Darkvoice THA332 Headphone Amp

Discussion in 'DIY Discussion' started by Fergus, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just bought a DARKVOICE THA332 headphone amp from China (five day delivery) for £200. Wasn't expecting that much to tell you the truth - just wanted it as a back-up as my X-CAN V3 has a badly scorched curcuit board and I'm afraid it'll go up in a puff of smoke any day now.

    I must say, I've been pleasantly surprised. Build is very good - like a brick sh*thouse springs to mind. Sound again is very good: very deep bass; open and detailed midrange; and clean and smooth treble. I'd say it's as good, if not better, than a stock X-CAN V3, and comes very close to my extensively modded one.

    It drives the HD650s effortlessly, and the dynamics are excellent, better than the standard V3. How it will sound with lower impedience cans, I don't know.

    I suspect if the stock tubes were changed the sonics would improve even more. (Tubes: 2x6J1s and 2x6C19s, which, confusingly is the Russian cryllic for 6S19. I think these tubes are made by SHUGUANG in China.)

    I've saw some NOS 6S19P-Vs and SVETLANA 6S19P-Bs on E-bay; judging by the success of using these long-life, mil-spec "P-B" and P-V designated tubes in the V3 (6H23P-Bs), hopefully these would be better than the standard valves. As for the smaller output tubes, I've seen a number of NOS 6J1-ps, again on Ebay, and their equivalents - 5654s, EF95s, etc. Any help here would be great.

    I'll post some pics later.

    Fergus
     
    Fergus, Dec 28, 2006
    #1
    1. Advertisements

  2. Fergus

    zanash

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,826
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Notts.
    if the track are badly scorched you can cut them and hard wire....but it sounds like the new headamp is doing good things!
     
    zanash, Jan 2, 2007
    #2
    1. Advertisements

  3. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Zanash. I've been very pleasantly surprised. The insides of the amp are very simple. There's two large green capacitors, which look suspicously like mil-spec types (PIOs?).

    Here's some pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Fergus, Jan 4, 2007
    #3
  4. Fergus

    zanash

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,826
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Notts.
    could be ...hard to tell on the blow up pic...

    looks well made with a sprinkling of good components.
     
    zanash, Jan 6, 2007
    #4
  5. Fergus

    RobHolt Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    4,123
    Likes Received:
    5
    The inside of that amp is a joy to behold - 90 degree wiring!
    Not seen that in years, very much a thing from the early Quad and Naim days.
     
    RobHolt, Jan 6, 2007
    #5
  6. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, very tidy indeed. Apparently, the very neat point-to-point wiring is a characteristic of these DARKVOICE amps. Component quality is quite good (better that the X-CAN, eh, Zanash!!!).

    I've already replaced the stock SHUGUANG 6J1 output valves with M8100s (NOS), a high quality version of the EF95, made by Mullard. Sound has altered quite a bit. Bass far deeper, very atmospheric, with a tad more openness. I've some of the larger 6C19s on their way, the SVETLANA 6S19P-Bs. Can't find any western equivalent of this valve.

    I'll experiment a bit more with the smaller tubes, as I think they will influence the final sound more, and there are plenty of alternatives out there: Raytheon 6AK5Ws; RCA and SLYVANIA5654s, etc, etc. Any suggestions?
     
    Fergus, Jan 7, 2007
    #6
  7. Fergus

    Neil

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Scotland
    If you don't mind me asking - where did you purchase he amp from?
     
    Neil, Jan 8, 2007
    #7
  8. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Neil,

    Bought the amp off E-bay from a seller called Jasmine's Hifi Audio Store for £200 plus postage.
     
    Fergus, Jan 9, 2007
    #8
  9. Fergus

    Neil

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Scotland
    Thanks for that - I'll have a look, seems nicely put together.
     
    Neil, Jan 9, 2007
    #9
  10. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Built like a brick sh*t-house, Neil. Inside, very neat, with a smattering of good components. Sounds great too. Better, in my opinion, than the MF X-CAN V3, even my modded one. Tubes also very cheap. Bought 10 SVETLANA 6S19P-Bs (the better version of the 6S19) for £9.50. Fantastic!!!
     
