Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier.Beautiful. Natural.usedFosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier. Beautiful. Natural. "a midband that is just gorgeous"Beautiful Fosgate Signature headphone amp in like new condition. It has no scratches and sounds wonderful. It has low hours and comes with two sets of tubes. This reference headphone amp will shi...980.00

Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier. Beautiful. Natural. "a midband that is just gorgeous" [Expired]

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Beautiful Fosgate Signature headphone amp in like new condition. It has no scratches and sounds wonderful. It has low hours and comes with two sets of tubes. This reference headphone amp will ship in the original carton with manual. Read reviews below for comments on the sound quality and special bass and spatial qualities.. Paypal adds 3%

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From Innerfidelity:

Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier ($1499)
When famed audio designer Jim Fosgate first announced that he was going to be making a tube headphone amp, I was definitely interested, especially when I saw the first pictures of it—it's a beautiful product. For a variety of reasons, it took quite a while for me to actually hear one, which was at a Chicago headphone meet—and on that cursory listen I thought it sounded good. So finally, a review unit arrived for me to really put through the paces.

The $1,500 Fosgate Signature is billed as a vacuum tube amplifier, but if I understand it correctly it is really a type of hybrid design, using a pair of 12AX7 dual-triode tubes in the input/driver stage (described by Fosgate as an "SRPP configuration"), and then "Video Buffers" as what amounts to the output stage. The video buffers are said to have no voltage gain, and as such, the Signature is a fairly low power amplifier, delivering (according to the excellent owner's manual) between 165 mW—250 mW depending on the impedance of the headphone. This pretty much requires the use of a fairly efficient headphone. To that end, I used the Audio-Technica W3000ANV for the review, primarily. I did also briefly try the Audeze LCD-3, but as I expected, the Fosgate did not deliver enough power to drive them what I think of as properly. That said I was very impressed that there was absolutely no noticeable background hum or noise when using the W3000ANV. This is obviously a very good thing, and not always the case with amps using tubes combined with the very efficient AT's.

The Signature has a couple of unique features—one is a patented bass EQ circuit, and the other is a "surround sound" function the stated goal of which designed to make the soundstage via headphones more natural. As I often find to be the case, whether I preferred these functions to be on or off depended on the music I was listening to at the time. Sometimes they were terrific and enhanced the listening experience, and sometimes they did not. Both functions are very, very subtle in effect. At the max setting of "Surround", the soundstage does seem to be coming from outside the headphones, and not in between them, but it doesn't put the image in front of you, so I actually didn't personally care for it most of the time. That said, on some jazz from the late 50's/early 60's, like "Waltz Me Blues" from Art Peppers' "Meets the Rhythm Section", the Surround feature helped to make what's a bit of a ping-pong stereo mix a bit more enjoyable, although this a track that I don't think works all that well with headphones outside of using the MONO switch on my vintage Pioneer amp.

On the other hand, the two bass boost settings were often VERY useful, and this is a great feature to have, given that the amount of boost is very subtle even with "MAX". Good stuff. One thing to note: the use of the Surround feature does actually reduce apparent bass weight (often the case with crossfeed type circuits), and as such, the use of the bass boost is almost mandatory if one chooses to use the Surround function.

There are some other niceties like a 35 second muting circuit to eliminate turn on transients, and two inputs with a front panel selector switch (note to manufacturers: rear panel selector switches SUCK, so Fosgate gets credit for doing it right).

The signature of the Signature
The Fosgate Signature pulls the listener into the music with a natural, engaging sound overall, with generally good detail and nuance, and a midband that is just gorgeous. This isn't due to any overt coloration—music sounds natural and dynamic (provided efficient headphones are used). The presentation is smooth and silky, but also very wideband and natural sounding. This is NOT an amp I would describe as being "tubey" sounding. It's highly transparent, and essentially neutral, with perhaps just a wee bit of overall warmth. For this listener at least, that's about ideal.

Well recorded jazz, such as Sonny Rollins' "Way Out West", was very well rendered by the Fosgate, and in a remarkably natural and engaging way, as was "Jersey Girl" from Holly Cole Trio's "Temptation". Two very different jazz records, those, but both of them have the potential to sound astonishing, and that was delivered by the Fosgate. Indeed, the manner in which these two different recordings both sounded very natural and lifelike was impressive.

This is not to say that the Signature for jazz or classical music lovers only. I am a rock and roller. I enjoyed greatly listening to Steven Wilson's phenomenal "The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories)" via the Fosgate. The first few minutes of "The Watchmaker" are filled with spare, incredibly well recorded instrumentation and soaring vocal harmonies, and these are incredibly well rendered by the Fosgate. Toward the end of the song, the music becomes very heavy, dense, and complex, and the Fosgate kept that well sorted out as well, not allowing the music to become a puddle of mush, which is not an easy trick. But I thought the presentation delivered by the signature on this reference quality but challenging track was excellent.

