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NEW Vali Schiit AMP!!! - Page 101

post #1501 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zojokkeli View Post


Thanks for the input. I did some digging around and found out that 600 and 650 have been described as sounding a bit boring compared to 598. I also read that Hifiman HE-400 would sound more engaging. Would the HE-400 be a nice upgrade from the 598's? Sorry for the offtopic.

 

The HE-400 is complementary to the HD598. The HD598 is fairly neutral with a slight upper-mid emphasis to give it some pizzazz. The HE-400 is bassy and sparkly/airy with a recession in the upper mids. You may find trumpets, snares, etc. lacking a bit of bite and edge with the HE-400. There are cheap mods such as the Jerg pad mod which improve on the HE-400. I have tried both with the Vali. What really sets apart the HE-400 is its bass quality. A very tight and fast bass - possibly the best quality in the entire HFM lineup without having to resort to a power amp - and even then, it's still debatable that HE-5 or HE-6 bass quality is better. Both HE-400 and HD-598 work great with Vali. I have tried them both.


Edited by purrin - 12/2/13 at 3:24pm
post #1502 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

 

It'd be interesting for someone to compare the O2, Magni and Vali with a bunch of different DACs/sources (under $500) and see which one is the most revealing/accurate to what's attached to it. My money is on the O2 for sure. I really wish I had an ODAC right now.

 

You mean a comparison like this? (And as you can see, a modest HE-500 headphone is being used instead of some uber TOTL one.)

 

post #1503 of 4098

Well I have been following this thread since it was started and I am hearing different thoughts on the pairing of the HD650 with the Vali, especially within the last 2 or 3 pages of the thread and I am somewhat confused. I think some said they prefer the Magni over the Vali for the HD650's, while others prefer Vali for HD650's. Or were they speaking about that it terms of the whole Modi->Magni combo or Modi/Vali combo?

 

I know most of the members here use good dacs that are not soundcards, so I guess my question is, since I am using the Creative Titanium HD soundcard, should I go for the Vali to pair with the Titanium HD or the Magni? I was planning on ordering the Vali tomorrow morning (provided that they are still in stock), but now after reading the last few pages of this thread I am confused on how well it will go with HD650's.

 

So what do you guys think of the Titanium HD -> Vali -> HD650 or should it be the Titanium HD -> Magni->HD650?

 

Any thoughts/help advice? I only have enough money for one of them so I can't get both to compare the two (unfortunately :()

 

Thanks everyone.


Edited by TheGame - 12/2/13 at 3:59pm
post #1504 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGame View Post
 

Well I have been following this thread since it was started and I am hearing different thoughts on the pairing of the HD650 with the Vali, especially within the last 2 or 3 pages of the thread and I am somewhat confused. I think some said they prefer the Magni over the Vali for the HD650's, while others prefer Vali for HD650's. Or were they speaking about that it terms of the whole Modi->Magni combo or Modi/Vali combo?

 

I know most of the members here use good dacs that are not soundcards, so I guess my question is, since I am using the Creative Titanium HD soundcard, should I go for the Vali to pair with the Titanium HD or the Magni? I was planning on ordering the Vali tomorrow morning (provided that they are still in stock), but now after reading the last few pages of this thread I am confused on how well it will go with HD650's.

 

So what do you guys think of the Titanium HD -> Vali -> HD650 or should it be the Titanium HD -> Magni->HD650?

 

Any thoughts/help advice? I only have enough money for one of them so I can't get both to compare the two (unfortunately :()

 

Thanks everyone.

 

With your setup, I would be hesitant to say whether there is going to be a clear winner between Magni and Vali. Vali does some things better than Magni and vice versa. The only reason to get Vali would be because you are curious how something slightly, but not overly tubey sounds like. And even then some of the differences folks have pointed out are not huge.

