Aries Cerat Genus: King of the hill headphone amplifier

ariescerat-espana

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Ah, I should have clarified - USA trade shows.

I'd also like you to hear the Donald North Audio Stellaris amp with the silver Audio Note OPTs. I think it will drive LCD4's effectively (though I've never heard it with those cans). But it's the best tube amp I've heard with HD800s, and it's not even close. The way it fleshes out and creates 3D palpability not just to the stage in a macro sense, but to each individual instrument is really impressive. I've never heard the Viva unit.

Yes, I have had some discussions with guys who have that amp. It seems a nice unit. How much is it? I wonder of it will be at Munich?
On the Audio Note OPTs, I have to disagree with being 'the best'. I know that company well, and have owned some of their amps and DACs. The prices they charge for the 'better' OPRs is ridiculous. Better can be sourced for less money IME. No problem with Duelund caps though, top components. The Aries Cerat amp has no capacitors in the signal path.

The 2A3 tube is said by some as the nicest sounding tube. It has limited output though, so on some HPs may not have enough current? I heard the Viva 2A3 struggles a bit with the Susvara and Abyss, the Viva 845 does not. I seem to prefer big bottle amps like the 845s or the 813s, the latter which Aries Cerat use.
 

bazelio

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Yes, I have had some discussions with guys who have that amp. It seems a nice unit. How much is it? I wonder of it will be at Munich?
On the Audio Note OPTs, I have to disagree with being 'the best'. I know that company well, and have owned some of their amps and DACs. The prices they charge for the 'better' OPRs is ridiculous. Better can be sourced for less money IME. No problem with Duelund caps though, top components. The Aries Cerat amp has no capacitors in the signal path.

The 2A3 tube is said by some as the nicest sounding tube. It has limited output though, so on some HPs may not have enough current? I heard the Viva 2A3 struggles a bit with the Susvara and Abyss, the Viva 845 does not. I seem to prefer big bottle amps like the 845s or the 813s, the latter which Aries Cerat use.

The AN OPT prices are indeed ridiculous. But the result really is phenomenal. Even the copper version is quite excellent, but with silver, any haze that was there just vanishes. I'm assuming the Duelunds are used for interstage coupling. I generally don't care for planar headphones, so drive isn't a problem for me. Though I do believe people have driven HE6 cans with the Stellaris successfully. Cost is about $7k with copper OPTs, and maybe gets close to $10k with silver OPTs. I must say I'm not too familiar with 845s and 813s at all. But in a couple instances I've heard 845 amps, I wondered if they didn't open up quite as much as 2A3.
 

Stacore

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Ah, I should have clarified - USA trade shows.

I'd also like you to hear the Donald North Audio Stellaris amp with the silver Audio Note OPTs. I think it will drive LCD4's effectively (though I've never heard it with those cans). But it's the best tube amp I've heard with HD800s, and it's not even close. The way it fleshes out and creates 3D palpability not just to the stage in a macro sense, but to each individual instrument is really impressive. I've never heard the Viva unit.

Very nice example of a "new wave" in HP amps, thank you for sharing it. Nothing like a typical HP amps of the past, just a regular 2A3 SET with OPT matched for headphones. A theoretical advantage of electrostats here is that the weakest chain of all amps - the OPT- can be eliminated at the expense of making a fully balanced design.

Cheers,
 

flyer

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I am told there will be a Genus and Kassandra in the lobby of the Aries Cerat demo room in Hall 1 at Munich. I am not sure which HPs will be with it. If you want more clarification, maybe PM Stavros or Michel (Belgian dealer) and they can confirm. I'd bring my LCD4s but I am worried they could get damaged on the flight over.

I will get to Can-Jam on the Sunday morning, see if there is anything interesting on the tube amps front.
I am with Stavros Wednesday till end of Sunday to help set up and run the room, they de-assemble it.
The purpose is effectively to demonstrate with the Genus in the lobby as a headphone amp. I think Stavros has not yet decided with which headphone company he will pair the demonstration. Maybe he shouldn't and let visitors bring their own gear
 

ariescerat-espana

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Indeed. Bear in mind some headphone users will have balanced cable connection, so you will need a 4 pin balanced female to Male RCA.
 

Believe High Fidelity

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Hi Guys

View attachment 48276

As promised, here is my mini review of the Genus amplifier using the Abyss Phi (borrowed) and my LCD4 200 ohm headphones.

I got the Aries Cerat Genus Integrated SET speaker amplifier 2 weeks ago and have been enjoying it on my horn speakers. Really enjoying it. But that is not why I have started this thread.

