Good SS Amp ~1000-1200?

So I’ve been reading around a bit and seeing the views on amps like the RNHP and the THX offerings + a few other Solid State amps. I’m already finishing up on a pretty sweet SET Tube HP amp that could probably function well just in OTL mode (using 5998 or 6528A tubes) with anything I can throw at it. I made a prototype Balanced model (Honestly just some small tweaks to make it Balanced) but I preferred the SET sound a bit more with OTL being viable with SET and not so much Balanced due to impedance in Cathode Followers and individual triodes and whatnot.

But getting back on track, while I really enjoy tubes, I’d like to have a SS amp that can give me a more neutral but natural sound, without it being too clinical or analytical, something that in theory should be close to whatever my DAC spits out but also powerful enough for mostly anything I throw at it and with a bit of a natural tone, not clinical. So idk, is there anything in the 1000 range that can help with that. I’ve been looking at the RNHP but i’d like some other opinions on the matter.

Most I can spend is ~1200 and balanced isn’t an issue (Although at least balanced inputs would be much appreciated but not a necessity). I Have the SMSL D1 so I guess that should be fine and I like it’s sound well enough especially with the filter options.

I’ve tried the THX-789 and while damn clean, it’s a bit too clinical and didn’t really enjoy it compared to some of my tube stuff. Idk something about the sound, while really clean, was off to me, maybe it was TOO clean or clinical or something? So I kept going back to my modded Darkvoice more often (New 120V Transformer, Full Parts Overhaul, Slight Voltage Increase to Preamp plates, Mini DACT 10K pot, etc), oh also the potentiometer is pretty cheapo if you take a peak inside of the 789, forgot the brand but it seems to be meh at best.

I also had the Jotunheim at one point too but the sound was a bit Schitty and I actually preferred the 789 sound over it albeit felt the Jotunheim had better build quality, although I never got to take a peak at the Jotty therefore I cannot say if the pot for instance was better, just that it felt better.

Reading through a bunch of these posts kinda made me reanalyze a bit what I want from a SS amp and number’s don’t really matter too much (Unless they’re god awful or point to some glaring issue or something). So essentially Neutral and Natural, not too clinical but a good counter to a tube sound (It kinda gets a bit boring listening to tubes all day too, still love my amps to death tho).

Oh also thanks in advance for any recommendations and sorry for such a long intro post.

Also side question, how much does a power cord affect audio, cuz I mean I’ve been glossing over a few out of curiosity but since transformers tend to isolate electrically the primary and secondary for example (Unless it’s an Autotrasformer I guess?), how much would a power cord really matter after the AC exits the secondary, being rectified and all that especially with Cree Diodes and some Mundorf Electrolytic/Polypropylene Power Supply Caps + 15H Hammond inductor?

The SPL phonitor e might be pretty sweet and deliver the sound you want, you should be able to find a deal from used. RNHP is still pretty great imo for that. Lehmann Audio Linear Pro maybe but personally I would go for the rnhp instead? The SPL Phonitor Mini is an option if you can’t find a deal on a phonitor e

Also what headphones are you using again?

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I’m a bit of a sucker for the Cavali sound, Liquid Gold X ships in a month or so, that MIGHT be worth waiting to see.
The Jot uses a 24mm Alps pot.
One of the selling points of the THX design is the feed forwards design is less sensitive to the quality of passive components.

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I really wouldn’t worry about power cords at all unless you have an issue.

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I also prefer to use tubes whenever possible, and I’m less than crazy about my 789 too. I pretty much am only using touchy planars and iems off of it now and tubes for the rest. I almost bought a RHNP instead and am regretting it a little, but I think I would still be looking for a little more either way. If you asked me today what my next ss would be, I’d say a Chord TT2, but that’s not in my budget right now. I really like the Chord sound. It’s a lot livelier than the THX is. You may be able to find a Hugo used within your budget. I also see a lot of good feedback on the Cayin iHA-6

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Yeah I imagined so, the tube amps I own are dang quiet, especially this custom design with the Inductors and Polypropylene caps, but even my modded Darkvoice tends to work beautifully with all tubes, even ones that on other amps are microphonic like crazy which I attribute to the better heaters from a 120V specific transformer and higher Power Supply capacitance which then drops to 220uf caps at the Driver tube among other things. Still using the basic molded black power cord and again, I really can’t hear any noise, even with the potentiometer turned all the way up. So yeah I guess I don’t need a $100 power cord for my amps.

Yeah the Liquid Gold X seems to be with the same case type as the Liquid Platinum, might be curious to try it out eventually. Might wait tho until some reviews of the actual production units. Thanks tho for the heads up.

Yeah I was actually eyeing the Phonitor e due to the price since I could save up a bit and get it, but what about a Phonitor 2? I saw one at 1200 B stock? Looks enticing, I really don’t mind cosmetic blemishes as long as the unit still functions internally/sounds good. Also thnx for the quick reply.

