MalValve Head Amp Three?
Nov 17, 2011 at 11:19 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

songmic

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Has anyone heard of this amp - MalValve Head Amp Three?
 
http://www.digital-highend.de/start/2011/10/doppelpremiere-auf-dem-analog-forum-krefeld-2011-malvalve-head-amp-three-audeze-lcd-3/
 
Apparently, MalValve is a respectable audio company based in Germany, and it seems they made inroads into the headphone industry with their new headphone amp, the Head Amp Three. According to Audez'e, their new LCD-3 was featured with this particular amp at an audio show held in Germany recently. MalValve hasn't posted info regarding the Head Amp Three on their official website yet, but you can contact them at info@malvalve.com and ask them. They sent me a pdf file that has all the information I need.
 
As the company's name implies, it's a fully tube (a total of 10 tubes), fully balanced amp with two input and two output transformers, a digital display for input, mode, and volume, both RCA and XLR inputs, a remote control, two single-ended 1/4" outputs, two 4-pin balanced XLR outputs, and a special output for Stax electrostats. Not only can this amp drive all dynamic, magnetostatic (orthodynamic), and electrostatic headphones available in the market, you can actually plug, say... an HD800, a T1, an HE-6, an LCD-3, and an SR-009 into one amp at the same time altogether!
 
From a German review article which was translated into English at the courtesy of Google Translate, this amp is a high power amp that can drive virtually every headphone in the world (I guess with the exception of Sennheiser Orpheus which has its own unique headphone jack), in any range of impedance, and even orthodynamics with the lowest sensitivity such as those from Hifiman. Especially, the matching of this amp to the LCD-3 seems to be absolutely stunning.
 
Now I tend to take such reviews of new products with a grain of salt, but the fact that Audez'e chose this particular, relatively little known headphone amp to advertise their tour de force, the LCD-3, out of all those well-established amps out there is something worthy of note. I mean, I looked up "MalValve" and there was not a single thread in the entire Head-fi that mentioned it at all! I think I'm the first guy ever to bring this up here in the forums.
 
As for the price, it's (cough) 4,000 euros including VAT. Not as expensive as Apex Pinnacle or the new Woo monoblocks, but I think it's a bit too steep for my wallet now... Is there anyone brave enough to be the first Head-fi reviewer for this unexpected newcomer?
 
Dec 12, 2011 at 1:43 PM Post #2 of 14

schorsch

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Hello,
 
I'm based in Germany and just posted about this amp in the stax thread.
I think it is worth to be examined more closely.
If I can get into touch with this amp I'll try it.
 
(I have Lambda Pro Siganture and Sigam as well as an old Sennheiser HD 540 Ref Gold to try it out)
 
Regards Georg
 
Dec 20, 2011 at 9:58 AM Post #4 of 14

ironear

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Currently there is only one prototype from January, 2012 then has to go
the amplifier on the market come loudly states of the manufacturer.

As soon as the amplifier is available I will test this sometimes and report.
> 3k€
 
Apr 19, 2013 at 5:21 AM Post #7 of 14

FredSD

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I was just at the Audio Show in NY.  The Mal Valve made a few appearances.  I had the most time with it at the Audeze booth.  It was exquisite on the LCD3's which led me to contact Mal Valve, (and subsequently was contacted by the distributor, Gideon Schwartz at Audio Arts). At StereoDesk, we should have our first unit in next week.  It's protected by region, (it will be sold hand to hand, not on-line) but anyone around New England who wants to give it a listen is more than welcome to get in touch.  It will be great to be able to go from Stax to Audeze, to HiFiMan, to Mad Dogs (great new balanced version out next month) to the Fostex TH900...and have each representation be of the highest order.  Anyone with a collection of phones, may really want to give this piece a lesson.  Then again, Audeze chose it to run their reference cans at the show, and they can choose most anything.
 
Apr 21, 2013 at 4:54 AM Post #9 of 14

FredSD

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Interesting points Thinker.  Being human, I know I've formed opinions about the way something 'should' sound without hearing it.  After all, it's impossible to hear it all.  There is no substitute for actual listening.  The Mal Valve, really is beautifully executed.  How it compares to other tip top sota head amps, may be more of personal preference than anything.  At the top level, there are more beautiful offerings than ever before.  Still, ater hearing it, putting my money down was a no brainer.
 
Apr 22, 2013 at 4:36 AM Post #10 of 14

urs

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[size=10pt]Dear Colleagues,[/size]
 
[size=10pt]There is a Review in this German HIFI Mag[/size]
 
[size=10pt]http://www.stereo.de/index.php?id=214[/size]
 
[size=10pt]Sorry, only in German -( A Short summary is possibly the one stated above, by thinker )[/size]
 
[size=10pt]They (STEREO) report, the "Malvalve 3" exceeds the STAX  SRM 007/T 2 when using the 007 phones. [/size]
 
[size=10pt]There is no clear reference to a dynamic amp or phones system.[/size]
 
 
[size=10pt]Urs[/size]
[size=10pt]PS: As I do have both STAX and dynamic phones, I could be tempted to organise a comparison some time later[/size]
 
Apr 26, 2013 at 11:23 PM Post #11 of 14

FredSD

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I would love to get that entire review.  When I open the page it is not responsive to being clicked.  I'll attempt it with a a browser other than Chrome.

Fred
 

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