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Cavalli Audio Liquid Lightning


spritzer
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I told spritzer the following, via PM on Head-Fi, on July 30 this year:

 

Given your concern (if it is genuine) about dangerous products or DIY efforts, if you believe there may be a serious issue with a product in manufacturer or someone's DIY amps, after discussing it with them, don't believe you have received a satisfactory response, reply to THIS PM with details and it will be carefully investigated. I have included Nathan in this PM for this reason.

 

I didn't receive a reply.

 

So far, Alex hasn't received any emails from either Kevin or Birgir. Why these concerns weren't first raised with Alex is really a mystery to many people. It's not that fucking hard to send an email, is it?

 

Also, if you have a concern with Head-Fi, you can PM me too, instead of making shit up (everything so far posted is complete bullshit) and I'll explain it. The people whose posts were deleted got an explanation. If you didn't already know, I don't (and never did) get paid to moderate Head-Fi, nor do I give a shit about who is or isn't a sponsor. I don't tolerate bullshit though, but if anyone prefers shit-talking over solving the very real issues brought up in this thread, then that's your choice.

 

I think though that, ultimately, the market for 'stats outside of Stax and Headamp is dead, however, and will be relegated to DIY efforts. I'm sure no manufacturer in their right mind will want to enter the market now, or even think about it.

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So let me understand this, you think the pictures are somehow faked?

 

You think the hennyo class soldering job and all the cold soldering joints in a $5k product are somehow acceptable?

 

You think that the screws on the current source triple and transistors are somehow replaceable by someone other than a magician?

How about the transistors in the middle of the board?

 

You think that a power dissipation in excess of 80 watts inside a box that size is safe?

 

You think that a posted Thd+N graph that exceeds all possible theoretical calculations by at least 30db

with J176 input fets designed for  switching (not linear applications) with an input noise of a minimum of 10nv per root hz

and an amplifier gain of 50db is real? when alex could have used the real thing instead (2sj74 or lsj74)?

 

You think that the lack of safety resistors between the amplifier and the stax jacks used by every stax amp, every headamp

product, every one of my diy products, etc is just a suggestion?

 

Amos, you don't have a fucking clue what it is that you do not know about this.

And Alex does not have a fucking clue, because if he did, he would not build a piece of shit like this.

Cavalli, Beauty really is only skin deep.

 

At least Mikhail's products sounded really nice when they did work.

And when correctly repaired, they work for a very long time.

 

This thing really did sound like a piece of crap. Mosfets don't belong in electrostatic amplifers!

 

It sounds MUCH better now. We are not done yet. When we are done, we will present all the work

to everyone including alex. Trust me, he won't do shit about it. Because it won't be liquid anymore.

Edited by kevin gilmore
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Amos, it would be nice if headfi would allow uncensored threads like this one.

Censorship is counter productive in the long run. 

I haven't gone back there since you deleted my posts, and although I will continue to lurk there, I don't appreciate when only one side of the issue is discussed.

I did not hear you complain or delete dbel84 bullsh*t  post when discussed 'known issues" with the KGSSHV.

And I did tell you what I thought in my reply email to you.

Edited by eggil
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Also, if you have a concern with Head-Fi, you can PM me too, instead of making shit up (everything so far posted is complete bullshit) and I'll explain it. The people whose posts were deleted got an explanation. If you didn't already know, I don't (and never did) get paid to moderate Head-Fi, nor do I give a shit about who is or isn't a sponsor. I don't tolerate bullshit though, but if anyone prefers shit-talking over solving the very real issues brought up in this thread, then that's your choice.

 

Dude, who the fuck are you to tell us what's bullshit?  It does not take a genius to see the politics that go on there.  You act like you're the only sheriff in town there, when in fact, you're just a bit higher up than a regular pawn member.  You are just crowd control, and that's it.  The real decisions that go on there are WAY above your position.

