Best Grado tube amp for under $750?
Oct 21, 2008 at 8:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

PuffyElvis

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I've been a ss guy for awhile now and I'd really like to discover the bliss of tubes. My favorite cans are the Grados, although I'm also getting a Victor HP-DX1000 from BlueSundays in a few days so whichever amp is recommended should also be able to drive those well.

I listen to rock, jazz, classical and some very old mono-recordings as well.

Thanks in advance!
 
Oct 21, 2008 at 8:56 PM Post #2 of 17

PuffyElvis

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I should state quickly, that I realize that the Mapletree is a popular choice and its pairing with Grado's praised up and down in the past.

I specifically curious if any of the recent flood of Chinese tube amps that have hit the market also combine effectively with my phones...

Ok, thanks again!
 
Oct 21, 2008 at 11:19 PM Post #3 of 17

sacd lover

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As my first choice, I would look for a used PPX3 SLAM. The SLAM is a great amp with high or low impedance headphones and one of my all-time favorite amps. But, you have to be lucky and grab the amp fast when they come up for sale.

If you can DIY the Bottlehead is another very good amp with Grados.

PPX3 SLAM and Bottlehead ....

IMG_0172.jpg




A used Sound Quest SQ-84 is very good with low impedance headphones and as a bonus is a 10 watt per channel integrated amp. You see these go for as low as $550-600.

Sound Quest SQ-84 ....

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The Millet Starving Student hybrid amps are absolutely excellent with low impedance Grados and very inexpensive. I like the little Millet better than the Mapletree and much better than the stock Woo 6 with my preferred Alessandro MS2i or woodied MS1s. If you want to buy immediately this is my recommendation even though the amp is well under your budget.



Here is a link to a vendor selling Millets ....

Mini Millet DIY Tube Amplifier - Default Store View





Here are my Millets ....



mssh1.jpg




I have a couple Chinese Doge 6210s. But, to be honest, stock I think they suck. I had both of mine heavily modded and they are quite good now. However, the cost of the mods, shipping and waiting is not worth the hassel IMO. The Dark Voice amps have a reasonably good reputation for sound quality but I dont know that they are the best fit with low impedance headphones.

IMG_0085.jpg
 
Oct 21, 2008 at 11:55 PM Post #5 of 17

Uncle Erik

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I'll go with the PPX3 recommendation. I haven't heard the Slam, but I had a regular version that paired nicely with my Grados. I loved that amp, but sold it to fund the Zana. For about $500, they're a great deal used.
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 12:09 AM Post #6 of 17

PuffyElvis

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Those are some beautiful photos SACD lover! Thank you for your recommendations! I checked out the Starving Student and it looks very nice! I'm continuously amazed at the value behind many inexpensive Tube amps.

Also looks like we have several votes for Single Power amps. I recall the long debate of SinglePower v. Mapletree. My initial impression of SinglePower was that their amp options (upgrades) were very over priced and that made me question the value (price v. performace) of the amp itself. There's no questioning their popularity though.
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 1:37 AM Post #7 of 17

sacd lover

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PuffyElvis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Those are some beautiful photos SACD lover! Thank you for your recommendations! I checked out the Starving Student and it looks very nice! I'm continuously amazed at the value behind many inexpensive Tube amps.

Also looks like we have several votes for Single Power amps. I recall the long debate of SinglePower v. Mapletree. My initial impression of SinglePower was that their amp options (upgrades) were very over priced and that made me question the value (price v. performace) of the amp itself. There's no questioning their popularity though.



I have the pure stock PPX3 SLAMs x 2; no upgrades. I owned a Mapletree Ear+ and I thought the stock SLAM was much superior and sold the Mapletree. Dont get me wrong the Mapletree is a nice amp. But, the SLAM is a great amp. There is nothing under $1000, SS or tube, that I prefer to the stock PPX3 SLAM. The stock SLAM was actually an excellent value and used the amp is an even better buy.

For the money the Millet is also a great amp .... for Grado/ Alessandros. I dont like the Millet nearly as well for high impedance headphones. But, for low impedance Grados the Millet is a honey.
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 1:45 AM Post #8 of 17

HeatFan12

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SacdLover, great pics...Nice setup..You need to take some nightshots with all of them on...
biggrin.gif


Quote:

I'm continuously amazed at the value behind many inexpensive Tube amps.


You want value- LD I+, able to use 3 families of tubes with a simple jumper change and it drives low impedance phones beautifully, especially Grados.
 
Dec 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM Post #12 of 17

veloaudio

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Have a pair of RS-1s coming soon. Any more comments on the Singlepower PPX3 or MPX3?
 
Dec 18, 2008 at 8:07 PM Post #13 of 17

frank99

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sacd lover:

How is the bottlehead S.E.X compared with the PPX3 SLAM?

I am looking for a very warm/sweet sounding tube amp, I would love to have the PPX3 but it is a little bit out of my price range. I may go for the DIY, so far I am considering Bottlehead or Bijou ...

Thanks!
 
Dec 18, 2008 at 8:46 PM Post #14 of 17

sacd lover

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Quote:

Originally Posted by frank99 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
sacd lover:

How is the bottlehead S.E.X compared with the PPX3 SLAM?

I am looking for a very warm/sweet sounding tube amp, I would love to have the PPX3 but it is a little bit out of my price range. I may go for the DIY, so far I am considering Bottlehead or Bijou ...

Thanks!



The Bottlehead stock is a warmer/ thicker sounding amp that is not as detailed, dynamic or fast as the PPX3. However, the sound IS musical and non-fatiguing and the amps ample bass power is routinely evident. Mine has a seperate high and low impedance tap off the output transformers switchable with a selector switch .... with 25 ohm resistors vs the 120 ohm resistors in the stock amp on the low impedance headphone output. The high impedance tap has no resistors in front of headphone output and the amp can blow your head off with Grados or Senns.

Of all the amps I have had I like the SPs best. But, I have had a number of other good amps through here and I have kept the Bottlehead and the Sound Quest SQ-84. I prefer the Bottlehead to the Woo 3 or Woo 6, Dark Voice 336SE (I just bought) and much better than the stock Doge 6210s (before modding). I would probably take the Bottlehead over the Mapletree Ear+ too .... because in addition to as good or better low impedance performance the Bottlehead definitely drives high impedances better than the Ear+.
 
Dec 19, 2008 at 8:35 AM Post #15 of 17

kg21

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The mapletree is a great amp and it works well with the grados and many other headphones but the synergy with rs-1 for me wasn't that great. A better way to say it is there is some good synergy between the mapletree and grados like the rs1, but imo the marketing has become greater than the product if that makes sense. I am done with grados but if I still had my rs-1 and I wanted tubes I would probably go for melos if you can find it or woo audio3/woo audio6 whichever fits your budget. Singlepower is pretty much recommended by everyone if u can afford it also.
 

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