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.
New Year, New Gear. I diy’d some xlr balanced and a HD650 balanced cable. Hooked up my New (to me) Gumby A2, New Clears and New Loxjie P20 with 5670 tubes. I will be comparing to a New MD THX soon and a (old)crack/speedball/HD650 later but for now, it’s the MCTH battling it out…and gasping for air.
The Loxjie P20 may be more resolving and definitely more musical. The MCTH is more analytical and seems to be missing heft. The Clears are quite good thru this balanced amp, the HD650’s have smoother vocals. The amp does justice to both HP’s. It will take time to tell what I like the best. I have only been at this for an hour, lol.
I won’t be using my MD Hifiman HD-4XX any more. Just no point with these in the house. The HD58-X may see a similar fate.
THX AAA just arrived and quickly jumped ahead. Clarity and detail improved for both the HD650 and Clear. You get distortion from tubes and I suspect there is very little here.
SS amps I have had in the past are the Magni 3, Aune X1S, Teac UD H-01 and Audio-GD NFB 12.
From memory, the Aune and TEAC had the same type of sound, the Magni was edgier and the NFB-12 was dark and forgettable. I still have the Teac to dust off and use for SS vs Tube comparison.
I still like the P20 and will have to compare it to the Crack for the HD650. I suspect the AAA will see the most playing time. P20’s tubes could use some more burn in I think. I definitely like it better than the Magni 3.
We now have very similar setups. Yes, the P20 tubes will burn in and in my experience clean up (factory tubes only). My HD-600s clearly hit their performance limit with the AAA 789 and a balanced cable. I’m spending a lot of non-mobile time with the 789, Focal Elex and HiFiMan HE-560s these days.
I dont have the 789, but I have the similar Monolith THX Balanced amp and I am using it quite a bit more than the P20, but the P20 is still a great alternative to use every once in a while. I imagine I’ll be moving the P20 to a different room for listening in the future, such as my newly re-decorated den or living room.
Man, I’ve been using the P20 with my RME ADI-2DAC balanced out, it really is something… it is my new recommendation for tube hybrid for anyone interested, especially if they have a balanced DAC…I’ll post a potato quality cell picture here soon…I have been re-organizing my desk setup…I’m probably going to do a sell off of gear here soon.
Well that was quick…
If anyone is curious about two mice, and two USB-C cables going to the keyboard, I run a dual setup. Mac Mini for daily use, and I have a gaming PC for well…GAMING!!!
I use a USB switch to go back and forth from my two laptops on my desk to save space but I guess Mac would have special keyboard needs
I have some special keys to replace with mac keys but I keep sticking with the Windows standard…I should switch but. meh… it isn’t too difficult to figure out…Mac makes music better…
to clarify drunken speak… I use windows standard keyboard keys…I have replacment keycaps that will showcase Mac…but not sure if I want to commit just yet to those yet.
Also I’ve been swapping between HD820 and TH X00 PH headphones balance cables from the P20/ADI–2DAC combo…with a lil bit of HD 700/HD800 with mods… also a couple of cable swaps with the THX 789… I really enjoy how much I can get lost in music with these combos… I meant to play some Ass-Creed-Odyssey tonight but the music compelled me to just relax and enjoy the journey of discovery with spotify rando playlists… booze and music are like a bad drug…
I compared inputs and outputs with the Clear and in the end, something will have to be balanced.
SE in and SE out was poor .
I could live with xlr in and se out. Great with HD58x. Very good with Clear.
SE in and xlr Clear , very nice. lighter presentation but very clear and taut, good stage.
And the xlr in, xlr out. takes the positives of the other combos and presents them together. Clear, articulate and dynamic.
For no good reason, I just spent $90 on we396a’s from Ebay. Could always sell them back as they command good prices over there. Or keep both with one backup. They are reputed to be at the top in this class of tube. Yes, the amp is a keeper. 3 amps are staying, this, the AAA789 and the Crack. (Just tried my first 6SN7 and it is a definite upgrade).
Letting go a Project Ember and MCTH with LPS.
How would you rank the amps you have? I’m also thinking about the P20 or THX 789
How would you rank the 3, if going by percentage (1-100) in your opinion?