Feliks Audio Envy Review

Up to now we have only looked at planar magnetic headphones as high impedance dynamic driven headphones in general prefer OTL designs. But the Envy is a do-it-all amp, so let’s check out two of my favorite higher end DD headphones.

 

First up is the Beyerdynamic DT1990PRO and this headphone of course is listened to in single ended mode. Coming in at 250Ohm, the correct impedance setting for the DT1990 PRO is the “MID” one. The Beyer has impressive bass which reaches down super low and it comes with good detail and excellent layering. Looking at the FR of the Beyer it shouldn’t be so bass powerful, but when you listen to it, it really is. The Envy of course can’t change the Beyer’s tunning and the upper mids and vocals here are more present and forward. At the same time these vocals are very natural and realistic in presentation. The treble section of the DT1990PRO with the Envy as amp, is softer and easier on the ear. Treble isn’t aggressive but there’s still plenty of energy and sparklines as there is supposed to be in a good Beyer.

Sennheiser’s HD 800 and HD 800 S headphones come in at 300Ohm and Feliks Audio recommends using the “MID” impedance setting for them (I agree). Most of the higher end gear listeners (out of my experience) prefer the classic Sennheiser HD 800, so we’re focusing on this headphone here. With the Envy on the MID setting is as good as noiseless when you crank open the volume without music playing.

On paper the characteristics of the Envy amplifier should match those of the HD 800 and in reality we can indeed confirm this. The sound stage in this combo is incredible, and that both in width and depth. You get excellent layering and the detail retrieval is extreme. Of course, you get top level PRaT and very impressive clarity. The only thing that sometimes annoyed me a little in this combo were the vocals that in less good recording did sound a bit sharp and shouty. If you like everything a little softer and fuller, then I do recommend the HD 800 S which on the Envy sound just as impressive, only smoother and easier on the ear in the top end. For a non-OTL tech amp, the Envy really drives the DT1990 PRO and Sennheiser models well. Maybe there’s a bit more magic with the OTL amplifiers, but the Envy certainly will impress you with this type of headphones as well.

Another headphone that needs a good bit of power is the ribbon tech HEDDphone from HEDD Audio. Again, the Envy drives it with authority in both the “LOW” and “MID” impedance setting, and the sound is controlled yet effortless. The HEDDphone is a great headphone but I have a mixed relationship with it depending on the amplifier in use. In combination with the Envy amplifier, you get sublime clarity and speed, a good amount of body and a very musical presentation. Bass reaches low even if the sub presence is limited here. There however is good impact and punch at all times. The one thing that I miss with the HEDD in this setup is the layering in bass and mids and some overall depth. For the rest this is quite a good combo, but not the very best.

It’s safe to say that the Envy has all the power you will ever need to drive your most difficult headphones. Like with any other amp, some headphones have better synergy than others, but the Envy will always impress you no matter what you plug into it.

Feliks Audio Envy

Comparisons

The two amplifiers that come to mind for this chapter are the Auris Audio Headonia 2A3 (there will be a 300B version soon) and the Feliks Audio Euforia AE. The Susvara was the headphone used for testing.

Up to now the Headonia was the highest ranked tube amplifier in the HFN headquarters and it’s the first time it’s really getting some competition. After a few months of switching between both amplifiers, I can say that there is no real winner or best. Both amplifiers are great, they just have a different character and they excel at different points. I want to include the AE as it up to now was the top of the line offering from Feliks Audio. Of course, the technology of the AE is different (OTL) but they still should be compared.

The Euforia AE is one of the best OTL amplifiers on the market and it together with the La Figaro 339 and HA2-SE is in my top 3 of favorite OTL tube amps. The sound signature of both amps logically is very different. Even though the AE is very good, there in performance is quite a gap with the Envy. The Euforia AE is a more intimate sounding amplifier with a more closed, less spacious sound. The stereo image and positioning compared to Envy is more rudimental. The AE is less precise, defined and refined (owe resolution) as Envy is, and it comes delivered with lighter in overall presentation. The AE is a less punchy and powerful (in the way of control) and the Envy is quite a step ahead when it comes to sound stage and (note) extension. The AE is also softer sounding where the Envy has more liveliness, vividness, and energy in its presentation. Don’t get me wrong, the AE is a great OTL amp but the difference with the Envy is quite impressive. Same goes for the Auris HA2-SF vs Headonia in fact. There’s a reason why these are TOTL reference amplifiers.

The Headonia 2A3 isn’t being sold anymore by Auris, but you on occasion can find one the 2nd hand market (don’t hesitate to get it). Both amplifiers are really detailed, clean and precise amplifiers but the biggest difference for me is that the Headonia is more extended in notes (extreme decay) and it is more spacious and airy sounding without going to the unrealistic side. In the Envy the vocals blend in better where they in the Headonia are pushed more upfront. For what presence, impact, body and bass are concerned, both of these amplifiers are on the same level.

It’s a difficult choice between both amps are they both are incredibly good. It here depends on what you prefer regarding vocals and sound stage

End Words

It’s always fun reviewing high end gear. The Feliks Audio Envy 300B tube amplifier is among the best on the market. It’s a truly high-end amplifier with an incredible sound. It costs a pretty penny but if you have the budget you will never ever need a different tube headphone amp.

The Feliks Audio Envy is a future classic already. If you have the chance listen to it, you absolutely should. And sorry about your wallet, because you’ll want one once you’ve heard what it is capable off.

The Envy now is a new Recommended Buy and it is added to our Best Gear lists with all our recommendations.

 

 

4.4/5 - (98 votes)
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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

5 Comments

  • Reply May 30, 2022

    LioS-12

    What you can say about this amp with the Susvara?
    The vocals and midrange are still intimate and lifelike you think?
    and with the ability to breath and so on.. or that is not put too much focus on this regard?

    Also about the LCD-5 – what you think about the midrange/vocals with this amp?

    Thanks.

  • Reply June 3, 2022

    Mohit jain

    Thanks for an excellent review!!

    I was thinking of just one question in mind that if Auris Headonia and Feliks Envy are more or less on same level then what about Auris Nirvana, does Feliks Envy surpass the Auris Nirvana, especially in pairing with Susvara by a mile ?

    • Reply June 5, 2022

      Lieven

      In pure power it does not, but technically it does. It’s more refined

  • Reply September 3, 2022

    Aldo

    Which impedance selector position do you recommend placing when paired with the Audeze LCD-5?
    Thank you for your attention !!!

    • Reply September 3, 2022

      Lieven

      In general I would recommend low gain, but it depends on the combo and how you “like” your LCD-5 to sound. Just use whatyou feel sounds best

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