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Aturion
19-06-2011, 01:03
Just received a Gatorized Caiman and sold the old one (actually a deal with a friend of mine who never uses headphones, so he took the non-gatorized caiman)

My first impressions in use with my AKG K 701 headphones :

-The bass is much more present and richer, nice work :)
-The sound seems globally more dynamic to me
-Clarity seems unbeatable, I can't imagine a sound more defined than that, I can hear every instrument distinctly, even in a crowded symphony
-Treble seems sometimes, as with the previous caiman, a bit harsh, it's very slight, but to be fair, I can't define if that comes from certain records themselves, or from my AKG headphones response, or simply from my sensitive ears :p, as I have no point of comparison.

Overall, I'm very happy with my upgrade, just listened to Yehudi Menuhin's record of Beethoven's 9th symphony... simply a delight, Thanks Stan :)

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 07:55
I'm very happy with my upgrade

Just out of curiosity: If you compare the DAC’s volume knob to a clockface, where do you position it (10 o’clock, 11 o’clock and so on)? In which position of the volume dial are volume and sound most pleasing to you?

Werner.

Aturion
19-06-2011, 08:41
Hi Werner, it really depends on what is playing, most of time somewhere around 2 o'clock seems to be fine :)

When listening to some classic music I may have to "push" the knob almost all the way to the right to have enough power

Speaking of trebles, It's definitely smoother on my loud speakers than on my headphones, I guess I have to try another set of headphones before deciding if this is and output issue or a headphone issue

Fi-Wi
19-06-2011, 09:31
Hi Werner, it really depends on what is playing, most of time somewhere around 2 o'clock seems to be fine :)

When listening to some classic music I may have to "push" the knob almost all the way to the right to have enough power


:eek:

My standard position when listening through headphones (Superlux HD668-B) is 10 o' clock. Sometimes the knob hits 11 o' clock and very rarely 12 o'clock but only for shorter periods. My source is a Squeezebox for 99% of the time.

Besides the fact that any louder gets really unpleasant, I cherish my hearing as well. I am not saying that you don't by the way.

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 10:08
most of time somewhere around 2 o'clock seems to be fine :)

Thanks, this was also my favourite position of the volume knob when listening with the AKG K701 from the Caiman.

Werner.

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 11:04
Steven,


My standard position when listening through headphones (Superlux HD668-B) is 10 o' clock.

are your headphones connected to the Caimanís headphone plug?

Werner.

Fi-Wi
19-06-2011, 11:05
Yes, permanently.

Aturion
19-06-2011, 11:12
@Steven : The Superlux HD668-B have slightly less impedance (56 ohms) than the Akg K 701 (62 Ohms), and yes may be 2 o'clock is a bit on the high side ;), but the average position wouldn't be less than 1 o'clock for me

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 11:38
The Superlux HD668-B have slightly less impedance (56 ohms) than the Akg K 701 (62 Ohms)

Iím not sure if an impedance difference as small as this is the reason for the 10 or 11 oíclock position on Stevenís DAC.

I just plugged my Beyerdynamic 990/600 (!) Ω into my Caimanís headphone plug. Also with this headpone, my prefered dial position remained something between 2 and 3 oíclock. However, even if I turned the Caimanís volume knob to the maximum position, no distorsions where audible with the DT 990, but everything beyond 3 oíclock is unlistenable with the AKG K701.

Werner.

Fi-Wi
19-06-2011, 14:59
I checked both impedances as well as I thought that would be the cause of the big difference in knob position, but being that close to each other (6 ohm), other factors may play a bigger role in this. Maybe someone technically informed here can tell me how this can be. The Squeezebox has fixed volume at 100% and is connected to my Caiman by a Mike Homar WBT-plugged coax.

I have a Sennheiser HD570 here as well but I use the same knob position for my Caiman/Gator when listening to the Senn.

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 15:25
Steven,


Maybe someone technically informed here can tell me how this can be.

well, this is not exactly an engineer’s statement, but it’s common wisdom in inaugurated circles that the AKG K701 are pigs to drive. Obviously the same cannot be claimed for your Superlux HD668-B.

Werner.

