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MPX3 SLAM SE vs. Supra for Grados


Bob_McBob
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Right, another one of my "x vs. y" threads...

I've been going back and forth with a guy on head-fi about buying his SLAM SE, and it seems he's not really interested in selling it anymore (after I sold off my whole rig >:(). I have a WTB ad up there (and here), but it got me thinking about whether it was worth buying used. Anyway, I fired off an e-mail to Mikhail about it, but I think I'll probably end up with a used amp, since I'd need it by January to take advantage of the fact that my dad will be in PA for a couple of weeks (no tax makes a HUGE difference!).

While I was considering that, something that's always been in the back of my mind came up. I've always been curious about the relative merits of the SLAM SE vs. the Supra, especially since the Supra is $150 cheaper. Why DO people pay more for the SLAM SE? I had a chat with PFK about it, and from what I gather, the SLAM SE alone is probably better ("better") than the Supra, but the Supra has a lot more upgrade potential. Also, there are some fundamental differences in sound between the two, with the Supra being brighter and more dynamic. He suggests sticking with the SLAM SE idea for my RS-1s, but I know of Grado owners who decided to go with the Supra ("I went for the more refined amp"). I personally don't understand how "brighter" can possible mix with Grados, but perhaps someone could enlighten me on the subject.

Anyway, I'm nervously sitting here with $1200 in my PayPal account and plenty more on Visa. It would cost me about $70 to do a round trip to the bank and back (exchange fees), so it's tied up until I decide what to do. As this sale seems to have fallen through, I have about a month to find a new amp to buy.

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I'm kind of unclear on what bias/voltage/tube options the SLAM SE has that the Supra doesn't. I am a tube noob and it's all very confusing! :)

ok.. the MPX3 SLAM SE

For the octal sockets: 6sn7gt/a/b, 6bx7gt, 6bl7gt/a, ecc32

with the tube adapters: 5687, 7119, 7044 (and whatever else I'm forgetting)

With the Supra all you have are the octal options. Keep in mind the SLAM SE also includes some options like the high voltage switch, the BG power caps, Supra transformer, etc.. it also includes 5687 tube adapters + a set of tubes. Note that the Supra comes standard with the Solen 1 and the SA. With the Supra all you have is 1 voltage and presumably an auto bias.

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ok.. the MPX3 SLAM SE

For the octal sockets: 6sn7gt/a/b, 6bx7gt, 6bl7gt/a, ecc32

with the tube adapters: 5687, 7119, 7044 (and whatever else I'm forgetting)

With the Supra all you have are the octal options. Keep in mind the SLAM SE also includes some options like the high voltage switch, the BG power caps, Supra transformer, etc.. it also includes 5687 tube adapters + a set of tubes. Note that the Supra comes standard with the Solen 1 and the SA. With the Supra all you have is 1 voltage and presumably an auto bias.

Now we're talking. Seriously, I think this is the amp for me. It's just a matter of either finding a used amp SOON or figuring out some way to get a new one here without shelling out $350 extra.

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So tkam mentioned the Zana Deux earlier, which actually looks kind of interesting. Pricey at $1900 though :o PFK's opinion was basically "get the Singlepower". I sort of like the look of the Zana Deux, but I've read wildly differing opinions about it... It's too bad there's nowhere I can go hear either of these without paying several hundred for a plane ticket >:(

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I am apparently maligning PFK ;D He also agrees the ZD is likely a great amp. I found out that I have about a week to get in on the second pre-order if I want one. The idea of looking at a non-SP amp didn't really cross my mind before tkam mentioned it. The thing is, I have had my eye on an SP amp for over a year. This is meant to be my "FINAL" amp (::)), which is why I am so concerned about getting the "right" one. I would love to audition both of these, but I doubt there is anywhere within driving distance I could do this.

PFK has successfully steered me away from the Supra, so I suppose it comes down to the ZD and SLAM SE unless one of you bastards can show me yet another high-end amp to mess with my head :P

I am reading through all the relevant info on head-fi, but as usual it's rather difficult to separate the good from the bad with respect to reviews/impressions. I'd love to hear what you people have to say about the relative merits of each amp, PARTICULARLY with Grados, but certainly with other headphones as well. What I like about the SP amps is the versatility of tube rolling, upgrades, etc. Hell, the aesthetics too -- the cases look great.

