Tube amp has earned itself a good name and has gained love among some audiophiles especially or the sound signature of its own when compared to solid state amp, In high fidelity world, tube amp has always been related to butter silk smooth sound, summer lovely warm sound, candy honey sweet vocal, big and fat sound, and beautiful distortion, it might not be accurate,but the distortion it produced, has it own signature, so nice that some audiophile person are crazy on tube amp. So if I apply this in photography world, tube amp should defined as fish eye lenses which they share some similarities, which is both produced beautiful distortion, and,it is either you love them or you hate them.
Although I love tube amp,and I always is (never really heard the sound,but from the description I just think that they built for me)., but despite they sounded good, their price just sound so far for me, I mean,it is almost became a crime for a student to buy one. It is until some China budget tube amp came out like Aune and Bravo came out,since then, tube sound lover finally found a way not to strain their wallet much just to own an tube amp. Without talking TOO much, what I am going to share with you guys today is headphone tube amplifier from China manufacturer, Bravo Audio’s V2.
Description , Specification
I will just directly copy and paste the specification of the Bravo Audio’s V2 from the official webpage of it.
|In Put Power||DC24V|
|Out-Put Impedance||20~600 Ohm|
|Frequency response||10Hz-60KHz +/- 0.25dB|
|Dynamic range||84.6dBA(300 ohm) 89.8dBA(33 ohm)|
|THD||0.016%(300 ohm) 0.45%(33 ohm)I|
|MD + Noise:||0.045(300 ohm) 0.42(33ohm)|
|Dimension||79mm (D) X 79mm X 44mm (H)|
|Input||Stereo RCA x1, Stereo 3.5mm x1|
|Output||Stereo 6.35mm x1|
Able to drive 20 to 600 ohm headphone impedance means it can drive just about every headphones in this Earth. From what I know,it will only include the Bravo Audio’s V2 and a power chord only,means, in addition to use this with your computer, you will need a 3.5mm (Male) to 3.5mm (Male) cable, a DAC (Your PC or laptop on board sound card is a DAC as well, or your Portable player), and if your headphone input is 3.5mm,you will need a 3.5mm (female) to 6.25mm(male) adapter. Just like the picture below indicated.
From the first impression, soon I love the design of the V2, nice looking. You have to prepare some equipment before you can use this amp with your source,but none of this will cost you much anyway.
Noted: 1) All tracks are in lossless format unless stated.
2) Tested by using Ess Sabre USB DAC,JVC s500 and Creative Aurvana Live.
Jesse Cook – Rattle and Run (Vertigo)
Without doing any comparison, this indeed sound thick,but without good emphasis on low body,sound is not tickling,just sound thick and fat,that is all. Instrument separation is okay to my ears, but it always have that kind of ‘busy’ sound that I think is not soft to my ears,like everything is sounded at same time,without good staging. But overall, I personally think that it is still quite enjoyable to listen to. Although music is not rally energizing,but it is not weak either.
黄小琥 – 重来 （如果能。。。重来）
When I do direct AB comparison to my Objective 2 amp, I can’t hear any subtle different between O2 and V2, accept that when piano slip in at the beginning,piano sound on V2 sound nearer and more pronounce,but on O2,it sound far a little bit,but in noticeable better clarity, to my ears,O2 sound more accurate. 黄小琥is my favourite Chinese singer, as for the vocal part, for me, V2 sound smoother,louder. Anyway, everything on O2 has better revealing capability and clarity but thinner. But high note vocal on Bravo create too much distortion,es[ecially when you dial up your volume. For listening pleasure, I think that O2 is a better amp here, as I am more comfortable when I listen to O2, sound is less concentrated, has better sound stage,sounded crisper.
Peter White – Caravan of Dreams (Caravan of Dreams)
Despite of not clean sounding, not micro-detailed and not enough low body, i have no complain, I think it is nice to listen to. I think that too much doted on low,mid and high,all those terminology is just troublesome and not really enjoy the music. In this song, I do hope that I can get more energetic sound, but personally I think it justify quite well especially if you don’t care much. Guitar and saxophone mix very well in this song. Anyway I think it will be better if guitar can sound more define, which mean instrument separation can be better, but in this price range, no complain at all.
