Tor Audio Headphone Amps.
Feb 21, 2021 at 6:58 PM Post #61 of 98

audioisemotion

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Update
I have been feeding this Toraudio amp with a topping D50 single ended dac, using single to balanced inline converters. Not a good or pure path for a feed to a balanced amp. I have been saving my pennies and have bought a Gustrard A22 dac, which is fully balanced all the way through. It will take time to burn in and then I will try to compare balanced to unbalanced as balanced tube amps are like hens teeth.
Next month I plan to add a Pi2aes as its i2s out is setup for the Gustard dacs I2s input. It would have to be shipped from America so a final system review is going to be at least a Toraudio order->delivery away. LOL. I have also heard of some simple modifications inside another Gustard dac which is said to take the performance even higher. These modifications are reversible so I may give it a go. I also need to move the Toraudio to it's own connection from my apc battery power supply because when I turn it on it's capacitors draw enough current to cause my monitor to go blank for a few seconds as they are on the same filtered trailing sockets. So this small amp must have some large group of capacitors inside. A previous post spoke of a suitable power lead for this and I may as well get one ordered. Damn this is getting expensive.
Once I have the pi2aes setup with the i2s I will report it's sound compared to the current win10->usb3->Gustard->Toraudio-> Ananda, Grado,
Update 2
 
Feb 21, 2021 at 7:57 PM Post #62 of 98

audioisemotion

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Gustard A22 has added more. More bass, detail, stage depth and width. The Tor seems to scale with this improvement effortlessly.
Its nice to be able to plug in the single ended headphones into the tor via the adapter and still hear the improvement. Soundstage is not as wide or deep single ended but the detail and bass improvement is there.
This is a major step up in performance. Complex music stays resolved and doesn't saturate the soundstage, everything is easier to follow. Pink Floyd the wall 24/96 sounds better than the analogue LP. Something I never thought I would ever say. I heard things in there I had never noticed before.
Again not very helpful as a tor audio balanced comment.
I think the tor has not reached its limits. It's so silent, I just hear the music, I feel very fortunate at the moment.
Next Pi2aes, will the tor scale further? I'm thinking probably?
 
Mar 21, 2021 at 8:36 PM Post #63 of 98

audioisemotion

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Gustard A22 has added more. More bass, detail, stage depth and width. The Tor seems to scale with this improvement effortlessly.
Its nice to be able to plug in the single ended headphones into the tor via the adapter and still hear the improvement. Soundstage is not as wide or deep single ended but the detail and bass improvement is there.
This is a major step up in performance. Complex music stays resolved and doesn't saturate the soundstage, everything is easier to follow. Pink Floyd the wall 24/96 sounds better than the analogue LP. Something I never thought I would ever say. I heard things in there I had never noticed before.
Again not very helpful as a tor audio balanced comment.
I think the tor has not reached its limits. It's so silent, I just hear the music, I feel very fortunate at the moment.
Next Pi2aes, will the tor scale further? I'm thinking probably?
I bought some tubes cheap off fleabay from a private seller, they were cheap shugaung 6ns7gt unused, so cheap it didn't matter if they were a bin job and they were in the UK so arrived quickly. They are great, more 3d stage depth and an image moved forward of the usual between the ears sound. It sounds different slightly less hard, sort of creamy sound that really fits well between the Gustard and the Anandas. Its not surprising it sounds so different as there is only the two tubes so they are going to have a profound effect. So this opens up an endless supply of tuning options to match headphones and listening preferences. Plus there as tubes out there which are claimed to be much better than this? Oh dear.
I'm thinking of new tubes rather than old as good balanced pairs of NOS are getting more rare and priced are rising. I'm reading good things about some new high end tubes and once you find one you like its possible to get replacements, anyone else tried a tube change yet?
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 1:12 PM Post #64 of 98

andersos

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Mar 26, 2021 at 6:59 PM Post #65 of 98

