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Which Tubed Headphone Amp to buy?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone!

I am new to this forum but I have been following this forum for quite some time now and I am in need of some help!

For a year or so, I have been using a Solid-state amp: Little Dot MKV paired with a Sennheiser HD650. I am using a Marantz CD 6002 as my source.

Now that I am kind of familiair with the whole audiophile thingie I thought it was time to upgrade my amp. But wait a minute? Tubes, Tuberolling!? This is very new to me and I would like to make a note that this will be my first tubed-amp ever!

My budget will be around 600 dollars and I would like to maintain my source as it is now paired with the Sennheiser HD650.

I will most likely listen to: Jazz, Funk, Soul and Hiphop (the real hiphop and not the kind of things you hear and see on TV)

I already made a list of the amps that might be good for my wallet and the kind of music I am listening to?

- Audiotailor Jade
- Litte DOT MK III or MK IV?
- Head-Direct EF1 or 2?
- Antique Sound Lab OTL?

Last but not least I was looking at the Woo Audio 6. This would be at the top of my budget but would it be worth it? We don't like to go over budget unless it will be a monster upgrade!

My question for you men (and women), would be to recommend me an amp that suits both my gear and the preferred music. Maybe I overlooked some amps that would be nice too!
post #2 of 25
I heard the HD650 with an Antique Sound Lab OTL amp last weekend, and it sounded very nice, even in a side-by-side with a Singlepower MPX3. I'd add it to your list as a possibility.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Are you referring to the Antique Sound Lab OTL: MKIII? I am reading about it right now! Thanks for adding this amp. Now on to some reading about this amp..

Cheers!
post #4 of 25
I own the WA6 and briefly heard the ASL MKIII. Both are lovely amps but quite different sounding, the ASL is more coloured in a lush way whereas the WA6 is more subtle and refined sounding with very subtle warmth. The WA6 (from memory) has a quieter black background. I recently got to try an HD800 with my rig and the WA6 was up to the task to let these cans show what they could do. Be sure to get the PDPS mod for an extra 60 USD if you do decide on the WA6.

As much as I am fond of my WA6, if you already have an SS amp and looking for a tube amp you might enjoy the lusher sound (with the right tubes) from the ASL because it would give you the most different sound from your SS amp.
You might also want to consider the Ming Da MC84-07C, esp if you will be using your Senn HD650.

Hope that helps.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Who? View Post
Are you referring to the Antique Sound Lab OTL: MKIII? I am reading about it right now! Thanks for adding this amp. Now on to some reading about this amp..

Cheers!
I second the motion. I own an Antique Sound Lab MKIII, and I own Sennheiser HD424 and HD800. By replacing the stock tubes with Mullard tube for the 12AX7 and RCA tubes for the 6BQ5, the sound is simply magic (for that price of course).

Myself, I had the parts upgrade by Divertech, which added to the quality of sound. All of this will fit in your budget.

Hope this helps

Denys
post #6 of 25
Here is another vote for the ASL MkIII tube amp with the Sennies: One of the best synergestic pairings I have ever heard and I have heard a bunch.
post #7 of 25
If you want to spend a little more, I am quite pleased with my Decware CSP2 driving DT880/600 phones.
post #8 of 25
if i went tube i would try an rsa tube amp or the wa6 se
post #9 of 25
I use a Consonance Cyber 20 valve headphone amp which is excellent, it uses a great little power valve an EL84 (a proper power valve unlike many other valve amps), this valve is transformer coupled to the headphone and it is connected as a triode in single ended configuration, also has two headphone jacks which can be useful, and has an high and low impeadance switch for high or low headphones, excellent construction and great sounding.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmind View Post
I own the WA6 and briefly heard the ASL MKIII. Both are lovely amps but quite different sounding, the ASL is more coloured in a lush way whereas the WA6 is more subtle and refined sounding with very subtle warmth. The WA6 (from memory) has a quieter black background. I recently got to try an HD800 with my rig and the WA6 was up to the task to let these cans show what they could do. Be sure to get the PDPS mod for an extra 60 USD if you do decide on the WA6.

As much as I am fond of my WA6, if you already have an SS amp and looking for a tube amp you might enjoy the lusher sound (with the right tubes) from the ASL because it would give you the most different sound from your SS amp.
You might also want to consider the Ming Da MC84-07C, esp if you will be using your Senn HD650.

Hope that helps.
Thanks for the extra information! This is very, very hard! I like how the ASL would be so different compared to the SS amp I already have. How would OTL add up to my HD 650? Is it really worth it? Also I am not planning to roll tubes right away so I am currently looking for out-of-the-box performance.

I think I am getting there! Within a week or so I would like to purchase a new amp, will be a nice present for christmas! (too bad I have to buy it myself)
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denys View Post
I second the motion. I own an Antique Sound Lab MKIII, and I own Sennheiser HD424 and HD800. By replacing the stock tubes with Mullard tube for the 12AX7 and RCA tubes for the 6BQ5, the sound is simply magic (for that price of course).

Myself, I had the parts upgrade by Divertech, which added to the quality of sound. All of this will fit in your budget.

Hope this helps

Denys
Which upgrades did you acquire as I don't understand "the parts upgrade"?
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Who? View Post
Which upgrades did you acquire as I don't understand "the parts upgrade"?
Hi..

I met Tash Goka at the Montreal Sound Festival last April. Mr. Goka is the distributor for ASL in North America. I briefly spoke with him and told me that I could improve the sound of my ASL by sending it back to Divergent technologies. They changed the capacitors and many pieces inside both the power supply and the amp itself......and yes it really did make a difference.

You probably may ask your retail store to order one for you with the upgraded parts. I believe it's a wise choice...

Because of that change, I am not in emergency to change the amp for my HD800....

It's my own opinion and I hope it helps...

Denys
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hello!

Your upgrade didn't have something to do with the upgrade listed below? I am just being curious!

I quote "New! MkIII version, now even better! All tube SET design with OTL/transformer coupled out puts. Upgraded circuit and outboard power supply."

Otherwise I should contact ASL. Thanks for the info!
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbonner1 View Post
Here is another vote for the ASL MkIII tube amp with the Sennies: One of the best synergestic pairings I have ever heard and I have heard a bunch.
It's always nice to see people recommending the same thing! Makes my life much easier because I am not planning to buy another new amp (besides the one I am going to buy in the nearest future!)

Also, I would like to know if you rolled tubes as well or are you using the stock ones? I am kinda curious about the stock tubes and sound.
post #15 of 25
I think the TU-882 works really well with the HD650.
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