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Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway

post #1 of 217
Thread Starter 

 

Hey all,

 

We’re getting ready to finalize the feature set for a possible upcoming balanced amp, and we thought you might want to let us know what you think about balanced amps, what features you want, if it should include the kitchen sink, if it should be priced under $50*, etc. 

 

To sweeten the pot, everyone who responds before August 31, 2011 will be entered to win a Valhalla (triode OTL) headphone amplifier. We’ll announce the winner, chosen by random drawing, on September 2.

 

Here are the questions:

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

 

Thanks in advance for your responses! 

 

All the best,

Jason

 

*Note: This is a joke. Doing balanced right (balanced from input to output, *good* quad pot, true differential output stage, etc.) ain't cheap. Please don't tell all your friends "Schiit is gonna do a balanced amp for $50!" Because that's not gonna happen.

post #2 of 217

 

Do you have balanced headphones? Not at the moment but i used to get all headphones balanced and then use an adapter.  

 

If so, which ones?  previously owned: HD800, LCD2, HF2, T1, HD650.  I current own a T1 and HD650 and hope to go balanced later.

 

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future? I plan to go balanced in the future. I think, up to a certain price point, SE is better.  id like you to prove me wrong.  i think the price point where balanced becomes better than SE is about 2000$.

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR? 4 pin XLR without a doubt. 

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs? somewhat.  wont be a deal breaker, but it is preferred.

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?  QUALITY. 

 

Id love to win that Valhalla as i had to sell of my amp due to financial issues.  So i have no amp now and was looking at the valhalla when things get better for me.  in any case, thanks for a great contest!

post #3 of 217
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Jason,

 

My answers below.

 

 

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones? I have several balanced set headphones. I rotate between a balanced HE-6,  HE5LE, HE5, K501 and a HD650.

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR? It's important to me because I had bought some of the headphones used and have both types of connections.

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs? IKt's important when I want to listen to the SE headphones I own.

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones? Quality is always important. That's why some of us spend as much as we do chasing the slightest improvements in audio quality.

 

Thanks in advance for your responses! 

 

All the best,

Jason

 

*Note: This is a joke. Doing balanced right (balanced from input to output, *good* quad pot, true differential output stage, etc.) ain't cheap. Please don't tell all your friends "Schiit is gonna do a balanced amp for $50!" Because that's not gonna happen.



 

post #4 of 217

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

LCD-2

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

Dual 3-pin which might be overkill,  I guess whatever makes better sense from a implementation standpoint.

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

Not all that important, there are plenty of SE amps out there, but if its your best amp  and the advantages are not only balanced output than an SE output would be best for all.  Long as it doesn't sacrifice audio quality.

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

if your going to throw single ended on it, quality first.

post #5 of 217

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones? Not currently. Currently using HD600 with stock cable.

 

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future? Possibly. Either upgraded cable for HD600 or LCD-2, with appropriate amp.

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR? No preference. 

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs? Important for extra utility. Would prefer to not have to make a separate amp purchase for all of my headphones because of only a lack of connections.

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones? Would want highest possible sound quality each output connection could offer. Otherwise, what's the point?

post #6 of 217

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones? Not at the moment.

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future? Yes I will either go balanced with my hd600 or later with my hd800 which I plan to buy in the future.

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR? I'm not sure, but I definitely plan to try both.

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs? Not very important, at least for me as I will own 1 headphone always, I sell the ones I don't think are up to my current standard, neutrality and accuracy is what I care about.

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones? n/a

 

My birthday is August 21, ironically I'm turning 21, really would love this to power my hd600's better than my budget amp :)

 

Best of luck everyone!

post #7 of 217

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?  Headphile Terminator V4 600 ohm Balanced.

 

 

 

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?  Potentially would recable high end cans.  Amp depends if I choose to keep the Balanced Bijou and the wallet. eek.gif

 

 

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?  If it is cost effective, It seems having more compatibility, with both connection types, would make it easier for the customer.  Also, perhaps making the dual three-pin TRS jack combos, would allow the amp to have 2 SE headphone outputs for sharing.

 

 

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?  Very.  This allows the amp to be more versatile. Perhaps teaming up with other companies (Moon, ALO, etc) and offering a TRS to XLR adapter cable, could add some value and buzz, if SE females aren't implemented.

