Rogue Pharoah Integrated no longer pleasing.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Helom, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    An other suggestion for you. Instead of the DAC*IT, take a look at the Peachtree iDac.

    Here is a link to a 6moons review, speaking about both products.

    Jonathan Derda from Peachtree Audio;

    "Asked what he thought the hottest product in the line was and how the iDac and DAC•iT differed, Jonathan answered as follows: "iDac vs DAC•iT is linear vs. switching PSU, 32-bit 'ultra' vs. 24-bit Sabre DAC, the pure digital dock for the iDac and 450 parts vs. a much simpler topology. In our testing the pure DAC performance of the DAC•iT is superior to what is built into all of our integrated units except for the iNova which basically has the iDac built into it."

    The iDac was originally a $1,000 DAC. They go between $300-$400 used on eBay. I have an iDac, my friend is currently using it.

    Another suggestion, if you are not getting the bass you expect from the Halo, is to go for a separate power amp.

    Used iNova's go for about $100 more on eBay than iDac's. So instead of, just a DAC, you also have a Class A preamp, input selector and headphone amp. The iNova will give you the benefit of two analog inputs.

    Preamplifier
    Hybrid Tube Design Using Triode (Stereo 6n1p)
    7.0V Output at 2.0V Input
    <1 Ohm at Output Stage
    Class A Output Stage
    Polypropylene Caps in the signal path

    Headphone Amplifier (Shared with the Pre-Out Stage)
    Suitable for All Electro-dynamic Headphones
    Output impedance: <1 Ohm
    Maximum Output Power:100Mw/8 Ohms/300Mw/150 Ohms/150Mw/300 Ohms
    Class A Output Stage
    6N1P Vacuum Tube in Circuit

    Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)
    6 Digital Inputs: 1 USB, 2 Coax, 2 Optical, 1 iPod Dock
    ESS 9016 Sabre DAC
    USB 24Bit/96kHz
    SPDIF 24Bit/192kHz
    11 Regulated Power Supplies
    Class A Output Stage
    Transformer-Coupled Digital Inputs
    Galvanically Isolated USB Stage
    >122dB Signal to Noise Ratio without Tube
    <3 Picoseconds Jitter Measured at the Master Clock

    With the iNova as your DAC, you can choose any power amplifier you want and take the signal from the iNova's preamp outputs.

    I don't use the iNova's power amp, I use separate power amps (better bass :)).

    John Darko did a review of the DAC*iT in Digital Audio Review.

    Here is a Yamaha article in Business Wire from 2013.

    FREMONT, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ESS Technology, a leading provider of high performance audio/video solutions, today announces that the ES9016 SABRE32 Ultra 8-channel DAC and SABRE Premier 8-channel DAC are shipping in volume in Yamaha’s latest AVENTAGE series of network AV receivers including the RX-A3030, RX-A2030 and RX-A1030, all award winners in Japan’s prestigious 2013 Summer Visual Grand Prix (VGP), as well as the flagship CX-A5000 A/V pre-amplifier available in the USA (http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/aventage/cx-a5000_black_u/).

    Unlike conventional sigma-delta (ΣΔ) DACs, the ES9016 SABRE32 Ultra DAC incorporates ESS’s innovative patented HyperStream™ circuits to deliver spectacular music with up to 128dB dynamic range and 0.0003% (-110dB) total harmonic distortion, free from clock jitter common in digital audio systems. The 32-bit HyperStream™ modulator is capable of 100% modulation and unconditional stability; the Revolver™ Dynamic Element Matching ensures performance over a wide dynamic range, while a Time Domain Jitter Eliminator removes the digital jitter that causes distortion.

    Robert Wong, vice-president of marketing and worldwide sales for ESS Technology, said, “We are thrilled that Yamaha has selected both the ES9016 SABRE32 Ultra DAC and ES9006 SABRE Premier DAC for its latest AVENTAGE A/V receivers. To experience SABRESOUND™ on A/V receivers, audio enthusiasts have until now been limited to analog sources equipped with SABRED/A converters. By making the ES9016 SABRE32 Ultra DAC and ES9006 SABRE Premier DAC the centerpiece of the system architecture, these new Yamaha receivers will enable audio enthusiasts to fully enjoy SABRESOUND™ from all digital and analog sources without any compromise.”

    Yamaha even coined the name "SABRESOUND".

    Maybe, you just need a new Yamaha :).
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  2. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Thanks for all the info and suggestions.

    After much comparison, I decided to keep the Hint. They seem close in performance, but ultimately, the Hint just made me want to listen more than the Pharoah.