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I did not hear you complain or delete dbel84 bullsh*t post when discussed 'known issues" with the KGSSHV

Perhaps he followed the prescribed guidelines. I think they go something like this:

"[He] wasn't allowed to trash products he doesn't own (this is fairly universal as a rule on Head-Fi) and that if he had a concern about about a product, to contact the manufacturer and then, if he didn't get a satisfactory reply, to contact us about it"

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I am not sure if anyone over at HF is really able to do something with the info you provide. Sure, bad soldering, exposed wires, thin PCB's, hurr durr... The implications about these kind of things are not obvious and would rather be judged by:

 

1) just their aesthetic values - if the insides aren't pretty then sure, it must be crap.

 

2) conclusions would be drawn entirely based on the authority which provides the info - I'm sure many still regard Kevin and Birgir as knowledgeable about electrostatic gear. However there are plenty who see your agenda in this as shills for Justin and the new Icelandic amp conglomerate which goes by the name "Mjolnir Audio" (which, as we know, is totally ripped off from Schiit).

 

What about posting your findings at DiyAudio? Is that against their policies? Sure, you won't get as much popular exposure, but DiyAudio is more on neutral terms with HF and additionally you might get some respectable supporters from there.

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For anyone interested here is a copy of the original PM Amo's shot me, gilency and shellyh with:

 

Gilency, DefQon and Shellyh,

 

I've deleted your posts at the end of MH's KGSSHV vs. LL thread, as i'm not going to allow the Stax Mafia vendetta against Alex to spill over to Head-Fi. Even if there is merit in what spritzer says, all three of you can't not be aware that he has had a huge grudge against Alex since the eXStatA, to the point that they went, and are going, out of their way, to wreck him and his business.

 

I pointed out to spritzer that if he has genuine concerns about Alex's products, he should contact Alex. So far he hasn't. Yet he has no problem going as far as buying one of his products second-hand just to take it apart and find fault with it.

 

Ultimately I hope you understand my decision, even if you don't agree with it.

 

Amos

 

CC: moderators.

 

 

What I think here is that HF thinks spritzer/KG is shit stirring with Cavali/Alex because of some quarrels in the past between Alex and spritzer/KG.

 

But really all I see it all along is Cavalli/Alex may have had a disagreement in the past and might've ignored the help from KG/spritzer as Alex pretty much has given the middle finger to the Stax mafia. So now the Stax mafia will have to rectify Cavali's "fuckups" the hard way due to some issues in the past.

 

I mean the original argument was about posting schematics of another in-production amp, shouldn't it be sensible for the manufacturer/MOT to fix issues with in-production models or if not, provide schematics for user servicing if required? Hasn't this been the way with audio and amplifiers since the 1960's? 

 

Btw, need MOAR pictures.

Edited by DefQon
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I am not sure if anyone over at HF is really able to do something with the info you provide. Sure, bad soldering, exposed wires, thin PCB's, hurr durr... The implications about these kind of things are not obvious and would rather be judged by:

 

1) just their aesthetic values - if the insides aren't pretty then sure, it must be crap.

 

2) conclusions would be drawn entirely based on the authority which provides the info - I'm sure many still regard Kevin and Birgir as knowledgeable about electrostatic gear. However there are plenty who see your agenda in this as shills for Justin and the new Icelandic amp conglomerate which goes by the name "Mjolnir Audio" (which, as we know, is totally ripped off from Schiit).

 

What about posting your findings at DiyAudio? Is that against their policies? Sure, you won't get as much popular exposure, but DiyAudio is more on neutral terms with HF and additionally you might get some respectable supporters from there.

 

I can understand where you are coming from, being an outside observer myself and not knowing any of the involved parties in real life.

KG and Spritzer have been involved with designing and merchandising various electrostatic headphones amplifiers for years. A lot of experienced 'Head-fiers' on the other site and many here on HC consider them an authority on the subject of electrostats and trust them implicitly. It would be rather presumptious on our part to assume that all these people are too attached to KG/Spritzer to see the other side of the coin.

However, I have to admit that this thread does smack a lot of a witch-hunt.The amplifier in question was performing its intended function for more than a year and survived a journey to iceland (inspite of the supposed poor build). To my admittely inexperienced eyes, the concerns raised in this thread donot appear to be particularly severe - yes, I dislike the visible rosin and unsleeved mains tabs but that won't cause the amp to be a safety hazard. I think the dull look of solder joint is because of it being lead-free, I doubt that actual cold joints would have lasted this long without causing problems at those high voltages.

