Ampsandsound Pendant Amplifier

Here is my personal experience with a twice(2x) used AmpsandSound pre-production (pre ZMF) model Pendant headphone/pre-amp unit. The original user was also the builder, Justin Weber (of Amps&sound fame), as verified via e-mail directly and by the second owner who purchased the amplifier direct from mr. Weber.

Short story: This is an extremely respectable and powerful tube headphone amplifier and in my set-up also a very solid performing pre-amplifier.

TL:DR; The unit uses 1x EZ81/6CA4, 2x EL84/6B05, and 1x 12AX7/12AT7/12AU7 tubes. All of the tube styles are still available in same or equivalents across the internet from a variety of sellers and can be had for what are currently considered reasonable prices in the tube world today.
https://www.zmfheadphones.com/pendant

My first surprise was that this amplifier drives BOTH Planar magnetic and dynamic or moving coil driver type headphones well. For whatever reason I was not sold on the hype until I actually plugged in some planars and experienced the SQ for myself.

My second very pleasant surprise was that this amp pushed Hifiman He6se headphones respectably well, good enough to enjoy. That was impressive considering how many “powerful” amplifiers I tried that failed/did soso at this task.

Most of the high end tube amps I have personally experienced top off in MSRP at $8K, my experience is limited so I will be brief and cautious in what I say.

Source was Qobuz stream-> via Innuos Zenith MK3 server-> Exogal Comet+ DAC -> Pendant. I tried the unit on every HP I own just to get a feel for things.

My longest and favorite session was about 3hrs continuous with Senn HD6XX from Massdrop. My least favorite listening session was barely 15 mins long with Phillips SHP9500s. (see my profile for HP list)

Music used was a few blues tracks, some EDM, classic rock, movie soundtracks and a few female vocal tracks just to keep me interested and familiar with the song quality.

This particular amplifier is a real pleasure to listen to, I will assume that the current versions of the ZMF Pendant are very similar. The music sounds very lively and musical, at no point did the amplifier limit the individual headphones, it really maximized what level every single unit was able to perform to. I say this because the sound is very clean, and there is enough power to allow what you plug in to play at it’s full potential. I am sure there are exceptions but I sampled a moderately popular cross section of headphones minus TOTL units in excess of a $2k price point and beyond. (see my profile for list)

In direct comparison just to make sure I was actually hearing something “better” I plugged in a Monoprice Cavelli designed $125 Liquid Spark SS into the same exact signal chain. I am willing to unequivocally state that I preferred the sound of the Pendant on almost each and every headphone over the Monoprice Liquid Spark. There is a difference in clarity, soundstage, depth, air, and in general just a much more musical and lively presentation in almost each and every headphone. You have to listen for it and A/B a few times with the same song over but it is absolutely a much nicer overall presentation to my ears with the Ampsandsound unit.

Short and to the point, If I HAD to choose 1 single amplifier to keep out of my small collection, this unit would make the cut due to its versatility. It performed well with a wide variety of Headphones and as a pre-amplifier with my other amps and speakers. The tube compliment is currently available for a fairly reasonable price, and it’s a sensible combo of tubes whose purpose individually makes sense to me and i find it fairly straightforward to roll.

The BAD: My unit is sensitive to RF interference. I need to keep both my cell phones on the opposite side of my desk 4ft+ away to keep RF noises out of my ears. I can tell when I am about to get a text, call, email etc. a second or 2 before my phone rings.

Other than that I have NOTHING (EDIT: see posts below reference volume and power output) at all negative to say about this amp. For about $2k it’s worth every penny and will certainly outperform, at least in my eyes, anything at the $100 +/- mark… :star_struck: I say this tongue in cheek, everyone talks about how much “better” everything gets the more $$$ you throw at it, sure it does, “better” is relative, 25%, 10%, 5% better? I don’t know, I’m older and not particularly picky, I just happen to like nice things, this amp is certainly capable and performs at its price point in my opinion.



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I have a production ZMF version, I’m holding off giving impressions until I get some more NOS El84’s delivered.

Mine had issues with RF interference (my WiFi), and has a quiet background hum when using the High headphone out into the Verites. It’s been back to A&S, and I’ve talked to Justin at A&S about the hum, it’s only really audible on the High output with the extremely sensitive Verites.
Given the amp has been tested twice by A&S, it’s probable that the hum is something in my environment coupled with the sensitivity of the Verites. I’ve tried pretty much everything any reasonable person would and I can’t eliminate it.
Zach at ZMF offered to take the amp back, I elected to keep it after listening to it on the Low output, where any noise is well below audible levels.

My one criticism It’s too much power for the ZMF’s, I literally can’t get past 8 O’Clock on the volume dial, I recently moved my head phone stuff into a rack, and since that moved the volume knobs out of easy reach, I inserted a Creek OBH-12 between the DAC’s and Amps. This gives me a lot more range on the volume control, and remote volume control.

Short version, I’ll give more detailed impression later, it’s a pretty fantastic sounding amp.

Generally I think it’s a great value, which is a hard thing to say for $2K amp, it’s even better value if you order it along with a pair of ZMF headphones.

It’s a significant step up over anything else I own even with the supplied new production JJ tubes (I’m using an NOS RCA 12AU7 with the stock EL84’s).
I don’t own anything which is comparable, I have a DNA Stratus on order (might see it this year), and the pendant was intended as a stop gap until Mr North get’s around to my Stratus, but now I’m interested in comparing them.