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Guest sacd lover

I am apparently maligning PFK ;D He also agrees the ZD is likely a great amp. I found out that I have about a week to get in on the second pre-order if I want one. The idea of looking at a non-SP amp didn't really cross my mind before tkam mentioned it. The thing is, I have had my eye on an SP amp for over a year. This is meant to be my "FINAL" amp (::)), which is why I am so concerned about getting the "right" one. I would love to audition both of these, but I doubt there is anywhere within driving distance I could do this.

PFK has successfully steered me away from the Supra, so I suppose it comes down to the ZD and SLAM SE unless one of you bastards can show me yet another high-end amp to mess with my head :P

I am reading through all the relevant info on head-fi, but as usual it's rather difficult to separate the good from the bad with respect to reviews/impressions. I'd love to hear what you people have to say about the relative merits of each amp, PARTICULARLY with Grados, but certainly with other headphones as well. What I like about the SP amps is the versatility of tube rolling, upgrades, etc. Hell, the aesthetics too -- the cases look great.

I have another amp you might look at thats made in Canada. I also sent you an email. I goofed up the address the first time .... you should have the email now.

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I have another amp you might look at thats made in Canada. I also sent you an email. I goofed up the address the first time .... you should have the email now.

Look at this amp from Space-Tech Lab in Canada. Two 6AS7's for the output tubes and transformer coupled. This amp will have three to four times the power of the Zana with grados. I think this amp is noticeably better sounding than the Eddie Current HD25 .... and I like the HD25 better than the Zana. This amp only costs $950 Canadian. All point to point wired and all kinds of chassis styles available.

HPIM0050.jpg

HPIM0052.jpg

HPIM0051.jpg

SE-6AS7G-3.jpg

SE-6AS7G-1.jpg

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hmmm, can you describe the tonality of that amp compared to, say, a PPX3 Slam, Earl?

Well .... I have only had the amp two days .... but here goes. I think this amp has a more relaxed signature than the 5687 or high voltage 6bl7gta output tube SP's. With senn 600's it sounds just a tad recessed. Go to senn 595's or your old sr-80's and the perspective is just about perfect.

The sound has good body but not quite the full tone of say the PPX3 SLAM. This amp has good dynamics and wonderful bass control .... obviously all that power. The bass isnt fat or thick and has excellent definition. This amp can do finesse. The amp isnt as fast as the SLAM's but it is still fast. The soundstage is all you would ever need with grados. The impact is there with grados but the SLAM's are SLIGHTLY better .... moving further ahead with higher impedence headphones. I think this is mostly the signature of the 6as7. The amp is very musical though and just enjoyable to listen to. Other amps .... I think this amp has a more neutral and less colored sound than say the HD25. This amp definitely has better treble qualty than the Zana; no roughness but very good detail resolution.

For grado lovers that need current .... two paralleled 6as7's transformer coupled = serious power. This amp doubles as a 1 watt power amp with speaker outputs on the back.

th_HPIM0053.jpg

The old HD25 had one 6sn7 driving one 6as7 > transformer coupled. So half a 6sn7 driving half a 6as7. This amp has a paralleled 6sn7 driving a paralleled 6as7 > transformer coupled .... for each side. So twice the gain stage current drive with twice the output power. We know power isnt everything but it sure makes a difference with grados. But this amp is very musically satisfying with any headphone I have used so far. I am thinking about getting a pair of M2Si's for these. I had been watching for one of these on audigon for atleast a year and a half and suddenly there she was .... somebody up there likes me. :angel:

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Looks a lot like the amp I built. 6SN7 input, 6AS7 output. Interesting it is transformer coupled, though. Makes sense, though. There waqs some fairly significant bass rolloff when I used my 325i with my amp. But balanced... man those things were bass monsters for some reason.

There is no rolloff on this amp. If you use just one 6as7 OTL like the Woo 3 or the old EC HD300 the 6as7 tube has to high an output impedence. The 6sa7 just wont drive low impedences very well . Now parallel the tube OTL and you have twice the power and half the output impedence. Thats what Mikhail did with my Supra and just like this amp the bass control was amazing. There is no bloat to the senn 580/600's at all. In all the other 6as7 amps .... I owned the Woo 3 and EC HD300 .... the sound was darkish and the bass poorly controlled. The transformer coupled HD25 was much better but this amp sounds more open and airy .... this with the less good 7n7 gta type short bottle driving two generic GE 6080's.

