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NEW Vali Schiit AMP!!!

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by lff, Oct 9, 2013.
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  1. MattTCG
    Quick initials impressions after 30 minutes.
    1. The Vali sounds better than the magni (bear in mind that I didn't care much for the magni...I thought it was somewhat bright/harsh without much punch...also I used magni with modi and now I have uberfrost)
    2. I experienced the same ringing for the first couple of minutes that others have commented on. After that I have not had any microphonics at all even when tapping the top of the case, plugging or unplugging hp's or changing out the RCA's. (note that I'm using blutack on the corners to mount to my heavy desk...I have not finished the isolation block yet but should be done with it in the next day or so). So far the only time I get any extra noise is when I turn the amp off and then back on. 
    3. The Vali seems to have the ability to reach a "loud" listening level very quickly. The lyr and A2 both have more play on the pot. They both allow me more play on the volume pot without seeming "loud" as the sound seem to just fill in and not blare. Hope that makes sense. 
    4. The hd650 sounds better so far than the he500 on the Vali. The he500 seems a little treble happy now. This may change with burn in.  I can hear sibilants that I've not heard with the he500  before. Haven't tried any other hp's yet. 
    5. Build quality seems decent for the price. The amp has a good weight to it. 
    6. Just tried the ma900 with the Vali. NOT a good match IMO because of the noise that can be quite audible even during playback. I'm disappointed that the Vali does not pair well with this hp. Might be a deal breaker for me. 
    Okay, back to listening and burn in.
  2. Zojokkeli

    Thanks for the input. I did some digging around and found out that 600 and 650 have been described as sounding a bit boring compared to 598. I also read that Hifiman HE-400 would sound more engaging. Would the HE-400 be a nice upgrade from the 598's? Sorry for the offtopic.
  3. kstuart

    Try the HD598 with the modi/vali first before thinking of any upgrades.
  4. kstuart
    I am not experiencing that.
    Do you mean hearing noise and hum of the amp during quiet passages when using the MA900 ?
  5. TMRaven
    Yeah it's probably the fixed 11db gain.  Also that particular volume pot has less play to it than the bigger ones as seen on A2.
  6. Eugguy
    How will the Vali do with the LCD2? Can it power it with ease? Get sufficient levels of bass volume, quality, quantity?
  7. thegunner100
    +1 for Vali + hd800. Doing some initial listening before going to class. I hear a little bit of noise when nothing is playing but it is not audible when music is playing. Also, I don't seem to be experiencing any ringing from my tubes even when i tap on the chassis. 
  8. Barry S

    The Vali has no problem powering (and sounding relatively good) with the LCD-X. The LCD-X drivers are more efficient than the LCD-2 drivers, but I think it would be worth trying the Vali with the LCD-2.
  9. jexby
    I listened to the Vali + LCD2.2 (I believe the .2 is accurate) at RMAF, and the amp had zero problem with delivering volume.
    didn't specifically listen to tonal quality of bass or have much to A/B against, but I don't recall the pairing being sloppy or "poor" in any regard.
  10. Zojokkeli

    Definitely not buying any new headphones at least before summer, I'm not made of money after all. It's just nice to do some research just in case...
  11. MattTCG
    I'm hearing both noise and hum on the ma900. The music does have to even be that quiet to hear the noise. 
    There is no adjust for the gain internally? jumpers?
  12. K.T.
    Has anyone tried it with the HD600?
    The HD650 is said to have ramped up bass characteristic compared to the HD600. Maybe this is not as good a match for the Vali (compared to Magni) due to lower power and maybe lesser control of the bass? So how does it do with the HD600?
    If there's one thing I've learned in audio, it's that system synergy can be king. When you hit a certain synergistic pairing, the result can be way more musical that you had imagined possible with the components on hand.
    It sounds like this may be the case with the Vali and HD800, from what folks are saying.
  13. kstuart
    Okay, I now have well over 100 hours of burn-in, here are the first reactions:
    * The burn-in clears up and elevates the treble and upper mids.  At unboxing, the Vali seemed dull on the high end, and now it is bright (but not overly so).
    * I like the Vali the most with the.... Mad Dogs.  The Mad Dogs seem to have just enough sensitivity and the Vali just enough power for the combination to work well.  Or it could be due to some other electrical aspect.   The Vali has a shallow soundstage, and this is not a problem with the Mad Dog because it also has a shallow soundstage.
    * I don't like the Vali with the HE-400.  It sounds congested - there is a hint of distortion on quick transients.  I also did not like the HE-400 with the Magni and it may be that the output stage of both is in common and is not a good match for the HE-400.  I find that the HE-400 is like the other HiFiMen, in that it sounds much better on a vintage power amp (or the Emotiva which I have not heard).
    * The Alpha Dog does not work as well with the Vali as the Mad Dog.  The better soundstage on the Alpha Dog needs something with a better soundstage, and the Alpha Dog seems more congested on the Vali than the Mad Dog.  The more revealing capability of the Alpha Dog also more clearly reveals the weak points of the Vali.
    * Strong points of the Vali:
    - Very quick response which results in very good instrumental detail (I think what Purrin is calling "micro detail").  This is what makes it revealing of source differences.  This is the signature strong point which I think is leading some to call it as good as more expensive amps... but read on.
    - Smooth treble (a characteristic of tubes) - bright without being harsh
    - Good bass response for this price range (better than Magni with my headphones and my music)
    * Weak points of the Vali:
    - Microphonics (apparently seems to be better or worse depending on luck of the draw)
    - Shallow and somewhat narrow soundstage.  Imaging seems good but seems somewhat hindered by the small soundstage.
    - Mediocre instrumental color - the quality that makes instruments sound very different.  I think this is what some call "one note" quality.  It is unique to have instrumental detail be this good while instrumental timbre is not.   It makes it seem like an outstanding black-and-white picture as compared to a color picture.
    So I find the Bellari hybrid with a 1960s German or British tube to have better sound quality than the Vali, due to the better timbre (and roughly equal detail).  Neither works well with HiFiMen or Alpha Dogs, IMHO.
    I find that the Vali works pretty well with the Mad Dog, because neither has much of a soundstage, so a weakness is nullified.  I find that the Vali works pretty well with the MA900, because both have a lack of instrumental color, and again a weakness is nullified.  In both cases, one is not losing so much by using the Vali, because the headphones are already lacking that quality (and those qualities cannot be restored by an amp).
    Unfortunately, the above is a little complicated, but it took me awhile to figure out why the Vali had some excellent qualities, and yet was often not as good as the more expensive amps.
    Of course, this is what I hear with my system, my choice of music, and my ears and so could vary widely from someone else's equally valid impression.
  14. thegunner100

    I will try with my hd600s later tonight and get back to you.
  15. kstuart
    Here is what the tube looks like (ebay photo):
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