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The List: Balanced amps under $1,000 (aka Amps NOT to buy) - Page 6

post #76 of 87

How about the LD MK VIII. I haven't seen much review on the Head-fi yet...blink.gif

post #77 of 87


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatFan12 View Post

 

 

I believe ford has the MKVII.  After the MKVII the MKVII+ came out and the MKVII was discontinued.  IIRC, the MKVII+ has less power.  I own the MKVII and can attest that it is a powerful amp.  It has high and low gain- high is to be used with the K1000 and low for everything else.  I have never used the high gain (don't have K1K) and on low gain it has crazy power in balanced or SE mode.

 

I have used it in various configurations with excellent results

 

 

MK1.jpg

 

 

 

MK2.jpg

 

 

MK3.jpg

 

 

MK4.jpg


How do you like the LD MK VII with your Ultrasones? I'm looking for a new, preferably balanced, amp for my Pro 900's...

 

post #78 of 87

Hello Sorensiim,

 

Excellent.....Powerful amp indeed...Everything just tightens up....It is a wonderful SE & balanced amp.  I find myself using it a lot with SE phones..

 

Cheers

post #79 of 87
Thread Starter 

FWIW, I've had a fair amount of experience with various amps mentioned here, so I figured I would revive this thread:

 

Audio-Gd NFB-10SE: Plenty of power, even for the HE-6. But the volume control (which uses up/down buttons to control slow-shifting relays) was a PITA. Moreover, the sound of the amp itself was fine, but kind of blah. It never really excited me.

 

Audio-Gd Roc SA: Love this amp. TONS of power. Uses a volume control knob, so changing volume is easier and faster. And unlike most of the Audio-Gd amps I've heard, this one really has some life. In fact, the amp that comes closest to the Roc SA is the HiFiMAN EF-6. The Roc SA sounds like a smaller, more convenient and more versatile EF-6, that also happens to be cheaper to boot. My D7000s sound sublime out of the Roc SA (they sounded great on the EF-6, too).

 

Violectric V181: An incredibly versatile amp that pairs well with just about anything you throw at it. It isn't the last word with high impedance cans like the Senn. HD800/650/600 or Beyer T1s/DT990s (600 Ohms), etc. (those cans sound best out of the Bottlehead Crack), but still sounds very, very good. The fact that it is tiny and so customizable in terms of gain is wonderful.

 

Little Dot Mk VI+: An absolutely gorgeous amp. I liked it better than my Woo Audio WA22, even with $600 of upgraded tubes. What isn't evident from most of the pictures I've seen is just how attractive this amp is in the dark: the analog meters on the front glow and look damn cool.

 

Other than the NFB-10SE, I can recommend all of these amps. I like them all better than the WA22, and even better than a fully-balanced Beta 22. And although the EF-6 is a great amp, the above amps are cheaper, smaller and fully balanced (whereas the EF-6 is not).

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #80 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

FWIW, I've had a fair amount of experience with various amps mentioned here, so I figured I would revive this thread:

 

Audio-Gd NFB-10SE: Plenty of power, even for the HE-6. But the volume control (which uses up/down buttons to control slow-shifting relays) was a PITA. Moreover, the sound of the amp itself was fine, but kind of blah. It never really excited me.

 

Audio-Gd Roc SA: Love this amp. TONS of power. Uses a volume control knob, so changing volume is easier and faster. And unlike most of the Audio-Gd amps I've heard, this one really has some life. In fact, the amp that comes closest to the Roc SA is the HiFiMAN EF-6. The Roc SA sounds like a smaller, more convenient and more versatile EF-6, that also happens to be cheaper to boot. My D7000s sound sublime out of the Roc SA (they sounded great on the EF-6, too).

 

Violectric V181: An incredibly versatile amp that pairs well with just about anything you throw at it. It isn't the last word with high impedance cans like the Senn. HD800/650/600 or Beyer T1s/DT990s (600 Ohms), etc. (those cans sound best out of the Bottlehead Crack), but still sounds very, very good. The fact that it is tiny and so customizable in terms of gain is wonderful.

 

Little Dot Mk VI+: An absolutely gorgeous amp. I liked it better than my Woo Audio WA22, even with $600 of upgraded tubes. What isn't evident from most of the pictures I've seen is just how attractive this amp is in the dark: the analog meters on the front glow and look damn cool.

 

Other than the NFB-10SE, I can recommend all of these amps. I like them all better than the WA22, and even better than a fully-balanced Beta 22. And although the EF-6 is a great amp, the above amps are cheaper, smaller and fully balanced (whereas the EF-6 is not).

 

Best regards,

Adam

 

Interestingly enough, I've also had experience with all of these (except my Roc wasn't SA). Overall my easy favorite pick here is the Little Dot MKVI+. Unfortunately, mine needed repair about 6 months in which turned me off to the whole idea of owning one for the long haul. 

post #81 of 87
Thread Starter 

Interesting, my pick is probably the V181, just because it is relatively cheap, small, robust and versatile. The LD Mk VI+ would be my favorite, except for three things:

 

1. Changing the gain setting requires you to remove all the tubes, flip the amp over, unscrew the bottom plate, flip the switch, replace the bottom plate, flip the amp over, and re-install the tubes. Completely impractical when switching between the HE-6 (which sounds best on high gain) and all other headphones (best on low gain).

 

2. This thing takes a lot of tubes, and tubes are (unfortunately) unreliable. With so many, you are just expotentially increasing the odds of something going wrong. The V181 will just keep trucking.

 

3. The dual single-ended outputs + balanced output on the V181 makes comparing headphones a snap, whereas the LD Mk VI+ only has one (inconveniently located) 1/4" output.

