Budget tube amps/ tube hybrids


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I have the same question. I own four but each for a different purpose.
DT880 for recording and mixing
HD650 for daytime listing to my library
HD1 for late night listengbin bed
PX100 for our side walking with my iPod.
I think some have different phones for different types of music or some just enjoy collecting

@Torq made an excellent point here, and it’s important to highlight. Having discussions devolve into an assertion that something must be broken or someone must not be able to hear properly when we are talking about the subjective experience of sound is not productive.

Also, as @Jaethan has said, this place is about tone in more ways than one.


I bought this little Chinese tube hybrid for 50 bucks and it is very quiet and puts out a lot of power for my B&Ws. I enjoy the sound from the tubes and I recommend them . Just because they are cheap does not make them bad.I think they add a warmness to the sound.


No doubt about “Big Bucks” always being better.
All that matters is if its sweet to your ends. Someday you might want more and there are plenty here to help spend your money.

Thanks for reminding me cheap doesn’t mean it ain’t good.



I own a bunch of headphones since I love how each will present a track in its own unique way and then there are some headphones that do some genres better than others like a HD800 or HD700 for well mastered/recorded classical, jazz and blues, a LCD-2f or HE560 for EDM, new age and techno, and a Grado or alternative driver build for rock, pop, kpop and Jpop.

I also have some for traveling since they are closed back and fold up/compact: MDR-7506, V-Moda XS and Momentum on-ear.

The reasons above is also why used to have 3 different speakers setup for my main system in the past since they all sounded different and usually when better with some genres over others

Just to clarify, I thought from @Ishcabible’s initial assessment of the amp sounding as follows that it ‘might’ have something wrong with it. Also, based off many evaluations from others on the www I was also a bit confused as I don’t recall other reviews having this impression :

‘sounds worse than the iPhone Lightning Dongle. It kind of just makes everything sound veiled and unengaging but I also hear a bit of harshness coming though. I’m really confused by it’

I thought I was being helpful and engaging by suggesting a specific tube. I also thought I was polite and was openly asking questions
I was not debating or wishing to argue and of course everyone experiences sound in different ways…again, hence my questions regarding headphones used :slight_smile:

I would have hoped that my intentions would have been clear in only wishing to offer a simple suggestion & ask some further questions regarding @Ishcabible’s expereince

Of course we all want a nice community here but
I hope we dont go to the other extreme of being afraid to say anything without someone jumping on us ‘in case’ we might start arguing in the future!! :smiley:

Apologies if my wording or intentions weren’t clear


I got the Schiit Lyr 2 in February of this year. I had been skeptical about the whole tube amp thing, but I’ve really been impressed by the way you can modify the sound to your liking by tube rolling. It’s pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately it’s discontinued now but I’ve heard good things about the Lyr 3 as well (and it only requires one tube instead of 2, so you don’t need to worry about matching).

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I own the Valhalla 2, Lyr 2 and WA6, and agree with everything you’ve said about them.

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Sadly while it’s now discontinued you can still find 1 for sale every month or so, and that said if you can find it I happen to think it’s still one of the best Tube Designs for under $100, which is the Gen 1 Schiit Vali! While not perfect in terms of it’s… operation, in terms of sound I think it’s phenomenal! Especially if you can accommodate it’s operational quirks

Moving upwards there are a lot of excellent options! The Vali 2 and MCTH are nice espicially given how simple and straight forward they are. I personally prefer the G1217 Amps over both simply because you can adjust so much about how the amp operates and really fine tune it for what you want in terms of sound. I personally ran the Ember II as my primary amp for a long time purely because I needed to drive a wide variety of loads, ranging from a very sensitive and efficient Grado’s to a difficult to power Hifiman HE 4, and sadly I never felt either of the other two options were able to handle both or all extremes as well as the Ember II. As both were a bit noisy with the Grado and not powerful enough for my HE 4… but then again with a collection of more modern headphones you likely won’t need something with the same level of flexibility.

Detail wise I can’t say which is better as I’ve yet to compare all three side by side, what I can say how ever is the new Schiit Lyr 3 is stellar!! At $500 for just the amp I think it does exceptionally well and I personally like it far more than their previous tube options…

As for the Chinese Tubes both Hybrid and OTL or SET I’ve also only heard them heavily modded. An with mods they are exceptional! In terms of Value it’s hard to say if it’s worth it unless your able to perform the mods your self

Finally I’ve sadly not yet had a chance to hear the Woo or Bottle Head designs in my own home, though I’ve been impressed with them at various shows! Hopefully that’ll change in the future


I would second @mshenay; and add that Garage1217 support is second to none.
There’s a nice little review of the Ember over here.

That’s why I like to differentiate between “cheap” and “inexpensive”. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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That’s a darn good question. I’ve seen pics of other people’s gear and it’s multiple headphones etc. My answer is that I probably don’t have the money. Also,in the past,headphone listening occupied very little of my listening hours but since I become part of this community I have been using headphones much more and almost on a daily basis.

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I got a recommendation for the Atom plus Modi for my 58X. What would be a good tube hybrid to pair with the Modi (other than the Vali 2)?

Try here:

Or the MCTH on (Mass)Drop =)

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