ZMF Pendant - Tube Headphone Amplifier - Official Thread

I have the capability on my Ampsandsond Encore Headphone amp inputs are connected to an Aurender A10 with variable volume, and a W4S DAC2v2se anniversary with variable volume.

I personaaly don’t output from the HA to speakers, but I could. (and have).

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Do you prefer volume control on the source or via the A+S?

I’m thinking about either the Pendant or an A+S amp, and thought about just leaving the volume pot wide open to minimal any sonic impact (if that’s true), and just using the upstream volume control unless the gain was just too high.

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Source, since this setup is in my living room, and I’m around 15-20 feet from the amp (headphone extension cable). I set the headphone amp around 11-12 oclock position, and adjust the source from there.

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Justin built my Mogwai SE with no volume control so it’s effectively a power amplifier. I use a passive preamp for headphones, and active preamp for speakers, for the preferred sonics for my system.

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For builds without the volume pot, was there a way to ensure that the volume control on your source had adequate range together w/ the Mogwai? Is it all based on the max V out of the source RCA, or did you have a way to attenuate the signal to allow use of a greater range of volume adjustment?

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Volume control range wasn’t as much of a concern of mine as noise floor and energy of the presentation. For more range, I used a less powerful tube roll and lower DAC output voltage. For less range, vice versa. Please see: AmpsandSound Amplifiers and Speakers builder - #28 by bpcarb.

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Could you explain your thoughts about the energy of the presentation? What headphones did you use? Thanks.

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Relaxed vs aggressive, the perception of slow vs fast, subdued vs in your face. I used VC, HD6XX, Empyrean, HD800 SDR.

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I’m curious, would someone happen to know all the differences between the OG and SE?

Welcome. You can click through here.

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Welcome @AngryTank_Killa. In case you don’t see the link on the ZMF page that @bpcarb linked you to, here is the original post from Zach, talking about some of the late upgrades to the OG and the even bigger upgrades on the SE.

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Has anyone ever done a detailed comparison between the Pendant OG and the Bottlehead Crack with good glass on both? I’m trying to decide if I should upgrade from the BHC. I’ve put over $800 of upgrades to it and have some pretty decent tubes running in it but wanted to see if it was worth the upgrade.

By the way, does a 6SN7 tube run with an adapter in the 12AX7 driver spot in the Pendant? Thanks!

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Welcome. It might help if you specify which upgrades including Speedball.

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Yes Speedball, Cree diodes, Auryn Caps, pretty basic. It seems like the Juniper Caps in the SE offer an upgrade in detail.

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I have done very detailed comparisons on both without the “Good Glass” on the BHC. I am actually looking at getting some tubes for it now.

As much as I love the BHC and feel its one of the better tube amps under 1k my personal opinion is the ZMF Pendant is technically a better amp.

However that may not be what you are looking for and they sound very different to my ears.

What are you looking to upgrade as far as quality of sound from your BHC with speedball?

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Detail and air mainly. Maybe it’s just the upgrade bug as the Pendant has more tubes to roll and technically better performance. I’ve been looking for an end game amp to pair with a Pavane/Yggy and the Pendant is mentioned a lot for ZMF cans. I want to know what the fuss is all about.

Speaking of which I plan on getting the Auteurs again so my main concern is that I get an amp that brings out their sub bass like my Eikons. The Auteurs are so neutral that they really do take on the shape of what’s fed to them. I’ve heard the Pendant does some have some nice slam so curious on your thoughts on that when you had it. I’m afraid that they’ll sound too polite and that I won’t like them (I’ve owned and sold two pairs, Teak and Blackwood but never had them on really high end tube amps).

I haven’t heard the BHC, but have heard the Pendant. They are likely in different classes performance wise (also if one were to review the bill of materials), especially if the rest of the system complements and is able to reveal.

Compared to other A&S-built amps farther up the line, the Pendant has smaller transformers, smaller tubes, no input transformer, and cheaper caps. One can interpret this as that it wasn’t built to be end game for certain use cases. It’s a challenge for a 9-pin based tube amp to compete with an amp running 5U4G/5AR4 rectifiers, 6550/2A3 power tubes, larger transformers, and a more stout power supply.

The BHC is considered a top performer in the $1k or less category. The Pendant OG is also a top performer in the less than $2500 category (whether it’s level of neutrality or tube wetness suits is based on personal preference). Considering the use of more expensive components and more elaborate designs, TOTL tube amps tend to start at $3k – in response to your mention of end game.

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In my opinion, you will get both more detail and air from the Pendant over the BHC with Speedball. I can’t speak to the pairing with the Auteurs or Eikon, as I have not tried that combo but maybe @ProfFalkin can help with that as he may have tried those combos.

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Crunched for time, pardon the brief reply.

Pendant needs the right glass to really open it up imo. Zacks NOS selection is good, but my preference leans to more energetic tube selection. This is what I thought really made Auteur great with Pendant.

@MRHifiReviews knows which glass that is, and we posted it in the Pendant thread.

Edit: I haven’t heard Eikon on pendant. It’s good on BHC, the mid warmth synergizes with the Eikon treble and bass well

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Correct!. I didn’t like the JJ tubes at all and unfortunately one of the vintage tubes Zach sells went noisy.
Brent Jesse is the guy you need to talk to. His tubes are great. Just send him an e mail and explain what gear you have. He responds right away and ships by the next day.