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I am trying to figure out two things. Primarily, would this provide any substancial benefit over my solid state on the hd6xx and if so what music would it be most noticable on? Secondarily, since my dac has only one rca out, could I split the rca out from my dac into two seperate signals (one feeding solid state and one feeding tubes) with no ill-effects?
This amp is the PERFECT pairing with the HD 6XX (650). I was originally using a very good solid state Kyocera receiver (killer headphone out) with the 6XX. Once I got the darkvoice, it became my go-to amp for the 6xx. There's absolutely no comparison to solid state. Of course, solid state can work great with the right headphone (for example, most of my planars USUALLY sound better with a SS amp). But with the 6xx tubes are the way to go.. especially the Darkvoice which has the juice to properly drive them (the 6xx, in my experience, is VERY source dependent). The Darkvoice is an OTL amp which works best with high impedence cans. Plus, it uses the 6sn7 driver tube which is magical with the 6xx.
This is an exceptional amp that is a hell of a lot of fun to experiment with (this is where my love of tubes began). First of all the 6sn7 tube is a phenomenal tube (check this thread on headfi if you really want to learn about this tube https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-reference-6sn7-thread.117677/). Since buying the Darkvoice, I've purchased over 50 different 6sn7 tubes...all of them remarkably different from one another). I change them constantly depending on what I'm listening to. Obviously, you do NOT need 50 tubes to get alot out of this amp (but be careful of the tube bug... it's hit me really bad :) ).
If you get this amp, DEFINITELY replace the stock tubes. For the 6sn7, my favorites have been the vt231 varieties (pretty much all are good, but the Sylvania vt231 and Raytheon vt231 pair very well with the 6xx.. both are generally available in the $30-50 range... just be sure the seller has excellent feedback and experience selling tubes..and they should test as close to NOS as possible). Another tube I have really liked with the 6xx are ones made by Brimar (cv1988....the British variant of the 6sn7). The brimars can be pricey, so you'll need to be patient until you luck upon a deal. I got an amazing NOS Brimar from a seller in Cyprus for $35, but it took a while until that came along). There are also PLENTY of great 6sn7's under $20 (Sylvania 6sn7gta and national union 6sn7gt are two of my favorites in this range).
I also recommend changing the power tube. For about $20, the rca jan-6as7g is a very good bet. My favorites are the Tung Sol 5998 (can be pricey, but a decently priced one comes along every now and then) and lately I've really liked the tung sol 7236, which is VERY similar to the 5998 but can found for much less (I just picked up a very good one for $10).
I have found that different pairings of power and driver tubes make a big difference with the 6xx. My current favorite combination is the Sylvania vt231 and the Tung Sol 7236 (truly sublime). It's staggering how good this amp sounds with the right tubes and the right headphones.
A couple of other comments if you buy the Darkvoice. The 6sn7s tend to hum when you pop a "new" one in ("new" meaning you just bought it). In nearly all cases, unless the tube is defective, the hum will go away. The best way to get rid of hum is to remove the power tube (with the amp turned off of course), put the 6sn7 with the hum in and then turn on the amp. And then leave it on like this for several days straight (at worst a week). After doing that I haven't had the hum return for any of those tubes.
One final note... this time about the 6xx. I strongly recommend making some relatively easy mods that will truly bring out the best in these cans. I did the dynamat and felt mods recommended here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/sennheiser-hd650-love.44/#post-446
Ok, that's enough for now
Looking for suggestion on where can one get Tungsol 7236 for $10
I stumbled across a seller on eBay who was offloading alot of really good tubes (some quite rare) for absurdly low prices. $10 is low for that tube, but I have gotten them for $25 too. Just got to keep an eye on eBay and jump when the price is right.
Just checked and saw one for $35 with best offer accepted. This was the seller I purchased from with a $25 offer (actually purchased 2 at that price).