Feliks Audio Elise Mark II OTL Headphone Amplifier

This is the place to discuss the Feliks Audio Elise OTL Mark II Headphone Amplifier

(From Feliks Audio Website)

Technical Specification - Model 2019

  • Input Impedance: 100 kOhm
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz - 60 Khz +/- 3 dB (300 ohm)
  • Power output: 200mW
  • Pre-amp Gain: 20dB
  • THD: 0.4 % (300 ohm, 20 mW)
  • Supported headphones impedance: 32 - 600 ohm
  • Preamp safety circuit
  • Headphones output: Jack 6.3mm
  • AC: 230V/120V (power cord included)
  • Dimensions: 310x205x170 [mm]
  • 3 years warranty

Box content

  • Beautifully hand-crafted Tube Amp
  • 1 matched pair of driver tubes PsVane 6SN7 Hi-Fi *
  • 1 matched pair of power tubes 6N13S (NOS) *
  • AC cord
  • User Manual
  • Warranty Card

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@Deepy I will let you know! I am burning it in now and have Aeolus, Verite Open and Rad-0, 6XX on hand!

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Looking forward to this. I’m using the Verite open and HD800S with Dekini pads which both sound great!
RME ADI-2 DAC included

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I’ve gone through a small amount of headphone tube amps in the past, but nothing substantial until I picked up the Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies tube amp and power supply combo. They had an industrial and modern aesthetic that really appealed to me and were a striking centerpiece on my audio desk. Unfortunately, I wasn’t super impressed with the sound, at least until I upgraded both tube sets on them. Even then, they didn’t have the extra something special I wanted, and I eventually sold it.

I went through the use of a tube hybrid between tube amps with the Schiit Saga+ but eventually got rid of that to. That was to make way for my newest tube glowing toy, the Feliks Audio Elise MK2. Feliks Audio is a small amplifier maker out of Poland, and have been making OTL tube amps for several years now.

They have four main headphone tube amplifiers in their lineup today: the lowest priced Echo, the middle-child that no one talks about anymore, Espressivo, the other middle-child Elise, and the flagship Euforia. The Echo is the newest in the line and looks differently than the very, very similar looking Elise and Euforia, both of which are on their second versions now.

The updated Elise, which I recently purchased, features updated amp internals, fixes, and a switch from TungSol driver tubes to PSVANE 6SN7-UK tubes. I’ve since upgraded those to the PSVANE CV181-TIII tubes that I was running on the Schiit Saga+. These happen to be the same tubes that come with the current version of the Euforia, however the Euforia has additional amp magic that can control crossfeed that is not present in the Elise.

Build and General Impressions

I dont’ plan on making this a full in-depth review, but rather just simple observations over the course of 2 months of ownership.

First off, the Elise is a beautiful looking tube amp, with solid metal housing and high quality components inside and out. While I thought the Fireflies were modern and industrial, the Elise looks both modern and an art piece that really pops out a modern vintage look, especially with the stock tubes.

The volume knob has just the perfect amount of resistance to it. Its properly weighted and turns buttery smooth and I did not sense any channel imbalance or noise from it. The one thing that I did not like is that it is hard to tell where on the volume spectrum the dial is at since it’s black on black, and the tube amp is currently placed in a dark shelf, so I resorted to putting a very thin piece of white electrical tape where the dial indicator is to determine where I am. It also looks quite nice actually.

The general sound signature between the stock PSVANE tubes and the upgraded CV181-TIII tubes is very subtle. They both share a warm, intimate sound that has as slight bass bump that is measurable and audible to me. The upgraded tubes add a little bit more soundstage, realism, and resolution but, again, very subtle.

Pairings

In terms of pairing, I have several headphones and found that some worked well and some didn’t.

The Fostex TR-X00/TH-6X0 series of biodynamic headphones have very linear impedance curves and I didn’t hear any changes in the sound going from a solid state to this OTL tube amp. In fact, I think the added warmth made it just a bit too much for my tastes in headphones that I already found warm and relaxing, and occasionally bassy already.

With the Hifiman Arya, I was surprised to say that they paired well with them. Planars, especially power hungry ones like the Arya, do not typically play well with OTL amps, but for whatever reason, I did enjoy using the Arya and its sharper transients and edgier, brighter sound with the softer and warm Elise. The combination of the two mashed up into slightly toned down experience of the Arya, and made them quite enjoyable for long term listening.

On the other hand, the Audeze Sine, another planar that surprisingly requires a bit of oomph to get going, did not sound very well with the Elise. I don’t have much to comment here, but I just didn’t like this combination for whatever reason. It seemed to lack the dynamics and energy that I liked in the Sine.

I also tried HEDDphone with the Elise and that was quickly unplugged and put back into the Topping A90 solid state amp. Unfortunately this combination just didn’t do anything for me and really hindered the HEDDphones’ dynamics and resolution.