    Though I do believe most audiophiles would prefer the Pharoah for its superior soundstage and clarity. After many back to back comparisons, I also realized that the Pharoah's bass is just as good as the Hint's, even slightly deeper.

    The Hint seems to tone down the treble on my speakers which I realized was causing some fatigue through the Pharoah due to its very high clarity.

    Overall the Pharoah has a very "front row" presentation. The Hint's soundstage is slightly deeper but the Pharaoh's is wider.

    The Hint also has an awesome built in DAC. If I were to keep the Pharoah, I'd want to upgrade my DAC, not so with the Hint.
     
  3. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    As long as the discussion is all in one amps, I can add that I brought home a Nova150 for demo yesterday. After hooking it up my first impression was that it reminded me of the Sphinx and Pharaoh. The sound is a good bit darker than my current gear. After listening for a couple hours though it starts to grow on you though - Much unlike my old Decco65 which was a bit fatiguing after awhile. The Nova does have a great deal of detail and the headphone amp is simply superb, maybe good enough to nearly justify the cost of the piece. I wasn't able to really test the phono stage as all my installed carts are on the low side of output. With the BPS3 (2.5mv) I wasn't able to get enough output for normal levels. I'll pull out my 1200 and 2Mblack this weekend to try it. I am really hoping for a single box solution. Overall I think it is likely a keeper as the dealer got it to make a decision on the line and I will likely get a smoking deal on his demo.
     
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  4. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    BayouTiger,

    The Nova150 looked interesting to me as well. I almost tried one a couple months ago.

    I didn't mention before that I rarely ever listen to headphones, so it didn't factor into my decision. I didn't try the headphone amps in either piece.

    Please let us know how you like the Nova after further listening.
     
  5. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    One thing that is a bit disconcerting on the Nova I might mention is the use of the inputs as a "bargraph" indicator for the volume. In order to get what I consider normal listening level I have to turn it up to about 2/3 or higher as indicted by the number of lights lit. This is much higher than I am accustomed to with most amps. This was also the case with my D3020 as the volume was referenced from 0DB being pretty much all the way up. I think this is better overall than most analog volume controls where anything over 60% likely gets you into trouble. I never heard any distortion of clipping at the top.

    It also didn't seem to achieve any greater volume than my Ref 75 (12x the cost with the preamp)!, but I actually think it might be more synergistic (?)with my System Audio speakers. I've been chasing a bit more bottom in my den for awhile and I think the Nova fleshes it out more than the ARC. Not saying that it is better, but it seems to have more bloom down there and that's not a bad thing in my system. I'm not looking at the Nova for the den but to shrink the stack of boxes in my office.
     
  6. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Good summary Helom.
    The H-INT does have a mellow edge to the sound. If your speakers are anything like the Silver 6 (link below) they may have very high levels of distortion in critical frequency bands - e.g. 2Khz. If so, it is no wonder that the more transparent amplifier was not a good fit for them.

    At some point in your audio journey I would recommend you find out how a transparent amplifier sounds with clean, low distortion speakers. KEF and Harbeth are some of the cleanest sounding speakers on the market, for example.

    SoundStageNetwork.com | SoundStage.com - NRC Measurements: Monitor Audio Silver 6 Loudspeakers »
     
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  7. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I've been considering an upgrade to Harbeth recently. I really miss some of the attributes of my Epos Epics that are missing in the MA Silvers. I've only heard one pair of Harbeths (I think they were the 30.1) for about 5 minutes, but they were very sweet.
     
  8. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
    I have heard the Harbeths are awesome, though these speakers are still quite pricey even after the sharp decline in the British Pound ...
     
  9. Bill Mac

    Bill Mac Forum Resident

    Location:
    So. ME USA
    Is "Hint" the Parasound Halo integrated? I was a little lost by that reference.
     
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  10. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Bill Mac,

    Yes, it seems to be the preferred abbreviation.
     
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  11. Bill Mac

    Bill Mac Forum Resident

    Location:
    So. ME USA
    Cool! All the Parasound and Rogue gear I've owned over the years has been excellent. Both companies also offer top notch service!
     
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  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I agree.

    I emailed Parasound the other night (around 8 pm central) with a question about the Halo phono preamps and I got a reply from Mr. Schram within an hour.

    Rogue is also very helpful and accessible.
     
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  13. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Helom

    I come at these topics from an area of not trying to fit square pegs down round holes. And this is what I see from both manufacturers and audiophiles continuously who wind up buying and selling piles and piles of gear over years and years (doing this constantly mismatching speakers with amps not designed for said speakers and then blaming the wrong things).

