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My first tube amp

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

Hello, I currently own a nice balanced setup (Audio-GD Roc + Ref.5), driving some HE-5LE.

The sound is alright, but I feel is too 'cynical' and analytical: good recordings are fine, bad ones are thin and harsh.


Also, for problems unknown the sound is inconsistent, even using same recordings, some day is fine, some other days is only OK. it could be a power problem or maybe my ears simply need some rest :-)


I'm selling my HE-5LE, because they're too heavy for me, I find them uncomfortable. I think I'll go for some HD650 or DT880/600ohm (I'm leaning toward the latter), I used to own them, I like the sound (though they're different) and they're extremely comfortable.


I can't afford (and I don't want) to have two headphone amps, so I'm going to sell my Roc (I think I'll keep the Ref.5 because is very very good), and buy a good tube amp. I never had tubes before, so I'm looking for some good suggestions.

Budget is below $1000.

I listen mainly to classical music and I want a warm signature, rich midrange, I'm not after tons of detail: I want to listen to the music, without analysing it..You have to listen Mozart's music with heart not just ears and brain :-)


In my short list:


Woo6 (but I have the feeling the 6 is "too neutral")



An XLR input would be great to use the balanced output of my Ref.5, but it's not mandatory.



post #2 of 39

I haven't heard that many tube amps, so perhaps my opinion doesn't matter much, but I absolutely love my Woo 3.  It's a fairly neutral amp, but you can considerably warm it up with the right tubes.  It's a heck of an amp for the going price.

post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply hodgjy: you're not the only one thinking the Woo 3 is a nice amp.

At the moment at the top of my short list, though I'd prefer something made in EU.

Any more option?

post #4 of 39

Leben cs300 Massy doo eeet! ;P 

post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by TigzStudio View Post

Leben cs300 Massy doo eeet! ;P 

For $1000? I'd love it :-)

post #6 of 39

I'd recommend the Woo 6. Very, very nice tube amp. For similar money, I'd recommend you look into the Mapletree Ear+HD amp:




Works very well with my DT770/600 (now sold), DT880/600 (now sold) and T1s!


Dr. Lloyd's customer service is top notch and for under $1K this is my favourite tube amp. (Added bonus: best synergy with Grado's I've ever heard....SS or tubes).




post #7 of 39

I would first look into a WA6.  Jack Wu over there is known for excellent customer service, plus you can easils get upgrades from a basic Woo6 (power supply, etc). However, they are US based.


But if you can wait, look into the Schiit Valhalla.  For $350 USD, it could be an ecxellent amp for the pricepoint.  Check out both Schiit threads if you can.

post #8 of 39

The Woo 6 is certainly the most flexible since it's transformer coupled.  What does this mean to the average joe?  I can comfortably drive just about any headphone impedance you throw at it.

post #9 of 39
Originally Posted by hodgjy View Post

The Woo 6 is certainly the most flexible since it's transformer coupled.  What does this mean to the average joe?  I can comfortably drive just about any headphone impedance you throw at it.


My MAD Ear+HD drives my 25 ohm D7000, 32 ohm RS1i, 300 ohm HD800 and 600 ohm T1s to outstanding sonic heights. Both are great, but I ended up with the MAD amp for two reasons...1.) Support a Canadian business, 2.) Best synergy with Grados I've ever heard.


Tip: You can add 30% more gain by swapping out the 5751 tube with the 12AX7 (although I find it's not really needed as the amp has enough juice as is).

Edited by MacedonianHero - 8/16/10 at 6:54pm
post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 

The Woo6 would be definitely a better overall choice...but I don't know if its sound signature is what I'm after.

Many describe it as neutral, and I already have a good neutral amp, though it's a SS one.

I'm in contact with a head-fi member (nigeljames), he has the Woo6 and the Roc, and he finds the Roc even darker. 

I definitely don't want a brighter amp.

post #11 of 39

I don't understand all this Roc is dark stuff!  I just don't hear this really at all, and I am comparing it to a Violectric v181 and a Stacker II right now (although the v181 isn't burned in yet....if it needs it im not sure, time will tell).  Did nigel give his explanation of what dark means to him?  If not ask him, and ask him some specific examples that caused him to feel this way?

Edited by TigzStudio - 8/17/10 at 12:41am
post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 
I don't feel it's dark either... Or I would not look for a tube amp :-)
post #13 of 39

I really like my Woo3+ modified, you even have money for nice tubes like GEC A1834, Bendix 6080WB, or some Telefunken E88CC's

post #14 of 39

If this Violectric v181 keeps sounding the way it is.... I might recommend you try this out lol.....the most tube-like solid state I have heard.  But I assume it has some burn in to do, very few hours on it.  Regardless it is sounding very, very nice.  


As far as tube amps I would wait and see what Cavalli comes out with commercially, I think a hybrid SS/Tube would be right up your alley.  But I have no idea how much they will cost.  Did you plan on getting LCD-2's at all?

post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 

No more SS amps, if I sell the Roc (and I'm not sure about it) I want to try some tubes.

No plan to get the LCD-2 either: I will use a DT880, 600ohm and the HD650. In the future maybe the T1.

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