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I'm Ready For Some Hot Tube Action!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

 What's Happening Allgs1000.gif


Never mind the title, I just wanted to get peoples attention. I'm new to Head-Fi and a budding audiophile and feel a bit lost and scared in terms of where to start and at how expensive my new hobby seems to be, respectively. I'm intrigued with tube amps and have decided that I absolutely have to have one. All my cans are low impedance (Alessandro MS2i/Senn 595/AKG K240 mkii). I've never listened through a tube amp but after a little research have narrowed my focus to 4 different amps.


1. Audiophile Products Little Country III

2. Little Dot MKIV SE

3. Schiit Valhalla

4. Audio Tailor Jade


#'s 3 and 4 were just added to the mix after reading Skylab's ranking of 29 tube amps. The relative price of these 4 amps is where my budget is at right now ($300-$450). If anyone out there has heard 2 or more of these and can offer their opinions I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

post #2 of 11

Since all your cans are low impedance, I would consider trying to find either a transformer coupled amp like the Woo Audio 6 or sticking with solid state. From what I have read, (and Jason Stoddard at Schiit has said), most output transformerless amps like the Valhalla and the MKIV aren't perfect fits for cans like Grados. 

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input Caphead. That's why I'm kinda leaning towards the LCIII because @ $450 it comes with a separate power source and is advertised as a hybrid solid state/tube amp. There just doesn't seem to be that many reviews or people here on Head-Fi that have any experience with it. Makes me wonder because the Audiophile Products solid state amps (Fubar II/Cute Beyond) seem to be fairly popular.

post #4 of 11

I don't know much about the LCIII, but a hybrid does seem to be a good idea. I guess you'll just have to review it for us!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 


post #6 of 11
A hybrid might work, but I don't know much about them.

If you want a tubed amp that plays well with low impedance headphones, you're going to need output transformers. Quality output transformers start around $200 a pair and go up from there. I paid $500 for a pair of Sowters - that's just the output transformers. I still need to buy power transformers and everything else. The only good OTL for low impedance headphones is the Zana Deux (thanks to the 6C33C output tubes).

If you want to build an amp, you could pull off a transformer coupled one for $600-$700 in parts.

However, I'd recommend sticking to solid state on that budget. Tubes are really cool, but if you want good parts for a good circuit, they're expensive. You can get great sound from solid state. I'd much rather have a $300 Dynalo than some $500 tube amp that cuts a lot of corners.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the sound advice Uncle Erik. There does seem to be a variety of very good solid states within my budget range. I just bought an HRT Music Streamer II (red base model) which is the only DAC I've ever used but I like what I'm hearing so far. Before that it was just Alessandro MS2i's plugged into a little cmoy by JDS labs (great little amp). Very budget set up but the DAC has really added a whole other dimension to my music. The first thing I listened to when I got it was some Floyd ("Us And Them" w/Senn 595's) and it blew me away. Awesome. But I know it gets much better. I may just pick up a pair of high impedance cans like some AKG 701/702's or some Beyers and a decent tube amp in the $300-$350 range. I've read good things about the Schiit Valhalla and Little Dots, the LD's seem to be a bit buggy however. Although now you've got me thinking I should just make life easy and go solid... but tubes are just so cool. Decisions, decisions. In any case, thanks for your input. Cheers!

post #8 of 11

It's at the top of your budget but how about a Shiit LYR?  It's a hybrid and is supposed to drive low impedances well.  The tubes are common ECC88's (same or similar to 6DJ8, E88CC, 7308, 6822, E188CC).  There are new ones being produced and lots of NOS around, some of them for reasonable money, that would allow for many tube rolling posibilites to tune the sound to your taste.


If you can, start at the top and don't look back.  I wish I'd done that but I finally have my ARC gear now.  I've bought my last and final amp and pre-amp so it's just fun playing with headphone gear now.


Cheers, Steve

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

I haven't heard of the Lyr. Sounds interesting. I'll check it oot! Thanks Ducati!beerchug.gif

post #10 of 11

what makes the LD's buggy? i've had the MKIII and have the MKIV SE now with ibasso D4 as DAC since i dont do portable much now.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jyc327 View Post

what makes the LD's buggy? i've had the MKIII and have the MKIV SE now with ibasso D4 as DAC since i dont do portable much now.

That statement is based solely on various threads I've read here. Just type in "problems with..." and you'll find a few. I'm sure they're great amps for the price and they do seem to get a lot of love here on Head-Fi, which is why I was considering one. I've read that David from LD is really responsive and helpful too, if you do have a problem, but the cost of having to ship a unit back to China kind of kills it a little for me. I still haven't bought my amp but I'm leaning towards getting a Valhalla or a Lyr. Can't beat the warranty (5 years), and they're right here in CA.


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