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For the minimalist in you.
August 27, 2005 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Some cool little tube amps. The world's smallest production tube amp and world's Smallest Vacuum Tube hi-fi stereo amplifier. These are too cool.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I saw these listed while searching for effects pedals and had never heard of them. They're pretty neat looking but for me, not $450.00 to $500.00 neat.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:02 PM on August 27, 2005


I'd really like one of those iMPAMPs as a headphone amp for my nice Sennheisers.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:31 PM on August 27, 2005


Sennhesier makes some nice cans. I have a pair of Grado SR-80s, myself. Not really high end but very good for the price. I heard one of I think Sennheisers more popular models, the HD600(?) a long time ago and they sounded phenomenal.
posted by MjrMjr at 8:52 PM on August 27, 2005


The ZVEX Fuzz Probe is one of the cooler things I have ever had a chance to mess around with. You can do some really freaky stuff with it.

The videos on the iMP are really sweet. I want one.

Thanks for the post. ZVEX was unfortunatly filed way too far back in my consciousness.
posted by bluevelvetelvis at 9:19 PM on August 27, 2005


I have the HD-570s, which are much better than the SR-80s, and are very good, but not quite up to the 580 or 600 level. But they're high-impedance and so small devices under-drive them...I could use a small clean amp. When using them with my HK amp, though, they sound fantastic.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:23 PM on August 27, 2005


Damn, a little Googling and now I desperately want some Future Sonics Ears EM3s with SofterWear Custom fit sleeves.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:42 PM on August 27, 2005


That Fuzz Probe sounds kinda neat. Not $whatever it costs neat, but neat. I can probably come close to that level of wierdness with my Boss fuzz and (possibly semi-broken?) Electric Mistress pedal, though. Good for those Radiohead/Syd Barrett type freakouts, anyway...
posted by arto at 9:52 PM on August 27, 2005


I'm not sure I quite understand how impedence affects headphones. Their impedence is a lot higher than 'regular' speakers, right? Shouldn't that make them easier to drive? I know that for conventional bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, a lower impedence load is considered harder to drive.

It would have been nice to have the chance to compare the Grados I have with a Sennheiser headphone in the same price range. As it stands now I only use my Grados with my pc for mp3 listening. I used to use a NAD integrated amp in my main hi-fi rig which did have a headphone jack and sounded pretty nice but since then I've upgraded to a much better seperate pre-amp and power amp, which unfortunately leaves me without headphone capability.

I've read some very good reviews on Antique Sound Labs gear, and they have some pretty reasonably priced tube based headphone amps that I'm looking at. http://www.divertech.com/aslhb1.html
Tubes are definitely where it's at, IMO.
All of the best systems I've heard are tube based.
posted by MjrMjr at 9:55 PM on August 27, 2005


Wow, that voiceover guy is awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 10:37 PM on August 27, 2005


Yeah, he's the designer, isn't he? And isn't the tube-specific video cooler than hell? Well, the info.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:41 PM on August 27, 2005


This whole page is full of awesomeness!
posted by odinsdream at 10:59 PM on August 27, 2005


I'm not sure I quite understand how impedence affects headphones. Their impedence is a lot higher than 'regular' speakers, right? Shouldn't that make them easier to drive? I know that for conventional bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, a lower impedence load is considered harder to drive.

I think that it's a different kind of "harder". It's harder to push really low impedence loads - like when you parallel too many speakers. But usually that just means there's a minimum impedence where the amp won't just up and quit (overheating little bits, I think).

But when available voltage is more limited, it's going to make a noticable difference in the max volume. Unless something has a dedicated headphone amp - and most things don't - there's not a whole lot of push there. That's going to be especially true on battery driven devices, but it would make sense to me if it applied just as much to the headphone plug on most computers, or even stereo receivers.
posted by flaterik at 11:06 PM on August 27, 2005


Now, my Ibanez SD-9 sonic distortion has been my favourite pedals for a long, long time. It has been described as the "tube screamer" TS-9's drunken, wife-beating brother. I should keep it locked in a safe, but unfortunately it's currently in my bass player's garage and I'm glad he's got comprehensive insurance. In any case, it may now be my mission to acquire one of them Fuzz Probes.
posted by Jimbob at 11:24 PM on August 27, 2005


flaterik:
Most of my experience is with regular hi-fi speakers. I have a pair of speakers(JMLab Cobalt 816) that presents, at worst, a 2.7 ohm load, and I've found that a very powerful solid state amp with a lot of current in reserve drives them best. I currently have a B&K 125 watt amp which is built like a tank. It drives them nicely, with a very firm grip on the bass. Someday I'd like to try easier to drive speaker with a low powered tube amp, or get some higher end headphones with a headphone amp.

