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Tube Amp Recommendations for AKG K701/702

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hi Head Folks,

 

I could use some good advice on a nice tube amp for my AKG K702's.  I'd like to keep the price below around $800.

 

I am currently running the AKG K702 through a Matrix M-Stage, and although the sound is quite good, am looking for:

 

1) a little more bloom in the midrange (vocals particularly)

2) a little less grain in the treble (symbols particularly can come across a bit grainy or tizzy)

 

I think the bass is quite good through the M-Stage, and wouldn't want to lose any of that.  I also want an amp that is very quiet as I don't like to hear much hum or hiss between tracks or during quiet passages.

 

I am using a very high quality tube DAC in the Lector Digicode 2.24.  I am feeding the DAC directly from a pair of Sonos ZP80's serving full resolution FLAC files from a NAS drive (and some lower resolution internet music as well).

 

The types of music I mainly listen to are singer-songwriter, acoustic, folk, folk-rock, vocal, and some classical.

 

So it has led me down the tube amp road, and have so far compiled the following choices (as mentioned I'm trying to keep the price under around $800).  Although I have the low impedance AKG's now, I'd like to be able to potentially use the amp on higher impedance cans like the Beyers.  I'm not interested in the planars, as I've tried one and don't like the sound or the heavy weight.

 

Woo Audio WA6 - $770 with Sophia tube upgrade: the nice thing about Woo is that they are a U.S. company, and they are very close in proximity which could be a plus if the unit requires service.  The WA6 also has a high/low impedance selector.

 

Ming-Da MC-84C07 - $414 or $524 with tube upgrade: sold through Pacific Valve in Chicago.  Gorgeous looking.  I like what I read about this amp, but it may not drive the 62 ohm AKG's very well; there have been reports of hum driving low impedances.

 

Doge 6210 - $599 - also sold through Pacific Valve. Has 3 way impedance selector, two headphone jacks, and crossfeed option, which I probably won't use.  Generally good reviews.

 

Schiit Valhalla - $349 - made in U.S. OTL amp. Not sure how well this amp will power the low impedance AKG's.

 

Schiit Lyr - $449 - hybrid amp.  Just released so not many reports about it yet.  May be overkill power-wise.

 

Audiotailor Jade - $300 + shipping from China + tube upgrades.  Division of Antique Sound Lab I believe.  Inexpensive with generally positive reports.  Uses inexpensive 6AS7G tube, which can be an advantage for tube rolling.  Has high/low gain switch but no impedance selector.  Interesting choice of two different sounding output options.

 

Elekit TU882 - $445 with minor assembly (no soldering).  Not a pretty amp, but gets good reports for the money.

 

Any suggestions on these (or other options) will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance.


Edited by gridlock - 3/2/11 at 7:25am
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by gridlock View Post

 

Elekit TU882 - $445 with minor assembly (no soldering).  Not a pretty amp, but gets good reports for the money.

 

Any suggestions on these (or other options) will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance.

     Elekit TU-882 with oil caps upgrade  provides the absolute best sonic improvement.  
 

 

post #3 of 26

Audiotailor Jade --- Pretty inexpensive, and blends super super well with k702

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.

 

I actually just ordered a Woo WA6.  Although it is considerably more expensive than the other options, I like that fact that it's built and serviced in NY, about two hours away by car, so if it needs servicing, it's a quick one day shipment in each direction (or I can possibly drive it down).  I also like the fact that it appears very nicely made, and that it has an impedance selector switch.

 

My second choice was the Jade due to it's versatility in having multiple output options, and that it is quite inexpensive.  The Elekit gets nice reviews, but I'd rather not get a kit (in case it doesn't work properly after putting it together; I don't want to be blamed for not putting it together properly).  It's also quite plain looking, though I could of gotten over that.

post #5 of 26

I can highly recommend the Little Dot Mk III... even stock tubes... with the AKG 702s. I had the 702s with my first LD and drove them with the stock tubes. Really good sound stage and transparency. Excellent tonal balance with good texture in voices and instruments. The voices had that "slobber factor" that only tubes can give. The bass was tight, but not overly done. But, I think it was fairly natural with no bloom or mush. 

