Hey folks! I'm surprised this wallet-friendly device hasn't really been mentioned much here on head-fi. I recently stumbled upon a thread over at rockgrotto that basically raves about it, so I decided to order one from Aune on ebay. It just came in today. I'm listening to a FLAC rip of the new Pinback album as I type this, and I'm seriously shocked at how good this thing sounds. It sounds good, really good, like light-years-better-than-anything-else-I-have-ever-heard-no-contest good.I haven't done many reviews, and I literally just started listening to this device, so let me present you some brief points worth mentioning.
- I recently had the Audioquest Dragonfly in my possession and the Aune T1 absolutely obliterates it.
- Other sources I have experience with include the Sansa Clip+, IPhone 4, Sony S639f, S: Flo 2, Ibasso D1, and HRT Headstreamer.
- The amps I've had have all been solid state. Solid state amps that I've tried include Ibasso D1, Channel Islands Audio VHP-2, AMB Mini3, Digizoid ZO v1 (not really an amp but acts as one), and Audioquest Dragonfly
- What my experience means is that either 1) I'm blown away because I was born to listen to tubes and didn't know it until now, 2) The Aune T1 is ridiculously good for the price, or 3) a mixture of both 1 and 2.
- The headphones that I use are a Symphones Magnum v4 build that I put together myself.
- The tube I usually use in the Aune T1 is a Genalex Gold Lion, but I sometime use a Voskhod 6N23P "rocket logo" tube.
- See more in depth tube impressions below.
That is pretty much all I have for now. I don't want to be one those annoying people that just raves about their gear simply because its new--I feel truly compelled to inform everyone here that the Aune T1 is in my opinion the REAL DEAL at only $200 shipped.
For those who don't like to read, here is my review in picture form:
********Here I will address some questions that seem to pop up frequently in this thread*************
Q: What types of tubes will work with the Aune T1?
A: 6DJ8, ECC88, 6922, E88CC, 7308, 6N23P, 6N27P, 6N11, 6N1P, 7DJ8, PCC88, ECC189, 6ES8, E188CC, ECC86, 6GM8, PCC189, 7ES8, Cca, CV2492, CV10320, CV5231, CV5354, CV5358, M3624
Q: Where can I purchase the Aune T1?
A: I purchased mine from the official Aune vendor on ebay (auneaudio) but there are numerous vendors to choose from. I have not heard any negative reports yet from any particular vendor but YMMV.
Q: Does the Aune T1 come with a tube?
A: Yes, the Aune T1 does come with a a tube. The particular tube varies by listing. Don't stress over what it comes with because in all likelihood you'll want to upgrade it, regardless.
Q:What is the "upgrade version" of the T1 that some ebay vendors seem to be selling?
A: The "upgrade version" on the T1 is identical to the regular version, but it comes with a better tube. My advice is to get the regular version, then invest your money in some good NOS (new old stock) tubes.
Q: What tube should I buy for the Aune T1?
A: Search this thread for impressions or PM me if you need help. I'll do the best I can to get back to you quickly.
Q: Is the Aune T1 a tube amp?
A: NO, it is NOT a tube amp. The T1 is special because it is a great sounding DAC that is highly customizable/upgradeable by selecting the right tube. The amp in the T1 is a cheap solid state amp. It gets the job done but an upgrade to another external amp is recommended at some point.
Q: Does the Aune T1 DAC utilize the tube, does the T1 headphone amp section use the tube, or do they both use the tube?
A: See the question above. In more words: the Aune T1 is a USB tube DAC with a solid state headphone amp. What this means is that if you want the benefits of the tube, you must use the USB Input of the T1. The amp section of the T1 does not use the tube by itself. Technically, you could bypass the DAC of the T1 and just use the amp but this type of use is not really what the T1 is for. One thing you can do is use the T1 USB input then hook up a different amp to the RCA out of the T1. This will give you the benefits of the tube (because it affects the DAC) and allows you to try a different/more powerful amp (though I think the amp in the T1 is quite good). I personally have a speaker amp hooked up this way so I can use my headphones and some bookshelf speakers at the same time from the T1 as a source.
Q:What headphones are adequately driven by the Aune T1 amp?
A: Almost every headphone I have tried with the T1 works very, very well.
Here is a list of headphones that I've used on the T1, and I think sound great:
Beyerdynamic DT880 and DT990 (250 ohm versions)
AKG K702 Anniversary
Symphones Magnum v4 and v5 (my favorite headphones)
I imagine that Grado headphones would make an excellent match with the T1 since the Magnums sound so good on it.
The Beyerdynamic T1 sounds good on the T1, but I personally found that it benefits a little in the bass department with the extra power from my speaker amp (I terminated the Beyers to banana plugs).
Headphones that needed more power than the T1 could offer:
Remember, you could spend as little as $100 on another amp and potentially see some benefits. The above list is the indicate that the amp that comes with the T1 is at bare minimum useable and in some cases sounds really great.
If you change the cord or adapter then don`t forget to change it to one that has a FUSE in it!
