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RSA Hornet vs. SM3v6

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Don't get excited, this is not an in-depth comparison but I'm on my second day with my new SMv6 with the AD8620 and switches and thought I'd post some thoughts.

Well my thoughts are pretty flat lined right now... I'm asking myself what I paid for :mikey2:

The amp is a vast improvement over the previous SM3v3 and once again sounds great and drives my DT770-250 without a problem. It's slightly dry but still airy and detailed. I've yet to roll any of the included opamps and this is only about 25 hours of burn-in.

One of my main reasons for replacing it was the Hornet seemed rather poor at driving my DT770-250 (songs with heavy bass had low end distortion at high volumes). I don't use them much at work but a portable amp at just under $400 should do it all IMO.

I'll add some pics later but the SMv6 now has a bit of padding on the back door, the top and bottom boards are now two separate pieces (unattached by any wires), and the shape of the board is longer improving insertion and stability. I am reserving any final thoughts for this time next week when it should be fully burned in. At this point the airy sound and detail is a nice with the DT770 and a minor improvement at best with my UM2's. I think the UM2's are probably the most fussy IEM when it comes to amps... they really do not benefit much from any amp except the Hornet. There really is a magic synergy with those two. The Hornet adds a sense of weight/depth and that tube like texture that really brings them to their full potential.

In short I'd say the Hornet has a better sound and build, it is very unique for a SS portable. Again the tube like texture and weight it adds brings a very lively presentation to the table. The SMv6 seems like it needs to be tweaked by the owner once received to tailor a good sound out of it. It's not that it's bad it's just a bit dry right now (which may change with burn-in or different opamps) and the synergy with my rig is not up to par. It may be magic with a different set up but I'd say anyone looking at it to amp something from Westone may want to reconsider. Them SMv6 seems best suited for the Shure line IMO.

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Guest sacd lover

The hornet is probably the worst sounding amp I have yet heard considering the price. Harsh, compressed and highly fatiguing are what comes to my mind when I assess the amps sound character.

GK .... have you ever actually heard a tube amp for any length of time? I hear nothing from the hornet that reminds me of a good tube amp .... especially a tube like texture. ???

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Yes, I've had a PPX3 Slam for about 8 months now and of all the portable amps I've owned (HR Micro, Hornet, Supreme, SMv3 & v6, SR-71) the Hornet sounds the least like a SS amp IMO. I rather enjoyed the color of it and found it to add a similar texture to electric guitar and low end freq as my Slam does... obviously to a totally lower degree. I found it to be less detailed than other amps I've heard at the same price point but it had a fun factor and was more musical IMO than most of the others excluding the Supreme. Not nearly as smooth or black between the notes as the SR-71 but I did rather enjoy the color and texture it added to my music.

It seems people either really like or just hate the Hornet. I like it but thought it could use something else that I could not quite put my finger on which added to the reason I sold it. I'm not giving up on the SMv6 yet but I'm not as impressed as I had hoped at this point.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I've been interested in hearing Justin's AE-1 before I got the Hornet. Now that Justin has been making improvements I am even more interested in listening to it and comparing it against my Hornet. Still size and sound are two important factors to me in my portable rig.

I think the Hornet makes my E4s and Rio Karma combo sound slightly better and more enjoyable, yet scarifies some detail. Grover Huffman made me an awesome custom mini-cable (and I did compare it against another highly regarded mini-cable) and it does help with improving the detail and separation. I would replace the Hornet, if I could find something better in my system and to my ears that was around the same size and price.

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I'm really interested in trying an AE-1 out and comparing it to my Hornet.

i've done this and i like the AE-1 more. the bass doesn't go as low as the hornet, but it's tighter. the highs on the AE-1 go WAY higher, but aren't bright. but perhaps a tad artificial in the way it makes you think it's more resolving as a result? the mids are dry on the AE-1 versus the hornet's warmth, but the AE-1 has plenty speed, which is important with portable cans, which can be quite slow. end result? the AE-1 isn't a neutral amp either, but it does compensate for portable cans and ambient noise properly and thus makes a better portable amp SQ-wise than the Hornet.

i almost don't want to futz with the AE-1 via upgrades - but I would like a power switch on the face. I have to take my amp out of my bag every time to turn it on and off and it's putting a strain on my cables.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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