What are you upgrading?


So far I really like it. It’s an exceptionally resolving DAC, and I can confidently put on any song trusting that I will get an uncolored and accurate representation. Some have said it’s too clinical, but I honestly wouldn’t know, since I can only compare it to a cheap Syba Sonic and a Galaxy Note 8.

It blows the Syba Sonic out of the stadium in every way and has better resolution than the phone, especially in the bass. I would like to compare it to other DACs at some point, but I am thoroughly pleased with it right now.


@Torq in a prior post:

I myself have no issues with neutral/analytical DACs and take slight audio coloring from tube amps or headphones. For me, anything too far from neutral distracts from the source and draws attention to itself.


Yup same here. I prefer to leave the sound signature / coloration to the headphone, eq, and the amp in that order.


But Tubes…and R2R…and… reasons… ahhh!!! :wink: I just like the idea of experimenting, I think it would be cool to get a rotational trading program going outside of the proposed review program on here, but that would be tough and we would have to verify users…insurance… etc… maybe we can do it by location…or just start coordinating local meet-ups (which I know is in the works on here).


To be honest that’s the kind of sound signature I lean towards clinical and resolving. Though I do like other signatures. I have been eyeing up the D30 and D50 Dac’s for a while with both seeming great value. I would like to pair it with my HD650’s and unmodded HD800. I am not to sure if it would be a little too much with the HD800 though. I currently pair the HD800 with a Matrix MS-Stage HPA-3u which is IMO a good match. It’s just lacking a little refinement in the Dac even though it does add a little warmth to the HD800. I am thinking of getting another Dac to go with it. I might be better off though getting another Amp/Dac combo or even some kind of stack. I dunno. Thanks for your thoughts though.


Thanks for you response. I do agree with you regarding a neutral sound. Although I do lack experience with a wider range of better Amps/Dac’s, especially any tube related stuff. So without listening to Tube Amps I cannot give a really balanced view. I need more listening experience with a wider range of gear. It’s a nice journey though.


I agree with your sentiments but unfortunately I am based in the UK and it would seem that most of the guys on this forum are from Mr.Trumps part of the world. (I hope I haven’t offended anybody with this little remark) :). I can’t see how the loaner program would realistically work with us European folks. It would certainly be more expensive what with shipping and insurance.
Just a thought.

I would like to get my hands on @Torq’s gear though, hehe.


Wouldn’t we all :wink: lol

Yeah, I think a better way is to build out the community by region if possible. But that takes time and people.


Hehe, yeah. Yes your right, a region by region solution will probably be the way to go. I kinda like it being a global community it’s a shame that there’s as yet no easy way for people to meet up that doesn’t take time and money. Transporter from Star Trek anyone. :slight_smile: And no I haven’t started on the Southern Comfort yet. As a side note I have just started listening to Bryan Ferry from a playlist I compiled on Spotify. Enjoy your evening folks.


Depending on the implementation, tubes smooth out the rough edges, add warmth and fullness, or sometimes a bit of chime or ring. However, my Massdrop CTH ($250) is generally clean and makes everything smoother, helps define the bass, and is easier on the ears.

With metaphors, tubes add oil or lubrication to an otherwise dry machine. Or, if solid-state is shampoo, a tube is the conditioner. It’s possible to live without them, but life is better with tubes.

To understand the full potential of tubes, try a guitar amplifier in low and high gain modes. These typically apply far more gain than any listening amp. The tubes start out clean, then add fullness and chime as the gain increases. In high-gain mode they then become overloaded and ‘buzz’ or ‘sizzle’ or ‘fizz’ or ‘scream’ energetically with a whole new layer of intensity. High-gain tube amps are the foundation of the hard rock sound.


Thanks for the advice, the Massdrop CTH looks like a gentle way into tubes. It has a lot of praise amongst the audiophile community. I would like to try the Bottlehead Crack but am unable to build one myself. At the moment though I don’t know if tube amps are at the very top of my list. If money were no object though I would jump on these amps. I will get there though, slow and steady as they say.


You might enjoy Rudresh Mahanthappa. He’s a Jazz Saxophonist who incorporates aspects of Indian classical music into Jazz.


I’m not sure the CTH is a great amp to try if you want to experiment with tubes with only because it doesn’t seem to respond to tube rolling like some other amps that I’ve tried but if you are mainly looking for something that is fairly close to neutral and will not color the sound no matter what tube is used then the CTH might be something to look into but to me it was like the Valhalla2 where tube rolling had little to no effect on changing the character of the sound unlike my BH Crack, Ember and Lyr2 where rolling tubes has a nice subtle but noticeable effect on the sound.

Tube amps that impressed me with tube rolling where you could really change the character of the sound were the Liquid Glass, Elise, EC ZDS, WA3, WA6 and WA22 but just remember that some of the tubes will set you back a pretty penny and for many the cost of tubes quickly surpass the cost of the amp.


Thank you for your detailed response. The cost of tube rolling is something that is holding me back at the moment. It just seems like another rabbit hole I could do without at the moment. I would like to try the in future though.

I think that I will stick with solid state at the moment.


Tube rolling with the CTH is fairly cheap since its only one tube and they are pretty common so you can find some great tubes for under $10 but then there are also some good/great ones that will cost over $50. Also consider the headphones that you have when looking at tube amps since there are a few different designs such as hybrid, OTL, or SET and they each have their own unique sounds and also how they pair with / have synergy with various headphones. One of the better examples is the pairing of HD650 + BH Crack where its like these 2 were made for each other.

The Ember from Garage 1217 is one of the best hybrid amps that I’ve had the chance to play with and its one amp that works great with almost any headphone from very efficient IEM to hard to drive ones like the HE560 and since you can also alter the output resistance/impedance it will usually pair well with just about any headphone out there. It also only takes one tube rolling tubes is fairly cheap and the effects of different tubes is a bit more noticeable than compared to the CTH and it will accept a much larger range of tubes/tube families so there is a much greater range of tubes you can use versus the CTH which is a little more limited in this aspect.


Again thanks for your detailed response. I have often heard about the great synergy of the BH Crack and the HD650 so it’s always something I’ve been looking at. With regards the Ember I will certainly do some research into it. Thanks.


IMO, headphones in a higher quality category outweigh the benefits of tube rolling.


Don’t forget tube rolling is something that can be done a little at a time


I can recommend the MCTH! it is now my primary amp, while I work on my Bottlehead Crack…which the wife was like “what is that monstrosity…that isn’t going in the house is it???” My response was nooo…of course not!
then when she turns around I’m like


Yes I agree, headphones will always make the biggest difference to your chain. However if you do reach a point that you feel that you aren’t going to get any more headphones then tube rolling may give you that extra 5%.

I haven’t done buying headphones yet and I still feel the need to experiment more. I want to get more experience with Amps and tinker a little.