Giella headphone amp

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Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

Giella, my first headphone amp, has just arrived from the assembly company and will start shipping this week.

This final version is the best one I've been able to make. It started with the original idea that dates back to 2014, which was fine tuned and became ready this summer of 2020. It costed like a Slipsik 7 to make and it sounded really good, but I never completely fell in love with its musical performance. As I had already spent considerable time developing it, I felt that I had to push further.

Giella evolved into Giella+, now with the power regulation of my Entity MC phono preamp and more expensive and selected components. This time I was very happy with it and decided it was time to start production. Components were purchased in large quantities and my intern Måns measured and selected them into groups. One combination of these groups is what we use to make Giella. The circuit board was drawn, tested and finalized. Production started.

Then late one night a new idea struck me. A "what if I add this?" moment. Those only seem to happen to me when I've been living with a circuit for long enough to know it inside-out and in my sleep. I made a phone call to pause the production and went to my lab to test the new idea. It turned out to work! Although the sound is virtually unchanged, a sense of ease and fluidity was added to the way the music is presented. Giella++ was born. I arranged a meeting at the assembly company and told them they had to rework all the boards, adding a tiny circuit that balances the power drawn from the positive and negative rails. Naturally they agreed, being the best company I've ever worked with. Now the Giella circuit was finally mature.

Giella means 'language' in Sami. It will cost a little less than an Entity: SEK 17500, €1770, £1580 or US$2495.

It's got a new case, with the same height and width as Gaio/Slipsik/Entity, so the front panel size is the same. It's however 30 mm deeper and with a new, slightly sparkling, very scratch resistant and really nice looking black finish. A major upgrade from the original small case, in my opinion. It's got ventilation holes on the top and bottom, like Entity.

As mentioned the volume knob is in solid sterling silver with a cubic zirconia as indicator. A cubic zirconia is a stone cut with 58 facets like a round brilliant diamond. It looks like diamond, but it's a simulant.

My mother, who is the artist, designer and silversmith that designed the silver knob for me, couldn't resist making a few with real diamonds in different hues. Giellas with diamond knobs will be a special order and only available when I've persuaded her to make some for me. I will present them in this thread and they'll be sold to the first retailer who orders them. Diamonds are heat treated to get various hues and they can be blue, green, yellow, brown or pink. Giellas with a real brilliant diamond in the silver knob will cost SEK 18500, €1870, £1680 or US$2695. As mentioned, I don't know what I'll be able to get, so you can't order one of these in advance. But you can post a wish in this thread and I'll pass the wish on to the maker.

Most of all, I am now longing to hear about your impressions of Giella. And what headphones you will use with it.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by mrco99 »

Fantastic news Fredrik!
Can't wait to hear Giella++ and very excited to see the diamond version too.

Good luck with finishing your Giellas and looking forward to seeing them arrive and alive.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by teatime »

Congratulations on what I'm sure is another knockout product, Fredrik. I cannot wait to hear it!

Now, on the knob front.. Is there any chance you would consider a rock-less option? No diamond (fake or not) - just a smooth indentation as indicator? No offense to you or your mother intended, but I find the bling contrary to the no-nonsense "Lejonklou aesthetic". Of course, I haven't seen it in real life and base my opinion only on the two(?) images available, but it looks really out of place to me.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by OscarH »

I think the knob is a nice touch. Sure, I suppose it adds a little bit to the cost but then again I'm sure all Lejonklou products could be made slightly cheaper and much uglier.

It's not like this level of "bling" is gonna make it a hiphop-star must have item.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by teatime »

Not to comment further on the aesthetics, I just wish to point out that I was objecting to it purely on aesthetic grounds, I'm not looking for a "cheaper option".

And if the hiphop-stars of the world want a Giella amp, I see nothing wrong with that! :D
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

Thank you Marco, teatime and Oscar!
teatime wrote: 2020-11-17 11:30Now, on the knob front.. Is there any chance you would consider a rock-less option? No diamond (fake or not) - just a smooth indentation as indicator?
No problem, I can have one made for you with just a small indentation.

This will do nothing to the cost of a Giella, as fitting a cubic zirconia is very inexpensive.

It's funny that I've taken a stance against bling ('my design is functional') and now I've invited my mother to add it! Have I been rebelling all these years and now surrendered?

Well, you can rest assured this volume knob is a rare occurrence and my design will continue to be simple and functional.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by Matteo »

Congratulations for this new product!

Personally, I would have preferred a different (and possibly unique in the market) item though (cheapier, without knob, with a remote and with 2 headphones inputs on the front 6.3 / 3.5 mm, even better with two separate volume controls).

But this is only me.

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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

Matteo wrote: 2020-11-17 13:12 Congratulations for this new product!

Personally, I would have preferred a different (and possibly unique in the market) item though (cheapier, without knob, with a remote and with 2 headphones inputs on the front 6.3 / 3.5 mm, even better with two separate volume controls).
Thanks Matteo!