    Fergus, Jan 9, 2007
    #10
  11. Fergus

    Toride

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    SE London
    Hi Fergus,
    Thanks for the info - I'm looking for a headphone amp at the moment and this one looks good. Found a long thread about similar Darkvoice amp on head-fi:

    http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=182503

    Think there's some discussion of tube rolling somewhere in there but it'll take some wading through!
     
    Toride, Jan 13, 2007
    #11
  12. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Toride,

    Yeah, there are a number of forums out there discussing the DARKVOICE headphone amps. This particular thread is talking about the 336i, which from what I've read is an excellent amp, with all the possibities of tube rolling.

    The amp referred to here is the 332 which I bought direct from China. I've tried a bit of tube rolling with the 332 (SVETLANA 6S19P-Bs and MULLARD M8100s), and to say it responded well would be an understatement.:D

    The 336 can be picked up for around £150, or the 332 for around £200. The 332 is a superb little amp (or not so little, it weighs 5.5kgs), bettering the MF X-CAN V3 by some way. Typical tube sound: very open, airy, amazingly detailed, but with bass that is very deep and well defined. In fact, the only criticism I have of the 332 (with the above tube compliment) is that it is too detailed, and could expose a bad recording or an inadequate source. Forget all the prejudices about Chinese hifi, because there are few amps out there at this price that could touch it.
     
    Fergus, Jan 13, 2007
    #12
  13. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Or Triode, there's always this leviathan, the DARKVOICE 337.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Fergus, Jan 13, 2007
    #13
  14. Fergus

    Toride

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    SE London
    Hi Fergus,
    Thanks for the info/impressions - I'm a fan of detailed sound so am veering towards the 332. I've no problem regarding Chinese hifi - Eastsound E5 CD from Cattylink is still going strong after 2 years (that's probably the kiss of death :) ).

    What do you think of OTL type headphone amps? eg the Earmax or even this:
    http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa3.html

    Thanks !
     
    Toride, Jan 16, 2007
    #14
  15. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    OTL amps certainly have a dedicated following, but also some vociferous detractors. Personally, I don't much care about whether an amp has or has not output transformers, as long as the end product, the reproduction of music, is impressive that's all that matters. There are a number of good amps out there that use output transformers - MAPLETREE AUDIO's HD PURIST to name one. The DARKVOICE is transformerless, the DC blocking done by a couple of huge polyprops.

    The WOO AUDIO amps look great. Again, simple design: the back to basics approach, with as few components in the signal path as possible. That's what impressed me about the DARKVOICE: simple but effective audio engineering at its best.

    With the WOO amp also the tubes are easy to get, because the availibility of tubes are always a factor when buying any valve amp. DARKVOICE could be criticised in this respect: the 6S19s power tubes are not particularly hard to get, but there's just not the variety of replacement tubes that I would like. Then again, the smaller, signal boosting tubes are, alternatively, very easy to get and there are a plethora of different brands. Anyway, good luck with whichever one you choose.
     
    Fergus, Jan 16, 2007
    #15
  16. Fergus

    Uncle Ants In Recordeo Speramus

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2003
    Messages:
    1,928
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Midlands
    Blimey, and that's a headphone amp? But its huge.
     
    Uncle Ants, Jan 16, 2007
    #16
  17. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's a monster, isn't it - it weighs 15kgs (33lbs). It's basically two 336s sandwiched together. Everything is balanced: two volume controls, two IECs, etc. Haven't any idea how it sounds - in fact information about it is very sketchy. Can't find anyone who's heard it, although they must exist somewhere. And the price: 499euros or 330 pounds.
     
    Fergus, Jan 16, 2007
    #17
  18. Fergus

    Toride

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    SE London
    It is a monster isn't it. Even the 332 caused a raised eyebrow so I doubt I get the 337 through the door. Quite interested in the Woo Audio 3 (in fetching gold!) as it would easily fit on rack.

    Fergus, how tall is the 332? Do I need much clearance for heat etc?
     
    Toride, Jan 19, 2007
    #18
  19. Fergus

    Fergus

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    The 332's height is 14cm, depth 27cm, and length 18cm. The 332 does get hot, what valve amp doesn't, but not excessively so. As long as the rack is not too cramped or claustrophobic the WOO 3, or indeed a DARKVOICE, should be okay.

    I have a rack too, but I took everything off the top and placed the 332 there. I give it pride of place. I like the orange glow of the valves in the room.
     
    Fergus, Jan 19, 2007
    #19
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.