Okay, firstly, this post is probably going to be longer than some of you will want to read so I'm just going to say upfront, I'm going to buy the headphone amp that the first five people agree on that's a $1000 USD or less. I want to but something kind of experimental (think of it as 'taking one for the team' if you like). I;ve been particularly interested in some of those obscure HK and Chinese amps I've been looking at on the web (there so many!) but I'm open to whatever... I'm not really looking for the tried and true $1000 headphone amp but more looking for something interesting and alternative (it doesn't have to be $1000. It could be $500 or whatever price under $1000.)
I'll also post pictures and relate my opinion and limited experience afterwards.
Now for the totally unnecessary background (which you can skip if you want):
Right now, life is not so good. Really stressful and not what I planned for...but hey, it's not all that bad. My credit cards are nearly paid down and I'm making good money which is more than many a victim of the economic downturn can claim.
But in any case, I'm looking for distraction and the hobby I'm getting lost in right now is enhancing my listening experience. In particular I'm started to become interested in Headphone amps. On a whim I bought a tube headphone amp I saw online on the local auction site here in NZ. I really didn't know they still made them (read newbie here) aside from the guitar amps I used to salivate over when I was into being in a band. I used to dream about getting the next guitar amp, a nice Marshall JCM900, or more interestingly, the alternative tube amps like an Orange
or a mig60 Sovetek amp
One bandmate I had in the 90's who was into electronics and trying build his own amps from scratch and such, told me Russia made the best tubes.
He bought a competitively-priced Carvin amp and started rolling the tubes on it and producing sounds that confused and confounded other local bands. They would say things like, isn't that a tempre-based kin of country music amp? How did you get that grunty sound?
Sorry, reminiscing and rant aside, I've just discovered that people still actually use tubes for music listening. I listen to a lot of music. So much so that I've decided it's not exactly a waste of money to indulge in a better listening experience.
So anyway, in getting into this, I've just bought a Xiang Zheng 708b.
At the moment I'm just listening to it stock but I've ordered some replacement tubes (a couple of Tesla drivers and a Jan GE, and a new volume pot and maybe I'll get into replacing caps and resistors later. But I now want a 2nd headphone amp for my work maybe I'm thinking.
I only have a pair of K701's at the moment, which I hear go good with tube amp so that's what I'm kind of interested in. But whether tube, or hybrid or totally solid-state, whatever you convince me to buy, I just want you to know that I only have the K701's to listen to it on. If anyone lives in Auckland NZ and has some other hi-fi headphones for me to demo, I'll be happy to try them out on whatever I end up buying as well. Eventually I may buy a pair of Grado's of some sort but right now my interest is really steering me into the direction of Headphone amps so that's what I'll pursue for the moment ;)
Undoubtedly, there will be some who mock and ridicule me for seeking this this distraction so blindly based on the advice of others. I don't care. I want to know what you guys think I should explore here that might be interesting. I'm hoping 5 people might agree on a consensus, maybe something nobody here has reviewed and are interested in, or something like that. Let me know you thoughts! :)