Lest I be trivializing the concerns raised, I'll defer to the more experienced DIYers here on this site.A lot of experienced DIY veterans still post on this forum (primarily the reason I have lurked here for long) and I would be interested in knowing there opinion regarding this matter. I am actually wondering why better informed members have avoided this thread as of now.

Edited by gurubhai
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Unless the said amp is a safety hazard, which thus far has not been raised, the issues although not trivial do not surprise me. Ideally amps from different manufacturers should have been scrutinised together as a collective group, avoiding the appearance of a witch hunt and the inevitable singling out of individuals. It’s a nasty business threatening someones livelihood, I know I couldn’t do it, not for these reasons anyhow.

Love your work Kevin and Birgir, I’m just not backing you on this one.

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Speaking from personal experience there was never any benefit to being a mod there.  It was a headache, and if you cared a substantial one, without anything in the form of compensation.  Jude is the only one that I'm aware of that gets a tangible benefit out of it in the form of both money and samples from manufacturers.  Maybe some of the other mods get that to a certain degree but I never wanted to create/maintain a high enough profile at HF to garner that type of treatment.  I'd rather occassionally write for Tyll than wade through thousands of posts by people acting like 5 year olds looking for the rare grain of knowledge.

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Let's just start off with one thing, nobody on HF that they value can read a schematic and make any meaningful judgements from that.  There is a whole lot more to it than to just know what the symbol for a capacitor or a resistor is. 

 

Also assuming the lemming mentality that is the norm applies to the Stax mafia is just nonsense.  We post the data for people to make up their own minds.  That's the sole reason for this thread, educate people, and Alex is certainly amongst those as he clearly hasn't got the slightest clue what he's doing.  Same reason why we did the Single Power stuff, the KingSound and why the EC Electra is next.  People need to make informed decisions based on facts, not the shill drivel on HF or faked measurements.  As Amos so routinely posts, most amps are based on the same designs (not true anybody who knows anything about electronics knows that) so why don't people post the designs?  Why won't they post internal pictures?  Because they have something to hide. 

 

If anybody doubts these images then I'll gladly supply the RAW's from Lightroom. 

 

As for the safety of the amp, of course it isn't safe.  There are no output resistors and the ballast resistors will fail when asked to do their job.  Think of it this way, you have a car with weak breaks which function ok under normal circumstances but what happens in an emergency?  They won't do their job and it is the same case here.  Under normal circumstances the amp works, sounds horrible but works but say somebody is using the headphones with wet hair.  Not recommended but a drop of moisture gets into cable entry and shorts one of the conductors to the housing.  The user then grabs the metal as something sounds off and boom, instant conductor to ground with nothing to limit the voltage/current.  That is not a good feeling... 

 

What has been the standout of all of this for me is the constant cry from the shills and other people of ill refute about the wast difference between the LL1 and LL2 yet nobody has chimed in as to what said difference is.  No internal pics naturally save for the one that shows the fucked DRV134/BUF634 phase splitter and the magical input wiring which is mostly just the same old cheap 1oz copper trace on the PCB. 

 

As for other makers entering the market, would anybody doubt the design and build quality of a Stax amp sold by Schiit or Pete Millet?  The difference is that they know what they are doing, Cavalli has no clue. 

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I'd really like to see Schiit make a budget electrostatic amp, I bet they could do it.  We have enough expensive ones already :P

 

As for the LL, the protection resistors are definitely a cause for concern and the output capacitance is eye popping.  Nobody would accept a SS dynamic amp with Z out of 150 Ohm.  I wish I listened to this amp with more than one headphone so I could better gauge the sound, but it seems like this is the electrostatic equivalent of those head-outs on receivers.  Just changing the output transistors would make a world of difference so hopefully he does that if he releases a new revision.