Ultimately I subscribe to the garbage in-garbage out philosophy and find that the source component is the most important link in the chain. My Rega Planet 2000 cd player was the best upgrade I ever made.
posted by MjrMjr at 11:38 PM on August 27, 2005


That should go great with my Agonizer.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:43 PM on August 27, 2005


Nano Head: Drive vs. Volume is an eternal issue. Great idea. Microwatt amps are the future of guitar. Calling Bruce Zinky!

iMPAMP: MP3's + tubes = improvement---how? I don't get it.
posted by sourwookie at 11:58 PM on August 27, 2005


MP3's + tubes = improvement---how? I don't get it.

What's not to get?

Good medium + excellent amplification = excellent sound.
Crap medium + excellent amplication = better sound.
posted by Jimbob at 1:22 AM on August 28, 2005


Ah. I just didn't want to get past the crap medium part.
posted by sourwookie at 7:52 AM on August 28, 2005


The Earmax is even smaller, but it is just for headphones.
posted by caddis at 8:03 AM on August 28, 2005


The AX84 is a nifty little tube amp you can build yourself.
posted by tommasz at 9:45 AM on August 28, 2005


I can't resist posting this old DIY tube headphone amp - all the parts fit in a bottle cap.
posted by exogenous at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2005


Very cool exogenous.
posted by caddis at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2005


I know of another small tube amp that comes kit form for $285. I haven't
built it, and know about it because sparetimegizmos is a
buddy of mine.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:37 AM on August 28, 2005


I am listening to a pair of these right now (with the iron upgrade). Awesome sound.
posted by caddis at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2005


The Earmax is bigger than the iMPAMP. The Earmax, long touted as the World's smallest stereo tube amp, measures a claimed 3.75" x 3.50" x 4.00", vs 4.40" x 3.00" x 3.00" for the iMPAMP. Doing the math results in 52.5 cubic inches for the Earmax @ 100 mW, and [insert drum roll here...] only 39.6 cubic inches for the iMPAMP @ 1000 mW... and I don't cheat! i include the overall length of the speaker connectors on the back... if I didn't, it would only be 2.4" deep! Keep in mind that the Earmax's output is only 100 mW, versus 1000 mW for the iMP.

Thanks for all of the great comments. My server has seen a quadrupling of hits as a result of this great community! Woohoo!

Now can someone steer me to the page that teaches me how to properly quote someone and create links in my posts? 8^)
posted by zachary vex at 9:28 PM on August 28, 2005


Welcome to metafilter, zachary. I know nothing about electric guitars and related, but I spent a good while reading everything on your site about each of your pedals/products. You seem like a super-cool guy and it was a pleasure browsing your site.

(There's handy-dandy mini-buttons for basic mark-up and a small spellchecker there at the bottom right-hand corner of the text-entry box when you type in your comments. You can use a few html tags if you want, also.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:32 PM on August 28, 2005


Thanks! I realize now that I have to use Firefox for my browser, as my Safari browser shows none of those buttons.
posted by zachary vex at 11:58 PM on August 28, 2005


Well, saying all Mp3s are a crappy or good medium is just like saying all cars are crappy, or all cars are good. There are many different ways to make an Mp3, and most of them do a good job. Some do a horrible job, and then there are those that do an excellent job. It all depends on the source material and the encoder you use. LAME 3.90.2 using APS or APE (aka alt preset standard and alt preset extreme) is considering by many to be excellent, and this standard is being adopted by more and more people.

So, yeah, you can actually download or make Mp3s that sound excellent, and if driven with an excellent amp to excellent speakers....

Also, Sennheisser HD280 pros for life, baby.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:18 AM on August 29, 2005


But really, using one of these on a generic laptop sound card is stupid.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:21 AM on August 29, 2005


I don't have much of a need for something like the Nano head, but it is a very cool idea. I can personally vouch for Zachary Vex's pedals. I have used a ZVex Super Duper distortion pedal since 2000 that is as good or better sounding than any vintage Ibanez tube screamer I've had. It's built like a tank, and has a really cool design to boot!
posted by psmealey at 4:34 AM on August 29, 2005


As far as impedence goes, a high-impedance load is difficult to drive in that it gets less power than a lower-impedence load given the same amplifier which results in less available energy to move the speaker diaphragm. A low impedence load is difficult to drive in that it gets more power than a higher impedence load given the same amplifier and some amps can't properly (or sometimes at all) put out the required amount of power, which could possibly lead to component failure (letting out the magic smoke).

Ethereal Bligh, I have an earlier model of the Airhead and HD580s. The amp is a little lacking on dynamics and power with AA batteries, but with the wall wart or a power pack I made out of 3 D batteries it runs great. I've found it to be better than the built-in headphone circuits on every amp I've owned (including an older HK).
posted by nTeleKy at 12:28 PM on August 29, 2005


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