And more straightforward rock and roll was also great sounding. "Since I Held You" from the recent Mobile Fidelity re-issue of The Cars masterpiece "Candy-O" was also fantastic, with great delineation of the very dense musical soundscape that this record presents. The treble was not the most extended I have ever heard, but it didn't ever feel clearly rolled off, and it was NEVER aggressive or annoying on tracks that it shouldn't have been. Not every headphone amp I have heard gets that right. On tracks where the treble IS aggressive, the Fosgate still presented this, but at least it wasn't adding to the problem. That's what you want from your amplifier. And with well recorded music, like "Waiting" from Porcupine Tree's "Signify", the Fosgate delivered a combination of detail and smoothness in the treble that was very easy to like.

The bass...well, the bass control gives you a lot of flexibility, and so it's a bit hard to describe the bass weight of the amp in one sentence, but the tautness is always good. Depth is very good, again being somewhat short of the very best, but still excellent. Nothing ever really felt like it was missing. Tracks with powerful bass sounded powerful, and again, if you felt the need for a bit more kick, it's available at the press of a button, and in a way that doesn't muck up the rest of the sound. The very present bass in Nightwish's "Ocean Soul" from "Century Child" is hard to keep clean and defined, but the Signature did manage that trick.

The soundstage is very well defined, and images were well fleshed out. The soundstage is, however, not very deep. Some other high-end headphone amps do seem to dig more depth out of the soundstage than the Fosgate does. I'm not an imaging freak, so this was pretty inconsequential for me, but something a prospective buyer should be aware of. And again, the soundstage was very clean and well defined, it just wasn't the most holographic I have ever heard, and as also mentioned above, I don't think the "Surround" feature really changes that. It just widens the soundstage; it doesn't deepen it.

I listen at fairly low volumes with headphones, and with the W3000ANV there was definitely more power than I required even for a very loud listen. I actually wouldn't have minded a bit MORE play on the volume control, actually. I tried a pair of the slightly lower gain 5751 tubes in place of the stock ones, and while I preferred these (Sylvania Gold Brand black plate 5751's) versus the stock tubes generally, they didn't really change the gain structure much. The Fosgate will change its sound signature slightly in response to tube rolling, and tube rolling is VERY easy on this amp, so it's worth trying.

Finally, the Fosgate
The Fosgate signature is a very good looking headphone amplifier, with a lot of very nice features, that also sounds terrific. It is not a good match for power hungry planar headphones, but for high-efficiency headphones of a very high quality, the Fosgate Signature is a good example of how you can create a headphone listening experience that will rival ultra-expensive speaker-based stereos in many ways. The combination of the AT W3000ANV and the Fosgate Signature was an incredibly enjoyable music listening experience that I will miss when I have to send it back. And honestly, I will also miss looking at it on my desk. I also think that the asking price of $1,500 is reasonable for the sound and build quality you get, and the Signature competes very favorably with several of the other amps I have reviewed that are around that same price range this past year. Definitely recommended for owners of high end, efficient headphones, the Fosgate Signature made great music for me.

From CNET:

The Fosgate Signature Headphone Amplifier Musical Surroundings

The Fosgate Signature Headphone Amplifier is one of the very best-sounding amps I've ever used. It was designed by one of the greats, Jim Fosgate, a man who earned 18 audio related patents, founded a number of successful electronics companies -- oh, and he pioneered high-power car audio systems. He was also a big supporter of the very first home surround format -- quadraphonic -- in the early 1970s, and so committed to the format that even as quad was winding down, he designed the Fosgate Tate 101, arguably the finest quad processor of the era. Fosgate also created the best-selling matrix surround codec of all time, Dolby Pro Logic II, and in 2003 he won an Emmy for Development of Surround Sound for Television.

When I asked Fosgate why his new headphone amp uses tube and solid-state electronics, he said, "I'm not trying to make an old-fashioned sound, but the tubes make it sound better than an all-solid-state circuit." The amp has a patented bass boost equalizer circuit that improves low-frequency bass impact without adding bass boom or muddiness. There are three positions on the bass control: Min, Max, and Off. I didn't use the bass boost all the time, but it really helped improve the sound of some headphones, including my Sennheiser HD 700s.

The other unique feature, also patented by Fosgate, is the Panorama Control that adds spaciousness to stereo headphone sound. At first panorama seemed a little unnatural, but after I left it on for a while I preferred it. When I turned it off and returned to regular stereo, stereo seemed claustrophobic and small. You don't have to use it, but I'm glad it's there.

During my listening tests, I compared the Fosgate with two of my favorite solid-state headphone amps, the Burson Audio HA-160 (now discontinued) and the Hifiman EF-6 ($1,599) with my Grado RS-1, Sennheiser HD 700 , and Audeze LCD 2 and LCD 3 headphones. The Fosgate amp had a slightly warmer tonal balance, but it sounded more transparent and clear than the two solid-state amps. Bass definition was ahead of the other two amps. The tubes definitely didn't smear or soften the sound, and even with the panorama control turned off, the Fosgate amp produced a more expansive and open sound than either the Burson or Hifiman amps.

David Bowie's new high-resolution album, "The Next Day," showcased the amp's ability to unravel dense mixes, so I could more clearly hear each sound and instrument. I especially enjoyed the Fosgate with movies, "A Late Quartet," a film about a classical string quartet dealing with change sounded wonderful. The string instruments' tone was perfect, and when the musicians practice at home, I could hear the sound of the instruments filling their room. It was like being there. When it was time to pack up the amp and send it back, I was truly sorry to see it go.

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