Not too long ago, Feliks Audio sent over their Elise amplifier for a jolly good run through our gauntlet. It passed with flying colors, of course. This time around, they’ve sent over their crowning achievement, the flagship, the lv8 Mario lava level, their secret Raid after you beat the game Dungeon Boss…the Euforia.
I have so much to say about this amp, so I am not going to waste much time in this intro. I need to press on as soon as possible, or else this review would hit 10 pages quite easily.
At $1999 Euro, the Euforia is a monster in every respect of the word. It now attractive totes PsVane CV-181 Mk2 “Gold” driver tubes and dual 6N13S’s (NOS). Here is a quote from Lukasz at Feliks Audio about this: “we found them delivering strong improvement over stock PsVane) and we revised the pre-amp module by implementing a pre-amp sensitivity safety circuit.”
Also, it seems they’ve changed the shipping/customs company recently and US customers can now enjoy full VAT refund. The final price for them will be around 20% lower than advertised in that scenario. Beyond that, the Euforia comes in with one set of RCA in and output options, as well as a single ¼ headphone output. At this price, I am really upset over this. There needs to be much more than the basics here for such a high priced product. Thankfully, the output is good though and rated well for up to 600ohms headphones. My HD800 still sounds a bit lacking in oomph out of it.
So there you have it folks. That’s the end of the review. Amazing amp. Take care and thanks for reading…oh? Still around? Alright, let’s dive deeper then.
Build and Aesthetics
This amp is hefty at roughly 6kg and made of a very solid feeling aluminum chassis. Sleek, sexy and powerful looking. She belongs right where she is on top of my Oppo 205 USB DAC. I must say, I’ve owned amps before, also had plenty of people roll into my listening room to experience and test things.
But, this one, for obvious reason, has sported so much attention (my fault for announcing I had one on Social Media) that I had people come out from another part of my state just to listen to it for a bit. Most were impressed by the build factor, as am I. The entire structure is pristine and well-formed. It is basic in exterior design without any odd angles or weirdness to it, which is something I value today in my tube amps that are this expensive. I want style and class and the Euforia the very definition of this.
Lately, I’ve been on a binge of simplistic design in my preferences, whereas once I was the opposite. Now though, I feel more mature in what I like. Simple and sleek is what I am after and this amp satisfies immensely…especially when those lovely tubes glow in the dark.
The Euforia, in stock form, is the most neutral amplifier I’ve ever heard. And for those who know me, you should know that I am not fond of this type of sound. But alas, I am in love. And it’s real! Don’t judge me. There are only a few neutral amps out there with clarity this supreme that can do justice to me and my rig on a personal level, this Euforia is one of those few.
The stock tubes are immensely clean, probably the cleanest I’ve ever heard in a tube amp in this price tier before. And I don’t take that lightly, I’ve spent a lot of time with this amp and I gain more affection for it daily.
Those stock tubes are sublimely clean and clinical. But in this case, its a smoothness factor that I enjoy with certain headphones these days: Sennheiser HD800/Focal Elear. To date, I’ve not had a tube amp in the house while here at Headfonics that could match this Euforia in raw quality output, nor that insane, uncolored tendency. Wow, is all I can say at this point. *slow clap
The low end of the stock tube experience is extremely pure and only moderate in quantity output. I’ve heard bassier tubes for sure and it is clear that Feliks Audio did not tune the Euforia for overly deep bass experiences. Quite the opposite, actually. They tuned it for high accuracy, so it is only natural that the bass experience is a middle ground in terms of quantity, neither lacking nor abundant on a flat EQ.
Yep, I find myself still toggling for EQ on the low end, if only to boost the bassier headphones I own to a point I enjoy. I do want more bass quantity, but equal quality. As a bass enthusiast, I reach for more and I am finding out that with opting for a booster, it doesn’t really affect much of the tonality of the amp even at +5dB on the bass end…and that is a great thing. Quality is absurd. In fact, it is as mentioned previously, so good, that I am actually enjoying it with the HD800.
Clipping is never an issue with this amp, neither is Bass quality loss when boosting. The Euforia seems to bode extremely well even up to +9dB via Foobar2000s realbassexciter .dsp, which is just a free bass boost add-on for this software that I am fond of. It makes life very easy for us reviewers, so I tend to stick with it for testing while at home.
The Euforia loses some quality beyond +5dB, but everything does that I’ve ever come across. But, it hits a stellar +9dB before I feel things got un-neutral for me and tone started to get affected. That is an excellent rating in my book. Can I keep a boosted low end on and not worry much about the tone being affected until high levels are used? Sign me up. This one is a keeper.
When using my Focal Elear, I want that higher quality output, but I also want hefty bass quantity. I get just that with the Euforia, so I am personally satisfied and then some. I can’t do this on my Airist Audio Heron 5, nor any other tube amp I’ve played with recently so easily.
Mids – Placement
One sad thing about neutral amps is that they tend to house a moderately placed vocal experience, one that lacks engaging factor. I do find that to be the case here, but not annoyingly so. I feel that those who want a very forward sound may be well suited elsewhere, but those who don’t care too much about very forward vocals would be in nirvana.
You can use a very forward sounding headphone and achieve nice vivid engagement, but I would stick to proper rig pairing with this and avoid actively forward mid-headphones. They don’t complement here. But, even recessed headphones sound good on the Euforia so it really doesn’t matter. Rig pairing is a tricky thing, it is all about preferences.