 

The Vali, as with anything with a tube in the path, will have less bass precision and control. It has a little bit of upper bass lower midrange warmth which may not be ideal with characteristics of the HD650. The pluses for the Vali are its dynamic lively immediate sound, fast attacks in the treble, more liquid smoother treble, and ability to resolve low level information. (I have no idea how good the Titanium HD as a DAC is. It could be very good for all I know.) As some others have commented, the Magni can be splashy in the treble and can seem lighter on the bass. But it's control is superior and its cleaner and less congested.

 

From a tonal balance / matching point of view with the HD650, things would favor the HD650. But again, the differences are not huge, and you may feel the positive things which the Vali brings to the table outweigh the negatives. It's never a black and white thing. Personally, I don't mind losing an small amount of bass control and articulation or gaining some "thickness" in favor of dynamic / lively / immediate and resolving.

post #1505 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post
 

 

With your setup, I would be hesitant to say whether there is going to be a clear winner between Magni and Vali. Vali does some things better than Magni and vice versa. The only reason to get Vali would be because you are curious how something slightly, but not overly tubey sounds like. And even then some of the differences folks have pointed out are not huge.

 

The Vali, as with anything with a tube in the path, will have less bass precision and control. It has a little bit of upper bass lower midrange warmth which may not be ideal with characteristics of the HD650. The pluses for the Vali are its dynamic lively immediate sound, fast attacks in the treble, more liquid smoother treble, and ability to resolve low level information. (I have no idea how good the Titanium HD as a DAC is. It could be very good for all I know.) As some others have commented, the Magni can be splashy in the treble and can seem lighter on the bass. But it's control is superior and its cleaner and less congested.

 

From a tonal balance / matching point of view with the HD650, things would favor the HD650. But again, the differences are not huge, and you may feel the positive things which the Vali brings to the table outweigh the negatives. It's never a black and white thing. Personally, I don't mind losing an small amount of bass control and articulation or gaining some "thickness" in favor of dynamic / lively / immediate and resolving.


Thank you so much for the quick reply purrin. I really appreciate your thoughts and input. To answer some of your questions, yes I have always been curious about a tube amp. The only amp I have ever owned for headphones is a FiiO E09K which is solid-state. As far as the Titanium HD's DAC goes, it is pretty much one of the best you're going to get in terms of an internal PC soundcard DAC. I have had members say I would probably have to spend anywhere from $300+ to get anything better. (But of course that is all opinion, and I do not want to get into the whole DAC debate). Let's just say for a soundcard, the Titanium HD is pretty good with 24 bit / 192k processing with Burr-Brown chip and unfortunately the bottom-line for me is that's the only DAC I have to work with.

 

From what I have read from your post (thank you again) it seems the Vali may be the choice I should go with.


Edited by TheGame - 12/2/13 at 4:36pm
post #1506 of 4098

Titanium HD has a very good DAC chip that is the equivalent of most of the DAC chips used in DACs cheaper than Bitfrost.  However, as a soundcard, there is no jitter reclocking of any sort.   So, I am maybe roughly equivalent to Modi or close.

post #1507 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGame View Post
 


.....

 

 

 

By the way, I am basically in the exact same boat as you.

 

I use a Creative Titanium HD soundcard as my DAC.  Currently my setup is:

 

TitaniumHD rca out --> Emotiva Mini-X --> Arx A1b speakers

TitaniumHD rca out--> Emotiva Mini-X rca out  --> Astro Mixamp --> HD595

 

(The Astro Mixamp is just a little DAC/amp meant to connect nicer headphones to video game consoles.  It only outputs 70mW 32ohm per channel.  The main draw for it is that it can process a dolby live signal into dolby headphone, which can give you directional cues for video games.)

 

 

I decided to upgrade to the HD650 when I came across a good deal last week.  It just arrived today.

 

 

I knew the Mixamp was not going to cut it for these, and I would need to get a real headphone amp as well (the mixamp's days were numbered anyway, now that I have a creative titanium HD, I use it to do the video game directional processing, the mixamp is largely unneeded now).  

