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Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 4:05 PM

I want to listen to my LP's thru a tube preamp on headphones. Your recommendations for such a unit? Kit or assembled is fine. And I'd like to stay under $500.

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#1

Re: recommendations re phono tube preamp w/headphone jack

10/24/2013 4:34 PM

How about these ?

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#2

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 5:48 PM

Don't buy anything better than your hearing.

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#3
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 7:59 PM

I thought we discussed this and JBL produced a study that demonstrated that no matter what your hearing ability people can tell the difference between a poor sound system and a good sound system.

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#5
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 8:24 PM

Yes, we did.

And I agree, to a point. But, no matter how much one pays for a sound system, if your hearing is deteriorated so much that you can't hear anything above a certain frequency, it doesn't matter any more.

I'm sure that even I can tell the difference between good and poor quality sound, to a point.

But, I still have a 10 KHz buzz in both my ears and can't hear nearly as well as I once could.

I can also attest that active noise cancellation can enhance the quality of low frequency reproduction of sound.

The fact is that there is a point of diminishing returns here and once it is reached money doesn't get your hearing back.

I defer to your knowledge of equipment and audio technology, and know that your advice is "sound"..

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#6
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 9:34 PM

I hear ya. :)

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#7
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 11:24 PM

Having worked as an audio engineer, I KNOW that hearing loss is not hearing gone, and the ear is a remarkably sensitive instrument. A tube amp is a smooth amp, and digital is not, and even a bad ear can tell the difference. Tube amps don't clip. Tube amps havea very analog response to the signal that is consistent across the levels of amplitude. Solid state amps are, well, sharp, whereas tubes are soft. That softness is pleasant to the ear.

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#8
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 12:10 AM

No doubt.

But, don't confuse knowing the difference between "good" sound and "sharp" sound as having your damaged hearing restored by an analog sound reproduction.

I can tell the difference between sound quality to the extent that my hearing responds to the signal.

That's all I'm saying.

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#11
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 9:45 AM

Agreed. I have to use the equalization to raise the midrange to compensate for my loss. I have to boost the midrange because of an explosion accident that took out my hearing. However, I can still hear a single clip at the top of a single half-wave peak that lasts only a millisecond...and I'd bet you could too.

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#16
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 2:43 PM

I've never heard a tube amp without 60Hz buzz, and that drives me crazy. I much prefer my Knight-kit solid state amp to any tube unit I've heard, and there's nothing digital about it. I admit I haven't heard any recent Vacuum tube amps with the "gold" tubes and all. BTW, tube amps DO clip, and you can hear the electrons bouncing off the plates.

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#17
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 2:55 PM

You could just get an ear surgeon to snip out the 60Hz section of the cochlea, at the loss of a few low organ notes in some favorite music. One of those tradeoffs of life....

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 3:25 PM

A solution to the 60Hz buzz other than the obvious, don't use a tube amp, is to filter that frequency. I have heard a few tube amps and none had that buzz which 60Hz is in the most sensitive range for human hearing so I shouldn't have missed it.

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#4

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/24/2013 8:03 PM

This is probably the best place to start. Read John's technical discussions to understand the theory.

Aikido Phono Amp

Here is a list of Headphone Amps.

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#9

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 3:25 AM

<...like to stay under $500...>

Internet auction sites (names withheld)?

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#10

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 3:46 AM

Have a look at Yaqin on the aforementioned auction site. You can get something quite tasty for under $500.

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#13
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Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 10:05 AM

Sorry, didn't mean to put this as OT.

Have a look at Yaqin on the aforementioned auction site. You can get something quite tasty for under $500.

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#12

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 9:53 AM

Beside the tube preamp, don't forget the importance of having and listening thru the use of a good set of Headphones! No matter how good the preamp may be is, the sound reproduction happens in the actual transducer.. be it thru a speaker or a headphones...

Good luck..

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#14

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 11:32 AM

A few things to keep in mind before you start to consider audio quality. Music appreciation is ultra-subjective. A huge factor is how our minds process audio. Because of this, people believe the wackiest things about listening to audio. No one would ever believe someone could see atoms or X-rays with their naked eye but there is a large portion of people that are convinced they can hear what they physically can't. It is how our brain processes and remembers music. It is bizarrely unreliable. This video does a great job at scratching the surface of many complex issues in a short amount of time. What they explain the best is the phenomenon you will ALLWAYS hear what you expect to hear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

Lyn is correct. Tubes have a slightly different sound than digital. LPs have a different sound than CDs. I do know if you use single crystal patch cords between your turntable and amp/preamp the LPs will sound much closer to the CD. That suggests to me that wonderful 'golden tone' of the LPs is probably distortion due to a weak signal passing through wire. I bet the tube amps produce a less precise sound as well. I built my first set of Dynico amps only a year or two after tubes were discontinued. Since listening to music is subjective, and you want to hear LPs amplified by tubes why not? I am sure even with hearing loss you can tell the difference. All human hearing degrades from when we are born to when we die. Listening to loud noises can fasten the loss but nothing can prevent hearing loss over time. High schoolers with great hearing already can't tell lossless from high quality lossy. No human can statistically tell the difference between the highest quality lossy and lossless in a double blind test.

