I bought my first tube amp! The smsl T2...
Jan 17, 2018 at 9:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

amer123

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Just thought I'd share my thoughts on my newly acquired amp. I've been using a small fiio amp for a while and when I got my new audeze el-8's I wanted something with a little more juice to power it. I decided to try a tube amp and found this cheap one on Amazon.

As for build quality, I liked the aluminum body, and the blue led lit tubes give it a nice accent. The amp takes up very little space on my desk. On the front is a power switch and a volume knob, as well as the input output ports. Though I wish the audio input port would be at the back, to keep one extra wire out of view.

In the sound department I was very impressed that there is no noise even when nothing is playing! No hissing or anything. I really like the warmness it gives to my music, especially in songs with lots of piano. Sound is crisp and fuller.

Next I'm going to look into upgrading the tubes. Can anyone recommend me some?

FJIMG_20180117_205941-01.jpeg
 
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Apr 2, 2019 at 1:53 PM Post #2 of 20

shamu144

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Another user here of the T2 amp. I received mine 3 weeks ago.
This is a really fun little tube amp with I feel great potential for the price. At 60$, it is hard to criticize. I use it on my bedside table, paired with a Sony Xperia compact Z3 (Tidal app with MQA enabled), and yes, dare I, hooked up to my audioquest nightowls.

I see the Nobsound N08SE gets lot's of review here on headfi but I somehow feel this smsl amp is a more mature design (no hissing, ground or noise issue, dead silent) and offers incredible bang for bucks.

I especially like the small form factor and the overall build quality. The delay when turning the amp on is reassuring and works fine. I can hear some microphonic from the tubes when touching the amp but nothing serious. The stock DC plug was for me the weak link with a poor connection quality, and you had to be careful not to touch it or move the amp too much or it would short and turn off the amp. This was solved by the purchase of a much better linear power supply (from China, roughly 60$) which came with a more reliable DC plug. The upgrade of the power supply was IMO well worth the investment as the improvements were obvious and remarkable from the first track.

In this configuration, and still with stock tubes, the results are at least on par with the Schiit Vali 2 I used before (and most likely much better, but I can only compare from memory). It sounds really surprisingly good for this price. I use it with efficient headphones and it does not seem to be a very powerful unit, but for my needs it is simply perfect and a joy to listen, with a great balance of details and warmth.

Since it uses the same tube as the original Nobsound amp, you can find lot's of recommendation on the long dedicated thread of the Nobsound. I already have a pair of Mullard on the way. Anyone else using this little amp here ?
 
Apr 4, 2019 at 9:57 PM Post #3 of 20

Palartemis

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I recently acquired an SMSL T2 , following on from a nice little cheap 6j1 Chinese tube amp (broke my cherry here). Budget a constraint I still wanted best bang for my buck, so google next stop. First amp was great but slightly noisy, the T2 is silent, even when nothing playing, so it was a good move. Google suggested to me that matched pair of Mullard tubes were the best investment, E180F’s, got them this morning, brand spanking new by the looks of things, so not burnt in yet. Been working on that for 8 hours and I have to say they are an improvement on the 6j9’s I replaced, so looking forward to getting more hours on them for a better sound.
 
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Apr 5, 2019 at 7:17 AM Post #4 of 20

shamu144

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Good to see another user around !!
Funny I ordered exactly the same replacement tubes :beerchug:
I will let you know when I receive them.

I am already enjoying a lot the T2 even with stock tubes. Soundstage is much wider than directly through the Xperia phone with a stable, silent background, balanced, liquid and warm sound to my ears.
 
Apr 5, 2019 at 9:41 AM Post #5 of 20

Palartemis

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Good to see another user around !!
Funny I ordered exactly the same replacement tubes :beerchug:
I will let you know when I receive them.

I am already enjoying a lot the T2 even with stock tubes. Soundstage is much wider than directly through the Xperia phone with a stable, silent background, balanced, liquid and warm sound to my ears.
Yes, I was impressed with the improved listening experience with the stock tubes in, but baby steps upgrade path suggested those tubes and so far they seem to be a good move forward.

I was not sure whether I was just easily pleased, but from reading around these amps punch well above their weights and adding a reasonable dac into the loop helped as well. It is good to listen to the same music but enjoy new nuances as you upgrade.
 
