I am extremely happy with my phoenix and ref - 7 combo.. the SQ is out of this world.
My HD 800 and LCD-2 both sing like no other on it.
however, I am very enticed at the idea of warming up the HD 800 or adding some romance and having a good match for a potential T1. When all you have is dead neutral accuracy (to my ears) sometimes you want a little colour for a change.
The only thing is I am really spoiled by the phoenix... as one of the top 2 SS designs in my books (B22 being the other)... it thumps and thuds, the soundstage is huge and accuracy/tonally is perfect. It really is a phenomenal amp in every way.
So, I would like the tube amp to be "romantic" "lush" "organic" but not TOO much... I want to keep things hi-fi but with a bit of colouration. Enough colouration for satisfaction, but not so much it gets syrupy and annoying or very genre dependent.
IF the amp can do the LCD-2 and D7000 - all the better, but really I am looking for synergy with the HD 800 and T1. So transformer coupled sounds great, but really I want synergy.
My budget right now is probably around 1000$
I am considering the following
- Decware CSP-2
- Woo Audio 6 (SE)
- MAD ear HD super II
I have looked at some LD and DV and LF amps but none seem to entice me. I do not need balanced for tubes, and they just are not cheap enough to have me feeling like I got a bargain... not to mention most use negative feedback and I do not want my new amp to have this as it is one of the main reasons I believe my Phoenix to sound so amazing... none of my older amps were NFB less.
Right now I am leaning towards the MAD EAR because I have heard it and with the DT 990 and T1 it sounded amazing... it is made locally too. Of the "high quality" ones it is the cheapest when you factor in taxes and shipping.
The CSP-2 looks great too and I have it on very good authority it is an excellent amp but it would not drive my D7000 and arguably my LCD-2 that well
For whatever reason I have a bias against woo amps. They look sexy and there are plenty happy owners out there on head-fi, but I can't help but shake the feeling more money then I would like is being spent on the chassis rather than the sonics. Don't get me wrong, I like good looks... but I am also a student and I am not in this for the luxuriousness... I am in it for the sound only. The WA6 would probably drive everything, but it is said not to have much tube romance and it does not seem that powerful as an amp...
The valhalla is most probably the worst of the bunch and doesn't seem to have much of the romance I am after, but it does not have negative feedback... and the price is nice :P. For an introduction it might serve well.
any other suggestions are welcome... and impressions very much so! Any help at all is appreciated!