Shange SG200 Tube Headphone Amp/DAC

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. JoeDoe
    4.5/5,
    "Big punch in small package."
    Pros - Loads of power, small footprint, simple design, 1/4" and 1/8" output, tube rollable, clean sound
    Cons - Tube rolling is a PITA, all Chinese literature
    I took a chance on this amp after selling my Aune T1. Found it on eBay and was unable to find any other literature describing it outside of the eBay description.
     
    As far the unit performs as a whole, I'm mostly impressed. It powers my HD650s easily (never have to turn past 9 or 10 oclock). The sound is clean and authoritative without being overly aggressive or bright. It certainly fills out the body of my woodied SR225i's. Compared to the T1 (which I haven't had for more than a month), the SG200 certainly has more power. Also, I distinctly remember comparing the T1 to my Magni/Modi stack and thinking how similar they sounded. Similarly on the bright side. Not the case here. I'd say the SG200 is perhaps a touch warm of neutral? Just a touch. Still very clear and musical. 
     
    The SG is also different from the T1 in that it is a tube amp with DAC as opposed to a tube DAC with amp circuit. I'm not very educated when it comes to the technical expectations of such things, but it seems like maybe tube rolling with a tube amp would color the sound more than tube rolling the DAC portion? Correct me if I'm wrong. 
     
    In that vein, it has responded well to tube rolling! It takes any tube from the 12AT7 family. I've been alternating between Amperex Orange PQ, Sylvania GTE, and Psvane TII that was included with purchase. 
     
    Granted the differences are not huge, here are some thoughts:
     
    Amperex
    Very warm and a little mid-centric. Most fluid presentation. Sounds best with rock, jazz, and a lot of my classical music. Doesn't give the most separation or extreme hi/low frequencies, but its a solid all-rounder.
     
    Sylvania
    Probably my favorite. It has a V shaped presentation to me. Good bass impact and nicely extended highs. Soundstage and separation is best with this tube. Not as smooth as Amperex but that's not to say that it's unpleasant by any stretch.
     
    Psvane
    This was advertised as an upgrade tube just like the 6922 for the T1. It sounds more like the Sylvania just... less. Almost like a diet version. Slightly less separation. Less extended in the low and high end. If I wasn't interested in trying other tubes, I probably wouldn't see anything needing improvement with this guy.
     
    The only qualm I have with the amp (other than 100% of the literature being in Chinese) is that tube rolling is a PITA! I had to remove screws on both front and back faceplate just to remove the plexiglass cover to reach the tube. Even though upgrading/rolling tubes is advertised as a plus for this product, the practicality of doing so certainly wasn't achieved. Its doable - as long as you REALLY want to do it.
     
    Otherwise this guy has been a nice little addition to the small desktop setup. Its easy to use: just plug and go. Has  1/4" and 1/8" plugs, smooth volume knob, RCA in/out and a DAC only function if you want it.