The Geshelli Labs Erish is as the title says a beautiful enigma. Never in all my time as a reviewer or audio buff have I ever had a product that puzzled me the way the Erish has. This is the TLR Technology review of the Geshelli Labs Erish Balanced headphone amplifier.
To be completely transparent Geshelli labs sent me the Erish is to be reviewed a few months ago. In that time I’ve tested the amp with multiple headphones including Focal clear, and planar from Hifiman. What I expect was a very clean balanced headphone amp however, what I received was a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. This is as they say where the story begins.
I’m going to say that to date the Erish is my new favorite amp
What’s In The Box
As always let’s start with the packaging. If you’re familiar with Geshelli’s packaging is not a new experience for you. If you aren’t Geshelli’s packaging is as good or better than most, with that said the amp is well, in high-density foam. Other items in the box are one of the smallest power supplies in the industry, along with a cleaning cloth to keep your amp finger/ dust free. The user guide can be found and downloaded from Geshelli’s website.
Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover!
Before I get into the fine detail of the specs and more importantly the sound and user experience let me touch on the looks. I’ve seen a ton of people say they dislike the looks of the Geshelli Amp/DAC. At the same time, I’ve seen a ton of people say that the look of Geshell appeals to them. My opinion is first I like that I have a choice of color, I can individualize my setup if I choose. Secondly, I find in general, the value and performance far outweigh any negatives that one might have towards the appearance. We listen with our ears and not our eyes ..lol …
So, basically, I’m saying don’t let the looks fool you, you are getting a top tier product that competes easily with products that cost much, much more.
Now that I’ve gotten that out the way let’s jump into what you came here for.
The Erish is an AMAZING amp. It easily outshines ALL other amps that we have tested when it comes to transparency … Ever… And I don’t mean in its price range, I mean period, to date… The only caveat, you need a good DAC, I mean a really, really Good DAC… For more details read on if not, that’s the TL, DR;
For everyone else that wants the finer details, let’s dig into the Erish.
Construction And Button Layout
First, the Erish continues the Geshelli design language. It’s ruggedly constructed in an aluminum housing with transparent front and rear plexiglass panels. A bonus that you can choose to have the housing and plexiglass in several different colors which adds come individuality to your Erish. If you aren’t a fan of color may I recommend the black housing with smoked plexiglass panels. That color combo is magical and is the colorway that we purchased on our JNOG DAC.
Starting in the front on the far left you will find the power/ LED button. Holding this button will power the Erish on or off, pressing the button will cycle through the 4 LED setting. The first press is Red, the second press is a combo of blue and red LED which makes purple. The next press will be only the blue LED, and finally, you can turn the LED off.
The next button is the gain button. This of course changes the gain. The first level of gain is unity gain. Pressing and hold the gain button will swap to high gain which is 6 times gain.
The next element that you will see is 2 red LEDs which indicate the gain level. The top LED indicates unity gain, both LED illuminated indicate high gain 6x.
Next to the LED is the balanced headphone output via the industry-standard Neutrik 4pin self-locking XLR connector.
Finally, the last element on the far right is the aluminum volume knob. Behind the knob is where the magic happens. Geshelli used an actual dual-gang A100k audio taper potentiometer.
Geshelli Erish: Fully Balanced Bliss
What that means is the Erish is a true fully balanced amplifier from the input to the output. Amps like the well know THX 789 advertise as balanced amps but use a single gang potentiometer. The THX 789 uses its single pot to control the volume, meaning the signal path shares a common point thereby making the 789 non-balanced. As you can see all balanced amps aren’t created equal, and the Erish stands out among the crowd especially around its price point.
The Rear View
Moving onto the rear, right to left you will find the two Neutrik 3 Pin locking XLR input connectors. Next to that is the power input from one of the smallest power bricks in the industry.
I’ll try to keep this section brief as I can nerd out and get into a bunch of detail that might drive some of you to tears…LOL
So the first thing that you need to know has been stated above but it can’t be said enough. The Erish is a TRUE balanced amp. The balanced signal comes in through a 3 pin XLR connector. Each signal then takes its own path through a dual-channel TI OPA1656 then is looped through 4 independent buffers which create the output stage.
Basically, that means the hot and cold signals for both channels are processed independently from the input to the output.
