Will a speaker tube preamp work with headphones and their amps?
Oct 16, 2019 at 12:36 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

nishan99

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Hi

I want to get a tube preamp for my speakers and want to use them with headphones also, will it work?

The preamp in question is the Schiit Freya+ to a thx amp to the ZMF Verite.

Any help will be much appreciated <3
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 2:00 AM Post #2 of 14

PurpleAngel

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You want to connect the line-outputs (RCA) on the Freya S, to the line-inputs on the THX AAA 789 headphone amplifier.
With the Freya S balanced outputs connected to the balanced inputs on the self powered studio monitors.
Can't see any reason that would not work.

Or connect the Freya S balanced outputs to the balanced inputs on the THX AAA 789 head amp
While the Freya S RCA line-outputs are connected to the speakers line-inputs (RCA).
That would work too.
 
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Oct 16, 2019 at 8:21 AM Post #3 of 14

nishan99

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You want to connect the line-outputs (RCA) on the Freya +, to the line-inputs on the THX AAA 789 headphone amplifier.
With the Freya + balanced outputs connected to the balanced inputs on the self powered studio monitors.
Can't see any reason that would not work.

Or connect the Freya + balanced outputs to the balanced inputs on the THX AAA 789 head amp
While the Freya + RCA line-outputs are connected to the speakers line-inputs (RCA).
That would work too.

will the thx accept such high inputs from a speaker preamp? can you imagine it sounding good?
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 10:16 AM Post #4 of 14

PurpleAngel

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will the thx accept such high inputs from a speaker preamp? can you imagine it sounding good?
Not sure why you label the Schiit Freya S, a "speaker preamp", it's just a preamp, designed to take in a line signal (balanced or unbalanced) and boost the signal to whatever amplifier (like the THX AAA 789) your connect it to.
 
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Oct 16, 2019 at 12:37 PM Post #5 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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Hi

I want to get a tube preamp for my speakers and want to use them with headphones also, will it work?

The preamp in question is the Schiit Freya+ to a thx amp to the ZMF Verite.

Any help will be much appreciated <3

Use passive output mode when using the THX amp and crank it up all the way.

This way you avoid having two active preamps ie volume controls on the same signal chain.

One problem though is how the Freya works. If the whole circuit switches over to passive by pushing a button and the volume doesn't reset when you switch modes, you'll have to diligently make sure that you turn the volume back down when you use active preamp output to your speakers' power amp.


Not sure why you label the Schiit Freya+ a "speaker preamp", it's just a preamp, designed to take in a line signal (balanced or unbalanced) and boost the signal to whatever amplifier (like the THX AAA 789) you connect it to.

Because separate preamp/power amp set ups are extremely rare in headphone audio (and he associates "headphone preamp" to be the output on the rear of some headphone amps) that the only ones out there are either:

1. Sold as a single system by whoever manufactures them

2. Actual preamp and speaker power amps for driving headphones like the K1000 if they can't find the SAC it comes with, the original Orpheus (ie the Manley Stingray is actually an integrated amp), etc.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 1:10 PM Post #6 of 14

nishan99

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Thank you all <3

Use passive output mode when using the THX amp and crank it up all the way.

This way you avoid having two active preamps ie volume controls on the same signal chain.

One problem though is how the Freya works. If the whole circuit switches over to passive by pushing a button and the volume doesn't reset when you switch modes, you'll have to diligently make sure that you turn the volume back down when you use active preamp output to your speakers' power amp.




Because separate preamp/power amp set ups are extremely rare in headphone audio (and he associates "headphone preamp" to be the output on the rear of some headphone amps) that the only ones out there are either:

1. Sold as a single system by whoever manufactures them

2. Actual preamp and speaker power amps for driving headphones like the K1000 if they can't find the SAC it comes with, the original Orpheus (ie the Manley Stingray is actually an integrated amp), etc.

I am thinking about using both volume controls so I control how much tubes sound from that Schiit. Crank the Schiit and lower the THX for more tube drive and vice versa. 4 driving tubes are a bit too much for headphones, most tube amps use 1-2 driving tubes.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 1:34 PM Post #7 of 14

PurpleAngel

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Thank you all <3
I am thinking about using both volume controls so I control how much tubes sound from that Schiit. Crank the Schiit and lower the THX for more tube drive and vice versa. 4 driving tubes are a bit too much for headphones, most tube amps use 1-2 driving tubes.

