I will be taking a look at the Creek OBH-11 headphone amplifier this week. This is a relatively low priced unit at $299 MSRP.
I have an early model Bryson BP-20 preamplifier which does not have a headphone amplifier built in (the later models do). The only way I can listen to headphones with my audio system is to purchase an external headphone amplifier so I thought I would give the Creek a try. I bought mine used off Craigslist with the understanding that this particular unit is discontinued and might be a bit dated but the price was cheap enough. There are also companies that modify these units for reasonable prices.
After purchasing the Creek I hooked it to my system and powered it up and left it to warm up for about six hours. After the warm up period I connected my NAD Viso HP50 headphones and started to listen. At first the Creek OBH-11 sounded fine but after hours of listening went by I started to hear some things I didn’t like. There is a slight harshness on the high end and also slight lack of bass extension. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this unit was giving me listening fatigue (a headache) but if I were to listen to it longer it might have. I replaced the input cables with a higher quality pair of Audioquest Cinnamon cables and things improved a bit although not completely to my liking.
I would recommend to anyone thinking of buying a used Creek OBH-11 as I did to give it a long listen. Although my unit is listenable it’s not completely to my liking. You might be better off checking out a newer model Creek because they probably have modified the circuitry to make it sound better. I will probably send my unit off to a company called Big Sky Audio in Montana to have them modify the unit with higher quality capacitors, metal film resistors and a better sounding op amp. This service is available for $179 and from what I understand turns this little Creek OBH-11 into a giant killer of a headphone amp. If I decide to do this a follow up review will be in order.
Here is a link to Big Sky Audio
Fuji X-T1 and XF 18-55mm R LM OIS Lens
With this weeks edition of my Sunday evening audio I will review the Audioquest Cinnamon digital coaxial interconnect cable.
Many people view this as a controversial subject and claim there is no difference in sound between cable brands. I am one of those people that claim there is a difference in sound quality.
Digital interconnect cables are used by people who own a CD transport and separate D/A (digital to analog converter or processor) and by people who own CD players and wish to bypass the internal D/A and run an external D/A (your CD player must have a digital output to do this). The principal difference between a CD transport and CD player is the onboard electronics. Think of a CD transport like a digital version of a turntable. It only contains the laser and associated electronics to read the information on the CD but no internal electronics to convert the signal to analog form. By contrast a CD player will include all of the associated electronics to read the CD and convert the signal to analog form. Most expensive and some select lower cost CD players have high quality internal D/A converters built in. The idea behind a CD transport and separate D/A is choice. You can tailor the sound of your system by making your own choice of which D/A sounds better to your ears. As mentioned in previous articles I chose the later route with my Rotel RDD-980 transport and separate Adcom GDA-700 D/A. So by doing this I needed a quality cable to connect these two pieces.
The Audioquest Cinnamon Digital Coax cable looks like any other cable with a RCA type connector but according to the companies website and literature it is very different. A cross section of this cable reveals it is manufactured with silver coated solid core copper wire rather than stranded wire. Digital signals are transmitted at very high frequencies and tend to travel on the circumference or edge of the conductor. By silver coating the copper wire the company claims the Cinnamon is able to transmit these signals more efficiently and eliminate time based distortions also known as jitter. The higher the silver content the more efficient the transfer (and the higher the price). The Cinnamon is one of Audioquest’s more reasonably priced cables at $99.95 MSRP for a one meter length and has a pure 1.25 percent silver content.
So let’s get to the meat of this review which is the sound. I previously had a Monster Cable brand digital coax cable installed on my system and after replacing it with the Audioquest Cinnamon I did indeed notice a change in character of the sound in my system. The high frequencies sounded more refined and I was able to more accurately place individual instruments on certain recordings. The soundstage seemed larger and vocals came through in a much more lifelike way. The tracks Little Amsterdam and Muhammad My Friend on the Tori Amos Boys For Pele CD came through with an astounding presence and I was even able to clearly hear every breath she was taking. The track All At Once on Bonnie Raitt’s Luck Of The Draw CD was pure heaven (I think Bonnie Raitt has an amazing voice). With Frank Sinatra’s Summer Breeze track on his Very Good Years Years CD it seemed like I was sitting right in front of him in a smoky club while his golden voice punched through the orchestral notes. With almost every CD I played I was hearing things that were previously masked by the Monster Cable.
To say I was impressed by this simple change of cable to the Audioquest Cinnamon would be an understatement. I would highly recommend this cable. There are very few changes you can make to an audio system for $100 that will make this much of a difference in sound quality. I would rate this cable as a home run or a 5 out of 5 on my thumbs up scale 👍👍👍👍👍
“When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings” – Sting
Fuji X-Pro 2 and XF 50mm f/2 R WR lens – 1/680 @ f/4 – ISO 200