 

 

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?  Perhaps from an aesthetic perspective, but does it increase audio quality?

 

 

 

Thank you,

Steven


Edited by Coupe - 8/14/11 at 3:11pm
post #8 of 217

1) Yes! An HD600 with a custom cable made of braided 22ga copper conductors and a Hirose HE10a7p6p 6-pin plug. In the pipeline: detachable balanced cable for my SR225 and possibly for a custom IEM also.

2) Not important. I prefer 4-pin XLRs for simplicity (Also for making 4-pin XLR to Hirose adapters)

3) Not important.  I honestly don't see the point in using only half the amp, except to hold you over until you get balanced cables/recable your headphones. If you have balanced headphones already, then this probably won't be a benefit.

 

Others:

SE inputs: Must have good SE inputs(circuit for converting SE input signal to balanced) since there are many good sources (CD Players, etc) that are not balanced

Balanced Asgaard? : I'd be interested to hear how a clean signal out of a class A amp like the Asgard is when run balanced. In other words, an Asgard with higher voltage swing, power output.

Gain switch: Must be easily accessible without opening the chassis, and still accessible even if the amp is stacked with other gear or on shelves/racks. A small toggle switch at the front is the most convenient.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Hey all,

Here are the questions:

 

1) Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

2) For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

3) For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

 

post #9 of 217

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones? Senn HD580, AKG K501 & K1000, HE-500, Grado RS-1, etc.

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR? I prefer the 4-Pin XLR

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs? Not vital but I would like to have the ability to use it with my SE cans

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

 

 

 

post #10 of 217
I think an all tube, balanced amp with shiny VU meters (hey appearances never hurt haha) and maybe some basic crossfeed would be very awesome. I've been dying to try out some balanced stuff in depth. I don't have any balanced headphones but I could easily mod my headphones and make them Balanced (my K702s) though I would need a new dac since mine does not have a balanced out. I would also like to see both a single 4 pin XLR out and the left and right 3 pin XLRs. This way anyone can use it with their equipment without having to get adapters. I would not expect such an amp to be cheap but not much in head-fi is anyway so as long as its good its something I would consider owning myself.
post #11 of 217

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

I do not have any balanced headphones...yet

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

I do plan on getting balanced gear in the future both headphones and amp.

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

I would prefer a 4 pin XLR over dual 3 pin

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

I consider it important to have one 1/4 inch single ended output since I do plan on getting an amp before the headphone.

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

I would like a decent quality output but this would be more of a utility thing.

post #12 of 217

Do you have balanced headphones?

Beyerdynamic T1s, HiFiMan HE-6

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

Prefer dual three-pin

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

Not important. I have SE for my SE headphones

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones? 

I might use the SE output if it existed, but I would buy a balanced amp to use balanced.

post #13 of 217

Yes,  LCD-2s with appropriate cable.

Yes, very interested in true balanced amp.

I need the single 4-pin XLR, the dual 3 I can live without. (Is anybody besides H******m still promoting dual 3?)

I'd call SE mandatory, as very few amp customers won't have at least one pair of quarter-inch jack phones. And yes, they'll want quality.

Features I'd like to see -

At least three inputs, (one balanced, 2 RCA,) switchable on the front.

Balance control.

Possibly level matching for the inputs via pot or dip switches. Not essential.

post #14 of 217

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

My LCD-2 is terminated in a mini-XLR with 1/4in and 4pin adapters.

 

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

I would consider it. I have a balanced DAC, and had planned to buy a Beta-22 until a different amp came up.

 

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

Dual 3pin is dumb on a bunch of levels. The only thing it provides is a way to spend more money on super expensive plugs. Save the space and help push the industry towards 4pin as the balanced standard.

 

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

Very important. It would not be the end of the world for a person that has lots of amps, but it would force those who don't to balance every pair of headphones they own. Also it would make your friend bringing over headphones to demo difficult. It should without question have a 4pin and 1/4 TRS jack.

 

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

I think it is an important aspect, but not the most important. Like I said, not everyone wants to recable all of their headphones, and if this is their only amp, they will expect it to sound good both ways. I have multiple amps, so the SQ of the SE jack is not important to me, but I just think it is always good to maintain the same lever of performance across the product.

