Tubes/Tube Amps for Low Impedance Headphones

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by takato14, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. takato14

    takato14 God of Ruin

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    I've wanted to try a good tube amp for a while, but my gear has recently been moving towards planars and other low impedance gear, which narrows my possibilities a lot, especially on a budget.

    So, how about a pyrate-approved mid-to-high tier (sound wise) tube amp that would play nice with low impeadance headphones? Any price is fine at the moment.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Some options (Note that I have not heard all of these myself but am going off research and feedback as well):

    Lyr 2
    Mjolnir 2
    Torpedo III (DIY - I think this one would work well with orthos?)
    Super 7 (Used - Seems to have no issues driving a highly modded, inefficient T50RP)
    - My guess is most of the EC amps with output transformers should be OK for orthos
    Decware Taboo III (Have heard good things about this, built with orthos in mind)
    Bottlehead Mainline (Maybe?)
    DNA Stratus (Maybe)

    IMO, Lyr 2 is a good place to start on a "budget," Mjolnir 2 seems to strike a nice balance with price to performance, and the Torpedo III is getting great feedback if you can do take the DIY route and don't mind tweaking things (also a great deal at the price).
     
  3. Mr Rick

    Mr Rick Acquaintance

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    You might want to check out the new Schiit Vali 2
     
  4. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    Project Polaris is fine for 16-600 ohm, is SS but sounds like a warm tube amp. And is well within your budget.
     
  5. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Received my Polaris a couple weeks ago, and 'phones from the hd600 to the he500 sound great with it. Very flexible and enjoyable. Can't go wrong for the price. Not ideal with iems though, but I really only use those on the move anyway.
     
  6. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    @takato14 did you make any decision so far ? If so, mind sharing your findings :D ?
     
  7. Smitty

    Smitty Too good for bad vodka - Friend

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    The Mainline does not do that well with orthos. It sounds fine, but it doesn't have the power to drive them properly, and with the less efficient ones it's pretty damn soft. It's optimized for dynamics, particularly the Sennheiser HD 6x0 and 800. The Taboo Mk. 3 sounds great with the he-6, but it's got tons of gain so you can't really use the LCD-X with it. For the stratus, give Donald a few more weeks to finish mine, and I'll get back to you guys about it.
     
  8. takato14

    takato14 God of Ruin

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    I've more or less decided to stick with my original plan, which is saving up for a Cavalli Liquid Crimson instead.

    It'll be a few months still but I'll certainly be reporting back once I get it.
     
  9. Smitty

    Smitty Too good for bad vodka - Friend

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    Ah, now that's a very good amp for orthos. Power in spades, and great extension and detail.
     
  10. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    Sounds pretty endgame, orthos + LC !
    Btw, I've been reading your feedback around head-fi a lot, do you happen to have a blog or a collection of some sort, where one can check out your reviews @takato14 ?
     
  11. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Garage1217 Project Ember II if you want to go down to 16 Ohm, Project Sunrise III otherwise.

    Great amps. I can't wait to hear a tube amp that wrecks them for sensitive cans. If I hear it, I'll start saving.
     
  12. JWahl

    JWahl Acquaintance

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    @takato14 I'm still trying to sell my Super 7 as well as my Trafomatic. I could always bring them by sometime if you want to try either out.
     
  13. takato14

    takato14 God of Ruin

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    The closest thing I have to that would be the Vintage Headphone Megathread back on Changstar. I haven't migrated it over to SBAF yet due to some issues with the BBCode in the post. Should probably do that soon...
     
  14. Bourne Perfect

    Bourne Perfect Friend

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    Zana Deux.
     
  15. IndySpeed

    IndySpeed Friend

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    Just curious, but where do you get a Cavalli Liquid Crimson these days? If you look on their web site, it doesn't seem to be listed as a current product. I know that you can get some at MrSpeakers I believe. Are those just close outs? They are still listing for nearly $2900... Nonetheless, I do have a Schiit Lyr 2, and I can attest to the fact that they work with a wide range of headphones. I have tried Audio Technicas (low impedance), HD600 (high impedance), and Planars (HE-500 and HE-400i). Even with a modest Electro Harmonix 6922 tube, the unit is really excellent. It also has enough power for probably even a HE-6. With their LISST, the unit can be run as a solid state amp. It's probably one of the most versatile amps available. The Liquid Crimson has gotten great reviews on here, but since you mentioned that you would have to save up for it... Will it be available when you are ready? You might not be looking for a "budget" piece, but the Schiit stuff is sold direct to the customer so that saves us a lot of money when comparing just costs. In short, it would cost double or triple the price if it was sold through normal sales channels.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  16. dubiousmike

    dubiousmike Friend

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    I completely agree with Smitty that mainline is wonderful with dynamics but not super impressive with the lower efficiency orthos I tried with mine. Alpha dogs stand out in my mind as "meh" combo... then again, alpha dogs were pretty "meh" with every amp I heard them on, so maybe I'm not in a great position to judge. I can say that for a diy tube option, others in the bh comparison thread on HF who are also mainline owners (e.g. loquah and jamiemcc) seem to really like their modded bh sex amps with orthos.

    Doc has also endorsed the sex -> orthos combo or, if you want to go big or go home and don't mind monoblocks, paramounts. http://www.head-fi.org/t/476650/crack-bottlehead-otl/300#post_6911498
     
  17. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    Stole the words from my mouth, I have the Project Starlight an it sounds rather nice [highest output resistance setting] with my sensitive cans actually. Granted it can not power my HE 4, but my W1000X has a nice bit of headroom an volume control [only problem is I don't like the W1000X with anything but solid state]

    presently my LA D5k sounds best with the Starlight, along with my Senn Grado
     
  18. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday!

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    The TIII doesn't work at all with the older Hifiman cans or the T50 variants I tried. LCD series worked quite well though. That said I never tried using 12AX7s, which may make the difference,
     
  19. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Good to know. Some of the transformer coupled tube amps work pretty well with the T50RP and older HFM cans, some don't. I'm not surprised the LCDs work fine. Thanks for confirming!
     
  20. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    Nah. Ember II is $100 cheaper and also only requires 1 tube if you want to get into rolling. Definitely my first stop for planars.

    It even does a fair job with the HE-6. The HE-500 is driven effortlessly.
     

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