MalValve Headamp Three + PS Paudio PWD + Audeze LCD3 -- I'm so amazed!
Jul 22, 2012 at 8:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

Sven

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Hi all
 
After my recent adventure with the Red Wine Audio Audeze Edition DAC/KHV witch was not the "right one" for me, i have to praise Mr. Rossi from Red Wine Audio. He was really polite and understanding and offered me another unit in exchange without any costs...after i respectfully declines that offer he sent me my money back. Nice customer service !!!
 
After i read a lot of the new Auralic KHV/DAC Combi, i drove from Hamburg to Essen (in Germay) what is about 270 miles away to meet with the only dealer in germany who has Auralic in stock.
 
So my first test was my Audeze LCD-3 with the Auralics:
 

 
My KHV/DAC so far is the Lehman Audio Black Cube Linear and the cheap but nice sounding Musical Fidelity V-DAC II. The source was as follows:
 
MacBook Air -> Apple Lossless -> iTunes -> Amarra to the DAC via USB.
 
The Auralic outclassed my Lehmann and not by a small margin. It sounded a bit like the Red Wine Audio but without it flaws. The sound is very dynamic and energetic. This combi costs 3.800 Euro in germany. so the price is pretty much like the Red Wine Audio. We tried the Sennheiser HD800 just for fun and it was a good match. My friend even prefered the HD800 over my Audeze LCD-3.
 
This could have been the end and we all could have listen happily ever after....but my dealer has his so called "Reference Line-up" on display.
 
The MalValve head amp three
 

 
Thats really a strange animal:
10 tubes (looks life a solid state amp, but is an 100% tube amp)
Can drive any dynamic Headphone BUT also any Stax model.
Relais driven Volume in 0,7db steps
2x12 Watts output in XLR Mode
Pricing is 4.000 Euro - so i guess it will cost about 5.500$ US
More Informations on the manufactors website: http://www.malvalve.com/head3.html
(The website is horrible and dosen't do their products justice...)
 
His reference DAC is the well acclaimed PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC MK II
 
 

I never heard my Audeze LCD-3 with that kind of perfection. Everything seems to fall in it's place. Even so the Auralic DAC/KHV seems to play more dynamic or powerful the MalValve makes it clear that the Auralic is just a little bit sounded. The MalValve/PS Audio were much more "rock solid".
 
The Bass was depp AND controlled. You can here so much detail that i am tempted to use the term "jaw dropping"....i know i know :wink:
 
The mids are energetic, there is no more "veiled" or recessed sound, if there were any at all.
 
The highs  a brilliant and have this sparkle you can enjoy with a good recording.
 
The soundstage is the biggest win. Even if it wasn't  bad til now, in this combination it is a huge leap.
 
But we couldn't resist to test drive the ultimate competitor for the LCD-3, the Stax SR009 against each other using the same DAC/KHV for the first time possible. And yes...that was brilliant and has a winner: The Audeze LCD-3 is the better fit for Jazz and Rock.
But even with classic the improved soundstage of the LCD-3 is not far behind the SR009. The bass, the live-character and "PRAT" is absolutely world class with the LCD-3.
 
And so here is my dream combination...
MalValve Headamp Three + PS Audio PWD + Audeze LCD3
And what a dreams for? it is a 11.000 to 12.000 US $ rig! 
 
I did it...i bought them right away and they are playing in this very moment while i am writing this thread:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
I am so happy. This is by far the best what i have heard with all kinds of headphones over the years. I must admit that i haven't had the chance to hear eather the Cavalli LF or the Ray Samuels Darkstar but after one week of listening  to the Red Wine Audio who is believed to be in this TOTL amps i have to tell that the MalValve is on the same level if not ahead. Anyway it is the combination....it really makes the magic.
 
I really reached my Mount Olympus of the headphone world...at least for the time being :wink: -- we all know this hobby but i think i am in this for the long run.
 
CU
Sven
 
Jul 25, 2012 at 6:24 PM Post #2 of 16

Rumbleripper

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Nice looking setup Sven!
 
I am sure the LCD-3's really sing out of this setup. I am using a Mac Mini server>Calyx 24/194 DAC>WA5>LCD-3 setup, with a PS audio P5 Regenerator and the LCD-3's on most recordings are simply "gorgeous".
 
