Feb 13, 2018365 views

$250 Tube Headphone Amplifier Suggestions

Hey everyone,
I'm looking to spend under $350 AUD on a tube headphone amplifier, which comes out to around $250-300 USD, and am looking for some suggestions.
I'm struggling to track down a Little Dot MK III which would have been my first thought, but can get a Maverick Audio TubeMagic A1 w/ Raytheon 6AK5 tubes for under $250 USD including postage which is a pretty tempting proposal.
From the wise users of Massdrop I was looking for some other suggestions that I may not know about.
For reference, I'm only interested in the Headphone amp aspect, not bothered by DAC or Stereo Amplification as I have an SMSL M8A and I'm not planning on driving speakers.
I currently use HiFiMAN HE4XX's and Oppo PM-3's and will be looking at getting some Monolith M1060's in the future.
Thanks in advance for your Suggestions everyone!
Cheers
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Hi Tazor,
If you're in Australia, for your price range I would suggest trying the Elemental Watson. A nice intro into tube amps if one hasn't done much before.
You can find these here : https://jaben.com.au/collections/elemental/products/elementalwatsongenii
If you're in Melbourne, you can also demo this tube amp so you know for certain whether you like it or not.
Hope this helps.
Have a great day !
PaganD
I am in Melbourne! In fact I work maybe 5 minutes walk from this place on William St so I will definitely head down with my PM3's and check it out!
PaganD
Aww I'm in Brisbane, otherwise I'd love to come and listen. In a similar position to OP!
Since you're using all low impedance planar headphones, you may want to consider the Schiit Valhalla 2... output impedance is only 3.5 ohms on low gain, so will pair better than a lot of other OTL tube amps. It's right around your price point too.
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If you look to expand the planar arsenal then I would strongly suggest something with 1-2 watts at roughly 50 ohms... this will power all but the ungodly HE-6 with no concerns on headroom. I know the 560 is a single-sided magnet design so it is no where near as difficult to drive as it's he-500 precursor... can't comment on the 1060 as I've not looked into them in great detail. Hifiman is bringing back the harder to drive line (at least the Susquavara) and pesonally I am quite happy about that. Still sad I didn't grab a NIB HE-6 when I had the chance.
That Aune is no slouch from what I've read (no personal experience)... think you will be happy. A properly powered planar is a happy planar :)
Since you have a nice DAC, I would add an SE tube amp to round things out. With your budget, as I had one, an APPJ PA1502A modded with better caps (4) and some nice NOS tubes, will make you very happy I think, does it for me. I upgraded with Mundorf Supreme & Silmic II's for the caps (with these you can put the cover back on:) and have different NOS tubes; It needs both, and this depending on tubes, will fit in your budget or close. Since you said Amazon is not working for aus, maybe here, or eBay where I got mine new for $180US/shipped: https://www.shenzhenaudio.com/headphone-amplifier/appj-pa1502a-6n4-6p6px2-tube-headphone-amplifier.html
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Way ahead of ya xD
Tazor
The Nichicons fit in better, upright, but on my cap quest; I did find the Elna Silmic silk lore very interesting. They do need to snazz up the look of the caps though, marketing... they look like poop. Checked twice before I bought them, 'yup these', then when I got them, 'yup these',,, They all need to break-in, whatever you put in, so no ‘quick to judge’... tubes too... a fun adventure, and you get to listen to music doing it! Helps mitigate the money you just spent...
“ Ultimately, the softness will mitigate the mechanical vibrational energy that comes from transformers or rotating systems within the final product.” Elna
http://www.elna.co.jp/en/capacitor/onkyou/silmic.html
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Silk: 70%, Manila hemp: 30% x 1000 Elna
That's another option, biggest issue is amazon doesn't deliver to aus so that's another tough one to get my hands on
What about a darkvoice? You can get one for $289 on amazon right now. Check out the Z review
pure5152
I also vouch for the darkvoice.
Replace the tubes for NOS and you have something really special.