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Posted by Currawong

 

I told spritzer the following, via PM on Head-Fi, on July 30 this year: "Given your concern (if it is genuine) about dangerous products or DIY efforts, if you believe there may be a serious issue with a product in manufacturer or someone's DIY amps, after discussing it with them, don't believe you have received a satisfactory response, reply to THIS PM with details and it will be carefully investigated. I have included Nathan in this PM for this reason."

Maybe the careful investigation could be done by Kevin & Birgir. Just a thought....... tee hee.

I well remember the exstata thread over there and that every one of the Stax Mafia's suggestions were discounted by reason of unnecessarily raising the cost of the project due to raising the parts/cost count.

Things like a CCS instead of a resistor which would have made a good improvement were negated even though the cost difference wasn't a big difference.

 

Edited beause initially my browser wouldn't allow some scripts access to the toolbar. Fixed.

Edited by wink
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To my admittely inexperienced eyes, the concerns raised in this thread donot appear to be particularly severe - yes, I dislike the visible rosin and unsleeved mains tabs but that won't cause the amp to be a safety hazard. I think the dull look of solder joint is because of it being lead-free, I doubt that actual cold joints would have lasted this long without causing problems at those high voltages.

 

I used to build & rework circuit boards for a living, the solder joints on the Liquid Lightning board are pure junk.  Not only are there cold and/or contaminated solder joints, there are numerous joints with less than a 50% fill, there's a dab of solder on one part of the joint and the rest of the solder pad is not only unfilled, it's clearly empty with visible gaps.  That's just asking for the component to get torn off the board, among a host of other problems.

 

It's like someone dabbed it with solder and didn't even wait for the solder to melt, let alone flow and properly fill in the joint.  I have rarely seen such shitty work.  If I saw a board like this at my old job it would go straight into the scrap bin and I'd want to know who was building the crap so that they can either be put somewhere safer or fired.  Trying to rework the board would be pointless, it's FUBAR and the labour required would be worth far more than the board itself.

 

And it ain't lead free solder, especially now that we have the alloys and flux formulations dialed in.  The joints weren't this bad even back in the old days when lead free was just making its entrance into the industry and we were using nitrogen purged reflow ovens just to get things to flow & stick.  Garbage, pure fucking garbage is what it is.

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I didn't want to comment on the solder jobs, because I thought there has been enough talked about it, but apparently some think that there has not been enough criticism on it.... let just say I did a better job on my first ever DIY project...

These solder joints are just so inconsistent, it's as if his eyes were elsewhere when he was soldering this board... some joints has as little solder as the amount I would use to keep the parts in place prior to proper soldering... and some just have overflowing solder... not to say so many of them just seem cold... It's suffice to say that it's a miracle that it survived this long.

IMO, even if the amp doesn't present a safety hazard, which it does, it still should be heavily criticized for its poor craftsmanship at such a premium price. I don't believe Spritzer or Kevin would go down this hard if at least the solder joints were done properly, safety procautions were implemented correctly, and priced accordingly. There is a place for every amp, and this one is certainly out of place.

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However, I have to admit that this thread does smack a lot of a witch-hunt.The amplifier in question was performing its intended function for more than a year and survived a journey to iceland (inspite of the supposed poor build). To my admittely inexperienced eyes, the concerns raised in this thread donot appear to be particularly severe - yes, I dislike the visible rosin and unsleeved mains tabs but that won't cause the amp to be a safety hazard. I think the dull look of solder joint is because of it being lead-free, I doubt that actual cold joints would have lasted this long without causing problems at those high voltages.

 

If you had been around longer, you would know that this logic is flawed.  Just look at Mikhail's creations which performed their intended function for years and sounded wonderful until they didn't (function anymore).   I am not at all trying to imply that Cavalli's designs are as bad as Mikhail's designs (in fact, I know nothing of either), I am just pointing out the flaw in your logic. 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/437708/warning-about-the-singlepower-extreme-owners-please-read

http://www.head-fi.org/t/437344/my-singlepower-supra-experience-why-mine-almost-blew-up-like-a-hand-grenade-and-yours-might-too/15

Edited by shellylh
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