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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. tdockweiler
    50% huh? You're a funny guy! Do you work for Schiit now? Maybe they should start sending you a paycheck!
    So how much does the ODAC hold back the Vali? About 55% based on your calculations?
    The Modi holds the Vali back a tiny bit and I don't use it so much, but i've heard it. With some music it was really not noticeable at all.
    Seriously with the average mid-fi headphone do you actually think people will notice?
    I'd have to be nuts to suggest a $400 DAC with a $120 amp and only an HD-600 or Q701.
    I really hope a $1600 amp doesn't sound like this. NOTE: I do like the Vali though, but some of these comments are bizarre.
    Maybe my sarcasm detection meter is running low.
    Right now it's very comparable to my current amp, which cost $250-$300 on sale. Maybe that thing sounds like a $1600 amp too. I actually think it's was better than the O2/Magni/Asgard1/2. Well, I'm just glad I found a Schiit amp that's pretty good.
    Someday i'll try this fancy-pants Bifrost with board upgrade. If it's even a 10% improvement over what I have then i'll be surprised.
  2. TMRaven
    In all fairness though, the Bifrost is amazing.
  3. oopeteroo
    vali+modi how does it compare to Audio-GD NFB-11.32 for hd650 and he500?
  4. purrin
    The ODAC, when it's working properly (with good USB power, which is hit or miss depending upon your laptop or PC) is a very very good DAC. The reason I don't wholeheartedly recommend it is because of its varying performance according to the power quality of USB ports.
    I think people with mid-fi cans like the HD-600, HE-400, etc. will definitely notice. I stand by my recommendation of a $400 DAC with this $120 amp. But as you mentioned, recording quality is crucial. Not really worth it if most of what we listen to consists of Japanese anime music soundtracks or odd-ball Pink Floyd dance remixes.
    I used to own your current amp - the HR Microamp. It's probably one of the better ones in the HR lineup. The higher-end HR stuff sounds like nasty nasty solid-state. However, my opinion of the Microamp is contrary to that of yours. Its SQ is worth $49 to me. The HR Microamp sounds really closed in and kind of dead and boring. (Honestly, I'd take a CMOY / CHA44 with choice op-amps +/- 12 voltage rails over it. I actually built one years go and dumped the HR Microamp afterward.) I figure this is due to differences in source and recordings. YMMV, FWIW, my 2 cents, IMHO, etc.
  5. tdockweiler
    Here's the weird thing for me.. the Vali and Headroom Micro Amp (+ Astrodyne) sound extremely similar to me. Basically the same. I did 10-12 A/Bs and same results. Same DAC and same cables. I've been looking for the closest match I could find to the Micro Amp sound and the O2 was the closest, but the Vali was even closer. Maybe when I described what I'd improve on the O2, the Vali and Micro Amp fixes all that. Slightly fuller mids and very slightly smoother treble. We're talking like a 2% difference [​IMG]
    About the closed in sound of the Micro Amp... IMO the Micro Amp NEEDS the Astrodyne unit. I'm sure you used that or maybe not, but it's cheap. I also noticed that with the stock power supply it absolutely HATES MOV based surge protectors and i've never figured out why. I can actually hear it crapping up the sound with only my DJ100 and very warm or bassy headphones. Not audible on the Q701 and most open headphones unless you have golden ears.
    I actually had noticeable improvements on the Q701 with the Astrodyne PS, but basically inaudible with my HD-650. I'd say the Micro Amp needs the Astrodyne to be at it's best. It is more analytical and clearer with the Astrodyne. Don't ask me why or how. Comparing it to an O2 without the Astrodyne does feel a bit odd. I can't say it's more than a 10% improvement though.
    I know that for a whole year I complained that the Micro Amp had a slightly closed in soundstage (when I was new to all this) but it was actually my DACs fault! Not sure if you agree but the HRT MSII is very closed in, too warm and not really smooth sounding. Once I switched to the ODAC, Modi and Micro DAC it was fine.
