The Audiophile Bug Is Biting…



  • pitdogg2
    pitdogg2 Posts: 23,335
    So which one has the hemi again?

    Nice review @jbreezy5
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Last night I hooked up the Ares II in my main rig with ML ESLs and listened for several hours. There was more of everything I heard in the office system.

    Another nicely discounted Ares II became available locally.

    In short, I now own two of these fine dacs.
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 17,321
    jbreezy5 wrote: »
    With EQ sounds unequivocally better, especially in a listening space as small and asymmetrical throughout as mine is.

    This is telling. Not a dig. Just saying....


    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    edited January 3
    treitz3 wrote: »
    jbreezy5 wrote: »
    With EQ sounds unequivocally better, especially in a listening space as small and asymmetrical throughout as mine is.

    This is telling. Not a dig. Just saying....


    Not really. I have no EQ in my office system, and frankly, I was a “no EQ” guy most of my years as an audiophile.

    My listening spaces have also changed throughout the years. Some were more ideal than others.

    I simply have learned that there’s nothing wrong with making adjustments when necessary.

    Some people do it with cables, others with sources, preamps, amps, and room treatments.

    I simply use whatever yields the most desirable sonic result “to my ears”, as someone I have seen say repeatedly on this forum.

    Not a dig, just saying…😉

  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Received the Freya+ yesterday (Saturday) morning, and listened to music all day, first in my office system, using the supplied “premium matched JJ tubes” as the seller called them; they were completely microphonic, so out they went.

    I swapped them out for the NIB quad-matched EH 6SN7s I purchased from The Tube Store; no audible microphony that I could detect.

    Experimented with passive, jfet buffered, and tube preamp sections. I liked all except jfet buffered which sounded veiled, and generally, less of everything. No critical listening just impressions, because was trying to determine which system I wanted to put this in.

    This system previously had Arcam A75 integrated and KEF Q300/ MA Silver-1/ Wharfedale Diamond 10.1, and latest addition Denafrips Ares II DAC. Listened only on KEF this time since they are the best at soundstaging. Got really good sounds.

    I also hooked up my PrimaLuna Prologue Five to go all tube (almost) to get a feel for the sonics, and this definitely did the redolent, textural, “flesh on the bones” effect. I liked this pairing most with classical music; a fun option.

    Also hooked this up to an Onkyo solid-state stereo amp (M-5150) in tube pre mode; this combo had more transparency than all-tube with the PL Prologue Five, but retained excellent textural cues, if a little bit less so, but this seemed the most satisfying combo across most musical genres.

    Using passive pre, was very transparent and detailed, and great when one wants to be more analytical while listening.

    I took a break for a couple hours then set Freya+ up in my main rig with Bluesound Node 2i/Cambridge Audio CXC v.1 > Denafrips Ares II > Freya+ > Ashly GQX-3102 analog EQ > B&K ST 125.2 > Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs.

    Basic impressions remained similar regarding the 3 available preamp modes described above (e.g. only disliked the jfet buffer mode).

    As is usual, but I don’t presume upon it, things were even better in this set-up, mostly because of the superior soundstaging, detail resolution, and bass depth/power/control of the ESLs.

    I definitely like the Freya+ here so I think I found the winner 🥇 for which system to put this in.

    I will miss the B&K Ref 50’s +/- 1dB controlled volume steps, wonderful remote control, and volume level readout on the display (or will I?…hehe). It really is a great sounding preamp in Direct mode. I think I will be doing more comparison between these two pres.

    This mandated that, having a 3-day weekend, I get off my lazy duff and get serious about dialing in my system to the room…

  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    One side note: I purchased the Freya+ from a seller on eBay whom had 100% positive reviews on 92 total transactions, but I had the misfortune on the day of delivery, and today also, to discover the remote only works intermittently, because the motorized potentiometer often freezes/gets stuck in a position (never the same), and I have to get up and walk across the room to adjust to the volume setting to the desired level. I’m going to seek out a refund/return, since the seller didn’t disclose this issue in his description.

    He also advertised the preamp as “scratchless”, but there are a couple dings on the volume knob, otherwise it arrived very clean in appearance.

    Back to regular programming…

    I disconnected my Ashly EQ and inserted my dbx Driverack PA+ (I’ll call it EQ, but it’s so much more) after the preamp, and used the dbx calibration mic/stand adjusted for my ear height.