Remote control would have been nice, but the result would have been a less musical sound, due to the necessary digital circuit.

Headphone jacks on the front would also result in a less musical sound, due to the required internal cabling.

The only purpose of Giella is to be as musically enjoyable as possible.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by V.A.MKD »

Congratulations for new product Giella and have great success.
In basis ... Musicality first, everything else is ... "not so important".
Music First ...
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by Matteo »

lejonklou wrote: 2020-11-17 13:54 Thanks Matteo!

Remote control would have been nice, but the result would have been a less musical sound, due to the necessary digital circuit.

Headphone jacks on the front would also result in a less musical sound, due to the required internal cabling.

The only purpose of Giella is to be as musically enjoyable as possible.
Yes, I know!

I was only speculating on my own needs.

I often listen to headphones with my son/daughter, so I need two inputs. There are many jack splitters on Amazon for less than 10 €, but I suppose that they hugely impact the musicality.

Regards

M.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

Matteo wrote: 2020-11-17 14:25 I often listen to headphones with my son/daughter, so I need two inputs. There are many jack splitters on Amazon for less than 10 €, but I suppose that they hugely impact the musicality.
That sounds so nice! And yes, it would probably be a good idea to have separate volumes, especially if your headphone models differ.

I wouldn't be sure about the jack splitter impact. Connectors and adaptors are mysterious; some simply sound good while others do more damage than I think is reasonable, given how simple the part is.

When developing Giella, I bought many 6.35 and 3.5 mm jacks. Then I listened to all of them and selected the best sounding model of each. The idea was to have one big and one small jack on the rear panel of Giella.

I also had a bunch of adapters, those that make a 3.5 plug fit a 6.35 mm jack (and one of the rare, opposite kind; big to small). And here comes something interesting: When I compared the best 3.5 mm jack with any of the adapters+the best 6.35 mm jack, the last combination was better!

This result seems very strange, as there is an extra connection involved with the adapter. But apparently the difference between the best 3.5 and the best 6.35 mm jacks was bigger than the impact of any of the adapters. Fact is that the best sounding 6.35 mm jack was way better than all the others. There was no such outstanding model among the 3.5 mm jacks.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by ThomasOK »

Congratulations, Fredrik. I'm certainly looking forward to getting my first batch in.

Matteo, I would give a splitter a try. Or you could just buy his and hers Giella! ;-)
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by Matteo »

ThomasOK wrote: 2020-11-17 19:05 Matteo, I would give a splitter a try. Or you could just buy his and hers Giella! ;-)
Why not? The ADSM has two pre/out

;-)
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by Matteo »

lejonklou wrote: 2020-11-17 18:36
I wouldn't be sure about the jack splitter impact. Connectors and adaptors are mysterious; some simply sound good while others do more damage than I think is reasonable, given how simple the part is.

When developing Giella, I bought many 6.35 and 3.5 mm jacks. Then I listened to all of them and selected the best sounding model of each. The idea was to have one big and one small jack on the rear panel of Giella.

I also had a bunch of adapters, those that make a 3.5 plug fit a 6.35 mm jack (and one of the rare, opposite kind; big to small). And here comes something interesting: When I compared the best 3.5 mm jack with any of the adapters+the best 6.35 mm jack, the last combination was better!

This result seems very strange, as there is an extra connection involved with the adapter. But apparently the difference between the best 3.5 and the best 6.35 mm jacks was bigger than the impact of any of the adapters. Fact is that the best sounding 6.35 mm jack was way better than all the others. There was no such outstanding model among the 3.5 mm jacks.
I’will give a try to this using the 3,5 input of the ADSM (that I rate very good):

https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07431YDWM/ref ... TFbTS8P0DV

Generally, when I listen to headphones with my kids, I give them the pair with higher impedance (I use to listen to very high volume, while they prefer lower levels). This is how I manage the issue of the lack of two separate cooling controls.

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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

I must confess I've never much liked headphones. They haven't made me feel anything. But now I'm sitting on the floor with a pair of Grado SR125e on my head and Giella number 2 beside me. I plugged my streamer and the headphones into the Giella, nothing else. And I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen's latest album 'Letter to You'.

I must confess I've never much liked Bruce Springsteen. He hasn't made me feel anything. But now I'm sitting on the floor and can't bring myself to pause him. I feel as if I can feel what he feels. He is plain, bare and straight. Cuts right through the pretense. Sometimes he twists the knife he just stuck in me and it hurts.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by matthias »

Fredrik,

congratulations for Giella.

How good is the line out of the final version in comparison to Sagatun Stereo?

Thanks

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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by u252agz »

Congratulations on the Giella.

