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Please recommend fully balanced headphone amp/pre with multiple analog input under $700

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Please recommend a fully balanced headphone amp/pre with multiple analog inputs for under $700
I will be using balanced Beyerdynamic T1 Black Dragon and a fully balanced Integrated (Yamaha A-S2000)

My end goal here is to have PC (20TB RAID5)/CD/SACD/BluRay/Phono sources, all balanced (sans phono), across BOTH 2CH and Headphones with least amount of gear/signal chain as possible, and with 2 different DACs across all sources to tailor my sound. I will complete my goal with 7 total components, including the PC and Phono pre! 6 if it were a DAC/Amp/Pre. The only downfall is lots of back end cables lol. The price you pay for my amazing functionality. Oh, and all of it will be controllable with a Harmony 900 RF remote!

Impressive? I think so smily_headphones1.gif

I absolutely need multiple Balanced analog inputs on the amp/pre. Combos that can work are;

1) 1x ACSS, 1x XLR, 1x RCA inputs

2) 2x XLR, 1x RCA inputs

My sources are Oppo 95 XLR out, Phono Pre RCA out, ACSS/XLR DAC out (upgrading from Burson HA-160D)
I am considering the Yulong D18 $699 or the NFB-17.2 $499 (Shipping included) as my external DAC source.
I must not go over $1,500. The matching Yulong A18 amp is appealing, but not having multiple analog inputs, Pre amp or remote is deal breaker for the $899 asking price, as I will keep the amp longer than the DAC for sure.

The only one I can find currently is the Audio-gd NFB-6 $450 and that looks like a VERY nice combo with the NFB-17.2 for a received quote of $948 with ACSS cables and shipping. Is it too good to be true?! The only thing I can think of on equal terms of connectivity is the Violectric combo at $2,300!
248209212

From what I gather, the Wolfson DACs are more forgiving for Redbook quality audio which is a definite plus, as I find the Oppo 95 with Sabre XLR out too revealing/harsh of anything less than HD music (yes, my speakers and headphones are THAT revealing). If I desire more detail than the Wolfson, I can simply play through the Oppo 95. Help!
Edited by brunk - 6/2/12 at 12:09am
post #2 of 13

A great buy would be the old Audio-GD Roc. It was an amazing balanced amplifier. 

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

A great buy would be the old Audio-GD Roc. It was an amazing balanced amplifier. 
That is a good recommendation since they can be found for under $700, but I would feel really uncomfortable buying ChiFi without a warranty. Thank you for your valid input as it is appreciated biggrin.gif
Edited by brunk - 6/1/12 at 4:52pm
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post


That is a good recommendation since they can be found for under $700, but I would feel really uncomfortable buying ChiFi without a warranty.

 

I wouldn't worry too much if it's audio GD. You'll have a terribly hard time finding one though. 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
" I wouldn't worry too much if it's audio GD. You'll have a terribly hard time finding one though."

I've already found 2 for under $700 hehe, but Audio-gd doesn't offer warranties to second-hand owners do they. I would have to pay full shipping, parts and labor which blows it out the water in the long run. I would be better off buying ChiFi new right?
Edited by brunk - 6/1/12 at 4:56pm
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

I wouldn't worry too much if it's audio GD. You'll have a terribly hard time finding one though. 
I see in your sig that you own some Audio-gd gear, would you be able to give some insight on the NFB-6 or others similar? I believe it's based off the Master 5 series and it outputs ~600mw / 600 ohms in balanced which is more than enough for the 300mw T1's (Do T1 become 600mw required when terminated in balanced?). Is Audio-gd keeping their gear up to past high standards or are they skimping anywhere? I am really intrigued by the combo I posted above, but the words of wisdom "If it's too good to be true..." come to mind.

EDIT: Strictly comparing the Roc to the NFB-6 on paper, it looks like the Roc has slightly more power, but at quite a bit lower S/N R than NFB-6. Roc also is heavier, but that appears to be mainly due to the thick aluminum used, and not necessarily components. It just appears that Kingwa has become more efficient with his designs over time, without sacrificing quality (actually improving) and passing the savings to the consumer and not keeping for himself biggrin.gif In summary, the NFB-6 is the way to go for sure, especially since it is remote controlled with the NFB-17.2 and has more inputs!

Gotta say, the more I dig into Audio-gd, the more I respect Kingwa and his crew.

EDIT 2: Apparently, a HeadFi'er here has done a review on the NFB-6 and didn't favor so well. Looking closer upon his equipment and review process, there is some fairly major flaws. First, he didn't use the ACSS cables from source to amp. Using only XLR requires 2 additional steps in the signal chain, first to convert from current to voltage, and secondly from voltage to current in the amp. ACSS remains the purest path.
Second, he was critically reviewing the unit during the 300hrs. break in, giving an unfair disadvantage.
Third, he used AQ Diamondback XLR, which is equivalent to a $20 pair of cables. Even the standard Mogami are better than that.
Take his review with a grain of salt, unless you're going to use the amp under those poor conditions.
Edited by brunk - 6/1/12 at 9:16pm
post #7 of 13

I can't shed light on the NFB-6, but I do have a NFB-10se.  The T1's will have more than enough power with it. They don't require the 600mw, so you'll have plenty of overhead. Audio-gd hasn't has any issues that i know of. In fact now that I think of it, I have never heard of anyone's units having issues. 

 

I would doubt the NFB-6 matches the Roc. The Roc was on the level of the Phoenix. But I've never heard the nfb-6 so I can't comment. It looks to be a great combo with a lot of functionality!