Now, the star of the show and the whole reason I even considered spending $1600 on the Elise was to get to pair it with the ZMF Verite Open-back headphone. This combination is wonderful. For whatever reason, I found the Verite to magically open up and grow in scale with a higher impedance amplifier. I noticed this first with just a cheap $40 amp/dac that I was goofing around with. The Verite’s bass response became more tactile and the soundstage became holographic and the treble opened up. I don’t know if being such a high impedance headphone that using a low impedance, highly linear solid state dampened it too much, or if the impedance curve for the Verite matched my preferences more at higher impedances, or what, but something is going on.

Because when I pair the Verite with the Elise, the same senses come out. The bass feels both tighter, and more dynamic, the soundstage opens up and engulfs me, and the treble renders itself whole again, and not just a weirdly tuned haze. That said, it’s still hazy, especially after A-Bing from the Hifiman Arya, but it has some more 6th sense to it that I can’t fully explain scientifically or with measurements.

To be short and simple. I bought the Feliks Elise to pair with the ZMF Verite, and it was a big investment, and so far, I am happy with this plan.

14 Likes

Awesome @antdroid thank you for contributing your experience to the thread! You were one of the reasons why I wanted to give this amp a listen.

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So far my impressions of the Elise Mark II after getting it far enough away from anything that could cause interference and reaching just over 38 hours of burn in time on the tubes and I feel like I am hearing the amp starting to open up and I am hearing Pink Floyd like I have never heard them before via Qobuz, D90 DAC, Verite Open (Thanks @DarthPool ) and the Elise Mark II.

It is still is still very early and I want to side by side against the Pendant. The Verite Open with the Elise MKII does have some magic even with just the stock tubes. More impressions to follow as well as a full review via my YouTube. www.youtube.com/marcellorostagni I will keep posting some thoughts I have along the journey if you guys don’t mind.

MR

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Curious if you tried Elise (preamp) -> A90 -> HEDD?

This was my reaction with the Echo too.

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I want to try this as well with my A90 @bigshel99 !

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I dont remember if I tried that or not, but I did plug my elise into the A90 as a tube buffer, and it does make some subtle changes.

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Are the subtle changes worth it @antdroid?

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its a cheap rca cable away from testing :slight_smile:

i think with the A90, im easily able to hear subtle changes with added tube buffer because its very sterile. I noticed it changed a lot with the Schiit Saga+ while I didn’t hear any major audible changes when the Saga+ was paired with the Jotunheim.

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Will definitely experiment with it thanks @antdroid :pray:

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when I used to Echo as a preamp it made a very noticeable different on the Phonitor XE (dynamics, stage), reasonable difference to the Lyr 3 (instrument separation), not much difference to the Drop 789

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Thanks @bigshel99 I will give it a shot!! I also am thinking I might move it over with the Bifrost 2 to see how it does with that as the DAC vs the D90.

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I humbly request that you get the full effect of combined multibit and OTL goodness! I’m tempted to say the Aeolus and VO, no preamp, might be the favored chains! Enjoy.

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ok @MRphotography – I reinstalled some RCA from Elise to A90 again tonight and listening to a couple tracks with Verite.

PC -> Bifrost 2 -> RCA -> Elise -> RCA -> A90
PC -> Bifrost 2 -> XLR -> A90

Volume matched by ear.

I notice that the Tube Buffer chain has more life to it, warmer and more engaging, and feels more open. The A90 on its own sound rather dull and boring. Vocals sound more alive with the Elise in the chain.

That said, I think I still prefer the VO directly from the Elise.

PS:
Listened to Alison Krauss + Union Station, EST, Tingvall Trio

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I have been listening tonight to the Verite Open, with the a Bifrost 2 and the Elise…

The combo is definitely proving to be even more lifelike, where the D90 almost sounded slightly more forward/fast in its presentation the Bifrost 2 with the Elise trades that for space, realism and a touch of warmth that is pulling me in…wrapping the music around me like a warm blanket.

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Shhhh… Don’t let the measurement fascists know.

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:wink: measurebating all day and night prevents those fascists from actually becoming one with the music, time to free their minds there is beauty in everything, Alicia told me so…

Vocals are just sounding so good I can’t stop listening to female vocalists with the EliseMK2/Bifrost2/VO

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Ok my last thought of the night as I listen to Lindsey Sterling https://songwhip.com/lindsey-stirling/artemis I am overcome by the reality of something @ProfFalkin said, and I am so bummed for all of the people on a certain website that have so much hate for OTL and Tube hybrid amplifiers, they are missing out on a truly magical musical experience.

Your preference as a listener may vary with this specific amp and your listening preferences but with the Verite Open there is a synergy to my ears thus far.

If one wanted a more musical experience or more analytical experience the DAC could easily be swapped in and out of the chain without even having to roll tubes to bring you closer to your desired signature as I do hear some subtle but audible differences between the A90 and the bifrost 2.

Until the sun rises again.

Much love

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