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Published on September 15th, 2011 | by James

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Creek Audio’s OBH-11: A Great, Balanced Amp

It’s been a week for head­phone am­pli­fiers here at Tru­lyNet and the lat­est up­date brings you an­oth­er piece of gear aimed at help­ing you lis­ten with high-def­i­ni­tion clar­i­ty. Un­like some of the oth­er pe­riph­er­als we’ve been test­ing, this one isn’t aimed pure­ly at high rollers, nor is it a ul­tra-portable min­i­mal piece of gear. In­stead, it oc­cu­pies a nice mid­dle ground, serv­ing as a sol­id am­pli­fi­er for the stars (and any­one else who needs a de­cent, mid-ranged, fair­ly in­ex­pen­sive amp). At 12 ounces, it doesn’t have a to­tal­ly sep­a­rate pow­er sup­ply, nor does it fea­ture finicky tubes. But it does have plen­ty of pow­er to drive most de­mand­ing ear­phones and mon­i­tors.

The OBH-11 is the lat­est of­fer­ing from Creek Au­dio and their first head­phone-on­ly am­pli­fi­er- and it does pret­ty amaz­ing job of do­ing just that. Un­like the uDAC2 which was re­viewed a few days ago, this am­pli­fi­er al­lows you to con­nect any au­dio de­vice via the RCA in­put/out­put on the back of the de­vice. And while it doesn’t have bat­ter­ies, most folks don’t need an amp with them, since it’s like­ly just go­ing to be sit­ting on your desk or en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter.

The set­up of the de­vice is a snap, as ex­pect­ed for these types of pe­riph­er­als. The OBH-11 comes with a 15 watt adapter with uni­ver­sal pow­er con­nects for most of the worlds wall out­lets. The build qual­i­ty of the de­vice it­self is in­sane­ly stur­dy, ri­val­ing that of a lot of stage gear I’ve en­coun­tered in the past with its met­al cas­ing and brushed fin­ish, this thing could eas­i­ly take a beat­ing. It’s size al­lows it to eas­i­ly fit on your desk or in a crowd­ed en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem with no trou­ble what­so­ev­er and it’s ex­te­ri­or aes­thet­ics blend in nice­ly with the in­dus­try stan­dard black and white col­or scheme that is ev­er-pre­sent in liv­ing rooms world­wide.

Now about the sound qual­i­ty it­self. I used a few dif­fer­ent types of head­phones to com­pare the sound qual­i­ty and they all fared very well in a “crank it to 11″ stress test, though I can’t say the same for my eardrums. When test­ing this unit with my stu­dio mon­i­tor­ing head­phones, I didn’t no­tice any “ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ing” of the sound, which is a big plus if you’re us­ing this unit to mon­i­tor tracks from a dig­i­tal au­dio work­sta­tion. I did no­tice, how­ev­er, that my mid and high range fre­quen­cies seemed a bit too bright, es­pe­cial­ly com­pared to low­er ones when I cranked up the unit. This is­sue made for some un­com­fort­able lis­ten­ing dur­ing some synth so­lo edit­ing. While us­ing con­sumer grade head­phones, this is­sue wasn’t no­tice­able at all, which made lis­ten­ing to mul­ti­ple gen­res of mu­sic cranked up an awe­some head-bang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. On ei­ther pair of head­phones, I didn’t no­tice any dis­tor­tion or noise while the mu­sic was turned off, which is al­ways a good sign.

If you’re look­ing for a no-frills head­phone amp that doesn’t pull any punch­es, the Creek OBH-11 is a great prod­uct. At an MSRP of $225, bud­ding au­dio­philes can af­ford­ably dip their toes in­to the world of hi-fi mu­sic en­joy­ment. For ac­cu­ra­cy, we’d rate it a sol­id 8, and it might not of­fer the tube-acous­tic mel­low rounder fla­vor. But for punchy, dis­tinct in­stru­men­ta­tion, it’s ap­proach­ing a 10.

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