    When I previously mentioned how difficult this particular listening room is, I wasn’t kidding. Following are screenshots from the dbx Driverack PA+ for independent L/R channel frequency response adjustments, post pink-noise measurement, set for flat frequency response (others are available also):



    One can easily see how different the in-room responses are from each speaker, based on the Driverack’s adjustments. The reason for this is, because one speaker is corner-loaded, and the other only has rear wall boundary reinforcement.

    To me, this clearly demonstrates the value of EQ, among other technological advances, to help attain the best sound possible.

    Fortunately, neither speaker drifts more than +/- 6dB away from neutral in the frequency response, which means I’m able to use the -6dB settings (i.e. the lowest noise-floor setting, as opposed to, +/- 15dB) on my Ashly EQ to attain a flat frequency response at the listening seat.

    While I previously had “acceptable” (i.e. enjoyably listenable) EQ settings on my own, I definitely prefer the fully calibrated settings from the Driverack.

    I would also add, that I listened for awhile with the dbx in the chain to ensure I was happy with the results; the Ashly EQ sounded more pleasing once swapped back in, to my ears, as the extra ADC/DAC process the dbx brings was removed, and now, after the ARES II dac everything is analog only (I did just purchase a tube-pre after all). Don’t want to interfere with that!

    Anyway, if I receive proper cooperation from the seller to get a refund, I’ll have to decide how I want to go about re-introducing a Freya+ to my system.

    The sonics are decidedly better than the $850-$900 price-point it sells for direct from Schiit’s website (sans tubes). I just gotta have proper remote functionality on my preamp, otherwise, I would have kept this one.
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    The seller agreed to a partial refund on the Freya+, so I'll ultimately be keeping this unit, but still have to arrange shipping to Schiit for the motorized potentiometer repair.

    While coming to an agreement with the seller, I let the buffered preamp run in, figuring that it may not have been used much. In the couple weeks I used this configuration it became more open and transparent sounding; it no longer sounds like a compromised design when compared to the other preamp configurations.

    Now when I compare the 3 preamplifier choices going from tubed > buffered > passive at the same volume setting, I hear the following:

    Tube pre - plenty of detail (maybe not as much micro-detail as buffered/passive options), excellent tone/timbre/texture, a little less transparent compared to the pure passive/buffered pre configurations, big soundstage/imaging. I like this mode best when I'm in the listening seat. This mode runs very hot with tubes engaged.

    Buffered pre - this is now very transparent, plenty of detail (maybe a bit more in terms of micro-detail compared to passive pre/tubed pre), soundstage/imaging is very good, but doesn't detach from the speakers quite as well as the tubed pre; also a little bit lower volume at the same volume setting compared to tubed pre; this, to me, is the sweet-spot configuration for regular listening (i.e. casual or critical listening).

    Passive pre - very transparent, plenty of detail (gets a slight nod over tubed pre for micro detail, but loses on texture and soundstage/imaging size to both buffered pre/tubed pre); passive pre sounds humane and is preferable on unforgiving recordings and when wanting to listen at low volumes. It still opens up nicely if volume is raised, but have to get pretty high on the volume dial to attain similar levels to buffered mode.

    Summing up:

    Having 3 immediately comparable preamp configurations is quite the educational experience. IMO, the Freya+ is a nice tool to have in one's collection. Doing A/B/C comparisons may be accomplished when listening begins in tube mode, b/c it takes approx. 30 seconds to warm-up the tubes; however, one can instantly switch to passive/buffered modes from tube mode [tubes are turned off in these modes to preserve tube life (!)].

    I like the flexibility this preamp provides and feel it is an insane value at its price, especially with the resistor-matched volume control, both xlr/rca ins/outs, and remote control. Can you think of any other manufacturer this many useable features in a preamp?

    Once I arrange the potentiometer repair, it will give me a chance to get the B&K Ref 50 back in the system for more comparisons. I do miss the precision of the digital display for volume setting on the B&K, as well as, 1 dB volume adjustments using it's far superior remote. The Freya+ remote is the size of a small candy bar and doesn't fit my hands very well. On the intermittent occasions that volume adjusts using the Freya+ remote, it seems to move 2 or 3 clicks for every button press.
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Took the Freya+ out to be shipped for potentiometer repair, reinstalled the B&K Ref 50, put on some tunes, “Aaahh”.

