Bakoon AMP-13R / Enleum AMP-23R Discussion

no contest…bakoon is better

Did you ever get a chance to compare the Bakoon 13R to the Soloist 3xp?

Just got the Bakoon 13R, currently running it from the Composer 3xp DAC for now, and I’m super happy with how my beloved HE6’s and ES-R10 sounds from it.

I’m looking for a DAC that stacks nicely on top of the Bakoon, 23x23cm (9x9") BLACK, preferably single-ended (As I like the idea of using all the circuits I’ve paid for) and maybe running up to 3V out from RCA (I couldn’t find what the input sensitivity is on the Bakoon)

Compared to Soloist 3xp, the bakoon have the same musical tubey sound, but the bakoon does handle subtle double sub-bass notes better, and creates more layers in the imaging, on lower volume the bakoon makes my HE6 sound like the music is coming from my speakers.


Finding a matching dac may be challenging but there are a couple bakoon dacs out there. I saw a couple on us audio mart recently.

I pair mine with holo spring 3 kte and really love this combo


the 13r is a remarkable product…to be able to produce the type of power and control it does in its remarkable form factor really amazes me…


How much input Voltage can the Bakoon 13r handle? Is 3V safe? Because I’m maxing the volume on low-volume songs, with my Ares 2 with 2.2v output to RCA.

(I’m running Oratory EQ with my HE6)

My Holo Spring 3 with Preamp outputs 5.8V and i have no problems. I use low gain to give me more flexibility with the higher input voltage.

edit: i also control volume from the preamp of the Spring 3 DAC. I leave Bakoon at 20 on low gain, and am hovering 60-80 (maybe a little higher) on the preamp volume on the DAC, depending on the headphone


no problem, I use it with my chord dave at 3v

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I’ve posted full measurements of the 23R here for those interested: Enleum AMP-23R Measurements - GoldenSound

One interesting thing to note is that if you have a 23R, it might be worth turning down your DAC output level via DSP volume control by about 8-10dB as this provides an objective (and in my opinion worthwhile subjective) improvement.

It seems that the Enleum starts degrading in performance when the input signal goes above about 0.3V
Here’s IMD vs input level for example:


For those wondering, this is kinda normal for amps to show something like this (particularly discrete designs without significant levels of feedback). That’s because assuming the volume/gain remains the same, as the input level increases, so does the output, the amp is working harder and eventually performance takes a hit.

But what I noticed was that on the enleum, this curve remained exactly the same regardless of whether I had the pot maxed, or way down low. Meaning it was not being caused by the resulting output level on the amp, and was instead related to the input level.

Looking into it a bit further, here’s a standard 2V line level into the enleum, with the pot set to provide a 700mV output:


And now here’s the amp with input volume reduced to 0.3V, and pot increased to provide the same 700mV:


Not only is harmonic distortion DRASTICALLY reduced, but we also now have what many would say is a much nicer harmonic structure.
A ‘triode like’ 2nd order dominant structure with decreasing 3rd/4th order harmonics.
Rather than the large amounts of 3rd order harmonics we saw initially.


I have never noticed anything of the sort with my 13r fwiiw

In both cases though that may be within the masking window depending on volume, would it not? I’m thinking the exception would be with 3rd.


If you believe what Nelson Pass has written in various places, he’s one of the few amp designers who discusses his views on harmonic distortion openly, the existence of it and it’s phase relative to the primary still matter.

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Honestly I’m not too sure as there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to the threshold of audibility for this.

A lot of the info I’ve seen in regards to audibility of harmonic distortion and under what circumstances seems to be either specific to one test scenario/setup or inconclusive (either its own result being inconclusive or its result differing from other resources).
The only thing that seems to be universally agreed is that 2nd order harmonics by themselves are the least audible compared to other harmonics.

Beyond that, there’s anecdotal feedback from manufacturers in various places but usually not backed up by anything solid and of course with a heavy dose of marketing involved in many places.

If you have any recommendations for good studies on the topic though I’d be very interested to read them, it’s quite surprising how inconclusive this area is considering how ‘basic’ it is.


This is the paper I’m currently reading on distortion and perception thresholds - might be your kind of thing, although I haven’t had time to fully go through it yet.

When we did our SINAD piece, this was at least somewhat indicative of where the boundaries of audibility may fall with respect to order and volume. Anything within the window wasn’t audible - or at least the samples we tried.

That’s why I’m wondering if maybe 3rd would be audible in the first case but not in the second case.


The “Klippel Listening Test” is not exactly the comparison/evaluation you’re talking about, but it is an interesting way to see to what level one can audibly detect distortion in their own system.

It’s often surprising to people who’ve never tried it before.

Especially when they find that while they think they can hear stuff down around even -90 dB (never mind the SINAD-IS-ALL types that think anything less than 120 dB is useless), and suddenly find out they can’t reliably do it at -60 dB …

Anyway, just posting it for fun/illustration.


This is a pretty interesting test. And it’s also interesting because I’ve found that on some playback chains it’s much harder to get good results than others.

On a good chain I can go as low as the test does but the bell curve is quite surprising.

Another interesting one to try is the tone deafness test. The Music Lab
This is testing for something that of course isn’t really an issue you’ll experience with an audio playback chain but interesting nonetheless.


What “good chains” do you use to get the best test results?

I personally achieved that result using MScaler → Holo May → Goldpoint SA2X → Benchmark AHB2 → Hifiman Susvara

It would stand to reason that the lowest distortion chain might be the best, but then there could also be a great deal of subjectivity to it ironically.
It can be easier to detect an issue on a chain you’re very familiar with. Rather than on an unfamiliar chain even if it’s better.

So something like a Weiss DAC502 → Singxer SA-1 → DCA Stealth MIGHT be an ideal chain for example as all components are at the bleeding edge of distortion performance in their respective categories, but then again, this test only goes down to -69dB, and the majority of devices on the market will exceed that performance regardless.

So the fact that despite that I found it easier to get good results on some chains rather than others is kinda an interesting aspect in and of itself. If the devices all have distortion well below what the test is doing, why does it matter what chain is used?
It’d be interesting to know what other aspects are making the distortion in the test easier/harder to hear



I’ve seen a similar thing with different replay chains; with the way the results skew not necessarily lining up with the measured technical performance of the gear in question.

It was, for example, quite amusing seeing better results from an iPhone feeding basic (wired, lightning) Apple EarPods, than a ~120dB SINAD DAC/amp pairing feeding $4,000 low-distortion planar cans.

Here’s a quick go with the built-in headphone output of the new MacBook Pro feeding ER-4XR*:

The music-based version of this test is another matter … both in terms of repeatable results and how it skews relative to the evaluation chain.

*The watermark is just there to make it harder for people to claim the results as their own; I’ve come across too many self-proclaimed “trained listeners” that can’t do this past -39dB.


I’m doing a bit of further testing on the 23R at the moment and wanted to share this in case it might save someone’s headphones:

If you have a 23R (or possibly 13R), only ever adjust the volume control SLOWLY!!

The 23R has an issue where it will have a DC offset that increases when you adjust volume, and slowly resets to 0. The faster you adjust it, the more DC you’ll get.
This means that if you have it up high for example, and then suddenly turn the volume to minimum, you might kill your headphones.

Turning quickly from 12 o clock to minimum I got upto 0.6V DC offset. And when turning from 0 to max or vice versa I got up to almost 1.4V DC offset. Which takes several seconds to go back down.
This could potentially damage headphones. So if you have this amp, please be a little careful and don’t adjust the volume too quickly.