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Vincent KHV-1pre hybrid, impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by aaron_, Jun 14, 2009.
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  1. aaron_
    As I saw this wonderful amp only getting mentioned every now and then, so I thought I'd start a dedicated thread about Vincents KHV-1pre.

    First, some pictures:
    (sorry, no pics of the opened amp yet, as I didn't have my camera with me last time)

    I mostly use the KHV-1 with Sennheiser HD650s nowadays, but I used AKG's K530s, K701s and Beyer's DT990s '05 in the past.
    The Vincent headamp features 2 pairs of RCA inputs at the back, and the source is changed via a knob on the front, as shown in the pictures. It's built as a hybrid amp with an ECC83 preamp and class A solid state output. Power--supply and amp-circuit are each located on their own PCB.

    The KHV-1's sound signature is one of the best, I've ever heard: Deep and powerful, but never obtrusive bass, a tube-like midrange that makes the KHV-1 sound very lively, and treble clarity without any sibilance. Without any input signal, the KHV-1 is basically noise and hum-free up to its maximum volume - which is very loud. If there's one thing, I'd like to change about the KHV-1, it would be its extremely high gain, since I'm always around 7 to 9 o'clock on the volume knob. The potentiometer however, is exactly balanced from the start.

    For those interested, I took some measurements of my stock KHV-1:
    DC-offset: 0,4-2mV
    Output impedance: ~11ohms

    Build-quality-wise, the amp seems top notch too, at least for the most part: The case is made out of 3-8mm thick aluminum panels (except for the steel backplate) but the screws are junk and strip easily (you must open the top to change the tubes) I replaced them with proper M3x10mm hex screws.
    The volume knob appears a bit stiff at first, since it rides on a plastic bushing - a dab of teflon grease helps here.
    Finally, there's some humming from the bottom mounted transformer (not through the headphones, but through the case) Some rubber o-rings between the transformer and the bottom plate make it virtually nose free. (you'd hear a very faint hum pressing your ear against the casing)

    Who else has a KHV-1? What are your impressions?
  2. Gradofan2
    So what amps does it compare to???
  3. john53
    When i was searching for an amp,i tried the khv 111(the one with the two volume knobs,one for each channel).It was a nice sounding amp but i slightly prefer my x can v8 with my hd 600.

    The x can is more open and transparent and without having any sibilance too.It's also a bit more refined in the whole spectrum and more balanced and lifelike to my ears.The khv 111 had a bit too tubey sound to my ears(but maybe the reason for that was the tubes it used.)

    I wanted to try the khv 1(it's the one that stands vertically,right?)but the dealer here in greece didn't have one to audition and i had to wait for months till they had one,so i tried the v8 and liked it,and bought it.
    But i would like sometime to try out this amp by vincent(for the experience)
  4. project86 Contributor
    I really like the KHV1 as well. Paired with HD650s it matches very well, and as you mentioned the build quality is stellar. Mine didn't have the humming problem though. The only other headphone amp I can compare it to was the Grado RA-1, which is nice but showing it's age compared to the Vincent.
  5. aaron_
    Gradofan2, though I had others, I could only do a systematic comparison with the Meier Corda Cantate now, since I own one too and can use both with the same headphones. I wrote something about it here - except, that I thought my soundcard was bad then, but the Vincent really is that good [​IMG] (in fact, I bought another Vincent since then!)

    With the Vincent, I just put on the headphones and I'm like "that is it!"
    There's no "well, sounds good, but ... Let's hope a few hours of burn-in will remedy that" - just perfect, and impressive too, since my KHV-1 is still on it's chinese stock tubes (12X7C) which are agreed upon to perform sub par, to put it kindly. So I may be experimenting with some NOS tubes in the near future.

    john53, the KHV-111 is only half the price of the KHV-1, and it's a lot less sophisticated too...
    I never heard it in comparison, but those who did, clearly stated that the KHV-111 is an inferior amp to the KHV-1.

    project86, glad to here there's at least another happy KHV-1 owner [​IMG]
    I like the Vincent with a wide range of headphones, but being on a budget, the HD650s were the best compromise I guess.
    AKG K701s sound really great, but get fatiguing due to the extreme detail present. I didn't like Beyerdynamics DT990 though (250Ohm version) since they mostly did away with the marvellous midrange and presented quite a bloated bass.
  6. rasmushorn
    I had the KHV-1 for half a year a while back and I absolutely loved it. Using my Vincent CD-S6MK as source and HD650 it really made the HD650 sound better more powerfull than I have ever heard them play. I am actually considering getting the KHV-1 again. It might not be as analytical as the X-CAN but as far as I remember it was such a pleasure to the ears. The KHV-111 is not a comparison at all.

    I also agree - this amp deserves much more respect. I havn't heard the Pre-amp part of it so I only know the headphone amp.
    Stereophile wrote about it last year:
    Stereophile: Vincent Audio KHV-1pre headphone amplifier/preamplifier
  7. tomk
    Thanks for beginning the discussion. I have been using a KHV-1Pre since November, 2008. I enjoy the amp, but this is the only headphone amplifier I have ever heard. Fixing to upgrade my headphones. Any thoughts?
  8. Stevesebastianb
    What tubes are used?
  9. aaron_
    tomk, I very much like the HD650's with the Vincent. At first, I feared that the combo would sound too dark (since both the Vincent and the HD650 are rather on dark side..) but the Chinese stock tubes (Shuguang) are in fact quite bright sounding, so that just makes for a sound signature, that is natural yet very engaging and musical.
    AKG 701's on the other hand clearly sound too bright for me, but there are lots of less bright sounding tubes to choose from. In fact, a friend of mine just got his KHV1/701 combo to work perfectly with some TAD ECC83 tubes (Don't ask me which ones, though)

    Stevesebastianb, it depends on what headphones you'll want to use...
  10. rasmushorn

    Originally Posted by tomk /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Thanks for beginning the discussion. I have been using a KHV-1Pre since November, 2008. I enjoy the amp, but this is the only headphone amplifier I have ever heard. Fixing to upgrade my headphones. Any thoughts?

    Ohhh!!! This is like the PEERFECT HD650 amplifier. They sound so great together. It will be hard to find a combination which is so deep, tight, and has so much authority even to the high frequencies. Do not worry about this being to dark. Female voices are so real and detailed.

    I am still thinking of getting this amp again since it only makes my Vincent CD-player even better.
  11. fdhfdy
    It looks like a pc
  12. madmax8428
    Building a PC out of it would actually work - but I like it more the way it is..

    However - I'm the aforementioned friend with the KHV1/701 combo - nice to meet you guys!

    I replaced the stock Chinese tubes with Czech TAD Ruby Tubes RT003 ECC83CZ which made the amp sound absolutely marvellous with the K701s - still a little bright maybe, but the new tubes made me turn off my equalizer plugin..
  13. tomk
    Thanks! I sure appreciate the advice. The Senn HD 650 will be on the short list. Any thoughts on cable upgrades?
  14. rasmushorn

    Originally Posted by tomk /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Thanks! I sure appreciate the advice. The Senn HD 650 will be on the short list. Any thoughts on cable upgrades?

    Cables? On headphones or interconnects?
  15. tomk
    Howdy rasmushorn! Headphone cable upgrade. Probably will stick with the stock cable for some time.
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