Do Tube amps give "tube" sound - and rec for SR225is
Nov 17, 2012 at 10:21 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

GreggD

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Hi all.  I am somewhat of a newbie.  Here’s my questions.  Hope you can help.
 
I grew up in the 70’s.  I remember my father had a tube amped stereo he built in the 60’s.  Great mellow sound.  In my teens I acquired my own hi-fi equipment.   Of course, everything was solid state.  I remember my first set of separates.  It played louder, with deeper bass - but just didn’t sound as pleasant as the old tube amp. 
 
I am not about to jump into tube amps for my home theater set up, but I’d like to try to regain that mellow smooth sound from a tube headphone amp. 
 
My present headphones are Grado SR225i’s (32 ohm) and Sennheiser HD280 Pros’ (64 ohm) that I use with a Total Airhead portable amp and an iphone (256 or Apple Lossless rips).  I prefer listening to the Grado’s, but I need closed backs when listening in bed so as not to disturb my wife. 
 
While I’d like an amp that will work with both, and possibly with future acquisitions (Senn 6xx or AKG 701/2), I am primarily concerned with compatibility with the Grados.
 
I have narrowed my choices to the following 5 amps. 
 
Little Dot 1+
Little Dot MKiii
Bellari Ha540
Aune T1
Fournier HTA ½
 
My first choice was the Little Dot MKiii.  I have read posts, however, that call into question its ability to meet the current demands of the Grados (and possible AKGs in future).
 
An easy way to solve the issue may be with a hybrid amp - thus the Little Dot 1+ and Fournier. 
 
First and foremost - Will a tube headphone amplifier produce the old “tube” sound I remember so fondly?
 
I hope the answer is yes. 
 
If yes, secondly - will a hybrid tube headphone amplifier produce the old “tube” sound I remember so fondly?
 
Assuming yes - I’d appreciate any comments or recommendations regarding the above amps. 
 
One last question - posts, reviews and advertising seem to indicate the Bellari Ha540 and maybe the Aune T1 work well with Grados.  Is there reason to doubt these single tube units can adequately power the Grados?  Do more tubes (mkiii) mean more power?
 
Thanks for your help.
 
Gregg D
 
Nov 18, 2012 at 1:32 AM Post #2 of 4

Argo Duck

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Of the options you list, I know only the LD1+. A lively, dynamic sound with a lot of sparkle in the upper mids resulted for my Grado RS1. Not mellow however.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 5:04 PM Post #3 of 4

toschek

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Yes, you will get the tube sound with any of these.   I am only personally familiar with the Aune T1 of the ones in the list, but it is a solid performer with a low cost of entry.   I would suggest one of the ECC88 versions on ebay if you want it to be relatively complete out of the box, or get the cheapest one if you plan to play around with tube rolling.
 
I have tested with closed and open back headphones but no IEMs, so I can't say how well it does with those.   I do not like IEMs, they give me ear infections, so you will have to ask other people what they think.
 
The Aune T1 discussion can be found here - http://www.head-fi.org/t/633006/aune-t1-usb-tube-dac-amp-discussion-thread
 

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