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I'm willing to bet it is nothing special inside. Either driven by low voltage mosfets or opamp's.
Op-amps, interchangeable though.
I will post pics of the inside when i receive it
Got the Bravo V2 in last week and am surprised at how good it is! Thought it would be some cheap toy and sound bad or just decent, but it's far better than the price would make it seem.
I even liked it with the stock tube which is said to be terrible. I don't agree with that really.
With the stock tube there was definitely a little extra warmth but I'm surprised it didn't ruin anything else. Low mids were a little more forward than usual when I tried it with the Modi. The best results with stock tube were with a docked Ipod Touch 2G which I find neutral and a bit cold sounding with no warmth that I can detect. It's much different in tone than my old Ipod with a Wolfson DAC.
I wasn't sure which tube upgrade to order and NOS or more expensive tubes were NOT an option (I can't use Ebay). After some research I went with the JJ ECC802 with gold pins. Cost was about $24. It actually sounds less thick in the mids (OK!), but overall more neutral. Not as "fun" sounding but it sounds more like a solid state type sound (sort of like my Micro Amp). If you say i'm hearing things that's OK!
BTW on the first hours with the new tube I had a thin/harsh/tinny sound with my Q701. I cleaned out my ears and it went away. Pretty funny and BIZARRE. It was either my ears had wax in them, burn in (!!) or I was too stressed out.
I've found this $50 "Toy" to sound great with ALL my headphones. HD-650, K400, Q701 and even the 38ohm Koss Pro DJ100.
With the upgraded tube I've not really noticed any major colorations. Of course it has a more natural tone to MY ears than the O2, but I wouldn't say it's too warm.
People are raving about the Vali, but I think this sounds way better. I had the Vali and it only liked my Q701 for whatever reason.
Definitely looking into other tubes that are not too expensive. Perhaps something a little warmer sounding than the ECC802. If anyone has any suggestions..let me know. Unfortunately no ebay and needs to be not too expensive and easy to find.
BTW so far I actually am enjoying this new toy more than I ever did with the Magni and O2. Feels like Christmas.
Also, this thing has TONS of gain. No headphone had to be higher than 5%.
I would recommend the Mullard tubes for smooth, lush sound, thats what i have in my Ocean.
Also my new ocean has a black PCB where as my original had green. Don't know if they tweaked it a little because of possible issues, like the issue i had.
Welcome to the Bravo club We're not a big group, but we like our amps.
It's been my guess that the Bravo design is a copy of something posted on DIY Audio Projects (not to be confused with DIY Audio) some years ago. There are other hybrid amps based on the same basic design. Most of them seem to sound quite good. The Little Bear amps have more of a reputation of being cheaply made, but that's second hand heresay. The garage amps are better quality, but you spend a lot more money for them (the lowest price model is nearly 3x the price of a Bravo V2 - which is now $54 on Amazon).
I also tried a JJ Electronics tube from Amazon. I consider it a waste of money. There are plenty of vintage American tubes available that sound better than the Russian and Chinese crap.
Personally, you can find quite a selection of vintage 12AU7 American and European tubes at Audiotubes.com, based in Illinois. Brent Jesse is a pro. I've purchased from him a couple times. His website has the contact info, and you don't need eBay. I'd read the page at the link above thoroughly before calling him, so you have some idea what you want. He has 12AU7 tubes priced as low as $9 dollars.
You can scroll through the list on Audiotubes,com and pretty much pick what you want based on your budget. If I were going to suggest things, I first refer you to this thread, in which myself and another member review a number of tubes as played on a Bravo. You may also want to read my Budget-Fi comparison involving the Bravo V2, Schiit Magni, Schiit Modi, and Pure i-20.
For the same money you spent on the JJ Electronics tube, you can get one of a variety of old vintage American tubes, GE, RCA, etc. If you want to spend a bit more money, opt for something with long black plates. I personally find the long (e.g. 17mm) black plate tubes to have a very nice, solid sound (particularly the old RCA or Raytheon black plates). If you want to go overboard, you can grab an old Mullard tube like a few of us have done But be forewarned, they are expensive, and probably don't sound best until you mod your Bravo.
Yes, there's also the issue of mods. There are several components which can be changed fairly easily, that are said to have a big improvement. Yes, I've said it a bunch of times, I've got the components to mod mine but I haven't done it yet. My work schedule has been insane since before Christmas. And it's still nuts.
Finally, I will say that one of my favorite combinations of my gear is, the Schiit Modi driving the Bravo V2, into my Beyer DT770 / 250 ohm cans. With a Mullard d-getter tube (yes, I know, the tube cost more than the amp). I can only imagine how good it will sound after modding.
Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I definitely am looking forward to trying out some older tubes, but nothing too expensive.
I was reading up into some of the longer JJ tubes and I found 2-3 other posts from a few on various forums saying they hold up well to the sound of older tubes. Thought they'd be worth a try. I was in a hurry though.
I have this one here:
There was a cheaper JJ electronics ECC82 that might sound a bit worse. Who knows.
This ECC802 is pretty much neutral with a slight touch of warm and sounds really smooth, but yet very detailed and clear. It really is surprising switching between tubes and hearing the differences easily. Not "night and day". It's definitely an upgrade from stock, but more neutral sounding and a little more boring.
I went back to the stock tube and found it nice and fuller sounding and seems to make female vocals sound even better, but it's too pronounced in the low mids and fatigues my ears quickly. I must be one of the few who can get fatigued by low mids. I was using an HD-650 at the time so that was probably why.
