Bakoon AMP-13R

for a while - can be minutes, hours, or days :rofl:

Muhahahahaha! :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

Been a while since anyonr posted here. Anyone had hands on with one of these? I seem to hear good things about it for sus specificaly but also hd800s and even zmf too. Anyonr that has had one, is noise floor and issue here? Cause I’ve even seen reviews running iems off of it and honestly I’m just confused :+1:

I love mine, incredibly compact with a nice remote…drives anything and is terrific with the susvara and the abyss TC…detailed…tight bass and wide soundstage…

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Mind if I ask how it does with higher sensitivity stuff? I have an amp that I suspect will have far better synergy with them than the 13r, but I’m currious if you get hiss with any of the focal stuff like clears or utopia if you have them

I can only speak to the susvara and abyss TC…they do have a low gain option which I havent used so it might well be a good pairing with higher efficiency HP’s

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Fair enough. Ty for the impressions thus far as well.

For those who are curious about the headphone out on this amp, it seems you can manually change a setting that empowers the headphone out with the full 25 watts per channel of the speaker terminals, hence the appeal to Susvara owners. I might see if I can get hold of one to test out with the Susvara alongside the GS-X Mini and the Burson Soloist 3XP to see if it produces better performance (to my ears).

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you are correct, the hi-gain setting provides the 25watts and yes it is far superior to the mini or burson…

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I hope to try this some day soon.

This amp seems to have a lot of praise from everyone who has tried it

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Same, it seems to be an amp that a lot of people like. :slight_smile:

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Received a loaner from headphones.com today of the Bakoon Amp-13R to try out with my headphones and also with speakers.

With Susvara as the main pairing, I wrote this as my initial 15 minutes impression vs my current Audiolab Integrated Amp I am using now:

Bakoon and Audiolab’s general tonal balance is quite similar, but Bakoon pulls out more resolution and depth out of nowhere. the treble is also sweeter, which is saying a lot because i think the audiolab is pretty sweet as is compared to other headphone amps ive tried.

Bakoon somehow is very resolving, and ultra smooth at the same time. yet brings out this interesting tactile sound to even the lightest cymbal hits. (this is based on listening to Bill Laurance and Go Go Penguin thus far)

I also tried listening to this with the Sennheiser HD600 and Hidition Viento CIEMs. My impressions with both are fantastic. Very smooth and highly resolving sound. Very natural, and effortless presentation that is spacious and detailed.

I also ran some squiggle magic to see if there was any Output Impedance changes, and there were none on both the HD600 (which can change with high impedance amps) and with the Viento CIEM which can change with small impedance changes. So that tells me this amp has very low impedance in the 1 ohm range if not less. Alan (Netforce) found the impedane to be 0.4 Ohms through reading a review online that quoted the manufacturer.

I also ran a line level converter (car stereo thingie majiggy) to run speaker output to my powered monitors. I had to turn the gain down on the converter to almost 0 to reduce noise, but it sounds really solid with my IK Monitors.

The Bakoon Amp-13R has some little quirks which others like @driftingbunnies has mentioned. The power button/volume knob on the unit itself is interesting. Its much easier to control with a remote.

Changing from low gain to high gain doesnt always set for me. Maybe I’m doing my combinations wrong, but it doesn’t always set, even though I think it does. Eventually Ill get it switched over.

Changing the volume does have a short mute-relay click each time you change it. There’s 50 steps, so that’s a lot of clicking. It does remember your volume level for each gain setting and input, which is really nice, but it does go through the volume clicking regime to get there.

Despite the little quirks, my initial reaction to this amp are really good. Sound-wise, this is fantastic.

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This set of impressions will take a look at my week-long experience with the $6000 Bakoon AMP-13R and how it fares with a variety of gear, most notably the Hifiman Susvara. This speaker amp with headphone output became a very hyped and sought after amp pairing for the Susvara and other high end planars after stellar reviews by 6Moons and Hifi Knights, among others, and with my more recent purchase of the Hifiman Susvara, I got curious and wanted to find out myself.

Lucky for me, my friends over at Headphones.com recently became retailers of Bakoon gear and offered me up a chance to demo this amplifier. These things usually never end well for my wallet, but it was worth checking out what many deem the best planar pairing is.