    Take a holistic look at the overall system and the overall product. Go out and listen to the best systems regardless whether you can afford them. That is what I did - I listened to many many $100k+ stereo systems of all designs - I went out and listened to the best of each kind of design.

    And generally you are going to be happier when you head down a path where the gear fits together properly whether you choose the square system or the circle system. You have to decide on the OVERALL system - some call it synergy.

    At its basic level you buy into camp a or camp b or camp C

    A) Solid State
    If you buy a speaker such as your Monitor Audio a 4 ohm rates speaker that says it needs a minimum of 80 watts it is a speaker that is absolutely NOT designed for a tube amplifier of any kind. Go with a SS amp - it's why you probably got better results with the Yamaha - and don't assume that audiophile brands are better JUST because they're talked about on audio forums. Most of the stuff I see written by forum posters is pure dredge. Repeating what other people say - or they base their opinions on poor auditions in poor rooms with poor gear (or worse audio shows). These people know nothing. And they will waste your money. ANd no offense but in this very thread you are getting advice from someone who sells Rogue Audio - so how unbiased can you expect them to be - of COURSE your speaker is to blame!

    SS offers the most power (and class D) to be able to drive the most difficult to drive speakers and often for the lowest cost per watt. IMO they also sound the worst. But here's the thing - if you already have difficult to drive speakers then on THAT speaker it will probably be the best sounding choice. A SET amp will sound utterly atrocious at medium to loud levels on them

    B) Tube - problem is most tube amps vary widely in sound so you can't really judge tube sound on one tube amp (you can't really do that with SS amps - and it's is far more true with tube designs). But if you go with tube amps - they typically are designed for easier to drive speakers. Changing tubes can improve the sound but then it starts getting expensive. They require more work (biasing) and to me you have to be prepared for generally higher noise floors. Push Pull often clouds the sound some in the midrange with some bloat and unless very very good transformers are used seem to lack the impact and can also sound more than a little dynamically compressed. PP tube is not particularly better than Solid State - an amplifier like the Sugden A21 which is single ended pure class A and the Nelson Pass First Watt sound better than PP most tube amps at higher price points. And you don't have to fiddle with tubes or waste a bunch of money. But I suppose you have the ability to tailor the sound which you can't do with the Sugden or the First Watt.

    C) SET/HE - which is my choice for king of the hill. Single Ended triodes have the least distortion of all amplifier designs at the lowest of the low volume levels and if you have HE speakers you get to take advantage of that. There is a striking clarity and if the amp has very robust or very good quality transformers then for many there is nothing else remotely in play. But they come at the expense of power - there is very little and it's hot and it sucks the electric bill.

    As you can tell I think C is best followed by B followed by A.

    Now what I see on forums is someone buys a Low Efficiency speaker (LE) and has a SS amp. First they usually start with a midrange amplifier and usually get told by various forumers or the press to buy a 1000 watt amplifier that is expensive. They do this - the sound is bright or thin or whatever - something sounds poor. So they wind up buying a tube preamp. This will fix it. Usually this also doesn't work because tube preamps aren't created equal and they may fix one thing at the expense of three other things.

    Or they do as you have done and went for the hybrid amplifier - Hybrid amps have never ever impressed me including Rogue. It's forcing the square peg. Class D and the one note monotony and then the preamp stage trying to do the heavy lifting. I tend to view these sorts of amps as marketing gimmicks trying to appeal to people trying to fix the unfixible.

    As I said I prefer option C but the problem is it requires a wholesale system redo. People don't like that suggestion most of the time. Obviously it tends to be more expensive - but it will wind up costing the least in the long run. But even if you like system A best - it is still better to go full steam ahead with it than the half way sorta kinda works mix and matched stuff.

    If the amp doesn't sound good with stock tubes they come with - there is a problem. The transformers and the caps are vastly more important than the tubes. Indeed, the constantly changing tubes over and over and trying 70 different tubes is the EXACT same problem you have but on a micro scale. They're trying to fix the un-fixable by spending hours and hours and weeks and years trying to make the amp sound halfway decent. When the problem is they bought a crappy ass amplifier that uses transformers that fell off the back of the Chinese truck that have poor bandwidth to start with. Or caps from the dime store. Tubes can't fix lousy transformers. And the truth of this is when you take the mediocre PP tube amp with fancy tubes and you pit it against a much better sounding SET amp with the cheapest tubes and the latter utterly trounces it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  14. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I see your points- however my experience tells me that blanket statements as those above are often wrong.