    You may think i'm nuts but I find the Micro Amp + Astrodyne to be my idea of a transparent amp and more so than the O2. It's weirding me out that the Vali sounds the way it does. Perhaps the Vali has more body to the sound, but I don't think so. The Vali's bass with my DJ100 is kind of loose/sloppy but maybe it's just a bad match. It's not that bad.
    I really hate to say this but the Vali doesn't sound too colored at all and not dramatically far off from being what I think is transparent. Makes no sense to me!
    OK, now I just want a solid state Vali, but even better.
    Oh and I like "dead and boring" amps [​IMG]
    Seriously the Vali is about as "fun" as my current amp which is a good thing. Both sound great with the modded Q701 (which you should try BTW).
    The Vali and Micro Amp to me sound like a more fun version of the O2. I won't say more colored, but just more natural sounding in the mids/treble. [​IMG]
    It'll be fun to compare them more because so far I like them both. I'm sure i'll find something I don't like on the Vali. Doesn't sound entirely smooth with my DJ100 but maybe just not a good match or it needs more use.
  6. stratocaster
    After 3 days of listening to the Vali I have come to the conclusion that this was the best audio purchase I have ever made.  And, I just ordered another one.
  7. TMRaven
    What are you trying to get at with that post, tdock?  I came away confused.
  8. tdockweiler
    Hmm, I wonder what amp that Schiit sells is the closest match to the Vali's sound?
    For me it wasn't the Magni or Asgard 2.
    I'm not a fan of warm amps at all, but this I don't even consider warm. Just right without any thin mids etc.
    It doesn't sound like what I expected a tube amp to sound like (I know it's a hybrid amp).
    I'm kicking myself for getting the Asgard 2 over the Bifrost. Hopefully the Bifrost is still considered transparent or pretty close. Getting tired of that word..
    I bought a DAC upgrade two months ago and I guess I don't need another one for awhile. Maybe i'll try it out next year.
    I do love the Modi, so it'll be fun to compare it to the Bifrost since they have the same brand of DAC chipset.
  9. Gorillaz
    are you afraid that they won't build them anymore once they are out of stock, lol,?
    I will get mine tomorrow and report back its pairing with the Bayern DT990/600 ohms!
  10. tdockweiler
    TL;DR Edition just for you:
    Vali and my current amp (Headroom Micro + Astrodyne) sound very similar so this i'm pretty happy about ...
    You know i've only been trying to find an amp similar in sound to my Micro Amp for about a year..nothing under $300 came really close.
    I went from E9 > Magni > O2 > Asgard 2 > E17 > Vali
    Yeah I do ramble on a bit..if it bothers people they can just ignore me.
    Also..someone got me talking about the Micro Amp. I'm a fanboy of that thing more than anything else I own. Sorry!
    BTW the Vali sounds pretty neutral/natural to me, so what is it EXACTLY that people are raving about? Basically all my music/headphones sounds mostly the same. I will connect up many crappy sources and see what happens. Hmm, i'm pretty sure i'm listening to my music and not the amp here. Nice!! I wonder if it will add any nice colorations to my Clip+ as a source. Not likely. No, I normally don't use a crappy Clip+ as a source unless i'm bored.
  11. JoeKickass
    So while I was admiring the Vali I looked inside it with a flashlight, and noticed one of my tubes was sticking up in the air!
    I opened it (being careful because the screws just thread right into the sheet metal) and pressed the tubes down firmly. When I first listened I thought it didn't make a difference, but then I noticed the ring died out in half the time! 