I am a bit of a headphone nut, and for many years have owned quite a few different headphones and headphone ampliifers. my last system was the Stax 009 and a nice (commissioned) DIY KGSShv Carbon amplifier.

In January 2018 I sold that system and jumped onto Planars with the LCD2-C, later the LCD4 as well. The reason I jumped the electrostatic camp was my visit to Can-Jam in London in mid 2017. I took some favourite tracks along and pitched my system against various HPs and amplifiers, including the Susvara, Shangri-La and amplifier, Focal Utopia, Abyss, LCD4 and then the Sennheiser HE-1.

The HE-1 was the system that made me change direction. It had everything but was obviously ridiculously expensive / out of reach. To my ears the LCD4 out of the GSX MK2 was the closest to that sound.

I then tried quite a few headphone amplifiers with the LCD4 and choose the Violectric V281 as the best balance, close to my ideal. It is easily powerful enough, is very smooth and transparent enough without heading towards the Stax direction, which I now felt was too analytical and unnatural to my ears. I have had great fun with the V281 for 12 months.

All was cool, until the Genus landed.
This Aries Cerat monster amplifier is actually the 'baby' of the range, but still measures 53cm x 52 cm and 67 kilos. It has just two gain stages, the final stage using the big bottle 813 tubes. I got it to primarily power my Zingali horn speakers. That kept me busy for 2 weeks or so.

Today, I hooked up the LCD4s. There is a true headphone output on the back of the amplifier, a SE 6.3mm jack, with Low and High setting. So I set that up, selected a track and.....
Jaw On Floor time.

Track swopping was halted as I listened to one of my albums straight through. Holly Molly this thing rocks. And the detail, information is immense, yet it is super smooth, very realistic, like a layer has been pealed back. I am now looking at the original Rembrandt, brush strokes, colours, textures, depth. Wow. I never got it before, well I did hear it, roughly the same FR and such, but a photocopy version. So this is what is sounds like.

The Soundstage blew my mind, it is huge. Individual instruments are well spaced, I can hear minute detail even when everything else is playing at the same time, it really is impossible to take it all in. It is just so natural, hard to describe. I guess it is the tubes and SET amplification meets the perfect match - the LCD4. Some say the LCD4 needs a sharpish and fast SS headphone amplifier like the GSX MK2. I disagree. It the amp is up to the job, the LCD4 will deliver it all, including the treble regions which some think are the Audeze weak spot. I don't hear that at all here. I believe the Genus has no coupling capacitors in the signal path, which can slow things down in the treble regions.

And it has huge transformers both in the power supply and output stage, really huge. There are also 3 enormous capacitors in the power supply for energy storage. The amplifier has no sag or delay, superb bass response and drive. It really shames the other SETs I have tried to date IMO.

I have owned SETs before, so I expected the midrange to amaze me, but never expected the speed, control and sheer directness of the music to be so there, it sounds like a cliché but it really is a superb thing. Once you hear it, there is no going back.

One last thing often overlooked on headphone amplifiers - the Balance control. This is important in headphone listening and to me as well, as my right ear is about 5-8% down on the left. I can manage on speakers, but headphones, it drives you nuts. The Genus has relay controlled attenuation and can swing left or right to a very accurate amount, perfect. Note, the V281 has a balance pit as well.

I'll post more in a few days. Here is some backup to my Headphone journey and some of the amps I have heard along the way. The Genus is an insane headphone amplifier, really huge, but if we consider it is primarily a speaker amplifier the headphone output cannot be discounted here, it is just much too good to overlook it. In fact, I would have bought the amp just for the headphone quality to be honest.
But I admit I do like headphones. It is a bun fight as to which I prefer, late night listening, no contest, headphones all the way.

View attachment 48267

Headamp BHSE EL34 (last stage, rest SS) heard many times

View attachment 48268

Violkectric V281 3W SS amplifier (bought January 2017)
View attachment 48269

Hifi-Man Shangri-La 300B (heard at Can-Jam 2017)

View attachment 48270
Sennheiser HE-1 (heard at Can-Jam 2017)

View attachment 48271
Viva Egoista 845 8W (heard at Can-Jam)


View attachment 48274

My KGSShv Carbon (DIY commissioned build). Stax 009. Sold January 2018. View attachment 48275

The headphone socket is on the back to the left of the black speaker taps. I run a 6.3mm to 4 pin XLR cable from the back and sit it on my desk. Then plug in the Norne Draug All Silver cable and voila.
Stunning headphone amplifier and headphones.
 

G T Audio

Well-Known Member
How does the Genus get around the very different impedances of high-end headphones (anywhere from 8ohms to 600ohms) using output transformers? Do the output transformers have different taps for matching?
 

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