Published on September 15th, 2011 | by James0
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.