Hi - I just got a VP130 myself. I know the stock tube wasn't broken in, but it's Chinese so I replaced it with an old RCA black plate 5814A (same as a 12AU7). Yes, much less gain than a 12AX7 but it sounds fantastic. Very smooth. I use the unit primarily as a phono stage but the headphone portion is great too. I plugged in some mediocre headphones I had laying around and couldn't believe my ears. My Grados are at work - can't wait to hear how they sound. Wish I had them...