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Best tube amp for LCD-3

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by hmorneau, Sep 27, 2014.
  1. hmorneau
    I just got the LCD-3 that I'm running off the Vali at the moment, it sound great, but what is the best tube amp or SS for the LCD-3 I should buy?
    I like to listen to classic, jazz, vocal mostly. 
    At the store I had the opportunity to try the Woo 6, but I felt that the bass was a bit uncontrolled.
    My DAC is the W4S DAC2
    little dot mk vi + would be the best, it can do something like 5-6w into 120ohms it will absolutely light up the lcd-3
    its also reasonable price at $800 compared to other high end balanced tube amps
  3. davehg
    I tried several tube and solid state amps that I felt were a great match with the Audeze LCD3.
    First was the Luxman, both the DA-200 and the P1
    Second was the Woo WA22.
    Third was the Woo 6SE, with the upgraded Sophia Princess rectifier tube, which should be mandatory form this amp.
    Last was the Burton Conductor.
    I'd be happy with any of them, but choose the 6SE for cost.
  4. fabio-fi
    The LCD3's will be fine running out with the Burson Soloist (in the SS category) 
  5. hmorneau
    What about the Cavalli Liquid Fire? Is it any good?
  6. fabio-fi
    Isn't the Liquid fire a discontinued amp? 
  7. Argo Duck
    Here's a plug for the Decware Taboo, especially the mark II (because it's the one I own and haven't heard the mk III).

    Originally a speaker-only amp it's a simple tube design - one rectifier, one driver and two power tubes. It's very responsive to tube-rolling, with the largest effects coming from changing rectifier and driver. Different rectifier classes set different voltage points which make the amp more analytical (crudely, 'SS'-like) or forgiving as the case may be. In combination with the driver I've found it can be made neutral/transparent (my preference) or more "tubey" as one likes.

    I run my LCD3F and LCD2r1 balanced off the speaker taps, which sounds better than the provided SE hp out. The mark III provides both SE and balanced hp outs.

    I haven't heard other serious tube rivals such as Eddie Current, Cavalli, Woo etc. However, it handily outperforms mid-range SS amps I'm familiar with such as the Violectric V100 and Meier Concerto and Classic. Key differences I found are micro and macrodynamics which provide detail and "liveliness" these other amps generally lack. Bass is tight and it's attack can be eye-blinking when it's there in the recording. With a good supporting DAC all the fine ambient information is there too...

    (Note: Meier Classic though it is less lively does provide very precise layering which (edit) the 3F particularly benefits from and which I don't think the Taboo quite matches).
  8. hmorneau
    Thanks for the recommendation, but I think I might go with the woo WA22 since it's fully balanced (balanced input as well and my dac have the balance output). I don't know if it makes a big difference.
  9. Argo Duck
    I don't know if fully balanced makes a difference either, not having experienced it yet.

    FWIW (and as I mentioned) the Taboo II's balanced output (from the speaker taps) is better than the SE hp jack, although the Taboo's SE out was also better than the other amps I listed (and some others such as LD 1+, Meier Opera). If balanced in makes a difference too then going fully balanced makes sense. It certainly cannot be worse!
  10. jhljhl
    How much better is the speaker tap from Taboo MkII than from the SE output for the LCD-3 etc.?
  11. Argo Duck
    How much? As always YMMV.

    The qualitative differences were (past tense as I haven't compared again since my first pseudo-A/B): less smooth (more prominent upper mids); seemingly faster transients/more attack (may be effect of upper mids; changed apparent frequency balance). Subtle, but enough for me to find it unpleasant at first. Too "hot".

    After a few hours listening I began to prefer it. I could "hear" more. I dislike the phrase "a veil was removed" - it's overused and possibly it often means "sounds different" - but it was a bit like that.

    By a day or two later I couldn't go back to the SE output. This is consistent with Steve Deckert's comments in the last two years that how he implemented the SE jack on the Taboo was a mistake; one I understand he rectified with the mk III.

    I did make one change: the driver tube. Interestingly, a humble NOS Tung Sol 12AU7A made it just right to my ears. I've used this tube for the last year but (changing hearing or whatever) am sensing the need to roll again soon.
  12. Argo Duck
    ^ However, adding to the above...

    When I made the change I had the LCD2r1. Just now I went back and compared (unsystematically - didn't level with pink noise). With the LCD3F the taps have a slightly colder, more sterile, distant focus than with the hp jack. With the jack there is more intimacy, particularly noticeable with vocals.

    I'd have to do a lot more comparison (only used two tracks) but with the above-mentioned Tung Sol, a Tung Sol 5Y3GT rectifier and stock power tubes the 3F may be happier with the jack!

    As is often the case around here, it all depends what 'sound' you're after.
  13. thisisvv
    Just bought a LCD 3F ...i have  ray samules Raptor......any suggestion if this is a good combination...
  14. hmorneau
    If you own both, the best way is to try it.
    I had the SPL Auditor and I was so sure it wouldn't be a nice match (because the SPL is made for high impedance headphone >300ohms according to some). But so far I love it with my LCD-3F, they sound very nice, no sibilance, lot of deep bass, nice sound even at very low volume (I listen to my LCD-3F at a much lower volume then my T1, I'm talking about dB, not referring to the volume knob). So try it and see.
    I was driving my LCD-3F with the Vali at first, and I did not like them, so it's true they are not good with everything. I start to agree with some who say that the LCD-3F really shine on SS amp. I'm considering buying the GS-X MK2 in the future instead of getting into the tube stuff. I think the most important thing is to check how many watts your amps deliver at 110ohms. The Auditor deliver 1,3watts (which is more then I expected) while the vali only around 500mW 350-400mW.
  15. Sonic Guild

    Did u find the best tube amp for the LCD3?
    Did u get the Wa22? How is it with the LCD3? What about noise level? 

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