Earmax Headphone Amp Amplifiers

5/5 (9 Reviews)


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Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jorn S. a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 19, 2007

Bottom Line:   
Earmax Pro

If my review is to tell you anything at all, you need to know my set up. So here goes: Shunyata Taipan and Hydra 6 power line gear. Densen 400 XS CD-player (if you are not familiar with the company, read up on it at www.densen.dk. I’d say the sound is somewhere between Meridian and Rega. Highly analogue.) Then Goertz silver cabling to head phone amp. Finally, Sennheiser 650s with Moon Audio Silver Dragon (version 2) cable. By the way, that’s another thing I felt grateful for – the new Silver Dragon. Nothing (and I mean nothing) like it to lift the Sennheiser veil and make for a highly detailed yet truly natural sound.

I sent out for an Earmax, after reading the review by Ken Kessler which I mentioned above. It had all the key words in it: “feeling of being there”, “musical” and etc. I bought mine (with a money back guarantee) at the Tube Amp Doctor in Germany. It came within days.

First of all, since looks are important, this thing is sooooo beautiful! I read some comments by people who liked an earlier finish better, and I cannot comment on that. But this thing looks exquisite as it is. No pictures on the internet convey this. The finish is very high grade, the craftsmanship is great. There is only one button on this thing, which is the volume control with an Alps pot inside. Both X-Cans and Lehmann use that, too, but it doesn’t feel nearly as exquisite, as – well – expensive, as with the EMP. I won’t go into features, there are none. No in-and-out loop, no gain switch, no nothing. But I don’t need that either, since my CD-player features two sets of outputs. For me, as I said (and repeated, I know), it’s all about the music. So what about that?

In technical terms: The bass is abysmal. It might be even deeper than the Lehmann’s and is a world away from anything the X-Can can do. The midrange is beautifully structured, full and rich, leaving both competitors far behind (the Lehmann farther than the X-Can), the upper end is full of beautiful detail and airy, without sounding as analytic as the Lehmann does or as (slightly) unfocused, as the X-Can. The soundstage is big and well structured. I have never heard a head phone amp create such a feeling of space.

In musical terms: Music through the EMP sounds like music through hardly anything at all. Meaning you just don’t notice you are listening to an amp. You are too involved with the music! The music is authentic and immediate - the two most important adjectives to describe high end gear, in my book. And the first two to come to mind when listening to the Earmax Pro.

A few examples:

Bill Evans Trio live at the Village Vanguard. With the X-Can, the conversational structure of three equally important instruments never really came out, mostly because of the weak bass. The Lehmann brought that out, beautifully – only none of the three instruments sounded the way they really do. This is the music I know best from live gigs, and the Lehmann doesn’t put me there at all. The EMP combines the completeness of the Lehmanns musical picture, presents all three instruments equally and clearly separate from each other, and on top of that makes each one of them – percussion, stand up bass and piano – sound (just about) the way they really do. Lovely!

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, When I go; Tracys EP. These are two of my favourite voices in popular music. Well, as popular as folk is, today… But that’s another matter. Both use a lot of fine tuning in their phrasing, sometimes more or less telling the stories, then singing beautifully together. Carter at times being ironic, sometimes a little silly, always very human. Tracy in the background, sometimes leaving that, adding a wistful note to Dave’s lyrics. On these two CDs you get 6 or 7 different guitar-like instruments. With the X-Can, the music is quite beautiful, but the bottom drops out at small volumes and the differences between instruments used are not very clear. Also, there could be more snap to single guitar notes. The Lehmann gets that right, but … well, see above.
With the EMP all those instruments have a very different character. The voices are so human, it makes me weep to think of Dave Carter’s death. The Earmax pro also does something more: It reproduces the feel of the setting. “When I go” was recorded in Tracy Grammers kitchen, for budget reasons. The recording is far from bad, it’s, well, homely. And I never got that feeling the way I did with the EMP. Quite astonishing!

Whitesnake live in the heart if the city. (What? Yes, yes… a few drinks and my past caught up with me….) This should have been a home run for the Lehmann. It wasn’t. Yes, the guitars do have more attack through the Lehmann. But the EMP a) creates a feeling of space, of being right there inside that BIG Hammersmith Odeon, that got me hooked. The audience sounds more like an audience than anything I heard in my life. Yes, in my life. And as Coverdale gets carried away on “Ain’t no love” or bursts into the opening lines of “Mistreated”, the emotional impact is so intense! Also, Moody’s guitar might not be just as snappy, but it’s got a blues feel to it, that – yet again – sounds just right. This is part of the sound that distinguished Whitesnake from say Rainbow or Deep Purple in the first place and I love it. The X-Can might be the most effective compromise for this kind of music. Then again, the feeling of being there (though not as non-existing as with the Lehmann), is not quite as intense as through the Earmax Pro. Nevertheless, if this is your preferred kind of music, check out the X-Can, too.

