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Dared MP-5 Headphone & Integrated Amp with USB DAC

post #1 of 410
Thread Starter 
The Dared MP-5 is a tube headphone and integrated amp. It also has a USB DAC. It seems to be available and is priced attractively.

Listed at JPY 42000, about US$358

Listed at GBP 250, about US$434

More links:
post #2 of 410
Thread Starter 
The Dared MP-5 is listed on eBay by seller 2004subarusti for US$499.

post #3 of 410
Thread Starter 
I saw the Dared MP5 on Yahoo Taiwan Auctions and couldn't resist the low price, about US$180. The box is well-packed. It includes cables, a pair of white gloves and a brush. (Click thumbnails to view)

The AKG K701 sounds good with the Dared MP5. The Grado HF-1 also sounds good; bass is strong and solid. With the ATH-W5000, there's an audible hiss even at lowest volume and with no music playing.

There's a lot to try with the Dared MP5. I plan to use its speaker outputs to drive a pair of speakers or the AKG K1000. I will try the USB input with the standard WinXP and the usb-audio.com USB drivers. I haven't figured out how to remove the black grill, and the manual doesn't explain how. Tube rolling will need to wait until I can obtain some tubes and remove the grill.
post #4 of 410
w00t!!! Congrats man! I've been eyeballing this unit for a nice little pick-up. You gotta let us know your thoughts with each of those cans.


post #5 of 410
Thread Starter 
The black metal cover is removed by inserting a philips head screwdriver and removing two screws.

There are two green lighted strips on the big tube that act like meter bars. They stay still at my normal listening range, and "dance" becoming larger and smaller along with the music at high volume levels.

Using plug-n-play with WinXP, the Dared MP5 appears as "USB Speakers" and sound quality is OK. A red LED above the USB port lights up only when music is playing. A switch at the back selects between USB and the analog RCA inputs.

The Sony SA5000 sounds good with the Dared MP5, although there's a very slight audible buzz sound through the headphones without music playing.

(Click thumbnails to view)

post #6 of 410
Thread Starter 
Based on just a couple hours with the Dared MP5, I think it is a tremendous value at the price I paid.

Other amps I've heard at the US$150 to US$250 price range, including the Firestone Cute Beyond, TLab T-Cube portable amp, Pro-Ject HeadBox MkI and some others, did not seem as impressive-sounding as this amp. This is based on memory, not direct comparisons, of course.

Jason, it seems as if the Dared MP5's gain is too much for some Audio-Technica headphones and there's buzzing with no music playing. Interestingly, there's only a very slight buzz with the Grado HF-1.
post #7 of 410
Nice. Honestly, a bit of audible buzz never bothered me all that much, especially at this price level. By the time I get my music to my listening levels, I can't hear it anyway.

It certainly is a beautiful unit and would be perfect for my computer rig. I'm largely looking for an amp for the K 1000, but I do occasionally like to plug in a Grado or SA5k into this rig, so the functionality would be perfect.

Hmm. Very tempting. Especially when I think about tuberolling and if this thing could be modded...

Heh I dig the little tube light-show...

What are you using now for the K 1000?


post #8 of 410
After reading the review on this amp - I was left with the feeling that the sound was mediocre, and that it's functionality and finish is were the highlights.
post #9 of 410
Elephas, if you have the chance, and don't mind opening it up, could you post picts of the inside? I'm curious as to what parts are inside and the potential for modifications.


post #10 of 410
Thread Starter 
Jason, I'm not very experienced with the K1000 and can't comment much on how the MP5 compares to other amps. It sounds good to me. I was using a very old speaker amp, a Lazarus Mark II, before with the K1000. I think the Dared does a better job than the old Lazarus driving the K1000. The Lazarus sometimes clips when the music gets loud, and the Dared hasn't yet.

The green strips really get moving now. When they almost touch the K1000 is becoming loud for me. I think I can stand it. The "dancing" movement follows the bass line; when drums start banging the green strips extend more.

Yes, as you can see I'm using the stock K1000 tail-end cable. *sigh* Equinox, where art thou?

(click to view)
post #11 of 410
Hrm, if it wasn't for the buzz I'd definitely go for this - according to the other thread the US distro price is $350 shipped. What can I say, I have a REAL bad hankering for a magic eye amp... and a DAC wouldn't hurt. Too bad it doesn't also include an optical input though.
post #12 of 410
$180 from yahoo taiwan auctions and a dancing magic eye - argh, so cool! glad you're enjoying it!
post #13 of 410
Oh, if only it would fit in my Hong Kong - New York carry on bag....
post #14 of 410
Thread Starter 
Jason, here you go. (click to view)

post #15 of 410
Thread Starter 
The hum/buzz with the W5000, L3000, AD2000 and ES7 bothers me and I'm not using the AT headphones with this amp. The buzz is slighter with the Grado HF-1, SA5000, DT880 and HD650. The K701 exhibits the slightest buzz. There's no buzz with the K1000 connected to the speaker terminals. I tried changing power cords and plugging the MP5 directly to a wall socket, but the buzz was still present.

The headphone port is a 3.5mm socket, so I'm using the Grado 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter. The volume control has steps.

Using the CEC DA53, which has a fixed output, the headphone port's gain is very high. With most of my headphones, it is already loud before the volume control reaches 4 or 5 clicks up from minimum. With the K701, the first volume step above zero volume only produces sound in the left channel. At the next step up, both the left and right channel are balanced but the volume level is already high for me. It's the same with the HF-1 except the left channel kicks in at two steps above zero volume and it is already loud at the third step.

Using the LavryBlack DA10 in combination with the MP5 results in a much greater range of volume control. I reduced the Lavry's output volume, and the MP5's volume control range is useable now. I'm listening to the HF-1 at the 12 o'clock position with the DA10 at 20.

Note that I don't have much experience with tube headphone amplifiers, and this is my first one. Other than this Dared, I've only heard the Meier Corda EarTube, Cayin HA-1A, and a few other Chinese tube amps.
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