I may be interested in trying the PS Audio DAC at some point to see how it compares. 
 
I have a Stax SR-009 on the way along with a Cavalli Liquid Lightning, which I will be comparing to the LCD-3 setup. Can't wait for the comparison.
 
Rumble
 
Jul 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM Post #3 of 16

sydneyaudio

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Thanks for sharing, and congrats on finding the right set-up for yourself.
 
This is the first amp I have seen that can be used with dynamic and electrostatic headphones.
How does it achieve this?
 
Jul 25, 2012 at 10:38 PM Post #4 of 16

sridhar3

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Glad to see someone bought this.  I've exchanged some e-mails with Dieter Mallach, and he's a very nice guy.
 
Have you had a chance to try the amp with electrostatic headphones?
 
Jul 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM Post #5 of 16

spritzer

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Quote:
Thanks for sharing, and congrats on finding the right set-up for yourself.
 
This is the first amp I have seen that can be used with dynamic and electrostatic headphones.
How does it achieve this?

 
Simple really, the electrostatics are fed directly off the tubes (either through small capacitors or direct coupled) while the dynamics use transformers to lower the impedance/voltage.  This can be done to many push-pull tube speaker amps. 
 
Jul 26, 2012 at 4:59 PM Post #7 of 16

Sven

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Hi

After a few more days (an nights with too little sleep) it is getting better and better. Many albums, even the ones that are not perfectly recorded and mixed, are sounding so good that it is pure fun to listen. Really addictive, so to say.

@ Rumble
Thank you :wink: - The Stax SR 009 with with the new Cavalli is nothing less than a dream of a combination in my book. Do you intend to keep both, the LCD-3 setup and the SR 009 or will you choose "your" best ?

@sydneyaudio
I can't tell from a technical point of view but their intention is clear. In the high-end headphone universe you always had to choose: Stax or one of the others... and many of us own more than one headphone. But two different amps in this price region is painful. With the MalValve it is more simple...you can have both. isn't that smart ?


@sridhar3
Yes, i tried the SR-009 for about 20 minutes and it sounded fine.... no it was great. The Audeze LCD-3 is still my favorite for Rock and Jazz. If i were more into Classic that might be different.


@spritzer
Thank you for the explanation :wink:


@rgs9200m
Oh yeah, you are right! The MalValve is getting really hot. After 2 hours you should not touch the top of the amp :wink: - But i guess thats a normal thing for an amp with 10 tubes.


So, i am just happy with this equipment and will continue to scrub through my music :wink:

*smile
Sven
 
Jul 26, 2012 at 8:17 PM Post #8 of 16

sydneyaudio

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Quote:
 
Simple really, the electrostatics are fed directly off the tubes (either through small capacitors or direct coupled) while the dynamics use transformers to lower the impedance/voltage.  This can be done to many push-pull tube speaker amps. 

 
Interesting Spritzer. Is there a downside to doing this?
 
Jul 26, 2012 at 10:50 PM Post #9 of 16

Rumbleripper

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@ Rumble
Thank you :wink: - The Stax SR 009 with with the new Cavalli is nothing less than a dream of a combination in my book. Do you intend to keep both, the LCD-3 setup and the SR 009 or will you choose "your" best ?


Hey Sven:

Will make that decision once the SR-009's are here. But most likely keeping both as I hear that they complement each other well.

Rumble.
 
Aug 10, 2012 at 9:29 AM Post #11 of 16

complin

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[size=16pt]head amp three specification[/size]
 
 

[size=11pt][size=larger]design * construction[/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. for magnetostatic, dynamic and electrostatic headphones
. full tube construction
. full balanced signal prozessing
. balancing of asymmetrical input signals
. input transformers for balancing und galvanic separation
. parallel push-pull design 
. class A operating modes in all stages
. output transformers for impedance balancing
. modular [/size][/size][/size][size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]technique[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. volume control by processor-controlled relays
. all switching processes relay operated
. on-off muting[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. [/size][/size][/size][size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]startup current limitation[/size][/size][/size]


[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]features[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. 2 x ECC 81 tubes
. 4 x EF 184 drive tubes
. 4 x 6V6s power tubes
. 2 x input transformers with mu-metal shields [/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. 2 x output transformers
. display for input, mode and volume
. internal switch mode power supply 150 VA
. power cable 2 m[/size][/size][/size]


