APPJ 1502A Tube Headphone Amplifier
APPJ 1502A Tube Headphone Amplifier
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Product Description
Featuring a 6n4 preamp section and two 6p6p power tubes in a dual Class-A configuration, this APPJ audio tube headphone amp offers high resolution, sweeping soundstage presentation, and full tonal quality. Compact and elegant, with solid housing, the amplifier is designed to drive high-impedance headphones all the way up to 600 ohms with little clipping or distortion Read More

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ddd_80
5
Aug 2, 2018
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Setup: iTunes ALAC --> optical/TOSLINK cable --> Schiit Modi 2 multibit DAC --> APPJ tube amp --> Sennheiser 6xx headphones or HiFiman HE-4xx headphones. I've only been listening for about an hour now, but so far so good. The sound is deep and rich while maintaining mids and accentuating highs. I bought some Mullard NOS preamp tubes and 6v6 replacements, but haven't used them yet. I'm sure they will add even more depth and clarity to the sound.
rastus
1125
Mar 24, 2019
How were the NOS tubes?
rastus
1125
Mar 25, 2020
How were the NOS tubes? I still use my APPJ, even though it competes with a 300B. Upgrading the caps was a big step.
dbsylvia
84
Jul 30, 2018
Didn't think it was shipping till August 14th but today I received my tube amp. Did not arrive in usual Massdrop box. Of course no power cord so I have to wait until my ordered cable arrives. I have some Electro-Harmonix tubes coming also. High hopes abound for this little tube amp. I am looking forward to see if it will pair well with my Advanced Alpha's as the Little Dot MKII did not.
dbsylvia
84
Aug 1, 2018
oh bummer, I hope that you find the package. If not, I hope that Massdrop will work with you on a replacement.
dbsylvia
84
Aug 1, 2018
Wonder who signed for it, the neighborhood cat? Sorry that you have to deal with a stolen shipment. I hope it all works out for you quickly so you can enjoy your tube amp.
MakisV
0
Jul 19, 2018
Is there any decent DAC i can connect this tube amp because i want to connect it to my PC?
AdrianL
119
Jul 20, 2018
Topping D10, D30, D50 are not bad options
rastus
1125
Jul 20, 2018
This would be an interesting pairing; a "low" cost, $476, Soekris R-2R. Feed it some 24/192 or DSD, missing for me on the MD R-2R,,, into the 1502A and a nice pair of cans,, damn now I want to try this... You would want to give it clean separate 5V on the USB -< a split cable or completely separate, so as to excel here.
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http://www.soekris.dk/dac1321.html
econaut100
47
Jul 16, 2018
is this the best tube amp you can get at this price point? That can adequately power HD6XX/ HD650?
rastus
1125
Jul 17, 2018
It is just about perfect (at this price point):
  • Output voltage: 18Vp-p
  • 0.13W / 600 ohms 0.26W / 300 ohms 0.5W / 100 ohms 1W / 32ohms
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zbells
203
Jul 18, 2018
There's a few OTL Tube amps you can also get at this price point. If you don't mind building one yourself, you can go with the Bottlehead Crack which pairs absolutely amazingly with the HD600 series. I haven't tried this APPJ amp, so I wouldn't be able to compare the two.
rastus
1125
Jul 16, 2018
My budget "starter" tube amp, read; start spending money... that with a little help - is still with me, sounds just wonderfully, sonically, lubricious (musical) with the Elex's... a nice DAC and DSD...
Keep the tubes that come with it for test purposes, esp. if you replace caps.
Listen to those tubes first though, it's a baseline, then move on, i.e. ship the unit back or replace them (the move to prepare for).
Needful things to get your reward:
Replace the interstage caps with 0.47uF; Mundorf supreme's will allow you to put the cover back on (retain shielding), got mine here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/0-47-uf-1000VDC-MUNDORF-M-CAP-Supreme-Capacitor-0-47-uf-600-VDC-for-Audio/192319064599?hash=item2cc71c0a17%3Ag%3AH4QAAOSw2s1Uz5Na&_sacat=0&_nkw=mundorf+0.47uf&_from=R40&rt=nc&LH_TitleDesc=0
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I also replaced the cathode caps with 1000uF Elna SIMIC II's: https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/elna-america/RFS-25V102MJ8-5/604-1059-ND/970220
The CBS (Hytron) 6V6GT's are the best I have used in the 1502A, a very open stage: https://www.ebay.com/itm/CBS-6V6-GT-NOS-MATCH-PAIR-1950s-5E3-ORIGINAL-BADBOY-RAUNCHY-OVERDRIVE-C05/223058149948?hash=item33ef4d423c%3Ag%3A9m0AAOSwKGpa53Rg&_sacat=0&_nkw=6v6gt+nos+pair&_from=R40&rt=nc&_trksid=p2334524.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.A0.H0.X6v6gt+nos+pair.TRS1&LH_TitleDesc=0
Preamp tube,, many choices,,, mine now goes between a 12BH7A or an E80CC: https://www.ebay.com/itm/NIB-1962-Vintage-Amperex-E80CC-6085-GOLD-Premium-TESTED-STRONG-96-96-NEW-NOS/332689683988?hash=item4d75d9b614%3Ag%3AgCkAAOSw9gRaNS6u&_sop=16&_sacat=0&_nkw=E80CC+NOS&_from=R40&rt=nc&LH_TitleDesc=0%7C0
Thread fyi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/any-opinions-reviews-on-gemtune-appj-pa1502a.780178/
Volly
314
Jul 17, 2018
Do you have any other tube amps to compare to in your inventory @ratus, I've got a Darkvoice and love it with my 650's, looking at adding another tube amp for a second setup. Would the APPJ be in the same ball-park with the DV in terms on sound?
I really love the look of this thing too!
rastus
1125
Jul 17, 2018
I'm the opposite, listening to a SET, but intrigued by the OTL, taking the problem noisy/distorting transformer out of the path... OTL gets rid of the noisy things, but at a price, you add caps. But,, you can get nice caps... you can also get nice transformers,, they just cost more... I have almost picked up a used La Figaro 339,, but I want a nice 300B SE for my speakers first...
To answer your other question; if you are willing to upgrade this 1502A with the caps and put some nice NOS tubes in it, it's worth it I feel. You will have a nice SET that will now work better with some cans than your OTL, and you can play around. Why you see it noted (elsewhere) that it has Japanese Z11 steel transformers, it matters, still a budget amp,, that I may never part with... would gift first.
I sometimes carpool with a fellow who now heads an audio R&D department, who also ran the soundboard for the Dead at one point. We got to talking about transformers, Tango, Tamura et al. and how critical the material/orientation is to the end result, shit goes deep, like Tamahagane... The C-Core amorphous transformers look interesting to me, such as Audio Note uses,, or the Lundahl's with silver wire winding,,, just takes money.
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Alejandro508
27
May 10, 2017
Doe anyone have any idea if a 12BH7 could be dropped in for the 6N4?
Alfa24V
3
May 30, 2017
No worries. The 12AX7 can be run off 6V or 12V so I can see what the thought process was.
It should be noted the preamp socket on this amp actually supplies 12V instead of 6V like most other headphone amps. So you can't use 6V-only tubes like 6DJ8 or 6FQ7. You must use their 12V equivalent instead (like 12FQ7) or a dual-voltage tube like the 12AX7 and 12BH7. The good news is 12V-only tubes are often cheaper than their 6V-only equivalents but sound the same.
Alejandro508
27
Jun 1, 2017
Thanks, that is very useful to know!
Gugliermo
1316
May 5, 2017
The ad says RCA input and output, the specs show only RCA input and 1/4" jack out?? Which is it, I'd use this primarily as a preamp in stereo setup so I need RCA out.
Sloblo
407
May 13, 2017
Looks like it's using a Lynn Basik cartridge ~ do you have any recommendations as far as tube phono stages?
As I mentioned before I was looking at the PS audio sprout or the Deckard Class-A (Audeze) since I definitely appreciate the source switching and headphone out on the front. Would I need an additional Phono Stage preamp to use them with the Lynn? or would those work without?

Thanks again for the help, trying to wrap my head around what gear is ideal for my needs.
Gugliermo
1316
May 13, 2017
The Sprout claims it has a built in Phono stage so you would not need an additional outboard phono stage with that unit. The Deckard however has no such thing so you would need an outboard phono stage with that unit. I would suggest looking into Yaqin or Little Bear for budget tube phono stages. If you are not familiar with how tubes work, do look into it before you buy, they are not for everyone. Tube equipment is often accused of "distortion". This is misuse of the word. What they do is introduce harmonics into the sound. Even ordered harmonics, octaves, fifths. These are subtle (and natural) but add a dimension to the sound that is hard to describe. "Magical", airy, three dimensional, are good ones. These results can be obtained with really fine tubes, the ones made during the heyday of tube production, 1940's-1980's before the transistor boom killed the tube. Poorly made tubes or bad tubes will sound awful. They need TLC to function properly and will need to be replaced eventually. Many people can't be bothered and opt for the transistor sound. Phono stage amps are needed to amplify the extremely small signal coming from a moving stylus in a record groove. The phono stage increases that tiny line signal for further amplification by the Pre-amp stage which then sends that signal to the amp for further amplification and out to the speakers. It's a LOT more "hassle" than digital sourced sound (-; Also, the turntable will have to be set up properly, leveled, skating and tracking pressures properly adjusted, and the stylus kept CLEAN. (-; A good disc washing system for the vinyl is also very desirable. I know that's a lot of stuff one needs to go through but please realize, VINYL was the true and original High-Resolution sound reproduction system, considerably outperforming the 44khz/16bit standard chosen for Compact Discs. Enjoy.
stolikat
1
Sep 30, 2016
This amp has terrible static. I just looked at massdrop's return policy and found I have no hope of returning it so I am stuck with a piece of junk. If this drop becomes active again stay away. Far away. Massdrops crap return policy has me thinking hard about ever ordering from them again.
demize
156
May 4, 2017
You can try buying a $10 ground loop isolator and using it. If this is anything like my Little Dot, it could have ground loop issues and that'll get rid of the static.
sghound
132
May 4, 2017
audible static or touch static?
Enginepartsguy
31
Jun 29, 2016
Is this a better headphone amp that my Schiit Valhalla II? There aren't any output specs to compare too. I am being funny here. Charles DeWitt
supanat.sr
6
Jun 30, 2016
Valhalla always better :D just my opinion
polarbear9977
28
Jun 29, 2016
Well, I guess I am going to answer myself. It appears that there should be a power transformer but it is a tiny switch type on the circuit board.
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