So what does all this mean? The Erish is one of the cleanest amps on the market. How clean? So clean that it found the limits of the device (APX555) used to test signal noise and distortion.
For you spec guys I’ve included them below but I’m sure you’ll all want to know the power is rated at 1 watt per channel. I found this to be more than enough power for most headphones. (See Spec Below)
Geshelli Erish Specs
An Enigma Wrapped In A Puzzle
Okay, Okay, Okay… You want to know how it sounds, how it performs. Well, this is where the enigma wrapped in a puzzle starts. I received this amp for review a few months ago and began listening to get my thoughts together. It didn’t take me long to realize that something sounded a bit off.
As a point of reference, I’ve heard every amp model that Geshelli has released except the new Archel 2 GMR. Geshelli similar to other amps has a house sound and the Erish just wasn’t it. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew something just wasn’t right. It wasn’t that the Erish didn’t sound good because it did when compared to some other amps in the price range. However, the Erish didn’t sound as good as I expected comparing it to Geshelli amps.
I tried a few different headphones including my Focal Clear and some of the Hifiman Planar. None of them sounded particularly amazing…
What is going on? I just couldn’t put my finger on it so I emailed Geshelli and got a reply from the man himself, Geno. I told him what I was hearing, and what I was thinking. The solution was not something that I was expecting. I needed a better DAC!
I’ve been using the Geshelli ENOG 2 DAC for over a year now, in fact, we have 2 around the office, it really is that good. I’ve reviewed it and found that it was one of if not the cleanest sound DAC in the budget price range. I’d have no problem putting the ENOG 2 up against DAC that cost twice its price. However, the Erish was out running the ENOJ. I needed a new DAC.
Enter The Jnog
While talking to Geno from Geshelli Labs he informed me that their next DAC the JNOG was releasing soon and that I should test the Erish against it. So I waited. The demo unit was being tested by a popular audio review on youtube, but when he was done it would be sent my way.
A few days later I received a money green JNOG (review coming soon). I promptly connected the Erish and began to listen again…
Oh That Sweet, Sweet Sound
What the #$%&#@$)@%
I don’t understand. Like I thought I knew what good sounds like, but the Erish completely blew what I thought I knew out of the water. It took like 2 days for me to pick my jaw up off the floor. The Combo of FLAC > JNOG> Erish > Focal Clear = most transparent setup that I’ve ever heard… Point blank, period… end of the story.
The Erish picked up some bottom end that was not noticeable when connected to the ENOG. This helps fill out the sound profile. If the song has bass you’ll hear it, but it will be as the artist intended.
The level of detail is just nothing short of magical and runs laps around every other amp that I’ve tested. I’d even be willing to say the Erish is on par or maybe even slightly better than our Ruper Neve… that’s saying a lot, a whole lot.
If I were to sum it up, if you have the DAC and headphones that can take advantage of the Erish you’ll be in for an experience. As I stated above I heard sheet music being flipped through in songs that I’d never noticed before. You will experience music as the artist intended or better, it really is that simple. The Erish gives you what you put in, put in clean get clean out. Uncolored awesomeness. Just be aware if you put less than good in that you will get the less than good amplified truth out the other end.
I Have To Say It
I’m going to say that to date the Erish is my new favorite amp, the only problem is it’s balanced only. If Geshelli had a single ended amp, or an all in one that sounded this good it would be completely end game for me. I have a review coming soon of a unit that cost $700 which is an all in one and packed with features and I’ll admit it is equally detailed in sound quality. However it is completely lacking bottom end. This further proves in my mind the incredible value vs performance that Geshelli applies to their products.
Before You Buy
The JNOG completely unlocks the Erish. It’s like driving a Lamborghini and being stuck in traffic, so much unused potential. Well the JNOG is the open road, it allows the Erish to stretch its legs. I’m going to just come out and say it. I really feel if you are considering the Geshelli Erish that you need to buy the JNOG… or you need to have a really, really good DAC.
I like the Erish WAY more now that I have the JNOG. A proper DAC is absolutely needed to get the best from the Erish. It makes all the difference in the world. I’d go so far as to say that I like my Focal Clears as much or maybe, just maybe slightly more on the Erish compared to RNHP which cost twice as much. Again, Geshelli has left me with a broken understanding of price vs performance. Now excuse me please as I try to figure out how they sell products this good at these prices.