Bakoon International is a global extension of the original Bakoon company from Japan. The Korean-based Bakoon International shares resources and development with its Japanese counterparts, but develop their own unique designs and gears that are sold through a global marketplace, whereas the normal Bakoon gear is more or less found only in the local Japanese market.

The AMP-13R is a 25 Watt speaker amplifier that is the next generation of the 11R and 12R before it. This current model changes the design completely, while still retains a very small form factor and a very unique visual presentation. The amplifier features 2 RCA inputs as well as the Bakoon SATRI-LINK BNC inputs for pairing with their DACs. The back of the amp also features a unique looking set of speaker terminals that looks quite exotic at first, but behave normally as long as you use banana plugs or spade connectors. I am not sure if banana pins or bare speaker wire will work with these terminals.

The amplifier is a sleek all-metal chassis that is very small and thin. Its only 230mm square, or about 9 inches square. This is approximately the same size as a Chord Hugo TT or MScaler, or an RME ADI-2 DAC that is twice as deep.

The first thing many will notice is the “legs” of this unit. Instead of traditional leg posts, or rubber feet, Bakoon uses what looks like random sizes and placements of gears on the bottom of the amp. This makes it look very much like an art piece as well as a functional amplifier. In actuality, these gears are actually metal extensions of the power transformer and various heat sinks to dissipate the heat in such a small form factor. It’s a very clever design and one that looks great as well.

The Bakoon AMP-13R is a 25 Watt speaker amp, but it also doubles as a headphone amplifier, and from what I have gathered, the headphone output is a direct link to the speaker amplifier without any compromises. There are two gain levels available through some combinations of volume knob presses and turns before turning on the amplifier. There’s approximately a 15 decibel gain between low and high gain modes, and I verified this through my own set of test tone measurements.

In my usage, I primarily stuck to low gain, as I did not need to go further with my headphones or speakers. High gain is available though, and some users have said they like the results with the hard to drive Susvara with it, but I have lower listening volumes and low gain suffices for me.

Sound Impressions

For my listening tests, I paired the 13R with the Chord Qutest using 2V output, though I also had used 3V as well, but found 2V worked fine, and would rather let the amp doing the amping. I used the Hifiman Susvara as my primary listening medium, but also spent a good amount of time with the Sennheiser HD600 and a few In-Ear Monitors like the Hidition Viento and the Kiwi Ears Orchestra.

For speaker listening, I only tried this with a pair of IK Micro Monitors. These are powered speakers and since the Bakoon AMP-13R does not have a preamp or line-out terminal, I had to get a bit crafty and used a speaker to RCA line-level converter and attenuator typically used for car stereos. With this method, and the attenuation brought down to just about 15%, I was able to get noise-free output to my powered monitors.

In all cases, the Bakoon AMP-13R presents a very, very robust and refined sound that I would classify as slightly warm, smooth, and highly detailed. It has a wonderful combination of a typical Class A amplifier warmth, the smoothness of a quality tube amplifier, and the incisiveness and resolution of a transparent amp. I am quite happy with the results on this thing.

I spent a lot of time comparing this AMP-13R with my current daily driver amplifier, the Audiolab 6000A Play. This British-designed amp has a very neutral and open-soundstage presentation that I found to extend well in both subbass regions and in the upper octaves, though still coming off with a sweet and musical presentation. I love it for its price point and solid playback capabilities with my headphones and speakers.

The Bakoon AMP-13R takes it to another level, while retaining many of the same good qualities. Sometimes amplifiers that have a warm and smoothed over presentation can come across as either very forward, or too pronounced in the low end, or perhaps losing some of the micro-details. The 13R does not do this at all.

In various tracks from Bill Laurance’s Live at Ronnie Scott’s, I found the presentation to sound open, airy, yet warm and relaxing. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a set of headphones; this pairing with the Susvara and Qutest. While the general tonal balance between the Audiolab and Bakoon weren’t that much different, there was just a little more warmth on the low end, more likely the mid-bass region on the Bakoon, and the treble takes sweet to a whole new level. The Bakoon makes the Audiolab sound grainy.

This grain is more noticable when I changed tracks to Aoife O’Donovan tracks, whether its her solo stuff or with her bluegrass band Crooked Still. Bakoon managed to add a very nice refinement to everything played back, that made even the highest string notes or vocal peaks, sound well-controlled and mannered.

