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Consensus on <$500 amp with RS1 synergy?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by jerikl, Apr 11, 2011.
  1. jerikl
    It seems that if you're willing to spend around ~$700-900, the MAD Ear+ gets the vote almost every time. But what about less than $500, and preferably less than $400? What amp, preferably tube-based, synergizes well with the Grado RS1 headphones?
    On a sidenote, I'm finally getting around to upgrading my iBasso D1 / SR225 combination, which has been absolutely amazing. The setup really came together after hiflight's recommendation of the LT6234 / AD746 / LMH6643 opamp combination. Very smooth, warm, tube-like sound and improves the soundstage of the SR225s considerably.
    I also have an iBasso D10 with the topkit, and I'm actually not as impressed with it as much as I am the D1. It just doesn't have the musicality that the D1/SR225 combo has. I threw my friend's RS1s in the mix, trying to decide between the D1 and the D10, and it became even more confusing. The RS1s are definitely better, but I think I almost preferred the D1/SR225 combination more than the D1/RS1 combo, and maybe even the D10/RS1 combo. Just more musical. The opamps in the D1 throw a wide soundstage that really helps the SR225s, but becomes TOO wide with the RS1s. The D10/RS1 combo was better in most cases. I was only able to listen casually for 20-30 minutes, and I didn't take notes so this is just off the top of my head two weeks later.
    I've come across the HiFiMan EF2, Millett Hybrid, Little Dot I+, and maybe a few others that I can't think of right now. But what synergizes well with the RS1s? Bonus if it has a DAC, but I'll probably use the D10 as a DAC otherwise.
  2. Uncle Erik Contributor
    Grados need a low output impedance from an amp. That's tough to find with tubes unless you have output transformers. Good output transformers start around $200 a pair and you don't want the cheap ones.

    If you have to have tubes, you might want to consider a tube hybrid amp. Some will give you a nice, low output impedance. Otherwise, think about a good solid state amp in that price range. It's hard to go wrong with a nice Dynalo.
  3. jerikl
    Thanks Uncle Erik! I was thinking a tube hybrid would be the answer for <$500, but forgot to mention hybrids in the original post. I've heard great things about Grados paired with the DynaLo. I'm up for some DIY, but I'd probably need a guide similar to Tangent's CMOY guide to actually finish the build. A printed circuit board would certainly help. But what are some of the commercial builders who use the design?
  4. wae5

    I listen to my RS1is powered by the Little Dot MKIV SE amplifier & I'm extremely pleased with this combination. This amp costs about $440 delivered to the US. I believe Uncle Eric thinks this combination has impedance matching problems but it will work well enough for me until upgraditous strikes again.
  5. Happy Camper
    Millet Hybrids
    Pico Slim
    Grado RA-1
  6. tme110
    wait for a used MAD

  7. jerikl
    So it seems there's not a consensus on a lower priced amp for Grados.
    I have a HiFiMan EF2 on the way -- gonna do some tests between the D1 / D10 / EF2 with the RS1, keeping whichever I like the best, and selling the rest. If it turns out to be the D1 or D10, I'll either be doing some DIY or saving up for the MAD Ear+.

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