The Creek, although solid state, is excellent. I use it with my 600s.
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A tube unit represents an excellent (and possibly the preferred) choice for headphone listening, but portability cannot be a factor. In fact, I'd go so far to say that portability shouldn't be a factor at all in selecting a really good headphone listening device; tube or ss. If you occasionally need a portable device, get one just for that purpose, and another one for 'at home' listening.
As with audio amplifiers, ss devices will drive any impedance cans, whereas the best tube devices perform optimally with either hi or lo impedance phones. I think ASL products represent an excellent value; but I suggest you check out the head-fi forums to expand your knowledge about the subject: http://www.head-fi.org/
I recently picked up an Audio-Gd C-2C which I got information about on the head-fi site (good tip, Nsgarch). It is neither portable nor tube which means this post is of little use to you. Nevertheless, it sounds terrific with the AKG K-702s and at the price $335 plus delivery, has been a revelation for me.
I can highly recommend soliciting input from the Head-Fiers!
Thanks, Nsgarch, I agree with your general view, it is more like, how many systems to care for, and in my case, some portability would mean more use.
But OK, I am considering a Darkvoice 336SE, which the seller suggested instead of the Little Dot mk3 that I inquired about (although it weighs the double of the LD3).
If I should be warned before setting out on the single ended tube road (or go to some other product type, like OTL), please tell me. Since the amp will mostly be used away from my analog rig, my source will be digital files (ripped from analog LPs). These are a bit hard even in the much-improved DSD format - Polices Humanize yourself comes to mind.
So, to get the best tube sound, I am willing to forsake a few other things, but please not too much. And that is where it costs, I guess - my limit is around usd 500. Advice welcome!
Thanks Stanwal, for the Creek suggestion, and to Hens for Audio-Gd C-2C, which gets much attention at Headfi. These look like good semiportable designs and I might end up there. I agree Headfi is a good forum, but find it hard to search and get an overview of what goes on there.
O_holter, this is EXACTLY what you describe, right down to the price ($500.)
You can switch between OTL and SET operation.
It has dual headphone jacks.
Separate power supply.
I'm quite happy with my ASL HD-1, but if you want a true amplifier (and not just a tube buffer like the HD-1) I think this is the one to get. A terrific value IMO.
I will report back. So far, I've invested in an AKG K450 (small-above ear phone) which needs burn-in (300-500 hours) before reporting. Sounds a bit hard and closed in, still, after ca 50 hours, but I have hopes.
I am waiting for the Jade and GK1-J. When these are housewarm, I will do a test of vinyl recording comparing my best digital source with good analog (Studer Revox A77).
Sharky, GK 1-J foto: I have it, but haven't uploaded pics to my virtual system yet. It is an unassuming black box, weight ca 200 grams, size 12 cm deep x 9 wide x 5 high. It has two output jacks and a volume knob in front (can used balaned h-phone cable, or 1-2 standard h-phones) and 2 x rca inputs and power adaptor input at the back.
Ptmconsulting: wish you good luck with the building. Now that my Jade has become housewarm, there is absolutely no going back. The OTL sound was a bit bleak at first, but I'm warming to it, or vise versa. I guess most good h-phone tube amps will take you there.
Note also, I can use the Jade with my small active speakers, Sony SRS Z500, with good results (these are single-driver speakers, well designed). This is a bonus for me, since headphones are headphones, to put it that way.
Possibly, small passive single-driver speakers would sound even better, if the Jade and similar tube headphone amps are able to drive them. The GK can drive my bookshelf Royd "The Sorcerer" speakers to a listenable level, the Jade cannot, but the 2-way Royds are a fairly heavy load.