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DNA (Donald North Audio) Headphone Amp


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I'd also be REALLY interested in listening to an amp closer in design to the alternatives spoken of here, if someone might point one out.

That's the trick, of course and why I say that Donald's amp is a welcome addition to the market even if it isn't how I would do it. I have no idea who sells an amp like I would do it. I think you have to make it yourself. :)

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"... I don't even bother to comment on the stuff I don't like at all
Interesting, I didn't listen to that one at the show, but I did listen to what I think was his newest one the "B-52" (?) I only listened to a jazz ensemble voiced by a female for about 10 minutes, but very much liked what I heard. Is the raptor so much different in sound, or are my ears just crap?

What I couldn't believe however is that the man is getting more than 5K for them. It certainly wasn't any better than the Zana at 2.2K, I practically laughed in his face at that.

" ...I think you have to make it yourself. :)
I'd absolutely LOVE to do just that, I'm very good with a soldering kit, and have the concentration. However I do not know how to read schematics, etc. Someone would literally have to write out a parts list and instructions in plain English, and map out what gets soldered to what...
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Thanks! I didn't want to get flamed, because what these guys are speaking of is way over my head, and I don't belong here. But I get the gist, am really interested in learning, and I LOVE good sound.

Sounds to me like you belong here just fine. Also, I think that with just a little practice you could learn the basics of reading a schematic. If I can, any one can. :)

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Thanks! I didn't want to get flamed, because what these guys are speaking of is way over my head, and I don't belong here. But I get the gist, am really interested in learning, and I LOVE good sound.

The secret is that when you don't know, and feel like you don't belong, just ask the questions. Soon enough you do know, and do belong.

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The secret is that when you don't know, and feel like you don't belong, just ask the questions. Soon enough you do know, and do belong.

Or you ask a stupid question, you get mocked and belittled, then you DO know and you DO belong. That's why this is HC.

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Interesting, I didn't listen to that one at the show, but I did listen to what I think was his newest one the "B-52" (?) I only listened to a jazz ensemble voiced by a female for about 10 minutes, but very much liked what I heard. Is the raptor so much different in sound, or are my ears just crap?

Secret #29 of audio sales: Everything sounds good with female jazz ensemble. Well, almost everything, the equipment in question practically has to be defective for it sound bad with this music genre. Which is why when you go to an audio show, most of the manufacturers/dealers will jazz music and girl with guitar music, it always sounds good. Patricia Barber, the Cowboy Junkies' "Trinity Sessions" album, that stuff never sounds bad.

But if you decided to play Dvorak's Slavonic Dances or any of the Red Army Choir's military marches, you'll find that many systems will crap themselves since they can't handle the complexity and dynamics of the music.

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Secret #29 of audio sales: Everything sounds good with female jazz ensemble. Well, almost everything, the equipment in question practically has to be defective for it sound bad with this music genre. ...

... if you decided to play Dvorak's Slavonic Dances or any of the Red Army Choir's military marches, you'll find that many systems will crap themselves since they can't handle the complexity and dynamics of the music.

Really? I didn't know that! CanJam was my first show. No wonder I heard so many singing ladies.

I've been narrowing down my foobar list of stuff to put on a test CD for this weekend's meet. So far I have Miles Davis, Pantera, Crystal Method, Tchaikovsky, some tripno-phibian-rap-thud thing, a couple jazz quartets, Chopin and Mozart in line so far... I do actually have Slavonic Dances 6, 10, and 8. Is there a particular one I should use that causes the waste matter to come flying out??

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Pretty much any large symphonic work should suffice. Mahler, Shostakovich, etc. seem to work quite well. Don't be surprised if you have a hard time finding much that sounds good however. Years ago I resorted to buying the first pair of speakers which would play a CSO Mahler 8 recording; a pair of Infinity Monitors (though the ESS AMT-1s did OK as well). That pair of Bose 901s sure gave it the old college try however :indra:

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some tripno-phibian-rap-thud thing

Ah, wonderful. You get to experience another cherished hi-fi tradition... playing outrageous music for salespeople (or show attendants) who only listen to female vocals all day. It's like playing Cypress Hill for your grandparents, only they're obliged to smile while you do so.

Of course, some of them are cool...

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I do actually have Slavonic Dances 6, 10, and 8. Is there a particular one I should use that causes the waste matter to come flying out??

I usually go with Opus 46 No. 1, 5, 6, 7, & 8. I have several different recordings of the pieces and I like the Naxos recording of the Slovak Philharmonic the most, I think they do the best interpretation of the music.