    Just sounds good, ”proppa” remote in hand, precise/controlled volume adjustments. That quick I know this pre is still home base for me.

    Will be keeping the Freya+, but I’m thinking next place for it to go will be all tube with the Primaluna Prologue Five.

    I’ve been thinking about modding the Klipsch Heresies by creating a slot port in the rear panel of the speaker cabinet, replacing some crossover parts, adding some acoustic foam, and changing binding posts.

    The Heresies are rather thin sounding in their current state, especially w/o EQ, but even then, they simply lack the kind of bass that sounds musically satisfying.

    A ported cabinet should result in a more prominent mid-bass to hopefully balance out the sound.

    The Freya+ (tube mode) & PL Five definitely had a “fatter” (fuller?) sound than having solid-state pre or amp in the chain so hopefully this proves to be a synergistic pairing.

    Looking forward to this experiment…
  • Clipdat
    Clipdat Posts: 12,207
    jbreezy5 wrote: »
    I’ve been thinking about modding the Klipsch Heresies by creating a slot port in the rear panel of the speaker cabinet, replacing some crossover parts, adding some acoustic foam, and changing binding posts.

    Sounds expensive.

  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Clipdat wrote: »
    jbreezy5 wrote: »
    I’ve been thinking about modding the Klipsch Heresies by creating a slot port in the rear panel of the speaker cabinet, replacing some crossover parts, adding some acoustic foam, and changing binding posts.

    Sounds expensive.

    Under a few hundred.

  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Sounds like a familiar quote @neastcrom.

    Plagiarism is bad.
  • audioluvr
    audioluvr Posts: 5,060
    Miss my Reference 50. Was very good for solid state. I modded a pair of Forte's. They were nice (better than stock) but in the end I sold them for something better. My SDA 1C's.
    Gustard X26 Pro DACBelles 21A Pre modded with Mundorf Supreme capsB&K M200 Sonata monoblocks refreshed and upgradedPolk SDA 1C's modded / 1000Va DreadnaughtWireworld Silver Eclipse IC's and speaker cablesHarman Kardon T65C w/Grado Gold. (Don't laugh. It sounds great!)There is about a 5% genetic difference between apes and men …but that difference is the difference between throwing your own poo when you are annoyed …and Einstein, Shakespeare and Miss January. by Dr. Sardonicus
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    audioluvr wrote: »
    Miss my Reference 50. Was very good for solid state. I modded a pair of Forte's. They were nice (better than stock) but in the end I sold them for something better. My SDA 1C's.

    Food for thought; I do want to recoup what I paid and modded might fetch less. Hmm…
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,013
    Last night I removed the back panel of each of the Heresies and slightly angled it and rested it to the back of each cabinet to function as a make-shift slot port.

    The bass reflex alignment completely transformed the sound of the Heresies for the better. There is much better overall balance and smoothness to the sound now. A novice could easily hear the difference.

    I would liken it to a woman wearing a Victorian Corset (sealed cabinet) when she can finally remove it. Everything just became relaxed and easy in the mid-bass/midrange; there is more air, expansion, and flexibility which results in a nice, smooth transition to the high frequencies, which no longer seem forward.

    Everything I listened to (e.g. Burlap to Cashmere, Earl Klugh, Telarc Russian symphonies, Fleetwood Mac) sounded very present and real.

    The soundstage became huge, and soundstage depth is easily perceptible (I really think this is a function of dynamic capabilities). Imaging was pinpoint. They are still sweet-spotty; changing listening position affects the sound.

    Percussion had that quick “snap”, cymbals had that tactile ping and shimmer and rendered the reverberant feeling they create in the room, very convincingly. I could sense the sonic texture of drum-skins and the size of the body of larger drums; in fact, everything on a recording seemed larger and in the room.

    Voices now had body, and low-level inflections could be more easily heard. Dynamic reproduction was absurdly good.

    The Heresies still can’t dig deep in the bass, but with bass reflex alignment, what they do produce is satisfying. Fortunately I have a REL sub to cover the lowest registers; but most of what is on a recording is already present.

    I ended up listening to music until approx. 2:45 a.m., because disc after disc was a revelation.

    Not going to sell them after this. Project Klipsch is on!