Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ted Torres Jr, Jun 19, 2022.
Hi, Leo @orchardaudio . I think I fell off the list. Can I get added back on? Thanks!
You are on the list I just forgot to type you into that post.
I think this is a great idea, not just talking the talk, but also giving interested parties the opportunity to walk the walk (and then post their thoughts). Thanks, good stuff!!
Thanks, Leo. Really excited to be part of this and learn more about this amp.
A tiny sale today at Orchard Audio
Is the tour on pause since Leo is on vacation?
Amp is currently on the way to @alg22 and you are next. I send you an email.
It seems like we have a backlog of reviews yet to be published !
Looking forward to @okc_craft's thoughs.
Hope Vacation was relaxing & fun!
Any definitive time frame on the RCA to XLR active converter module housing?
No, it is shipping from Poland in the next week or so.
The amp is on its way to @ejk1, looking forward to the write up from @alg22
I’m due a review from my time with the amp; so here it goes.
I was comparing against my First Watt J2 and using my Manley Shrimp preamp, which is single ended only. My source was primarily streaming Qobuz through a Raspberry Pi with a Just Boom Digihat running into a Wadia 321 DAC via a coaxial cable. My speakers are a pair of Cube Audio F8 Magus drivers in a quarter wave cabinet of my own design. All of my cabling is solid silver with low mass connectors, and for the listening I turned my subs off.
First impression of the amp upon pulling it from the box were underwhelming in terms of the case work, not that it was bad, it was just a disappointing given the price of the amp. I will say it was at least solidly constructed, but it just seemed a bit like a prefabbed project box IMO. The speaker terminals and XLR inputs were of a good quality, however I wish that an RCA input was standard so I wouldn't have had to use the inexpensive RCA to XLR adaptors that are traveling with the review amp.
Now for the most important part, the sound. What the amp did well was faithfully reproduce the recording. The reproduction through the entire frequency band was very good. Bass was well controlled and tight, and highs were accurate, though at times could be a little sharp through my Cube Audio drivers. The mid range was good overall. The thing I found lacking, and something that is extremely important to me, was the timbre that the amp presented. I find that my First Watt has this in spades, but the Orchard amp just didn't deliver here. This led to a presentation that lacked a naturalness and sounded a bit flat, which leads to the sound stage and imaging. This is probably one of the biggest things I'm looking for an a piece of gear, and in my opinion, something that typically comes with a hefty price tag to do really well. My room is treated and with the First Watt in place my stage extends far beyond my room, and has a beautiful deep and holographic presentation with precise and well defined locations for the individual performers and instrument. For me in my room the Orchard was not capable of meeting my expectations. The soundstage was only just beyond the edges of my speakers and the depth was not really there.
I'd say the amp was good to a point, and certainly capable, but overall lacked some of the things I've come to value in a piece of gear. It could be that my speakers don't have a good synergy with the amp. It could also be that it's design was done around a balanced connection and my single ended system was simply holding back it's full potential. Either way it just wasn't a great fit in my system.
Actually, I think is both crazy and brave of Leo to send his amp out with only short visits. Most of us have curated our systems to get a sound we like. Drop in a new component and now the system will sound different and probably less to our liking…. and limited time to really evaluate.
One of my goals when I change a component is to see if I’m moving in the direction of a sound I’m looking for… or if not is there something so different that I might consider shifting in that direction.
Example: when I went open baffle, my initial reaction was… not as good as what I currently had… but after a short time decided they could be the foundation of building something better. I changed everything else in my system and now my system is more to my liking and enjoyment.
I’m hoping when the Ultra gets to me, I will be able to listen to it with somewhat of a “what could I build with it thought process as well as how does it compare in my current system. I’m also hoping to try it my buddies 3.7i Magnepan system where he switches back and forth between a Sanders amp and a Parasound Halo A21 and assess the differences.
It seems likely that this sums up my time with the amp. I’ve built a system around high efficiency speakers and low powered simple circuit amps, and let’s face is, class D is a different beast from that. I do think that my speakers accurately reveal an amps voice, and probably brutally so, but that probably gives me a good lenses with which to evaluate.
If you do, please report your findings.
One more added to the tour, # 7 below.
For those who may be interested in some used monoblocks:
Here is my review of the Starkrimson.
