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So I bought a Solo ULDE

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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 12:37pm
Hello fellow forum members!
     I bought a used Solo ULDE from the Australian StereoNet forum last week. It’s now been plugged in for three days and I think I can offer some thoughts. I’m using it with a pair of Focal Elear headphones, which have given me months of enjoyment so far. They’ve been used out of my iPad, phone, computer, and a Ch*#d M*+#. Regardless of source, they’ve been a tremendous headphone, comfortably better than my previous headphones, the HD600. 

I started out listening to CD’s, using the fixed output from my Majestic DAC. I can honestly say it's the finest CD reproduction I’ve ever experienced in my own home. Detail was top shelf and the balance of frequencies terrific. I could hear all of the reverb placed on Sinatra’s voice (and every line of Nelson Riddle’s arrangements), the guitars of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings were as richly individual as their voices, and the unmistakeable timbre of the various sections of the Vienna Philharmonic circa 1983 was as well defined as I’ve heard anywhere. Furthermore, musical expression was enhanced by the most wonderfully supple micro dynamics. Every nuance of phrasing laid bare. All this in a silky soundstage completely without fatigue.

But what really blew me away was the sense that each instrument or voice was it’s own solid, 3D entity, with body and texture. It’s own flesh! That in turn helped isolate each performer within an acoustic space such that I have only ever heard from CD once before (in a mega bucks system at a dealer).

I then moved on to vinyl via the Reflex M/EXP combo, still via the Majestic (I’ll get to plugging the EXP directly into the Solo soon). Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Nancy Griffith, Courtney Pine...I COULD NOT STOP! I’m privileged to have the system I do, and I’m now very grateful for this design, as I’m hearing much closer to the absolute best my RP8 can achieve. Like every Slee component I’ve purchased, it’s unlocked higher levels of performance from the gear I already own. 

Today is the day I finally see how people can quite happily give away speaker listening for a high quality headphone set up. Again, it’s the best sound I’ve ever had at home. Do I sell my beloved PMC speakers and Proprius amps so I can buy the Focal Utopia headphones? I’d take up residence in the corner of my music room, never to leave, bathe, or speak to another human. I’d only get out of my comfy chair to pull another espresso or order LP’s and hi-res downloads online. 

Thank you again, Graham. I am again VERY happy.
Best wishes,
Mick.
PS - and all this with just the little power supply, not the PSU1!


Edited by Aussie Mick - 27 Apr 2019 at 12:41pm
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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tg View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote tg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 2:00pm
Hi Mick,
I know the amp you bought was a really good price so do yourself a favour and spring for a PSU1 to go with it.
I doubt you will regret it regardless of how good it is sounding to you now.
You could temporarily try the Reflex powered by the wall wart and just listen to CD with the PSU1 powering the Solo for a day or two to get a feel for the difference, if you do the swap of power supplies fairly quickly you should not need to wait the full few days to get the best of it.
eg unplug one and replug the other immediately on each piece of gear.

Tony G
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BackinBlack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 2:12pm
You could always try powering the Solo and the Reflex from the same PSU1, just run a single wire from the positive on the Reflex power input plug to the Solo positive power input, the negative/ground connection is taken care of by the interconnects screen. John C made me such a cable when I bought my Reflex. There is a thread somewhere that covers this "trick".

Happy Listening
Ian
Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.
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Ash View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 9:35pm
Keep the Proprius. Headphones cannot mimic speakers entirely, especially not without complex corrective electronics to produce localization information. Even the AKG K1000 and MySphere 3.1 earspeakers ultimately have headphone imaging in the absence of DSP, however it is well above that of conventional headphone designs that enclose or seal the ear, regardless of how open or closed the enclosures are. The MySphere 3.1 or a possible eventual successor of this design by Heinz Renner himself are the only headphones that I would be willing to spend huge money on. If you're spending a hell of a lot, you should expect cutting-edge performance and with many expensive products, you are not going to get the performance you're paying for. I have my doubts about the Focal Utopia (although I have not heard it) and would not personally choose to invest in it. That's just my honest opinion; I'm no expert or guru.

Headphone fit and adjustability are just as important as the application of the technology within it. The design ideally needs to allow you to optimize your fit and ear-to-driver positioning.


Edited by Ash - 27 Apr 2019 at 9:39pm
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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2019 at 3:07pm
Originally posted by BackinBlack BackinBlack wrote:

You could always try powering the Solo and the Reflex from the same PSU1, just run a single wire from the positive on the Reflex power input plug to the Solo positive power input, the negative/ground connection is taken care of by the interconnects screen. John C made me such a cable when I bought my Reflex. There is a thread somewhere that covers this "trick".

Happy Listening
Ian
Thanks, Ian. Clearly,, is should be chatting to John...
Mick.
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2019 at 3:18pm
.Hi Ash,
  Firstly, thanks for the feedback. I was a tad tongue in cheek about ditching speakers, but I certainly do see the headphone light, as it were. The Solo ULDE is just so far in advance of the Ch**d M**o as a device to drive headphones that I’m stunned. 
As for the Focal Utopia or the MySphere, in Australia Focal have price parity. So, it costs €4,000 in Europe, but AU$4,000here. €4,000 is AU$6,300. So, yeah. The MySphere has no dealer here, so I’d be ordering from Europe and paying the €3,300. The MySpere ends up AU$1,230 more, and I don’t get a chance to hear it first. 
Also, I just really like the Focal sound and what they achieve. It clicks with me and what I want to hear. Interestingly, I went back to speaker listening this evening and I feel like the Solo ULDE has informed my speaker listening in a really positive way. I’m a very happy camper!
Mick.
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2019 at 8:36pm
I too used headphones with Graham Slee gear in order to educate my hearing. From this, I now approach speaker audio differently than several years ago. It teaches you how the speakers should sound if you can work around their shortcomings.

I'm happy for you that you like the Focal stuff, I just wanted to be bluntly honest as I don't like seeing others get ripped off. Although many would think I'm a mug for buying the MySphere as it costs a ridiculous amount but I wanted to investigate and judge for myself whether all my headphone theory "belief" actually correlated with real life results. 
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