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 15:54
When listening to some classic music I may have to "push" the knob almost all the way to the right to have enough power

Been there, done this – no good :-)

http://www.berghofer.com/photos/gear/dac_amp_cans.jpg

I’m curious how long it will take for you until you eventually end purchasing a dedicated stand-alone headphone amplifier.

Werner.

Aturion
19-06-2011, 20:05
Thanks Werner

I'm considering a dedicated headphone amplifier if it's really a step up in quality over the caiman alone, I have some questions if you don't mind :)

-According to the pic, your schiit valhalla amplifier is plugged to the fixed line output of the caiman, can loudspeakers be plugged at the same time on the pre-amp output ?
-And also is your caiman "gatorized", and how better your dedicated amp sound referring to the caiman

I don't mind buying a dedicated amp but I would hate having to go back and forth before finding the good setup ;)

Thanks

Tim
19-06-2011, 20:34
When listening to some classic music I may have to "push" the knob almost all the way to the right to have enough power
Classical is a definite no-no with the Caiman as a headamp I'm afraid, you need a dedicated amp as Werner says. It just doesn't have enough grunt for Classical music, but it sure does sound sweet when feeding a headamp :)

Werner Berghofer
19-06-2011, 21:20
According to the pic, your schiit valhalla amplifier is plugged to the fixed line output of the caiman, can loudspeakers be plugged at the same time on the pre-amp output ?

Yes, I think so, but I’ve never done it myself. I guess you plan to connect active (powered) loudspeakers to the Caiman’s variable line-out, correct? I’m sure that Stanley Beresford is watching this thread, and he should be able to reliably answer your question.


And also is your caiman "gatorized", and how better your dedicated amp sound referring to the caiman

Again: yes, my Caiman is “gatorized”. The second part of your question is a little bit hard to answer, since it’s difficult to describe sound with words, even more when attempting doing this in a language which is not my native language. Anyway, I’ll give it a try:

It’s not necessarily a benefit in pure loudness if you listen to a stand-alone headphone amplifier, but in volume, power and muscle. Sudden dynamic changes are handled by a dedicated amplifier with much more laid-back sovereignty. I notice a certain gloss, warmth and detail structure in my amplifier’s sound if I compare it to the Caiman’s headamp, but this is probably caused by the valves (tubes) used in my specific model of headamp.

I love to listen to piano trios composed by Franz Schubert, but only when played through my headamp I notice that the resonance bodies of violin, cello and grand piano are made of wood and I have the impression of being able to hear/feel each single hair of a violin bow striking the strings. Of course it’s the same music when played through the Caiman’s headamp, but the listening experience and the emotional touch are quite different.

If your budget allows this I highly recommend that you purchase a dedicated headphone amplifier. I promise you: Only then will you be able to realize that your Caiman DAC is an excellent piece of gear.

Just a warning: Although it’s claimed on the Schiit website (http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/valhalla-questions/) that the Valhalla is a good match for the AKG K701 headphones, the Schiit Lyr (http://schiit.com/products/lyr/) works in much better synergy with the AKG K70x models. I’m not a technician, but I’ve read very often that OTL (output transformerless) valve (tube) amps like the Valhalla work much better with high impedance headphones. When comparing the sound of the AKG K701 (62 Ω) to the Beyerdynamic DT 990 (600 Ω) I have to confirm that this is true.

An excellent forum for headphones, DACs and computer audio is Head-Fi (http://www.head-fi.org/forum/list/4/headphones-full-size). There are a lot of threads covering the combination of AKG K70x headphones and various amplifiers. The theme of AKG K701 headphones and a Caiman DAC as headamp has also been discussed a few days ago in another thread in our local Art of Sound forum → here (http://www.theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?p=222633#post222633).

Werner.

dave2010
20-06-2011, 07:43
Werner

I'm interested in your comments re heqdphones and head amps. I have a Caiman and find it satisfactory, but you are suggesting that there are even better things out there. I also ask myself "are they affordable?"

Is it worth (you, as the expert) starting another thread on headphone systems?