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Are you paying attention Bob? ;D

I sure am. I fired off an e-mail to the company to ask about pricing on customization like extra inputs, a nicer case, etc.

Though I'm sure this thing drives Grados very well, I am concerned about its performance as an all-around amp. As I said before, this is intended to be my "final" headphone amp. I want something that is a CLEAR upgrade, top of the line for what I can afford, and the ZD and SLAM SE both sit up there in the general opinion. I have about a week to make a decision if the ZD is still in contention. I am certainly not adverse to spending $1000 less on an amp (though I'm a little concerned that the little upgrades I'd want would add up). That would give me some money for K701s as well as some extra spending cash. However, I do need to get the facts straight.

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Nice to finally read comments on one of the spacetech labs headphone amps. I almost bought one over 3 years ago to pair with my rs-1's, but instead I decided on going with a heavily moddified asl aq1003dt power amp (transformer coupled, 4 12au7, 4 el34 tubes). Only downside to my amp is it hasn't proved to be the most reliable. :P

Biggie.

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It would be great to hear your impressions/thoughts whenever you have time, Earl. I did find out that while the basic prices of the Space-Tech amps are fairly low, upgrades and extras are not cheap. To get the 1W version fitted out in the way I'd order it (piano black case w/nice knobs and switches, dual inputs with selector knob), it would be approximately US$1300 with tax. Another $250 for the 2W version, though that is probably overkill... He also does various capacitor/psu upgrades, but I wouldn't go for any of that.

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Earl I am a bit confused?

http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=1947709&postcount=17

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=1051918&postcount=7

You put the Zana in such a highly esteemed group of SP amps that are your preference amps. And now you?ve intended you like the HD25 better than the Zana. I can only imagine where the HD25 ranks against your favorite SP amps? In fact, I think you're probably in a minority of one that prefers the HD25 over the ZD.

I?ve heard (in my home for about a month) the MPX3 upgraded (not the slam version) and thought it was an excellent amp with the right NOS 6SN7 tubes (expensive tubes and hard to find too). I didn?t like the MPX3 at all with the stock tubes electroc-Harmonix. But I thought the EC2A3 sounded better to my ear with the stock tubes. And in the end that?s the amp I bought.

I am not lone in preferring the EC2A3 over the MPX3. Look up the old Florida meet impression threads when Tyrion had his EC2A3. And Mikey01 prefers his EC2A3 over the MPX3 and he owned both. The reason I say this is because the design of the EC2A3 is similar to the ZD. I assume there are some design similarities between the MPX3 and the Slam version as well.

That being said, I?ve never heard the RS-1s sound better to my ear than when plugged into the ZD. I would surmise that the ZD would retain its value better because they are limited in number. The MPX3 Slam isn?t as exclusive and more readily available whether new or used. In fact, not one of the first run ZD owners has resold one as far as I know. And more people are willing to pay more for the second ZD run. Earl you even wanted to buy a Zana, but couldn't get one.

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Earl I am a bit confused?

http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=1947709&postcount=17

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=1051918&postcount=7

You put the Zana in such a highly esteemed group of SP amps that are your preference amps. And now you?ve intended you like the HD25 better than the Zana. I can only imagine where the HD25 ranks against your favorite SP amps? In fact, I think you're probably in a minority of one that prefers the HD25 over the ZD.

I?ve heard (in my home for about a month) the MPX3 upgraded (not the slam version) and thought it was an excellent amp with the right NOS 6SN7 tubes (expensive tubes and hard to find too). I didn?t like the MPX3 at all with the stock tubes electroc-Harmonix. But I thought the EC2A3 sounded better to my ear with the stock tubes. And in the end that?s the amp I bought.

I am not lone in preferring the EC2A3 over the MPX3. Look up the old Florida meet impression threads when Tyrion had his EC2A3. And Mikey01 prefers his EC2A3 over the MPX3 and he owned both. The reason I say this is because the design of the EC2A3 is similar to the ZD. I assume there are some design similarities between the MPX3 and the Slam version as well.

