FELIKS AUDIO EUFORIA REVIEW
Reviewed at $1399 USD MSRP (2017 version)
The 2018 version with upgraded pre-amp circuit and cv181 driver tubes: 1999 euro, 1885 usd (due to 500usd VAT refund)
[ALL RATINGS ARE FOR THE 2017 MODEL PRICED AT 1399]
- TONAL BALANCE / NEUTRALITY 98%
- PERFORMANCE FOR THE PRICE 100%
- SOUND FIDELITY 90%
- MUSICALITY 93%
- BUILD QUALITY 95%
- Excellent balance
- Great dynamics
- Good tonality
- Responsive to tube rolling
- Chuck those stock tubes
The Euforia was sent to me my Feliks Audio in Poland. Special thanks to them for providing this loaner unit. Also, if you would like to read impressions from others besides myself, please visit the dedicated thread here on SBAF as this particular unit is being passed along on a tour for others to hear.
Quote from conversation:
“- Measurement at max voltage on input 1,8V RMS ,1KHz
– Output THD under 0,5%
At such conditions you would get with Euforia:
– at 600 ohm => 80mW
300 ohm =>130mW
100 ohm =>200mW
32 ohm =>130mW”
From the site (http://feliksaudio.pl/):
- 100% pure silver signal wiring in teflon jacket
- New noise cancelling module in the power circuit
- Premium PsVane 6SN7 driver tubes
- Heavy duty teflon gold-plated tube sockets
- High quality Mundorf and Nichicon capacitors
- Dale and Caddock resistors
- Gold plated RCA inputs
- Improved external noise tolerance
Finish and looks
Euforia has a modern/minimalist design that works very well for me. For some reason my OCD starts picking at bolts and screws I see sticking out of the chassis. Things my inbound Aficionado has all over it (it does look its price in person). To each his own but the solid build, matte black color, and sleek design just does it for my tastes.
Very easy to dial in your ideal volume with that big knob on the front. Hassle free volume control that is about as smooth and solid as it gets with no wiggle or looseness.
You just need to skip those stock tubes. They hindered the soundstage and separation making things sound a bit homogenized and also sound a bit dingy and dim. A friend sent me two Tungsol 6336a tubes and a couple of output tubes. Everyone makes mistakes now and then and this time I accidentally made two. 1. I didn’t check which tubes made the most difference between the power or driver tubes. 2. I didn’t realize that the two driver tubes were not matched because they looked so similar. When I sent the tubes to another enthusiast to hear, they noticed right away and let me know. Either way, even so the sound became much more clear, the separation increased, and the music was less clouded with cleaner sound.
I heard no noise from the Euforia at all.
This amplifier can actually run some planars and make them sound decent. I was surprised especially given the low power ratings. The Kenzie for example has similar ratings but is not up to the task of giving planars the goods.
- BASS EXTENSION 89%
- BASS BALANCE 93%
- LOWER MIDRANGE BALANCE 98%
- MIDRANGE PROPER BALANCE 97%
- UPPER MIDRANGE BALANCE 98%
- TREBLE BALANCE 94%
- TREBLE EXTENSION 89%
- BASS CONTROL 89%
- TONE DENSITY (BODY , OPPOSITE OF THINNESS) 91%
- MACRO DYNAMICS (SOFTS TO LOUDS) 96%
- MICRO DYNAMICS (SMALL GRADATIONS OF VOLUME) 87%
- SOUND STAGE WIDTH 83%
- SOUND STAGE DEPTH 75%
- RESOLUTION 89%
- CLARITY 91%
[ALL RATINGS ARE FOR THE 2017 MODEL PRICED AT 1399]
Let me just get you straight from jump. Ditch the stock tubes and you have a stellar amplifier for the price. That straight connection to the song you are looking for is right here. Still not dethroning the Kenzie for tonality and use for dynamic headphones but it is able to rock with some planars believe it or not and can come close in tonality at a more affordable price.
UPDATE: The 2017 version is no longer available. The 2018 version at 1885 USD cannot be recommended with the same confidence. It will have now ship with upgraded CV181 driver tubes. It will also have an upgraded preamp circuit. I do not think that the amplifier at 1399 would have been a giant killer but was priced 100% accurately. Since the improvements to the headphone performance don’t involve internal design differenced that provide better depth, resolution, and imaging then the new price is a bit high. Do note that you can save 200USD by purchasing the amplifier without the CV181 tubes.
The bass is not something that is going to wow you. My Mogwai had better bass slam but more decay and bloom. However there is decent (not bottomless) extension, the bass is not bloated and has good presence. I was listening to it next to the Taboo MKIV and Mogwai with upgraded caps; next to both of those it never left me wanting save just a bit of slam (I have a large appetite for bass slam). The bass presence and balance seems about spot on without any emphasis or trimming in presence. It actually was part of the culprit in proving the Taboo was just a little less able to render the upright bassists’ presence accurately. Definition is decent, yet I do want for more density like the Auris. When plugging in the Denon D7200 the bass did at times feel just a bit less dynamic but I am not sure if that was the headphone itself or the combination. The Atticus on the other hand responded very well to it showing no such issues; in fact it made the Atticus sound tighter with more snap than I am used to; exceptional synergy. Also my Modified T50RP seemed to be controlled and surprisingly, while not optimal, faired much better on it than a lot of other tube amps.
