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I've used the Topping D30 +A30 + VX3 for about a year now. Paired with whafedale speakers and foobar source. I must say for the price, there is nothing to complain about. The DAC is DSD competent, which can play high quality sources with ease. Sound produced is clean, and spacious, close to zero colouration is observed.
A30 does a great job in powering hard to drive headphones. The switch to increase decibel is handy, and have no issues powering HD650, AKG K612s, and my Beyerdynamic DT990.
VX3 is great, as there's a Bluetooth receiver. Play music from your phone straight out to your speakers. Bluetooth connection is stable and little to zero distortion was known during my usage.
Overall, a greater starting point to begin with for your audio journey. By no means I'm an audiophile, but just sharing my thoughts on it.
I own the D30, agree. Your stacks looks beautiful, much better than my Little Dot I+ | D30 hahaha
Thanks for the compliments. I chose the topping stack partly for their looks 😃. SMSL panda stack looks cool too, but I could do topping D30+A30+VX3+rack with lesser money spent. Hahah
Yeah the Topping stack is the price-performance king, and looks great too. But that SMSL stacks is as sexy as expensive given the specs.
Well said, given the fact they are all manufactured with same origin. If you're willing to take the plunge then maybe a schiit Modi | magni combo. Else save a little cash and pump it into better headphones/iem. Which I believe you will hear much more difference than switching around DACs.
Indeed; as long as you have a reasonably good DAC, the only reason I'd consider upgrading it would be added features (like dual chips or balanced outputs) or connectivity. Magni 3 got my attention, on paper looks amazing for the price, a huge improvement over the already good Magni 2. If I had to buy a SS amp under $200, I'd go for it.
BTW, right now I have a Little Dot I+ with some good tubes, and I'm thinking about going full tubey and buying the LD MKII, since I could use the same tubes I already have, and OTL seems to be the best match for my HD6XX. What do you think about OTL amps? You know something about the MKII? Any other remarkable options in this price range?
Frankly, I love tubes. But I didn't get to play much with them, I own a bravo audio ocean with stock tube. I can safely say that it sounds way warmer and fuller with the tube in comparison to solid-state amps.
I'm not too well versed with OTL, but if you're looking at tubes...probably you could take a look at Dark voice 336SE. Or probably nobsound MS-10D MKII, though it might not be branded but I believe tube rolling gives you the best compatibility with your desired cans.
I do have HD6xx too,but I'm more inclined to AKG's sound signature. So apart from tweaking EQ, tube rolling will be your best option.
The Darkvoice 336SE is a great option, but it's beyond my budget and not easy to find. Nobsound MS-10D looks a bit like "one does all", I don't know, it has so many features I doubt it's good. Quick research, turns out Nobsound MS-10D aka Jaycar AA0474 it's a scam: http://members.iinet.net.au/~cool386/jaycar/jaycar.html. Basically a cheap SS amp with some glowing tubes attached. Don't get me wrong, for the price you get a lot of features, but obviously it will sound crappy compared to a dedicated headphone amp at the same price. The next level I guess it would be
Why do you prefer AKGs to Senns, brightness? Which AKG model do you like the most? I considered the AKG K702, but I read that they lack bass presence, and even more sub-bass than the HD650/HD6XX. So my next purchase will be an OTL amp for the HD6XX or other sub-$200 headphones with solid sub-bass (maybe Hifiman HE4XX, if they come available again, which I really really hope). Suggestions?
Love the stack mate! Sleek shelving too, I love it!
Topping have got a good thing going!
I think I read something similar to the Nobsound, I believe most these 'types' are of a hybrid SS/tube amp design, like the littlebears and bravo oceans, heck even like a Schiit Vali 2. They'll give you some warmth of a tube but nothing like a Darkvoice.
As for you headphone choice, I believe the HD6XX don't reach that low in the bass section, reading feedback the HE4XX go a bit lower and has a little more presents down low but aren't sub-bass monsters. If you can save a bit more money then perhaps something like a Monoprice M1060 might get you what you want or perhaps wait for a used pair of Fostex TH-X00 (any of the range PH, ebony, mah), these will deliver you some decent sub-bass.
Just a word on amps and bass extension, I find my SS amp's would perform better in the bass region than my tube amp, but sometimes with the right tube, my tube amp would sound more euphoric than my SS amp, that's if you take music genre's and different headphones in to account as well.
Synergy is the key to this hobby! But it is all subjective as well.
Hope this helps.
There's a company called little bear that might worth looking into for decent cheap tube amps. I think Z reviews showed one or two of them.
Well from my limited knowledge for tube amps, probably LD MKii might be just the best bet for you. Which I'm considering whether if I should try it out too 🙊 .
I own the AKG 612, I guess personally I'm inclined to bright sounding stuff. Don't get me wrong, HD6xx are awesome too. The bass and sub bass works much better than AKG's. Then again, I believe it depends on which kind of genre of music you're listening to. EDM with AKGs, I won't recommend it. Hahah!
I would recommend a replacement in headphone will deal more changes in the sound signature. Since you have a LD mk-i, LD MKII might have subtle differences, but not as much as a headphone change. I own a pair of beyerdynamic DT990, 300ohms cans. Boy, do they sound spacious, sound stage is really wide, construction is German standard alright. Best of all, the bass goes down to 5Hz. Might be one of the lowest cans I've used. Do consider them.
Thanks Volly, no regrets on the stack and rack. 10/10 for looks!hahah
Thanks, I'll definitely keep an eye on the M1060 if I can save some money, and always waiting for the HE4XX to come back! On the SS and tubes for bass, I find than on high-impedance cans my LD I+ usually gives a bit more bass presence, on IEMs is somewhat the opposite but the difference is not too big.
