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Valve Headphone amps

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by Lumeycom, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Lumeycom

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 31, 2008

    Posts: 1,103

    Location: S Wales

    Anyone else use one? Bought a bit of chinachina off a popular auction site recently and I am utterly stunned by the sound quality of it (Nobsound 6J9). Bought it on a whim as it looked kinda funky and I had aspirations of building it into a case but its so small and well made I'm not going to bother.

    Bit of a revelation for me :)
     
  2. Rroff

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 50,906

    There are a few on here that do use them.

    My personal opinion having spent awhile recently playing with building a lot of different amp designs is that the go to opamps that are used in most solid state setups like the OPA2132/4 and NE55xx series combined with often cheapest possible capacitors, etc. really don't do solid state justice and hence even a half decent tube amp will sound far more lifelike - with a little more expensive capacitors and better opamps I've got far more improved results than your average consumer audio or even a lot of higher end stuff that is far more competitive against a good tube amp.

    EDIT: Not sure what headphones you use either but another aspect I find is that solidstate headphone amplifiers tend to focus on amperage in high power designs while tubeamps often by their nature work with a lot of voltage - and I've found headphones like the HD600 series are really transformed when they are driven with decent voltage swing, etc.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  3. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,763

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    The Nobsound is actually a hybrid amp that uses the tubes as pre-amps to "warm" the sound signature a little and then uses an op-amp output stage for power.

    Apparently the stock Chinese tubes are not the best quality so you can improve on what you already have by swapping them for something better, just make sure that they match the configuration. You can also fit different op-amps, though this will likely not make as big a difference.
     
  4. Lumeycom

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 31, 2008

    Posts: 1,103

    Location: S Wales

    Yeh I'm aware they are hybrid but I'm still stunned by the difference a very modest outlay has made. I'm no audiophile, just a normal user :)
     
  5. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,763

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    They are very good for the price and the sound quality is just as good as the SMSL solid state devices, which have a very good reputation.
     
  6. stoke1863

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 13, 2009

    Posts: 4,373

    Location: Chesterfield

    I got a Little Dot MK2 but i think my tubes need replacing as im getting intermittent popping and static. Going to try some Mullards next
     
  7. Brizzles

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 16, 2005

    Posts: 5,880

    Location: Clevedon , Bristol

    Schiit Vali here, lovely sound.
     
  8. Amidar

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 15, 2003

    Posts: 2,312

    Location: Darlington

    I have a Bottlehead Crack with Speedball & a Woo Audio WA6SE.
     
  9. danza

    Capodecina

    Joined: Mar 28, 2005

    Posts: 13,429

    Location: Drunken badger punching

    I have a Xiang Sheng 708B with about 80 quid of high quality capacitors, resistors and other bits lobbed inside. It's very good although it does only have the original valves in, so I should probably swap them out for something in-line with the rest of the amp at some point.
     
  10. pduk

    Gangster

    Joined: Dec 20, 2004

    Posts: 155

    Location: Hertford, UK

    I have the Bottlehead Crack as well, with speedball. It makes my HD650s sound wonderful. I've been so impressed that I also built their Kaiju 300B speaker amp earlier this year and it is completely amazing. Though expensive!
     
  11. stoke1863

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 13, 2009

    Posts: 4,373

    Location: Chesterfield

    very nice! i was really tempted as it seems like a cool project to do, but knowing me id **** it up and waste the money
     
  12. 2StepSteve

    Soldato

    Joined: Apr 24, 2006

    Posts: 5,712

    Location: SE England

    Which do you prefer out of those two? Having a hard time deciding which one to go for. Though, it would have to be the WA6, the SE is a little more than I'd like to pay.
     
  13. Amidar

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 15, 2003

    Posts: 2,312

    Location: Darlington

    Which headphones would you be using?
     
  14. 2StepSteve

    Soldato

    Joined: Apr 24, 2006

    Posts: 5,712

    Location: SE England

    Sennheiser 598 currently, likely upgrading to 650.

    Was orginally looking at the Schiit Lyr 2 or the Valhalla 2. But now I am quite unsure. I've read that the Bottlehead Crack out does the Valhalla 2. Really wish I could demo all of these.
     


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