Erzetich Perfidus Desk Top Headphone Amplifier
Just before the Chinese New Year of 2015, my auditor friend Mr Tham passed me a headphone amplifier for audition, the top end audiophile class A headphone amplifier from Erzetich.
I am not familiar with the brand Erzetich, neither can I pronounce it properly. Based on information from Google, the country of origin of Erzetich is Slovenia, a country in Europe. Every corners on earth you will find audiophile craftmen, and so is the founder of Erzetich, Mr Blaz Erzetich, who wants to design his headphone amp not to be just another electronic device, but an object of art with a human touch.
At present Erzetich made 3 headphone amp models: Perfidus, Bacillus and Bacillus Tilla. Perfidus is the most expensive model. But comparing price with top end models from other brands, I would consider Perfidus still reasonably 'affordable'. I believe Perfidus is targeting at demanding audiophiles who are not preparing to spend a fortune on a top end headamp.
Perfidus is made of solid aluminum casing. The front panel is added a glass panel. Build is of high quality and of very refined workmanship. The overall design is simple and straight forward. It only provides the basic functions: a volumn switch, a 1/4 in headphone plug, a power switch and a set of RCA audio input. When power up, there is a small red LED at the dot of the i at the Perfidus brand at the front panel. We can see the thoughts the designer puts into the fine details.
But there is a naughty side of the designer. According to the designer this headphone amp can exposed bad recordings, and thus a demon graphic is placed at the headphone output jack and on the top panel of the amplifier casing.
So I connect the Perfidus to my Marantz KI Pearl Lite SACD player, Bryston BP-25 preamp, and audit using my loyal headphone Sennheiser HD-650 open headphone. Fresh sound from Perfidus not really impressive, so there it went for few days of running in.
After a few days of burning in, Perfidus finally showed its true colour. Designer of Erzetich commented that the sonic nature of Perfidus is bright and quick. I found that the class A Perfidus was not really ridiculously fast, but was appropriately and correctly fast. The fast transient was good for guitars and percussion. I am using all DIY pure silver cables or silver coated copper cables and I found the sonic performance was sweet, and not at all bright to my taste.
One area that Perfidus gave me a very deep impression was the very wide sound stage, which gave a very good 3 dimensional presentation of the recordings and the positioning of instruments. There were lots of details across the frequency range, and yet it still sounded musical. I believe if it is paired with Sennheisor HD-800 the sonic performance will be very impressive. Talking about the demon previously, I found that bad recordings were still manageable with Perfidus, not as bad as what the designer had claimed, haha!
Vocal of Perfidus was naturally sweet, and did not sound with too much additives. Renee Fleming 'Last Rose of Summer' (Decca 458858-2) was overwhelming at the climax. Huang Hong Ying (Hugo SACD 7234) sweet voice and the whistling of Hugo boss Mr Ek was as impressive as before. Chai Qin’s (SACD EMI 0723457708920 and HE-305A)low and sweet voice was musically reproduced. The strike of the quitar string was like lightning. However the 9 toad calls from 2'27" to 3'44" were not as easy to track as on my speaker system. Vocal is the forte of Sennheisor, so a very satisfying results pairing with Perfidus was expected.
Paavo Jarvi conducting Stravinsky music for small orchestra (Pentatone PTC 5186 046/SACD) and Jazz at the Pawnshop (Prophone FIM SACD M034) are two well recorded recordings. The musical presentation of very rich details made the instruments in Stravinsky alive, and the three dimensional presentation let you feel the live interaction between the Jazz performers and the pub audience. The lightning speed gave punch to the instrument recordings for both.
(Hugo HRP 7207-2) is a recording good for testing sound stage. With Perfidus the sound stage was wide and deep, very impressive.
Huge Masekela coal train is a recording my editor friend likes very much. It is an explosive live recording. Perfidus fully presented the explosiveness of the performers and the helplessness of the coal mine workers. The only strange thing about this recording is that you need to turn the volumn to much louder than normal to have the correct feel of the recording. Of course on a headphone system I was not going to do that for safety reason, but the punch of the music could still be felt.
The last genre to be tested was of course my favorite classical music. Sennheisor open headphone, SACD recordings, now with the class A Perfidus headphone amp that has great 3D sound stage, listening to classical music is another level of enjoyment. Accardo's La Campanella by Paganini(Hugo/DG 449858-4 LPCD45), a very good recording in the first place,now sounds even better. For Rossini string sonatas (Decca 470447-2/XRCD), Perfidus great details and separation allowsed me to very clearly distinguish the first violins from the second violins. It was difficult to separate them because Neville Marriner placed them together on the right side of the orchestra. A bit more on this recording, which from the string tonal point to f view may not be the best recording. The original script was written for 4 instruments only. However I somehow like the more dynamic and forceful presentation of these works by a small ensemble, and the lively interpretation of Sir Neville Marriner.
Mendelssohn string symphonies are another impressive classical work (Teldec 4509-98435-2) I like very much. This CD collected five of the symphonies. The orchestration is similar to the Rossini version by Marriner. The recording echo is more prominent in the Teldec recording. Decca recording of Rossini is more leaning towards audiophiles. Listening to the Mendelssohn with Perfidus, the music was full of details, very accurate positioning of the instruments, and the same very wide sound stage.
All along I believe that other than the source, the headphone plays an important part in an audiophile headphone system set up. But after experiencing Perfidus, I realised the headamp could present such a wide sound stage and a three dimensional feeling of the recordings. It has lots of details in the low, mid and high range, a sweet enough mid range, accurate positioning, and yet and the same time sounds musical, and I believe it can greatly improve the musical performance of a headphone set up. If you are looking for a headphone amp, I would strongly suggest you audit the Perfidus!