- Bass summary: has good depth, kick drums sound just about right and while it is not as heavy handed and stocked in girth as the Mogwai it has a bit more natural presence than the Taboo MKIV. It is definitely not loose but I think this is an area the Auris HA2SE still remains king as far as tube amps that I have heard in that it is a bit more hard and focused even if it doesn’t have the best texture. But on the Atticus the Euphoria may sound just a bit more punchy than most amps.
Forward and natural. Good clarity. Slightly, very slightly gritty but overall wonderfully balanced and tangible. My first reaction to the Euforia was like “whoah back up just a little bit… you are all in my grill with the music”. Not but two minutes later and just a little backing off on the pot revealed very good dynamic range and the Euforias ability to bring the intensity of the recording out without sounding too harsh. It’s got that magic to it that hits a sweet spot of tonality that neither the Taboo, Mogwai, Auris, Torpedo (comes close), or hardly any other amp I have reviewed hits save the Kenzie. Memory has the Kenzie with just a slight bit more air and hear through factor on vocals with the Ampsandsound amplifier (stock tubes). Memory also has the Cayin iHA-1A MK2 sounding a little sweeter, just as rich, but more flattering without the precision and openness of the Euforia. This is because it has good balance and dynamic range without sounding sloppy, too wet, and overly bloomy. My notes have this as the kind of timbre and tonality I want from my end game custom built amplifier.
Treble is just a bit tamed but with decent extension. I believe that some people may think that the treble of the Euforia would be just a little rolled but to my ears and for my tastes it sits almost exactly where I like it. I feel the Euforia sounds just a little smooth but punchy up top. Transition from the upper midrange into the treble is pretty much my ideal balance there. There is no forwardness in the lower treble but it is not withdrawn either. I found the stock tubes to be a bit dim, lacking clarity and resolution. The first thing I noticed when popping in the Tungsol Power tubes was that it is cable of delivering good details in the treble.
The Euforia has good Macro dynamics to my ears and excellent dynamic range. The Euforia will have the ability to make a lot of other amplifiers sound compressed. I feel it’s most direct competitors are the Torpedo III (maxed out), The Auris HA2SE, and the Kenzie. Of those, the Euforia can sound pretty intense relatively speaking and definitely sounds more unhindered than the Auris HA2SE. The micro-dynamics are decent as well.
- Dynamic range is excellent as music picks up intensity an calms down with just about as much range as the recording has in it. This makes it sound addicting. It has even better dynamic range than the Taboo MKIV and Mogwai. UNHINDERED
Soundstage is average to mediocre. This is an area that I feel the Euforia could improve on. It had a tough time next to the Taboo MKIV which was much deeper, and the Mogwai which was wider and had better imaging. I am not bothered by it’s width because I don’t find it too narrow, like I said average, but there is a forwardness to the Euforia that could stand to be aided by depth. It is a little imposing but engaging nonetheless.
- Comment: It has less separation or space around the instruments than the pricier amps I have had here, and the imaging, while not bad at all, is just a bit lacking in depth and holography. However, it still has some of that fully tube magic going on that makes the images pop out from each other.
Control is definitely acceptable. As is, I say it is an amplifier that connects me directly to the heart of the music without distractions and enough control to keep me happy. If you can’t tell by now, I want this amplifier and believe it is a good reference. It sounded very controlled with my Atticus though. I guess it really boils down to pairings. The Atticus was very snappy on the Euforia and the bass on certain songs sounded really controlled. E.g. compared to my Pro iCan which is more precise, the iFi flagship doesn’t grip the bass of the Atticus nearly as well as the Euforia.
However sometimes I felt like certain instruments in the midrange there was a fuzziness between instruments that hindered it’s separation and layering.
Resolution is pretty darn good for the price for sure. Next to the Mogwai with upgraded caps and tubes ($2.4k) and the Decware Taboo MKIV ($3k) it definitely fell just a little short there but resolves right where I feel it’s price tag warrants. I consider it a detailed sounding amplifier indeed.
Timbre…I love it. It has just about the right amount of density and tangibility. Natural decay and snappy attacks. Its pretty much spot on gorgeous here. It also doesn’t sound too thick either. The last amplifier I buy I want to have this tonal quality yet just a little cleaner and a shade denser (but I expect to pay over 3k for my last amp).
So what is this thing directly up against and for what kind of headphones? Sometimes when asked for advice I have to go off of memory and that can be just a little unreliable. But here is what I remember most clearly (add some grains of salt).