(Sober again…) Beethovens 5th piano concert. Same picture. The EMP takes the completeness and dynamics of the Lehmann, adds spaciousness and clearly distinguishable and authentic sounding instruments and makes for a musical experience that I was unprepared for. I never thought the actual feeling of a symphonic concert hall, the swelling up and down of the orchestra, the beautiful intimacy of the solo instrument could be reproduced like this. With this kind of music, the EMP even blows my Pathos – Dynaudio combo away and that is saying plenty!

Bachs “Well tempered piano”. Don’t even ask. The cembalo is so hard to get to sound right, and the EMP does it. Usually this instrument just makes you wish you were listening to a recording using an actual piano, instead. But not this time. There is so much finesse to every note played, such an airiness to the instrument’s sound. This is beauty manifest. This is also home turf for the Earmax Pro, neither of the others even plays in the same league.

So is this the perfect head phone amp? Of course not. But, man, does it ever come close! If it came at twice the price - I am still sober – I’d still say it’s worth every cent. At its price, it’s a steal! Get two, put one in the bank, enjoy the other – music never sounded so real before.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2006

Price Paid:    $550.00

Purchased At:   Tube



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jorn S. a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 19, 2007

Bottom Line:   
Earmax Pro

I sent out for an Earmax, after reading the review by Ken Kessler which I mentioned above. It had all the key words in it: “feeling of being there”, “musical” and etc. I bought mine (with a money back guarantee) at the Tube Amp Doctor in Germany. It came within days.

First of all, since looks are important, this thing is sooooo beautiful! I read some comments by people who liked an earlier finish better, and I cannot comment on that. But this thing looks exquisite as it is. No pictures on the internet convey this. The finish is very high grade, the craftsmanship is great. There is only one button on this thing, which is the volume control with an Alps pot inside.

I gave the EMP 20 hours of break-in time. It’s supposed to need 100 or so, but I couldn’t wait. Nor did I have to! After 20 hours this little unit produced such musical beauty, such face splitting smiles! (Well, “demented” is the word my wife used, but let’s not get into that…) The sound is tube-like, in so far that each and every single voice or instrument sounds just like it really does. I can truly say that within moments I found myself sitting in that jazz club, that chamber, that symphony hall, listening in to the real thing. The Earmax Pro – Silver Dragon V2 – Sennheiser 650 combo comes so close to the actual sound, it’s unbelievable. IIt actually matches my Pathos – Dynaudio combo in this respect which is 9 times (!) the price. Let’s see, if I can explain this in detail.

In technical terms: The bass is abysmal. It might be even deeper than the Lehmann’s and is a world away from anything the X-Can can do. The midrange is beautifully structured, full and rich, leaving both competitors far behind (the Lehmann farther than the X-Can), the upper end is full of beautiful detail and airy, without sounding as analytic as the Lehmann does or as (slightly) unfocused, as the X-Can. The soundstage is big and well structured. I have never heard a head phone amp create such a feeling of space.

In musical terms: Music through the EMP sounds like music through hardly anything at all. Meaning you just don’t notice you are listening to an amp. You are too involved with the music! The music is authentic and immediate - the two most important adjectives to describe high end gear, in my book. And the first two to come to mind when listening to the Earmax Pro.

A few examples:

Bill Evans Trio live at the Village Vanguard. With the X-Can, the conversational structure of three equally important instruments never really came out, mostly because of the weak bass. The Lehmann brought that out, beautifully – only none of the three instruments sounded the way they really do. This is the music I know best from live gigs, and the Lehmann doesn’t put me there at all. The EMP combines the completeness of the Lehmanns musical picture, presents all three instruments equally and clearly separate from each other, and on top of that makes each one of them – percussion, stand up bass and piano – sound (just about) the way they really do. Lovely!

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, When I go; Tracys EP. These are two of my favourite voices in popular music. Well, as popular as folk is, today… But that’s another matter. Both use a lot of fine tuning in their phrasing, sometimes more or less telling the stories, then singing beautifully together. Carter at times being ironic, sometimes a little silly, always very human. Tracy in the background, sometimes leaving that, adding a wistful note to Dave’s lyrics. On these two CDs you get 6 or 7 different guitar-like instruments. With the X-Can, the music is quite beautiful, but the bottom drops out at small volumes and the differences between instruments used are not very clear. Also, there could be more snap to single guitar notes. The Lehmann gets that right, but … well, see above.
With the EMP all those instruments have a very different character. The voices are so human, it makes me weep to think of Dave Carter’s death. The Earmax pro also does something more: It reproduces the feel of the setting. “When I go” was recorded in Tracy Grammers kitchen, for budget reasons. The recording is far from bad, it’s, well, homely. And I never got that feeling the way I did with the EMP. Quite astonishing!