The Schiit Freya S does not directly drive headphones, it boosts the line signal sent to the amplifier (THX AAA 789).
The amplifier in the headphone amplifier (THX AAA789) is what drives the headphones.

So the tubes in the Freya S (or any other tube preamp or solid state preamp or hybrid tube preamp) do not drive the diaphragm(s) in the headphone cups (or diaphragm(s) in speakers).

You could daisy chain three headphone amplifiers together, but the only amplifier that technically drives (powers) the headphone would be the head amp at the end of the chain.
(yes it's dumb to daisy chain amplifiers, but just try to make a point)
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 2:24 PM Post #8 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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I am thinking about using both volume controls so I control how much tubes sound from that Schiit. Crank the Schiit and lower the THX for more tube drive and vice versa. 4 driving tubes are a bit too much for headphones, most tube amps use 1-2 driving tubes.

Uh...why use a tube as an Equalizer? I mean if you really want to use a tube preamp stage as an equalizer and room DSP you might as well ditch the THX, get a tube amp, run a passive preamp signal to the tube headphone amp, roll the tubes in the headphone amp if you really want to use hardware not actually as EQ as your preferred kind of EQ.

The thing is cranking up the tube preamp isn't just "adding more tube sound." You're cranking up the gain. That means that at some point other than the mess of having two preamps in one chain, at some point you'll be sending far more than 2V (SE) or 4V (balanced) into an amplifier's preamp's input stage designed to take 2V (SE) or 4V (balanced). That means you'll get more distortion, and that's not necessarily just the euphonic tube distortion you want to use as an EQ. You can end up just clipping the signal and wearing out the mechanical bits on the headphone drivers.

Also unless the tube works purely as a buffer like on the MF X10D and not a gainstage then running that preamp passive will bypass the tube.

However if it does work as a buffer then it'll color the sound even in passive preamp mode.


4 driving tubes are a bit too much for headphones, most tube amps use 1-2 driving tubes.

The tube in the Freya are either buffer tubes or gainstage tubes. They are not driver tubes.

Also even if you actually used an amp with four or eight or however many driver tubes there are, it's just overkill, and as long as you don't clip the signal - the chances of which will be minimized since presumably as long as the circuit is good you can expect power to be higher, though not proportionately - it's not a problem.

But what you want to do, depending on how the Freya uses those tubes, is not just add more rectifier tubes, but add another gain stage. Regardless of whether the gain stage in the headphone amp is a tube gain stage or not, or for that matter on the preamp that serves as a hub for routing the signal, having two gain stages is a bigger problem than having an overkill powerstage. Two properly designed gain stages will add more distortion than a single high power output stage (barring something like really cheap Class H amp, like on cheap PA speaker amps; or using a subwoofer Class D amp on fullrange speakers) and can add too much gain at the first gain stage that lowering the gain on the second gain stage will not matter as far as preventing clipping goes. Your signal can still clip even if your second gain stage is so low that you have potentiometer asymmetry, so long as the gain on thefirst gain stage is high enough. In short...you're worried about the wrong thing.

If that explanation is too hard to understand, that's all the more reason why you shouldn't do what you're planning to do. It's like getting bored on a flight because the air traffic controller ordered the aircraft to circle overhead, staging a coup on the plane and force the pilot to attempt a landing, and then end up ramming the other planes that are still being taxied into the terminal or getting towed out to the runway to take off because there's a freaking reason why the ATC told the pilot to go into a holding flight pattern.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 3:22 PM Post #9 of 14

nishan99

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Uh...why use a tube as an Equalizer? I mean if you really want to use a tube preamp stage as an equalizer and room DSP you might as well ditch the THX, get a tube amp, run a passive preamp signal to the tube headphone amp, roll the tubes in the headphone amp if you really want to use hardware not actually as EQ as your preferred kind of EQ.