One thing you might not be aware of is you can pipe the earphone jack into your computer and faithfully capture what you would hear distortions, pops, hiss and all that good stuff. You can save them as lossless or god forbid, a lossy format. I would like to point out in a double blind test audiophiles can't tell the difference between a LAME VBR (variable bit rate) mp3 set to highest quality settings and a wave file. In the early days, if you could hear a difference and see the difference graphically ( so it was real) you would send the wave and mp3 snippets along with the graphs to the LAME programming team and they would fix the bug. That was decades ago. For some reason VBR mp3s set to the highest quality have the best quality of all the lossy. It is probably so that the graphics should be identical to lossless during the removal of artifacts stage of the VBR development cycle. A mp3 player is far more convenient to use than a trun table + tube amp and the sound is the same.

You ought to take great care with your head phone selection. I have a pair of Sennheiser audiophilic headphones. Although most Sennheiser head phones are more for looks than quality they do make a line where sound quality is the main concern. I find ear buds to have better quality than headphones.

Mr Anonymous, I agree 100%. There are two distinct parts of hearing. The 'hardware' that gets worse over time and the 'software' which usually gets better with time and as with music majors the improvement can be profound. At least the area of the brain of a music doctorate that pertains to auditory processing consumes many times the O2 of the general population. That is why music majors in a good conservatory are pushed to listen to a great deal of music. My daughter needed to log 40 hrs of music activity each week. The logs were checked periodically. The audio center of your brain strengthens with exercise. Older individuals, old enough to remember tubes may have poor hardware but they can easily tell LP from CD and tube from digital.

Deefburger, your hearing may be sensitive in some areas but it is by far the least quantitative sense. The study and analysis of human hearing came up with some amazing discoveries. Such as there are predictable situations where the brain 'believes' it can predict the next sequence of notes. It does not even take the trouble to retrieve them from your ear. You hear what your brain thinks you were going to hear. If the notes are removed from the audio you still hear them. Your brain usually only carefully process what you are concentrating on and pretty much ignores the rest. This is valuable when hunting or are hunted. There is little survival value of carefully processing water sounds when a twig cracked behind you. You will zoom it on movement sounds and ignore everything else you hear. Today if you expect to hear something, your brain focuses on that so you hear what you expect to hear. I strongly suggest you see the Audio Myth video at the link.

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#15

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 1:12 PM

Here's more fuel to throw on the fire for those interested in reading.

http://audioxpress.com/amps/honeycutt-amp-sound-axnov12/

http://electronicdesign.com/analog-amp-mixed-signal/house-fire-firebottles-and-groove-tubes-versus-devices-find-their-origins-sa

http://electronicdesign.com/analog/tubes-versus-solid-state-audio-amps-last-word-or-house-fire-part-2

I seem to recall an on-line blog/post/article on transistor amps vs. tube amps and the author made the point that amplifier design that had the greatest effect of the 'warmth' of the amplifier and that one could design a transistor amp with the kind of characteristics of a tube amp. I haven't been able to find that piece. Still looking.

Cheers

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#18

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 2:56 PM

Great articles Robin! I was compelled to book mark them.

I liked the comment that distortion can be an enhancement in one of the articles.

"Some people do not like double-blind tests, believing themselves to be immune to hidden biases." From my experience, those people that refuse a blind test are fearful that they may not have the audio powers they profess to have.

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#19

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

10/25/2013 3:12 PM

This always descends down to the tube versus solid state debate and the most common denominator cited is distortion.

That argument is fine for musical instrument amps, but distortion has no place in the faithful reproduction of music in a home or professional theater.

The human ear can discern distortion levels as low as 1% to .5% depending on frequency. Even if you use .1% as the lower limit of audibility, any reasonably competent amplifier can easily exceed that number regardless of topology.

As an example, a recently designed tube preamp I made tested at 0.007 % THD. Noise floor was -101 dB. Frequency response was essentially flat out to the limit of 100kHz of the test gear.

As long as the equipment is not generating audible distortion the topology is invisible to the listener. At least this holds true at the line amp stage.

However, for the power amp that is a different matter. The reason that it is a different matter has to do with the impedance of the load the amp is driving.

The preamp output sees a constant load, where the load for a power amp is a reactive load.

A power amp's reactive load is dealt with differently for different amplifier topography. You may now start to see where I am heading with the tube versus solid state debate. The two indeed have different topologies and therefore behave differently to a reactive load.

For a solid state amplifier the output topology is a voltage drive amplifier. This is easily seen as we all know that a solid state amp produces twice the power out at 4 Ω than it does at 8 Ω. Therefore, as the load impedance changes, so does the effective power.

Conversely, a tube amplifier is closer to a current drive amplifier in operation. The behavior with a reactive load is different and actually is closer to the reverse behavior seen with a solid state amp.

The end result is that a tube power amp tends to produce what is perceived as more bass and more treble because the impedance of the speaker is typically higher at the resonance frequency of the woofer and also higher as the tweeter's frequency increases.

A solid state amplifier tends to sound weaker in the bass and treble compared to a tube power amp. The result is why people claim tube amps sound better than solid state.

The caveat is that better loudspeakers tend to use Zobel networks to control the impedance variations, so the actual differenced heard between the two types of amps may not be so apparent in some cases.

This also presumes the system is not distorting, which any good system will not. This means the distortion by-products argument is really not valid for home audio. Rather, it is how the two different topographies manage load impedance variations over frequency that is perceived by the listener.

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#21

Re: Recommendations Re: Phono Tube Preamp w/ Headphone Jack

09/22/2018 5:20 PM

i would suggest you to check these two guides to find best wireless earbuds these days, https://www.pollowers.com/best-wireless-earbuds/ and https://www.bestbuy.com/site/headphones/wireless-headphones/pcmcat331200050015.c?id=pcmcat331200050015

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