Thanks, some time ago I thought about Beyers, maybe DT770 because they're closed back and better for office listening while there's people around (not like the HD6XX). I'll think about how to spend more money on audio gear I don't need ;)
It's an addiction to keep getting audio gear that we don't need. I just ordered my darkvoice 336SE *shakemyhead*😱😰
Perfect match for the HD650, congratulations! You bought it brand new? Where from, Shenzhenaudio? Share some thoughts after some listening :)
Thank you, but RIP to my wallet..Hahah! Yes, brand new from Shenzhenaudio. Order is still being processed, i hope there's stock for them. Really hope to receive it soon!
Yes, definitely I will share some thoughts when i get my hands on them. Kinda exciting heheh
Hey @Eli35 , I did not get the darkvoice 336SE in the end. Lazada made me wait for 10days and abruptly cancelling my order, despite contacting them multiple times and they promised it will arrive.
None the less, I just bought the Musical Paradise MP-301 MK3. I am doing an A/B comparison right now against the A30, based on D30 (DAC).
First initial thoughts, the difference are night and day!
MP301 is so much more spacious and bassy. But of course, they are tubes which sound signature could be altered by rolling.
Do consider MP-301 MK3 if you're into tubes. Tell me how you feel about it too :)
Hi @MoonRock I'm sad you couldn't get your DV, but hey what a beauty you got there! I read the MP-301 MK3 is output transformer-coupled, never heard of any amp in this price range that was transformed-coupled. I read those are better driving medium and high impedance headphones, and not just high (and 600ohm+ super-high) impedance like OTL amps, so it's probably a great match for AKGs. I guess you already read that, but if not, check this out because they share some interesting quirks about your new amp: https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/musical-paradise-mp-301-mk-3-vacuum-tube-integratedheadphone-amplifier-and-mp-d1-vacuum-tube.
BTW which tubes you got? I read some tubes can make a noticeable hum, specially driving low-impedance headphones, so be careful with that! Good luck, enjoy your new tubeys!
Thanks for the link, @Eli35 . I read extensively before I pulled the trigger on MP-301 MK3, yes it cost more than a DV but I feel the tube options are much wider. It drives it HD6xx at about 9 O'clock position, Beyerdynamic DT990 at around 10 O'clock. I'm quite sure if you max it out, it will blow almost any headphones in the market (just maybe).
As for hums, I am not experiencing it as of now. There are some floor noise which is more audible when the volume is maxed. But I am quite sure it's the tubes that causes that. Time for some tube rolling session.
I'm currently on stock tubes right now, giving the system a test run to see if all-system(tubes)-go. I am considering to change to maybe a tung-sol 6550 or a KT88. As for the preamp, I'm not too sure what to get....probably a Russian OTK6*8? What would u suggest ?
Please share :)
I really can't tell about this kind of tubes, I read some good stuff about tung-sol's for this, also about soviet's. My suggestion is go for some cheap but well-reviewed tubes (probably URSS-era OTK are the best price-performance), first change driver tubes (because usually they make much more of a difference when it comes to sound coloring than the power tubes) and don't go crazy spending too much on tubes, because you already got a end-game setup that features nice stock tubes. Read some more about tube rolling on this amp, don't impulsively buy the first tubes you read something good about, don't be me xD.
The more I look at your amp, the more I like it... It looks gorgeous! Good amp you got there, I hope you enjoy it a lot :) BTW the Massdrop x Hifiman HE4xx drop is available again, maybe you're interested, I've already ordered my pair!
Thank you for you input @Eli35.I did hear the OTK does sound thick ? I'm not too sure, back here in Singapore, tubes are more expensive I believe. As they are all imported.
I was contemplating which tubes to change first, the power tubes or the drivers. And there, you gave me the answers :)
I would highly recommend you Musical paradise MP-301 MK3. It's really well built, in terms of construction and totally a quality product. I streeeeeetched my dollar that much, gave in skipped DV and others and got this. No regrets.
I guess I got to skip the HE4xx, I'm overstretched at the moment. Hahaha !
Well, here's a picture for you ;)
Beautiful, just beautiful. And I see you also have some speakers to make use of the speakers' out, good! Speaking of tubes, after making your research I suggest you to check eBay, usually you can find great deals there. All my tubes came from international sellers and were much cheaper than bought from dedicated tube webpages. On the other hand, you're assuming some risk when buying from eBay, because maybe you get a not-too-matched pair or a semi-defective unit, and you'll have to argue for a partial refund, which sucks. But if you're looking for the best deal, I'd say eBay is the way to go. Good luck!
Hope I'm not poisoning you hehehe...
Yes, I do plug them to my whafedale crystals, as of now I love the sound of it. Yup, I did check eBay, but some of the shipping cost were abit too much for my liking. Either way, I'll shop around.
Thank you for your generous input :)
Hey there @MoonRock !
I'm looking at various amps and whatnot and I was wondering how you set this up.
Is it D30 into A30 into VX3, then out to speakers? Does plugging the headphones into the A30 mute the VX3? Or do you have to turn the volume down on that?
Hello @ElCapo !
Yes, it starts with D30,plugged into A30 then to VX3. I usually use A30 to power my headphones, and it auto mutes the speakers from VX3. But I know there is a switch behind the A30 which either allows dual (meaning when headphones are plugged in,both headphones & speakers still produce sound). Or muted like the aforementioned.
Hope this helps
Tell me about it.
Going broke here
Where did you get that rack for the modules?
@Smshr Well...it's addictive hahah