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SPL Phonitor X Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

Helicopter

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'above 0dB gain' doesn't describe the device; it describes the scale used on the graph that describes the device. You could set 0dB at the top of the range for the high gain with the exact same circuit. All the observations here mean is that performance is uncompetitively poor, at least in the higher gain range. a Schiit Asgard or Magnius will outperform this amp, hands down, for less than $200.
 
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All those amps have positive gain numbers without all the distortion and problems that the spl phonitor has, so I think we need to hold it to the same standards, of not higher standards because of the price.
To be fair though, most of those amps were evaluated and measured with different gain settings. I think both the THX 789 and 887 (Monoprice one) had some of the test run showing Low, Medium and High gain. That has been pretty common practice in the reviews.
 

garbulky

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Well it puts out 3000 mwatts at 300 ohms.... how many headphone amps can do that? Too bad it doesn't handle low impedance phones well. That would have helped them with planars
 

AnalogSteph

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Actually laughed out loud here.
It wasn't even meant to be funny though, just a fact (I don't think there are very many 300-600 ohm cans rated for more than 200 mW, so you could definitely fry those). Due to the +/-60 V supplies, these units can output insane amounts of voltage... which, it turns out, is not the most practically relevant criterion in most cases, and leads to compromises in areas that matter more in practice. I think SPL have got their shtick from the world of pro mixing consoles (think +24 to +28 dBu), and a time when 600 ohm headphones were prevalent in the studio realm. Turns out these high-impedance jobs actually tend to be decently efficient, and the most power-hungry monsters out there are in the 50 ohm realm where output isn't anything overly special.

This is a good example for what happens when you're optimizing heavily for a single criterion. You get a product that's extremely good at that but potentially falls flat in other areas.
 

branco108

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This review just made me sad :( I Have a plan to buy this device (but XE Version without a DAC). (Also with Violectric but i will wait for Amir review of v550) I hear that it is perfect with sennheiser 800s. It is truly beautiful device. Is there some possibility the XE version will be better?
 

Martin

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I would like to see how one of the Violectric components measures.

They have a lot in common with SPL; they're German, beautifuly made and expensive. :)

Violectric DHA V590 PRO : https://www.hifi.blog/violectric-dha-v590-and-violectric-dha-v590-pro-in-reference-quality/

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Never heard of that brand. Nice looking piece of kit. But wowzer that's expensive - $3,499.95 or $4,099.90 with the relay based volume control. I'd love to see it measured but I'm not springing for one. ;)

Martin
 

branco108

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Yes :) But i always prefer without a DAC because DAC chips will be still better in the future but good amp will be timeless (i hope :D )
 

Count Arthur

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respice finem

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A bit apples vs. oranges I'm afraid, balanced, DAC on board (at least the one above) etc. But still, yes, expensive. If you live in Germany, good and fast service plays a role. I've got my 8 year old Lehmann Rhinelander repaired in a few days.
 

Jimbob54

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Harmonie

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I think that there have been a few copies of Violectric and even better measuring, no ?

I saw some threads about it in French forums some time ago.
 

respice finem

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As long as the design is kept and the components are decent, I wouldn't expect it to measure very differently. The Lehmann logo on the copycat HPA is... well, the Chinese version of showing respect I guess ;) Someone (I don't know who any more) said "if no one copies your design, it's a bad design"...
 

respice finem

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Lake People and Violectric are the same parent co I think? Not sure how their ranges and components split/ overlap though.
There were many "market movements" so I've lost track of them. I expect all these firms to end up one day with a "big brother" company, it's increasingly difficult for smaller manufacturers to survive. This does not have to be bad in itself, but.. it sometimes is.
 

Count Arthur

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As long as the design is kept and the components are decent, I wouldn't expect it to measure very differently. The Lehmann logo on the copycat HPA is... well, the Chinese version of showing respect I guess ;) Someone (I don't know who any more) said "if no one copies your design, it's a bad design"...
There are a fair few clones of older Quad and Naim, and I'm sure there are others, amp designs about, but putting a current design in a similar case with a logo on the front is a bit rich.

As for the quality of the components, or whether they are even genuine, who knows.
 

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