Best, Dave

StanleyB
20-06-2011, 08:00
As I mentioned in previous threads, the headphone section of the Caiman was not designed for high-end usage from the outset. It got upgraded with various tweaks in order to push it to handle high-end cans.

Werner Berghofer
20-06-2011, 08:24
Dave,


I have a Caiman and find it satisfactory

well, that’s the best you can say about your equipment! Stay happy and enjoy each possible moment listening to the music you love.


but you are suggesting that there are even better things out there

I’m sure there will always be even better things out there, but if you are happy with what you have in the moment I really see no need for change.

In my case a little more than two years ago I happened to buy a pair of AKG K701 headphones which – as I later found out – are well-known for being quite picky in their requirements on the amplifier used to drive them. So I started my recherche and learned some interesting new things – which in the end let me switch to another headphone model, but that’s a different story :-) I’m sure there are a lot of other excellent headphone models which work quite well and satisfactory from the Caiman’s headphone plug, but in my humble personal opinion this was not true for the AKG K701.

As a side note: The idea that there might be even better things out there has accompanied me during my whole life – not only in affairs regarding the best possible and affordable reproduction of recorded music and sound. Maybe there a some astrological or psychological reasons for this, I have no idea. And of course each human being is different and has different priorities in life.


I also ask myself "are they affordable?"

That’s a very important question which nobody else than you shall be able to answer. It’s a matter of your budget and the importance of headphone listening for you. If you lean more towards listening to loudspeakers I would not add a dedicated headphone amplifier, but spend my money for purchasing LPs, CDs or visiting concerts instead (as I did yesterday hearing works of Ravel, Hindemith and Beethoven from an orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies).


Is it worth (you, as the expert) starting another thread on headphone systems?

Under no cirumstances I’m an expert in this area, just a curious layperson with a lifelong passion for music. English is not my native language, and I have no technical background enabling me to really understand the underlying electrical and physical bases and principles. The Head-Fi forum (http://www.head-fi.org/forum/list/4/headphones-full-size) I already mentioned is a rich source for information, sharing and exchanging of experiences and ideas.

Werner.

Aturion
22-06-2011, 19:31
I made my mind, I'll pick up standalone head amp to go with my caiman - K 701, will leave some feedback when I get one

Werner Berghofer
22-06-2011, 19:55
I'll pick up standalone head amp to go with my caiman - K 701, will leave some feedback when I get one

Great decision, congratulations! Please do return to this thread and share your impressions and experiences when using the K701 with a standalone amp.

Werner.

Aturion
22-06-2011, 20:41
This is a bit late but... thanks Werner for your help ;)

I may be picking a Lyr, I can easily spend money going to classical concerts, standing at the first rank, I know you can't equal this emotion with electronic gear but I wan't to get as close as possible

Werner Berghofer
22-06-2011, 20:58
Mohammed,


I may be picking a Lyr

again: Congratulations, great choice! According to all my sources the Lyr is an excellent match for the AKG K701, much more suitable than the Valhalla. I’m quite sure that the Lyr also performs outstanding with other high-end headphones, should you ever feel the need or just the curiosity to try another model.

I’m really looking forward reading your impressions when using the K701 with your headphone amplifier.

In case you’re interested you might want to read what Head-Fi member “grokit” has to say about the combination of the Schiit Lyr and the AKG K701 (http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/557825/why-is-everyone-trying-to-get-rid-of-their-akg701/120#post_7559953).

Werner.

idc
25-06-2011, 16:48
Steven,



well, this is not exactly an engineerís statement, but itís common wisdom in inaugurated circles that the AKG K701 are pigs to drive. Obviously the same cannot be claimed for your Superlux HD668-B.

Werner.

The K701s are 62 ohms and 105 SPL, the Superlux are 56ohms and 98 SPL. There should be very little difference between them in what is needed to amp them.

SPL and ohms need to be taken into account. As a rule of thumb an SPL over 100 is easy to drive as are ohms under 50. As a comparison the AKG K350 in ears are 16 ohms and 121 SPL, which means they hardly need amping at all.

I think the K701/2 image of hard to drive is not really born out by the figures.