Ezumin

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I bought some tubes cheap off fleabay from a private seller, they were cheap shugaung 6ns7gt unused, so cheap it didn't matter if they were a bin job and they were in the UK so arrived quickly. They are great, more 3d stage depth and an image moved forward of the usual between the ears sound. It sounds different slightly less hard, sort of creamy sound that really fits well between the Gustard and the Anandas. Its not surprising it sounds so different as there is only the two tubes so they are going to have a profound effect. So this opens up an endless supply of tuning options to match headphones and listening preferences. Plus there as tubes out there which are claimed to be much better than this? Oh dear.
I'm thinking of new tubes rather than old as good balanced pairs of NOS are getting more rare and priced are rising. I'm reading good things about some new high end tubes and once you find one you like its possible to get replacements, anyone else tried a tube change yet?
The Honest Audiophile talks about trying out different tubes with his Roger.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 2:48 AM Post #66 of 98

carboncopy

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I got these extension cable from Shunyata.

9B633ED5-8A96-417B-B01D-F013F1ED5160.jpeg


That way I can use my "proper" power cable with it. While I am no cable-for-everything type I do hear differences. in some cases more, somethimes nothing. Depends on the electronics too I think. The Tor Balanced definitely shows the quality of the cable. Mostly in the bass, where things became tighter, faster but at the same time bigger. And I think it's because of it's simplicity. So, I recommend highly to experiment with better cables.

But there are even more tunings :) I had some leftover Towshend seismic pods (very subtle change) and there is shakti stone tucked there between the pods (I am not sure I hear there something).

284FBAA1-A152-469A-815F-B4CC4FDC3A04.jpeg


The main things is, it scales with better cables, source componets like there is no tomorrow. The simplicity of the Tor is at the same time a very high degree of transparency.

308AF1B4-FD56-4944-998E-F82A6FEC7138.jpeg
 
Apr 3, 2021 at 8:46 PM Post #68 of 98

Ezumin

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Has anyone here had a chance to compare the sound of the Tor Roger vs Tor Balanced. They have the same power output so I’m wondering if it's really worth double the price to go balanced? Any thoughts much appreciated.
Through email correspondance I asked about the Balanced and Roger Amps listing the same power output. "The balanced amplifier uses two independent stages for each channel, so it is like two Roger amplifiers in the same box, but with different output transformers and some circuit changes, such as a 6-pin volume potentiometer." - Dima with TorAudio
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 7:35 AM Post #69 of 98

audioisemotion

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The Honest Audiophile talks about trying out different tubes with his Roger.

Hmm, eer yes, I had already seen that review of tube rolling in the Tor Roger and I had ordered the Psvane cv-181-t/II and they arrived on Thursday last and have been burning for around 20 hours. What can I say, they are quiet, dynamic, much more low end extension and seem to control the low impedance Anandas diaphragm's better. Leading and trailing edges are easier, things stop and start better. Sound stage is good but not really an improvement over the Shugaung which is fine as it was their sound staging which kept them in the sockets. Someone here was asking about volume via the balanced and I can say I have never gone over 11:30 and then control the volume with the Gustard A22 remote. I will say the Psvane has more dynamics and can control these low impedance phones with no issues, something Honest Hifi man says the Tor roger can't do. I don't currently own a headphone over 32 ohms to my knowledge and they all do fine on this amp. They are all very sensitive so that maybe why? I don't know how Sundaras would do or other low Z phones with low 90 db sensitivities. The anandas have 103db/w and I have to turn the volume down for my other phones when I plug them in!
The Shugaung was a great buy at £25 quid the pair, I got lucky there and they are a large upgrade on the std Valve in soundstage and low level detail, but not dynamics. The Psvane is as good and in many ways better. You get what you pay for but you are paying a lot. If you love classical and listen at low volumes the Shugaung would be fine, its sound stage and performance is great. The Psvane however do all that too but have more low end, dynamics, detail and control. It's a livelier sound out of the box. The mids seem fuller which is a boon for the Anandas as they are slightly down there, there is a kick drum now very evident on "the Wall" and sadly lacking in many recordings today.
I will not be removing the Psvane and will now be considering a second pair in the near future. There are some tubes out there considered better but they are silly money plus import duties, I could get two pairs of these for the price of a single high end one.
I bought the Tor balanced after Z's review and I don't regret it. Z does have many many headphones so if your interested why not ask him if there are some types of headphone he wouldn't recommend on this amp? He has a forum.
I seem to remember Z used his yellow HD600/650? with the tor roger at his work desk but has never really mentioned the tor balanced since its review other than using its tubes in another amp review.
It was on the desk a few weeks ago but never was used during that review. Strange he rated it so highly yet rarely uses it? But he does seem to try and keep it real price wise for the reviews. Equipment under $1000 would appeal to a larger audience who can afford what he is reviewing, which makes gear over $1000, like this amp, all the more of a rare recommendation for him.
If your in the UK then I bought them from HOTROXUK and they arrived from UK stock in a few days. Excellent service and cheaper than buying from EU or USA.
 
