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Bravo Audio - funny looking little tube amps

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by ear8dmg, Sep 9, 2009.
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  1. MPBateman
    Looks a little advanced for me, over my budget as well, looks like a cool build so I'll file it away. Thank for the recommendation!
  2. Mshenay
    Guys the bravo and other like amps are one thing
    Intro Hybrid Tubes, they are purely introductory tubes imo. They are dirt cheap so if you screw it up modding or what ever it's not a big deal. As some one said before you can learn a lot having one of these. I like the Indeed G3 over the Bravo, and ethier way despite selling mine having it got me into cheap hybrid amps. SO my millet which I still own is soon approaching a RCA swap, the current ones are pretty shifty and soon enough I'll have new ones in there! 
  3. UmustBKidn
    ... are you a salesman for these guys or something? Just wondering why you hang out in the Bravo thread and keep trashing them.
  4. UmustBKidn
    Sorry no, but you can bid on them on eBay. Someone sells one every 2 or 3 days, and they invariably go for less than or equal to the cost from Amazon. Only issue there is the wait: they ship on a slow boat from China. Probably not so quick on service or returns either. Honestly, $70 bucks on Amazon is pretty darn good. I'm not sure you'd beat that even if you could put one together from parts.
  5. DefQon
    The Bravo/Indeed/Sunrise circuit design is a basic class a 12AU7 one that's been around for quite a while and lot's of them online pretty much like Cmoy's for opamp based circuits. Builders just tink around with the circuit add and substitute stuff but in the end it ain't no mid-fi level amp, but a good way to get your feet wet with tubes.
  6. UmustBKidn
    So I've been flipping my setups around just to play with things. I'm the curious sort I guess. I decided to tinker with this Pure i-20 a bit more, and it's probably been too long for me to return it. Anyway... the "normal" setups I have for home and work go something like this:
    Work: iPod -> (Pure i-20 DAC) -> Bravo V2 -> Sony MDR 7506
    Home: Laptop -> Schiit Modi -> Schiit Magni -> Beyerdynamic DT770/250
    The setups sound different, but both sound good. The Pure i-20 is the newest addition; it is BRIGHT. Maybe even harsh. I am finding out I can't turn the volume up a lot, or I need to take it out of line and run the iPod directly into the Bravo. Aside from the brightness, it is bringing some unexpected clarity to what I keep calling my "cheap" work setup. Anyway, so I decided to do some tube rolling, and switch this around. Since I can't tube roll at work, I brought the Bravo home and changed the home setup to this:
    Home: Laptop -> Schiit Modi -> Bravo V2 -> Beyerdynamic DT770/250
    The bottom end on the Beyers went away with this setup. That was a little surprising, given how much headroom the Bravo's volume knob usually has. I presume this was an impedance thing, so I switched out the headphones to the work cans:
    Home: Laptop -> Schiit Modi -> Bravo V2 -> Sony MDR 7506
    This brought the bottom end back. I was also a little shocked that the Sony's were sounding better than the Beyers on this setup. The MDR 7506's have an impedance of 63 ohms, which seems to work a lot better than the 250-ohm Beyers (and I'm now also kind of curious how 32 ohm cans would sound, but I digress).
    So now that I had my tube rolling setup determined, I started a-rollin'. And a rollin, lol. I'm sure someone will laugh at me for blowing a pile of money on 12AU7 tubes to roll a Bravo V2, but there you go. As I mentioned earlier in another post, my family life has been going whacky for the last month or so, so I guess I really needed a distraction from the grief. Besides, it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. But I digress again. I'll discuss the tubes in a moment.
    So because I didn't want to keep carting around my tube rolling setup, I decided to take the other parts to work. So my work setup temporarily turned into this:
    Work: iPod -> Schiit Magni -> Beyerdynamic DT770/250
    Now, this was a real shocker: the Beyerdynamic cans sounded just as bad as when I was trying to drive them with the Bravo V2. For some reason, the Magni was no longer driving them properly. Ok, the Magni was being driven by an iPod, but can the DAC in an iPod really be that bad? I guess it is. I did not try the Pure i-20 on this setup. I suppose I should have, but I had it parked and out of the way for the moment. Someday curiosity may get the best of me, but I didn't go there for now. Suffice it to say that for a few moments, I resurrected my Sony MDR NC-40's and ran them with the iPod. Then I remembered why that was a bad idea. So this work setup didn't last long. I briefly flirted with the idea of buying another set of cans. Bleh, not now. Spent too much on tubes for now.
