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linowino
1
Nov 11, 2019
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In the sub-$300 category, what would work best with the AKG K340; the Darkvoice, the Little Dot MKII, the Eddie Current ZDT Jr., or other?
Nov 11, 2019
Schizoid
95
Nov 17, 2019
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Hmm, well depends a bit, the Darkvoice and Eddie Current ZDT Jr. Are far better imo than the Little Dot MKII, but as for which one would run the AKG K340 best, It depends on a few factors, like impedance, which all versions of the K340 seem to be ~400 ohm, so they want more voltage rather than current power wise, which the Darkvoice and Eddie Current Jr. Can provide, the ZDT has an Output Transformer, the DV using Coupling Capacitors which can be upgraded later and essentially simplifies the circuit due to not using an OT (Less stuff in the way of the signal, means more clean signal in theory since OTs can make or break an Amp due to being directly in the signal path). Both function well and have their advantages and disadvantages, so please read reviews on both to see their sound differences/functionality differences/optimal price/performance ratio depending on your budget. Now, I would also recommend to find out which one pairs best with your version of the K340, since there seems to be a Bass Lite, Bass Heavy and Neutral Version of these headphones. I recommend you figure out which version you own, https://www.head-fi.org/threads/need-help-for-akg-k340-version-identifying.866494/ seems to categorize the three main versions by driver color and then compare your version of the K340 vs what sound you want the amp to have. TL;DR, read some reviews on the ZDT Jr. and the Darkvoice 336SE to get an idea of what you're getting into, see what version of the K340 you have with the link I provided (or search around yourself since you may have a different version than the one in the link above), and then compare the sound type you want from the headphone/amp combo. Also I recommend you check out https://www.head-fi.org/threads/diy-amp-for-akg-k340.528814/ to get a basic idea of what type of amp the AKG K340 would like electrically speaking, so you don't experience clipping or harsh sounds due to insufficient/dirty/bad V*A ratio power.
Nov 17, 2019
linowino
1
Nov 21, 2019
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Thank you for your response. I have been doing a ton of research on this and now find myself more confused than when I started. I have a difficult time understanding a lot of the technical jargon and get a little lost in the din. When searching specs on various amps, I'm not finding the output voltage listed for most (very frustrating as this seems to be the key factor for driving these particular phones.) I am leaning toward the Darkvoice because, from what I've read, it gets the most recommendations as a pairing with the K340s. It also sounds like there are far greater tube rolling options with the Darkvoice than with the ZDT. The ZDT Jr. is very alluring though, as people seem to really like it in general, comparing it to amps that cost much, much more. (I do plan on getting the HD 6xx later and the ZDT apparently pairs extremely well with them.) Thanks again
(Edited)
Nov 21, 2019
Schizoid
95
Nov 21, 2019
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I personally own the Darkvoice, and I can tell you that while it sounds good stock, tube rolling is where it's at with it. The Reason people recommend the Darkvoice with the K340 may be due to being a circuit primarily benefiting high impedance headphones in as simple as a circuit as possible with very little features in the circuit that can be points of fault that can affect audio quality in some way. Essentially it's meant to amplify Voltage primarily for Voltage hungry headphones. The issue is that the Darkvoice has it's kinks, being a cheap Chinese made tube amp using relatively cheap internal parts (albeit not BAD quality parts, just cheap), as well as tube noise issues at 120V mains due to having a 110V primary winding in it's transformer. I can vouch for the build quality of the transformer, It's a really well made transformer and have since ordered one from the same company who makes it for the Darkvoice but with 120V windings, as well as upgraded components and some circuit tweaks and now the Darkvoice is dead quiet and powerful, but the Voltage discrepancy in stock form really messes with the heaters in the tubes (Not because of build quality but because of the amount of windings that were specified by the company who makes the Darkvoice when ordering transformers) seeing how it can get as high as 7.1V for a heater that in it's spec sheet is barely optimal at 6.9V, and this voltage issue is most noticeable in the Driver Tube (Small one, 6SN7). A lot of people therefore perform the "Hum-Fitz" mod which is essentially a Capacitor Bypass on the tube's Cathode (Pins 3 & 6) which helps with noise but isn't exactly the perfect solution. This doesn't really affect newer tubes seeing how they tend to have low microphonics, but the older NOS tubes tend to have issue due to being older and possibly having microphonics or beginning to suffer from it due to age. If you go with the Darkvoice just be warned that some driver tubes (6SN7 or equivalents) may have issues due to the higher Heater Voltage (~6.9V - 7.1V instead of a relatively more optimal~6.1V - 6.5V) and require either a long Burn-In Period (~72 Hours) or a Hum-Fitz mod/Cathode Capacitor Bypass (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dv-336se-hum-fitz-mod.353079/page-2) or both