Apr 13, 2019 at 4:48 PM Post #6 of 20

shamu144

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I have so far only a few hours with the Mullard and what I can say for now is that they do sound a bit cleaner, with perhaps improved resolution. I am still getting used. I actually miss the dirtier and warmer sound of the stock tubes but the Mullard will stay for some time so that I really get used to them...

As a side note, I feel the tube upgrade has a minor impact on the overall sound (let's say 10 to 20%) compared to the huge improvement with the linear power supply. I would rate it between 50 and 70%. I really encourage anyome with the T2 to try out a decent power supply. It should make a very noticeable difference !
 
Apr 14, 2019 at 12:25 PM Post #7 of 20

Palartemis

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Apr 15, 2019 at 4:01 PM Post #8 of 20

shamu144

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Jul 4, 2019 at 5:21 AM Post #9 of 20

shamu144

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Just an update to say I went back to the original tubes (6J9 J grade), and I definitely prefer them to the Mullard E180F. They provide a bit more warmth and body to the sound, making for a more relaxed experience. The Mullard are more resolving bit also feel a bit dry and analytical in comparison, too "technical". Differences are not huge though but still noticeable. This will also depend a lot of upstream and downstream component. It is always great to be able to tune the sound to your liking with tube rolling !
This little amp is truly outstanding. I do not regret the investment in the power supply, which really brings the best out of it. My set up consist now of an LG G7 thinq paired with Audio technical ath E70. You can see that both components are pretty revealing, and I would dare say that the T2 amp is not bottle neck in this set up. It actually opens the sound compared to the LG G7 thinq. I am enjoying a lot this bedtime set up ! :beerchug:
 
Sep 15, 2019 at 6:48 AM Post #11 of 20

shamu144

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With a bit of care in the implementation, I find it easy to enjoy this amp. Currently back on the mullard.
As a bedside set up, having the 3.5 jacks on the front makes it sooo convenient. For fixed desktop use, I would prefer rca in the back though...
The amp seems to be running without gain so please make sure your source line out is not too weak or you will run out of power.
 
Sep 16, 2019 at 4:38 AM Post #13 of 20

shamu144

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Since this is an hybrid tube amp I agree swapping tubes has not made a big difference, yet the differences remained audible. To my ears at least it seems that the tubes are providing some character compared to pure SS offerings and this is exactly why I like this little amp: reliable like a pure SS amp with a hint of this tube sound for fun and easy listening.

This is what I picked up from an amazon review, not sure if that is correct though: have tube extenders and an oscilloscope so I was able to verify that there is audio on the cathode (pin 1 / K) and the grid (pin 2 / G1) using the pinouts for the E180F. There is no signal on the plate, just 12 VDC. Since there is no audio on the plate, the tube can only be configured as a cathode follower. I confirmed that it does run at slightly less than unity gain, and that is consistent with a cathode follower. https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-...ef=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B06XYJB7S8

 
Nov 23, 2019 at 12:29 PM Post #14 of 20

shamu144

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I continue having fun as it occurred to me to use the T2 as a kind of "tube preamp" between the LG G7 and my new Graham Slee Voyager.

I honestly can't hear any degradation or distorsion of sound even when using the T2 full scale without attenuation.

Of course the Voyager is miles ahead of the T2 as a pure headphone amp. It packs punch, drive and rythm that the T2 alone can't match. The bass drive of the Voyager is nothing short of amazing. Something I don't even remember out of the AudioGD NFB28 when paired to my Nightowls.

And the 2 get along very well !
I even can use the same linear power supply which can feed both the T2 and Voyager at the same time (both 12V DC). Very neat.
 
Nov 23, 2019 at 3:04 PM Post #15 of 20

340519

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Just thought I'd share my thoughts on my newly acquired amp. I've been using a small fiio amp for a while and when I got my new audeze el-8's I wanted something with a little more juice to power it. I decided to try a tube amp and found this cheap one on Amazon.

As for build quality, I liked the aluminum body, and the blue led lit tubes give it a nice accent. The amp takes up very little space on my desk. On the front is a power switch and a volume knob, as well as the input output ports. Though I wish the audio input port would be at the back, to keep one extra wire out of view.

In the sound department I was very impressed that there is no noise even when nothing is playing! No hissing or anything. I really like the warmness it gives to my music, especially in songs with lots of piano. Sound is crisp and fuller.

Next I'm going to look into upgrading the tubes. Can anyone recommend me some?

I'm excited as well! This week I bought my first tube headphone amplifier, the Icon Audio HP8 MKII, and it is superb. Loving the tube sound! Congrats to you on you purchase!
 

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