Warm, balanced capable, desktop amp

I currently have the RME ADI2 dac and a JDS labs EL amp. I want to experience a balanced amplifier sometime in the future, and my sound preference tends to be warm (treble sensitive really, am I using the term warm properly?). I’d like to be able to feed the amp with the balanced outputs on the RME, which was one strike against the Klipsch heritage amp which I heard is warmer by default. Is there any amp with similar warmth but is either a straight amp, or if it’s a combo allows you to feed it with another balanced dac?

The cayin iha-6 might fit the bill, but I don’t know if it would help with your treble sensitivity, as it is mainly just a bit warmer then normal, not really effecting the treble too much

Maybe I should ask exactly what is meant by terms like warm and dark.

So typically I think of warm as a more thick and rich sound, where I think of dark as rolled off treble.

If you were looking for a darker amp, you might want to look into a tube amp or hybrid tube amp and roll some tubes

Perhaps you might like the monolith liquid platinum hybrid or get a full on balanced tube amp

I thought about that, however I prefer something that I can use with all the headphones that I have which includes some planars, and while I have not experienced for myself I’ve heard planars on a tube amp can do some wierd things.

The monolith liquid platinum would work great then. It’s a hybrid so its just fine for planars

Thanks I’ll take a look at that. BTW idk if you remember but I went with the LCD1s

Did you get them already? What do you think of them?

Some full on tubes actually work fine with balanced, so it depends, but typically they are pretty expensive

Nah haven’t gotten them but ordered. I’m excited.

Out of curiosity since you have the ADI-2 have you tried simply introducing something as simple as a slight treble shelf to the EQ? If you can solve the treble sensitivity problem this way, it would mean you’re much less restricted re amp choices. Assuming you’ve tried this, so curious why it didn’t work for you.

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honestly have not tried that yet. I am planning on it, i just dont know enough about the proper way to EQ just yet, but i have started researching. This was partially about just a warmer amp and partially to get into the balanced world. Seems to be some that say it makes an audible difference and some that definitely does not. I dont know, so i wanted to experience it for myself.

Well for eq, an easy way would to be to make a shelf like maynardgk said and drop the offending frequency range by around perhaps -3db to start out. I had also already assumed you had messed around with eq and were looking for another option

shouldve clarified. thats my fault. ive been trying to figure out the frequencies that tend to bother me, but i have not figured that out yet. It seems to be on what i would consider to be not the greatest quality recordings/masters, but im no expert here. Also headphone dependent of course. The Neumanns never bother me with any song ever, the t60rp can be a bit much with some songs for my ears, same thing with the argons mk3s but i sold those.

So you have more of an issue with harshness rather then actual high pitched sounds. The ndh20 is fairly smooth compared to the t60 and argons, and also typically poorer quality music tends to be more harshly produced (or that could just be the genre of music but who knows). EQ can fix that sometimes but that’s not how I would personally address the issue. A tube will further smooth that out, so that might be beneficial to get a nice hybrid and play around with some tube rolling. Also the lcd 1 was smoother then some other planars so that’s good you didn’t go for something like the m570 which would be much more aggressive and allow for harsher recordings to come through lol (but not as smooth as the ndh20 imo but it depends on the song). Also typically warmer amps tend to not be as harsh

yeah maybe im confusing some terms here, again m no expert but always open to learning more. The m570 and all the others that use that driver ive heard descibed as agressive, and again im not 100% sure what that terms means but it doesnt seem like something i would enjoy overall. Im not really looking for agressive, im looking for more chill out kind of sound. From the reviews of the LCD1s that i saw, it seems like they fit the bill for the most part, and i know you mentioned they were fairly similar to the NDH20s which i love, so i figured a slightly different flavor but still similar to the NDH20 sounds good to me. Also i have a good closed and open dynamic, NDH20 and 58x, a good mostly closed planar, t60rp, so i was interested in a open planar like the LCD1.

Yeah, I would also say the 58x is warm and relaxed (somewhat) as well

Typically when I think of aggressive I think of something being forward, a more direct sound, perhaps harsh to some (kinda like what you would think of an unfiltered aggressive person being)

If you wanted a pretty chill headphone, perhaps consider picking up a 6xx on a tube and see what you think lol

Harshness in the frequency domain = spikey alternations in SPL as you go up the frequency scale?

Sometimes, but it depends. It can also have to do with transient response, presentation, freq response, detail capabilities and other aspects like the type of amp

For some headphones eq tweaks can reduce harshness, but other headphones that may not work

Yeah i had the t60rp and the 58x at the same time before i got he NDH20, at that time i felt like i was missing something with the 58x because the t60rp seemed to have what i considered to be significantly more detail at the time. I was about to sell the 58x. Then i got the NDH20s and i heard so much more detail with absolutely no harshness like i experienced occasionally with the t60rp, and then it kind of clicked for me that the t60rp just tends to be a bit brighter, but not really more detailed. Then i went back to the 58x and i understood what i was mistaking before.

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The xDuoo TA-20 would fit your bill with the added benefit of the hybrid nature allowing you to further “tune” the sound with your choice of tubes.