if the driver tube starts humming/crackles/has consistent microphony, and may sometimes not fully resolve the issue. However the amp is great, cheap, and uses tubes that really affect how the amp can sound, so essentially the tubes matter a lot here, which is good for sound shaping, bad for replacements if the tubes you're using is super rare/super expensive. The ZDT from what I understand uses a different tube set that tend to make less of a difference in how the amp sounds (I've heard similar things about the Mainline by Bottlehead, so maybe 9-pins in general have less sound variance than their 8 pin older brothers in general, which is good for cheap replacements, but not as good for shaping the sound using different tubes, although higher quality replacements will probably have better noise/dynamics albeit a similar sound to cheaper 9-pins. Not 100% sure though so maybe do a bit more research there), as well as having more going on in it's circuit in general, since it has output transformers to give you an option for either low or high impedance headphones. While this is great since it gives you options to use Orthodynamic (Planar) drivers with tubes as well as Low Impedance Dynamic Drivers (Regular Headphones/Current Heavy), it's essentially something else in the way of the signal, albeit the Output Transformers seem to be of high quality since I haven't heard any complaints so far. The other benefit is higher component quality in general for the ZDT and it being produced in Russia may invoke a higher sense of build quality, albeit at a higher price (a bit more than Double the Darkvoice's Price). Essentially it's more costly than the Darkvoice but has less issues and more features from what I can see albeit less affected by tube rolling (Also how much it can amplify a signal for High-Impedance headphones vs the Darkvoice so check that out too). Also don't limit yourself to just Drop Offerings! There are good tube amps elsewhere as well, such as the Little Dot MK-III (I liked it when I had it but is sensitive to external noise and Ground-Loops), or the La Figaro (Similar to the Darkvoice with the same transformer issue, but is less noisy in general, more amplification and uses a 6SJ7 Pentode instead of a 6SN7 Triode as the driver tubes. Maybe you can try Hybrids too like the Cavalli/Monolith Liquid Platinum or maybe a DIY kit such as the U.S. developed Bottlehead offerings (Stock Crack for example is essentially a Darkvoice with a 12AU7 driver instead of a 6SN7 albeit has adapters to switch them and with correct transformer voltages for the heaters, albeit more expensive but also more easily modifiable a.k.a. Speedball + C4S). If you do go with the Darkvoice, it's a good amp and is plenty powerful, and if you ever do get into modding it I can always give you advice with what to change/tweak. Spoilers: Changing the Transformer for the correct heater voltages makes the most amount of difference noise and stability wise and makes the Hum-Fitz mod a moot point unless you want extra gain, in which case go for it, followed by the Bridge Rectifier, where a faster Solid State rectifier tends to produce a better bass response without any Sound Quality Degradation. Changing out Coupling/Output Capacitors tends to be the next thing on that list to change and the most common thing people change when modding this amp for a better sound/different sound and usually increasing the capacitance for more bass response but this may affect Sound Quality a tad bit negatively if the capacitors aren't that good/more capacitance than necessary. This can be followed by a Grid-Stopper/Grid-Resistor Upgrade and Potentiometer Upgrade, and anything else is simply small beans, well maybe better Power Supply capacitors/resistors but that makes very little difference compared to the things at the beginning. Oh also tube socket upgrades if you want tighter fits for the tube pins for better conductivity or maybe just fancy sockets for the looks, and maybe a custom potentiometer knob for style points as well.
Nov 21, 2019
TaylorD
373
May 31, 2020
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Hey, I know this is out of left field, but would you have a link to a correct voltage power transformer for the DV?
May 31, 2020
JKDjEdi
13
Jun 23, 2020
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Any how too's out there on the Transformer Mod?
Jun 23, 2020
Cmnascimento
2
Mar 2, 2021
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Hi, I read your comments and I notice that you understand a lot about the subject. So I think maybe you can clarify a question that I have had for a long time. I have owned a Darkvoice for about two years, and in that time I have bought many valves, many of which are really good (Bendix 6080, TS 5998, Chatham 6as7g, GEC 6080, Mullard 6080, TS 6080, Melz 1578, TS 6j5g, Brimar 6sn7gt, Sylvania 6j5g, among others). I spent about $ 1300 on valves to find combinations that really fit my taste and that give the warmth that my Beyerdynamic T1 phone needs, without sacrificing the details it presents. However, although I can find combinations of tubes that offer extremely good sound, I wonder what it would be like if I bought a better amplifier. So my question is: In your opinion, do you believe that an amplifier like La Fígaro 339 would bring me a significant improvement in sound? My Darkvoice has no background noise. The detail is that I intend to use the amplifier only with high impedance headphones (HD800, T1, HD650). I know the LF339 is best for low impedance headphones, but it doesn't apply to me. Celio
Mar 2, 2021
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