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I'd say so. Here's the page I was talking about from the manual.
Thanks. This is a 60hz hum, not a hiss, but maybe I'm using the terms wrong. I am using low gain on all my headphones, so it's not a problem except on my Grados with some tubes (where the hum is noticeable on low gain).
The Vali 2 manual states:
" 5 Gain switch. Select HI or LO gain, depending on what sounds best to you. If you hear hiss or don’t have enough volume control range, use LO gain. "
Humming or specifically a 60hz noise is not hiss, hiss is the noise floor of the amp and or tube. A generally noticeable 60hz hum in a Vali 2 is not normal and is either an electrical issue of some sort or a ground loop issue or a bad tube or a defective amp. Or expecting sensitive IEMs to be OK with a tube equipped amp.
I would rule out all of these possibilities that I could and then contact Schiit.
My Vali 2 only hums with a suspect/bad tube or if I push things by trying to use low ohm IEMs on high gain. I really never use this amp with IEMs so not an issue for me. Now, a DarkVoice 336 is another story, very tube picky without some mods. Even high ohm Beyerdynamics are unusable with the wrong (otherwise good) tube.
I use, among others, a Grado 325e with the Vali 2 on low gain and generally have a 6SN7 tube installed. No noise issues.
IMHO & JMTC,
Thanks everyone for all the data points.
On my Grado 325 (original) with two new 6SN7 tubes (not NOS) it's obvious on high gain. Going back in listening to all my tubes, it's there on all of them but I wouldn't have noticed it for most of them (maybe a handful on high gain with Grados). I can hear it in a quiet room on low gain if I listen very carefully and press the cups against my ears. I don't ever listen like this, so it's not a problem even with the Grados.
I purchased the amp used, so it's not under warranty. I did contact Schiit to see if they could answer questions and they basically said from what I'm describing, some low level hum with sensitive headphones like Grado's is expected. This doesn't really impact my listening in any practical way, so I'm going to just not worry about it at this time.
I might just be overly sensitive, maybe I got a borderline bad capacitor in the power filtering, or maybe the power here is really that bad. It's not worth spending $100 on an isolation transformer, $30 (shipped) on a new wall-wart, or whatever an out of warranty repair would be since it may not help and wouldn't have a meaningful impact on my listening at this point.
Just out of curiosity, how far can the Vali 2 go in terms of adequately driving headphones? I guess what I'm really asking is, has anyone found a set of cans that the Vali 2 couldn't keep up with? I'm definitely enjoying the Vali 2 with my HD650s (and other current headphones) and was wondering if I'm missing out on much compared to a Jotunheim or other higher end & more powerful amps.
I just found out that we will be getting a bonus this month at work and I'm doing my best not to get taken away by upgrade-itis again. I figured the Vali 2 is probably more than powerful enough except for some of the most bleeding edge cans, but I really don't have anything else to compare to right now. The HD650s are the most high end set of cans I've ever bought or listened to. Any input/advice would be appreciated!
Some find the more power the better, others disagree once a certain threshold is reached.
For me Vali2 has more than enough power for the HD650 but if you really want to know for sure what's best for you I would take advantage of Schiit's excellent and helpful return policy and try the Jotunheim for yourself-then you can let us know.
It would probably* have trouble with the Hifiman HE-6.
*I only say "probably" because I have no practical experience with this can.
I guess I can just keep buying more headphones over time and if/when I finally get some that need more power, I can buy a different amp. I would like to try running my HD650s on a balanced cable, but not sure if its worth spending $400+ on a Jotunheim for just that alone. That could also lead down a much more expensive "which cable sounds better" rabbit hole as well.
Just a thought, but having a good solid state amp like Jotunheim to compliment your tube Vali2 would not be over extravagant, finances allowing. They will have different sound signatures and would give you lots of choices to tweak your sound as you try new headphones in the future.
Fair point. If I get the Jotunheim, I can save a little money and use my Mimby as a DAC instead of the $100 extra add-in option as well. Then it would be a strict comparison of amps using the same DAC. Still deciding on what to do here. The Jotunheim is definitely an attractive option...
I also have Mimby-works very well with all my kit- great sounding DAC. As you like the Schiit sound it does make sense to try their complimentary products.
