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Xduoo TA-26 Tube Bliss

bbarreira

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Jan 22, 2020
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Hello.
I'm a long time ASR reader and fan. This forum totally changed my perspective on audio. I'm an audio aficionado for the past 20 years.
In this journey I bought and swapped several speakers, integrated amps then monoblocks, preamps, turntables, phono stages, CD players, then dump the turntables and CD players and went the DAC and Streaming route. Oh and...cables! Yes, a lot of that, too.
ASR gave me a new and fresh vision of this passion hobby. And for that i'm really grateful. It eased and settled my mind regarding cables, mains noise, filters, expensive high end brands and overall snake oil! It was like breathing and really appreciate music again, in all his simplicity. The mind is a funny thing.

Well i went the measurements and cut the buXXX route and i'm glad i did.
In these days, and after moving to a new home my "audio spot" consists in a pair of Sennheiser HD600 and an AMP/DAC Loxjie D30. Very humble and minimal, but sound is good and very detailed.
Unfortunately, at some point, i was not getting what i want. I guess my ears are too sensitive, but the truth is that after listening for a while, i started to get listening fatigue and a lot of times an headache.
I then tried other DACs and amps. Yes, large improvements, but there was always that high frequencies discomfort in some music. I thought, maybe HD600 are too bright! So i went the EQ road. Tried several profiles, and find really good results, especially with Oratory Optimum HiFi curve profile. But...after a while, the same annoyance came along.

I tried several DACs all with AKM or ESS chips, and some Topping Amps. All best measurements status. Great stuff, but the problem persisted for me. Maybe too flat...
So i tried a totally different approach. I read some good things about pairing the HD600 with a tube Amp. And really without thinking too much, i bought the Xduoo TA-26. It's a tube amp and i'm sure it measures poorly.

But, what can i say? Problem solved for me! I just listen to music now! I swapped the stock tubes with some better ones and is bliss for me. Everything feels right.

I guess you can put it like this, Topping A90 (and similar) is like reading a science book for college. You keep focused and aware of all the details..
Xduuo is like reading a novel...your mind just flows and goes with the fantasy.

So, is ASR wrong? Of course not. I´m grateful for Amir effort in really changing things! And things had to change. The secret is in the knowledge. Now that i know what's available, what is important, what is just audio fluff, and what top measurements gear sounds like (and it sounds really awesome) i can now choose what works for me without doubts and uncertainty.
Maybe i like a bit of "distortion" on my listening sessions...maybe i´m too sensitive to "perfect clean precise" sound. Maybe my brain just cannot rest and enjoy the music with all those microdetails jumping everywhere, screaming my attention.. All i know is that i´m good now.
So, dont be too fanatic or blind. Now that you have the knowledge, experiment and feel what you really enjoy! Is not about being right. All the right decisions on paper are not always the right decision for you!

I´m still going to be a ASR reader and fan. Even more now!
 

Snoopy

Addicted to Fun and Learning
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Jul 19, 2021
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As long as your happy as it sounds things are alright. Measurements are nice but you might like your food way more salty compared to someone else.. who is to tell you are wrong.

I think most tube amps that measure ok and have a decent power output are hybrids. I might end up getting one of those in the future just for the look of the amplifier.
 
OP
B

bbarreira

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Jan 22, 2020
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Just to add, i replaced the stock tubes with a RCA 6AS7G NOS and a Tung Sol 6SN7GTB. Must say that with the stock tubes the sound was really bass oriented, a little boomy and some lack of clarity. Big sound but didint want to loose so many of the solid state qualities.
With the new tubes the sound changed so much. Got very similar to solid state actually, clarity, space, detailed but not so flat and with less focus on the details. Less bass than with stock tubes but more controlled and not all over the place. Lets the mids and highs shine through.

This tube amp its really a revelation.
 

xnor

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Jan 12, 2022
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Let me start by saying that "measures poorly" does not mean "sound poorly". Human hearing is limited and "forgiving" (lots of defects can be masked).
ASR reviews focus on measurements and sometimes highlight differences at a level that are lightyears away from being audible. You're not the first one to hyperfocus on measurements and think that better measurements have to result in better sound. But in many cases that's simply not the case.

Now on to the elephant in the room: you said the old setup sounded too flat, added a tube amp and now it doesn't sound as flat anymore.
As always I need to point out that frequency response (FR) is the most important metric.
What do tube amps commonly have? High output impedance. What does high output impedance do with dynamic driver headphones that have a resonance peak in the bass? Effectively it results in a bass boost.

You can get the same change in FR by adding a peaking EQ filter at around ~90 Hz for the HD600. How many dB depends on the output impedance of the amp. Btw, I'm assuming the amp produces a flat FR besides that which probably is not the case. There might also be a treble roll-off.

As for power, the HD600 are a light load (~0.25 V RMS to 90 dB SPL and high impedance) so distortion should not be too crazy.
 
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bbarreira

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Jan 22, 2020
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Yes. Dont know if flat is the right word and problably i used it wrong. What you said is true. The bass is more pronounced now.
I used EQ before with the HD600 but not on the low frequency. When i did, the bass became more evident but i never got to the point i want without sacrifice other charateristics of HD600 that i liked.. On the Oratory profile i remove all the adjustments below 1000Hz. Liked the sound but the same "fatigue" happen after a while.
As i said, this is for me. Others may not feel the same.

With this tube amp the sound is very close to the one i had with solid state. The diferrence is on the bass (more present and impactfull) and theres is a certain smothness in the sound that i cannot explain... Top end is there but not hitting my ears with a stick...

I must say that i still use the same EQ profile with the tube amp.
 
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