Werner Berghofer
27-06-2011, 10:28
Ian,


T62 ohms and 105 SPL [Ö] 56ohms and 98 SPL [Ö] an SPL over 100 is easy to drive [Ö] 16 ohms and 121 SPL

holy cow! If I only had the slightest idea what the acronym SPL stands for I certainly would feel much better ;-)

Werner.

webby
27-06-2011, 11:03
Ian,



holy cow! If I only had the slightest idea what the acronym SPL stands for I certainly would feel much better ;-)

Werner.

Sound Pressure Level?

idc
27-06-2011, 11:07
Yes, sound pressure level, or the volume you get from a set amount of power. So for the same power out of the amp you get a higher volume with the K701 than the Superlux, but not by much.

Werner Berghofer
27-06-2011, 11:24
Ian, Lee:


sound pressure level

Many thanks, now Iíve learned something new.

However, I still donít understand why Stevenís preferred position of the Caimanís volume knob most of the time is something between 10 and 11 oíclock when listening with his Superlux HD668-B headphones, but others like Mohammed or me have to turn it at least to the 2 or 3 oíclock position when using AKG K701 headphones.

Werner.

Fi-Wi
27-06-2011, 16:53
Yes, me neither since that would be contrary to the theory Ian refers to. :scratch:

idc
28-06-2011, 09:14
There are various answers,

differences in the manufacturing of the volume pot

headphone makers not being too accurate with their specs

the hearing preferences between the various users

and finally neither ohms not SPL can be looked at in isolation as to how loud a headphone will sound.

Reid Malenfant
28-06-2011, 17:01
There are various answers,

differences in the manufacturing of the volume pot

headphone makers not being too accurate with their specs

the hearing preferences between the various users

and finally neither ohms not SPL can be looked at in isolation as to how loud a headphone will sound.
Isn't the headphone output of the Caiman an operational amplifier? If so it won't really like driving low impedances & by that i mean less than 600 ohms. It may well be able to supply a reasonable amount of current, but usually this is limited to about 20mA.

I think you are assuming that the output impedance is pretty low (which it won't be with an op amp) so it's quite possible that the volume control will need to be turned up much higher with low impedance headphones than your data would suggest ;)

Werner Berghofer
28-06-2011, 18:23
Mark,


i mean less than 600 ohms

I just plugged in my Beyerdynamic DT 990/600 Ω headphones. Even for this headphone my preferred setting of the volume knob would be at least the 3 o’clock position, but unfortunately that’s also the area where heavy distorsions start.

Werner.

Reid Malenfant
28-06-2011, 18:54
Well there is a bit of a double edge sword here imo. You see the Caiman headphone output can't swing a lot of voltage either as it's powered from a 12V rail & may well only be able to swing 8V peak to peak or less (at a guess). That won't result in a lot of power into a 600 ohm load.

I guess this is why you prefer a dedicated headphone amplifier ;)

8V pk - pk will result in 13.3mW of power into a 600 ohm load, which is not a lot ;)

Werner Berghofer
28-06-2011, 19:12
Mark,


it's powered from a 12V rail

well, my three StanDACs all are powered by 15 V PSUs, but I think this would not change very much in the scenario you described in a way that even a complete twit like me is able to understand.


I guess this is why you prefer a dedicated headphone amplifier

I have no idea about the underlying mysteries of electronics and physics, but yes, there’s a lot more power, muscle, foundation and sovereign grace in the may my headphone amplifier handles sudden changes in volume and dynamics, and although it is a tube-driven beast which develops a lot of heat when in use, the fine sharpness of detail and the sound textures it produces are just wonderful.

Thanks again for your lucid explanation, Mark!

Werner.

Reid Malenfant
28-06-2011, 19:21
There is an internal 12V regulator, which is where i was getting the 12V from, or should i say the op amp ;) That is there to clean up the output from the 15V supply.

I think one of the most inovative headphone amps i have seen (which is rare as hens teeth) is a Krell KSA5. Effectively what you are buying is a pure class A 5W per channel (8 ohm) integrated amp with a single input.

That would supply all the current any pair of headphones would ever need (low impedance) & all the voltage any 600 ohm headphones would ever need.

If i was ever going to build a headphone amp, that is the way i'd do it :cool: