Tone control vs. Tube amps, which do you prefer and why?

Hey gang!

(New to the forum, so if I posted this thread in the wrong place please let me know and I can move the thread. Or if this has been covered before please let me know.)

In my quest to get my headphones to sound their absolute best for my ears, I have been researching pairing tube Amps with certain headphones. I already got some great recommendations from a few members and other members have stated to skip tubes and just use EQ tone control in order to alter the sound where a headphone may have a dip or a peak that’s undesirable. Being new to the headphone game I wondered what your thoughts were on the question:

Tone control vs. Tube amps, which do you prefer and why?

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Tubes…I’m too “lazy” to mess with EQ :joy:…but I have in the past…try sonar works demo for your headphones to get an idea of what EQ would do for you.

Seriously, though, EQ is neat, but I’m more of a purist in that outside of “hard” mods I leave the digital stuff to my DACs lol and have different headphones for different moods/occasion/experiences

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https://www.schiit.com/products/loki was really good, but ultimately I sold it because I was fiddling too much on each track instead of listening. It was a distraction. I guess my OCD is showing.

So… Tubes.

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Both.

Because they have completely different characteristics, effects and purposes.

EQ does nothing other than change output level by frequency.

Tubes may, or may not, do that. But they will also have different slew-rate characteristics, contribute different harmonics, noise and distortion.

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Both…have two tubed amps, and three solid state amps. They serve different uses in my setup.

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And the ever not mentioned enough phase. I’ll never forget (which is quite an event in itself) the time Bob Carver “matched or tuned” one of his amps to equal in sound to the audiophile ears of the Stereophile or Absolute sound people to a high priced Conrad Johnson amp. He was compensating for his amps phase and amplitude characteristics in that room. And (on another note) I’m a bit uncomfortable on .1db leveling. Presuming amps are reasonably flat frequency response and therefore not too frequency amplitude variable ok. But not any device that plays back to air. There are no linear reproducers of sound I’m aware of. An average ok. .1db no way. Hey! I’m a poet!:sunglasses:

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…and you didn’t even know it!

Yeah, yeah but my toes show it. They’re Longfellow’s. Feel better? I didn’t want to do it! @Torq!! (IWNIT) @pennstac! Save me! I’m a moth drawn to flame! Can’t… Keep… from… silly… Texting… Back away from the cell phone… Whew! I’m ok… I’m ok…:crazy_face:

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Pretty much what others have said. EQ and Tone control are different. They live in different domains. I suggest the Schiit Loki for a nice little four-knob ANALOG tone control that you can use downstream of anything, even MQA. By the way, I too have struggled with the proper pronunciation of “Schiit” and am settling on the two-syllable pronunciation from the rural Missouri of my childhood. “she-YIT”

Tubes. I have them in my STAX amp and in my she-YIT Lyr3 amp. These are both, I think hybrid designs. Good solid state is also fine, but the tubes are pretty when you can see them. I do not think that tubes or not should be a controlling factor in purchases, but can be a contributing one.

Of the two, I’d want to have tone control first. I don’t have patience for careful EQ. You do get a degree of EQ free with TIDAL and with ROON too. Also some other software players. That’s been enough for me.

Note that when saying “she-YIT” you can be nuanced. The emphasis on the final syllable should be very slight. Unless you are a bit irritated, then more emphasis on first syllable.

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I have the Schiit Loki and love that little trickster. It definitely is fun to play with and create a better sound to my ears. I just wondered if I already have that, how much more Tube Amps can bring me in the scheme of things. Of course I want at least one Tube amplifier, but will it bring a noticeably better or different sound to the table than using the Loki for tone control? I really didn’t like EQ through the computer it was to much of a time suck for me to get used to. It also seemed to take away from my listening experience where the analog Loki fits my listening style much better.

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I’ve been meaning to pick up a Loki, but I have the RME ADI-2DAC so it would be pretty redundant…maybe if one hits B-stock lol

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Yeah I’m not into using computer based EQ either, I like tone control through the Loki, just curious if I get the tube amp you recommend from Drop how much different or better my music will sound vs. fiddling with the 4 channels of the Loki to get the sound I am wanting.

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Tubes have a slightly different sound, due to the “pleasing” distortion that they can introduce. It’s not specifically a tone or tone control. It is a harmonic. TungSol has a good FAQ

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@MRphotography Like @pennstac states…it’s more about harmonic distortion. I will say this, and take it with a grain of salt…but majority of people that have heard my setups, prefer the tubes to the solid states… usually stating it “sounds” more “real” or I’ll hint does it seem more engaging? They usually agree lol… But your mileage May differ.

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Perfect, I will have to give it a shot when that JR Drop tube amp you recommended comes up ! Thanks man!

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Very cool! Might have to change your look!

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Romantic distortion is peachy when I’m in the mood.

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Honestly I found myself always switching my DAC to Tube 3 setting, whether or not it was a placebo thing or if it was adding some distortion to try to replicate who knows, also I am constantly warming up my music some with the LOKI tone control. So I think I should give a Tube amp a try! Have you ever tried the Dark Voice Tube amp? I have read good things about it.

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On this site there are fans of the Bottlehead Crack, the Eddie Current Jr., and the Loxjie P20 (among others). See other threads for more info (there’s a lot available). I don’t have Dark Voice experience.

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I could do that, providing that coach gun shoots pan-galactic gargle blasters.

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