Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CMoy Melting My Brain in a Good Way

So over the past few years I’ve become somewhat of an audiophile at a very, very introductory level (ie: I’ve seen the error of my ways in buying Bose and Beats by Dre products).

When I got my new Grado 325is cans I decided I wanted to try a headphone amplifier to see what all the fuss was about.

I headed over to headfi.org (like any audiophile padawan should) and I saw a few recommendations: spend a lot of money on a desktop tube amplifier (wife said: no) or dip your toe in the pool with a portable CMoy amplifier.

I started researching CMoy to learn more about the history, the design and the investment. I was impressed with the idea and the DIY aspect of the project but I quickly remembered that I have no free time and moreso importantly, no skill at all with electrical engineering.

Headfi pointed me on the path to some pre-assembled CMoys that can be purchased from skilled crafters on Ebay for around $50, but I still had to narrow it down to a single seller as there were at least 10 people making CMoys.

Almost all of the sellers offered completed solutions listed as one-off sales, but I wanted a bit of control in the process so I could feel a bit more involved and this is when I ran across BSG and his customizable CMoy amplifiers!

I immediately was impressed: I could choose from a handful of configuration options and his amps offered two very important details:
1) His amp powers up on headphones being plugged in; no ugly power switch sticking out of the side.
2) His amp offered a DC jack so I wouldn’t have to keep buying 9V batteries while listening at my desk.

I was sold so I purchased a customized amplifier to my specifications for $50 – a steal in my opinion for the quality of product and features, but I wasn’t going to complain.

BSG had an amazing turnaround and I received my amplifier in about 3 business days. I was thoroughly impressed with the build quality and attention to detail; instructions being included detailing DC requirements, port and chip specifications and careful packaging.

So what does it sound like? Well, in a word, amazing.

I really wasn’t expecting a huge difference as I had never used a CMoy before, only large expensive desktop units, so I was expecting a mild improvement that would be nice to take along on the road. What I got was an enormous improvement to every aspect of my listening experience.

I mostly listen to mild rock, folk and acoustic with the occasional techno-ish beat music to get work done (thank you, deadmau5). What I immediately heard was an entirely new level of sound between the front and back sound stages on pieces of music I’d heard a hundred times before. My Grados really shined and shook and swelled, and I was really rocked by what I had been missing with my previously crappy equipment.

The BSG amplifier has been an eye-opening investment and unfortunately for my wife, I plan to continue to investigating the capabilities of tube amplifiers; I’ve heard tube rolling is a fun (albiet slightly expensive) experience.

Rock on!

posted by Dustin Vannatter at 4:57 pm  

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