 

I ordered my 2nd one recently with upgraded CV4010 driver tubes ($45 extra) and then purchased recommended 6H30 power tubes. Boy, that's a great tube combination for the Mk III. It really ups the dynamics and brings the mids forward on my Denon AH-D2000 phones. I have not heard this combo on the AKG 702s, but I would think they would benefit also. 

 

But, with the tube upgrade and shipping from China, you are still short of $300. And, it is quality... outside and inside. Check others out who have the Mk III or Mk IV. Their customer support is outstanding also. If you don't like it, it will cost you $45 shipping back.

post #6 of 26

Gridlock,

 

I had a chance to listen to the Lyr at a meet in early March.  As of now, there is a decent thread going about on the virtues and relative limitations of the Lyr amp, so you should have a better sense as to what it can do.  "Overkill" is not one of them because it was designed to work with specific headphone characteristics. So if your headphone needs more power, as would be the case with a ortho or planar unit, the Lyr will deliver it just nicely, thank you.  But if you need a power to drive a more sensitive can, the volume pot will still end up attenuating the power to a comfortable listening point without sacrificing the ability to give the sonic characteristics alot of pace/rhythm/attack and provide a very nice midrange and bass presence as well.

 

I think the Lyr will be a nice "universal" amp for most folks. 

 

Having said all that, the caveat is that I haven't heard a K702 with the Lyr.  I did have a sitdown at the meet with the K702s  plugged into my HiFiMan EF5 (Telefunken tube) and as a result am going to be putting the K501s up for sale soon enough since the K702s really did it for me across most of the dynamic range capable of being sonically well-produced at this price point.  Mids and bass were so "there" and I loved the voluptuousness of the Telefunken with the K702.  Since the EF5 goes for about $400 and was designed to drive orthos, you should be able to tube swap more easily compared to the Lyr (many folks have complained about how hard it is to manually swap the tubes, so if you got sausages for fingers.... ).

 

Hope you end up happy with whatever choice you make. Good luck!

post #7 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wharfrat View Post

Gridlock,

 

I had a chance to listen to the Lyr at a meet in early March.  As of now, there is a decent thread going about on the virtues and relative limitations of the Lyr amp, so you should have a better sense as to what it can do.  "Overkill" is not one of them because it was designed to work with specific headphone characteristics. So if your headphone needs more power, as would be the case with a ortho or planar unit, the Lyr will deliver it just nicely, thank you.  But if you need a power to drive a more sensitive can, the volume pot will still end up attenuating the power to a comfortable listening point without sacrificing the ability to give the sonic characteristics alot of pace/rhythm/attack and provide a very nice midrange and bass presence as well.

 

I think the Lyr will be a nice "universal" amp for most folks. 

 

Having said all that, the caveat is that I haven't heard a K702 with the Lyr.  I did have a sitdown at the meet with the K702s  plugged into my HiFiMan EF5 (Telefunken tube) and as a result am going to be putting the K501s up for sale soon enough since the K702s really did it for me across most of the dynamic range capable of being sonically well-produced at this price point.  Mids and bass were so "there" and I loved the voluptuousness of the Telefunken with the K702.  Since the EF5 goes for about $400 and was designed to drive orthos, you should be able to tube swap more easily compared to the Lyr (many folks have complained about how hard it is to manually swap the tubes, so if you got sausages for fingers.... ).

 

Hope you end up happy with whatever choice you make. Good luck!


It seems he bought a WA6 and good thing too, Lyr & 70x synergy to my ears: not that special.

post #8 of 26

 

Ahoy, sphinxvc,

Thanks for your input...you stated:

 

"It seems he bought a WA6 and good thing too, Lyr & 70x synergy to my ears: not that special."

 

I'd like to know why you think it is not a good combo and what would you recommend based on your experience?  I like AKG 702-Reference sound and find it somewhat similar one of my favorites, the ATH-AD2000, which seems to mate well with most tube amps.  So I can see it deserving a good mating...

