Valhalla 2 v/s Echo

Echo or Valhalla?

  • Feliks Echo 2018

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Schiit Valhalla 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    0
  • Poll closed .
Jan 4, 2021 at 2:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 42

elrey

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Hello. I have a versus question. I currently own a Schiit Valhalla 2 (stock tubes), and I am getting a second amp. I like the Valhalla, but I am looking at the Feliks Echo to diversify or even improve my setup.

Some of my thoughts:
  • One thing that I like about the Echo is the "automatic bias circuit, therefore no re-tuning is required after changing tubes". I have no idea how to do that on the Valhalla or if it is required.
  • I don't like that the Valhalla and Echo use 6N6P tubes because there is no straightforward replacement, but at the same time, it is probably a good idea to use the same tubes in both amps.
  • There is a difference in the frequency response. The Valhalla is listed as 20Hz - 20KHz, -0.1db, 7Hz - 200KHz, -3dB. On the other hand, the Echo is listed as 15Hz - 45KHz +/-3dB. Are those values comparable? Can I assume that the Valhalla is a better match for the Sennheiser HD800? (4 - 51KHz (-10 dB))

Has anyone tried the Valhalla and the Echo? Any thoughts? Also, what other factors should I consider when making this decision?

Thanks!
 
Jan 13, 2021 at 10:47 PM Post #2 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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Hello. I have a versus question. I currently own a Schiit Valhalla 2 (stock tubes), and I am getting a second amp. I like the Valhalla, but I am looking at the Feliks Echo to diversify or even improve my setup.

Some of my thoughts:
  • One thing that I like about the Echo is the "automatic bias circuit, therefore no re-tuning is required after changing tubes". I have no idea how to do that on the Valhalla or if it is required.
  • I don't like that the Valhalla and Echo use 6N6P tubes because there is no straightforward replacement, but at the same time, it is probably a good idea to use the same tubes in both amps.
  • There is a difference in the frequency response. The Valhalla is listed as 20Hz - 20KHz, -0.1db, 7Hz - 200KHz, -3dB. On the other hand, the Echo is listed as 15Hz - 45KHz +/-3dB. Are those values comparable? Can I assume that the Valhalla is a better match for the Sennheiser HD800? (4 - 51KHz (-10 dB))

Has anyone tried the Valhalla and the Echo? Any thoughts? Also, what other factors should I consider when making this decision?

Thanks!

Hi, . . . I'm wondering what you're looking for in the Echo that the Valhalla 2 isn't giving you (e.g., warmer sound signature, wider sound stage, etc.). The reason I ask is you didn't mention if you've rolled any tubes with the Valhalla 2. I don't have any experience with the Echo (it looks like a nice OTL amp), but I've rolled a number of tubes in the Valhalla 2 which changes the sound signature quite a bit, especially with 300 ohm cans like the HD800 (note: I also use use both HD800S and HD650 with my Valhalla 2). With the HD800S and HD650s, I didn't prefer the sound of the stock 6N1P tubes with the Valhalla 2. The best sounding tubes I've found to date for the "Valhalla 2 + HD800S" are the "6CG7 RCA Clear Tops" available for ~$60/each from TubeDepot (https://tubedepot.com/products/6cg7-6fq7-rca-clear-top), followed by "Electro-Harmonix 6CG7s" for ~$28/each, also from TubeDepot (https://tubedepot.com/products/electro-harmonix-6cg7-6fq7-eh-preamp-vacuum-tube). Both of these tubes add an audible degree of lushness and warmth and can be installed directly into the Valhalla 2 (front two 6N1P slots only) without the need for any adapters or re-tuning (note: if you order either of these tubes, make sure you check the box for "matching" so your left/right channels sound the same).
 
Jan 17, 2021 at 2:17 PM Post #3 of 42

elrey

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Thanks for your reply.
My idea was to get an amp for a second location and try something different from the Valhalla. Regarding the Valhalla, I recently tried the Gold Lion 6922, and I noticed an improvement over the stock tubes.
I was worried about how difficult it is to find the 6NP6, but it seems that the Echo is not a good option in that regard either.
I will check the tubes that you mentioned. It seems that the Valhalla with better tubes might be the best option for me.
 
