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  • "Tube Amp" Headphone Amp

    I ordered the "Little Bear P2 Headphone Tube Amp" from Amazon months ago. It is made by Douk Audio. I wanted to experience the legendary "tube sound". Are these really tube amps? I mean, it has a pair of what appear to be tubes in it but there are LED lights in it to give it the tube glow and the tube don't get very warm. Plus, there seems to be a lot of noise. Static, crackling, and humming that comes and goes. The sound is nice when all the extras clear up. I also have a FiiO A3 portable headphone amp and it is pretty impressive. It really adds the extra power that good headphones need to portable devices.

  • #2
    Little guys like that run as a "Starved Plate" design. They don't run at normal tube voltages, and the LED's are there to hide the fact that the heaters are not used. This is common in effects pedals, and other low voltage musician / pro audio gear. Supposedly they still have the same distortion profiles, but I'm a bit skeptical.
    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
    Wogg Music

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BTRaulerson View Post
      I wanted to experience the legendary "tube sound".
      Unless pushed to clipping one can't tell the difference between a good tube amp and a good SS amp. When pushed into clipping the natural compression of tubes sounds very different from SS, but you only do that in musical instrument amps.

      www.billfitzmaurice.com
      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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      • #4
        I bought one of those Douk Audio tube headphone/preamp things knowing very well the tubes are likely not used to full extent. It was only like $180 or so. Mostly I just used it as a volume knob.

        Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          That one is a lot bigger and fancier than mine. Mine has 2 small tubes and a LED bar in the front to show input level. It flashes when the static and scratching is present too. I'm not sure how to explain that. Maybe I just got a bad one. It has noise and static when nothing is going on. Would that be the tubes or the little chip thing in the middle? Or a power supply?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by wogg View Post
            Little guys like that run as a "Starved Plate" design. They don't run at normal tube voltages, and the LED's are there to hide the fact that the heaters are not used. This is common in effects pedals, and other low voltage musician / pro audio gear. Supposedly they still have the same distortion profiles, but I'm a bit skeptical.
            I've read that some of these "tube sound" boxes made in China don't even use the tube. Just there for show. No idea if that's true, but I can believe it.
            Francis

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            • #7
              Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
              Unless pushed to clipping one can't tell the difference between a good tube amp and a good SS amp. When pushed into clipping the natural compression of tubes sounds very different from SS, but you only do that in musical instrument amps.
              This can't be stressed enough. The only exception I can think of is SET tube amps, where the amp has large amounts of even-order distortion (and concomitant intermodulation distortion) under normal conditions.
              Francis

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              • #8
                Originally posted by fpitas View Post

                This can't be stressed enough. The only exception I can think of is SET tube amps, where the amp has large amounts of even-order distortion (and concomitant intermodulation distortion) under normal conditions.
                Only a poorly designed SET amp has large amounts of distortion. Properly designed HiFi tube amps are very clean.
                Craig

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                • #9
                  This thing is weirdly made. To change the LED light show, you turn the thing upside down and take a pen or paper clip to press the recessed button on the bottom. The tubes are removable but I have no idea what a different tube would do. Also, in the center there is a small removable chip. I'm thinking that this is the processor or something. It is advertised that this also can be removed and exchanged with a different one. The strangest thing for me is the non-polarized AC plug with AC output. The plug then has an adapter/reducer on it to fit. The thing seems well made but has cheap extras.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PWR RYD View Post

                    Only a poorly designed SET amp has large amounts of distortion. Properly designed HiFi tube amps are very clean.
                    Well, I agree in principle. But the "magic" of a SET amp isn't because it has hi fidelity.
                    Francis

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                    • #11
                      IMO the only thing magical about SET is its ability to convince seemingly otherwise sane individuals to spend insane amounts of money to buy them.
                      www.billfitzmaurice.com
                      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                      • #12
                        BF, if would please enlighten me: What constitutes a good SS amp? I know about the "typical" specs like low Noise, THD, IM, crosstalk. What else should one consider?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                          IMO the only thing magical about SET is its ability to convince seemingly otherwise sane individuals to spend insane amounts of money to buy them.
                          I'm sure it changes the sound. Whether you want an "effects box" to change the sound is another question.
                          Francis

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                          • #14
                            I tried tubes. Apparently I don't have the ears to tell the difference.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by djg View Post
                              I tried tubes. Apparently I don't have the ears to tell the difference.
                              They are pretty darn cool looking.
                              Francis

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