Well surprise, surprise…BHC wrecks this…but that is an unfair comparison. I can agree with what everyone has said about this lil guy…I’m very impressed! For the price it is very hard to beat. Good find @antdroid!!!
Yea I would imagine a full OTL tube amp would sound much more unique than a hybrid would. I still would like to listen to a bottlehead.
Yes I do agree with you but I was talking about the sub $100 dollar stuff. Whilst you can get some gems in this sector I think that from personal experience they can be few and far between. I have a load of sub $250 things and I think sometimes rather than buying into this market that time and money can sometimes be saved if you know what your looking for. Problem is most of the time you don’t really. Especially at the start of your audio journey.
I do subscribe to the thought that working your way through various levels of gear gives you a better understanding of where you are going and what your likes and dislikes are.
So to sum up I don’t underestimate the value of the more affordable end of the market as often I have bought much in this sector. It’s just that sometimes I feel I want to get something a little, I can’t find the word and don’t want to say better for fear of upsetting anyone but that’s how I feel.
For years I considered the HD-600 to be bare minimum in price/quality. I later bought (and regretted) $99 Grado SR-80e headphones. They were mainly for awareness and comparisons, but the treble is miserable and they are worse than the HD-600s in every way. In contrast, I’ve been astounded by the rapid improvements in Chinese BA IEMs. I now doubt that I’ll ever spend more than $100 for IEMs in the future, as they meet my needs and as I only wear them when I have to (stuff in the ears…).
My primary use of tube amps is to mitigate issues, either with headphones or recordings. As I’ve now obtained a solid variety of quality headphones, tubes are mainly for flat, bad, or harsh recordings. I know precisely what tube distortion sounds like in a master recording, so layering tubes on tubes isn’t desirable most of the time. Just bloomy and fuzzy. In the end, the $99 price point fully meets my current use and I’m seriously considering selling my $250 MCTH. With my time and energy I might be more hardcore about tubes, but probably just save the money for better travel or an earlier retirement.
Yes, I do that to a degree and have a minimum cut-off for many categories. But the current high-end has become a different world with different goals. Much like the luxury watch market, it’s largely about rich man toys and showing off wealth. I really don’t want it if I’d fail a blind test.
I fully agree that headphones improve through the $1,000 price point. Amps and DACs and cables each have different cut-off points. Following my experience with higher end gear I just don’t care beyond a certain point.
Yes I do agree and you talk a lot of sense. I do understand that past a certain point it’s just different flavours of sounds and small tweaks. It’s mainly a better Amp/Dac rather than headphones I’m after now. Not really that bothered about tubes at the moment. Though having said that I would like to own a Bottlehead Crack.
I have lots of portable Amp/Dac combos as well as Dap’s. I just feel the need for a good quality Amp for my desktop.
The quandary becomes whether to buy multiple low cost step-up units to compare or learn with or, through meets and reviews, determine what end game gear you can afford and consolidate your purchase power with the “best” you can afford.
Even if you want multiple setups, if you go the “best you can afford” route, that’s what you end up with.
If you enjoy the hobby, and can afford the cost of a few lemons by finding the best through trial and error then I suppose it’s worth the cost and effort.
That’s it, the best I can afford. I am never going to be able to spend $4000+ on an Amp. But I was just thinking that a step up in quality would be my next step. Though like a lot of things in our hobby I feel a lot is down to personal taste and subjectivity.
I went the other way…bought higher end gear pretty rapidly, now I find myself buying a mix of low end middlish, to higher end gear…still nothing super high end but my self imposed budget is keeping me from going stupid with purchases lol.
I think your comment largely capsulizes the point I was trying to make.
ie someone can either sell (or not buy;) all the low to mid-fi to gear and use those funds for one higher end set up; or conversely, if it’s the hobby/comparison and journey that’s enjoyed as much as the (critical?) listening, then it can be fun to cycle through less expensive gear, perhaps in search of elusive “giant killers” that may not have yet been noticed by the masses.