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The List: Balanced amps under $1,000 (aka Amps NOT to buy)

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 

I have been looking for a list of "budget" balanced amps. I say "budget", because it seems that balanced amps that cost less than $1,000 are few and far between. Even those that exist generally cost around $800. I wasn't able to find a list of balanced amps, much less a list of budget balanced amps, anywhere, so I thought I would start one.

 

Below is a list of all desktop balanced amps that are currently available and which cost less than $1,000. Prices are approximate and where shipping is included, it represents the rough cost of shipping to the US or Western Europe. I'm not trying to get the prices exactly right, just trying to get a sense of order of magnitude of what each would cost.

 

Potential buyers in the EU purchasing an amp from outside the EU will have to add customs charges to the totals below (buyers in other countries may have the same issue).

 

That said, here goes:

 

- Little Dot Mk VI/VII (approx. $800/$440, respectively, including shipping)

- Audio-Gd NFB-10 (combined DAC/amp unit - approx. $850 including shipping)

- Einar Sound VC-01i ($600 plus shipping)

- Blossom BLO-0169 ($863 including shipping)

 

Of this list, I would note that the Einar Sound has decidedly mixed reviews, and the Audio-Gd NFB-10 is a combined DAC/amp that doesn't have analog inputs, so it can't be used as a straight amp.

 

Just for the heck of it, I'll mention that there is also the Emmeline SR-71B ($650 plus shipping). But I note that it is portable, so I didn't include it in the list above.

 

Aware of any others? Please update the list!

Best regards,

Adam

 

 

 

post #2 of 87
Thread Starter 

If anyone has experience with any of the amps listed in this thread, please share your views!

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #3 of 87

 

 

I use a MK Vll driving K1000's and love it,but the only version available now is the MK Vll+ which has vastly different specs.

 

There are many reviews/thoughts on the amps you mentioned they just take a bit of looking for.

post #4 of 87
Thread Starter 

I didn't mean to imply that there weren't any reviews out there, just that this would be a good place for users to share their experiences/views, so that the information is consolidated in one place. I would note, however, that the Audio-Gd NFB-10 is really only starting to trickle out to users, so I'm not aware of a really comprehensive review from a respected authority. I'm only aware of two "official" reviews of the Einar, both of which are positive, but scattered user reports seem to paint a different picture. As for the Blossom, I'm not aware of any reviews whatsoever.

 

Regards,

Adam

post #5 of 87
I love my little dot MKVI+ it drives my hd650 to th max making them sound close to the 1000+ headphones. Such as t1 and hd800. I do not have these cans but I have listened to them with the MKVI . It also drives my friends k1000 very nice. But I have to tell you, that you should expend more money on your source than on anything else.
post #6 of 87

Why not include unbalanced amps? 

 

Is it worth passing up what may be "your sound" because it does not fit a preconceived notion of how an amp should run?

 

If your looking for a sub$1k amp I would not restrict yourself to balanced options, at all.

post #7 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post

Why not include unbalanced amps? 

 

Is it worth passing up what may be "your sound" because it does not fit a preconceived notion of how an amp should run?

 

If your looking for a sub$1k amp I would not restrict yourself to balanced options, at all.


(1) Because that's not what this thread is about. There are plenty of threads and lots of information elsewhere about unbalanced amps. The purpose of this thread is to gather information about balanced amps, and specifically balanced desktop amps costing less than $1,000.

 

(2) No, and I haven't. I was recently looking for a new system and looked at balanced options, but ultimately decided to buy a Burson HA-160D, which is not balanced, instead of the Audio-Gd NFB-10, which is. Don't assume that just because I started this thread, I have disregarded unbalanced amps.

 

I would note, however, that what I chose for my personal use is completely irrelevant to this thread. This thread was established to gather information about balanced amps as indicated above. It is supposed to act as a resource. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Regards,

Adam

post #8 of 87

Remember if you are trying to get a balanced amp for $1000, you really are getting 2 $500 amps. You will typically get better quality out of single ended amps at that price range since all the money is going toward 1 amp circuit rather than 2. Dont short change yourself by going after only balanced amps.

 

Edit - Sorry, you beat me and I didnt see your above post. With that said, there is nothing wrong with a warning about the quality of single ended amps vs balanced acts at this price range.

post #9 of 87
Thread Starter 

I think we have established the fact that anyone considering buying a sub-$1,000 balanced amp should consider unbalanced options as well. Can we please move on and stick to the actual topic of this thread, please? I didn't ask for buying advice. I made my own decision and, as indicated, chose unbalanced. I don't understand why the premise of this thread (putting together a list of amps that meet certain specifications) is so objectionable to some people...

post #10 of 87
Thread Starter 

Kingstyles,

 

I didn't see your edit before I posted my last post. Sorry about that. But my point remains (as does yours).

 

Best,

Adam

post #11 of 87

If you are making a list you need to add the RSA SR-71B. I think it is one of the only portable balanced amps.

post #12 of 87
Thread Starter 

Kingstyle,

 

I did list it. See my original post up top.

 

-Adam

post #13 of 87

Sorry, didnt see it included on the bottom line. You can get a balanced beta22 used a lot of times for about $1000. Great amp if you can find one.

post #14 of 87
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I figure that has to be the holy grail in this category. I'd love to get one...

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #15 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingStyles View Post

Remember if you are trying to get a balanced amp for $1000, you really are getting 2 $500 amps.


I don't think manufacturers factor the economics of their designs in that way to be honest.

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