Jan 17, 2021 at 6:35 PM Post #4 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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Glad to provide a little insight into tubes for Valhalla 2. I've never listened to the Gold Lion 6922s, but will give them a try the next time I order tubes. Although I mentioned the EH 6CG7s were an improvement over stock, the RCA Clear Top 6CG7 are night and day (i.e., a nice step up over the EHs in my opinion), especially with the HD800s. In addition to providing a better/wider soundstage, the ability to identify individual instruments and overall smoothness and quality of sound is improved. The only potential negative with the RCAs is a little less brightness/shimmer in the treble, but I think this is actually a strength when paired with HD800s. If you decide to try other tubes in your Valhalla 2, definitely think about picking up a pair of the Clear Tops. As for a second amp, I've always been a "tube" guy, but due to the popularity of new solid state amps (and rave reviews here on Head-Fi), I ordered a Jotunheim 2 last week (hasn't arrived yet). I'm interested to see just how different a good solid state will sound with the HD650s/HD800s, and having a solid state amp (in addition to the Valhalla 2) will also give me some variety/options if I end up with lower impedance cans.
 
Jan 17, 2021 at 7:08 PM Post #5 of 42

elrey

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I just got the new tubes two days ago. I was perfectly happy with the stock tubes (6N1P-EB VII-75 OTK in my case), but the Gold Lion improve the sound stage and bass. I mostly listen to classical music, so I wasn't looking for punchy bass performance, but the improvement is noticeable.

From what you are describing, the RCA Clear Top 6CG7 will be a good match for the HD800S. Question regarding the HD800S. Do you use the Valhalla in low or high gain? I will get my HD800S next week and currently use the HD660S, thus difference impedance.
 
Jan 23, 2021 at 11:22 PM Post #6 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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I just got the new tubes two days ago. I was perfectly happy with the stock tubes (6N1P-EB VII-75 OTK in my case), but the Gold Lion improve the sound stage and bass. I mostly listen to classical music, so I wasn't looking for punchy bass performance, but the improvement is noticeable.

From what you are describing, the RCA Clear Top 6CG7 will be a good match for the HD800S. Question regarding the HD800S. Do you use the Valhalla in low or high gain? I will get my HD800S next week and currently use the HD660S, thus difference impedance.

Interesting that you should ask about this, . . . I just replied to a similar thread regarding high or low gain with the Valhalla 2. As I mentioned, I'm currently using a Valhalla 2 to drive HD800S and HD650 cans (both 300 ohms) and I think the Valhalla 2 drives both of these better in high gain (i.e., 14 ohm source/output impedance). If you're interested in learning more about "why" high gain on the Valhalla 2 "should" be better with the HD800S, here is a good/detailed article regarding impedance and the importance of matching headphones with audio sources: https://www.headphonesty.com/2019/04/headphone-impedance-demystified/

If you don't want to read a the entire article, scroll to the bottom for the "conclusion" where the second bullet reads: "Pairing a headphone with an impedance of 2.5-8 times higher than the source impedance should yield good results. This recommended ratio is commonly known as the ‘rule of eighths’ and contributes to proper driver control (damping factor). Pairing a headphone with an equal or lower impedance than the source will likely result in unpredictable (poor) sound quality."

Since your HD660S cans are 150 ohms, I'm assuming they'll also sound better in high gain, but I've never tried the Valhalla 2 with lower impedance cans, so I'm just guessing (i.e., I'm also assuming any headphone <~100 ohms will benefit from the low gain setting). I'm interested to hear what you think once you've had a chance to listen to your HD800S with the Valhalla 2.
 
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Jan 24, 2021 at 1:02 AM Post #7 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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BTW, . . . I'm not sure if you've received your HD800S cans yet, but I've found the following to be quite enjoyable on them with the Valhalla 2 (in no particular order). I would also be interested to hear what classical albums you recommend.
  • Hotel California, Eagles (Hell Freezes Over)
  • Deep River Blues, Tommy Emmanuel (Accomplice One)
  • Long After You Are Gone, Chris Jones (Moonstruck)
  • Good Mystery, Amber Rubarth (Good Mystery)
  • Safe Haven, Ruth B. (Safe Haven)
  • Come Together, Musica Nuda (Musica Nuda)
  • Whipping Post, The Allman Brothers Band (At Fillmore East)
  • Alone Again, The Weekend (After Hours)
  • When the Party's Over, Billie Eilish (When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?)
  • Fade to Black, Dire Straits (On Every Street)
  • PWWR (Live), Jon Batiste (Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard)
  • Lets Never Stop Falling in Love, Pink Martini (Hang on Little Tomato)
  • Mama Talking, Parov Stelar (The Burning Spider)
  • The Thin Ice, Pink Floyd (The Wall) or any/all Pink Floyd :)
 
Jan 27, 2021 at 7:38 PM Post #8 of 42

elrey

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I'm interested to hear what you think once you've had a chance to listen to your HD800S with the Valhalla 2.

