Fosgate and Musical Surroundings' Happy Pairing

Musical Surroundings, the distributor whose headquarters are in my notoriously crime-ridden town of Oakland, had multiple presences at AXPONA. One was on the mezzanine, where Mike Fajen was touting the pairing of the Fosgate Signature headphone amp ($1500) with Musical Surroundings' new MYDAC II ($1200). To these ears, the pairing is felicitous. Heard through revealing Sennheiser HD 800 headphones, the sound was exceptionally nice, warm, and lovely.

Mike reports that Jim Fosgate prides himself on designing simple and elegant circuits. In this case, his headphone amp uses two 12AX7 tubes, and offers both bass boost and a surround circuit. The MYDAC II, designed by Michael Yee, is claimed to digitally reconstruct the information that MP3s permanently lose in the ruthless compression process, and also rebuilds music streamed over AirPort Express. At least, that's what my scribble says.

pdxhombre's picture

I have the pleasure of owning the Fosgate Signature Headphone Amp being fed from a Berkeley Alpha DAC 2. The Berkeley DAC is being fed by a balanced Kimber Hero interconnect from a Musical Fidelity V-Link 192 which is connected to my iMac (running iTunes via Pure Music) via a Cardas Clear USB cable. When using this set-up paired with an Sennheiser HD800 the results can be magical. The majority of my my rather sizable iTunes library consist mostly of either my CDs downloaded as Apple Lossess files or just downloaded from iTunes or Amazon at 246 kbps. The reason the majority of songs are stored in a relatively low resolution format is that at the time I did not have a high resolution playback system. Now that I have the above mentioned system I have acquired numerous albums from HDtracks as 96/24 or 192/24 FLAC files and have loaded newer CDs via AIFF encoder. The reason I love this DAC/Headphone Amp/Headphone combination is that it transforms many of my favorite songs stored in a relatively low resolution digital format into an immensley pleasurable "analog like" rendition. The Fosgate AMP makes the very analytical HD800 sound very musical, a term not generally used by people to describe the HD800 sound. Furthermore the bass boost feature on the amp enhances the HD800 which is notorious for being bass shy. This system is very revealing. Poorly recorded music downloaded as AIFF and upsampled to 192kHz still sound crappy. On the other hand a well recorded iTunes song (such as "L.A. By Bike" by Lee Ritenour) sounds amazing when upsampled to 192kHz. The high resolution format songs can and do sound better. The major gripe I have with high resolution music is not the cost as much as it is that the music choices in this format are very limited which is the same for SACD recordings. I would much rather listen to the music I like in a lower resolution format than to listen to incredibly well recorded high resolution music that just does not interest me. So for me this combination of DAC and headphone amp allows me to enjoy the music I love in a more  "vinyl"  or analog sort of way. I feel that I am in audio heaven with this system.