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I received my Dark Voice a few days ago. Here is my initial review:
Massdrop kept the delivery date promise. I received the item before the estimated date. Thanks!
The Dark Voice and both tubes were well protected in its original foam pads within its shipping box.
Initial first 2 hours testing:
The Dark Voice functions properly. I tested Dark Voice with HD-6XX (300 Ohm) and DT 800 (250 Ohm). They both sounded good but with the frequently mentioned left ear humming sound. The humming was very noticeable. Nevertheless, the sound from HD-6XX was really impressive.
Waiting/Baking: To remove the common humming, I followed our Massdrop members’ recommendations and took out 6AS7 (larger tube) out and left only 6SN7 (smaller tube) installed and turned the Dark Voice on for about 50-60 hours. After that I added 6AS7 back to Dark Voice and turn on the Dark Voice again. The humming is about 90% gone. I expect the further use will eventually remove the humming.
First day of the actual use of Dark Voice:
I used to listen to HD-6XX & HD-600 on Topping DX7s with balanced cable. I thought HD-6XX was already very good back then. BUT NOW, pairing HD-6XX with Dark Voice (even with unbalanced cable & RCA input), I was SO IMPRESSED and SURPRISED how great this pair can reproduce beautiful music. Wider soundstage, much better low frequency response, crisp clear highs. Simply for this reason, Dark Voice is worth every dollar well spent.
After I switched to Hifiman planar headphones and Stax electrostatic headphones two years ago, I stopped using about 35 different dynamic driver headphones I owned. I tested about 12 of them with higher ohms, such as Sennheiser HD-600, HD-660s, HD-6XX, HD-58X, Beyerdynamic DT 880, JBL, AKG …even Superlux HD660 and Samson SR950. I have to say that Dark Voice gives these headphones very different and much more enjoyable sounds. I am so glad that I bought this Dark Voice.
Since the Dark Voice & its tubes can get warm and breakable, I decided to place the Dark Voice in a protective box so that my very curious and naughty miniature poodle would not accidentally burn its cute fuzzy paws or face.
Summary: If you are into music listening and have some headphones that you suspect they have not yet reached their full potential, Dark Voice is something worth your attention and investment. So far, I am very happy even with the original tubes. I think I will start tube rolling soon like many others are doing here. I give this Dark Voice 9.5/10. I highly recommend it.
Please also see my photos for Dark Voice & Halloween headphone holder.
I have been using the DV with the 6xx for about a year now. The pairing doesn’t get old. Still enjoying it immensley. I remember thinking the stock tubes sounded great when I first got my DV. I think the tube sound was such a revelation I wasn’t very discerning.
After some one tube rolling I have settled on an RCA 6AS7 and Shanguang Treasure 6SN7 as go tube setup.
How did the DV and the BD 880 sound? I have been considering picking up a set as I have never heard any BD headphones.
Good evening. Thanks for the response. I remembered that I read your review before I bought my Dark Voice. I totally agree with you that HD 6XX+ Dark Voice combo gives many of my CD's brand new listening experiences.
I have ordered some tubes and am waiting for their shipments so that I can try new tubes. I have one Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB "Mouse Ears" (old stock), one Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB (New Production), one new RCA 6AS7, and one NOS- GE 6AS7GA coming. Hope at least one of the combination will sound better than the stock tubes.
With the stock tubes, BD 880 does not sound good. That is why I am waiting to change the tubes. 880 sounds thin, narrow, with weak lows under the stock tubes. I am sure the new tubes will change this. Thanks again for your kind message.
I for one appreciate the protective box, as my puppy is also curious...
So far, the box also prevents me a few times from accidentally dropping my heavy headphones (such as Audeze & Monolith) on the tubes as well. This afternoon, I also just posted my tube rolling update here, too.
Thanks for your message & hope you are enjoying your DarkVoice as well.
An update for my first round of tube rolling (around $35 cost):
I replaced the Shuguang (originally stocked) 6SN7 with Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB. Immediately sound improved. Especially the trebles turned clean and detailed. I can hear wider-spaced and delicate details. Both Shuguang and Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB have loud hums at the beginning. It takes 48 hours of baking/burning-in for the stocked Shuguang 6SN7 to drop its humming.
Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB came with super loud humming at the beginning.I almost gave up this Tung-Sol tube the first day. . But after 60 hours (be patient) of burning-in, the humming sound completely disappeared except when you use the lower (<32 ohm dynamic drivers) ohm headphones. Also, Dark Voice works well with my planar headphones regardless ohms. It pushes the planar drivers from my Hifiman HE-560, HE-400i, Monolith, Audeze well and they sound full with details.
I replace the Shuguang (originally stocked) 6AS7 with GE 6AS7. To my surprise, GE 6AS7 brought down the bass output. So DO NOT throw away the stocked Shuguang 6AS7 cause it pairs very very well with Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB. I really enjoyed my entire headphone collections with my Dark Voice, especially with Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB with the original Shuguang 6AS7. I will receive more tubes soon and will share my updates.