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

I can't shed light on the NFB-6, but I do have a NFB-10se.  The T1's will have more than enough power with it. They don't require the 600mw, so you'll have plenty of overhead. Audio-gd hasn't has any issues that i know of. In fact now that I think of it, I have never heard of anyone's units having issues. 

I would doubt the NFB-6 matches the Roc. The Roc was on the level of the Phoenix. But I've never heard the nfb-6 so I can't comment. It looks to be a great combo with a lot of functionality!
Ok, I'll look into that further. The NFB-10se is an amazing unit, I almost immediately placed an order on it, until I realized it didn't have analog inputs, what a bummer as it really would have been a steal if it did! I understand that English is not Kingwa's native tongue, but I do wish that he wouldn't "copy and paste" the description and sound characteristics on every single product. I will gladly and respectfully take a slightly broken English description comparing his product lines over the exact same verbiage lol. That is no disrespect what so ever. If he could add the pricing of the products, and sort by product lines in columns, instead of rows according to functionality on the main product page, it would be vastly easier to navigate as well. I know the Chinese read from right to left, and wonder if that has something to do with it...

EDIT: "It looks to be a great combo with a lot of functionality!"

I think that's an understatement lol. I can't imagine any consumer level functionality higher than this, the next step up would be studio functionality with digital outputs lol.
Edited by brunk - 6/1/12 at 9:24pm
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

I can't shed light on the NFB-6, but I do have a NFB-10se.  The T1's will have more than enough power with it. They don't require the 600mw, so you'll have plenty of overhead. Audio-gd hasn't has any issues that i know of. In fact now that I think of it, I have never heard of anyone's units having issues. 

I would doubt the NFB-6 matches the Roc. The Roc was on the level of the Phoenix. But I've never heard the nfb-6 so I can't comment. It looks to be a great combo with a lot of functionality!
Can you provide me some feedback with the NFB-10se, as the NFB-6 appears to be based off the same architecture.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post


I see in your sig that you own some Audio-gd gear, would you be able to give some insight on the NFB-6 or others similar? I believe it's based off the Master 5 series and it outputs ~600mw / 600 ohms in balanced which is more than enough for the 300mw T1's (Do T1 become 600mw required when terminated in balanced?). Is Audio-gd keeping their gear up to past high standards or are they skimping anywhere? I am really intrigued by the combo I posted above, but the words of wisdom "If it's too good to be true..." come to mind.
EDIT: Strictly comparing the Roc to the NFB-6 on paper, it looks like the Roc has slightly more power, but at quite a bit lower S/N R than NFB-6. Roc also is heavier, but that appears to be mainly due to the thick aluminum used, and not necessarily components. It just appears that Kingwa has become more efficient with his designs over time, without sacrificing quality (actually improving) and passing the savings to the consumer and not keeping for himself biggrin.gif In summary, the NFB-6 is the way to go for sure, especially since it is remote controlled with the NFB-17.2 and has more inputs!
Gotta say, the more I dig into Audio-gd, the more I respect Kingwa and his crew.
EDIT 2: Apparently, a HeadFi'er here has done a review on the NFB-6 and didn't favor so well. Looking closer upon his equipment and review process, there is some fairly major flaws. First, he didn't use the ACSS cables from source to amp. Using only XLR requires 2 additional steps in the signal chain, first to convert from current to voltage, and secondly from voltage to current in the amp. ACSS remains the purest path.
Second, he was critically reviewing the unit during the 300hrs. break in, giving an unfair disadvantage.
Third, he used AQ Diamondback XLR, which is equivalent to a $20 pair of cables. Even the standard Mogami are better than that.
Take his review with a grain of salt, unless you're going to use the amp under those poor conditions.

 

 

I am going down this same road. I owned an AGD Compass and it was some impressive kit in it's day. I sold it eventually and always wanted to go back to one of there products, just haven't had the chance yet.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post


I am going down this same road. I owned an AGD Compass and it was some impressive kit in it's day. I sold it eventually and always wanted to go back to one of there products, just haven't had the chance yet.
That speaks volumes my friend, and brings additional comfort towards purchasing a product with them. Thank you.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

Can you provide me some feedback with the NFB-10se, as the NFB-6 appears to be based off the same architecture.

 

It's a good unit, very solid. I use it as a desktop unit, because the Audio-gd Reference 1 and Little dot VI+ was taking up way too much space. I certainly wish I had the analog input of these combinations. The remote adds a lot of value to it. I run it as a preamp to my speakers and control the volume.
 
Sound wise...  Well I might have high expectations from Audio-gd gear. I have had a reference 1 paired with a phoenix and a Roc.  Totally from memory, I don't think the NFB-10SE's headphone amp compares to the Roc or Phoenix. It's not quite as musical and sounds a little more like Audio-GD gear. Clear, cold, detailed and open.   The 10SE is very much like this. Very detailed and open, but not so much warm. 
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post


It's a good unit, very solid. I use it as a desktop unit, because the Audio-gd Reference 1 and Little dot VI+ was taking up way too much space. I certainly wish I had the analog input of these combinations. The remote adds a lot of value to it. I run it as a preamp to my speakers and control the volume.

Sound wise... Well I might have high expectations from Audio-gd gear. I have had a reference 1 paired with a phoenix and a Roc. Totally from memory, I don't think the NFB-10SE's headphone amp compares to the Roc or Phoenix. It's not quite as musical and sounds a little more like Audio-GD gear. Clear, cold, detailed and open. The 10SE is very much like this. Very detailed and open, but not so much warm.
Thanks for the input. I can't help but mention that the NFB-6 and 17 must be at least slight improvements as they are separate dedicated dac and amp, not combined like the 10se. However, your feedback gives insight to the least I can expect, thank you.
Edited by brunk - 6/2/12 at 1:15pm
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