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Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 Tube Multi-Hybrid Headphone Amplifier
- Includes high-quality Shuguang 12AU7 tube
- Parallel 3.5mm and RCA stereo inputs
- Gain control with Japanese ALPS potentiometer
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|Sold By||Topssale Inc.||DiLiS-HIFI||DoukAudio||RECORDING STORE||K&M Camera Since 1976||Topssale Inc.|
|Item Dimensions||1.73 x 3.11 x 3.11 in||5.9 x 5.4 x 4.4 in||3.81 x 3.93 x 7.08 in||4.27 x 3.15 x 1.16 in||4.72 x 5.12 x 2.17 in||3.42 x 2.3 x 0.4 in|
Enjoy the pure, non-fatiguing sound of Class A amplification with the Bravo V2 headphone amplifier!
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Two weeks after running it all day at work, it has burned in some (yes, burn in is real, at least for tubes). I'm running ATH M40's (not the best, but good), and I tell you what: this thing rocks. Yes. It rocks. I guess you can find better amps, cleaner amps, amps with more tubes, or amps with no tubes. But this thing gives you a little of both worlds, and to my ears it is exciting, clean, and fun. I have cried listening to some of my music with this little thing. I'm listening to it as I write this. For 70 bucks, you can't beat it. It's just that good. Yeah. Definitely recommended.
Update June 2014: After more than a year of using this amplifier, it is still going strong. I use a Thermaltake Mobile Fan II External USB Cooling Fan - Us to cool the unit, which I believe helps extend its life (the heat sinks do get hot). I've long ago discarded the stock tube, and tried a whole lot of different 12AU7 vintage tubes purchased from auction websites (which have proven to be superior to the stock tube). I have tried other, better headphones than those mentioned in my original review, and this amp drives higher impedance cans with ease.
Is it a giant killer? No. There are better tube amps (the Vali Subminiature Hybrid Headphone Amplifier is a better hybrid amp, and it's made in the USA). But this amp represents something significant: it is the least expensive hybrid amp (meaning, tube and solid state) that you can buy, that really sounds good, and can drive lots of different headphones with ease. It also permits "tube rolling", which means you can exchange tubes easily just by turning it off and plugging in a new tube. You can use 12AU7, or 5963 tubes, 5814 tubes, or 6189 tubes as well (some can be purchased for well under $10). Visit head-fi.org and search for the discussions regarding this amp for more details.
It has its flaws, but they are harder to find than you might think. The price has dropped $8 or so since I bought mine, so it's an even better deal than it used to be.
If you want a cool looking budget amplifier that can be driven by an ipod alone, or by a DAC, or a CD player, then this is an excellent choice. I highly recommend tossing the standard tube, and purchasing a vintage 12AU7 from an auction website (skip the new tubes, they just don't sound as good).
If you aren't on a restricted budget or prefer something Made in the USA, take a look at the Schiit Vali mentioned above.
First, I want to be clear that I am not an audiophile, not even close. I just like to listen to music, any kind of music that I feels right. So, this review just what I personally think about these products, nothing professional.
Here are the 4 headphone amps (the DAC I am using is Logitech 980-000910 Bluetooth Audio Adapter, it will cost $21.98 from Amazon. And I know this is probably not the DAC you want to buy, you may want something recommend from z review or one of the most popular brand Fiio. But honestly, when I compare to those DACs under 100 USD, I just cannot tell the differenc. And the good thing about Logitech is they are Bluetooth and easy to re-pair to other devices. As I said before, I am not even close to Audiophile, that’s why I can’t tell the difference)
1. Fulla 2 by Schiit: $99 plus $10 shipping, total $109.
I know this is a DAC/AMP, and I know this is a solid-state Amp. But if you buy any of the Tube amp listed below, you probably will buy a DAC to pair with it, after you purchase DAC, the price will be very close. And all the tube amps I compared here are not real tube amp, they are all hybrid. That’s why I also listed Fulla 2 here.
2. SMSL T2 2X6J9 Vacuum Tube Headphone Amp: $59.90 from Amazon (Total with DAC $81.88)
3. Nobsound NS-08E Vacuum Tube Integrated Amp: $50 from Amazon (Total with DAC $71.98)
4. Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 Tube Multi-Hybrid Headphone Amp: $66.98 from Amazon (Total with DAC $88.96)
So now you know all the price, seems like all tube amps are cheaper. But…….if you bought tube amps, I am sure sooner or later you want to try tube rolling, please consider that’s also your cost on amps. That’s why I said the price of Fulla 2 is close to other tube amps.
Price is the first thing I consider; the second thing is the power to drive headphones.
I don’t have a lot of headphones and this review is not about headphones, so please don’t ask me any question about headphones. The headphones I am using here are Sennheiser HD600, HD6XX from Massdrop, Sony MDRV6, Sony MDR7506, Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus, Audio Technica ATH-AD900X, Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 600 OHM, Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 OHM, Bose QuietComfort 35, Fostex TH-X00 from Massdrop, Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth, Philips SHP 9500S, and Monster NTune.
NO, I don’t have Beats from Dre headphone. If you really want to know why, please GOOGLE.
Some are cheap, some cost a bit more, some very easy to drive, some needs more power.
Let’s say the volume knob is from 7 o’clock all the way up to 5 o’clock. This way will be easier for me to show you how every amp provides the power on the volume. Yes, I know the headphone amp drive headphone is not just about volume but also how well it controls. But again, I am not audiophile, so I don’t care about the tech issue and I don’t want to see a lot of numbers calculating here. All I care is how the music sound and how loud it can be.