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #82 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

Interesting, my pick is probably the V181, just because it is relatively cheap, small, robust and versatile. The LD Mk VI+ would be my favorite, except for three things:

 

1. Changing the gain setting requires you to remove all the tubes, flip the amp over, unscrew the bottom plate, flip the switch, replace the bottom plate, flip the amp over, and re-install the tubes. Completely impractical when switching between the HE-6 (which sounds best on high gain) and all other headphones (best on low gain).

 

2. This thing takes a lot of tubes, and tubes are (unfortunately) unreliable. With so many, you are just expotentially increasing the odds of something going wrong. The V181 will just keep trucking.

 

3. The dual single-ended outputs + balanced output on the V181 makes comparing headphones a snap, whereas the LD Mk VI+ only has one (inconveniently located) 1/4" output.

 

Best regards,

Adam

 

I agree on a lot of these points. The unreliability of tubes is one of the big turn offs for the long haul on this amp. 

 

1. I always left it on low gain. I never had a headphone it couldn't drive with low gain, and I really liked the more tube sound of low gain. I'm sure if there was a switch on the side for gain I'd have used it though. I thought this was definitely on the higher end for power into the MKVI+, but it still just didn't match a speaker amp.

 

2.  Agreed. Matched with the fact this unit doesn't auto-bias and doesn't even have a bias, you need FOUR matched tubes. Madness

 

3. I bought the MKVI+ with the hopes of using that 1/4" in the back. In the end, I believe that it can't be thought of as anything other than a fully balanced amplifier. That 1/4" was useless due to sound issues alone.

 

Maybe I'll look into getting a V181 at some point. I got to hear it once and really really liked the sound, gain, and gosh darn convenience. It's small, easy to put anywhere and has 1/4" right in front! 

post #83 of 87
Thread Starter 

The combination of the high-quality V181 volume pot and the pre-gain DIP switches is very, very nice. I have mine set to +6 dB using the DIP switches. At that setting, tt easily drives my HE-6s, yet I also have no problem turning the volume pot way down to use my D7000s, Ultrasone Signature Pros or Ultrasone Signature DJs, without any channel imbalance or degradation in sound quality. And my HD800s and HD600s are somewhere in between. In each case, the V181 is an excellent match sound-wise. It is has very good synergy with just about every pair of headphones I've thrown at it.

 

The Bottlehead Crack is better with the HD800s, and the HiFiMAN EF-6 or Audio-Gd Roc SA is slightly better with the D7000s, but the V181 is nonetheless excellent with all of them. And none of those amps has as good synergy with other headphones.

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #84 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

The combination of the high-quality V181 volume pot and the pre-gain DIP switches is very, very nice. I have mine set to +6 dB using the DIP switches. At that setting, tt easily drives my HE-6s, yet I also have no problem turning the volume pot way down to use my D7000s, Ultrasone Signature Pros or Ultrasone Signature DJs, without any channel imbalance or degradation in sound quality. And my HD800s and HD600s are somewhere in between. In each case, the V181 is an excellent match sound-wise. It is has very good synergy with just about every pair of headphones I've thrown at it.

 

The Bottlehead Crack is better with the HD800s, and the HiFiMAN EF-6 or Audio-Gd Roc SA is slightly better with the D7000s, but the V181 is nonetheless excellent with all of them. And none of those amps has as good synergy with other headphones.

 

Best regards,

Adam

 

 

The longer I am around the more I appreciate an amplifier that can really take on a variety of headphones. The headphones I have really stretch the spectrum of needs for power, so I can appreciate that. 

post #85 of 87

Great comparisons.  Looks like I made the right choice getting a V181 smile.gif

I previously owned 3 balanced amps, the cheap and cost effective ones. My order of preference:

 

V181 > NFB-10.2 > Matrix Quattro Amp > Little Dot MK VII+

 

The V181 just does everything better than the others.  The NFB-10.2 came close - soundstage is similar, just slightly lacking with treble extension and not as much bass impact, which was still clearly better than the Quattro and MK VII+.  At nearly half the price of the V181 and even with a DAC, so I'd say it's the winner in terms of cost performance ratio.  Great DAC output too, the low noise design and powerful R-core transformer counts for this (off topic sorry, but I want to say it's miles ahead of Matrix mini-i and LD DAC_I).  I'd imagine the current NFB-10.32 with well regarded USB-32 input is even better.  I definately recommend Audio-gd gear with that R-core transformer.  Not in the smaller and cheaper units of their line up.

 

The Quattro is very good for the price too, but bass and treble isn't as clean and extended, soundstage not as wide as the 10.2 and V181 (these two give that "airy" feeling very well).  Still, better bass than the MK VII+.

 

The MK VII+, the only way I can recommend using this would be to use headphones that may benefit with a bit more treble.  Like the RS-1 and HD650.  Didn't match the T1 well, it was fatiguing.

post #86 of 87
I guess Mjolnir wasn't out yet at that time.

Anything come close to competing with Mjolnir? Perhaps a tube option?

It would be nice if there was an option out there that had regular TRS output as well.

The gungnir seems like a great option for balanced DAC, Im just wondering if there is anything else out there to pair with it besides a Mjolnir
post #87 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ComradeDylie View Post

I guess Mjolnir wasn't out yet at that time.

Anything come close to competing with Mjolnir? Perhaps a tube option?

It would be nice if there was an option out there that had regular TRS output as well.

The gungnir seems like a great option for balanced DAC, Im just wondering if there is anything else out there to pair with it besides a Mjolnir

 

Whew, old thread! 

 

Yea quite some time before the Mjolnir. I thought the MKVI+ competed very well with the Mjolnir, but as above, I had issues with it. Basically any balanced DAC will do. I know I'm sending you down a rabbit hole, but I don't want you to think the Gung is the only DAC that will work. 

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