 

Ur thoughts?

post #9 of 26

I didn't think the Woo Audio 6 and the AKG K701 was anything special either.

post #10 of 26

I like the Lyr with LCD2s, a lot, but I don't think the Lyr addresses the K701s specific problems well (somewhat bass-light & midrange lean-ness).  Those two issues stop the K701s from being HD800s IMO.  Well, the HD800s probably have better imaging as well, but at least tonally, it's those two issues.  While I haven't ever heard better bass out of the K701s I suspect I might if I go balanced (read: $3-4K investment for 5% better bass), on the other hand I have heard a warm, rich, thick, lush midrange from the 701s with all-tube amplifiers like Woos (6SE & 22).  Nothing against the Lyr, but it's just a so-so combination w/ these phones IMO.  I'll take my own SS Audio-GD FUN over the Lyr for the 701s, it does the same things right, and the same things wrong.

 

I remember in DavidMahler's review of his top 20 heaphones he said a con of the K701s was that it required an amplifier 5x it's cost.  


Edited by sphinxvc - 4/3/11 at 10:52am
post #11 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

I didn't think the Woo Audio 6 and the AKG K701 was anything special either.


You're one of the few people on Head-fi that has had meaningful listening time with both the WA6 AND the WA6SE.  How was the transition from one to the other with the 701s?  

 

If I had to get anything below the WA6-SE, I'd probably go for a Ming Da because it's known to be more lush.  I suspect better synergy there (compared to the WA6).


Edited by sphinxvc - 4/3/11 at 10:58am
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

Quote:


You're one of the few people on Head-fi that has had meaningful listening time with both the WA6 AND the WA6SE.  How was the transition from one to the other with the 701s?  

 

If I had to get anything below the WA6-SE, I'd probably go for a Ming Da because it's known to be more lush.  I suspect better synergy there (compared to the WA6).

 

I thought the 6SE with the K701 had MUCH better bass response. More impactful without a doubt. Whether or not it was credit to a different sound signature or because of the much better power supply, I don't know. I would get the 6SE for it's versatility with different tubes and different headphones. Personally though, I don't like to deal with tubes anymore. I would rather just get a solid state and a good equalizer which is essentially what I'm doing with my rig right now. Tube rolling is a hassle for me and all tubes smear the details a bit. I just prefer the ease of a linear phase equalizer if I wanted to change the sound and I don't hear distortion from them.


Edited by wind016 - 4/3/11 at 4:21pm
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the all the replies folks; glad this thread still has some life!

 

I've been using the Woo WA6 (with Sophia Princess rectifier and Pinnacle branded 6DR7 driver tubes, which are re-branded U.S. made driver tubes; Jack thought they would be better driving the K702, which I believe is correct, since I also tried the stock Tung-Sol 6CY7, which sounded 'weaker')  driving the K702's for some time now, and can say that the combination is wonderful!  I also have a very good tube DAC in the Lector Digicode 2.24, which certainly doesn't hurt matters.  The WA6 has the attributes I've been looking for, which is very good midrange, fine bass and treble, and excellent staging.  The reality jump factor is there in spades.  I can't tell you how many times I was listening and practically jumped out of my chair at the sound of an instrument that appeared as though it were somewhere in the room outside the scope of the headphones. I also don't understand all the talk about lack of bass either with the K702; to my ears the bass is there as it should be.  The only caveat to this is in the lowest bass registers, lower than 35Hz or so, where it becomes a bit less defined and more muddled (what I hear are the harmonics of the those bass notes; not as much of the fundamental).  I don't listen to a lot of pipe organ music, so it's hardly ever a problem.

 

I also like the look and feel of the WA6 and it's controls and connectors, which appears high quality.

 

post #14 of 26

^ Awesome.  That "outside the scope of the headphones" is what makes the K70x + Woo combination special.  Can't wait for mine in a few months.

post #15 of 26

I'd like to mention a good combination I've ran for 5 years. The 701 out of a SP Extreme Platinum+ using one TS5670wa (11/59) & two TS JAN5998 (4/56). The bass is full and detailed for a 701 while retaining the mids and highs we love about them.

 

The rig is semi retired now that the HE-6 came to these parts.

 

Enjoy that 6se, she's a beauty.

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