Time to go Planar!

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George Hincapie
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by George Hincapie »

Fretless wrote: Tue Nov 08, 2022 11:57 am Image

Sabaj PHA3. Under 40 euro's! Tubes! Music!

:dance: :dance: :dance:
Metrum do make exceptional DACs...
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Fretless (Tue Nov 08, 2022 10:44 pm)
Main System
Metrum Acoustics Ambre • Metrum Acoustics Adagio • Metrum Acoustics Forte • NVA Cube 1

Headphone System
Denafrips Iris • Denafrips Ares II • Linear Tube Audio MZ3 • Sundara • Arya Stealth

Cables
NVA TIS • NVA TSCS • Blue Jeans • Periapt

Power
Farad • Tomanek

Sources
Roon • Tidal • Qobuz • AudioLab 6000CDT

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Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Tube-rolling - a whole new kettle of fish to explore.

Web comments on the Sabaj PHA3 are that it is ridiculous value for money and does benefit from replacing the stock Chinese tubes with East European brands. Already in the process of looking around for some.

Plug & play, the PHA3 comes assembled out of the box. Attach interconnects, cans and power lead. On switch, volume knob and off we go.

Only had this in use for a few hours but it already impresses the hell out of me with a warm, solid, 'elastic' sound that injects vitality into the music, a quality that I now realise the Schiit Magni3 was lacking. The PHA3 has a hint of roughness in loud/complex passages that better tubes will probably sort out, but this is a lovely little (tiny!) device that gets me 'glowing' with delight.

:music-listening:


Up next: the Sabaj A10h which I'll have a look at tomorrow. Waiting on a new interconnect for that.
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antonio66 (Wed Nov 09, 2022 5:55 am) • George Hincapie (Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:34 am)

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

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Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Headphone amp of the day - the Sabaj A10h.

Image

Another doll's-house-sized unit from Sabaj and still in the pocket-money price class, the A10h is a Class-D 'High Resolution Headphone Amplifier' (according to the box) that even comes with a remote control.

Far more sophisticated that the basic PHA3, this device has an extra set of output sockets on the back which are for use as a pre-amp to powered speakers. There is a bright blue display panel and the single knob is multi-functional doing not only volume duties but is also the on/off switch and for altering the simple settings. Build quality is nothing short of exceptional: solid, chic and built like a tank!

This amp has 3 impedance settings of which 'H1' is the standard headphone one. The (very) bright display can be dimmed and there is selection between headphone and pre-amp duties. Will get around to the remote sometime - that is set up to control a complete A10 system of amplifier, DAC and headphones.

The A10h amp is intended for use in the Upstairs rig along with the Hifiman Sundara's, so I have commenced initial listening using them and these two are just made for each other. Amp and cans play to each other's strengths and there is a definite synergy here. The Sundara comes over as richer, fuller and better controlled than I have previously heard them. Smooth detailed highs and a wide, precise soundstage. The A10h obviously has oodles of power and a clean, exact character but is more lively and involving than the Schiit Magni3. Not quite the bouncy, fun-factor of its valve-driven sibling PHA3 though - but it certainly lives up to the Hi-Res tag.

Should have a new interconnect coming in today and then I can revise the Upstairs setup to replace the Cambridge DAC with the Musette and the A10h.

Got my eye on something else as well ...
... and it's only Wednesday.

:whistle:
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CN211276 (Wed Nov 09, 2022 7:47 pm) • antonio66 (Thu Nov 10, 2022 6:42 am) • George Hincapie (Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:34 am)

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

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George Hincapie
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by George Hincapie »

A really nice write up! I wonder what is to come next? 😊
Main System
Metrum Acoustics Ambre • Metrum Acoustics Adagio • Metrum Acoustics Forte • NVA Cube 1

Headphone System
Denafrips Iris • Denafrips Ares II • Linear Tube Audio MZ3 • Sundara • Arya Stealth

Cables
NVA TIS • NVA TSCS • Blue Jeans • Periapt

Power
Farad • Tomanek

Sources
Roon • Tidal • Qobuz • AudioLab 6000CDT

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Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Headphone amp of the day: Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 887

Image

Ha! Just won this in an Ebay auction where there was only 1 other bid. Nice price.
Nearly new and hardly used - bought earlier this year by someone who prefers Stax electrostatics.
This will be powering the Monoprice M1070 in the office.

