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Help me choose my first AMP :)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello Head-Fi :) I have been a long time lurker reading different reviews on headphones, amps, ect. I finally set my self up with some higher end cans (Beyer T90) and need some good amplification to go along with it. So far I have been using the Creative Labs ZX sound card to power the headphones. I plan on just plugging in the amp into my sound card and go from there. Since I am relatively new to this whole dedicated amp thing I'd like to start small. Probably looking for something around $200. The Schiit Vali has caught my eye so far, but I am not sure how well they will pair with the T90's. Any suggestions would be appreciated :)

post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrZ-Fi View Post
 

Hello Head-Fi :) I have been a long time lurker reading different reviews on headphones, amps, ect. I finally set my self up with some higher end cans (Beyer T90) and need some good amplification to go along with it. So far I have been using the Creative Labs ZX sound card to power the headphones. I plan on just plugging in the amp into my sound card and go from there. Since I am relatively new to this whole dedicated amp thing I'd like to start small. Probably looking for something around $200. The Schiit Vali has caught my eye so far, but I am not sure how well they will pair with the T90's. Any suggestions would be appreciated :)

 

Hello and welcome!

 

A few guys on the Vali thread have used that combination, and they were pretty satisfied with it. 

 

I assume you are going to use your T90 for gaming? and keep using your Creative ZX sound processing capabilities. 

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwess View Post

Hello and welcome!

A few guys on the Vali thread have used that combination, and they were pretty satisfied with it. 

I assume you are going to use your T90 for gaming? and keep using your Creative ZX sound processing capabilities. 

Thanks for the reply. I have been looking at the vali for a little while now and think it might be a good option.

I will be gaming, but I usually use the speakers for that. I will be the T90s to listen to music at home on the pc. I figured the sound chip on the zx would be pretty good. Would I be better off using on board sound and getting an entry level dac?
post #4 of 19

The HiFiman EF-2A is a hybrid (tube gian/solid state power) for less than $200 and the Little Dot MKII is a nice all tube for about the same.  Schiit amps are all the rage these days and I've heard some and liked them, but the Vali is getting a reputation for tube microphonics.  Tube microphonics are a defect and you should never accept that as "just part of owning a tube amp".  Now with pretty much all tube amps out there you can simply change the tube and solve the problem, but the Valis tubes are soldered to the amps PCB. So, if I were in the <=$200 amp market I would pass on that one.

 

And I just want to add that if you can solder and like to use tools and work with your hands, you should really look at a Bottlehead Crack kit.  This amp kit is a little outside your stated budget but on the long term the extra cost becomes pretty insignificant (plus once built, your amp immediately becomes worth more than the cost of the kit).  I mention the Crack because I recently got a chance to listen to one and I normally don't hoop and holla over audio gear, but the reputation the Crack has of sounding like a much more expensive amp is deserved in my opinion.


Edited by cswann1 - 1/20/14 at 9:10pm
post #5 of 19
+1 for Schiit Vali, they're damn good for the price. 

Edited by pdrm360 - 1/20/14 at 9:21pm
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cswann1 View Post

The HiFiman EF-2A is a hybrid (tube gian/solid state power) for less than $200 and the Little Dot MKII is a nice all tube for about the same.  Schiit amps are all the rage these days and I've heard some and liked them, but the Vali is getting a reputation for tube microphonics.  Tube microphonics are a defect and you should never accept that as "just part of owning a tube amp".  Now with pretty much all tube amps out there you can simply change the tube and solve the problem, but the Valis tubes are soldered to the amps PCB. So, if I were in the <=$200 amp market I would pass on that one.

And I just want to add that if you can solder and like to use tools and work with your hands, you should really look at a Bottlehead Crack kit.  This amp kit is a little outside your stated budget but on the long term the extra cost becomes pretty insignificant (plus once built, your amp immediately becomes worth more than the cost of the kit).  I mention the Crack because I recently got a chance to listen to one and I normally don't hoop and holla over audio gear, but the reputation the Crack has of sounding like a much more expensive amp is deserved in my opinion.

Unfortunately I don't believe I have the skill to make the kit, even though the reviews are great and the name is killer :P I'll look into the two others you mentioned. Thanks
post #7 of 19

There's another option in your price range I didn't mention.   I picked up a Fiio e18 last November our of sheer curiosity.  It's a battery powered DAC/amp that you can use with a Andriod (4.3 or later) smartphone or as a home/desktop amp provided you're using a PC/laptop/tablet as the source of the music data.   It drives my 300ohm Sennheisers to a good volume, but as a do it all device that is about the size of a deck of cards (including it's battery) the sound is not on the same level as what you'd get with something like the Little Dot I mentioned earlier. 

post #8 of 19

With my Schiit gear I have yet to hear any disappointment. I have the Asgard, Valhalla and Modi. I would recommend Vali or Magni. Hard to beat as entry level amps.

post #9 of 19

^^ For the T90 the Vali would be a better pair than the Magni. 

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cswann1 View Post
 

There's another option in your price range I didn't mention.   I picked up a Fiio e18 last November our of sheer curiosity.  It's a battery powered DAC/amp that you can use with a Andriod (4.3 or later) smartphone or as a home/desktop amp provided you're using a PC/laptop/tablet as the source of the music data.   It drives my 300ohm Sennheisers to a good volume, but as a do it all device that is about the size of a deck of cards (including it's battery) the sound is not on the same level as what you'd get with something like the Little Dot I mentioned earlier. 

 

funny thing is I actually got an e18 for portable use with my laptop and phone. For those I use sennheiser ie80's and momentums for that. Since I got the T90's, I figured it would be best to buy a nice desktop amp to really see what they are capable of. So far I am liking the little dot, I personally like the look of tubes extending out of the casing. Would the MK2 be more potent than a Vali? Also do you guys think my creative zx is enough of a DAC or would a entry level DAC be a better choice. 

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
So I see that I can either order the little dot direct from China or overpay on Amazon. Anywhere else I can find them in stock in the US?
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrZ-Fi View Post


Thanks for the reply. I have been looking at the vali for a little while now and think it might be a good option.

I will be gaming, but I usually use the speakers for that. I will be the T90s to listen to music at home on the pc. I figured the sound chip on the zx would be pretty good. Would I be better off using on board sound and getting an entry level dac?

 

If you are using them for music listening, a usb DAC i'ts a good way to go. 

 

As for little dot amplifiers. try ebay or the Sale section. 

post #13 of 19

Schiit Modi or Vali...they are surprised cheap. After your ears have "a training" with the sound : from dac, from amp, and also from headphone, you can upgrade to better one later, without loss too much money :)

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm torn between a vali and a little dot. The thing that is holding me back from pulling the trigger on a vali is the fact that I can start changing tubes on the little dot to further my experience in this hobby. What do you guys think?
post #15 of 19
Tube-rolling is a fun experience. But for the first amp i think you dont need to roll anything. you may think rolling and it sounds complete difference and u have a new amp everyday right ? Belive or not, it is just for fun in few day. After that u will end up listen to oneset tube because....u are tired of swap em.

And tube-roller is for the mid-high price amp, i dont think roll at the entry levelamp is recommended. So the stock one should be fine.

Hope it will help.
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