All 4 amps with DAC give you a good sound, but tube amps are a little bit warmer. You won’t tell the difference unless you compare them side by side.
When using any headphone is under 250 OHM, you will love any of these 4 amps. They all do a good job. You won’t go wrong on any of it. So, money wise, just buy the cheapest one you can find.
Any 300 OHM headphone or above, you need to start choosing. If you use 600 OHM, you can forget about #2: SMSL T2 2X6J9 Vacuum Tube Headphone Amp. You can cross it out from the list, and that’s what I did, I don’t even bother to roll the tube.
On 300 OHM headphone, Fulla 2, Nobsound NS-08E, and Bravo Audio V2 all give you enough volume makes you headache if you turn the volume all the way up (your ears won’t bleed, not that loud), and I only need to turn the knob to 12 o’clock. But not SMSL T2, I need to turn all the way to 4 o’clock.
On 600 OHM headphone, Fulla 2 and Nobsound need to turn to 2 o’clock to my normal listening volume, from 2 to 3 only gains a little bit, and from 3 to 5, it won’t gain any more (you can turn the knob and play back forward, nothing going to change). Bravo Audio V2 only need to turn to 1 o’clock to reach the same volume, and from 1 to 4, it only gains a little bit. And when you turn to 5 o’clock on Bravo, it did gain volume more, but it starts distortion, and I don’t like how the music sound like that. On SMSL T2, the volume is like someone whisper to your ear even you turn all the way to max, and you need to push earcup real tight to hear what they try to say, maybe good for training your listening skills and how sensitive you are to the sound, but not very good for listen to music.
So, if you want to use 600 OHM headphones and you don’t want to spend a lot money to buy a High-end amp, then please choose Bravo.
Now, I am going to talk about how much heat these amps will generate. Because I already cross out SMSL T2, so I only talk about the other 3. (If you really want to know, it’s the same as Nobsound)
Fulla 2, you can put your hand on it or just grab it. You will only feel a little bit warmer than your hand.
Nobsound, you can pretend it’s not hot and leave your hand on the case for a while and keep telling yourself it’s not hot, it’s not hot, it’s not hot………..
Bravo, you can put your hand on the glass part and do the same thing as Nobsound. But I dare you to touch the heat sink, it can fry eggs!!!!!!
Why we talk about the heat here, it’s a safety issue. I don’t think you want to leave Bravo on when you go to work or any other reason that you need to leave your house for more than 3 hours, it’s kind of like you forget to turn off your stove when you left your house (a very tiny stove). That means you need to power on and off every time you use it and before you leave.
This is not a problem to me, but you might want to know.
Then the headphone jack, Fulla 2 and bravo are both 1/4", Nobsound using 3.5mm. Personally, I like the 1/4 better.
Then the input, Nobsound only has 3.5mm audio input, Bravo has both 3.5mm and RCA input, I didn’t try to plug them with different sources and start the music at the same time, I just assumed that it cannot, but you are welcome to try it and let me know how it works. Fulla 2 has 3.5mm at front and USB input on the back. I like the Fulla 2 better here, I can just connect to computer and use it.
Then the external power, both Nobsound and Bravo are using external power charger. Of course, you can carry a generator with you and make it portable. but I will just use it at home.
Fulla 2 just use your computer USB to power it. But if you turn the volume over 3 o’clock, you will need external power. You can use either cellphone mini usb charger at home or battery bank when goes out.
Then function, Nobsound and Bravo are headphone amps only, there is no other output. Fulla 2 can use as pre-amp, DAC, and headphone amp. I use Fulla 2 connect to JBL LSR310S then LSR 305 and it works great, and from different connection on Fulla 2, you can use headphone and speakers at the same time but control the sound from computer not the knob on Fulla 2. (By the way, when you plug in headphone to Fulla 2, it will mute the speakers. But Schiit Jotunheim won’t, you have to power off your speakers or unplug the speaker cables, that’s Schiit company try to force you do some workout, not just sitting there the whole day, thank you Schiit, Jotunheim is really a nice piece of Schiit.)
On tube rolling, Nobsound need a pair matching tubes, and sometimes it will cause some problem if you didn’t buy them right. Bravo just need one.
I can tell you that I tried a lot of different tubes on both tube amps and honestly, I don’t feel a lot difference between tubes. I think stock tube works fine on both tube amps. If you really want to try different tubes, then I suggest Amperex on Nobsound. For Bravo, I suggest Baldwin>Sctron>RCA.
Again, I really don’t think you need to spend the money on tubes. These are not real tube amps, so the sound changing is not that much when roll tubes. But…….. again……, I am not an audiophile, not even close, so………what can I say.
Finally, I can tell you what I choose, but that’s only me.
I keep Fulla 2 and Bravo. One for portable (Fulla 2 with computer, not cellphone, and I usually carry a battery bank with me, so I can just use that as power supply for Fulla 2, or I just plug into computer. Cellphone I use Fiio E12), Bravo in my dining room, so I won’t forget to turn off the stove when finish eating. For the price these 2 asked for, you really won’t go wrong on any of it. Personally, I like Fulla 2 better, but I just can’t say no to this cute but powerful Bravo.
Most recent customer reviews
I bought this a little over a year ago to use at my desk for work!Read more