The thing is cranking up the tube preamp isn't just "adding more tube sound." You're cranking up the gain. That means that at some point other than the mess of having two preamps in one chain, at some point you'll be sending far more than 2V (SE) or 4V (balanced) into an amplifier's preamp's input stage designed to take 2V (SE) or 4V (balanced). That means you'll get more distortion, and that's not necessarily just the euphonic tube distortion you want to use as an EQ. You can end up just clipping the signal and wearing out the mechanical bits on the headphone drivers.

Also unless the tube works purely as a buffer like on the MF X10D and not a gainstage then running that preamp passive will bypass the tube.

However if it does work as a buffer then it'll color the sound even in passive preamp mode.




The tube in the Freya are either buffer tubes or gainstage tubes. They are not driver tubes.

Also even if you actually used an amp with four or eight or however many driver tubes there are, it's just overkill, and as long as you don't clip the signal - the chances of which will be minimized since presumably as long as the circuit is good you can expect power to be higher, though not proportionately - it's not a problem.

But what you want to do, depending on how the Freya uses those tubes, is not just add more rectifier tubes, but add another gain stage. Regardless of whether the gain stage in the headphone amp is a tube gain stage or not, or for that matter on the preamp that serves as a hub for routing the signal, having two gain stages is a bigger problem than having an overkill powerstage. Two properly designed gain stages will add more distortion than a single high power output stage (barring something like really cheap Class H amp, like on cheap PA speaker amps; or using a subwoofer Class D amp on fullrange speakers) and can add too much gain at the first gain stage that lowering the gain on the second gain stage will not matter as far as preventing clipping goes. Your signal can still clip even if your second gain stage is so low that you have potentiometer asymmetry, so long as the gain on thefirst gain stage is high enough. In short...you're worried about the wrong thing.

If that explanation is too hard to understand, that's all the more reason why you shouldn't do what you're planning to do. It's like getting bored on a flight because the air traffic controller ordered the aircraft to circle overhead, staging a coup on the plane and force the pilot to attempt a landing, and then end up ramming the other planes that are still being taxied into the terminal or getting towed out to the runway to take off because there's a freaking reason why the ATC told the pilot to go into a holding flight pattern.

Thanks a lot man!

I was thinking about saving some money and the idea of hybrid thx amp was very tempting. I will still try though xD.

In the meantime I will search for a good hybrid amp.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 5:25 PM Post #10 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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Thanks a lot man!

I was thinking about saving some money and the idea of hybrid thx amp was very tempting. I will still try though xD.

In the meantime I will search for a good hybrid amp.

Whether tube or hybrid I'd really just use the Freya in passive mode and just roll the amp's rectifier tube. Try vintage Mullards on it, or maybe Amperex.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 5:31 PM Post #11 of 14

nishan99

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Whether tube or hybrid I'd really just use the Freya in passive mode and just roll the amp's rectifier tube. Try vintage Mullards on it, or maybe Amperex.

The tubes on the Freya are indeed driver tubes that used for gain stage. Its passive mode is just a volume knob without going through any amplification circuit. It was designed to give all the preamp options in one box, passive, active SS, active tubes.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 6:32 PM Post #12 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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The tubes on the Freya are indeed driver tubes that used for gain stage. Its passive mode is just a volume knob without going through any amplification circuit. It was designed to give all the preamp options in one box, passive, active SS, active tubes.

Just use it passive and roll the preamp tube on the hybrid amp than using the Freya as a high level of uncontrolled distortion+noise EQ.
 
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Oct 16, 2019 at 7:10 PM Post #13 of 14

buke9

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I have a Freya but have not hooked up a headphone amp to it but might when I get back from vacation to check it out to see. I’m not thinking it will give too good of results as some pre amps do have headphone outs on them like my Master 9 but it is not a tube pre but no problem with a bit of experimentation. Most of my solid state amps are a bit on the warm side so not for sure if it will help much but the Freya is a bit on the bright side as I have not rolled tubes on it.
 
Oct 16, 2019 at 10:02 PM Post #14 of 14

nishan99

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I have a Freya but have not hooked up a headphone amp to it but might when I get back from vacation to check it out to see. I’m not thinking it will give too good of results as some pre amps do have headphone outs on them like my Master 9 but it is not a tube pre but no problem with a bit of experimentation. Most of my solid state amps are a bit on the warm side so not for sure if it will help much but the Freya is a bit on the bright side as I have not rolled tubes on it.

That would be great!
 

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