I'm guessing there is not going to be any new tubes (not NOS) that are anything all that special.
I was really surprised at how good the HD-650 sounded with this $60 amp. I guess the HD-650 does improve with tubes as they say..despite this being a hybrid. With the stock tube it kind of felt like the HD-650's soundstage increased in size even with the extra warmth.
Also..i'm a HUGE fan of the Modi, but for some strange reason the Bravo V2 sounds best with my docked Ipod Touch 2G(!). I'll figure out why eventually. Maybe the Modi has some warmth that previously never really registered with me. Perhaps it's my USB port crapping up the sound.
Now i'm really wondering what the Schiit Lyr or even the Valhalla sounds like. Maybe when I get more money i'll try out some more tube amps.
Biggest surprise is how this thing manages to sound good with everything I have. I don't even hearing any noise or hiss etc. I guess i'm lucky.
Indeed. The preamp tube in use seems to dictate how much noise I hear. Good tubes don't make noise or hiss. Cheap tubes (like the Electro Harmonix) do.
Well, I know I've read several modern vendors of tube or hybrid amps, are making do with the modern Russian / Chinese tubes. My degree is in computer science, so I don't know if it's possible to design a circuit with the newer tubes in mind, and make some amp sound just as good as it does with a vintage tube. I suppose if that was possible, that certain vintage tubes would not be in demand the way they are, nor cost anywhere near what they seem to bring on eBay. I am sure that sticking with the modern tubes is less expensive. I'm just not convinced that it yields the optimal SQ.
But as we both know, that's subjective. Every combination of components yields a different synergy. I'd really like to mod one of my Bravo's and take it to a local meet, and A-B it with a Vali before I spend money on it. My Bravo has never been microphonic in the way the Vali is. I've rolled a couple tubes that you could hear noise from, if you purposely tapped the tube while playing. But I don't generally do that, and microphony has never been an issue with this amp.
On the contrary, the Bravo invites tube rolling. That or I'm just being somewhat obsessive with the whole tube rolling thing, ha ha. But I quite literally have several dozen tubes of several types (5814, 5963, 6189, in addition to 12AU7) that I like to swap into the amp I keep at work. Very often I just start out my day at work with a different tube, and see how it sounds. Someday I may try to quantify what I'm hearing, but for now it's just fun to listen to how my music changes with different tubes.
I have a cup where I store my "crappy" tubes. In that cup are tubes I don't use for some reason, be it lousy sound or damage. Most were bought in small lots via auction on eBay, but a couple I purchased from Amazon before I knew any better. The list includes:
Electro Harmonix 12AU7 made in Russia (came in a small lot of tubes from eBay), lots of hiss from this one.
JJ Electronics ECC82 made in the former Tesla factory in the Slovak Republic (bought from Amazon), sounds cheap and tinny
The original Shuguang 12AU7 tubes from both amps (very thin sounding tubes, anything is better)
A Tung-Sol 12AU7A that hums badly (the guy who sold it to me on eBay should have thrown it out)
A Raytheon black plate with one bad triode (another bad buy from eBay, should have been thrown away). I even bought a pin straightener to try to fix this one, no luck.
The Tung-Sol that hums was the first purchase I made from eBay last year, to begin my tube rolling exercise. It works, but it's noisy - and I've since purchased much better tubes. I am glad that I did not let it dissuade me from trying something else. So far, the record is 3 bad out of about 3 dozen tubes purchased from eBay, which really isn't so bad. That's a much better record than when I first started to use eBay back in the late 90's (when scamming was far more prevalent).
My next amp will be the Bottlehead Crack. I'd have ordered one already, if it wasn't for my nutty work schedule. I just don't have the time to put one together yet. When things calm down, I will order one. That's kind of why I stuck with the 12AU7 family - I knew I'd be using them for another amp. The really twisted part is that I've also already purchased several power tubes, including two Tung-Sol 5998 tubes ... and I don't own the amp yet. Lol. Oh well.
I guess for me the bottom line is, I've really become a fan of tube and hybrid amps. Someday if I ever hit the Lotto, I want to buy a Decware amp. Now those are just flat out amazing.
802S are not bad, even from JJ or reissue Tesla. The only time I would consider using JJ's is for some sort of triode regulating circuit where it is doing anything other than being in the signal path.
$24 can grab you quite a few vintage tubes.
I would also not consider all Russian and Chinese tubes crap. Premium Psvane and Shuguang tubes from China/Taiwan are better then 95% of the dual triodes out there until you get to the $250 per tube NOS. Only the 6volt Russian pentode or triodes are good. Not so much from the dual triode family, i.e 12*** family. I think I've figured out a way to rewire and redesign some bits of the circuit to take 12BH7's nicely.
Would you be willing to share your circuit mods? I am the curious sort.
Once it's stable I will. Right now it's just playing around.
I had the chance to listen to the Bravo with my turntable this evening and it was fantastic.
I've always listened to it with my computer set up, and because of the amount of gain the amp has, had very little play with the volume knob.
With the analog set up I am able to really push the amp higher and manipulate the volume with my phono stage. The amp sounds really good when you can actually put some volume into it. It was pretty surprising, but I liked it a lot and it sounded pretty close to my Dared Mp-5 ($250 used).
This tiny amps keeps surprising me!
I'm going to try my Ocean as a pre-amp for my speaker setup at some point in the future, should be interesting. Also have the iFi iTube which I will try as a pre-amp too
One thing I keep meaning to try is powering some desktop speakers with the Bravo. With the amount of gain it has, it should be able to do so.