On the bench: Red Wine Audio Corvina, Audez’e LCD-2, Halide DAC HD

Desktops are funny things. Not a lot of space. Does that mean you can’t get quality sound?

I’ve been hot and cold on headphones. I’m a big fan of the Smyth Realizer, though. And I do like my old Stax 404s. But my AKG K-701 headphones never really turned my crank — I only ever got them to sound “meh”.

So, Alex Rosson offered to help me out with my headphone malaise and sent me a brand new pair of Audez’e $1,000 LCD-2 headphones, with the spanky bamboo finish on the cans.

The fit and finish of these is at a very high level — metal, bamboo, and leather will do that.

I’ve got them wired into a $1,500 Red Wine Audio Corvina headphone amp, here configured with both a single-ended and a balanced output. Hee hee.

I added an outboard DAC, the sweet little Halide DAC HD. For $500, the HD includes both the analog interconnects and the USB cable, all in a tidy package.

Preliminary sound is, in a word, exciting! I have them on a loop to try and get some hours on them before I do any serious listening, but I’m pretty psyched so far.

5 comments

  • Hi, is there any drawbacks of having both the SE and Balanced on the Corvina as appose to one or the other?

    • Part-Time Audiophile

      Not that I know of — but call Vinnie and ask. He’s remarkable up front about the performance of his gear, it’s strengths, weaknesses, and it’s general value compared to others.

  • I can identify with your opening statements on headphones. I tried SENNHEISER 650′s with WOOAUDIO2 and despite all the great reviews, I sold the rig thinking “sure it sounds good, but what’s the big deal, in the end it’s just headphones”. But my admiration for RWA (I just got the RWA Signature 15) makes me think about getting the Covina and some LCD2′s.

  • You MUST try the 4-pin XLR balanced output stage – it’s no comparison!!! :-)

  • The K701 is a treble monster and not much else. Truly great sounding headphones with traditional dynamic drivers are quite rare indeed. The Lawton Audio modified Denon D7000 would qualify, as would the new Fostex TH900 and perhaps the Sennheiser HD600 and 650, honestly that’s really about it. The Audio-Technica woodies are just weird and mostly midrange, with bass that ranges from none to almost some. The HD800 has a great soundstage and plenty of detail, but there’s a nasty spike in the 6Khz range that has to be tamed for them to be tolerable. The HD700 is… yeech.

    The Ultrasone Editions are just shockingly terrible for the money. Generally unless you want to go with a Stax rig, your best bet is something with planar magnetic drivers – Hifiman or Audeze.