Five headphones via four-pin XLR cables.
- Audeze LCD-4
- Focal Stelia,
- Hifiman HE-1000 SE,
- Rosson Audio RAD-0,
- ZMF Vertie
- ADI-2 DAC fs
- RCA Split into both amps ( I found my monster RCA splinters)
- XLR out hand moved to each amp
- In the first corner is The reigning champ SPL Phonitor x
- In the other corner is a new incoming contender: Headamp GS-X Mini
Note both amps have an RCA and XLR switch on the front, s,o you can also A/B RCA vs XLR as well to throw another variable into the equation.
Qobuz for the tunes
- Telepopmusik “Breath”
- John Lee Hooker “Jessie James”
- Jimi Hendrick “Hey Joe”
- The Cure “Just Like Heaven”
- John Mayer “I Guess I Just Feel Like”
- Filter “Hey Man Nice Shot”
- Gary Clark Jr “Bright Lights”
- Keb’ Mo’ “The Itch”
- AC/DC “Ride On”
- Aerosmith “Come Together”
- Bruce Springsteen “My Hometown”
- Elmore James “Dust My Blues”
- Norman Greenbaum “Spirit in the Sky”
- Fleetwood Mac “Dreams ( Take 2)”
- Nirvana “Lake of Fire”
- Ben Iver “Holocene”
- Smashing Pumpkins “Zero”
- Ben Howard “Old Pine”
- New Order “Dream Never End”
- Moaning “Ego”
- Depeche Mode “Strange Love”
- Depeche Mode “Sonata No. 14 in C#m (Moonlight Sonata)”
- Massive Attack “Angel”
- Dave Mathews “Two Step”
- Stevie Ray Vaughn “Texas Flood”
Just reminder on the power needs of each headphone.
After A/B them here how best to describe the two amps
First, the SPL Phonitor is a great amp that is best with RCA-In ( Volume/Gain drops when engaging XLR-in.) that support Balanced XLR In and Out as a feature. For me, It’s the best playback that is single-end via 1/4 or XLR out. Not XLR in the path is still very good just not the optimal audio path for this amp. I do love the VU meters on this amp.
Now the GS-X Mini is an incredible true Balanced XLR amplifier. this is the best audio path for GS-X Mini via full XLR path in and out. It supports Single-ended path RCA-in to 1/4 and XLR out ( note volume/gain drops when RCA enabled ) It still has very good audio down this path but not most optimal for the amp with headphones like the LCD-4. I love having the Gain switch upfront, not as a dip switch under the amp.
The GS-X mini has a darker background, it digs deeper on bass, and more clarity in treble and midrange. It works exceptionally well with the LCD-4, in all frequencies. The RAD-0 loves this amp it opens up its staging, even more clarity. the bass hits harder.
Prefered Amp in Bold, Best Connection into the Amp.
What did I walk away with, I would buy Headamp GS-X Mini ( $1795) and Bifrost 2 ($699) = $2495 before picking up an SPL Phonitor x $2499
One thing the amp does get warm with all the discrete components, 46 degrees C or for Us in the States 114.8 F in operation.
I think I am starting to sort components.
- SPL Phonitor + Chord Qutest
- Headamp GS-X Mini + RME ADI-2 DAC fs or the Bifrost 2
- TCA HPA-1 + D90
GS-X Mini + Bifrost 2 + Rad-0 with Stevie Ray Vaughn “Texas Flood” is heavenly.
If I keep this up, I am going have to obtain a Spectral Measurements dScope M1 to help with part of the evaluations of the DAC and Amps. Help visualize what I am hearing.