:dance: :dance: :dance:
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George Hincapie (Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:35 am)

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

User avatar
Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Image

Thanks to the efficiency of the Dutch postal system (and the fact that it is a very small country), a little package arrived this morning.

This meant that I could put a matched pair of good-quality Philips E180F tubes in the Sabaj PHA3 amp. I was worried about this being a complicated technical exercise but it ended up being about as difficult as changing a fuse.

Quite extraordinary improvement in SQ and this tiny, unassuming amplifier is transformed onto a sonic giant.

Bizarre!

:music-listening: :music-listen: :music-listening:
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George Hincapie (Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:37 am)

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

User avatar
Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Image

So here we have the Sabaj PHA3 next to the Chameleon DAC on a shelf beside the sofa. The blue LED at the back is the Oehlbach Masterclock.
Having installed the Philips tubes this afternoon, I've had this setup running on repeat to warm everything through for some hours now.

Listening on the M1060C headphones the sound is so much fuller and more involving than the Schiit Magni. There is an infectious openness and vividness, with the s!lght roughness of the Chinese tubes now gone - replaced by a spacious sense of breathing-room.

No, this is not the detail-fiend's idea of audio nirvana. This is a gloriously emotive and foot-tapping combination that drops you right into the middle of the music, without the feeling that you are missing anything at all.

:guiness;

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

User avatar
Fretless
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by Fretless »

Image

Implemented the Metrum Musette and A10h headphone amp in the Upstairs system. Now you see just how tiny the Sabaj unit is.

:animals-bunny:
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George Hincapie (Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:38 am)

Upstairs:
Vinyl
Pro-Ject 1.2 + Grado Signature Jr. + Cambridge Alva Duo
DigiAllo DigiOne SIG + Arcam CD62T + Metrum Musette
NVA: P50sa - A40s - Cube2 - SSP - LS6
CansHifiman Sundara + Sabaj A10h
Downstairs:
Vinyl
Logic DM101 + Syrinx LE1 + Grado Signature MCX
DigiDenafrips Ares II + Volumio PC + Cambridge CXC
NVA: P50 (phono) - PSU - A40 - BMU+ Arcam One
Headphone rig:
Digi
Tinkerboard + Oehlbach Masterclock + DacMagic Plus
CansMonoprice Monolith M1060C / M1070 + Sabaj PHA3

ljones67
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by ljones67 »

Really enjoying this thread, trouble is I'm now wondering whether to get another pair of headphones! I've never used a headphone amp so I like the idea of the Sabaj. I'm trying to figure out how I could use it with an iPad as I tend to use that a lot for music. I could use the headphone output to the 3.5mm input on the front of the Sabaj or use a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter from the iPad to the Sabaj.

I did a search on the replacement tubes to see where I could get them. Would Mullard E180Fs be just as good as the Philips ones? I don't know anything about tubes so any thoughts would be welcome. They are available from Watford Valves in the UK. Are these the right ones?

https://www.watfordvalves.com/product_d ... GSEALw_wcB
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Fretless (Fri Nov 11, 2022 12:55 pm)

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SteveTheShadow
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Re: Time to go Planar!

Unread post by SteveTheShadow »

ljones67 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 12:19 pm
…..Would Mullard E180Fs be just as good as the Philips ones? I don't know anything about tubes so any thoughts would be welcome. They are available from Watford Valves in the UK. Are these the right ones?

https://www.watfordvalves.com/product_d ... GSEALw_wcB
Philips and Mullard were closely associated. Some Mullard valves were made in the Netherlands factories as Philips bought them out in 1927, so the valves could be identical, just the name on the glass being different. Either way, Mullard and Philips are good valves.
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Fretless (Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:08 pm) • ljones67 (Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:19 pm)
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