I have been testing the HD800S, and I have never pushed the Valhalla past 12 o clock. That is why I was wondering about the benefits of hi-gain. In terms of how the HD800S pair with the Valhalla (with the 6922 Gold Lion), it is just wow! I mean, the 600S are excellent headphones, but the 800S are just on another level. I can hear better instrument separation, and they don't even feel like headphones. They are incredibly open.

I will check your playlist. The ones that I use, because I am familiar with, are:
  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Janine Jansen) - Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8/2: #3 Presto
  • Bach: Partita No.2 for Violin in D minor, BWV1004 (Daniel Lozakovich): #5 Chaconne
  • Ophélie Gaillard - Boccherini : Cello Concertos, Stabat Mater & Quintet - Track 14: Los Manolos (Passa calle). Allegro vivo
Now that I am thinking, those are probably not the best to test headphones, but I find them enjoyable with the HD800S. I will add more during the weekend.
 
Jan 28, 2021 at 5:21 PM Post #9 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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I have been testing the HD800S, and I have never pushed the Valhalla past 12 o clock. That is why I was wondering about the benefits of hi-gain. In terms of how the HD800S pair with the Valhalla (with the 6922 Gold Lion), it is just wow! I mean, the 600S are excellent headphones, but the 800S are just on another level. I can hear better instrument separation, and they don't even feel like headphones. They are incredibly open.

I will check your playlist. The ones that I use, because I am familiar with, are:
  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Janine Jansen) - Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8/2: #3 Presto
  • Bach: Partita No.2 for Violin in D minor, BWV1004 (Daniel Lozakovich): #5 Chaconne
  • Ophélie Gaillard - Boccherini : Cello Concertos, Stabat Mater & Quintet - Track 14: Los Manolos (Passa calle). Allegro vivo
Now that I am thinking, those are probably not the best to test headphones, but I find them enjoyable with the HD800S. I will add more during the weekend.
Thanks for the reply and the recommendations. No worry regarding finding the "best recordings to test headphones" . . . I'm just looking for good albums. Since there are so many classical recordings available, I'm always open to suggestions regarding what others enjoy. I'm not super familiar with composers, conductors, musicians, etc., any advice is appreciated. Glad you're enjoying your new HD800S!
 
Jan 31, 2021 at 2:45 PM Post #10 of 42

elrey

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  • Hotel California, Eagles (Hell Freezes Over)
  • Deep River Blues, Tommy Emmanuel (Accomplice One)
  • Long After You Are Gone, Chris Jones (Moonstruck)
  • Good Mystery, Amber Rubarth (Good Mystery)
  • Safe Haven, Ruth B. (Safe Haven)
  • Come Together, Musica Nuda (Musica Nuda)
  • Whipping Post, The Allman Brothers Band (At Fillmore East)
  • Alone Again, The Weekend (After Hours)
  • When the Party's Over, Billie Eilish (When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?)
  • Fade to Black, Dire Straits (On Every Street)
  • PWWR (Live), Jon Batiste (Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard)
  • Lets Never Stop Falling in Love, Pink Martini (Hang on Little Tomato)
  • Mama Talking, Parov Stelar (The Burning Spider)
  • The Thin Ice, Pink Floyd (The Wall) or any/all Pink Floyd :)
That is a great list

Some impressions:
Hotel California ... classic. I didn't know that live version.
Pink Floyd.. also classics!
Tommy Emmanuel, Chris Jones, Ruth B, Pink Martini. Just wow, the Valhalla + 800S shines!
Regarding Musica Nuda and Billie Eilish, to 'test voice' I mostly go for On brûlera - Pomme (À peu près), or Pauline (same album).

