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I got this from a previous drop and have paired it with the SMSL VA-2 headphone amp and SMSL P1 linear power supply. The resulting stack is not only well made from solid blocks of aluminum, but also sounds very good. I'm using an Olive ONE as the source, connected via Coax to the M8. Although the ONE is an integrated unit with both DAC and headphone amp (and speaker amp), the SMSL stack imparts a very significant improvement. Incidentally, the P1 supports US power; it has a 90-120V input. It was purchased from Amazon (i.e. 'sold by and ships from Amazon').
Wish I could afford the P1 but that's a lot for a power supply. I opted for the Bravo V3 tube amp drop over the O2. I never really read any reviews on the VA-2. Is it good compared to V3 or O2?
dude nice stack, bad headphones. get a better pair to hear the real difference
I haven't listened to the O2 or the Bravo V3. However, against the Olive ONE DAC/Amp there is a night-and-day difference. Against the LH Labs Geek Out 450 there is also a noticeable improvement. These impressions are based on the following headphones:
1. Grado SR325e. I received these well before the SMSL stack and was so disappointed in them through the Olive ONE and to a lesser degree through the Geek Out that I immediately considered returning them. But with the SMSL stack -- wow! -- they simply shine.
2. AKG K7xx Massdrop Edition. These sounded good with the Olive ONE and Geek Out, but are much more dynamic through the SMSL.
3. HifiMan HE-560 Planars. There is just not enough power with either the Olive ONE or the Geek Out 450. These headphones were also very disappointing when I initially received them, but that is because I simply didn't have a suitable DAC/Amp. Using the High power jack on the VA-2 amp, the HE-560s finally sprang to life. For kicks, I replaced the SMSL M8 DAC with my old Theta DSPro Basic IIIa fully balanced DAC (R2R DAC, I believe, not Delta-Sigma) while keeping everything else the same, and wow, everything got bumped up another notch.
4. Audio Technica ATH-M50x. These are the only closed-back headphones in my collection, so this is the only pair that goes to the office. Bass slam, decay, transient response, etc. were all noticeably improved after adding the P1 linear power supply.
The P1 was momentarily on sale for $128 at Amazon when I grabbed it. The difference it makes justifies the price. The LPS from LH Labs, for example, is around $500 or $600 MSRP, so this was a no brainer for me.
Thanks Casey. I want to purchase another power supply so I won't have to take my power supply for the M8 to and from work. I guess I would consider it a $10 discount if I don't get a cheap replacement. Maybe some day... If the ATH M50 headband starts falling apart like mine are, and need to get a replacement, try the Brainwavz HM5(Nuwave/Fischer FA003/Yoga). One of the best $100 headphones out there. Mids are more in your face but it comes alive with more spatiality compared to the ATH M50 which sounds distant, tinnier and only slightly more bass. Also, the pads from these headphones are amazing for the ATH M50x. Breathable pleather and more cushy and maintains noise isolation. You get an extra pair with them so consider that a $10-$20 discount if you ever get a pair of Nuwave/Brainwavz.