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X-Cans (Tube based headphone amp) users, please read...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, I've only had my X-Cans V2 running for 10 hours... but, I think there maybe a problem with mine...

Overall the sound is fantastic, but.. with low, deep hitting bass... instead of the slam I would normally expect, there is a raspy sloppy thump...

Is this the sign of new tubes not being worn in enough, or.. does this sound like a fault? I'm using my CD1700s at not very much more than minimum volume, so i can't really imagine that the unit is running out of steam...

All advice gratefully received
post #2 of 28
Don't know if this helps, but when I was choosing an amp, I was wondering between X-can V2 and Creek OBH11. What sold me on the Creek was the low frequency resolution. I had exactly the same problem with the X-can i.e. deep powerfull bass hits lost their melody, while the Creek could resolve them perfectly.
That said, I dunno how severe the effect is and I never tried the X-Can with CD1700. Perhaps the best advise in your case is to bring it to the store and compare against another sample. Another thing you can do is try it (if you have) with some other phones, prefferably higher impedance ones.
post #3 of 28
I'd also go with the idea of trying out with other amps. The X-Cans seem to work best with higer Z headphones. But also, the stock 6922 tubes that Musical Fidelity supplies aren't always the best. Maybe the tubes happen to be a tad nixed? Have fun experimenting, though.

- JeffB
post #4 of 28
Duncan, I hope I'm wrong, but it sounds like you may have discovered the major weakness of tubed equpment........TIGHT BASS! I've been using tubed amplifiers on and off since the late 1960s and I've never been able to duplicate the tight bass slam that SS eqipment provides. I don't know if I'd characterize it as you did ("raspy, sloppy thump"), I would call it soft and less defined in comparison to SS. If the bass deficiency is that noticeable, there may indeed be something wrong. If you can, try different tubes, as different brands can affect the sound significantly. I have the MG Head, and the bass, even with tube rolling, does not come up to the level of my Creek OBH-11. But it's pretty close, just without as much "slam." Good luck.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies

I'lll try to clarify more what the sound is up to...

Basically, If i listen to Madonnas Ray Of Light CD with long rolling bass notes, all sounds fabulous... whereas if i listen to certain tracks on Mobys CD that contains fast, slamming bass, that "distortion" occurs...

The way to describe it... to me it sounds a bit like when headphones are thrashed within an inch of there lives... and the diaphragm is pushed (JUST A LITTLE BIT) too far, and it clips

That is with the Sonys... seems funny the mention of higher impedence 'phones... would say getting a pair of AKGs tighten the sound up?

(more importantly esp to joelongwood... can you / do you get used to the "distortion"??)
post #6 of 28
I've never listened to the X-Cans V2 amp except with the HD 600 (and that was only once, at the HE01 show in New York), but from the descriptions most people give, the X-Cans amp, while tubed, sounds very much like a solid state amp. I think your problem is sitting on your head.

The CD1700 is notorious for being a bit muddy with a "syrupy" midrange, as Vka would say (he should know -- he's owned two pairs ). Have you tried other amps?
post #7 of 28
(more importantly esp to joelongwood... can you / do you get used to the "distortion"??)
Duncan, I don't consider what I'm hearing to be distortion. Rather, it's bass which is simply a bit flabby and soft, not tight and impactful, as it is with the Creek and my portable amp. Since my primary type of music is acoustic vocals, I tend to focus on that. Tubes do a wonderful job in the midrange and lower treble.
Is it possible that you are actually driving the amp into clipping? If so, those 'phones must be awfully loud!
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 


I'm kinda confused now...

Sony CD1700s on SS equipment sound clear, detailed, and punchy... whereas, on tube equipment, as mentioned they sound very middy (which is why i wanted this combination... I'm very much a midrange person)...

Senn HD565s on SS equipment... seems (imo) that all of the music is jumbled together, and thrown at you as it is... all the same, all treble and bass... on tube equipment, they sound a lot more neutral... like the CD1700s do on SS equipment (albeit a bit more harshly... these hurt my ears sonically whereas the Sonys don't)

Is it an impedance thing?

Joe... Definetly not overpowering the amp, I barely need to turn the volume control with the CD1700s... whereas on these Senns have to have it nearer 10 o'clock
post #9 of 28
My experience tells me its a myth that tube amps can't produce good bass. The best bas I've ever heard (check my profile to see the amps I've owned) came off an Earmax Pro tube amp hooked up to HD600s. Absolutely phenomenal bass. So deep and impacting, yet not flabby.

Don't know how the Pro would react to the Sonys but it might be worth a try if you can swing the extra cost of the Earmax Pro.
post #10 of 28
My experience tells me its a myth that tube amps can't produce good bass.
Unfortunately, that myth, for me at least, has been reality. Again, I think the way our ears hear things because of their physical structure has a major impact on our preferences. I, personally, have never heard a tube amp that could duplicate the impactful bass of a SS one. I'm not talking about how low it can go, I'm talking about the "slam" factor. I've never heard the Earmax Pro.... I may have to.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
After reading the "Are you an Audiophile" thread... I must admit that I AM happy with my setup... that slightly softed (crimped) bottom end, I can (I hope) learn to live with it... the rest of the sound is just oh so sumptuous

I've read conflicting reports of the X-PSU, some reviews saying it makes the bass tighter, others saying that it makes the bass worse...

Its not a life and death problem, its just a matter of perfection that i am trying to obtain... Would the PSU tidy up the bottom end, or, is it best left well alone?

Thanks for the warm introduction into the world of tubes folks... i am totally in love with the mids... just the bass to go, and... thats it... eternal happiness can prevail

(currently listening to Pink Floyd - Meddle... the last track is oh so haunting... made scarily good with the X-Cans... no doubt about it )
post #12 of 28
I would like to note that I get fantastic bass from my xcan V2. I would say that extreme low frequencies seem a tad distant, but from about 35-40hz up the bass is in my honest opinion quite solid but most of all it is unusually musical. To tell the truth I cant even hear below a 17 hz tone, and from about 25 down to 17hz running tones out of a tone generator on my computer into the creek obh-11(now sold) I have to crank the volume to hear anything even with the ixos 1001's which are acknowledged by many to have STRONG bass. I vastly prefer the bass of my xcan to the more powerfull bass of the creek obh-11. The creek's bass is fairly musical but not the way the xcans bass is. The xcan has bass that stays put, speaks only when called upon and goes the extra mile by singing a response rather than repeating in monotone what is fed into it.
post #13 of 28
post #14 of 28
Does the X-Cans autobias whenever you swap tubes, or do you have to manually bias everytime you switch something?
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm not niave... I promise

Ok.... Vintage... NOS... Bias... erm... sorry... I'm lost

Vintage, I can guess means old... original version or something... how do i get hold of those?! I don't know if we are too far ahead of the times in the UK but yesterday i called around pretty much every hi-fi shop i know about tubes, and most of them were like "Weren't they used in the 1960s?!"... So... Do you buy them from online... do you buy them from a guitar shop (i read that 85% of guitar amps have valves in)... Any advice gratefully received...

One point of concern... My X-Cans didn't have a manual with it... is that normal? have i maybe got a "second" or something?
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