Schiit Valhalla 2

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Cspirou, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,973
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    Great review, thanks! One question:

    Do you mean black tops or clear tops? The chrome top RCA 6CG7 I have (with the black ladder plates) I wouldn't have described as bright - they are comparable to the Sylvania black plates I have, and even a bit smoother. But I kept away from the RCA clear tops as I suspected they would be too bright and sandy.
     
    SKiring likes this.
  2. SKiring

    SKiring Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    201
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Rotterdam
    @Garns Definitely black tops: http://imgur.com/a/13wDl.

    The Sylvania's do pretty much everything the same, however the brightness is pretty much gone entirely. I'm actually really surprised.
     
    Garns likes this.
  3. Steakface

    Steakface Acquaintance

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    58
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Michigan
    I actually hear the same thing with the RCA 6CG7's, though not on a Valhalla 2 but a Vali 2. Both RCA 6CG7 types (clear top and top getter) I found to be bright, with the clear top being a little brighter.

    EDIT: Thought I should specify for the curious. The top getter 6CG7 I found bright in the sense that everything else sounded thin. It also had this strange hallway effect that may or may not be present on the Valhalla 2. The clear top 6CG7 was more of a beyer bright where it's just plain ole bright - had some sick bass though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
    Garns and SKiring like this.
  4. MattRG

    MattRG Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Likes Received:
    246
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Taylorsville, Georgia - USA
    Great review. Thanks for your thoughts. Cool to see another Laconic Labs made product getting a little bit of spotlight. It's a shame that outside of some very small circles they are a relatively unknown company outside of Europe. It would be nice if their stuff had/ or could get proper North American distribution.

    I just received at my house yesterday the Night Blues Mini courtesy of @Kattefjaes who is located in London and of course he had to buy it and have it shipped via a private party in Russia when he bought it last year. For a great many of us, anything made by Laconic is not at all easy to come by!
     
    SKiring likes this.
  5. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,973
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    Last night I took another step forward in my quest to wring the maximum performance possible from the Valhalla 2. I know I could go and buy a better amp, but I kind of enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I can take The Little Amp That Could.

    So what was the step? It's the phase reversal trick which @Torq and @johnjen have spoken about. Reading that thread might lead you to think you need a balanced amp, but a comment by @atomicbob in the system synergy thread led me to realise that, actually, it will work just fine with the Valhalla 2.

    Here's how: you need a headphone with 4-pin XLR connection; a 4-pin-XLR-to-TRS balanced to SE adapter; and a XLR-XLR phase reversal cable as per @Torq's thread. There's a unique way of plugging all of these together and into the Valhalla 2. Do that, then reverse the phase of one of your channels in software, again as in @Torq's thread. Easy.

    OK, so that's how you do it - but how does it sound? I wrote about this on the Jotunheim thread and said that it improves soundstage. Since Valhalla 2 already has a great soundstage I was not expecting much, and so was quite surprised that it actually makes a pretty big difference, and of a rather different kind. Basically it's sort of like you just dynamatted the amp. Main points (here I was using the HD650):
    • Improved separation and imaging
    • Less veil
    • Better transient response
    • Better macrodynamics
    • Tighter, cleaner bass
    No effect on soundstage. No effect on tonality. Basically an upgrade to the technicalities. How large? Bigger than putting it on a power conditioner. Bigger than SPDIF to AES. I think of the same order as 6922 to 6CG7. I know some people don't get on with the tonality of the 6CG7's, and if you are such then this should be an easy way to step up those technicalities. Plus, this seems to tighten up the slightly soft bass, which 6CG7 does not do.

    If you already have a balanced HP and a bal-to-SE adapter, this is $20 and I highly recommend it. If you have a SE headphone but can DIY, this is likewise super cheap: you can reterminate your stock cable to XLR, and use the cut-off end to make a bal-to-SE adapter, and then make up a polarity reversal cable, for less than $40. If you don't DIY and don't have a balanced headphone cable, then the value proposition is a bit more complex; but put it this way, I've just ordered a balanced cable for the HD800 specifically to be able to use it in this configuration.
     
  6. SKiring

    SKiring Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    201
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Rotterdam
  7. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,973
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    Mmmm, that adapter is 3-pin XLR, not 4-pin. The balanced headphone pinout is not so standard outside the headphone world so this is probably either a DIY or a custom job. I got mine from Redco in the US:

    Phase reversal cable

    Bal-to-SE adapter

    Probably you could go shorter with the cables than 1ft, though I wanted enough length that the XLR of the bal-to-SE cable can lay on a flat surface to minimise strain on the jack plug when it's plugged into the amp.
     
  8. Whipples

    Whipples Rando

    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Likes Received:
    8
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Earth
    Hi folks, I've been looking at the Vali2 and Valhalla 2 to introduce myself into the tube world and have read both impressions/threads for the two amps as well as Marvey's compendium and it's left me scratching my head a bit. Valhalla2 holographic sound qualities initially got me thinking about it over the vali2, but they seem pretty close on the compendium aside from microdynamics/plankton but both are also highly regarded in their respective threads. Is it that they are just that close to each other or is there a separate element to the Valhalla2 that distinguishes it from its little brother?
     
