Incredible thread going on here!
Thanks to all of you for the thread!
I’m not an audiophile. I was formally trained as PA/Studio audio engineer, though went the IT route early. I tend to favor no frills pro equipment, or solid/interesting designs, and love DIY and Chi-Fi gem hunting.
Of course like all of you, I’m after that “ideal” sounding rig. I tend to favour using my ears than measurement equipment.
I was involved into DIY on mid 2000’s, but with the advent of Chi-Fi I chose to hunt instead… and this find is a gem! A diamond!
I’ve built variations of several DIY hybrid amps (SOHA, WCF with tons of variations (OTL), Millett Hybrid Max, Bijou, and Nuhybrid. Some all SS stuff too, had a mini3 and a JDS Labs C421. Got a DarkVoice336 too (no frills Chi-Fi OTL WCF).
Several DIY and Chi-Fi DACs too: GrubDac, DDDAC 1543MkII, ES9023 HifiMeDiy DAC2, and a Wolfson Dugood WDAC-1. Pro equipment: Behringer Ultramatch Pro SRC2496, Audient id22.
This little dude (P20) sounds incredible goind fuly balanced, and for the SQ and features it simply cannot be beaten pricewise.
Defintely, Balanced in/ balanced out is the way to go.
What I have found is the P20 is incredibly transparent while keeping all the “good stuff” tubes can provide to enhance (make enjoyable). Just suit your cans to the source
Due to this, I find the most noticeable difference being imparted by the source (DAC).
If you don’t have any balanced out DAC, you can get this gem of pro equipment, Behringer SRC2496 for 99€ new from any reputable dealer.
If you already have a dac use it’s SPDIF out, otherwise a PCM2704 based (TCXO if possible) USB/SPDIF card can be had for less than $20, or go for a XMOS208/Amanero USB/SPDIF, will be a good investment.
My SRC2496 is stock (didn’t mod a bit), set as Sample Rate converter to 24/96.
Audirvana -> USB ESS9023/TCXO DAC SPDIF -> UltraMatch Pro <=balanced==> Loxjie P20 <=balanced=>HD6XX
I’d say you’ll need to go into 5-10x this budget to find gear sounding as incredibly good.
Made me to finally re-rip all my CD collection and sparkled interest on HD sources… incredibly revealing while making everything sound great, really share @generic comments regarding production/mastering styles/years!
@generic The RME Dac got my interest… I’m very fond of AKM DAC chips sound, SRC2496 uses AK4393.
I see the RME uses two AK4490, I’m currently in the hunt for a balanced out AK4490 or preferrably AK4497EQ Chi-Fi / DIY DAC, some interesting kits on aliexpress for much, much less.
I collected tubes, specially russians, during the 2000’s. I’m pretty sure the ones I received (comments lead me to think so too) or are included in the amp (Shuguang) are “selected” tubes.
I had a look at my 6N3P collection: 6N3P, 6N3P-E (two different sources) and 6N3P-DP (Reflector NOS) and I can assure you included tubes are new production, with some sort
6N3P-E virtually identical to some fake NOS russians whose stamping are recent… and the innards (micas, heaters, plates…) are all identical but from slight different materials on the pins.
The tubes take several days to reach optimal performance, but so far the stock ones are almost identical performing than the fake NOS one I have, fake NOS ones may be a even tad worse (gritty highs with some sources).
Will test the definitely different true NOS 6N3P-DP next week, and a pair of GE5670 once I receive them but I suspect there’s already a lot of tweaks/sinergy in this design, and tube/opamp rolling will make marginal difference, I’d focus on the source DAC for improvements…
Definitely looking forward this Brand future releases.
Love the PCB of the P20, IMO lots of love went to it design, is a great example of Chi-Fi t its full glory: careful component selection without going unobtanium, and polished design with price in mind. Sure, you may tweak it with some exotic parts or mods, but will get marginal enhancements in return and ROI will go down the drain.