IMPORTANT! - UK plug fuse should be changed to something between 0,5A - 3A fuse because in stock it comes with 13A fuse which is way too much!
2/14/15--regarding the above about the fuse, I have no idea if this is still an issue with the current product.
Genalex Gold Lion E88CC:
Given some time with the Genalex and comparing it to my precious Voskhod, I have to say I’m quite impressed and that I think I’ve found a new favorite tube. The Genalex has many of the qualities of the Voskhod I like, such as intimate mids and vocals, but the Genalex is able to deliver this to me with more clarity and soundstage. The extra clarity does make the T1 sound more digital and less analog than the Voskhod, but I still think it is ultimately a superior sound. At first, I thought the Genalex had punchier bass, but after adjusting to the sound, I realized I was mistaken and that the Voskhod was more tactile in this respect. Then, I thought perhaps a gain adjustment would make a difference, and lo and behold, +8 did just the trick in bringing the Genalex bass up to where I wanted it. Good times!
Russian 6n23p Rocket logo
This tube is intimacy to the max. Warm, but not muddy. Forward sounding. Output volume seems higher than the other tubes I’ve tried. Very musical and engaging tube. It’s a fun listen for sure but it comes at the cost of some soundstage. Has a very punchy midbass but doesn’t have as much presence in the lowest bass notes. Has a kind of addictive tube sound.
Purchased here: http://www.boiaudioworks.com/6N23P
Very nice detailed sound, great soundstage and imaging. Less aggressive than the rocket logo. Has very, very good lower bass presence. Kind of a U shaped sound signature compared to the rocket logo. Overall, very good. Whether or not I prefer this or the rocket logo depends on my mood.
This tube ended up being a pretty big disappointment. Upscale Audio hyped it up majorly, but I found this tube to sound dark, very dark. Lacks resolution and just sounds a little “off.” I do not recommend it. Sounds like I’m listening to a cheap mp3 player instead of a piece of nice audio equipment.
Purchased here: http://www.upscaleaudio.com/products/Matsu****a-%7B47%7D-National-PCC88-%7B47%7D-7DJ8.html <------this link won't work because head-fi edits out the s-word...lol
RCA labeled Amperex 6dj8/E88cc
This tube is very nice. It’s kind of a middle ground between the two Russian tubes. It’s kind of laid-back in a way that is unlike those tubes, though. This tube is balanced sounding, maybe a little soft in the low end and a tad polite in the treble. It’s pretty natural sounding. Good soundstage and imaging. Overall a nice tube that maybe doesn’t have the addictive character that the rocket logo does and doesn’t have that ultra controlled low bass of the 6n23p-eb, but it does a lot right and sounds great overall.
Purchased from head-fi for sale forum.
Amperex 7308 Gold Pin
Alright guys, I finally got my hands on my Amperex 7308. This tube is the real deal no doubt about it. The first thing that stood out when I popped this tube in was man this thing sounds HOLOGRAPHIC. I've never heard anything have this much soundstage but still retain such smoothness. It's well balanced and dynamic with excellent details in the whole sound spectrum. Despite this, I decided to use the Rocket Logo 6n23p as my primary tube. The Rocket Logo has this addictive aggressive sound that I just can't shake. I believe that out of all of the tube I tried, the vast majority will prefer the Amperex 7308, but for me...Rocket Logo all the way...makes my Magnums rock so, so hard.
Philips Miniwatt E188CC, made in Holland
Okay, so now that I've had more time with this tube, I'll take some time to discuss it in more detail. First, a pic of the tube in question:
This is a Miniwatt Dario E188CC with date code VR6⊿3A2. The code indicates that it was made by Philips/Amperex in Holland at the Heerlen factory. It tests NOS and has closely matched triodes.
When I stated in my earlier post that this is an end-game quality tube, I meant it. Here's why:
1) The balance of the presentation of the various frequencies is outstanding. The tube is spacious and holographic, while having a nice bottom end slam and great treble extension. And the mids are not recessed.
2) The Miniwatt Dario E188CC is slightly warm of neutral, which is a pleasant place to be. The Gold Lion is what I'd consider digital sounding and clean. The Voskhod Rocket Logo is mid-centric with dirty, punchy midbass and vocal intimacy but less soundstage. The Miniwatt Dario E188CC strikes a great balance between the two. It is smooth but spacious and detailed sounding without being too polite.
3) Excellent holographic soundstage. I'd really like to pair this tube with a better amp to see how much further improvement is possible.
4) Having listened to a decent variety of different tubes, I can say that the Miniwatt Dario E188CC is an excellent tube to have at least one of on hand because it is so well balanced and refined. I cannot say for sure that it will be the perfect pairing for every headphone out there but it certainly deserves strong consideration.
That said, even after the immense praise I've heaped upon it, I still need to do some more A/Bing to determine if it is the end-of-the-road, perfect match for my particular headphones and music taste.
ALSO SEE SALVATORE'S HELPFUL LINKS BELOW (VERY INFORMATIVE):
Edited by joeq70 - 2/14/15 at 6:34pm