I am planning to buy a new headphone amp. What I am coming from is the ifi zen dac + can.
As you can see, I have never experienced a class-A or tube-amp. I have seen multiple reviews of both amps and I get a small idea of what they are.
So the question is, what should be my next journey ?
I have AKG K712 pros, DT 770 80 ohms, Fostex T50rp with Alpha Pads, Harmonicdyne Zeus, and Koss kph30i with Grado GS1000 pads.
I am eye-balling for
Schiit-Asgard 3 without DAC, Schiit-Valhalla 2, Little Dot-MKIII GE, and xDuoo-TA-26.
For your headphones I think a Schiit stack would work great! Don’t sleep on a vali 2+ for trying tubes out as it’s sounds good and is cheap to roll tubes on.
I’d hold off on the TA26 till you get a high impedance headphone like a 6XX, 58x, ZMF or really anything over 150 ohms.
I think a lot of your list (last three) will not play as well with your headphones as you might like. A3 is a good all-arounder (understand it is not a pure class A amplifier). You seem to want to play with tubes, but don’t necessarily have the right headphones for a budget-oriented OTL-type tube amp. At this range, a Vali2+ is probably a very fun idea, and I’ve liked the xDuoo MT-602 a lot also. Unsure how much you’d like to spend.
Unsure if the Rebel Amp is reliably shipping right now, but it might be a flexible class-A amp to take a look at. Powering the Fostex with big pads is another consideration.
What do you plan to use as a dac…the ifi zen or other? I can vouch for the
Asgard 3…really like mine…smooth transition from A to AB. imo a really good value for $249 and I agree, get without the built in dac.
Honestly i was leaning towards Class-A amp but want to be sure.
Yes i will be using zen dac i am pretty happy with it and don’t see any reason to upgrade.
I like the reviews of Asgard 3, but will it power any high ohm loads like HD 600,650
I’m pretty partial to my singxer SA1 as a start into class A. Pretty sure it switches to A/B when power is needed.
If you could find a rebel that’s probably the best example of class A under $1000 except for a couple of ifi portables. After $1000 the options start opening up.
What DAC are you going to be running? I’d definitely wants higher voltage on its input stage or it sounds kinda quiet. I use a D90 with mine and it works nicely with it. I did have a JDS labs EL2 DAC and that’s how I found out it was quiet on an unbalanced input.
In the case of the singxer it’s is very detailed and very smooth/warm sounding. I had a THX 887 amp that was super detailed but very clinical, it worked for a starter amp, it didn’t sound musical. the singxer kept the detail while bringing life to music.
Make sure you get a 4.4 to xlr y split so you can run balanced. BTW you’ll have fun with the xbass.
I’ve been waiting for a good amp that could properly power my Argon’s for a long time. Z reviews recently put out a review that you should probably watch. His very excited hand waving and recommendation was enough to get me to buy it. Maybe it will be for you too.
I’ve been watching Zeos for a long time now, many years, since before these forums existed. I’ve learned that when he really gushes like this, he’s spot-on. If he says it’s the best for everything, then I believe him.
(warning though - THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDREN!! - this headphone amp is so powerful, that if you set it wrong, and you hook up something that can’t handle it, it might destroy that something. As with all powerful things, you should exercise your own intelligence and caution before you use it. It does have a ‘safety’ of sorts you can set to keep it from blowing things up though, so just set it via the ‘hidden menu’ and you shouldn’t have to worry.)
So if your amp budget goes up high enough to buy this. Then buy it. And don’t worry about anything else, because you will have one of the best dedicated headphone amps that currently exists.