 02:31 am »



JohnR

Re: ampsandsound improvement on an already Awesome headphone amp
« Reply #2 on: 10 Jun 2014, 11:38 am »
What are the two different amps in the photo?

joessportster

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Re: ampsandsound improvement on an already Awesome headphone amp
« Reply #3 on: 10 Jun 2014, 09:15 pm »
The smaller amp is the original ampsandsound se84,  the larger is the se84 special edition, Justin switched to hammond iron and in the interest of better iron made the chassis bigger...........................the new standard version (on his website ampsandsound.com) is silver top plate with the iron hiding under the chassis  Beautiful amp, and is reported to be very much like the special edition except a tad better extension on the top :thumb: