The Audio Guild EMAC 535SE Headphone Amp

The Audio Guild EMAC 535SE Headphone Amp

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Product Description
A new solid-state headphone amp from The Audio Guild, the EMAC 535SE is drawing rave reviews from those who have listened to sample units at Head-Fi meets—some are even declaring it the best headphone amp they’ve ever heard. It aims to achieve the warmth and detail of a classic SET tube amplifier, but without the heat of vacuum tube amps or the need to replace tubes Read More

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EatMyDustbunny
13
May 14, 2021
Steve Eddy, who designed this, formerly of Q-Audio Cables on Head-Fi, designed a horrible, senseless, transformer-based circuit here in his EMAC amp. Garbage. Steve assembled my Bellatone Audio Beta Twenty Two and Sigma Twenty Two (main amp and power supply boards designed by Ti Kan of AMB Labs, the best headphone amp and power supply in the world that you can buy or build as a 2, 3, or 4-channel balanced common mode noise rejection like mine, or even a stupidly foolish 6-channel) which was a cost no object, luxury, custom PCB upgraded, full speaker amp-size dual chassis with 1000W dissipating heatsinks on all 4 sides, custom designed front and back 5/8” thick T-6061 anodized aluminum with laser bleached graphics and nickel-plated end caps and matching volume remote which controls the DACT stepped attenuator. He had my supplies for a heavily stressful 18 months of which he said he was working on it, only to find at the end he did nothing for 9 months, then spent 1 week on it, nothing for another 8 months, and spent 2 more weeks finishing it. So if you want reliable, this is not the company to deliver. (See all my amp and system photos below under replies.) Oh yeah, not amp related but important: he also created a fake Obama birth certificate (to try to prove the idiots who think Obama wasn’t born here are wrong, and they are all absurdly wrong) and mailed it to Tali Orlit and it became one of the 3 main fake birth certificates discussed throughout the world. Let the FBI ask me. I might still have his pictures to prove it somewhere on my old PC or in a photo library. Stay AWAY!!!

Steve, if you find this, e-mail me. I’d love to see what you’re up to these days (seriously, no joke), if you’re not in federal prison. I hope you still have my email after all these years.
(Edited)
EatMyDustbunny
13
May 14, 2021
EatMyDustbunny
13
May 14, 2021
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liamstrain
27
Jun 20, 2017
A quick update. We have a slight delay. One of our vendors doing custom work for us, has pushed our order back at least a week. I had hoped we'd built enough extra time in to the schedule, but we are probably going to have to delay shipping. I'm still working on getting a firm ETA.
Apologies to those of you waiting so patiently. We'll get your 535SE's out to you just as fast as we can.
liamstrain
27
May 12, 2017
I'm sure that those of you who purchased will be hearing status updates from Massdrop, but thought I would post here from time to time as well.
We received the PO from Massdrop and have put in the orders for the additional steel chassis, and cherry cases for production - since those have some of the longest lead times. We'll be reaching out to our other vendors once we receive the funds from Massdrop to place those orders so we can get your units built.
Thanks again!
NYalex
281
May 1, 2017
i see 6 were purchased.
those 6 people, you BALLIN!
NYalex
281
May 3, 2017
oh i wasn't mocking the buyers. i was actually jealous of the buyers.
i stopped at hd650's.
this is from a guy who started with a sennheisser hd555 just because they were on sale. by mistake i got into amp/dacs and some entry level audiophile headsets.
but at some point i had to put the brakes. I did own a pair of hd700 + schiit valhalla. One thing i noticed, is that it wasn't that much of an upgrade vs hd650 + schiit stack. so i quickly sold off the combo and decided to stay with hd650, and even these weren't that much better than hd598 they replaced. The diminishing returns is what killed it for me.
drbobbybones
5
May 4, 2017
I hear ya. Diminishing returns are present in almost every hobby. The price of admission to the next level is almost always exponentially higher than the last. We all have to decide when "good enough" is enough.
That said, the HD700 is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the Sennheiser family. Most people prefer the HD6x0 series or the HD800 +/- S models. YMMV, but the audio world definitely gets better than the 700. Whether or not it's worth it to you to spend the money for it though is a completely different question.
Compassionator
207
Apr 30, 2017
"I am trying to decide between this or the OPPO UDP 205 a 1300$ DVD player. All advice appreciated"
This amp is an esoteric piece of audio equiptment. Most of the cost of the amp is in the case and fascia. Based on the review listed in the description it is a smooth, resolving but dynamically castrated sounding amp. This is consistent with a Bent Audio transformer based preamp that I once heard. Great if you like acoustic jazz, acapella and one piece ensembles. Not so great if you like jump factor/drive or high dynamics in your music; EDM need not apply. So, this amp presumes that you already have a suitably equivalent source. If not get the Oppo first.
Suit yourself. But, you are making my point. If the "wince factor" is on the recording I want to hear it or decide not to hear it. I don't want my amp (with "The physical and dynamic slam factor on this amplifier are low") adulterating the dynamics of even EDM.
Or course it is your prerogative not to "share" any interior shots. Wasn't looking for glamour photos, just thought you would want to show the quality of your craftsmanship and thoughtful design.
liamstrain
27
May 2, 2017
If I had a production unit here to take pictures to share, I would. But I don't unfortunately. We hope they'll be hitting owner's doorsteps soon (still waiting on a few components to be delivered), but will not before the drop ends. Timing just didn't work out this time.
Thanks for your thoughts! We'll have more listening impressions out there in the near future and can give a more complete view of what to expect.
stoopid3
37
Apr 28, 2017
For this price I can get the Foo Fighters to play a live set in my living room. Do you people really have nothing better to spend your money on? Is $1600 really a small amount of money to those buying these products?
Heefty
1375
Apr 28, 2017
Here's another one that needs the blinky turd reaction option brought back.
childreyesque
72
Apr 30, 2017
I am trying to decide between this or the OPPO UDP 205 a 1300$ DVD player. All advice appreciated
Compassionator
207
Apr 28, 2017
Is this the same amp that Audio Guild had been working on several years ago? If not what are the differences? If memory serves correct that amp was described as electro magnetic, the first of it's kind. Now I see that EMAC is the name of the company that makes this amp (transformer coupled transistor/solid state amp?) and not an electro magnetic amp after all as nowhere in the description does it claim to be.
liamstrain
27
Apr 28, 2017
Electro Magnetic Amplifier Co. has always been a brand, and not a term to describe the circuit.
However it uses the exact same circuit we developed for the old amp which was never put into production. Refined a bit, over time - with a different input transformer, and some other adjustments. The unique aspect of the circuit is using the transformers as the input stage, rather than the more traditional output stage (all while keeping it Class A).
K.T.N
1264
Apr 27, 2017
Dang, this is right up my alley in almost every way. I was seriously very interested in this when it first came to my attention a couple of months back.
If I hadn't already splurged for the LTA MicroZOTL2 that dropped here a while back, and also the Heron 5, I'd be all over this.
The reviews are great, and I really love the old timey look that doesn't go so far as to become a caricature of that look.
I hope this drops again sometime in the future. I may be ready then.
Looks great!
K.T.N
1264
May 2, 2017
No, no. I love the LTA MicroZotl. It's an awesome sounding amp.
I actually also have one of the original blue MicroZOTLs from back when David Berning was selling them direct. Had it since 2000, I think.
It's a great sounding unit, and I jumped on the new version that dropped here a short time back. That's how much I love the sound of the MicroZOTL. The new version sounds even better than the original for the upgraded power supply that was included.
My point, really, is that I have already spent what I can reasonably spend on pricey audio gear for the foreseeable future. So as much as I want to get this EMAC 535SE, I'll have to wait for another day when I can justify the outlay.
Otherwise, I'd be all over this 535SE this time around.
gw145
2
May 2, 2017
Thanks for the reply. I recently bought the ZOTL 40 power amp and am thinking about also buying the MZS2 to use as both a preamp and headphone amp, however I already have two very good headphone amps and a very good preamp. I keep hoping Massdrop will offer the MicroZOTL once again.
birgenshire
0
Apr 27, 2017
Is this amp overkill for the AKG K7XX? I dont think the power is too much (maybe a bit on the low end actually?), but quality wise, are they an ok pair?
edit: I am running an at-lp120 with a Shure cartridge and the silly pre-amp torn out, replaced with a cambridge audio 540p pre-amp wired straight to the tone arm with a ground brought out from the chassis. None of the parts are fancy on their own, I am wondering if it is overkill to get a headphone amp like this for a system like that?
liamstrain
27
Apr 30, 2017
Eh - I've had very expensive headphones that were handily outperformed by "mid-fi" classics like the AKG 701, or Sennheiser 600. Price isn't always a good indicator.
birgenshire
0
Apr 30, 2017
I have had really mixed results with nice phones too. My current amp objectively sucks so I am with Liamstrain thinking it might be worth starting my foray into the high end with an amp like this and then supplementing as I go.
Compassionator
207
Apr 26, 2017
Do you recommend that the amp be left on all the time? What is the power draw at idle and does the jfet get really hot?
liamstrain
27
Apr 26, 2017
Since this is a Class A single ended topology, Dissipation is maximum at idle and is about 15 watts. The JFETs stay cool, but the bipolar output transistors do get hot. They are all mounted to a comically oversized heat-sink though, and overheating is not expected to be a problem, and has not been with test units. The top vent gets warm but not hot to the touch, and it ventilates well.
You can keep it running all day, if you are going to be listening on-and-off. But there is no specific benefit - no warm up period to speak of. I'd probably shut it down at night, just to save the power.
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Steve Eddy, who designed this, formerly of Q-Audio Cables on Head-Fi, designed a horrible, senseless, transformer-based circuit here in his EMAC amp. Garbage. Steve assembled my Bellatone Audio Beta Twenty Two and Sigma Twenty Two (main amp and power supply boards designed by Ti Kan of AMB Labs, the best headphone amp and power supply in the world that you can buy or build as a 2, 3, or 4-channel balanced common mode noise rejection like mine, or even a stupidly foolish 6-channel) which was a cost no object, luxury, custom PCB upgraded, full speaker amp-size dual chassis with 1000W dissipating heatsinks on all 4 sides, custom designed front and back 5/8” thick T-6061 anodized aluminum with laser bleached graphics and nickel-plated end caps and matching volume remote which controls the DACT stepped attenuator. He had my supplies for a heavily stressful 18 months of which he said he was working on it, only to find at the end he did nothing for 9 months, then spent 1 week on it, nothing for another 8 months, and spent 2 more weeks finishing it. So if you want reliable, this is not the company to deliver. (See all my amp and system photos below under replies.) Oh yeah, not amp related but important: he also created a fake Obama birth certificate (to try to prove the idiots who think Obama wasn’t born here are wrong, and they are all absurdly wrong) and mailed it to Tali Orlit and it became one of the 3 main fake birth certificates discussed throughout the world. Let the FBI ask me. I might still have his pictures to prove it somewhere on my old PC or in a photo library. Stay AWAY!!! Steve, if you find this, e-mail me. I’d love to see what you’re up to these days (seriously, no joke), if you’re not in federal prison. I hope you still have my email after all these years.