REVIEW: Audiotailor “Jade” Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier
Nov 24, 2023 at 7:56 AM Post #961 of 973
Besides everything else, the Jade stands the test of better input = better sound. It sounds better than standard solid state amplification even with MP3 files. The gap becomes larger, the better the music format, the recording and the production. At the top of the digital chain, with DSD recordings, the gap is very wide. For example, my Audioquest headphones are supposed to sound dark and subdued in the treble. But the better the input, the less is this problem. Even if the frequency level curve is not flat you dont notice anything missing.
 
Dec 17, 2023 at 7:06 AM Post #962 of 973
Can anyone remind me - if you use balanced headphone cable with two big jacks into the Jade, correctly connected to the small headphone plugs - is this fully balanced operation? Or a bit special? I think there was some debate about this but cannot find it now.
 
Dec 18, 2023 at 6:19 AM Post #963 of 973
I see that it has been described as 'pseudo balanced' earlier in this thread, but not sure what that means...
Anyway if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc, maybe it IS a duck? Just joking... but in other words, if it sounds like balanced, thats the main thing?
From the descriptions I've seen, Jade with balanced cable does sound like balanced output, although I dont have a 'true balanced' headphone amp and have not compared.
 
Dec 22, 2023 at 6:44 AM Post #964 of 973
I see that it has been described as 'pseudo balanced' earlier in this thread, but not sure what that means...
Anyway if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc, maybe it IS a duck? Just joking... but in other words, if it sounds like balanced, thats the main thing?
From the descriptions I've seen, Jade with balanced cable does sound like balanced output, although I dont have a 'true balanced' headphone amp and have not compared.

Balanced discussion here:

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/is-the-jade-really-a-balanced-amp.457047/

I only listen in "balanced" mode, to my ears it sounds better with bigger soundstage, more details in space and superior dynamics. As you get twice the output power I prefer driver tubes with less gain than 12AX7, for example ECC81 (5965 even better) or 12AU7.

Latest experiment with a strange animal, PCC84, with adapter from Deyan. Marked Valvo, manufactured by Mullard.

IMG_5118.jpg
 
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Dec 22, 2023 at 8:53 AM Post #965 of 973
Thanks a lot! I will study the thread - could not find it.
I once naively thought that 'balanced' headphone drive was a simple thing, yes or no, only to find a lot of controversy, what qualifies as 'fully' balanced, and so on.
But I know from experience that using 'Jade balanced' - for lack of a better word - mostly sounds better than single-ended.
This was the case, first, with the balanced cable for my HD600 that I got from Audiotailor, before it broke, and later, the balanced cable for the Akg 701 that I made myself.
So, I hope that my current favorite phones, Audioquest Nigthowl and Nighthawk, will sound better too, with balanced cable. And maybe an even larger step up, than with the 600 and 701.
 
Dec 29, 2023 at 6:58 AM Post #966 of 973
A friendly Head-fi-er made a balanced cable for me, arriving today. It works great, and the sonic benefits are obvious right from the start. First impression - larger, more muscular, music seems more like a landscape (not just two channel), better instrument and voice separation, better timbre. I cannot compare directly, but my impression is that it makes an even larger difference (compared to single ended cable) with the Nightowl, compared to the HD600 and AKG701 that I had before. I have not tried the Nighthawk yet. Even if this is 'pseudo' balanced, it does work well.
 
Dec 29, 2023 at 8:14 AM Post #967 of 973
Can anyone suggest a good DAC for Jade? I use Jade both as headphone amp, and as preamp into my quite 'analytical' and pinpoint desktop system.
I have used the Topping e30ii, but recently found out that the Teac NT-505 sounds much better. However the Teac is in use in my main system.
 
Jan 2, 2024 at 3:33 PM Post #968 of 973
Here is a picture of the new balanced cable with two large jacks into Jade, and the two headphones used for testing, Audioquest Nighthawk and Nightowl. Both sound better with the balanced cable. Although maybe it is due to other factors rather than balanced (e g using both outputs).
 

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Jan 4, 2024 at 6:49 AM Post #969 of 973
Jade can be used to modify the sound of speakers. I use it in this role when not using headphones. Jade goes between the DAC output and the preamp or integrated amp, for example, the amp in active speakers. Although this extra gain stage is not required and has a bit of minus, the plus factor is often larger, to my ears, especially to make the sound softer and more tube-like. Anyone else with experience of use of Jade in this role?
 
Jan 4, 2024 at 6:53 AM Post #970 of 973
Or, more precisely: DAC connected by USB to laptop -> DAC analog out (rca) -> Jade input (rca) -> Jade front output (jack) -> integrated amp input (rca).
 
Jan 31, 2024 at 7:34 AM Post #971 of 973
I enjoy the sound from Jade with my new balanced cable into Nighthawk and Nightowl. But now, one channel sounds stronger than the other. I had to change the output tube on Jade. Could that be the reason? When I switch the small plugs into the headphone, the stronger sounding channel switches also. When I switch the big jacks on the front of the Jade, it stays the same.
 
Jan 31, 2024 at 8:38 AM Post #972 of 973
I found the answer. I first changed the driver tube. No change. Problem still there. Then I changed the output tube. Problem gone.
Beatles She loves you in mono (from Qobuz) sounds fully centred. RVG Nothing ever changes sounds great with nicely balanced stereo sound.
So it wasn't the headphones, the cable, or Jade - it was the faulty 6as7g output tube (RCA NOS), replaced by a Svetlana.
I would think that imbalance in the driver tube would be the main factor causing uneven volume left/right, but I was wrong, imbalance in the output tube was the problem (I *think* triode imbalance, but I have not yet tested the problem tube in my RM1 tube tester).
Anyway you learn as you go along, and I am now happy to say that the Jade - balanced cable - headphones setup now sounds great.
 
Feb 2, 2024 at 7:51 AM Post #973 of 973
So, the first thing to check if you have volume imbalance from Jade (one channel strong, one weak) is the 6as7 tube. I wondered if the imbalance was related to the balanced cable, using both front ports on Jade. But no. I heard the same thing with single-ended cable. Very clearly. It was less clear when I had Jade in the chain to the desktop speakers, but obvious in headphones, whatever the cable.
 

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