How would I connect a Headphone amp in my system?
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by Matteo »

Matteo wrote: 2020-11-17 22:39
I’will give a try to this using the 3,5 input of the ADSM (that I rate very good):

https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07431YDWM/ref ... TFbTS8P0DV
Yesterday I tried this splitter.

The sound detrimental is limited, but one input sounds different from the other.

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Re: Giella headphone amp

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matthias wrote: 2020-11-19 00:21 Fredrik,

congratulations for Giella.

How good is the line out of the final version in comparison to Sagatun Stereo?

Thanks

Matt
Thank you Matt!

I think Sagatun Stereo is better. But they're very different, so it's not that easy to judge.

Sagatun is cleaner and more precise. Giella is bass heavy and emotional. That heavy character is not evident through headphones, but through the line outs it is. So it isn't perfect as a preamp, but it does something that I find hard to describe.

Giella is the third product built on what I call my 'Level 2 circuits'. The first one was SINGularity, the second was Entity. Level 2 consists of two techniques that I use to tame very low and very high frequencies. They shape the ability of the circuit to carry the emotional content of the music and although one can start with calculated values, they always need to be fine tuned by ear.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

u252agz wrote: 2020-11-19 10:33 Congratulations on the Giella.

How would I connect a Headphone amp in my system?
Thank you u252agz!

I would connect it to the second outputs (the lower ones) of the Sagatun Mono's. Then I'd set the Giella volume to a level that matches the loudness of when your loudspeakers are playing. And use the remote and the Sagatun Mono's to control the volume in the headphones. This arrangement would require you to switch the power amps off when listening to headphones.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by fatjulio »

lejonklou wrote: 2020-11-19 23:59 Giella is the third product built on what I call my 'Level 2 circuits'. The first one was SINGularity, the second was Entity. Level 2 consists of two techniques that I use to tame very low and very high frequencies. They shape the ability of the circuit to carry the emotional content of the music and although one can start with calculated values, they always need to be fine tuned by ear.
Does this have an application in either the Sagatun or Tundra?
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

fatjulio wrote: 2020-11-20 01:25
lejonklou wrote: 2020-11-19 23:59 Giella is the third product built on what I call my 'Level 2 circuits'. The first one was SINGularity, the second was Entity. Level 2 consists of two techniques that I use to tame very low and very high frequencies. They shape the ability of the circuit to carry the emotional content of the music and although one can start with calculated values, they always need to be fine tuned by ear.
Does this have an application in either the Sagatun or Tundra?
It will if I redesign them from scratch. It's a whole new branch in the "development tree", so nearly everything would have to be changed. Whether such designs will be better than the old ones is something one discovers after having worked with them for a while. It's not easy to tell in advance. Sometimes I work on a circuit for a long time, only to find that it just doesn't show promise. Then it ends up in the bin and I start over.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by u252agz »

lejonklou wrote: 2020-11-20 00:02
u252agz wrote: 2020-11-19 10:33 Congratulations on the Giella.

How would I connect a Headphone amp in my system?
Thank you u252agz!

I would connect it to the second outputs (the lower ones) of the Sagatun Mono's. Then I'd set the Giella volume to a level that matches the loudness of when your loudspeakers are playing. And use the remote and the Sagatun Mono's to control the volume in the headphones. This arrangement would require you to switch the power amps off when listening to headphones.
Thanks

I never realised the sagatun monos had another output. This makes it quite easy to connect and use Giella for me.

I would sit on different armchair next to the sagatuns units and face the Patio doors to the garden - this makes it a very attractive proposition.

All I need now is a recommendation on the forum for a ‘kick ass’ pair of musical headphones that are comfortable.



By the way - was the second output designed and placed for this purpose ie to connect a headphone amp in the future ?
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

u252agz wrote: 2020-11-23 19:47 Thanks

I never realised the sagatun monos had another output. This makes it quite easy to connect and use Giella for me.

I would sit on different armchair next to the sagatuns units and face the Patio doors to the garden - this makes it a very attractive proposition.

All I need now is a recommendation on the forum for a ‘kick ass’ pair of musical headphones that are comfortable.



By the way - was the second output designed and placed for this purpose ie to connect a headphone amp in the future ?
An armchair facing the Patio, that sounds very nice indeed.

I would also like to hear about a pair of headphones that are 1) a lot better than Grado 125e, 2) less expensive than Abyss Diana, and 3) Fit around the ears instead of against them, as the Grado's do.

The second pair of outputs was added for various situations when you need the signal and can't take it from 'signal out' on the power amps for some practical purpose (for instance if they're far away). Like to a headphone amp, a subwoofer or another power amp.
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Re: Giella headphone amp

Post by lejonklou »

Here are three knobs with diamonds in blue hues:
Ocean blue
Sky blue
Ice blue

These are not easy to photograph... Well, at least not for me. I have a photographer booked for taking pictures of Giella soon. The ones now available on my website are my own feeble attempts.

Image
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