One area I did find the Susvara hitting harder, and bigger with my Audiolab 6000A amp was in the deepest subbass parts of dance music and stand-up bass notes in jazz music. Playing both amps at the same level-matched volume levels using calibrated microphones, I was able to A-B several tracks, and this probably the one area I thought the 6000A hit bigger in. That said though, bass overall, was still deep, still impactful and much more controlled with the AMP-13R. In fact, the extra warmth in the presentation made everything just a bit more engaging and intimate, while still having incredible instrument separation and an open sound in general.

I don’t find this amplifier closed-in or small by any means. It pairs very well with the Sennheiser HD600 by giving it the added warmth it needs, the more controlled treble to tame it down a tad, and a better sense of stage width and depth. These are all things I found the 6000A did to the HD600 as well, but the extra low-end presence really takes the HD600 to another level. Maybe it does scale to infinity.

Throwing in IEMs onto a 25 Watt speaker amp was something I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I was a bit nervous in fact, given that the HD600 was getting loud at under 10 on the volume scale (of 50) on low gain. But surprisingly, my Viento did not have a single shred of noise floor issues. It was dead silent. Almost too silent. This was a big surprise. I didn’t have a lot of volume play though, as getting it to about 5 or 6 was already getting close to my max of my comfort zone with IEMs, though I am a quieter listener than some others.

I did not try to lower the output voltage of the Chord Qutest down to 1V, but its something I’d consider doing if I end up buying this amp in the future.

Some Quirks

There are a few little quirks with the Bakoon AMP-13R I’d like to mention and address before I end this review.

First off, there is no power button in the rear, and only a standby function via the volume knob or by remote. Not all amps have this extra button, but many do, so some may wonder about this. The standby function also blinks a small yellow LED too, so that can be annoying perhaps if you do not unplug the Bakoon.

The volume knob uses a stepped mute relay that makes an audible click each time the volume dial moves up 1 step. This can be heard with music on as well. With my IEMs, there is a digital-click sound that is transmitted through the IEM. It’s faintly sounding on my HD600 and not heard on the Susvara or my speakers.

While this amp works with all sorts of gear, it may not be the best for super sensitive stuff like IEMs. It works though, you just won’t have a lot of volume play unless you can lower your output volume from your DAC/Source.

It does get a bit warm. Given it’s small size and lack of vents, and all metal design, this is not a huge surprise, but it does get as warm as a typical Class AB amp, or the chassis or a tube amp. It’s pretty much the same temperature as my Linear Power Supply.

Finally, if you don’t like LED dots, well, this has a lot of them, as it tells you what input you’re using as well as what volume level you’re at. They are small though, and light up an amber/yellow color so it’s not too distracting as something that is say, green, red or blue.

In Conclusion

The Bakoon AMP-13R is a really, really nice amp with some small minor quirks. Its got a unique look, presentation, and a big price tag, especially for those looking at it from a normal headphones amplifier view. But it hits it home with a sonic presentation that I have nothing to really criticize for. It plays the whole spectrum of music with everything at its highest marks, and is one of the few amps that really show off the Hifiman Susvara to its full potential. Heck, it even improved the sound of my trusty HD600 to levels I haven’t had before.

If you have the funds, I recommend trying this one out. It is a solid amp with a small footprint and fun design.

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I have the HIFIMAN SUSVARA and am debating about using the Schiit Audio Ragnarok? Do you think the Bakoon Amp-13r would be better?

Welcome. Given the price difference, it may be helpful to elaborate on your threshold for relative performance that would cause you to choose the Ragnarok.

I really can’t say, I’ve never compared them.

I have the ALO STUDIO SIX AMP for my Focal Utopia headphone and HD 800 with the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil as my dac. I also have a Blue Hawaii electrostatic amp for my Stax 009s. I am just to figure out what amp would be best for my Hifiman Susvara.

Noted. I’d be skeptical of anyone that says a $1500 product outperforms a well-reviewed $6k product in a system that has the chops to reveal the differences. I’ve heard the Rag 2 with dynamic driver headphones; it wouldn’t be my choice.

There is a thread mostly just full of amp discussion for the Susvara over on head-fi, the Bakoon is very highly regarded there, I don’t see the Ragnarok mentioned regularly, even by the more budget driven folks. Take that for what it’s worth.

Also the 13R is now discontinued, to be replaced by the slightly cheaper 23R I believe.

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no contest…bakoon is better