That being said, I?ve never heard the RS-1s sound better to my ear than when plugged into the ZD. I would surmise that the ZD would retain its value better because they are limited in number. The MPX3 Slam isn?t as exclusive and more readily available whether new or used. In fact, not one of the first run ZD owners has resold one as far as I know. And more people are willing to pay more for the second ZD run. Earl you even wanted to buy a Zana, but couldn't get one.

You shouldnt be .... this was all explained to YOU on 10/19/06 here .... http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=2440429&postcount=14. Stop playing dumb.

Moreover, look at the post dates ....the first post is from Febuary 2006 the first time I heard the Zana. The second post is from 2004 before the SLAM's existed; let alone the 6bl7gt versions of the ppx3 amps. Pull things up out of context and you can expect to be confused.

Quoting from the linked post .... I dont like the Zana's treble. Treble quality is of the utmost importance to me. I will take a solid performing amp with no glaring flaws over an initially impressive sounding amp that I later discover has an achilles heel everytime. So HD25 > Zana from my perspective. HD25 vs SP amps .... I would get the SP's .... but the HD25 is still a very good amp. Space Tech Lab SE 6AS7G or HD25 if avaialble .... which they are not .... SE 6AS7G. Mapletree ear+ or HD25 .... HD25.

Also quoting from the linked post .... you need to compare apples with apples. Your audition was of a mpx3-6sn7 and the amps the members you mention owned were also 6sn7 only amps. The sound of the 6sn7 amps barely scratches the surface of what the SP amps are now capable of from my experiences.

So what three members prefered the EC2a3? Two of those members have never heard the SLAM or SLAM SE and one has never heard the SLAM SE. I like Tkam's ppx3 better > Zana .... and here is a member who opted for a ppx3 over both the Zana and the mpx3 SLAM after comparing all three .... http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showpost.php?p=2440526&postcount=18. If tkam prefers his ppx3 to the Zana thats three. If I posted the three of us prefer the ppx3 over the Zana would I expect everyone to believe the ppx3 is better than the Zana? Come on .... stop the spin.

The design of the Zana and the 2a3 are similar? Nope .... one is an OTL design and one is transformer coupled .... those are two completely different designs. Remember the EC HD25 and EC HD300 .... they were actually identical according to Craig .... except for the output topology; transformer vs OTL cap coupled. But the amps sounded nothing alike. Isnt what matters how they sound?

I dont understand the relevancy of the RS-1 + Zana statement you made? But I auditioned the gs1000 on the Zana and tkam's ppx3. The gs1000 sounded by far the best on the ppx3 to me. But I dont like the gs1000 so we have equal irrelevancy.

More people were willing to pay more for the Zana's second run proves what? Many more people have been willing to pay more for a ppx3/ mpx3/ supra or whatever over the past 2.5 years .... as the price of all the SP amps have risen several times. The fact the amp is more exclusive and may hold retail better only matters if you sell the amp. So you expect the amp to be sold?

I did want a Zana at first. But after the last audition when I got a good deal of time with the amp I discovered I didnt like the amps treble performance .... which you are well aware of .... and that was with stock 701's/ recabled 701's / recabled dt880's/ recabled senn 595's/ recabled dt831's, gs1000 etc... The Zana would have to be a senn 600/650 amp for me because thats the only headphone that may cover up the treble issues. I did think even if I didnt end up liking the amp I could sell it for a minimal loss. But since I hesitated the amps were all sold. What seems far more relevant is I certainly can buy one now. Am I? Nope.

I am getting the new scaled down 6as7 SP that should debut at the Florida meet today .... assuming Mikhail did go. Paralleled 6as7 output tubes in an OTL configuration that sounded awesome+ in my Supra. So almost certainly referance sound quality, twice the power of the Zana minimum (based on the post you gave me regarding the Zana's 653mw /300ohm and 195mw/ 32 ohm power output) .... and a retail price of $999; 1/2 the cost of the Zana. There is supposed to be an mall-fi ad/ introductory run of ??? which will be $849-899. Thats what I will be paying. ;D

I dont know why I spent all this time answering you when the first two paragraphs would be sufficient. ???

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