I've been enjoying my setup for a while now, but think I"d like to upgrade to a better amp. I"m running the Sennheiser HD600 out of a Schiit Valhalla amp being fed by a Peachtree DAC-IT. I"ve used the same DAC in other setups and really like it, and I've heard the HD600 on better amps and really like their overall sound signature.
So I think the component in my system that I'd like to change is the amp, that's what I need some feedback (from you all, not the amp itself :-))
I like the general sound from the Valhalla and the fact that, for a tube amp, it has a good bit of energy especially on the top end. Where I think it falls down a bit is in the bass region. I know my Senns are not orthos, but I've heard better bass response with them out of other gear so I know it's in there somewhere.
Ultimately what I'm after is an amp that's smooth, has a better bottom end and still has the sparkle up top. I don't want something that's too 'tubey' and warm and don't want something that's too detailed and sterile or bright, I want something right in between. The Valhalla is almost that amp but lacks the bass response that I want. My instinctive response is that I can't have both, I can get either detailed and quick or smooth but not both, but the Valhalla comes so close to nailing it that what I want has to be out there if I'm willing to spend the money to get it.
Tubes looks neat, but in reality I have no preference of tubes or SS, whatever gives me the sound I want is what I'll go with. I've been told that I can't really get the best of both worlds in a tube amp for under $1000, so my budget is $1000 max, cheaper is better.
I'm not just coming in here blind and asking you guys to do my homework for me, I've done quite a bit of reading already and have a few things in mind, would like input on those and any other options you may have.
Woo Audio WA3 - This is an OTL design like the Valhalla and looks very tempting, and gets great reviews everywhere. My concerns here are that the OTL design won't deliver enough punch to give me the bass response I"m looking for and that this amp may be too warm sounding.
Woo Audio WA6 - This also gets great reviews, it's a bit more expensive especially when you factor in the Sophia rectifier tube that's apparently a must, but I wonder if it mitigates my concerns about the WA3?
Burson HA-160 - This one also seems to be well liked, is often described as having a tube-like sound for an SS amp, and apparently was designed with the Sennheiser HD6xx series in mind. There isn't quite as much info here and other places on the Burson as there is on the Woo Audio products, so it's a bit more difficult to get a feel for how it will work in my system.
Woo Audio WA7 'Fireflies' - This one looks really interesting, and early reviews are positive. Even though I really like the Peachtree, the idea of one less box on my desk is tempting, and I can move the DAC-IT to another system. I've emailed Woo Audio about the amp quality in this model vs something likee the WA3, will see what they say.
Bottlehead Crack (with speedball upgrade) - I've read alot of good things about this one as well. I have no desire to build one myself, so I'd need to buy one already built or pay someone to do it for me.
Peachtree novaPre - I really like my DAC from them, so considered this as an option to integrate the DAC and headphone amp. There's virtually zero info or reviews on the headphone section, which is a little worrysome, but Peachtree seems to think they've designed a good headphone section in this piece, anyone heard it?
I'm sure there are lots of options I haven't looked at, so I'd appreciate any thoughts on the ones I've listed or the ones I haven't.
Edited by PolkManiac - 3/20/13 at 8:39am