    I initially had high power seperates mated to my Maggies as Magnepan themselves said to avoid Class D with their speakers. They were wrong as was I for heeding their advice.

    One of the best combinations I heard in my former residence was a pair of Manley Mahi amplifiers and Jumbo Shrimp preamp run in triode mode (18 watts) driving a pair of Salk Songtowers. On paper, a horrible mismatch. In my small listening room at the time, my ears told me differently.

    And while I'm still leery of Class D generally, I gambled on the Pharoah because I haven't yet heard a piece of Rogue gear I didn't like. I'm glad I did. I'm not about to make a blanket statement that Class D is bad. I will say that Rogue seems to be a leader in regards to getting excellent performance out of Class D. Despite the OP's experience, I'll continue to recommend the Pharoah. If you've dismissed it because it's a hybrid or Class D, you've made a mistake.
     
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  15. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    For the most part, I agree with HiFi Guy.

    I do think the Pharoah is a very good integrated amp, and it doesn't sound anything like most class D amps I've heard. I concluded that the Pharaoh doesn't jive with my speakers for the fact that the Pharoah is very revealing and has a very "front row" soundstage. Of course that's just my personal experience in my particular room.

    I'm younger than the average audiophile and I wouldn't be surprised if my ears are more sensitive to distortions or other sound factors. I think an older audiophile would benefit more from the transparency of the Pharoah.

    Of course, I could start auditioning new speakers and try to sell my MA speakers, but I have very few dealers near me and the dealers have a slim selection. I really don't want to go through the hassle of unpacking and repackaging multiple sets of speakers and the hassle of explaining to the dealer why I didn't like them. I also don't have $10 to $20k to put toward a completely new system all at once.

    On the amplifier end, they're easier to set up, shipping is generally cheaper and there's less damage risk. Resale value is also higher in many cases. That's why I chose to experiment with the amp. Outside of analog, I've found that source components vary the least in sound.

    I can likely sell my Pharoah for close to the purchase cost, but I would take a large hit if I sold my speakers.

    I've concluded that my speakers are somewhat bright with some equipment (my Epos Epics don't sound bright with the Rogue gear),

    My speakers needed an amp that could curb their edge, and the Halo seemed to do just that.

    I am returning to school full time, so I have to get over my upgraditis and just enjoy what I have for now.

    I really appreciate everyone's replies and opinions. This is a great forum.
     
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  16. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    Glad you like the Hemp...I mean Hint. I know I want one and from what you've said it doesn't suck:)
     
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  17. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    It really is a great amp, especially considering all its features. It's not the last word in any one area, but it does everything quite well.
     
  18. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    Yes, for me it would probably be a lifelong thing. I haven't the will or the cash to by a bunch of components at this price. I could easily make it a member of the family:)
     
  19. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yesterday I swapped the Pharoah out of the system and hooked up the Hint.

    After a couple of songs through the Hint, I realized the Pharoah was making me feel a bit cold, literally. I know this will sound odd, but when listening to the Pharoah, I felt like I needed to turn up the furnace or put on a pair of socks. That's just not the case with the Hint.

    The Pharoah is also the most "front row" type of sound I've ever experienced with any of my gear.

    It's transparent and dynamic as anyone could likely desire, but with most songs, it felt like the band was playing about 5 feet in front of me.

    Personally, when I go out to enjoy live music, I prefer to be a few rows, or an equivalent distance of a few rows, away from the musicians.

    With the Pharoah, I felt like the musicians were invading my personal space.

    The Hint gives the impression of sitting a few rows back, it allows me to soak in the whole performance.
    The difference between the two reminds me of sitting in a movie theater with a very tall and wide screen.

    Sitting in the most front rows is fatiguing after a short while. Sit a few rows back and you still get most of the detail without the fatigue.

    I take audio magazine reviews with a large grain of salt, however I must admit that most reviews of the Hint seem fairly accurate. I definitely agree that it's detail resolution is less obvious than in other amps. The detail is all there, but in a sneaky way. The soundstage depth is impressive, more so than soundstage width. Most reviews claim it's very neutral, of course that's subjective, but my opinion is that it's on the warm side of neutral.

    I'm still toying with the idea of ordering a Yamaha AS-1100 from Crutchfield (due to their great return policy) and making a final decision between the two.
     
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  20. T'mershi Duween

    T'mershi Duween Forum Resident

    Location:
    Y'allywood
    Man, I hope you do! I would love to see a shoot-out between the Parasound and Yamaha. :)
     
  21. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    The AS-1100 will be here in a few days, shoot-out to follow.
     