    So back to the tubes. My music selection is probably smaller than others. But I have some nice selections, and I decided on a selection of tunes that I am now calling my Test Music. The primary selections from the library I use the most (song names eliminated for space):
    - Apple Lossless -
    Andreas Vollenweider: Book of Roses
    Pat Metheney: One Quiet Night
    Peter Gabriel: So
    - Apple 256 Kbps AAC -
    Korn: Untouchables
    Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (Live At O2 Arena, London)
    Lindsey Stirling: Lindsey Stirling
    Seether: Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces
    Seether: Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
    The 12AU7 tubes I've tried:
    GE 5 star 5963 (mil spec 12AU7)
    Telefunken x 2 (long grey plate)
    Tung Sol x 2 (long grey plate)
    Westinghouse clear top (long grey plate)
    Westinghouse yellow label (long grey plate)
    IEC Mullard (I think this was a short grey plate)
    Amperex Mullard (long grey plate)
    Conn rebranded, not sure what the original is (long black plate)
    Sylvania green label (mid size grey plate)
    Sylvania yellow label (long grey plate)
    GE white label (short grey plate)
    Olympio tv tube (long grey plate)
    Baldwin organ tube (rebranded Sylvania, long grey plate)
    JJ Electronics new, not NOS, from Amazon.com (short grey plate)
    Electro harmonix new, not NOS (short grey plate)
    ...and of course the original chinese tube
    (and I still have a few more to test including a couple of the better Mullards)
    I'm not going to torture you with a blow by blow description. I think it's probably more important to point out the lessons learned:
    1) Unless you need a distraction like I did, it's probably not worth spending this much money to tube roll a Bravo V2.
    2) The newly made tubes from JJ Electronics, Electro Harmonix, and the stock chinese tubes really do suck. Not by a whole lot, but it is a noticeable difference. I would sooner throw them in the trash then listen to them. I would only use them if they were the last tubes on Earth.
    3) Long grey plates sound better than the short grey plates. Brand doesn't matter.
    4) Black plates of any length, seem to sound as good as the long grey plates. Brand doesn't matter.
    5) Sometimes people sell tubes on eBay because they are worn out. The first Tung sol tube I bought that really got me going on this, had a background hum that has never gone away. I am now assuming this is because the tube is worn out or defective in some manner, and the jerk who sold it to me on eBay really should have thrown the damn thing away. Instead, he made $12 bucks and screwed me. The second Tung Sol tube I tried did not exhibit any hum. I've heard a little hum from one or two of these tubes, but nothing too bad.
    6) Telefunken tubes really are nicely balanced and pretty sounding, especially with music like Andreas Vollenweider. Even on a Bravo V2. But I find that I actually prefer other tubes, unless I'm listening to a particular type of music. Don't spend the money on them unless you really know you need to, or you get a good deal.
    7) Newer Mullards like the IEC Mullard I tried, aren't worth spending a bunch of money on. Don't bother.
    8) Tubes newer than the 1960's should be avoided if at all possible.
    9) Rebranded tubes sometimes sound pretty good, but sometimes they don't. Examples: The Conn tube sounds pretty damn nice, but the Baldwin/Sylvania is leaning more towards the quality of the new JJ electronics crap. Don't spend a ton of money on rebranded tubes.
    10) The mil spec 5963 tubes sound damn nice with gritty rock and roll like Seether. I'm really liking the GE 5-star 5963 tubes I found (got a pair for cheap).
    So for now things are back to where they started, and I'm back to using the Pure i-20 at work. It is bright, but it brings a certain quality to the music stored on the iPod that I am finding that I like. I just have to remember not to crank it up very high. The side effect of this is that when I get home, my Magni+Modi stack on my Beyer cans sounds a little flat. Not tubey at all. I am now kind of disappointed in this development. I am also wondering if I'm just turning into a tube guy, and maybe I need to get a Valhalla+Bifrost for home instead, LOL.
    I guess once you roll tubes, you don't go back? [​IMG]
  7. techboy
    Can anybody tell me the most mid centric tube with forward mids for ocean? Should be much more forward in mids than the stock tube. Model? Make? Price? Where to buy?
  8. Mshenay
    The Dac does not have suficent power to drive cans, they never do UNLESS they have an amp built in them. Secondly you can't run an iPod trough a dac, the data is already run through the iPods in house DAC, even Line out runs the music through a DAC, so I don't know what the DAC does with the audio your send to it but the dac isn;t doing anything for an iPod. 
