Looking to get my Tube on

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by Grattle, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

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    I'm looking to enter the world of tube amplifiers. I had settled on buying a used Valhalla 2, but now that I have found one to buy, I'm wanting some confirmation.

    I've read here, that the Valhalla 2 sounds solid state-ish. I really want to experience tube sound, and plankton. Together. I've owned an OG Vali2 and am not opposed to the new version, except I'm not a huge fan of the Magni 3+, and it sounds like the Vali 2+ is a marriage between the Vali 2 and the Magni 3+. I never tired anything but the stock tube though. I feel like the Vali 2+ would be too much of a side-grade.

    Opinions on the Valhalla 2 as well as other similarly priced options would really be appreciated.

    Headphones: Grado PS500, Sennheiser HD58X
    Dac: Modi Multibit (work and home)
    Transport: I have 2 raspberry pi's with HiFiBerry Digis (work and home)
    Current Amp: Magni 3+, and a DIY chip amp I sort of hacked together because I get bored and am curious by nature.
    EDIT: I also built a Schiit coaster amp, and I enjoy it, but I'm interested in a better amplifier.

    I'm open to acquiring an HD6XX as I really want to hear what these can do on a tube amp. (If the HD58X isn't close enough with it's lower impedance).

    Also, I live in Arkansas, and I don't think we have any way to audition things near. Closest would probably be Dallas or St Louis or possibly Memphis.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
  2. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    The Valhalla is a good starter tube amp. It's got a good sense of space and placement. When people say the Valhalla sounds like solid state, what they mean it doesn't have the stereotypical wet bloomy tube sound. It's pretty tight and a bit dry but compared to, say, a Jotunheim 1 the Valhalla isn't going to have the solid state benefits of speed, slam, and macrodynamics. The Valhalla excels at microdynamics and dimensionality. For quite a while it was my main amp and paired with a HD650/XX it's a great combo. I would recommend ditching the 58X for a 600 or 650, or go another way and pick up the used HD540 or HD250 that's on sale here right now: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fs-sennheiser-hd540-ref-i-600-ohms.10230/. The 58X will probably sound decent from a tube amp but you won't get the most out of the amp with a 58X.

    What is your budget for this amp? Other options would be a Bottlehead Crack (the kit is $300-$400), a Lyr 3 (IMO a more balanced amp than the Valhalla overall), a used Liquid Platinum. The Crack will be the most classically tube-y. The Lyr 3 and Platinum are both hybrids but a step up in technicalities from the Vali 2. Lyr 3 is more laid back and Liquid Platinum more aggressive.

    If you really wanted to get into tubes, buy the Sonnett 2 on here: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fs-dna-sonett-2-with-extra-tubes.10485/. It's not cheap but for the money you get a significant upgrade in amp ability and technicalities, and a suite of tubes to play with so you can try tube rolling without any extra effort. You may never need to upgrade from that amp, which would save you a ton of money in the long run. If that's too big of a price to swallow, @dematted has mentioned here that he's considering selling his SW51+: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fs-odds-ends-though-mostly-odds.10164/. Or you can order a new SW51+, with shipping I believe it comes up to right below $400.
     
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  3. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    There's a Sonett 2 in the FS section right now that would be a heck of a next step for a tube amp.

    Edit: I didn't see @Merrick's post above.
     
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  4. hottyson

    hottyson Rando

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    Have you thought about the Little Dot I+? It might be the best pairing with your Grado. It will sound awful with the stock tubes/opamp but can be upgraded to heavenly bliss with LT1364 opamp and GB-408A SYLVANIA GOLD BRAND pentodes. A little upgrade work and amp for under $200 your Grados may reach Nirvana.
    .
    So many like and recommend the Sennheiser HD650 / HD6XX. I feel it is an overrated headphone that should have been retired a long time ago. Not worth the money to my ears.
     
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  5. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    I had the Valhalla 2 for a while and it was paired with HD650. I think for jazz and vocals it was superb, lots of nuance in its delivery. I mostly listen to rock and the V2 left me wanting more. Source was Modi 3 btw. Ended up listening to Magni 3 to TH-X00 and was pleased.
     
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