It should come to no shock to you now that the Euforia’s midrange is hyper clean, pure and immensely dynamic. The amp is so good at this, that it has swayed me into enjoying clinical tone. My Focal Elear is well paired into this rig, due to its own midrange mirroring the Eurforia’s gently laid back placement. But, quality is off the chart good here and audibly superior to my Heron 5.
Quality and fidelity can bite hard though if the track is not sufficiently recorded to do justice to the rig. Bad recordings sound really bad and hazy with the HD800 + Euforia rig. As mentioned, I tote the stock tube set off and replace them with the alternatives that are warmer just for that reason, and the results are still very good overall.
There is little doubt in my mind that the Euforia houses probably the best fidelity in the $2000usd or so tier. Simply jaw-dropping and a very noticeable improvement over their last winning midtier amp: the Elise, which was regarded as one of the best middle tier, sub $999 amps on the market. Well, looks like Feliks Audio took the $2000 tier as well.
I have to give this company respect for this next part because they could have easily let loose on the neutrality aspect and allowed the top end to be sharp and potent. Yet, it isn’t. It is stunning. Lightning fast, near zero decay factor and also smooth.
Tone and pitch bites (high hat strikes, sudden piano key hits in the track that make you wince) are really not an issue unless you are using said HD800 with a bad track and the volume a bit higher than it should be. I circle back to my Focal Elear, which has magnificent treble, but also treble that can be physically impacting at times. So far, there are only a few problem tracks out there in my playlist that makes me afraid.
But in general, the sound upstairs is elegant, blossomed and well extended to a sublime territory. Yep, I love the treble output the most on this amp. Despite being neutral and clinical, there comes a point when fidelity is high enough for it to sound liquid-like and near effortless like a great Stax Electrostatic headphone rig can sound sometimes. Watch out for very poorly recorded tracks when paired with very treble happy headphones.
There is a weak link in the chain and it is found in the imaging properties of this amplifier. Side by side with my Heron 5, which can now be purchased at $500 used on the market these days, the Eurforia sounds closed in and lacking width and height. Although, the depth of field is near the same level as the Heron 5, which is one of the best imaging amplifiers money can buy sub $2000 right now.
Separation of instruments is good, but not stellar. Width factor is the biggest issue I have with it and it doesn’t play well with my Fostex TH-X00, nor my HD650. Why? Both headphones have a nice wide sound and when A/Bing with the Heron 5 vs the Euforia, I want the Heron 5 unquestionably for sound staging needs.
I don’t think the Euforia is lacking here. It is just not in the top tier when comparing against the massive staging property amplifiers out there. The imaging factors found here are all good and more than satisfactory…it is the realism factor that actually exceeds the Heron 5 though.
Realism and Dynamics
While the Heron 5 exceeds the Euforia in stage width, air and separation in a physical sense, the Eurforia trumps the Heron 5 with regard to realism factor. Vocals and instruments sound immensely pure and dense, realistically formed and well executed in the void. By comparison, the Heron 5 fails to adhere to a realistic portrayal on such a level. It isn’t super far off, but it is definitely noticeably inferior there.
Again, I come back to the Elear, which houses some of the best realism qualities in a sub $999 headphone and when tossed into the mix with the Euforia, there are times where I sit back in awe of what I am hearing. While the stage width bothers me, the realism factor is enough to make me forget. The more intimate headphones out there, headphones without a large sound field, mesh better with this amplifier than the HD800 types. At least, in my humble opinion.
CIEM (custom inner ear monitor) owners will love this amplifier, as it really puts out a nice and quiet sound for me, suitable for IEM usage in general. But, it is also the first home amp that I felt really maxes out the potentials for my CIEM’s fidelity factors.
My Audeze iSine20, for example, sounds breathtaking out of this pairing, as does the wired version of the Flare Pro. These two IEM’s are probably the best on the market right now that aren’t custom monitors, at least that I’ve experienced lately, and the pairing with the Euforia is just insane sometimes.
I’ve been using IEM’s with this amp more than full-size headphones, all while forgetting I am using a wall outlet, large home TUBE amp. Usually, tubes are not quiet. But, this one seems to be for me. I’m not saying its 100% quiet, but it is quiet enough for me to not hear the tube hum when listening to music. When silent, I can hear some hum back there, but even then, it isn’t much at all and there isn’t any electrical noise or grounding issue type noise to worry about.
Feliks Audio strikes again. Their Eurforia is euphorically neutral. Simple as that. The build quality is excellent and the tube selection they’ve chosen are fitting of the type of sound they wish to impart to the community.
I am not okay with the lack of inputs and outputs though. At this price, I want to see lots of options via XLR, maybe even a 3.5mm output as well, due to how well the amp responds with IEM’s in general.
Outside of those gripes, the amp is neigh flawless and immensely well thought out. What impressed me the most is the treble response overall, which on very neutral amps like this tends to get hot and potent too often.
Such is not the case here with the Euforia, it remains smooth almost always. It wasn’t until old and not so good recordings were used with equally neutral headphones that I did not enjoy the sound. And that is no fault of the amp, but it is a real factor to consider when buying. Your tube options are wide, so do research into the sound type you might like. Make sure they are compatible with this amp’s tube family and experiment. It is okay. We won’t judge you.
- Input Impedance: 100 kOhm
- Frequency response: 8 Hz – 75 kHz +/- 3 dB (300 ohm)
- Power output: 250mW
- THD: 0.4 % (300 ohm, 20 mW)
- Supported headphones impedance: 32 – 600 ohm including planar magnetics
- Premium PsVane CV-181 Mk2 “Gold” driver tubes (not in picture)