Apr 16, 2021 at 2:25 PM Post #70 of 98

JazzArtist123

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After having the Tor Audio Balanced Headphone Amp for a while, wanted to share my thoughts on it. I bought this amp because it had what I was looking for in an upgrade: fully balanced, tubes, output audio transformers, point-to-point wired with no PCB, class-A power. Those are the items where I’ve both been told they make an improvement to the sound quality; and, from what I know of electrical theory, it makes sense they would make an improvement.

I was not disappointed. Coming from either the Loxjie P20 (slightly modded) or the THX AAA 789, one improvement that was immediately noticeable on the Tor Audio Balanced is there is less audible distortion. Playing music through both the Loxjie P20 and the Tor Audio Balanced (volume matched), and hooking up my HD 600 to one and my HD 6XX to the other, I can easily swap between the two. While they both sound great, the Tor Audio Balanced simply sounds more like real life due to its lower audible distortion. This is the case no matter which headphone is connected to either of those two amps.

The distortion I mention is not the same distortion you hear when you overdrive an amp and cause it to clip. That clipping distortion is very obvious - I can easily create it on the THX AAA 789. The audible distortion I mention is very subtle and is probably easiest for me to hear on either the Vivaldi - 4 seasons album (any song) or The Virtuoso Trombone album, track 6 “Blue Bells of Scotland”. This difference definitely corresponds to the "wow, I didn't know music could sound this good" type comments I've read from others. It just sounds better on the Tor.

To give a sense of how powerful the Tor Audio Balanced is, when I listen to my DT 880 600-Ω (modified to run balanced) headphones, I prefer to use a Sonarworks EQ. This EQ ends up lowering the volume by about 8 dB. Even with this -8 dB gain and listening on a quiet track, such as Handel - Water Music, Track 13 “12 [Hornpipe]” the Tor is loud enough. I can max out the amp on this particular song/headphone/EQ combo without any clipping, but I prefer to have it a bit quieter than that because the max volume is too loud for me.

I haven’t done any tube rolling, if I get a chance to do so, I’ll provide an update with the tubes I try. On the tubes that come with this amp, it sounds incredible. This was a fantastic upgrade.
 
May 15, 2021 at 10:33 PM Post #71 of 98

Ezumin

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When I ordered the Balanced amp on February 1st, the website stated it would be shipped in April. They shipped it April 6th, and I received it May 8th. It was packaged well and the amp was in great condition.

There was quite a bit of communication with TorAudio through toraudioteam@gmail.com. It would take them a few days to reply to my emails, but I suspect that they are a smaller operation and don't have someone that just answers emails. They upgraded to an IEC socket, the capacitors, and darkened the stain on the bamboo side panels.

The Balanced amp was plugged directly into my Yggdrasil. Using GoldenSound's setup for measuring headphone volume (1) , these were the readings with my ZMF Verite Closed...
AC/DC's Back in Black
At 8 o'clock, the peak db was 63.
At 9 o'clock, the peak db was 90.
At 10 o'clock, the peak db was 100.
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker by Kirov Orchestra Track 1: The Overture
At 8 o'clock, the peak db was 65.
At 9 o'clock, the peak db was 80.
At 10 o'clock, the peak db was 90.

