Jan 30, 2019205 views

Good tube amp under $100?

I recently got a pair of HD6XX’s and I use a Fiio Q1 Mk2 to power them. I really like the sound of the fiio but I’ve heard really good things about hd600/650’s with tube amps.

I'd get into tubes but it confuses the hell out of me. How do you know what tubes to get? what fits?
The Aune T1 is a sweet sounding DAC/Tube Buffer/SS Amp, and simply needs a good NOS tube to sing. I have upgraded the caps, in the older versions, for more depth & stage, though recently got a used MK3 off the bay, and with a Sylvania NOS tube, it may be on par with the MK2's I have modded. I think Aune may have upgraded more than just the DAC (now DSD1793) in the MK3. When I mod the next MK2 I can compare them side-by-side. In short, this MK3 is a great way to dip into tubes, if you like them,, get your wallet loaded up... Used; try offering $100... or request it here on MD, it will drop again. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Aune-T1SE-Mk3-Tube-USB-DAC-And-Headphone-Amp/392235864108?hash=item5b5314502c:g:IlIAAOSwUPlcYHg4:rk:18:pf:0
Don't discount something like the Schiit Vali 2. It's actually a pretty phenomenal amp for the price and a good way to get into tubes.
Most of these are hybrid amps which start with a solid state circuit and just add a tube for looks and possible "tube coloration". The benefit of real all-tube amps is that tubes are way more linear than transistors and require much less corrective circuitry, which will appeal to audio purists. I don't have personal experience with these, but check out APPJ 1502A, Darkvoice 336SE, Little Dot MKii, FX Audio Tube-P1. Or if you're seriously into DIY you can get one of the single ended class A 6N2+6P1 integrated amps, about $140 with shipping from China. If you add a headphone jack you need to make sure to add a parallel 8 ohm 10 watt resistor so that the amp sees the expected load. You'll also need a drill bit suitable for drilling the steel enclosure:

"...way more linear..." - I like the sound (pun intended) of that. My sole experience of a SET amp was auditioning a w-a-y expensive Cary integrated via its headphone jack. Nice, but there were harmonics surrounding every note like little Christmas bells. I may eventually go with tubes, but with a push-pull design, not single-ended.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nobsound-Dual-Mono-Headphone-Amplifier-B4-X-balanced-version/dp/B07KJ8C8V4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549062658&sr=8-1&keywords=little+bear+b4-x This is a very nice sounding portable tube amp with swappable opamps, also has a balanced headphone output too
Spend the extra $100 and get a DarkVoice. You won't regret it. I've lao heard good things about Little Dot. You can find the Mkii for around $150. The Mkiii is also around$200. Also, plan on an extra $50-$100 for additional tubes. It's part of the fun. 😈