Whitesnake live in the heart if the city. (What? Yes, yes… a few drinks and my past caught up with me….) This should have been a home run for the Lehmann. It wasn’t. Yes, the guitars do have more attack through the Lehmann. But the EMP a) creates a feeling of space, of being right there inside that BIG Hammersmith Odeon, that got me hooked. The audience sounds more like an audience than anything I heard in my life. Yes, in my life. And as Coverdale gets carried away on “Ain’t no love” or bursts into the opening lines of “Mistreated”, the emotional impact is so intense! Also, Moody’s guitar might not be just as snappy, but it’s got a blues feel to it, that – yet again – sounds just right. This is part of the sound that distinguished Whitesnake from say Rainbow or Deep Purple in the first place and I love it. The X-Can might be the most effective compromise for this kind of music. Then again, the feeling of being there (though not as non-existing as with the Lehmann), is not quite as intense as through the Earmax Pro. Nevertheless, if this is your preferred kind of music, check out the X-Can, too.

(Sober again…) Beethovens 5th piano concert. Same picture. The EMP takes the completeness and dynamics of the Lehmann, adds spaciousness and clearly distinguishable and authentic sounding instruments and makes for a musical experience that I was unprepared for. I never thought the actual feeling of a symphonic concert hall, the swelling up and down of the orchestra, the beautiful intimacy of the solo instrument could be reproduced like this. With this kind of music, the EMP even blows my Pathos – Dynaudio combo away and that is saying plenty!

Bachs “Well tempered piano”. Don’t even ask. The cembalo is so hard to get to sound right, and the EMP does it. Usually this instrument just makes you wish you were listening to a recording using an actual piano, instead. But not this time. There is so much finesse to every note played, such an airiness to the instrument’s sound. This is beauty manifest. This is also home turf for the Earmax Pro, neither of the others even plays in the same league.

So is this the perfect head phone amp? Of course not. But man, does it ever get close!

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2006

Price Paid:    $550.00

Purchased At:   Tube Amp Doctor



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by abel pei a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: October 9, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This is the best head unit that i have ever purchased, but it is hard to come by and very expensive.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $500.00



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Brian a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: May 25, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This is a review of the upgraded Earmax Pro. Currently I'm using it to drive my Grado RS-1's with a NOS Sylvania 12AT7 and a pair of Russian military 6922's replacing the stock tubes. The sound of this diminutive unit is awesome. Smooth, full bodied, and adsolutely unfatiguing. The bass is very uncharacteristic of most tube designs - it's rich, weighty, deep, rippling, fat bass! I love it! The midrange is so pure, and the highs are extended but have that tube sweetness. Sense of space and spatial elements are excellent but a tad behind the Sugden. If you love the sound of tubes but not the lean bass I can highly recommend this amp. It just doesn't get any better than this... Alright it does, but it'll cost you 5k. Start saving your pennies!

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   Private Seller



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Marc Bratton a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: March 21, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Rob Damm's right about this one...this is a great little headphone amp. It makes my HeadRoom Supreme and Bryston sound like they have fur on them, by comparison.
This piece's strong points are a SMOOOOTH, lush tube midrange, sweet treble, and deep, full bass-rounder than solid state, still very satisfying. Excellent inner detail without sounding etched or hyped in anyway. Pair this little amp with a pair of Sennheiser HD 580's or 600's, you've got a little reference quality system you can take with you to the stereo job to hear how that $3000.00 CDP or preamp REALLY sounds. Or, you can just stay home and enjoy it, forgot about all this audiophool business.
Scuttlebut over at HeadWize is this little unit doesn't cut it in the bass, even with 300 ohm Sennheisers (the EarMax regular, which I'm reviewing, is recommended only with 300 ohm and higher headphones). Don't believe it. Sure, if I REALLY cranked it with bass heavy tunes, I could make the bass crap out. After all, this is an OTL amp-the whole onus of driving your cans is on the tubes alone. Trust me...this is God's way of telling you're damaging your hearing. I should know, as I've got a little tinnitus now from being an idiot with the HeadRoom Supreme and groove heavy tunes when I 1st got it. This unit's bass will sound great at sane but still plenty loud listening levels. If the bass starts muddying, PLEASE TURN IT DOWN, because you are listening too f#@$% loud.
While this piece sounds great with any kind of music, its raison de etre is classical...what it does with the sound of massed strings, string quartets, grand pianos, and female vocals is what it's all about. I'm sure there are better headphone amps out there, but at major caliber prices. This one's more than good enough for me, and I'm pretty demanding.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $400.00

Purchased At:   private seller




Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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