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Where is the Earmax? - Page 23

post #331 of 353
Originally Posted by AustinHorn View Post

Yeah, I really like my Beyers on both the Earmax & Bottlehead Crack. It sings really well on OTL,amps. I got to hear it on a Zana at a meet & knew then I had to get myself an OTL amp myself. It has a different flavor than the Senns, but it is such a good headphone when it is properly amped.

I've rolled several combos of tubes in & out of my Earmax in the last 3 days now & even rolled in asset of GE tubes & they sounded good. Not positive these are not rebranded tubes because of faded markings but what ever they are, they sounded pretty good. I have sorta settled on a Mullard in the middle with two Silvania's on the outside? That combo still sounds great with my 650, but ups the synergy level with the HD800 more than anything else so far. I'm still using the EE Minimax dac with it right now & will likely find it tough to go back to the iSteamer when I set it up in the bedroom, but guess I'll adjust. The HRT iStreamer really is a nice sounding dac for the price & a perfect match for any idevice, but it is still a big step down from the Minimax.

Are the Sylvania ECC86 labeled "West German"?  If so I think they are Seimens... let others correct me though.

post #332 of 353
I can't read the info other than the ECC86 printing & that is partial. They were in the NOS cubby for NOS ECC86 tubes & tested new on the tester. The GE Boxes were clearly labeled & had a dated sticker that showed how they tested at the time they were delivered. After 30 years nothing had changed testwise - something I still find amazing! I wonder if new tubes made today in Russia &/ormChina will test as well in 30 years as they do today - I doubt it!
post #333 of 353

Thanks Austin... good info.  I think those sylvania ECC86 tubes are pretty rare.  At least I haven't seen them on the www in a long while.  I have always had a thing for Sylvania tubes, bulletproof workhorse tubes in every guitar related application I have tried them in.  They generally aren't expensive either.  I use Sylvania 12FM6 in my Millet.  I under-drive the plate voltage to increase THD.  I can run them anywhere from 10~14 volts and they increase or decrease the tube saturation without "significantly" changing overall tonality of the amp.  Some of my other tubes start sounding slightly  naisal-honk, "squawk-ish" at lower voltages.  Not the Sylvanias... solid audio tubes, IMHO.


Eddie Van Halen used Sylvania tubes in their iconic first LP release.  At the time he used a Variac in the studio to either increase or decrease the AC mains going into his Marshall head.  There are studio pictures floating around from those VH-1 sessions and he's got a Variac sitting on the floor.  Its debatable though which way he actually had the knob turned on that thing.  The accepted belief is he just cranked it or cut it till' he got a guitar tone he was happy with.  At any rate they were half drunk in those sessions so those Sylvania tubes were probably worked over pretty hard both ways.  He used to BS to guitar player magazine writers that he'd turn the Variac up so that his EL34 tubes would melt the sockets... which we all know is impossible being they are ceramic.


Any how... thanks for the feedback.  I'm using a Sylvania ECC81 in the middle, that would be cool if I could track down some of their NOS 86 tubes for the sides, just for the heck of it.

Edited by kramer5150 - 1/24/13 at 8:44am
post #334 of 353
Did more tube rolling in the my Earmax today & end up with 3 Telefunkens straight across. That combo with the HD650 & the SAA cable is pure magic. It is pretty clear to me, even if I hadn't read it in some old German reviews from the mid-90s, that the Earmax was voiced for the HD6xx series of cans & I bet it was done with Tele tubes. It is pretty much sonic magic. The HD800 seems a better match with the Bottleheas Crack/Speedball amp but now with this tube combo & an upgraded power supply I got yesterday, this Earmax is hard to beat on the HD650.

I will be keeping this little $30 amp with it's $90 power supply & $500+ trio of NOS German tubes. On an everyday basis I will likely revert to the Mullard in the middle & the Silvania's or Vallvos on the side cause I don't have a big stock of Telescope in this size & they are only going to get harder to come by & more expensive as time goes on. I'll save the Telefunkens for special occasions or when I have a new album that I want to hear at its best. Anyway, mucking around the shop for tubes early this morning paid off soundwise. Also got some better tubes for the Crack but this isn't the place to discuss that.

The Beyers is on my head now & it too is a wonderful fit on this amp. These tubes warm it up a bit which I like a lot. It also seems to image a bit better than on my non OTL amps, but that may just be my ears playing tricks on me. What ever it is, I like it.
Edited by AustinHorn - 1/26/13 at 5:30pm
post #335 of 353
Lucky you! smily_headphones1.gif

Any news on comparison between Earmax and Darkvoice 337?
post #336 of 353
Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

Lucky you! smily_headphones1.gif

Any news on comparison between Earmax and Darkvoice 337?

The little earmax with Telefunkens driven by a Sylvania is so warm / groovy, tube maple syrup running all over the pancakes.  Its after hours brandy and a Cuban cigar by the fireplace in a big leather recliner.  VERY good RS1 synergy with output transformers to match the impedance properly.  Some day I'd like to A/B it with a Mad Ear+, and see how close it gets.  FWIW I have upgraded the power supply to a 24V - 50 Watt unit.  The OEM wall wart leaves a lot to be desired at 19V ~.75A.  The amp gets a LOT LOUDER and plays more dynamically with the bigger P/S.  I am not sure about tube life though.  So I suspect there's some trade-off in that sense.  Telefunkens aren't cheap so we'll see how this goes.  I also further modded the amp with a power switch on the case, but that has no impact on sonics.