DVORAK: Slavonic Dances, Opp. 46 and 72 CD - Listen to Classical Music - Orchestral Music - Naxos Direct

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Secret #29 of audio sales: Everything sounds good with female jazz ensemble......But if you decided to play Dvorak's Slavonic Dances or any of the Red Army Choir's military marches, you'll find that many systems will crap themselves since they can't handle the complexity and dynamics of the music.

How about The Mickey Mouse Club theme song? Where does that fit in? And Spike Jones? What amp would you recommend to correctly render Cocktails for Two?

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvt4b_qwC_Q]YouTube - SPIKE JONES & CITY SLICKERS - COCKTAILS FOR TWO - 1945[/ame]

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Well,

I brought two of my own burned CD's with EAC ripped copies of stuff I'm really familiar with, running a complete gamut from Miles Davis and Mozart, to Slipknot and Crystal Method... I truly like all of what I put on there, which I think helps too.

I refrained from trying headphones until later as well. I used only my 600's for the first couple hours, as I was there primarily to shop amps. I realize that the D/A conversion matters too, but each amp had either a high end player, or DAC supplying it, FWIW.

I tried to listen to each amp for about a half an hour or more. It was noisy in the room, and I'd certainly like to have multiple listens to really make an opinion, but these are off the top of my head what I remember. Of course these are just my silly uneducated, room full of talking people opinions, so take them as that.

I started with the DNA. It was fine. Not amazing, but certainly not bad at all. It sounded like what I imagine when someone says "tubes". It had decent range, and a pretty flat frequency response. Smooth and kinda rich, but I didn't get a real sense of openess and holographic sound stage though. It also had notable warmth and tube sound that I've always heard as distortion. I think some people like tubes for that extra bite or something. I'm not saying that's bad, but I personally don't care for it as an extra to the music. If it's there, it should bring out more of the music without being noticeable. I also messed with the output switch. I definitely preferred the 120 ohm setting over the low Z - but more because I'd swear the low-z sounded to me like it kind of switched the speakers out of phase. (?) The soundstage went out of focus, and the lows and highs shifted into weirdness as well. Subtle, but interesting.

I also tried a DNA with a couple upgrades performed by Reference Audio Mods - chiefly a pricier capacitor. It definitely cleaned up the tube warmth and brought a little more clarity. I don't know what it'd add to the cost, but I'd say it's definitely worth it.

I tried the RSA 'Apache' next. Nice little amp, reference quality, no complaints. I like the seperate power supply and the nifty...HOLY SMOKES! $3 GRAND? Are you kidding me?!? I heard the B-52 at Can Jam and was really impressed, but I thought $5K was an awful lot for it. Especially when I had heard other tube amps there costing less than half which sounded really similar in quality... BUT 3 GRAND for this ??? I heard nothing any better from this than what I got out of the Audio-GD C2C (See Below) costing ONE TENTH as much. This thing is VERY pretty to look at and the build quality is far and away the best of anything else I've seen, but ummm... Wow, I'm missing something.

The Audio-GD C2C. Okay, now we're in familiar territory. The sub $500 audio range, is where I've got loads of experience either listening, or trying to get the most out of. This thing was the big surprise. I can't believe how good it sounds for $300. accurate and flat, punchy, lively, but not brittle or harsh at all. Not a lot going on in layering or holographics, but I loved it for the price. I'll buy one eventually. I went here thinking of Audio-GD as yet another bargain Chinese manufacturer, but I was pleasantly surprised big time.

Then I sat down at the Zana Deaux. Suffice to say I spent much of the rest of my time there perched in front of it. I have no doubt I pissed some others off by hogging! It doesn't sound tubey. It doesn't sound SS, It just... is.

EVERYTHING I had on my very diverse set of CD's sounded just great, - That is, exactly as I'd like. If the recording was weak, the Zana brought it out, but man the strong stuff sounded great! It has no weak spots, it's very consistent. It gets better as the session goes on, and I felt for the first time that I was on an amp that had MASSIVE amounts of reserve power. The biggest thrill was the huge difference in soundstage and imaging over everything else. It just sounds like a bigger amp, I felt like my headphones grew 5 sizes on my head. Then as I kept listening, it kept revealing new things to me. It is now the undisputed champ in oatmeal's headphone audio world. I contacted them about buying one today.

After I'd tried a few others briefly, I tried the 800's on a few rigs. Man are they nice. I'm fine with waiting a year or two to pick them up used though, $1,300 is pretty steep. They are not 3 times better than a $400 set of HD600's or 650's. They are markedly better though. Definitely up there with the really pricey Stax stuff I've heard.

So, after all that, I started shopping for DAC's, and am pretty sold on the PS Audio DL-III, especially with the upgrades! I moved one over to the Zana, after using a couple other DAC's with it, and it was clearly the best I heard, but that is for another thread...