 

Anyway, I ended up ordering the Schiit Vali.  I was planning on getting the Magni, but then I saw the Vali on their webpage.  I realized they just released it, and I thought "what the heck? why not?", and ordered it.  I got a shipment notification over the weekend, it is on the way.

 

 

I was mainly deciding between the Magni and the Vali, and was curious about tubes, so I went with the Vali.  

 

 

But to be honest, I am considering either sending it back or selling it and ordering a Bottlehead Crack DIY kit.  Based on what everyone is saying the Bottlehead Crack is basically God's gift to HD650 users.


Edited by Goride - 12/2/13 at 5:19pm
post #1508 of 4098

my vali has shipped !!

post #1509 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post
 

Okay, I now have well over 100 hours of burn-in, here are the first reactions:

 

* The burn-in clears up and elevates the treble and upper mids.  At unboxing, the Vali seemed dull on the high end, and now it is bright (but not overly so).

 

* I like the Vali the most with the.... Mad Dogs.  The Mad Dogs seem to have just enough sensitivity and the Vali just enough power for the combination to work well.  Or it could be due to some other electrical aspect.   The Vali has a shallow soundstage, and this is not a problem with the Mad Dog because it also has a shallow soundstage.

 

* I don't like the Vali with the HE-400.  It sounds congested - there is a hint of distortion on quick transients.  I also did not like the HE-400 with the Magni and it may be that the output stage of both is in common and is not a good match for the HE-400.  I find that the HE-400 is like the other HiFiMen, in that it sounds much better on a vintage power amp (or the Emotiva which I have not heard).

 

* The Alpha Dog does not work as well with the Vali as the Mad Dog.  The better soundstage on the Alpha Dog needs something with a better soundstage, and the Alpha Dog seems more congested on the Vali than the Mad Dog.  The more revealing capability of the Alpha Dog also more clearly reveals the weak points of the Vali.

 

* Strong points of the Vali:

 

- Very quick response which results in very good instrumental detail (I think what Purrin is calling "micro detail").  This is what makes it revealing of source differences.  This is the signature strong point which I think is leading some to call it as good as more expensive amps... but read on.

 

- Smooth treble (a characteristic of tubes) - bright without being harsh

 

- Good bass response for this price range (better than Magni with my headphones and my music)

 

* Weak points of the Vali:

 

- Microphonics (apparently seems to be better or worse depending on luck of the draw)

 

- Shallow and somewhat narrow soundstage.  Imaging seems good but seems somewhat hindered by the small soundstage.

 

- Mediocre instrumental color - the quality that makes instruments sound very different.  I think this is what some call "one note" quality.  It is unique to have instrumental detail be this good while instrumental timbre is not.   It makes it seem like an outstanding black-and-white picture as compared to a color picture.

 

So I find the Bellari hybrid with a 1960s German or British tube to have better sound quality than the Vali, due to the better timbre (and roughly equal detail).  Neither works well with HiFiMen or Alpha Dogs, IMHO.

 

I find that the Vali works pretty well with the Mad Dog, because neither has much of a soundstage, so a weakness is nullified.  I find that the Vali works pretty well with the MA900, because both have a lack of instrumental color, and again a weakness is nullified.  In both cases, one is not losing so much by using the Vali, because the headphones are already lacking that quality (and those qualities cannot be restored by an amp).

 

Unfortunately, the above is a little complicated, but it took me awhile to figure out why the Vali had some excellent qualities, and yet was often not as good as the more expensive amps.

 

Of course, this is what I hear with my system, my choice of music, and my ears and so could vary widely from someone else's equally valid impression.

 

Thanks for sharing your input.  I do find it interesting how different people are hearing this amp, and based on the variance in microphonics reports, I am wondering if some of them sound different as well.  I don't find the soundstage to shallow or narrow in comparison to the two amps I currently have on hand or what I remember for other amps I have owned.  Could be a difference in DACs as well.  

post #1510 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post
 

* No DAC goes better with any amp or headphones than any other DAC.  It is true that amps and headphones can work well or poorly together, because the amp is powering the headphones (a 60 hp engine is not going to work for a big rig).

