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Looking for a "dark" amplifier, any suggestions?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Heya,

 

So I'm finding more and more I just like darker signatures. Treble rolled off a touch, and some warmth is always good for me. Looking to get a list of amplifiers that I can start looking for and trying out to see which one has the best synergy with a few headphones that I use the most. I don't care if they're solid state or tube. If I had a steadfast choice, it would be preference towards solid state simply because I want to have ease of linear voltage/current output against a load as the load increases and because I like not having to change tubes or buy more tubes. But if the best choices for me turn out to be tubes, that's ok. I really like the darkness of the Fiio E10. It's dark and can throws in some warmth. I've used the Schiit Lyr, Little Dot MK III, Schiit Asgard, NFB 12, etc. Still looking for an amp that really just sits well with my ears. I've been using my E10 more than anything because of the signature synergy with my headphones. I need the amplifier however to be able to deliver upwards of 1 watt per channel at 38ohms, and also be able to pair well with high impedance headphones too (hence my preference towards solid state). Basically a more powerful E10 would be what I want.

 

Headphones that I favor most and will be pairing with this amplifier hopefully: Hifiman HE-500 (the need for 1 wpc or so at 38ohms), Denon D5000, Beyer DT770 600ohm, Beyer DT880 600ohm, Fischer Audio FA002W. Those are my most used and favorite headphones essentially.

 

Criteria (TL;DR):

 

Dark signature (rolled off treble; added warmth is a bonus)

Power ability of 1 wpc at 38ohms, also able to pair with 600ohm headphones (solid state more likely here)

Budget: Open to anything really, but less expensive with criteria met is preference

Prefer solid state, but tubes are ok so long as the extra tubes are not rare/expensive

 

Anyone have some amplifier ideas that may meet these criteria?

 

 

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX - 10/11/12 at 5:55am
post #2 of 14

Could consider the Audio-gd Phoenix which is oftem considered 'dark' or the Violectric V100/V200 also some people consider warm and dark.

post #3 of 14

looked into a Woo WA6-SE?  It's very versatile for low or high impedance cans & orthos sound amazing through it.

post #4 of 14

The RSA amps are known for being dark.But if I were you with your collection I'll look for a Burson 

post #5 of 14

Headroom amps are dark.
 

post #6 of 14

I remember there was a person who modded his Fiio E10 to drive higher impedance cans. I am not sure which post it is but it was in Impression Fiio E10 topic.

 

I am a little curious. Do you think Fiio E10s lack clarity, very forward in midrange, the soundstage is not good either?

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveKnight View Post

I remember there was a person who modded his Fiio E10 to drive higher impedance cans. I am not sure which post it is but it was in Impression Fiio E10 topic.

 

I am a little curious. Do you think Fiio E10s lack clarity, very forward in midrange, the soundstage is not good either?

 

Heya,

 

The Fiio E10 is actually sonically what I like.

 

It simply cannot output the kind of current that my Hifiman HE-500 needs to perform at it's best. When I use it with the E10, it sounds fine actually. It's kind of weird that it sounds so good, no clipping, bass is full, mids are buttery good. It just makes no sense. Less warm from my NFB12, more treble from it.

 

Granted in reality, I'm not sure sure the HE-500 needs the full 1 wpc that Dr Fang said it needs. Maybe technically it does. But ultimately it just sounds great from the E10, just as great honestly to my ears as my Bifrost/Lyr. But maybe my ears are not golden enough.

 

So just looking at more options to try. If nothing else, I may end up just using the E10 and others and stay in my ignorant bliss about it.

 

Very best,

post #8 of 14
I don't have a ton of experience with amps, but between my Xonar Essence and Little Dot MKIV I have had the opportunity to do a bit of op amp rolling and tube rolling and I have to admit that these have made huge leaps and bounds towards altering the sound to my liking. Replacing the LME4962 opamps with LME49860 in my Xonar Essence made a huge huge difference in taming the brightness and made my SR-80s actually sound balanced off the Essence. In fact, it got really close to the Little Dot, just lacking the bloom and being slightly more grainy, but with more impact, speed, and precision. I was actually astounded at what a difference it made. Little Dot wise, I wanted more details from my DT880/600s so I went the opposite direction and rolled in Voshkod tubes for more impact and extension, but you could always go with Mullard M8100s and get more warmth instead. I can't attest to it, but I've also read that the Matrix M-Stage is warmer than the Asgard. If you bought an M-Stage, and rolled in LME49860s or LME49990s I think you could push that warmth even further. Maybe you can roll op amps on the E-10? If I'm not mistaken the E-10 and Xonar Essence are based on the same TI amplifier chip and might have similar looking circuits. Anyway, as you can see, I'm definitely an op amp pusher. They're so cheap, and they make such big differences. Edit: Sorry, the stock Essence op amps are LM4562, not LME4962. My bad.
Edited by Strangelove424 - 10/11/12 at 3:45pm
post #9 of 14

Judging from your equipment inventory by far the easiest thing for you to do would be to add eq to your current gear and save your money. You can achieve exactly the sound you seek with eq or you can chase a dozen amps until you find what you are looking for. You own several headphones and they are all different. Eq would allow you to establish  different profiles for your various equipment. It is really the perfect solution or you can just keep buying more amps hoping that you stumble on the "perfect" solution. There are several inexpensive software options for high quality eq (even one that is free).

post #10 of 14

The AMB M3 looks like it may be a great choice here for you. Customizable signature with opamp swapping, and with opamps such as OPA627, it is very smooth and dark with bit of a rolloff in the highs.  It has enough power to deliver to nearly any headphones (one of the designers of the amp was the owner of 600ohms Beyers, IIRC), free of virtually any noise, and has very low output impedence. 

 

I currently have mine set up with OPA627's and it's warm enough to sound excellent with my HD800's and DT770 Pros, both of which tend to have etchy highs. They also have more than enough power for my LCD-2 orthos, although they sound rolled off with them due to the opamp I've chosen to install. There are few that's out for sale in the Buy/Sell forums here currently, or you can get the work commissioned from YBM Audio. It's an old amp by today's standards, but at the same time, tested and true and still a great amp overall. They're also very reasonably priced overall, and if you happen to be DIY saavy, you can build it yourself and save even more money.


Edited by K_19 - 10/11/12 at 5:05pm
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

Heya,
Dark signature (rolled off treble; added warmth is a bonus)
Power ability of 1 wpc at 38ohms, also able to pair with 600ohm headphones (solid state more likely here)
Budget: Open to anything really, but less expensive with criteria met is preference
Prefer solid state, but tubes are ok so long as the extra tubes are not rare/expensive
Black Pearl with carbon output resistors. 1.2W @ 38 ohms.
post #12 of 14

RSAs and Graham Slees are dark

post #13 of 14

I have to agree with K_19 here.  My balanced M^3 w/ (OPA627) are great with my HD-800s and the HE-500s IMO not so goos with the LCD-2.2s I like my βeta-22 for those.  But if you want an almost tube like sound (but not) in a Solid State amp I would say get a balanced M^3 made.

 

 

 

 

I've also heard the V200 sounds good with the HD-800s as well.


Edited by preproman - 10/23/12 at 5:20pm
post #14 of 14

The Matrix m-stage might be up your ally

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