I held off for a while because enough reviews mentioned quality issues, and opening up the unit and fixing internals, and that is way past my skill set. I had a problem, which is probably familiar to some members of the community ie, I had a pair of HD6XX s, and although my cth would power them, and I was happy with an O2 and a cheap douk tube amp and tube pre amp, I still felt the cans had more to give. Eventually, I bit the bullet, and got in on a DarkVoice drop. I thought that, even if it breaks down, it still looks geeky, and could just look cool on a shelf.
If you're reading this, you've probably read the other reviews as well, so here's what's true in my case. No quality control issues with my unit (the power tube does have a small excess piece of glass in it, but that doesn't affect anything), and yes, the tubes do make a smell when you're burning them in, but for less than an hour, and I didn't get any smoking happening. The stuff you've read about it getting hot, is absolutely true: take care with your set up. Make sure you have room around your DarkVoice, because you don't want to touch it accidentally when it's hot ( if you like "arrested development", think cornballer), and if you have kids, they'll only touch it once. Once.
Ok, quality, danger, but really, what we're all here for is the sound. Even with stock tube, the sound is great. I enjoyed the sound stage, liked the tube warmth, but the thing that got me, was how it made the music more 3d. I guess that just means that the imaging is good (my apologies to audiophiles if I use the wrong terminology, but you know what I mean). I put my HD6XX s through them, and, "oh, that's what they were talking about". Yes, if you have HD6XX s, stop reading this, and join the drop, and be happy ever after.
Of course, thinking that, if this was good, throwing more money at it could only make it better, so back I went down the rabbit hole of tube rolling. I'd had success in tube rolling with the CTH (which benefits from it, but doesn't need it), and the douk amp and pre amp, so I did some research and got some tung-sols, and was happy with the result. My aune x7s came in shortly after, and I liked it, and then thought that there are RCA s on the DarkVoice so that it can be used as a pre amp, so I hooked this up to the aune. The difference was amazing, and the only way to describe it, and I'm para phrasing somebody else's description, is that, when I'd listened to stuff before, like on my th-x00s through the CTH, the music sounded great, and I was happy. Listening to the same music on HD6XX s through the aune x7s (I'm assuming any class A amp would be similar), with the DarkVoice as a pre amp, was like an experience. With my previous setting, it was like listening to the best recording, but with the DarkVoice set up, it was like being there. Honestly, it was 3 dimensional, and I was hearing things I hadn't heard before, like paper shuffling, discreet coughs, and even one recording which must have been a really good take, because I heard somebody carefully close the studio door as quietly as they could, and it stayed in the background of the recording. With this set up, and the HD6XX I thought I'd found my personal end game, and I was right for a few weeks, until yesterday, when my focal elex cans arrived. Those cans with this set up will have you having to listen to everything you've ever heard before, again, but that's another story, for the focal review.
Long review, but long story short, yes, the DarkVoice is definately worth getting (especially if you have a HD6XX), yes, it will burn your house down and hurt you if you're not careful, and no, you won't regret it. If you've read this far, do it. You will eventually anyway.