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Well,

I brought two of my own burned CD's with EAC ripped copies of stuff I'm really familiar with, running a complete gamut from Miles Davis and Mozart, to Slipknot and Crystal Method... I truly like all of what I put on there, which I think helps too.

I refrained from trying headphones until later as well. I used only my 600's for the first couple hours, as I was there primarily to shop amps. I realize that the D/A conversion matters too, but each amp had either a high end player, or DAC supplying it, FWIW.

I tried to listen to each amp for about a half an hour or more. It was noisy in the room, and I'd certainly like to have multiple listens to really make an opinion, but these are off the top of my head what I remember. Of course these are just my silly uneducated, room full of talking people opinions, so take them as that.

I started with the DNA. It was fine. Not amazing, but certainly not bad at all. It sounded like what I imagine when someone says "tubes". It had decent range, and a pretty flat frequency response. Smooth and kinda rich, but I didn't get a real sense of openess and holographic sound stage though. It also had notable warmth and tube sound that I've always heard as distortion. I think some people like tubes for that extra bite or something. I'm not saying that's bad, but I personally don't care for it as an extra to the music. If it's there, it should bring out more of the music without being noticeable. I also messed with the output switch. I definitely preferred the 120 ohm setting over the low Z - but more because I'd swear the low-z sounded to me like it kind of switched the speakers out of phase. (?) The soundstage went out of focus, and the lows and highs shifted into weirdness as well. Subtle, but interesting.

I also tried a DNA with a couple upgrades performed by Reference Audio Mods - chiefly a pricier capacitor. It definitely cleaned up the tube warmth and brought a little more clarity. I don't know what it'd add to the cost, but I'd say it's definitely worth it.

I tried the RSA 'Apache' next. Nice little amp, reference quality, no complaints. I like the seperate power supply and the nifty...HOLY SMOKES! $3 GRAND? Are you kidding me?!? I heard the B-52 at Can Jam and was really impressed, but I thought $5K was an awful lot for it. Especially when I had heard other tube amps there costing less than half which sounded really similar in quality... BUT 3 GRAND for this ??? I heard nothing any better from this than what I got out of the Audio-GD C2C (See Below) costing ONE TENTH as much. This thing is VERY pretty to look at and the build quality is far and away the best of anything else I've seen, but ummm... Wow, I'm missing something.

The Audio-GD C2C. Okay, now we're in familiar territory. The sub $500 audio range, is where I've got loads of experience either listening, or trying to get the most out of. This thing was the big surprise. I can't believe how good it sounds for $300. accurate and flat, punchy, lively, but not brittle or harsh at all. Not a lot going on in layering or holographics, but I loved it for the price. I'll buy one eventually. I went here thinking of Audio-GD as yet another bargain Chinese manufacturer, but I was pleasantly surprised big time.

Then I sat down at the Zana Deaux. Suffice to say I spent much of the rest of my time there perched in front of it. I have no doubt I pissed some others off by hogging! It doesn't sound tubey. It doesn't sound SS, It just... is.

EVERYTHING I had on my very diverse set of CD's sounded just great, - That is, exactly as I'd like. If the recording was weak, the Zana brought it out, but man the strong stuff sounded great! It has no weak spots, it's very consistent. It gets better as the session goes on, and I felt for the first time that I was on an amp that had MASSIVE amounts of reserve power. The biggest thrill was the huge difference in soundstage and imaging over everything else. It just sounds like a bigger amp, I felt like my headphones grew 5 sizes on my head. Then as I kept listening, it kept revealing new things to me. It is now the undisputed champ in oatmeal's headphone audio world. I contacted them about buying one today.

After I'd tried a few others briefly, I tried the 800's on a few rigs. Man are they nice. I'm fine with waiting a year or two to pick them up used though, $1,300 is pretty steep. They are not 3 times better than a $400 set of HD600's or 650's. They are markedly better though. Definitely up there with the really pricey Stax stuff I've heard.

So, after all that, I started shopping for DAC's, and am pretty sold on the PS Audio DL-III, especially with the upgrades! I moved one over to the Zana, after using a couple other DAC's with it, and it was clearly the best I heard, but that is for another thread...

Wrong thread, but in response to your post I must say that I'm in heaven with my PS Audio DL3, Zana Deux Transformer, and HD800 with 4-pin balanced plug. :D

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You're right... the post started as just a DNA thought, but expanded from there. Mod's, Should I move this?

In my experience, veering off topic is perfectly permissable here if you're saying something of merit.

You certainly have a detailed review, and it seems to fit just fine to me.

Now Larry, on the other hand ... :basement:;D

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