Pitbull – Hotel Room Services (Rebelution)
Sadly but I think tube amp can;t handle this kind of music genre well, not fast enough and vocal take away most of the part, after EQ to V shape equaliser,it rock my headphone,not deep enough and punchy,but I can feel my JVC S500 shaking and vibrate on my ears. Generally,still not good enough for this kind of music, you just can’t really feel the beats, dance with the tempo and rhythm.
Rihanna – Hatin’ On The Club (Good GIrl Gone Bad)
Not fun sounding I can say,you can hear Rihanna singing clearly but for this type of music,one might not like this kind of beats, vocal has good clarity,but not so in other region. No good thumping, it is far from not nice,but it just not suit this type of music well.
Eminem – When I’m Gone (Curtain Call – The Hits)
Set EQ to V shape EQ, Eminem vocal remain nice and good. The bass enhanced nicely,in my opinion,this is better enhanced on V2 than my O2 solid state amp. You can feel hard bass hitting and it is really hard, I can only say that V2 is really quite good with EQing, after some tweak on EQ,it respond better than O2. The bass is heavy,defined,hard hitting,thick and enjoyable.
Good and Bad?
1) Good sounding and quite musical, undeniable.
2) Superb pricing,very cheap and stress free to own one.
3) Very powerfull! I doubt you need to turn volume knob to 1/6 of its max.
4) beautiful looking, especially in night time.
5) Easily customisable,you can change the tube (Only use 12AU7 type tube valve) to alter the sound. Recommended Gold Lion (Genalex) 12AU7 tube,RM180 but from what I have read,is very good,if tight on budget, can get the Electro Harmonix 12AU7 as well,around RM90.
6) All of the sound flaw can be easily tweaked by changing the electronic component like better capacitor (Elna or normal Panasonic 25V 2200uF capacitor will do), change the Mosfet (which can change the high distortion or hiss,sharp high body sound).
7) Simple and small.
8) Good heat dissipation.
9) Bass quality is good although lack some refinement,detail,depth and extension. But you will definitely feeling it beating.
1) Design flaw,mosfet and interference proble. You can hear interference sound when there is incoming call or text messages.
2) No grounding,which if you not completing the loop,you can get shocked by minimal current.
3) Simple design, so you can’t have all those headphone/earphone protetion circuit I guess.
4) Low quality electronic component, not branded and cheap.
5) Open air design.collecting dust.
6) For the sound,clarity is acceptable if you not asking very much, but lower end body can be better,imaging and staging can be better as well.
7) No built in DAC,you need your computer sound card or external DAC.
8) It share common flaws on tube amp as well.
Conclusion and Final Thought
What can I say else? Erm… It is good sounding and cheap, powerful and simple. The tube valve is not that expensive,you can change to better electronic components and tube valve every time you are not satisfied how it sound (albeit this will cost more), but personally I think that chnge to any tube valve will sound better than the on board Shuguang 12AU7 (Never have real world experience anyway). You can easily mod it as well, grounding is not a problem if you have some electronic or soldering skill, modifying method is easy to find on the internet. Mosfet and capacitor is easily available in local electronic store, but DO MAKE SURE ELECTRONIC COMPONENT THAT YOU BOUGHT IS SUITABLE AND CORRECT before soldering it, but if you are expecting too much from this tube headphone amplifier, you will definitely disappointed, I apologise but I can’t get butter silk smooth sound, summer lovely warm sound, candy honey sweet vocal, big and fat sound, and beautiful distortion V2, but most probably,it is because of the tube valve. It is good and musical,if you can’t accept how tube amp sound or the flaw, you should probably look elsewhere, but with the price and performance ratio, I have no problem to recommend this tube headphone amplifier to you.