This is my first tube amplifier, so I cannot give authoritative opinions about it. It does sound fantastic though. The music has a grandeur, or a sweetness, to it. I assumed that I wouldn't hear as many details in the music compared to my Headamp GS-X mini, but the music is almost as detailed. The details are a little more obvious on the Headamp, but they are still there with the Balanced amp. Here are some examples of details I listened for:
1. They Might Be Giants, Flood, Lucky Ball and Chain, 2m10s, Left Channel has doo-doo bass.
2. Evanescense, Falen, Bring me to life, 1m37s static with note right before silence.
3. DMB, Crash, Crash Into Me, Cymbal tap changes. Initial tapping. At 11s I hear a tambourine shuffle.
4. Chris Isaac, Forever Blue, Go Walking Down There. 2m01s, 2m06s, 2m12s, 2m17s softly repeats himself, with separate recordings, in both channels
5. Chevelle, La Gargola, Hunter Eats Hunter, Triangle in Right channel at 1m38, 1m41. At 2m51s a faint, buzzy guitar moving from L to R and back to L channel
6. Disturbed, The Sickness (remastered), Down With the Sickness, 3m12s, 3m17s, 3m23s Dream echos in Right Channel.
7. Disturbed, Asylum, The Infection. 48s laughter in left channel 1m31 Dying whispered from right to left channel
8. Chevelle, Niratias, Peach. 2m28s-29s in the background of the guitar riff he says "huh huh huh huhhh" in the L channel.
9. Chuck Mangione, the Millennium Collection, Fun and Games, At the beginning he says “That's alright, keep the groove going, play what you played before.” I can hear it clearly at normal volume levels.
10. Foo Fighters, Colour and Shape, My Hero. 35s-58s and at 1:30-1:55 there is an off key guitar in L channel

Since I am listening with closed backs, I wouldn't expect them to be very holographic. With track 17 on Dr. Chesky's Sensational Fantastic & Simply Amazing album, it sounds like the singers are in a semi circle behind me. I don't notice it so much in normal music listening though.

When the Balanced amp is connected to the Headamp's pre-amp, it has a slightly more robust sound. Is the Headamp providing a gain function? It still sounds great when it is directly connected to the Yggdrasil, but does sound a little better using the Headamp as a preamp.

I tried Psvane's CV181-T Mark II Treasure Tubes. Two posts in another forum suggested that they needed 300 hours of burn in to settle. I let them play for 5 days straight. With my audio chain, they were veiled and masked details. Even though the stock tubes had less of a tube effect, I enjoy them more.

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Jun 8, 2021 at 2:17 PM Post #72 of 98

azkkr

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Hi everyone. Looking at getting a Tor myself. Has anyone tried it with any of the ZMF headphones? It sounds like it would work really well with them.

@Ezumin how do you like it with the Verite?

@audioisemotion was the import to the UK smooth? And also, based on your profile picture, have you tried it with the PS1000/2000? Does it work well with them.

Any and all thoughts, most welcome. Cheers!
 
Jun 8, 2021 at 3:17 PM Post #73 of 98

Ezumin

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@azkkr I don't have any open backs to compare them with, but they VC's sound great on the Balanced Amp. I hope to get some decent open backs later this year.

@carboncopy mentioned that the quality of the cable made slight improvements to the sound. I agree that the quality of audio chain affects the sound coming out of the Balanced Amp. Both the Modius and Yggdrasil sound great, but the Modius does sound a little flatter through the Balanced amp. Conversely, when I swap between the Modius and the Yggdrasil on my Erish amp, it is more difficult to tell the two dacs apart. There isn't a substantial difference, but it is easier to identify the differences between the two dacs on my Headamp and Balanced amp than on my Erish. (The Erish is a great amp, and it really isn't fair to compare a $200 amp to a $1000 or $2000 amp.) The Balanced Amp is not a weak link in my audio chain.

I picked up some MELZ 6N8S/6SN7 tubes on ebay for $20 per. They seem to boost the midrange a bit and enhance the vocals a bit compared to the stock tubes. I wouldn't say they are better or worse than the stock tubes, just different.

(Edit) The Balanced is the first tube amp I have owned. Is it better than a Glenn? The popularity of the Glenn would imply it might be better. I am not an authority on tube amps and can only speak from my experience.
 
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Jun 13, 2021 at 5:23 PM Post #75 of 98

Researcher

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Hi all,
Just curious as to how tor-audio balance amp pairs with planar ( got Ether c flow). I noticed the amp was mentioned to have as doubled stuff as the unbalance siblings have. However, they provide the same power output. Have an idea about this?
 

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