xDuoo TA-01B: 2.1W @ 32Ω of tube flavoured DAC/amp

Thanks to Z’s review of the TA-01 and a $119.99 Drop, I have been enjoying my xDuoo TA-01B mostly powering my Monolith M1060C, but also my HE400i and “Argon-like” T50RPmk3 mod.
No matter how quiet the recording, this little powerhouse seems to be able to make it too loud without getting close to distortion, and there is always plenty left for the low end.

I’ve not bothered changing the stock tube - largely due to cost and being unconvinced of the relative improvement available (compared to using EQ, which I do) - but am curious to hear your experiences with specific tubes in this tube pre-amp.

Had this one and upgraded to the TA-10. Took a chance based on the 01 and it was pleasantly surprised. It uses the same tubes and there is a vast amount of new and NOS to choose from.
I would say the 01 is slightly warmer and the 10 is a bit more detail orientated. I am also going to test 12ae7 to see how it affects the gain.

The surprising thing about the TA-01 is the power it puts out for it’s size and it can get a T50 literally shaking. As for tubes you can get a cheap NOS on eBay from $5-20 and it’s definitely worth changing the tube even for a new Electro Harmonix or something similar.

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If you were to pick one for me to try, which would it be? A link to a specific product would be most welcome.

The names that come to mind for NOS are Mullard, Telefunken, Amperex, RCA, Westinghouse, Sylvania and then it’s finding the best version of those brands or the rebrands to save some $$.
There are so many 12au7’s out there that you could spend hours researching it. I think electro harmonix is a decent new tube for cheap. You can also keep an eye out for ebay lots, for instance I got about 8 tubes for $17 posted and some of them were worth $25-30 each.Generally NOS Muallrds are considered the best along with some of the Amperex or Telefunken.

This guy has some youtube videos on tubes Upscale Audio 12au7

Genalex Gold Lion

Electro-Harmonix, Gold Pin

Electro-Harmonix 12AU7, Balanced Triodes

New Mullard (not bad but not as nice as NOS)

PS Vane (nice chinese tube, good detail)

NOS eBay (some I have used and would like to try)

Westionghouse pair I remember this being super lush

Hammond (Mullard version)

RCA (any RCA I have tried always sounds decent, cleaner type of sound, there are also lots of variants)

IEC Mullard (cheaper rebrand, has a nice thick sound)

I actually got 5 NOS 12AE7’s for $15 posted which is supposed to be a more efficient design that will work in a 12au7.

The TA-10 makes a stock set of T-X0’s sound good on ZMF suede’s.

Thanks for the suggestions and links. I recognise several from the research I did on tubes and aside from the “Condition:-” NOS NIB RCA for $10.95 + $3.95 shipping on other cheap tubes such as the JJ Electronics, all these cost a significant fraction of the total cost of the device for a potential improvement which is not obviously any more than an EQ and the lack of any specifications make even the illusion of an informed choice impossible.
So one Electro-Harmonix for $9.98 + $4.99 shipping is ordered. With a little luck and a scoop of confirmation bias, I think this will work out well.

PS. At the risk of derailing my own thread, I see the Xduoo TA-03S DAC/12AU7 tube pre-amp/6C19 tube amp for $225.

Yes I see this revised version, I had actually tried the older one and it was not that powerful. I’m pretty happy with the TA-10.

The EH tube should be a good bit better than stock, let me know what you think. I had issues with JJ. It sounded good but I think it got hazy, could have been faulty unit

Electro-Harmonix 12AU7 EH installed. The TA-01B uses what I think are UNC socket countersunk screws, so I was unable to open the chassis and saw no way to remove the grey cover, so I used sticky tape to form a handle on top of the installed tube and gently eased it out.

Alas I had little opportunity to fully test the new tube, but a few tracks from Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks 24 bit 48 kHz FLAC “audiophile” master sounded really good.

Since rigorous A/B testing can’t beat the satisfaction which comes from various biases, I’ll be enjoying the new tube uncritically.

Thanks to FireLion44 for the advice.

Did anyone have any issues with crackling or dropping audio on the left channel? I had some issues at the very start (have only owned it for 3 hours). I had to unplug and replug my headphone channel a few times and seem to be stable now. Is this a defective unit or did things need to warm up?

Crackling and dropouts in one channel suggests a poor connection. If it persists after cleaning and re-seating the headphone plug and/or with another headphone, then the problem connection is probably internal.

The timer which turns the red light green to heat up the tube should more than suffice for any warm-up time. I get a loud click if I forget to flip the switch before putting on my headphone, but never any crackle.

12AT7 tubes work with the TA-10 as well, they are a higher gain so expect the details in the highs to come up. I think the TA-10 is a great unit! Also you are spot on with it being detailed for a tube hybrid.

I got this old Japanese tube 12ax7 that uses Mullard parts o tooling and it had more gain, worked well with a T50RP driver.

Yea I was afraid to use one with that much since au variants are like in the teens for signal gain, then the at is in the 70s then the ax is around 100, so I did not want to cause an issue.

I was interested in picking this little guy up for my desk, you had me at powers Argons. Could this preout to my powered speakers or is it a line out?

Note my use of “Argon-like” T50RPmk3 1 mod. As much as I’d like to be able to report on performance with a real Argon mod, mine are reportedly modified to sound like an Argon mod and my experience of them fits the description. I might mention that currently I’m powering them with a SMSL M3 which has USB (i.e. 5 V) power input from a 2.1 A source in addition to signal (and power?) from my sources but according to specs only puts out less than 0.1 W into the nominal 50 Ω. While not listening loudly, twelve o’clock is sufficient and the bass is there, so these might not hunger for power like an Argon mod.

There’s no question that the little TA-01B can drive planar magnetic headphones.

Neither. There’s only the headphone output.