I would recommend:
The Ocean - Led Zeppelin (Houses Of The Holy)
Highway To Hell - Carla Bruni (French Touch)
Ask DNA - Seatbelts (COWBOY BEBOP Knockin' on Heaven's Door Ask DNA)
Solveig's Song (Arr. for Cello and Piano by Georg Goltermann) - Mischa Maisky (Adagietto)
 
Feb 2, 2021 at 5:07 PM Post #11 of 42

elrey

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Feb 2, 2021 at 6:56 PM Post #12 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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Have you tried the Jotunheim? Did you ordered with DAC?
Hi, . . . yes, I received my Jot 2 last Tuesday (01/26), so I've had it just over a week. I performed a 48-hour burn in using the "Headphone Burn-In Utility" track on The Ultimate Headphones Test album (available via Tidal), and have probably listened to it for about 7-10 hours total. Since I already have a Bifrost 2, I did not order it with the optional DACs. I also have it connected to my Bifrost 2 via the XLR balanced inputs (my Bifrost 2 RCA outs are connected to my Valhalla 2). I purchased the Jot 2 specifically to pair with my Focal Clear headphones (55 ohm) for listening to heavier rock, pop, dance, hip-hop, electronic, etc., where a thicker low end and a bit more punch and speed is nice to have and a larger sound stage isn't a prominent part of the recordings (note: the Focal Clears can't compete with the HD800S in terms of width of sound stage and overall natural tone, but they get you 95% of the way there while providing a thicker/punchier low-end that's complemented by the Jot 2).

The Jot 2 does a great job driving my Focal Clears and sounds noticeably better via the XLR balanced output with both my Clears and my HD800S cans. The Jot2 volume control knob is typically around 9:00 on low gain/XLR balanced with the Focal Clears; by 10:00 the Clears are screaming. If you're looking for detail and accuracy, the Jot2 provides it in spades (i.e., you can hear every instrument, voice, reverb, etc., with tons of clarity). The Jot2 also sounds excellent with my HD800S cans (i.e., plenty loud by 10:00 via low-gain/XLR balanced output and tons of clarity), but I actually prefer listening to my HD800S cans with my Valhalla 2 tube amp, as the Valhalla 2 (w/RCA Clear Top 6CG7 tubes) provides a larger sound stage, a thicker/fuller overall sound, and more realistic/smoother presentation (note: I typically use my HD800S and Valhalla 2 when listening to jazz, classical, and live/acoustic recordings). Also, although the Jot 2 isn't as warm and lush as the Valhalla 2, I wouldn't say it's cold; to me, it's slightly on the warm side of neutral (i.e., my HD800S and Focal Clears have never sounded harsh or bland/cold through the Jot 2).

Overall, I think the Jot 2 is an excellent amplifier (especially via the XLR balanced output) and provides a nice complement to the Valhalla 2 tube amp, especially if you have lower impedance cans (i.e., <150 ohms), or just want/prefer super detailed, ultra clear sound.

BTW, I also tried my Focal Clears with the Valhalla 2 (unbalanced) and although they portray a bit of the lushness and warmer tube sound, the tube "flavor" isn't as evident/prominent as it is with my higher 300 ohm cans (e.g., HD800S and HD650). You also lose the balanced XLR output with the Valhalla 2, which really impacts the separation and width/sound stage of the Focal Clears (note: the loss/gain of separation and width of sound stage isn't as noticeable on the HD800S cans when going between the Jot 2 and Valhalla 2). I also had to run the Valhalla 2 in low-gain with the 55 ohm Focal Clears (i.e., you can hear a low hum from the Valhalla 2 in high-gain with the lower impedance Clears).

Sorry if this was WAY more information than you wanted/needed, but please let me know if there's anything I didn't address and/or if you have other questions regarding the Jot 2.
 
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Feb 2, 2021 at 7:03 PM Post #13 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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That is a great list

Some impressions:
Hotel California ... classic. I didn't know that live version.
Pink Floyd.. also classics!
Tommy Emmanuel, Chris Jones, Ruth B, Pink Martini. Just wow, the Valhalla + 800S shines!
Regarding Musica Nuda and Billie Eilish, to 'test voice' I mostly go for On brûlera - Pomme (À peu près), or Pauline (same album).