Well yeah if you can get a 2 b stock then go for it as long as you aren’t too stuck up on balanced lol. It’s a pretty awesome amp for sure

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Yeah I was also considering the Cayin iHA-6 since it seems to be quite a beast in terms of power. Honestly there are quite alot of options and all of them seem enticing.
Thnx for the reply.

Oof ok so I just found an e for 900 and idk, my wallet says to go for the e but the 2 seems so enticing, how much of a difference is there between both or are they both relatively good and in a similar class?

They are both very good. I think the 2 has more studio features, but the e has balanced output. Sound wise, they are very close with the slight edge to the 2, but in all honesty it’s not that big, so I would say if you want the features of the 2 go with that, and if not the e is very good

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But the 2 has VU meters…

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Thanks the heads up, I’ll roll it around for a bit in my head then and see if the features are worth it or not or if Balanced is better. Both seem to have identical power ratings at identical loads so honestly Balanced Outputs may seem a bit of a moot point here especially since they both get the benefits of balanced inputs for noise rejection and power. I think at this point it may be just the price for the features on the 2 and the very sexy VU meters, which while I’d love to implement into my own amp but I’d rather not get messy with a buffer circuit and having to integrate another power supply into my amp and what not (later on I might though just for the style points), still nice to look at though. Again I’ll take some time to roll around in my head for but either way both seem like fantastic choices.

Oh Also the 2 has a Preamp Output but I’m probably not going to use it since It’ll be a while till I have another amp, besides I prefer to preamp with tubes for a bit of sound coloration.

IKR ;-; they’re so nice to look at ;-;

Yeah they should sound very similar and balanced isn’t the selling point to me for the e, it’s the more compact size and simplicity at a lower price, where the full fat 2 has just all the nice to haves for studio work

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Yeah size is another factor and is pushing me towards the e, since honestly I can make an analogue cross feed system myself with some time (and money) which is honestly the only feature I had any other interest in which can also be done digitally in foobar but I’d imagine an analogue implementation would sound much better, idk to be honest but I could build one, and it’d be fun to find out first hand too as well as making a cross feed for my specifications too I guess, but again, a relatively minor feature in the grand scheme of things.

Lehmann Audio Linear Pro comes to mind.
Or the Cayin IHA-6 (not sure how good this one is, IIRC Z liked it).

When you got high powered amps (1kW RMS or more), then a thin wire could overheat. Apart from that, not at all.

That would throw the incomming AC off by a considerable amount. Current and voltage idealy are in unison (Power factor = 1), having high inductance (coils, electromagnets, etc.) makes the current lag behind the voltage.
Blue is voltage, Red is current.
Not sure what that would achieve, best case nothing, I guess.

Edit: If you have a lot of brown outs or very old wireing in your walls, getting a power conditioner (Furmann is one promenent manufacturerer for these) or a true-online UPS (ABB, APC, etc.) may be a good idea

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It’s pretty good, but I didn’t mention it because it tilts a bit warmer (but not by much), it’s a pretty great amp imo


Funny enough I already own a Furman Conditioner (Says Power Station 8 on it). Also yeah the most the amp would consume internally is maybe 60 Watts from what I could tell (depends if a 6.3 Volt 2.5 Amp filament is used or a 5 Amp fillament is used), so power cord heating shouldn’t be a problem.

Also I really don’t know much about the deeper complexities of inductance but from my basic understanding an inductor doesn’t like change in direction like AC does, so in a power supply where AC is corrected to DC, DC goes through/is maintained by the inductor, while AC gets blocked at certain frequencies (especially AC that could leak from some less than quality rectifiers?). Now issue here isn’t the AC coming from the transformer leaking out into the system, but the AC coming from my audio signal making it’s way back into my power supply. Read somewhere that since the Driver and Power tube plates are connected to the power supply they could theoretically also throw signal to the power supply too making some noise. I mean either way it’s good to have just in case and audibly in one of my prototypes it did make everything a touch more quiet than it already was.

I’m not that good at using stuff like kicad (altho I do use PSUD) so I tend to just test some stuff head on and see if it goes boom or not (usually doesn’t since I read up on quite a few amp designs and look up schematics of older equipment and see how it worked out for them, also bleeding resistors are great if you want to quickly test and open the amp back up without getting a 200VDC cap shock, that or use a multimeter to test first). If It doesn’t go boom then I go on with the rest of the design and see if I like it. True I use inexpensive parts (I’m not made out of money) cuz it’d suck hard to damage a higher quality/higher price component.

Still thanks for the reply, guess I’ll read up on lagging current then and inductance a bit more, although I could imagine what that means kinda. Also the IHa-6 is also really tempting but I think I might go with a Phonitor e or 2. Will read up on a Lehmann Audio Linear Pro tho. Thanks again.

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