The darkvoice with tung sols is no doubt a better amp technically.  It plays louder cleaner with all my cans, it has a more layered soundstage with just about any recording.  Spatially it can put sounds farther out too. Its a more detail revealing amp too.  Its tube syrup is room temperature as opposed to the Earmax being warmed in a sauce pan.  Like the Earmax, the 337 NEEDS output transformers to really do its best with low-Z cans.  Its almost a solid-state sound if it weren't for the even order harmonics that warm and round out the midrange.

post #337 of 353

Some pics to spice things up this morning.


tung sol 5998



Telefunken ECC86 + Sylvania ECC81



Getting back to the earmax, I'm willing to bet I can run ECC88/6DJ8/6922 tubes in this amp.  I am tempted to try it, as commonly available as they are across the www.  Now that I am feeding it with 24V and 50Watts in reserve,  that could further negate the differences as well.  I did a little google search on the subject and found this thread from Pete Millett...


Edited by kramer5150 - 3/2/13 at 9:12am
post #338 of 353
Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

Lucky you! smily_headphones1.gif

Any news on comparison between Earmax and Darkvoice 337?

Further impressions with the RS1 and K701 primarily... The DV-337 has a LOT more going on in the lower bass frequencies.  I think its the brute power output, feeding/energizing the output transformers.  Its a very night and day difference.  The bass and sub bass (both fundamental notes and over/under tones) just "flow" much more effortlessly with the 337.  That bass energy is a flowing current that swarms and surrounds the music.  The earmax has a lot going on in its own right, and its not bass-shy by any means but its out-classed in this way.  The one thing I do like about it (both amps actually) is their even order harmonic distortion(s) that sugar coat the midrange.  I think the earmax goes neck and neck with the 337 in this regard, and if anything it might be a bit higher THD% (and thats a good thing for tube fans).

Edited by kramer5150 - 3/3/13 at 8:28pm
post #339 of 353

Thanks Kramer, I listen Earmax only a short while in the shop and I thought it was phenomenal with HD650 and choir recording, but I have DV337 for some time and I kinda regret selling it.

I was wondering should I or should I not try Earmax.  It seems that I have to repurchase DV337. 

I don't know why, but I much prefer DV337 look than the more modern neat and look La Figaro 339.

I still have DV337 tubes though which I didn't sell together with the amp.  I like RCA 5693 look, yes, it's not glass but something about its color it's so ...... vintage.


And I saw you have TS Mesh plate at the back, hmm ... very yummy ...

Edited by RedBull - 3/4/13 at 6:06am
post #340 of 353

There are two X-factors  here to keep in mind.


PRICE.  If you can get an earmax for the ~$65 I paid for mine and the $30 Austin snagged his for then its a no-brainer... go for the little one.  At the $600-700 new prices I have seen however, its time to consider others though... including the 337/339.


HD-650 SYNNERGY:  Deep down I have always considered the Earmax-HD650 pairing a lot like the RA1-RS1.  I have read numerous reports of Brockspier (SP?) using the HD580/600/650 to fine tune the Earmax.  So its an amp designed around a can.  So you're not paying for the sum of parts, rather the partnership they create.  As someone pointed out, the Earmax is barely $100-150 in parts.  But IMHO theres more to it than that, when its used with the HD650.  I was happily using mine with an HD580 till' I punctured the left speaker with a screwdriver. 


DV 337 prices are ~$800 for the standard model, ~$1250 for the upgraded SE and used they go for around $5-600.  No doubt its a technically superior amp, with my low-Z cans.  However with the HD650... I think its a little more even playing field.

Edited by kramer5150 - 3/4/13 at 4:29pm
post #341 of 353

$65 and $30 for an ear max is a ridiculous deal. I got mine used for about $250 with upgraded siemen's tubes and consider it one of my best purchases to date. I have yet to hear an amp that drives the hd650 better than the ear max - the combination is magical.

post #342 of 353
Originally Posted by BoyNamedSue View Post

$65 and $30 for an ear max is a ridiculous deal. I got mine used for about $250 with upgraded siemen's tubes and consider it one of my best purchases to date. I have yet to hear an amp that drives the hd650 better than the ear max - the combination is magical.

Absolutely... $65 with AEG Telefunken and Philips tubes and some no-name ECC81 driver that I quickly replaced with a Sylvania.  I have been using Ebay for over a decade for my various gear-centric hobbies and that deal was a hall of famer, once in a lifetime.  I haven't gotten that good a deal on anything ever.

post #343 of 353

Absolutely, for $65 or $30, it's a no brainer.

Now, start browsing ebay biggrin.gif of even if you sell yours for $75, I don't mind, hahaha.

post #344 of 353


post #345 of 353
Anybody compare earmax to Crack with speedball?
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