Looking for ~$300 tube amp for Grados
Jul 22, 2011 at 6:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

LepakVT

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Just got a pair of SR325is for my aggressive rock preference of music.
 
I'm currently using a FiiO E7+E9 combo. I always hear that Grados with tubes is a great combo, so I'm looking in that direction.
 
I'm not quite an expert in the DAC subject area, but if the E7 isn't a terrible slouch, I'd be fine using the E7/E9 as the DAC section to feed the signal into a new tube amp. However, if the E7 is a slouch, I wouldn't be opposed to getting a USB DAC/amp combo.

I've been looking at the LD I+ but I feel like there could be something better in the price range I'm looking at. And there's the EF2a, but I don't necessarily need the DAC section of that. Thanks for any help 
 
Jul 23, 2011 at 7:30 AM Post #2 of 16

punkaroo

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Find a used Millet. Lots of tube rolling options.
 
Jul 23, 2011 at 5:15 PM Post #4 of 16

fnzeee

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Amazon has the Rolls made Bellari HA540 tube amp for $299, free shipping.  Incredibly clean sound and both low and high level inputs.  I own one and very much love it!
 
Steve
 
Jul 23, 2011 at 10:07 PM Post #6 of 16

iamthecheese

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Quote:
Wow i think you guys forgot, the well known Lyr.

Lyr is 450 new and 400 used still?
 
I'd second finding a used millet minimax or max.
 
 
 
Jul 23, 2011 at 10:14 PM Post #7 of 16

Mochan

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I heard the Lyr is a bad match for low impedance cans. Grados are low impedance. So I'd be wary of recommending it for the SR325.
 
Jul 23, 2011 at 10:51 PM Post #8 of 16

LepakVT

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I found a Millett Hybid MiniMax on eBay for $150 tonight and it was in great condition from a seller with perfect feedback and good communication, so I snatched it up! Thanks for the recommendations
 
It also will come with 2 sets of 12AE6 and 1 set of 12FM6. Are those tubes good? Any suggestions for other tubes to pick up for tube rolling? I'm starting to search for old threads now.
 
Jul 24, 2011 at 1:43 AM Post #9 of 16

jerikl

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The Millett MiniMAX is a terrific amp, especially if you were able to pick it up for $150. That's a steal!
 
I've been comparing a MiniMAX, Schiit Asgard, and a MAD Ear+ for the last couple weeks (been in the process of upgrading my system for the last couple months -- even had an EF2a a few months ago too).
 
The Asgard is great for the price, but the MAD Ear+ beats it in every area, except maybe build quality. I bought the Ear+ used and it arrived broken, so maybe I have a little bias there. The MiniMAX is a different animal altogether.
 
I actually like some aspects of the MiniMAX better than the Ear+. It definitely brings out a lot more detail than the Asgard or Ear+, but it just doesn't have the tubey warmth of the Ear+. I like the warmth -- find it more fun of a listen.
 
Tubes seem to play a huge part in the sound of the amp for the MiniMAX. The pair that came with it (bought it built, used), RCA 12FK6 were waaaay too bright to listen to with Grado SR-225s. I ordered another pair from Beezar, Tung Sol 12FM6, and these pair great with Grados (both SR-225 and RS-2). I still find the amp maybe a bit too bright for use with Grados. I thought it sounded fantastic with Sennheisers, but I bet a good OTL amp like the Bottlehead might be a better match. And even though the MAD Ear+ was supposedly voiced for Senn 600s, I didn't like the combination.
 
So in the end, I believe I'll be keeping the MAD Ear+ and getting rid of the MiniMAX and Asgard. Especially with the ability to upgrade the Ear+ to an Ear+ HD where things apparently get even better. I'd like to keep the Asgard as it will eventually match so nicely with the Bifrost I have on order, but ... gotta go with what sounds best I suppose, and I have no need for multiple amps :)
 
 
 
Jul 24, 2011 at 9:50 AM Post #10 of 16

sacd lover

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I have ownerd several Millets and I think they sound great with Grados. The are several tubes you can try. The main difference between the tubes is the amount of gain they provide.
 
Tubes you can try are the .....12AE6/ 12FM6/ 12FT6/ 12FK6/ 12AJ6 etc..... 
 
 
http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j124/6bx7gt/049.jpg
http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j124/6bx7gt/051.jpg
http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j124/6bx7gt/052.jpg
http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j124/6bx7gt/053.jpg
http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j124/6bx7gt/041-1.jpg 
 
 
 
Jul 25, 2011 at 12:24 AM Post #11 of 16

punkaroo

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I remember loving the 12FM6 tube. Nice bass, clean highs.
 
I loved the MAD Ear+. Definitely one of my favs. After my Sonett :)
 
Jul 25, 2011 at 10:02 PM Post #12 of 16

zero7525

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Pretty much any tube/hybrid combo, because these are the ones that provide the high current output that low-impedance cans need. Don't bother with the OTL amps which are better for high impedance cans.
 
I can list a few hybrids: 
 
-Starving Student Hybrid
-Little Dot 1+ 
-Hifiman EF2
 
Jul 26, 2011 at 5:42 PM Post #13 of 16

sacd lover

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That depends on the OTL. The best sounding headamps I have heard with Grados were OTLs. I am a big fan of the hybrids for excellent sound at a very affordable price ..... but they dont touch a good OTL.
 
Quote:
Pretty much any tube/hybrid combo, because these are the ones that provide the high current output that low-impedance cans need. Don't bother with the OTL amps which are better for high impedance cans.
 
I can list a few hybrids: 
 
-Starving Student Hybrid
-Little Dot 1+ 
-Hifiman EF2



 
 
Jul 27, 2011 at 7:59 PM Post #14 of 16

LepakVT

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What a good day! I got home from work and saw that my MiniMax and new Music Streamer II+ DAC had arrived (felt like upgrading my Dac too since I got an amp and headphones haha)

At first I didnt have the tubes in all the way since this is my first tube amp. But after I figured that out everything is sounding great. Definitely a nice step up from the fiio e7/e9 (which are still nice!!)
 
Jul 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM Post #15 of 16

fnzeee

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Congrats on a steal!  You'll have to let us know how that Minimax sounds.  SACD Lover is right, the main difference between the different tube types is the amount of gain.  The other thing to know is that there are European tubes that use different naming convention but are equivalent.  For example, the European ECC803 and ECC83 are equivalent to 12Ax7A's.  Also, some people swear by NOS (New Old Stock) tubes vs currently produced tubes...you will have to form your own opinion here.  By no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the different tube types and their related qualities:
 
 
Tubes Qualities MU / Gain Factors Notes
12Ax7A, ECC803, ECC83 High gain 100 ECC803 - Premium Euro 12Ax7, ECC83 – Euro 12Ax7
5751 Less gain than 12xA7 (30% less gain), less distortion 70 The 5751 has the same plate resistance as the 12AX7, but the gain factor is only 70 compared to 100 for the 12AX7. The 12AT7 also has a gain factor of 70, but since the plate resistance is different, the 5751 is closer to the 12AX7. The older "real" 5751's have extra thick mica spacers and extra support rods to minimize microphonic response. 5751's also have matched triode units. Late versions produced by Philips/ECG don't have the extra support and don't perform as well as the older 5751's. 
12At7   60  
12Au7, 7730 Less gain than 12xA7 (81% less gain), less distortion 20 The 7730 is a premium version of the 12AU7 made only by CBS/Hytron.  This tube has very low noise characteristics and heavily plated gold pins.  These were intended for critical test instrument applications, but due to their superior low noise performance, these make excellent choices for audio applications.
 
 
 
 

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