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Is a tube amp really worth it over solid state amps?
I have both, for the HD6XX/HD650... A profound YES, And you can change the SOUND to your liking by a simple tube change. Cant do that with a solid state. yeah there's equLizers and bass switches but nothing compared to true analog sound that only tubes can give you.
Hmm okay. I've heard that changing tubes can get pretty expensive. Possibly a dumb question but does this amp come with tubes? I have both the HD6XX and 58X.
Dude..this hobby is expensive no matter which way you go.
A big +1
Yes perhaps that is true. Haha. Are you using stock tubes now or different ones?
With the Darkvoice you get cheap
Stock tubes are said to be cheap on the Darkvoice, want something clean from the get go, Woo Audio. But they're $1000 starting. Darkvoice $200 on Massdrop. #win and for me, I found the NOS (New Old Stock) Philco 6As7G (power) tube and a 6SN7 (preamp) Electro-Harmonix tube mate really well. There's a thread here dedicated to all the "must have" tubes for the Darkvoice 336SE so don't really want to get into that here on this thread. Oh and I here the Bottlecrack is even better! But I'm not into building things like that so still happy with my choice. Just sounds so natural. Old School sound. Especailly with live recordings. Like I said, I have both amps, and really got the Darkvoice just for my HD6XX, thats it, all my other cans get played on my other amps, but the HD6XX gets the Darkvoice...no other way.
Hmm okay. I'll search for that other thread about tubes. Darkvoice is not an active drop at the moment but I'll join that one and perhaps I'll get it when it goes live.
I've built quite a few cables using Mogami, Canare and Van Damme wires and I or any of the others that I've built cables for can't hear any differences between these and high priced ones. As for comparing to stock a few have noted very very slight differences but using deoxit to clean the connectors made any of the differences go away.
It depends on what you are looking for, if you want the HD650/6XX to sound really clean and with a touch more sparkle then I'd go with a Jot or similar but if you want the sound clean and smooth then a OTL amp like DV336 or BH Crack would be my recommendation. With that said I do like my Ember with my HD650, HD6XX and HD58X but my BH Crack makes the HD58X a mess in the bass since the output impedance of the BH Crack is just a touch too high but its a really nice paring with my HD700, HD800, DT990 premium, and old T1gen1.
Rolling tubes can get pricy quickly but it will also depend the amp that you get since some "families" of tubes are more expensive than others.
Well to be honest I'm not sure what kind of sound I'm looking for. I do listen to lots of instrumental music like classical or movie scores or jazz or blues. But I also listen to classic rock as well. What about the Little Dot MKIII which is on Massdrop now for $199?
I've only used the LD Mk3 once and it was quite awhile ago so I can't remember much about it except that with the stock tubes it was a bit too much on the warm side IMO but I'm sure with well selected tubes it can be a decent/pretty good amp.
A good starting point would be what do you like about the HD650/6XX? What do you dislike about it?
You're asking this question the wrong way. It should be "Is an OTL (output transform-less) tube amp really worth it over solid state amps?" And the answer would be, "An OTL tube amp is not routinely or predictably better. But when a given high impedance headphone responds well to a high impedance amp, the results are things you can't get with SS."
Just last night I listened to a heavily modded HD650, the Jupiter Audio Research "JAR650," on 2 rather different amps:
Woo WA3 (OTL tube design)
And the Liquid Carbon v2
It sounds fantastic on each one, but doesn't sound the same on each. On the OTL there's a small but very good sounding increase in level/calm/balanced reproduction of frequencies, top to bottom. A little hard to describe, the but the HD650 sounds ruler-flat, controlled, and musically accurate on the Woo OTL.
The LC v2 is a SS amp clearly "voiced" to be somewhat warm & "tube-like" (and it's all that). On the LC v2, the HD650 doesn't sound conspicuously warmer. The bass might be a little bit deeper/more impactful, and the entire frequency range is a little less well controlled & damped...sound is a touch more exciting, for lack of a better word.
IMO the main differences between the sound on these 2 amps is that on the OTL, the HD650 is getting a high impedance source, while on the SS amp, it is not.
I've heard roughly similar results with 2 other high-impedance headphones on SS vs OTL (ZMF Eikon & Aeolus), where the OTL sound is somehow more controlled, damped, level.
The punchline of all this is anyone w/a high impedance headphone like the HD650 owes it to themselves to hear it on an OTL like the WA3 or Darkvoice. But the HD650 will also sound terrific on any competent SS amp (I've tried this HP on 5 SS amps--all sound great).
Thank you for that explanation. I think I'm just over my head with all this audio stuff. It's a cool hobby but it's tiresome and expensive. I can't afford to buy a whole bunch of amps and DACs and try them all out until I find the right one for me. Maybe if I can miraculously find a decent paying job.
I hear ya bro. I myself went down the rabbit hole over the years. With tuition costs for my kids, my budget is very limited.
With that said. I can honestly say that there is absolutely a point of diminishing returns as you climb the gear ladder.
After a 7 month hiatus from this hobby last year. I didn't even think I'd return because I had it in my head that there's nothing on a limited budget that would get me where I once was SQ wise.
Well.... it's been an eye opener for sure upon my return to the hobby in May 2018. I'm completely content with the modest gear I've put together on my limited budget. I really don't miss anything I've previously owned. Was it better? Maybe in certain aspects , but imo , nothing to justify the cost. It's an insane hobby. Hell.... one tube I purchased for my Woo WA6 when I had it cost more than my entire rig I have now. Lol
I think the issue is getting caught up in the hype. The Focal Utopia is a prime example. 4k new and now people can barely get 2k for them in mint condition, and people actually prefer way less value cans.
Let your budget dictate your hobby and be happy with it and stay away from hype trains. Lol