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Hi, newbie and currently my setup has : SMSL SU-8, THX 789, HD 6XX, Sundara, DT 177X go, Mod house Argon MK3. I am very much want to buy a tube amp and been eying this one and DARKVOICE 336SE. Can you please suggest if i should go ahead and buy this or wait to expand my can collection? Thank you
Awesome thank you for sharing your experience. What headphones do you have?
I have attached a few pictures. Fostex TRP series are my favorite headphones to mod, they sound way better than more expensive headphones that i have.
Wow, impressive collection, hopefully i can get there someday :-) Yeah agree with you, Fostex TRP series is good, I have the Mod house Argon MK3, i keep going to this headphone or the Sundara...
I have both Argons MK2 & MK3, they are ok. If you are able to find Vibrolabs kit and MK2 drivers to build the headphones, they are 10 times better than Argons.
Unless the cans you're planning on using with the DV are 150Ω impedance or higher, don't bother. It sounds wonderful with Sennheiser HD58x, Fostex TR70-250, Sennheiser HD6xx, and Beyerdynamic T1.2, and absolutely blows chunks with anything else I've tried. It can be modified to work better with low impedance cans, but... the unit is so wasteful power wise that I rarely turn it on.
It is really wonderful amp. Just ordered FX Audio TUBE-03MKII BT Tube Preamp & Headphone Amp, will put it between SMSL SU-8 and THX 789 to see if it is better than TA-20.
I know my SMSL M500 -> Schiit Freya+ -> THX 789 is better than the M500 -> TA-20. But that is a very different price bracket... and takes a LOT more desk space.
That is a lot of money to spend, i just want to see If the THX 789 will help and make the cheap FX Audio TUBE-03MKII sounds any better.
I know the FX Audio TUBE-03 (the model without bluetooth) has been working great for one of my friends. I bought it for him a few months back and he has been using it for his powered speakers and APPJ PA1502A and absolutely loving it.
Side note, as cheap pure tube amps go, the Gemtune APPJ PA1502A is a bloody monster. Slap some JJ 6L6GC and 12AX7, and it is amazing. Assuming you can find one, they seem to be fairly hard to find recently.
Both of those are great NOS options. The Clear Top RCA are going to bump the treble and have slightly recessed bass. Great for gaming and taming bassy cans. I bought some of the JAN Sylvania 6189 last year, but never actually used them. Got side-tracked by other shiny objects.
As for recommended current production tubes, JJ ECC802s Gold Pin (without gold), Genalex B749, and Tung-Sol 12AU7 are the best.
From my own listening with those three, I found the JJ to be a bit better with the bass and mids, with the Genalex and Tung-Sol being all around good, but having a bit more treble. They're all great, but if I had to pick one out of the lot, it'd probably be the JJ. I'm rather fond of their long-plate configuration. The Genalex and Tung-Sol tubes are made in the same factory, and possibly are the same tube, one with gold, one without.
If you do hit any of those up, it is highly recommended to check the balanced triode, low noise, and matching boxes. Like thus:
It adds a bit to the cost, but it gives a much more consistent experience.
Awesome, thank you so much for the suggestions....will order the JJ...
[Edit] Just ordered the JJ, thank you again, for someone who doesn't know anything about Tubes your suggestion helped a lot...
Thanks everyone for your inputs. Received it yesterday and immediately changed to JJ tubes. Wow love the amp, it’s very different from my THX 789 amp, can’t explain in technical terms but found it very smooth and fun. It is best with my hd6xx, dt177x and it’s ok with Sundara. Good with modhouse argon mk3... no hiss sound in any of the headphones. Overall very happy, thank you everyone!!!!
Glad you like it. The JJ will likely get a bit better sounding over the next 50-100 hours of use as they break in.
Hey Fayne, I picked up a TA-20 from Apos and ordered the non gold pin JJ Tubes that you recommended, but the TA-20 keeps throwing a blinking protect light with them in... worked fine with stock tubes. Any ideas?
I noticed that the tubes you linked are ECC802S and there are other ones that are just ECC82. These 802S ones seem slightly longer/larger than the stock ones but youve had no issues with the TA-20 running them?
The ECC802s should work fine in the TA-20, and they did for me until I pulled them for use in my Primaluna. I'm back to using my Gold Lion B749/ECC82 while I wait for my order from Tube Depot which includes a replacement pair of the ECC802s for the TA-20 (as well as a quad of 6CA7 and pair of ECC803s for the Primaluna, and a single ECC802s for my TA-03s).
The JJ ECC802s is electrically and mechanically equivalent to an ECC82/12AU7, with the main difference being the extremely long plates and a slightly smaller gain. Diameter should be the same as a standard 12AU7 and height should be similar or just a bit taller (by bit I mean 1 or 2 mm). Physical tolerances generally have to fit within the accepted norm, otherwise the valves aren't able to be used in gear with shields.
If you're getting the blinky thing, it could be a bad connection and If you're sure you've got them fully seated It could be a DOA tube. If either tube appears to be losing the silver shine on the top of the tube, it has a vacuum failure. You'll likely find cracks in the glass by the pins (or something similar) if you look with a jewelers loupe. Be careful when inserting and removing tubes, lateral stress can cause fractures in the base of the tubes by the pins. It usually takes a bit of horking to cause, but it isn't completely unheard of when treating them cautiously. Glass is glass.
There are a couple of ways you can test when there are no obvious visual telltales, with the easiest being to leave one of the China 12AU7 in the TA-20 but put one of the JJ in the other socket. If it works, then pull the other China and stuff the remaining JJ in that socket. The idea here is to see if the problem is a specific tube.
If you've got 9-pin socket savers handy, you try doing the tubes with them (as fugly as it might look, especially without the coffee pot holders). If the problem is a connection issue, the savers may help out. I find that most grip the tubes better than standard sockets.
*Edited for clarity.
TY for that tip, I tried to swap out one tube at a time with the JJs and one of them is fine but the other one throws the protect light so probably a DOA tube :<
First time I've dealt with TubeDepot so I hope the exchange is easy enough being located in Canada.
Not gonna lie, I'm surprised that DOA tubes is even a thing since I paid the extra 2+2+4 for all the balanced/matching/microphonics options, I'd think that they would catch that in those tests.
For now i'll enjoy those stock china tube sounds and hums... ordered some socket savers in the meantime just to have on hand.
Yeah, makes you wonder when you get a DOA. The worst part is not really knowing if it was damaged when they removed it from the test rig, damaged somehow during transit, or damaged during mechanical insertion process.
Hopefully Tube Depot is easy to deal with. I know they've been pretty awesome for all my orders, but I've never had a DOA from them. Their warranty and returns policy is generally good though, so hopefully things work out.
As you're in Canada, you might also want to check out The Tube Store. Their prices are similar and the shipping may be cheaper. Might not be so useful right now with a DOA tube and dealing with an American vendor for the return, but for future purchases it might be easier.
I'll definitely check out The Tube Store for my next order as I am sure this will not be my last Tubes that I buy... this amp might be my first actual entry into Tubes asides from the dinky Nobsound Pre-Amp and Tube Amp combo from amazon (actually not bad BTW, and surprisingly super powerful - just SUPER susceptible to interference sounds) but will definitely not be the last one I get.
To be honest, I'm just super glad that its just a dead tube and not a problem with the Amp itself. If the socket savers get here first ill try them to see if they can help at all with the protect mode, but worst case I'll probably just have to cover shipping back to them to replace.
I actually don't mind the sound at all with the stock tubes so far... so I am super excited to hear it with upgraded ones.
Really appreciate your comments and responses <3<3