Solid-state DAC/amp with tube sound? (And powerful)
Feb 18, 2020 at 12:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

cactus_farmer

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As title says, is there any DAC/amp combo on the market that has a warm tube-y sound yet has enough power to drive anything (even HE-6)? Hopefully it would be at least as powerful as the Schiit Asgard 3.

Thanks in advance...
 
Feb 18, 2020 at 1:16 PM Post #2 of 17

Whazzzup

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SS that's tubey? Never heard such a thing except a tone control or eq. its hard to add distortion to make an amp warm
 
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Feb 18, 2020 at 1:56 PM Post #3 of 17

bfreedma

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As title says, is there any DAC/amp combo on the market that has a warm tube-y sound yet has enough power to drive anything (even HE-6)? Hopefully it would be at least as powerful as the Schiit Asgard 3.

Thanks in advance...


I would buy a SS amp with enough power and use an EQ or playback software plugin to simulate tube distortion.

https://www.voxengo.com/product/tubeamp/
 
Feb 18, 2020 at 2:00 PM Post #4 of 17

go_vtec

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Massdrop CTH + SDAC DAC/Amp! It is a hybrid design that uses a tube for gain, but utilizes SS for amplification. Plenty loud for my HE560 for normal recordings. I think HE-6 is slightly less efficient than HE560 so you may need a "tad" bit more power.
 
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Feb 22, 2020 at 1:23 AM Post #6 of 17

descloud

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I believe the iFi Micro iCAN SE is a candidate for this. Currently using it with my HE-500s and they are an excellent pairing. So likely their higher end stuff would likely be able to provide something similar (albeit I never really used tube amps so I can't really make a concrete comparison)
 
Feb 22, 2020 at 11:32 AM Post #7 of 17

jcn3

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Bryston BHA-1 is very neutral and quite powerful. Not sure of your budget . . .
 
Feb 28, 2020 at 6:49 AM Post #8 of 17

metric1

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A hybrid tube amp may be the direction of travel.

Opinions may be divided on the hybrid Pathos Aurium (some love it, some absolutely hate it) - it's not sweet or warm and might be an option. Listening side by side to my Naim DAC V1 which is pure solid-state (Class A), when I feed the Aurium with the Naim, the Aurium takes on those characteristics but just makes the presentation less hard, a little more sparkle and air and slightly less taut - they are not profoundly different amp presentations, it's quite subtle (with Aeolus and LCD-X).
 
Feb 28, 2020 at 7:48 AM Post #9 of 17

Chris Kaoss

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I'm biased on this. ^^
I'd recommend the Audio GD R28 or R27 for this purpose.

It's a R2R resitor ladder dac/amp with plenty of power to drive every headphone on the planet.

You can switch between different dac modes.
For critical listening or classical music, you can take the OS8 (oversampling) mode.
If you want to dive into the music with more tubey sound you can choose the NOS 1 (non-oversampling) mode.

Power shouldn't be a problem with, i think. :ksc75smile:

As @metric1 said about his aurium, some will love it and some will hate it. :wink:

Hope you're able to take a listening on this one day.

Happy listening and have a nice day.
 
Feb 28, 2020 at 1:45 PM Post #10 of 17

Relaxasaurus

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@cactus_farmer

I'm biased on this. ^^
I'd recommend the Audio GD R28 or R27 for this purpose.

It's a R2R resitor ladder dac/amp with plenty of power to drive every headphone on the planet.

You can switch between different dac modes.
For critical listening or classical music, you can take the OS8 (oversampling) mode.
If you want to dive into the music with more tubey sound you can choose the NOS 1 (non-oversampling) mode.

Power shouldn't be a problem with, i think. :ksc75smile:

As @metric1 said about his aurium, some will love it and some will hate it. :wink:

Hope you're able to take a listening on this one day.

Happy listening and have a nice day.
I'm with Chris on this. Look at an R2R ladder DAC which sounds smoother and less "digital" than traditional delta sigma DACs. Decent options under $1k are the Audio-Gd R1, the Denafrips Ares 2, and Soekris from Modhouse.

Another option would be to get a tube amp with enough power to drive anything under the sun, but you're looking at $2.5k+

Not the biggest fan of hybrid tube amps as they still sound very solid state to me.
 
Feb 28, 2020 at 1:56 PM Post #11 of 17

metric1

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the biggest fan of hybrid tube amps as they still sound very solid state to me.

This mirrors my experience, mostly. However, you have options [tube rolling] that isn't possible with a ss amp but without going for a full-on tube amp. How much impact that rolling has will depend on the amp/tube implementation, of course.
 
Feb 28, 2020 at 3:59 PM Post #12 of 17

joshnor713

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Mojo has warm, tube-like sound to me.
 
Mar 2, 2020 at 5:51 PM Post #13 of 17

Nitreb

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As title says, is there any DAC/amp combo on the market that has a warm tube-y sound yet has enough power to drive anything (even HE-6)? Hopefully it would be at least as powerful as the Schiit Asgard 3.

Thanks in advance...

You might consider the Polaris from Garage 1217 (http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_014.htm) or the Solo Ultralinear DE from Graham Slee (https://www.hifisystemcomponents.co...solo-ultra-linear-de-headphone-amplifier.html). I haven't heard the Polaris (impressions here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-measurements-of-project-polaris-hp-amp.9003/), but I listened to the Solo during a 1-month loan. Sound very nice. But these are amps only, no DAC included.
 
Mar 17, 2020 at 10:13 PM Post #15 of 17

XERO1

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Cavalli SS amps sound amazing and have a very tube-like warmth to them while still sounding clear and transparent.

If you just need a USB-only DAC, then the Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC would be a great place to start. It's currently sold out, but more stock should be available soon, and they pop up in the For Sale/Trade Forum from time to time.

https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-liquid-carbon-x-sdac-dac-amp

Or if you want a built-in DAC that also has optical and coaxial inputs, then the upcoming Monoprice Liquid Gold X should be a fantastic sounding amp. It's currently scheduled to be available on 5/29 (but this date could change).

https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=38967
 

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