Auris HA2SE ($1599): This amplifier is a lot more versatile with various impedance selections, higher power, a remote, 3 input slots and stunning looks. It sounds very neutral, and even the stock tubes get you close enough to it’s full potential. It has better bass than amplifiers that cost much more including the cheaper Euforia, and while not the most textured, the bass is more controlled and dense than any tube amp that I recall save the Zana Deux.
Now the Euforia has better dynamic range, is just as neutral, but sounds a bit more realistic with equal details. It also is a bit more forward but the layering is not as good. I also do not recall the Auris having as much ‘hear-through’ factor and clarity as the Euforia which may do better there. The combination of its macrodynamics, dynamic range and tonality(with aftermarket tubes) enables it to hit a very good sweet spot of timbre and realism that the Auris is just a bit shy of not matter what glass you pop in.
Were I going dynamic drivers I would take the Euforia over the Auris 7 songs out of 10. Were I running headphones like the Denons, the Odin, or an Ether Flow, I would take the Auris HA2SE 7 out of 10 times. My overall recommendation goes to the Euforia though simply because dynamic range is something that is extremely important. You can have all of the control you want, and all of the neutrality and options you want, but the intensity of the recording MUST be revealed to take your soul into the recording and place you at the event.
Kenzie ($1,650): I am afraid that the Kenzie with have the Euforia beat by just a bit. The Euforia needs upgraded tubes to be on the same level of tonality and clarity as the Kenzie on stock tubes. The Kenzie also has better imaging and separation. However, I would throw a planar on the Euforia with a bit more confidence than I would on the Kenzie. Both of these amplifiers give very similar levels of enjoyment with regards to having nailed tonality. Perhaps the Euforia is a bit more forward and lively but I will leave crumbs on the table for direct comparisons to scrape up the rest of the tid bits. I did directly compare the Euforia to the Mogwai which was just about as holographic as the Kenzie so in that regards, the Kenzie would win there. Control and macrodynamics … I am not sure. Resolution-Kenzie(by a little).
Torpedo III MAXED ($1300): I would need a direct comparison again but I don’t recall the Torpedo sounding as full and detailed as this Euforia does, nor do I recall the bass being as snappy and punchy with the Atticus. It didn’t initially capture me like the Euforia on better tubes did.
This was an odd review experience to say the least. When I first got the amplifier and heard it I was thinking, well it has good control, and nice timbre, with a slightly dark but kind of dirty tonality. It sounded like it was worth about a grand or so and on the level of the Cayin iHA-1A MKII with the latter being my preference in the midrange. Then I received the upgraded tubes and viola, the clarity, separation, details, and transparency of the amplifier took a meaningful leap which showed me its potential. I then began to think it was deserved of an earphile award and also that at 1399 it was priced spot on. Still, the amplifier needs a bit more depth, imaging and resolution to compete with the Kenzie but based on sound quality alone it is right there with the Auris trading blows, winning and losing in some aspects.
Then right after the post of the review I receive notice of the price change to 1999 euros and kind of assumed the US price would be 2350 dollars for essentially the same headphone performance from the amp itself (regardless of tubes). Afterwards I found out that the VAT gets refunded and puts it at about 1885 USD which is still a bit much. Well here is what is really involved in that price:
- The Euforia has an upgraded preamp circuit – add on about 100 dollars. Oh I didn’t mention that the Saga beats the Euforia as a preamp pretty easily (much more transparency on the Saga even with the tube activated) so it does need a better preamp section. The Auris doesn’t have a preamp section and that is a big difference in features. Now we are at 1499 justifiably.
- Now it ships with the CV181 tubes which have a market value of 110 per ea’. Now we are at 1718 but you can opt out of those tubes. “Okay fine no problem Feliks… I can opt out right?”. “Yes”… “No worries”
- Now the amplifier itself has been getting its profits taxed from the US to Euro conversion and Feliks feels its amplifier performs a little better for your buck anyhow so they add on about 167 and the total picture – 1885 USD which overall sets it in a higher price bracket than it ought to be competing at unfortunately.
The pricing additions make a lot of sense when broken down from their perspective. It is just a tough pill for me to swallow. Now to be fair, I would take it at that price over the 2400 priced Makoyi and it still sounds better than a lot of the solid state amps I have heard around that price for my tastes, it is just the competition is very stiff right there in tube land.
Anyhow, this is the longest conclusion I have ever written. I really like Feliks Audio, they are stand-up, kindhearted people with value at heart, yet business in mind. Our dialogue has been nothing but extremely nice and professional and their response to my candidness was more polite than I could have imagined. They have a wonderful house sound, and hopefully their next amp will make the improvements needed to set them apart from the rest. They seem hungry so I am sure they will come out with a ‘wreck all’ amplifier in the future. For now I will conclude the new 2018 Euforia as good but just a little overpriced. The ratings will remain the same for the amplifier since I did review the 2017 version at 1399.