[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]specifications[/size][/size][/size]

 
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. balanced in                  2 x 3pole XLR stereo
. unbalanced in               2 x 2pole RCA stereo
. input impedance           100 kOhm
. outputs                         2 x XLR 4 pole stereo balanced
                                     2 x 1/4" headphone jack stereo
. power outputs               2 x 12 Watts/8 Ohms total
. output impedance          8 - >600 Ohms
. high outputs                  2 x special high voltage sockets for Stax-Pro headphones
. high voltage                  800 Vss. OTL 
. Stax Pro bias                580 V-
. voltage                         90 - 250 VAC, 50 - 60 Hz[/size][/size][/size]


[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]front keyboard[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. display                          for operating mode
. input                             line 1+2 balanced
                                      line 3+4 unbalanced
. volume control               127 x 0,7 dB steps
. mode                            LO-IMP + HI-IMP + ESH
. on                                on - off -  store[/size][/size][/size]


[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]storage operation[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. input select
. mode select
. separate volume adjustment for [/size][/size][/size][size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]LO-IMP, HI-IMP and ESH
. [/size][/size][/size][size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]display brightness control (remote control)[/size][/size][/size]

 

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]connectors[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. gold plate WBT-RCA inputs
. gold plate Neutrik-XLR-adaptors
. gold plate Neutrik jack plugs
. special sockets for electrostatic headphones (Stax)[/size][/size][/size]


[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]remote control[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. remote-controllable with Philips's amplifier code[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]remote control (option)[/size][/size][/size]

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. input control
. volume control
. mute
. display brightness control [/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. engraved full aluminium case[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. brush-finished
. black anodized[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. external dimension:                196 mm (W) x 67 mm (D) x 20 mm (H)[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. weight::                                 0,5 kg[/size][/size][/size]

 

[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]amplifier case[/size][/size][/size]
[size=larger][size=11pt][size=larger]. engraved aluminium front panel 10 mm 
. brush-finished aluminium case
. black anodized
. external dimension:                483 mm (W) x 315 mm (D) x 100 mm (H)
. weight::                                 12 kg[/size][/size][/size]

 

head3-2a.gif

.
 
Apr 19, 2013 at 12:33 PM Post #12 of 16

FredSD

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We are so looking forward to getting ours in at StereoDesk next week.  I was at the show in NY last week and heard one with the LCD3-it was sublime.  I got in touch with Mal Valve upon my return to Boston.  Shortly thereafter Gideon Schwartz contacted me as the US distributer-he's the owner of Audio Arts, and had one of the best sounds of show at the Show, sporting Zellaton, CH Precision, and a vinyl front end by Simon Yorke and Jan Allaerts.  
 
As someone in the trade, it will be a boon to have a unit that can give a reference portrayal from any of a collection of cans.  We will only be selling them regionally, though we'll still have them described on our site.  Still, if you're in New England and would like to hear the Mal Valve, we're more than happy to work something out.  I find it telling that Audeze, with pretty much the field to pick from, chose to show their best headphone with the Mal Valve...and it sounded, as I mentioned, sublime...
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 5:28 AM Post #13 of 16

budx3385

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Now that Steve Guttenberg has posted a review on audiophiliac and on cnet, they should receive a few more orders and become even busier.
 
I'll bet the LCD-3 found first beats them all on the Mal Valve, as he said.
 
I'd very much like to hear that combo, as well as the HE-6 and especially the SR-009 with the Mal Valve for classical music.
 
Apr 25, 2014 at 8:43 AM Post #14 of 16

falcogol

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I don't understand why malvalve hasn't specified any THD/NOISE, distortion and frequency response specs for this amp.
I'm also interested to know it's average and max power consumption.
I believe it has switch mode power supply but also no info about it. It's important how it's implemented.
Everyone only says that it sounds fantastic with lcd 3 ,that's all the info you can get on this.
 
Apr 25, 2014 at 10:34 AM Post #15 of 16

cerol

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Since I am also interested in this amp, I suggest that you ask Dieter Mallach directly about more specifications:
 
info@malvalve.de
 
Hopefully we will see the results on this thread
 

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