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Your particular situation was known to me and thus resulted in my own personal trepidation in choosing this amplifier over a Decware TabooMkIV that i had in my cart and ready to purchase. I emailed Justin directly and his extremely personable attitude and 100% willingness to repair the amplifier i was looking at purchasing if i was not satisfied or had issues was what fully pushed me in choosing this unit over the Decware.

Steve At Decware also stands behind his equipment and i really wanted the VU meters, but even with a small discount Being offered in April, that unit was almost double the price of this one. I lost some sleep and spent many hours non-stop reading every piece of info i could on The Pendant amplifiers, finally because i already knew what level the Decware would perform at and since i already own an older CSP2 model, i went in favor of getting something different and cheaper.

My Amps&sound unit only has very minor hard to hear RF interference noise when my cell phones ring, otherwise it is noise, hiss, and once fully warmed up, pop and snap free. I also know that Justin tweaked this particular amplifier just a little bit, and that MAY have something to do with its performance, which was yet another reason i wanted this unit in particular.

I look forward to you or anyone else more experienced than I offering up their opinions and more vivid descriptions of what Ampsandsound products are capable of. Personally i am very happy with my amp and look forward to enjoying it for years to come. This unit along with a small selection of others makes me feel very complete with what i have available to me for my listening pleasure. Thank you for speaking up @Polygonhell :+1:

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The Pendant is powerful and will easily push headphones into distortion or unpleasant listening volumes, the DAC i am using has volume attenuation which i normally set somewhere between 75-85% in order to give me a wider volume range on the amplifier. Otherwise i too am unable to get much past the 8 o’clock position on the Pendant. If your DAC has no volume control it will probably NOT be a good match with the Pendant amplifier. Great catch @Polygonhell i should have listed that point too.

great stuff guys, I enjoyed reading about your experiences. The Pendant is definitely a tube amp I’m interested in checking out in the future. I would love to hear more impressions on headphone pairings and tube rolling especially.

Also in case anyone reading is interested, currently there is a ampandsound Leeloo for sale on head-fi for a very attractive price. Basically a very similar amp to the pendant if I understand correctly. please someone buy it before I do lol

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that doesn’t look like much of a pendant to me. wear that you’ll sink when you go swimming…

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The pair of NOS RCA 6BQ5’s I’d ordered arrived and I replaced the stock JJ El84’s with them last night.
Really significant difference, MUCH wider and taller sound stage, richer mids.

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Very nice, mine came with several nice NOS tubes, I honestly am still learning the amp and haven’t done anything other than drop a low gain tube in. Tube amps are fun but you need time and patience. Congratulations on the new additions, thanks for letting me know that these sound good, I’ll take a look around to see if I can find a good pair to add to my small stash. Thank you!

I just got mine and am barely a few songs into listening on my 880s, and I am completely smitten. With everything. This whole chain. I don’t want to go to bed. I never should have started this tonight!

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that looks more like an anchor than pendant. :o

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Yeah, would not recommend wearing around your neck. If you thought Audezes were heavy… Shipping weight with the ironwood chassis was 14lbs, lol.

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The wood is very visually appealing, and i hope you are getting no or minimal RF interference. It really is a versatile and quality SQ piece, happy listening and many congratulations on finally getting one in your hands!

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Thanks, Nick!

So, it’s official: Pendant drives Susvaras with gusto.

The King of Planars just came in today, and I’ve been breaking them in on a Topping A90, balanced, in high gain. Fed by an ADI-2, I maxed out comfortable listening levels about 1:00 on the dial of the A90.

After a couple hours of listening, I’ve finally switched cables and fired up the Pendant. I’m getting the same sort of stunning clarity, captivating mids, and pounding bass that I got from the A90. I can’t even quite hit noon on the Pendant. And this is purely SE, with RCA from the ADI-2 to the Pendant and, of course, the 1/4 cable fed from the Low Z tap.

Through both amps I am certainly getting my money’s worth. I have been a long time fan of Focal Utopias, but they simply can’t hold a candle to what Susvaras can deliver. These are simply on another level in terms of realism (timbre + presence) and musical engagement.

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I haven’t tried the susvara on a pendant, but the pendant has more power than you would think behind it, the he1000se was pretty nice on the pendant, I would imagine the susvara being pretty good as well :+1:

I would agree lol

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I’ve experienced a combo that you haven’t? Is that worth a merit badge of some kind? :wink:

Absolutely! Thankfully, it has put to rest all anxieties about running my Susvaras off of speaker taps. Whatever gains may be possible don’t seem worth the relative hassles.

Ironically, I bought my Pendant with the intention of exploring euphonic listening with ZMF heapdhones. At the time I wasn’t dreaming that I might pick up Susvara, much less worrying about power output of the Pendant.

When I did grab Susvara (most unexpectedly, after finding a deal I couldn’t refuse), I recalled all the times I’ve read that tubes and planars don’t mix. I just assumed the Pendant wouldn’t be a good match. But then reviewing the design and the purpose of the Hi Z / Low Z taps gave me pause. Finally, after getting a mini baseline from the A90, I gave it a go, and here we are.

I can hear nothing off or lacking in this presentation. I can’t even imaging how to improve this sound. This has completely redefined what’s possible from headphones.

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I still think it’s worth a try, but yes the susvara can be effectively run off normal headphone amps for the most part lol. I did try a he6 off a pendant and it was meh tho lol, so still speaker amp preference there, but they actually made the susvara usable lol. But generally I do think that the more power the better with the susvara (as long as you don’t sacrifice quality for quantity)

This is a general good rule in the lower end side of things, but honestly once you get an actually high end tube amp, even otl at times, they can run planar with ease. Most of the amps I run planar on are tube these days tbh

That’s something you can find out later on lol :wink:

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