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A few tube headphone amp questions

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I am interested in entering the world of tube headphone amps and had a few questions before I make my first purchase.

I am looking to make an inexpensive yet informed purchase and have researched a bit and am left with the following questions

 

a) How is it that some two channel amps only have one tube? I still don't understand how 1 tube can process 2 different signals . If you can explain that I would be grateful. In any case can I assume that for stereo 2 tube amps are of higher quality than a single tube amp?

 

b) Many seem to be listed as 'hybrid' tube amps and they all seem to share the characteristic of 1 tube per channel (or 1 tube for both) and have some sort of solid state electronic components while the ones I have seen with 4 tubes (presumably 2 per channel) seem to be 'true' or 'full' tube amps. Is this a correct assessment, if not please explain. and is there a benefit to a pure tube amp over a hybrid?

 

c) Can you 'tube roll' with either set of tubes on a 2channel 4 tube amp or is one specific pair?

 

 

D) Pros/cons of an integrated dac vs amp only . I assume that if two units have the same price and a DAC is included in one then they cut corners or it may be inferior someplace else vs the one w/o a DAC similarly priced.

 

 

Currently I am debating between a Littled Dot MKiii and a Qinpu A3 what I have determined is the following:

 

They both have positive reviews although many rave about the Little Dot Mkiii.

The Little dot appears to be a true tube amp while the qinpu is a hybrid but the qinpu has terminals for a set of bookshelf speakers whuile the little dot does not (only pre-outs).

Initially I had considered a Bravo V2 w/ a mod or a Gamax which included a DAC but now feel upping my budget a bit brings much better amps (little dot , qinpu) into consideration.

 

 

The stock chinese tubes in both suck but quality tubes are plentiful to be found with many reviews available regarding specific characteristics of each.

 

Any strong feelings one way or the other between those two or others similarly priced?

 

FWIW I own Sennheiser 201,  Skullcandy Aviator, Audio Technica M50, Pioneer SE- A10000, & Beyerdynamic DT990

 

As always many thanks - JK


Edited by Phishin Phool - 9/23/13 at 12:48pm
post #2 of 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phishin Phool View Post
 

I am interested in entering the world of tube headphone amps and had a few questions before I make my first purchase.

I am looking to make an inexpensive yet informed purchase and have researched a bit and am left with the following questions

 

a) How is it that some two channel amps only have one tube?

b) Many seem to be listed as 'hybrid' tube amps 

c) Can you 'tube roll' with either set of tubes on a 2channel 4 tube amp or is one specific pair?

D) Pros/cons of an integrated dac vs amp only . I assume that if two units have the same price and a DAC is included in one then they cut corners or it may be inferior someplace else vs the one w/o a DAC similarly priced.

 

The stock chinese tubes in both suck but quality tubes are plentiful to be found with many reviews available regarding specific characteristics of each.

Any strong feelings one way or the other between those two or others similarly priced?

FWIW I own Sennheiser 201,  Skullcandy Aviator, Audio Technica M50, Pioneer SE- A10000, & Beyerdynamic DT990

Tubes have two channels, so only need one tube for stereo audio.

Hybrids try to use the benefits of the tube and solid state.

Intergated DAC/Amp is cheaper to make over separate DAC & Amp.

But I guess(?) it's assumed separate DAC and amp makes for less electical interfereance (guessing).

Some of those "Made in China" tube are Military grade surplus tubes that have been sitting in a warehouse for decades.

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