I used my Rogue Sphinx as a preamp and BS node to the MHDT Orchard Dac, speakers were Zu Omen mkII. I'm not big on audio jargon so I will explain it the best I can. I felt the music was surreal. Each instrument and vocals were clearly defined. Excellent tones and a warmth that I never experienced before in my system. The Omens put out some great bass. and I did try my friends FW Sit3 before the Starkrimson just to have a baseline of Class A sound, but I was underwhelmed. The music didn't jump out at me at any point. I compared it to my Rogue and the Rogue was a tad thinner or crisper sounding, the Starkrimson just had more body and soul. At one point and I think you guys should demo this song Paloma Chesky " House of the Rising Sun" I felt like I just got bit by a dog the way her voice just shined with this amp. I had my wife listen to the 2 amps and she preferred the Starkrimson and said it was well balanced and she felt the same way that everything was so clearly defined. I don't know how else to put but if you see Tom Martens review on You Tube my thoughts are exactly like his, but he just explains it better. I'm definitely interested in upgrading.
@RonN5 I will get this out to you in a day or 2
Here is the link to Tom Martin's review you referenced.
The amp is due here Saturday… I’ll get some listening in with my system Sunday and Monday…. then it’s off to my buddies Maggie 3.7i system… then back to my system.
I’ll try to post a couple quick impressions along the way and then a more complete review.
Just a few words in advance of my comments/review of the Starkcrimson Ultra which is due here this weekend. The Ultra will be the first Gan amplifier in my system but not the first class d. Over the past year, I've owned three class d amps. First was the Crown XLS 2000. I'd say this amp sounded good but not great; huge two dimensional sound stage, powerful low end, slightly bright, tonal correctness was just ok.
My second class d amp was the Nuprime STA-9. This amp had a similar low end, better dimensionality but the top end in my system was too bright and no matter what I did, I couldn't make it work for me. I suspect it was just a bad fit with my preamp.
Next up was the Digital Amplifier Company 2Cherry. This was an "all discrete parts-no modules" amplifier that sounded great in my system. The low end was not as deep or powerful as the Crown but everything else was much more to my liking. Great soundstage, beautiful tone, no clicks or pops on or off and a really good top end that was rarely bright.
I owned this amp for three years and then after Tommy Obrien passed away made the tough decision to sell it. A buddy of mine had just purchased a new Wells Innamorata II and suggested I try his "stereo version" of the same amplifier (only two of these were ever made). The Innamorata II is a dual mono whereas the stereo version has a single power supply.
I thought, what the heck, no harm trying. The amp is class a/b and biased to 15watts as class A. It gets warm overall and part of the chassis will get to 125 degrees, which seems hot but not as hot as a Pass amp or many tube amps. On quick switch comparisons with the 2Cherry, the amps were very, very similar with the Wells having a more powerful low end. On extended listening comparisons, then Wells also had more meat on the bones in the midrange, zero harshness and a more musically satisfying tone.
I bought the amp and then called Jeff Wells and he explained the amps pedigree and told me that his goal with amplifiers is to drive the noise and distortion as low as possible but to be sure that any remaining distortion was oriented toward 2nd and 3rd harmonic.
I had the opportunity to hear the Atmasphere and the AGD Ganfet amplifiers at the Florida Audio Expo earlier this year...different design approaches...both sounded great. I know that the Orchard Audio Ultra has been well reviewed and labelled as a "straight wire with gain" amplifier...which Leo has confirmed was his goal. As such, I fully expect that it will sound "somewhat different" from the Wells...but I also expect that it will sound pretty darn good and that like so much of the great equipment being made these days it will come down to what flavor do you prefer....which as we all know, can change on any given day.
My system has really been sounding great lately...and so has my buddy's system with the Maggies. I'm really looking forward to trying the Ultra in two different systems with a variety of music and I'll try to provide as much useful feedback as possible.
I figured I would post here first, if this is against the rules and has to go to the for sale section let me know.
I have a used Stereo Ultra for sale for 3300 + shipping. MSRP is 3800
-- Silver front panel
-- Dual mono with capacitor upgrade
-- XLR inputs
-- 110/120 AC input (can be changed to 220/240V).
-- 1-year warranty included.