    I could be wrong though, but there are some REALLY expesnive iPod and Droid Dac's out there, and those may be for Phones not so much DAPs like the iPod so yea Don'Ta dac doesn't increase the signal strength or add any aditional power to it. I think it only converts the 0s and 1's into an acutal audio phile, it does add color to the music how ever... but not power I don't think anways...,silly <3. They need an amp to Amplify the power. People as I said b4, the Bravo and the Indeed are DIRT CHEAP, those iGrage things are not :D honestly I'd only buy a used Bravo ir Indeed g3, as for the $100 price tag you can get better used Tube amps, BUT if you must have NEW the Brave and Indeed have the BEST BANG for buck I've experinced. so AGAIN, if ur on a SUPER extreme budget they are kings 
    Those iGarages thing's are not worth the money imo [but then again i don't mind buying used amps and dacs and cans an stuff <3] 
  9. Evshrug
    The Pure i-20 actually IS one of the devices that can extract the digital audio out from an iDevice, one of the least expensive. I don't know how great the internal DAC is, but it also includes a TOSLINK digital output if you want to connect to another DAC that way. Cheaper than buying a HT receiver with a USB input option. I wonder if they're making a lightning-connector version for all the new iDevices?

    I heard rumors that, with an iPad, you can use the USB camera connector dongle to attach an external DAC.
  10. blueangel2323
    You should be comparing the Pure i-20 using the same amp. Could you please compare: Pure i-20 -> Magni vs. Modi -> Magni, and
    Pure i-20 -> Bravo vs. Modi -> Bravo
    I would be very curious to know too. Thanks!
    It's too bad that your DACs have no S/PDIF input, otherwise you could use the Pure i-20's digital output.
  11. UmustBKidn

    Hi M,
    There are indeed a few DAC's built explicitly for the purpose of bypassing the internal DAC of an iPod (and hopefully providing something better). There just aren't many cheap ones. I am aware that DAC's do not themselves drive headphones (sorry if that didn't come across properly). What I was looking for was a way to bypass the internal iPod DAC. It is possible. There just aren't a lot of devices that do this, and most of them are pricey. I agree with you though, it seems like the majority of these devices are marketed towards iPhones. But those are just a whole lot like an iPod touch with a phone in it.
    Is it kind of silly to spend money on budget hi-fi? Perhaps. In my situation at work, I don't have a lot of choice - I have to have a standalone setup. No touching the computers. So the choices are limited, if one wants better fidelity. The price tag is only an issue because these devices get left on my desk or in an unlocked drawer. If someone walks off with them, I won't be heartbroken. Feel free to chuckle at me for tube rolling a Bravo V2 :wink: It's ok, I'm laughing with you lol.
    The devices I considered purchasing were:
    Pure i-20, $92 on Amazon
    Nuforce Icon Ido, $150
    HRT iStreamer, $225 on Amazon
    There was another one that DefQon suggested, a few pages back, but I forget the name now. There are a few others in the $200-300 range.
    Then there's this crazy expensive thing, $850 bucks LOL I guess it's not available in the US? It's way over priced.
    The Cypher Labs AlgoRythmn Solo
    Way over the top for me. I'd never spend that kind of money on such a device, and I don't know anyone dumb enough to.
  12. UmustBKidn
    Hi Blue,
    Good point. I didn't go down that road, but I am now curious too. One of my goals, which I didn't discuss, was to find a tube that would dampen the brightness of the Pure i-20. I was pleasantly surprised when most of the NOS tubes had this effect. The only ones that really didn't were a couple of the rebranded tubes, and the new manufacture tubes: JJ Electronics, the Electro Harmonix, and the stock Bravo tube. The stock Bravo tube, in particular, was REALLY screechy with the Pure i-20 in line. I almost threw the tube away when I heard that. I still might, haha. People don't seem to throw tubes away that they don't like - they put them on eBay. I'm not going to screw anyone like that. I'll just toss them at some point.
    What would you think about choosing perhaps one to three of the best tubes (say, a Tele, a Mullard, and my current fave, the GE 5963), and running the comparison you suggest?
    Also, of the test music selection I mentioned, which would you suggest? Or do you have another suggestion you'd like me to try?
    Thanks, now I'm excited, I have a new quest, haha [​IMG]
  13. Mshenay
    Oh that's cool. Silly me lol. Last time I had an iPod no such device was on the market. Still that's good to know. Non the less, hook ur Dac to an amp always. In addition I guess it's neat that the i-20 can send data to yet another Dac lol, seems like by that point ur better off just using ur pc and a standard dac instead of havin 2 other pieces of hardware in the mix to pay for xD 
  14. Judge Buff

    UMBK, great shot! You must have sunk him, because there isn't even an oil slick left...
  15. mvrk10256
    Snagged a holland bugle boy tube from ebay for cheap. Sounds really good. Much richer and brighter than even the Mallard.
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