    So just something to look for if you have a ringy Vali, there are two white sticky foam pads underneath the tubes, and they seem to be good dampers but only if the tubes are correctly stuck to them [​IMG]
  12. mangler

    I'll second that! I've totally been blown away by this thing. I used my LCD2.2 to go back and forth between the Vali and Mjolnir last night (from the W4S DAC2), and the Vali really held its own (I should also mention that I was able to use the same cable because I have an XLR->TRS adapter, so only the amps changed and I was able to make the switch in just seconds). The areas where the Vali just couldn't compete were bass control (it sounded relatively bloated), instrument separation, and soundstaging (relatively closed in sounding, and little of that out of head experience). I want to emphasize that this is relative to the superbly clean and powerful Mjolnir, and that that if I didn't have the Mjolnir I may not be saying these things. The funny thing is that everything else sounds so wonderful on the Vali that I don't even care about these shortcomings. To my ears, the Vali sounds sweeter (~euphonic?) than the Mjolnir, something that I personally quite enjoy and gives the Vali a lot of points in my book. I feel like the Vali is an extremely satisfying, exciting, and clear amp, but think its probably not a great choice as a studio amp or if you want the ultimate in clarity. However, these are just initial impressions, so take it with a grain of salt and yada yada. Anyway, I truly feel the is the most satisfying audio purchase I've made because of the amazing sound quality and stupid low price.

    I also want to mention that I briefly tried the Vali with AKG K550. I personally feel it's a bad combo because the hiss from the tubes is very noticeable (that's mostly why experience was brief :) ). This was definitely not the case with the LCD2.2, as the background was black even with the volume all the way up.
    trellus likes this.
  13. TMRaven
    Hm, it seems you're having some pre-conceived notions about tube and hybrid tube amps Tdock.  At first you apologized for thinking the Vali didn't sound colored and was close to 'transparent.'  Then you said the Vali sounded pretty neutral to you and then questioned as to why people were raving about it.  
    Now it seems as though you shouldn't have bought the Vali in the first place, when you said 'now I just want a Solid State Vali..'
    Is there some kind of personal bias against using a tube or hybrid tube amp?
    Now I can understand what you're ultimately trying to get it by asking what people are raving about with the Vali, but it seems as though you're looking for it to add colorations to your music instead of listening for finer nuances. 
    I still do recommend the Bifrost though, no matter what amp you put it with.
  14. purrin
    Yup. I didn't want to be the first to say it, but I enjoy the Vali more than the Mjolnir, at least with the Abyss. The Vali's shortcomings in bass control and overall precision are noted, but the Vali's sweeter sound, better ability to extract the softest sounds, faster more authoritative ability to make tiny changes in volume more than make up for those shortcomings.
  15. tdockweiler
    Yeah I did have this idea in my brain of what a normal tube amp would sound like and what sort of colorations it MIGHT add and this had NONE of that. This is a huge plus for me and totally not what I expected. I have not heard a tube amp and I know that some tube amps can sound dead neutral apparently. I wouldn't really know. Yep and I know it's a hybrid.
    So i'm HAPPY with the VALI's sound and lack of any major coloration! I actually wasn't wanting it to add any colorations to my music but just expected some minor (nice) colorations. You know..I would even feel a bit weird saying it has a touch of warmth. I guess most would say it does. When it comes to the fullness of the mids it's about the same as my other amp, which is PERFECT. The Vali doesn't magically add weight to thin recordings thankfully.
    No personal bias at all against tubes. It's just that with a solid state there is no ringing. Ok, so I touch the Vali more than I should [​IMG] I can't lie and say it's not annoying. It is. I'm a bit weird and would glady pay an extra $100 if there was no ringing. Bizarre? Probably..
    When I asked about why people were raving about the Vali it was a serious question. I REALLY want to know what EXACTLY makes this so much better than the rest of the budget amps.
    For me it's just very clear and sounds natural. So does the O2 (for me), but this is even more so.
    I'm glad that this works equally well with most of my headphones. The HD-650 seems to benefit from it the most but I can't explain why yet.
    BTW my K400 is rather thin and bass-light and i'm glad to report the Vali doesn't fix this and make it sound any better to my ears. If the Vali was adding anything I probably would have heard it. That's actually a really good thing to me.
    trellus likes this.
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