  9. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,959
    Dislikes Received:
    88
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Home Page:
    Unsure if you saw this post but I recently had both amps in for comparison and wrote some thoughts here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...i-2-discussion-thread.789/page-38#post-129757

    What headphones are you planning on using with the amp? I think the spider chart is pretty much dead on as far as the differences, with stock tubes the Vali is actually a little clearer and less "soft" than the Valhalla but loses out on that last bit of tube goodness due to the SS output stage. The Valhalla stage is deeper and a bit more pushed back, Vali stages closer and is a little more claustrophobic in direct comparison. I'm unsure to what degree this can be remedied with exotic rolling.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. Whipples

    Whipples Rando

    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Likes Received:
    8
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Earth
    That is very helpful thank you. I did see it but I lost myself in the tubes and looking them up that I blanked on going back to reading the amp comparisons. Paired headphones at the moment would be the HD650s, and at some point I want to try planars. Moving from M50X to the HD650 was like night and day and I'm still adjusting to the differences!
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  11. mrflibble

    mrflibble Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2016
    Likes Received:
    334
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    @Whipples

    When listening to the Valhalla 2, I found it a bit dry with some slight grain to the treble. This could be mitigated but not eliminated with tube rolling. The Vali 2 is smoother without the dryness (maybe slightly wet). It loses out in treble extension compared to the Valhalla 2 and maybe in bass extension too (but can't remember for sure). In my experience, Vali 2 is *comparatively* lacking a bit in what I call "umph" (punch) and in transient attack.

    Having said that, personally I prefer to listen to Vali 2 with a nice tube over Valhalla 2. As to which amplifier would suit you best, it depends on which kind of sound signature *you* prefer.

    The Vali 2 is quite a bit cheaper than the Valhalla 2 and only has one tube to roll. It could be worth trying that one first, if you are still undecided.
     
  12. SSL

    SSL Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,106
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    93
    @Whipples

    For my part, I am unperturbed by the Valhalla treble. I would think carefully before pairing it with a Beyer, but the HD 650 is no problem. The most noticeable aspect of the sound is the staging, closely followed by the micro stuff. I would strongly recommend trying both amps if at all possible.

    Also, I would not let future gear decisions influence current purchases. I've learned that it's best to look at a headphone and amp as a single system. If or when you decide to own a planar headphone you can get an amp that pairs properly with it.
     
    FlySweep and mrflibble like this.
  13. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,709
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    FWIW, I was not a fan of the HD650/Vali 2 combo. It's fine, but the Valhalla pushes them further. More energy/punch/clarity.

    I would recommend you choose between the Valhalla and Jot.
     
    landroni and Gaspasser like this.
  14. Whipples

    Whipples Rando

    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Likes Received:
    8
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Earth
    I've definitely considered the benefit of the single tube to roll, and with their 15 day guarantee I may just try both. A small penalty to pay to be sure.

    That's a very good point and a tough habit to break. I've noticed the 650s just get better and better as you get nicer gear, but this staging concept has my attention since the Jot isn't quite as deep.

    I may choose both ha! Thank you everyone for your input this has been awesome!
     
    mrflibble likes this.
  15. Desdinova12

    Desdinova12 Rando

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    VS
    Looking for a bit of advice. I just picked up one of these for the HD600 and 700. Im pleased with it thus far, but Im looking for tubes to give it a slightly warmer sound. And something that wont burn out in like, a month.
     
  16. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,973
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    I would suggest hitting up the Bay for either:

    Valvo/Philips/Amperex ECC88/6DJ8. Sometimes called "Bugle Boy" or "Orange Globe", but ignore the labelling and look for ones from the plant in Heerlen, Holland. These will have a "Delta" date code. Early-mid 60s production should be good. The A-frame construction ones are later and not as good. Maybe $50-60/pair is reasonable? You can also look for the PCC88/7DJ8 variant, quality is similar but cheaper.

    RCA black plate 6CG7. Better technicalities, but to my ears still to the warm side (there is not universal agreement on this however). Should be able to find a pair for about $40.

    Stay away from Russian tubes (not warm) or German tubes (not a good value proposition in the Valhalla). Mullard are supposed to be even warmer but I have not heard any.
     
    Desdinova12, Dino and Wilson like this.
  17. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,480
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area CA
    Tubes in the this amp should last in the thousands of hours, I think Schitt estimates 5000. If you're not running it 24/7 they are going to last for a while.
     
  18. Desdinova12

    Desdinova12 Rando

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    VS
    Now, at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, it's the smller tubes I replace, correct?
     
    a44100Hz and mrflibble like this.
  19. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,897
    Dislikes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Ohio
    The tubes in the front are the ones that can be rolled. Enjoy your amp, I love mine.
     
    Dino and Desdinova12 like this.
  20. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,193
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
    Garns, FlySweep, Dino and 1 other person like this.

Share This Page