From Joespride on Audiokarma.org forum:
I am 49 years old and have been an audio enthusiast since I was 10 years old, when I was old enough and joined the military for my first real job, my first purchase was a Sansui stereo, I loved that thing till it died, Once i Hit Germany my eyes were opened to a whole new level of audio. I left Germany with onkyo m504, and P-308 running infinity sm150 much to my neighbors chagrin………fast forward to 2004 and an audition of a friends tubes and Klipsch K-Horns. and audio took a turn for me………..I immediately went home from that audition and sold every piece of gear I owned and proceeded to build several Horn SET High efficiency bi and tri amp systems.
That journey led me through dozens of amps from the likes of Joule Electra Grand Marquis, Joule Electra Stargates, Welborne Labs drd45, Laurel, and Moon Dog 2A3, Coincident Frankenstein, Deja Vu 45 PP monos. Transcendent SEOTL, Sun Audio 2A3 Mono’s, Korneff 45, Canary Ca-339 and speakers like Edgar Titan, Oris orphean, Klipsch K-Horns, coincident victory, Horn shoppe Horns, avantgarde duo, Klipsch Lascala, Belle, Cornwall, Hersey, Zu Audio Definition Pro, Talon Khorus, Talon parigrin,Pro-ac, SAS and the list goes on and on and on……………..
As often happens life changes and I was forced to move to Headphones and so began my hunt for a headphone setup that rivaled some of my previous systems.
I auditioned the initial version of ampsandsound SE-84 and was so impressed with it that I bought it.
Below is my initial Review of the SE-84:
(“First i want to say you wont find better customer service, Justin actually cares about his product and his customers. He just wants to build quality products that keep his customers happy.
The amp is built like a tank, when you open the considerable packing and finally do get to handle the amp it is immediately obvious how well built this amp is, Very solid.
Aesthetics are nice as well, No gold this and silver that to increase the price, Just very nice attention to detail and quality craftsmanship, with quality components for a handsome, solid small foot print amp, that would look great on your desk or in your rack.
I don’t typically get into the review process, I don’t know the terms used. I know what sounds good with over 25 years in the hobby, I just never got into all the hype, and lingo. I love music !!!!!!!
Sound: If your a fan of single ended amps (and I am) then you will like what this amp has to offer, It gives you all the good attributes without the syrupy warmness. The SE-84 still leans a bit warm as tubes should but its not over done. Detail retrieval is as good as it gets IMHO, I am loving my music collection all over again. The balance between lows mids and highs Is very good with no one thing sticking out above the rest. I often see reviews where one singles out treble etc… as bright, or harsh and so on, Upon listening to this amp my first thoughts were WOW this thing is musical, toes tapping, air guitar strumming, head bobbing………….Looking like a 48 year old fool, I don’t care I was in the zone. With more time I began to notice the finer points. I Heard new details in old favorites, the cymbals just seemed to shimmer through decay (no sizzle), note would hang in the air longer, voices were more life like with wonderful breadth, Bass was deep and defined with decent impact.
This amp has found a permanent home in my headphone rig, and with a quality build I feel I could pass it down to my son. (Hopefully a long time from now”) Since that purchase I have listened nearly every day. My affection for the amp grew to the point I honestly felt like it would be my end game amp for my headphone setup. I received an email from Justin describing his idea of how he planned to improve on the amps performance. I responded I would be more than happy to audition the amp but that I truly felt he had already reached the pinnacle of sound quality with the initial offering. I told Justin I found it hard to believe he could actually improve upon the amps sound and therefore doubted I would be interested in switching amps. He responded “Just give it a listen, and if you like it or not I want your impressions”
Initial Impressions ampsandsound se84 special edition:
First there is an obvious improvement in extension both top and bottom, Running test tones reveals I can clearly hear 5hz improvement for a solid 15hz audible and I can feel a 10 hz rumble on the other end of the scale with tones I gained 1Khz I now have audible extension up to 16khz.
What does this mean for the overall performance of the ampsandsound se84 special edition: First it means Improved separation and air which tends to make the presentation feel cleaner, it improves on the sense of separation by adding more air around the individual instruments making it easier to pinpoint where the individual instruments reside within the stage.
The added extension also adds to the detail retrieval, things that were previously obscured are now evident. The added bass tends to add weight to the overall presentation, impact was improved as well.
The ampsandsound se84 special edition as its early version is still DEAD SILENT with HiFiMan HE500 hooked up, no music playing and volume at max I hear nothing except a black silent background, experimenting with cheap earbuds and IEM have proven it is still VERY quiet
The ampsandsound se84 special edition feels very solid built, with first class construction, and top quality components. It is obvious this is a build of passion not just profit. as one could certainly skimp to save a few bucks on the build while still charging the same price for less quality
I asked Justin to Hi-Lite some of the details of the ampsandsound se84 special edition, and below is a quote from him.
(“Tube sockets are from Belton… the really high quality sockets… should never come loose. Molded in place instead of ceramic. Coupling caps are sprague orange drops Polypropylene which are know to be super reliable and sound great. Resistors are 1%.
Power transformer is Hammond and conservatively spec’d.
Choke is large at 1.75H and sourced from Chicago magnetics.
Outputs have received the largest upgrade. 5K with 40% Ultra Linear tap to 8 ohms,
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 90 kHz, Maximum DC Bias Current: 90 mA, Primary DC Resistance: 370 ohms, Primary Inductance: 40 H.
I don’t have the freq response in front of me but was something like 12hz-37kz @ -1db”)
I don’t personally know of any other tube amp that boasts 3 watts per channel into speakers and or headphones with this
build quality and sound quality for anywhere near this price.
If you use Headphones especially the Audeze, HifiMan Ortho Dynamics, Sennheiser HdXXX, Grado you owe it to yourself to give
the ampsandsound se84 special edition a listen.
After approx. 40 hours listening on the ampsandsound se84 special edition it has only gotten better, Looks like I am buying another amp.
First hand report: Justin is The Man, not only saw his sale amps last sat, Heard them first hand, don’t meet many in life like this guy. Design is as close to flawless in the 40+ years iv been into tubes. Like Dean, quality sometimes is not cheap, however in my lifetime iv never heard of anyone losing money on these either. Their name in the trade speaks for its self.
Recommended for anyone looking for an endgame tube amp with some midrange magic and transient mojo.
AudioExpress RMAF 2016 – ampsandsound coverage Ampsandsound from Southern California (www.ampsandsound.com) teamed up with North California Sonic Studios to show their latest, hand-built hollow-state designs, the $3,600 Agartha and the $1,850 Leeloo combination amps. The former pairs a 6SL7 up front with an overspec’d power supply and 300b triode on output. The latter is both headphone and power amp,using a 12AX7 or equivalent for input (see Photo 8). With a pair of EL-84s out to deliver 2.6 W into an 8 Ω speaker, little Leeloo will also drive a 32 Ω headphone with a dead quiet 1 W of hollow-state […]