  22. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    The Yamaha AS1100 arrived a few days ago and I've spent many hours doing back to back comparisons with the Hint.

    I must say I felt a bias for the Yamaha in the beginning, partly because I enjoyed my AS-500 so much in the past. The AS1100 is a beautiful piece of gear. In a few places, its build quality exceeds the Hint's and other amps I've used.

    I'll start by comparing build quality.
    The Yamaha is definitely the better looking amp IMO. It has aluminum knobs like the Hint and they have a nice smooth feel. The Yamaha has much nicer binding posts, the best I've used. The Yamaha simply feels like a tank with heavy gauge sheet metal and weight. The meters are a nice touch but weren't a big factor in my choice. The Hint has inferior binding posts and RCA jacks. The jacks on the Yamaha seem a bit oversized, which made for snug connections. The internals of the Yamaha that I could see through the vent slots looked very well executed and clean. The Yamaha's heat sinks have micro ridges on each fin. The Yamaha also has a nicer remote with an 1/8" aluminum face.

    I listened only to digital sources, including some streaming of Spotify (their highest quality) through my Audioengine B1 Bluetooth receiver. I also listened to some CDs using my Sony Blu Ray player through my Topping D20 DAC. A side note: my Chinese made Topping DAC ($100) is every bit as good as my Musical Fidelity V90 DAC.

    The albums I primarily listened to were DMB's Crash, Dire Straits' Love over Gold, Adele's 21 and Elton John's Madman across the Water. I also listened to various singles from my Spotify files.

    I hooked up the Yamaha as soon as it arrived and I admit I had high expectations. I let it warm up for about an hour before any listening. My first impression was that it sounded very similar to my A-S500. It had a fairly deep soundstage and is quite neutral . The soundstage seemed a bit more narrow than what I remembered with the Hint. The detail level seemed about the same as the Hint. Overall, it seemed like the Yamaha was producing more reverb effect on most recordings. The bass was deep and balanced.

    After a couple hours with the Yamaha, I hooked up the Hint, that had been sitting cold for a while.

    I immediately noticed a much different sonic signature that I wasn't expecting.

    With almost every song, the sound through the Hint seemed to have more presence, it was fuller. The details also sounded slightly better than the Yamaha. While the Yamaha seemed to have a slightly deeper soundstage, the Hint's was wider and the Hint seemed to have better instrument separation. The Hint also had slightly deeper bass.

    Over the past couple days, my initial impressions have only been reinforced. I have swapped these amps about a half dozen times and my clear preference is for the Hint. Because I preferred the Hint so much with my digital sources, I didn't bother to compare the phono sections. Overall, the Hint has a more textured sound with better detail and presence. The Yamaha is a bit leaner and lacks some detail.

    Maybe I'm not being fair to the Yamaha and didn't allow it enough break-in time, but my hunch is that even if it improved a fair bit, I'd still prefer the Hint.

    I'm a bit disappointed because I wanted the Yamaha to win my heart, it's such a great looking piece.

    Once I factor in the Hint's lower price, features, and better warranty, my choice to keep the Hint is a no-brainer.
     
  23. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    I am curious if you did the comparison using your dacs on both amps or did you use the onboard DAC on the HINT?
     
  24. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    while you're at it throw the rogue cronus magnum in the mix.
    Good summary. That Yamaha is a beautiful amp but there is a reason that H-INTS are selling like hot cakes.
    The smoothness and presence are what I referred to as a smokey presence, it gives vocalists a very slight hint of like they are singing in a smoke filled lounge, just a tinge of smooth raspiness. Good call.
    I really suggest you try a Rogue CMII or Raven Audio Blackhawk if you get the chance. Both sound better than the H-INT and Pharaoh IMHO.
     
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  25. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I used my outboard DACs (Audioengine B1 and Topping D20 for my comparison because I didn't want the Hint to have an advantage with its onboard DAC.

    I don't consider the Hint "smooth" per say, but rather musical at the sacrifice of extreme clarity.

    I wouldn't describe the Hint's presence as "smoky" but rather full. The sound just has more weight and substance. The Yamaha had a bit of emptiness (lean?) to its sound and was a bit more recessed. The Yamaha's high range did however have more color. These terms are just how I interpret them from reading reviews and I've applied them as I feel is applicable.

    I have about two days left in the return window for the Hint and don't really have time to play with other amps. I'm also reluctant to try tube amps because I think I'd become obsessive with tube rolling. I believe I can live happily with the Hint. Thanks for the suggestions.
     

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