I just got a Valhalla 2 because I needed to satisfy my curiousity about how an OTL amp drives Senns compared to a hybrid. I've only listened for a few hours, so my opinion may change over time, but the Vali 2 with a 6SN7 tube holds up very well against a stock Valhalla 2.
I have been doing some volume matched A/B testing (instant switching by splitting my DAC output, sending both headphone outs to a SYS, and using a RCA to 3.5 jack to plug my headphones into the output of the SYS). With HD6xx and HD580, both amps were easily distinguishable from a SMSL 793 II. Without knowing what the amps were ahead of time I had a 90%+ rate of liking the Vali and Valhalla over the SMSL.
Things got trickier between the Vali and the Valhalla. They definitely do sound different, but it would be hard to say one is strictly better than the other. I picked the Valhalla about 60% of the time and my wife chose the Vali at about the same rate. On some songs it was easier to hear a difference, but on others I had to make sure the switch was actually doing anything.
If I had to describe the difference, to me the Valhalla has a lower noise floor, creates more of a sense of space around instruments, and has slightly better bass extension. The Vali (with the 6SN7) was a little bit sharper in the treble and had a bit more impact in the mid bass. My wife enjoyed this slightly "fuller" sound, but I thought it sounded a bit more slow or congested. I can't comment on any of the longer term listening differences (e.g. is one more fatiguing over time) or what different tubes in the Valhalla might do to its sound. The differences were subtle, not night and day to me.
The rest of my system could be a bottleneck, but from a pure sound perspective the Vali (with a good tube) definitely holds it own and has some other advantages. It's more flexible with low impedance headphones, it's easier/cheaper to tube roll, is much smaller, runs a lot cooler, and costs half as much. I think for most people the Vali would be a better bang for the buck and some people would probably like it more irrespective of price.
That being said the Valhalla is a significantly more premium product in both look and feel. The volume knob alone is a huge improvement, and the Vali almost feels like a toy in comparison. The power section on the Valhalla is clearly better, the noise floor was lower for me, and it puts out more power into high impedance loads. I also seem to have a slight preference for its sound signature. For other people's systems and ears the differences may be more or less significant. Overall, it's still an impressive product at a competitive price.
My plan was to sell which ever I liked less (or the Valhalla if I couldn't tell the difference), but I think I may wind up keeping both and selling some other gear instead.
Thanks for sharing. Based on what I've read so far from you and many others, the less expensive Schiit amps seem hold their own very well against the higher end models.
Very informative comparison, I have the Vali 2 (6ns7) and the Asgard 2 in my audio rotation all the time.
Both amps I consider will never be sold off, they both offer me great audio. As for the Vali 2, I've had this amp since launch day and I've been nothing but pleased with this amp.
When comparing the A2 to the Vali 2 is a hard discussion, because I want to say that the A2 is superior in every way to the Vali 2 but that's really not the case. Yes, the A2 is a blacker background and dead silent but I can forgive that on the Vali 2 when you have the right tube with the right music playing, the Vali 2 is a gorgeous pocket rocket willing to flirt with your ear drums while perhaps showing a few blemishes here and there. Where the A2 presents everything, everywhere at every time, just right! Both have plenty of single-ended power for my headphones.
A side note, both Schiit amps have been running solidly since date of purchase. Stating that, I've recently purchased a cheap tube amp off eBay for my Home Theatre which only lasted less than a month before going up in a puff of white smoke! So as far as reliability, these Schiit amps have served me very well!
If Schiit were to show case a new hybrid tube amp named the Asgard 3 or Vali 3, then I would be lining up to buy it! (Schiit, sneak it in between the Asgard 2 and Valhalla 2 lineup!)
I own both the Jotunheim (with Bimby) and Vali 2 (with Modi MB) and enjoy how the HD650 sounds with both. If I had to choose though I prefer the HD650 with the Jotunheim combo for the terrific synergy. The Vali 2 has plenty of power to drive the 650's but the Jotunheim seems more effortless and brings out the quality of these headphones better to me. By contrast the HD650 paired with the Vali 2 is a bit darker sounding to me. I prefer the HE500 and Vali 2 combination.
Although I do like the Vali 2, I am considering replacing it with the Ember 2 due to this amp's flexibility.