I've switched to tubes

Not exactly.

Home confinement has meant preserving domestic bliss. Cranking the hi-fi all day long is no longer an option and out of respect to my wife I’ve taken the plunge into head-fi. I started with my 172XS and a pair of old Grado SR60’s I’ve owned for 20 years. After a few days it was clear I need to up my game. I like the Grado sound, so my local dealer shipped me his last pair of Reference Grado RS1e’s. They have a similar character to the SR60s (a $75 headphone) but much more refined/detailed sound. Next up was a headphone amp. After reading dozens of reviews I settled on a Feliks Audio Echo, a tube OTL amp. I was attracted to the toroidal power supply and very reasonable price. This is my first dive into tubes but I wanted an easy-going sound. No need for sterile perfection with high resolution headphones.

I’ve only put 10 hours on both so far and I know there’s a long way to go, but I am pleased with the sound. I still use the 172XS as a streamer, feeding the Echo from the line-out. I discovered I could “trick” the 172 into making Qobuz work from the front USB input. Apparently the Qobuz app on my iphone will send the full HiRes file via the lightening cable, it sounds great. I only wish I could visit my local dealers and explore more headphone options. #1stworldpandemicproblems

I will update on the sound one I have 100 hours on them. It won’t take long!


Are you giving birth?

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That looks really great, Chris! The wood trims look like they match fairly well too, on amp and phones. Is that the walnut trim? Have fun, tubes can be very enjoyable for sure! Stay well!

PS-I now own your old pair of Guru Juniors that my friend bought from you several years beck, fun little things on the end of my Uniti or XS3 integrated!

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It looks good fun, and am glad it’s sounding great for you.
I too am looking at upgrading my head fi setup. I am not set on valves personally, although I do have a Little Dot mkIII valve headphone amp with NOS variant valves that I am not using currently… but am musing on my next set of ‘phones. I currently use a pair of ‘standard’ Sennheiser HD650. Good as they are I feel they are not where I want to be in subtle resolution and that ‘inner feel’.
I used to use a pair of Grado SR60s, but was not not entirely happy with their comfort and fit for me over extended listening and I found quite bright. Thinking about a pair of Audeze LCD-3

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Superb cans IMO - have had my LCD3s for a couple of years. They sound great with Hugo and even better with Blu2 DAVE. The only cans I had ever enjoyed were Stax until I stumbled across Audeze. I also have some Sennheiser, which I made the mistake of buying because they were on special offer and Audeze are different class IMO.


I had the Grado RS1 which sounded awesome but were so loud externally my wife could hear me upstairs, then after 20 minutes my ears hurt so much i had to take them off - not comfortable!

I now have Audeze LCD-XC. Closed back and quiet, a bit heavy but comfy and sound really good. My son hates them though, he will swear by Bose noise cancelling. TBH they’re not bad at all and very enjoyable to use from any source but just not as refined as more upmarket cans.

I hear you on comfort… I did not like the stock pads and switched to the S-Cush pads. Much more comfortable and sounds better.

Really? That’s crazy. I could never get the Guru Jr’s to sound good. How do you like them?

Small world.

They are kind of funny things. They certainly can sound very sub par, and I have witnessed that in a couple of rooms. In my second bedroom, which is really my listening room now, they sound very good, very Linn Kan-like, yet better maybe? This room is 14’ x 11.5’ with 9 foot ceilings, and 6” walls, the wall behind them is wall board yet outer layer of brick, so fairly solid. Driven by my Uniti1 or my XS3/ND5 XS2, they are very good.

While they are not my main speakers, I keep them, as they are really the near perfect apartment speaker for one that does want that decent bass feel out of something that isn’t large, and can be tucked right up against the wall. As far as setting them up, in this room, I have forgone the crazy toe in that Guru recommends, and have them more slightly toed. They give a very nice wide soundstage and very good punch.

Nice to see your new Proacs too! Hope everything else is well with you and family! Tim

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Chord Dave with focal utopia is a very good pairing.

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I have a pair of the Grado GH4 - very similar. Nice light headphones. Like you I always enjoyed the Sr60s.

Nothing quite so personal as headphone choice. The accompanying headphone amp / DAC combo would be a close second!

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