 

Side comments/suggestions-

I would love to see a transformer coupled tube amp with impedance switch, or just a super powerful OTL if you want to do it that way. OK, I guess being able to run every headphone imaginable is not a requirement, but it is always nice. Also pre-outs would be a useful touch, if it has multiple inputs, which it should.

 

Gatepc suggests crossfeed functionality. I disagree on that one. I would like to experiment with crossfeed, but plenty of people don't and that just more cost to the product. I do however think there is room in the market for another stand alone crossfeed box since the Corda Cross is no longer made. I don't know a lot about how they work, so I am not sure if it is even possible to do a crossfeed box with both xlr and rca in/outs. Something like that in the $100 range I would definitely buy. 

 

One more note, and sorry if this is getting a bit long. I don't know what the market is like, but it may not be a bad idea to roll out to balanced amps. Say one SS under maybe $700, and a super awesome tube amp in the $1,200-$1,500 range.


Edited by TruBrew - 8/14/11 at 5:24pm
post #15 of 217

 

1). "Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?"

-Yup! At the moment, I've got several sets of balanced cables for my LCD-2s, all of which are being run into SE adapters so they'll work with my Lyr. I plan on getting a balanced cable for my HD650s at some point, and generally plan on trying to get balanced headphones whenever possible in the future. 

 

2). "If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?"

-See #1. Yeppers!

 

3). "For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?"

-For me, not at all. I'm an utter noob, but when I dug into the differences, the consensus seemed to be that 4-pin was the way to go. So I've consciously avoided the dual 3-pin versions and only purchased 4-pin cables. 

 

4). "For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?"

-My initially answer when I read your post was that it's essential. Upon further reflection, I don't think it's necessarily crucial, but it's not far off. I personally have two different XLR to SE adapters, but most people probably don't, and not having the ability to plug the most common connection type into it seems like it would really limit the potential success of the device. I realize that having an SE plug on an amp whose primary claim to fame is balanced operation seems like slapping another pair of teats on a boar, but not putting them on there is going to unnecessarily reduce the utility and appeal of the device. This is, of course, assuming the SQ on the SE port is up to par. But knowing you guys, what isn't excellent? atsmile.gif

 

5). "If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?"

-Everybody is going to say quality, and I'm going to agree, because the question you asked pitted raw utility versus sound quality, and by answering "quality," you get to essentially pick both answers. If the question is more along the lines of trying to determine how close the SQ needs to be on the SE vs XLR ports, I'd say it needs to be darn close, if not spot on (minus the natural differences between SE and balanced anyway, of course). 

 

A couple of (utterly unsolicited) thoughts:

-Definitely include a tubed option, either on this or a subsequent amp. I use the Lyr every single day and LOVE it, and a big part of that was my ability to play around with the sound by rolling the tubes in it. I don't know of another option you can include on an amp that allows for a $20 upgrade to produce such a dramatic improvement in the sound, and that's a nice thing to have!

 

-I know you guys aren't exactly riding the world's largest profit margins on your way to Scrooge McDuck-like cash hoards, but if it would be possible to have some kind of trade-in program for existing Schiit owners, it would be greatly appreciated! :)

 

-I already have more DACs than I can shake a stick at, and have absolutely zero need for another. However, logic and reason have zero bearing on my whorish gear lust, and the thought of the Schiit DAC has popped up unbeckoned in my mind more than once. So some kind of package deal on the Bifrost (or following DACs) with this bad boy would be a fantastic excuse for me to start another fight with my girlfriend over blowing money on audio stuff I don't really need. (Btw, although that sounds weird, to be clear: I am in favor of a bundle deal. Audio's before hoes!!*)

 

-Don't know if it would be possible to have XLR pre-outs on the back (kind of like the Lyr has RCA outs now), but that would be especially awesome. Just sayin'. 

 

-That kitchen sink you mentioned did sound pretty awesome...

 

-Burnley

 

*Okay, so I said that to be cute. My girlfriend is an absolutely wonderful, understanding creature whom I love dearly. Plus, she'd probably stab me in the gibbledy-bits if she thought I'd ever refer to her in the above fashion. 

 

 

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