I would recommend:
The Ocean - Led Zeppelin (Houses Of The Holy)
Highway To Hell - Carla Bruni (French Touch)
Ask DNA - Seatbelts (COWBOY BEBOP Knockin' on Heaven's Door Ask DNA)
Solveig's Song (Arr. for Cello and Piano by Georg Goltermann) - Mischa Maisky (Adagietto)
Thanks for the additional recommendations elrey! On Brulera is definitely awesome (and something I don't think I'd ever find on my own), as is Carla Bruni and Solveig's Song. Cowboy Bebop has a completely different sound (a lot going on at once), but is also growing on me. Houses Of the Holy (and Zeppelin in general), has always been one of my favorites. 👍
 
Feb 20, 2021 at 1:13 PM Post #14 of 42

elrey

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Sorry if this was WAY more information than you wanted/needed, but please let me know if there's anything I didn't address and/or if you have other questions regarding the Jot 2.
That is actually the information that I was looking for.

So I just got a used Jot (1) with DAC because I wanted it for a second location. I am not thrilled. It is not bad, but I have listened to the Magni + Modi, and I am unsure if the Jot is superior. It is noisy when using the internal DAC. I will have to run more tests, mainly because I don't have an XLR cable for my headphones (mine will arrive in March).
I also prefer the HD800 with the Valhalla 2 to the Jot. The Jot at about 9 pm (low-gain) will drive the HD800 at a comfortable level, so there is plenty of power there.
I am looking forward to testing the Jot with the balanced output.

Question: How are the Focal in comparison to the HD800?
 
Feb 20, 2021 at 11:52 PM Post #15 of 42

schneiderdn1974

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That is actually the information that I was looking for.

So I just got a used Jot (1) with DAC because I wanted it for a second location. I am not thrilled. It is not bad, but I have listened to the Magni + Modi, and I am unsure if the Jot is superior. It is noisy when using the internal DAC. I will have to run more tests, mainly because I don't have an XLR cable for my headphones (mine will arrive in March).
I also prefer the HD800 with the Valhalla 2 to the Jot. The Jot at about 9 pm (low-gain) will drive the HD800 at a comfortable level, so there is plenty of power there.
I am looking forward to testing the Jot with the balanced output.

Question: How are the Focal in comparison to the HD800?
The Focal Clears are excellent headphones; definitely in the same league as the HD800S in terms of their ability to deliver detail, clarity, and resolution. As you may have read elsewhere, they are extremely well balanced across the board (i.e., lows, mids, and highs), and can reproduce the entire range accurately without becoming muddy (assuming you power them correctly). Although they can't compete with the HD800S in terms of width and soundstage, I wouldn't call them narrow or "intimate" either. They can definitely produce a pleasing "shoulder width" soundstage, especially when listening to them balanced/XLR.

As I mentioned before, I really like to use the Clears with the Jot 2 when listening to modern recordings that include a lot of digital/computerized sounds and/or deep processed bass like Lindsey Stirling's "Elements" or Billie Eilish's "Bury a Friend" (i.e., recordings where enjoying the quiet parts of the music and "hearing the room" isn't really important). The Focal Clears have a much more pronounced/punchier low end that is nice to have when listening to these types of recordings, and the solid state Jot 2 provides the power, speed and ultra-precision that helps to keep this type of music from sounding muddy. Although the Clears sound really good with the Jot 2 single ended, they really shine via balanced/XLR (i.e., wider sound stage, better separation, enhanced imaging and resolution, etc.).

That said, when listening to music that doesn't include a ton of processed digital sounds and lingering ultra-deep bass (e.g., most live acoustic, jazz, classical, vocal/opera recordings where you can enjoy the quite parts of the music and "hear the room"), I prefer using the HD800S with the Valhalla 2. Although the Valhalla 2 doesn't deliver the ultra-clear fast/responsive sound of the Jot 2, I really enjoy the lushness and natural tone of the tubes with the HD800S. On the same note, although the HD800S sound incredibly clear and detailed with Jot 2, they sound a bit too clinical for my taste and don't benefit as much from the balanced output (i.e., since they already provide an ultra-wide soundstage, excellent separation, and tons of resolution).

I think another interesting headphone option for the Jot 2 and the Valhalla 2 may be the Hifiman Arya. I've heard great things about the Arya's soundstage and dynamic punch, but have yet to hear a pair myself.

PS: As a side note, although a lot of reviewers harp on the HD800S lack of low-end punch, I think the HD800S low end is part of what makes them special and allows them to be such a spacious sounding can (i.e., there isn't even a hint of trying to overdo the low end). They are definitely capable of producing low frequencies, but they don't enhanced the bass any way. I find this desirable when listening to acoustic, jazz, classical, etc.
 
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