 

* What Purrin said was "the Vali is clear enough that you can hear the differences between DACs" and E9 was given as an example of an amp that does not do so.

 

* A better DAC will present more of what is on the recording.  A lesser amp - like the e9 - will then prevent you from hearing that - just like a dirty window.

 

* I have not heard very many of the current DACs available, but the HRT MusicStreamer TwoPlus is now $279 at Amazon.  Its several years old technology, though and I have not A/B-ed with the Modi.

 

* The Modi should go well with the Vali.  If you get a better DAC, the Vali will let you hear the difference.

 

* People who do not listen to small details in music may miss the difference.  Its easy to find Amazon reviews of more expensive DACs where the buyer could not find any difference from something like a Modi.

 

Thanks :) Yea, I know there's no silver bullet here, but since I can't loan or otherwise demo many dacs, I'm trying to at least in some way narrow the selection. I already have Modi for my home rig, and now for my second/office one I'd like something different; though Modi is fine I'd like to mix it up a bit instead of having just two Modis :) Again, thanks for the help. :)

post #1511 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post
 
Quote:

 

Thanks for sharing your input.  I do find it interesting how different people are hearing this amp, and based on the variance in microphonics reports, I am wondering if some of them sound different as well.  I don't find the soundstage to shallow or narrow in comparison to the two amps I currently have on hand or what I remember for other amps I have owned.  Could be a difference in DACs as well.  

There is an earlier post (around page 10 ??) of a tube hobbyist describing how another small amp manufacturer tried to use similar tubes in a headphone amp and eventually gave up because of the microphonics issue.  Schiit gave the task of tube matching and checking to a third party, and it is not impossible that they did not do a perfect job.  I do think that the $119 price is chosen to reflect that it's a fun product rather than a serious "statement" amp, and may not be perfect.

 

The reports do seem to suggest that the dozen hand-built prototypes may have better performance than the production models.

post #1512 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goride View Post

 

By the way, I am basically in the exact same boat as you.

 

I use a Creative Titanium HD soundcard as my DAC.  Currently my setup is:

 

TitaniumHD rca out --> Emotiva Mini-X --> Arx A1b speakers

TitaniumHD rca out--> Emotiva Mini-X rca out  --> Astro Mixamp --> HD595

 

(The Astro Mixamp is just a little DAC/amp meant to connect nicer headphones to video game consoles.  It only outputs 70mW 32ohm per channel.  The main draw for it is that it can process a dolby live signal into dolby headphone, which can give you directional cues for video games.)

 

 

I decided to upgrade to the HD650 when I came across a good deal last week.  It just arrived today.

The Emotiva Mini-X is one of the most highly recommended amps for headphones on this Forum. You should not need another amp.  See:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/629352/he-500-lcd2-d5000-dt770-sr80-on-a-speaker-amp-emotiva-mini-x-a-100-project

post #1513 of 4098
Quote:
Originally Posted by hans030390 View Post

This is why computer hardware (for gaming rigs) is my go-to hobby. While the law of diminishing returns applies, at least I know exactly what I'll be getting with my money. Trying to apply the same type of objectivity to audio just isn't that simple.

Now, bring up the topic of whether it's better to have good colors, contrast ratio, etc. (overall picture quality) on a monitor or better motion in the form of a higher refresh rate, lower pixel response time, lower input lag, etc. (essentially IPS vs TN), and you'll get a bunch of nerds to have debates not unlike what you'll see with audio.

On the downside, I know almost any investment in my computer will literally be obsolete within 2-5 years. You don't see to many folks gaming on vintage computers.
My other hobby as well beerchug.gif
post #1514 of 4098

I'm about to order either the Magni/Modi combo or Vali/Modi to use with my K701's. What would be the better amp out of those two for those HPs?

post #1515 of 4098

Excited to see someone who didn't like the Magni with the HE-400 not liking the Vali with the HE-400 for the same reasons. Because I love the Magni with the HE-400 :]

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