STATUS: In stock. Orders placed now are expected to ship in 1-3 business days.
Valhalla is a Class A, single-ended triode headphone amplifier with no overall feedback and noninverting circuit topology. It provides classic tube sound and can drive headphones with impedances as low as 32 ohms.
Yes, we know that all you got out of the preceding paragraph is probably, “Classic tube sound.” And if you’re not a tube junkie, you might not even know what that means. Some people say tube sound is a smoky nightclub with a hot chick in a red dress, it’s a warm swimming pool in summer, glowing green against the purple twilight, it’s a . . . well, hell, you can’t really explain tube sound. Think “smooth, fluid, liquid, alive.” But not in a SF-movie-gonna-eat-you kinda way.
All Tube, All The Time
The only active devices in the audio signal path in Valhalla are tubes. The 6N1P triodes input provides linear, low noise voltage gain. The 6N6P triodes provide good power output capability for a wide variety of high-impedance headphones (though, if you're looking at orthos, check Mjolnir, Lyr and Asgard instead.)
High Quality Parts
Don't compare Valhalla to cheap tube amps using open-frame carbon pots and substandard parts. Compare it to tube amps using Alps Blue Velvet pots, Dale resistors, Wima capacitors, and other top-end components. Also consider that Valhalla has almost 2,000uf of filter capacitance in its oversized power supply, for superior performance.
Most of Valhalla is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for five years. That’s 5 years. Yes. FIVE. Compare that to the competition. The parts that aren’t covered by a 5-year warranty: the tubes. Tubes are covered by a 90-day warranty. They should last between 3,000 and 5,000 hours, but they do wear out. They will need replaced. Do not panic. Humans lived for many decades with this technology.
15-Day Satisfaction Guarantee
Don’t like your Valhalla? No problem. Call us for an RA and send it back for a full refund, minus 5% transaction fee, within 15 days of receiving your amp. When was the last time you spent a couple of weeks in an audio store? With your own equipment? Thought so.
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-400KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 100mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 420mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 210mW RMS per channel
THD: Less than 0.2%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, high gain mode (worst case)
IMD: Less than 0.25%, CCIR at 1V RMS, high gain mode (worst case)
SNR: More than 96db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: Less than -74dB, 20Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: 30 ohms
Topology: Class-A single-ended triode, no overall feedback, noninverting, single voltage gain stage
Tube Complement: 6N1P dual triode input, 6N6P dual triode output, 1 each per channel. 6N1Ps rollable to 6DJ8, E88CC, 6922, 6BZ7, and similar types.
Power Consumption: 40W
Size: 9 x 6.75 x 3.25”
Weight: 7 lbs
All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer
Does Valhalla sound better than Asgard 2?
It depends. They both sound amazing for their price points. As to which is better, we have long arguments about that. Valhalla has a classic smooth tubey midrange, but extended highs. Asgard is more neutral all around.
What headphones does Valhalla work best with?
Beyer 600 ohm models and Sennheiser 300 ohm headphones are best–think high-impedance when you’re thinking about Valhalla. Yes, we have plenty of people using Valhalla with low-impedance headphones, but the best match is with high-impedance cans.
Can Valhalla drive my orthodynamic headphones?
Being polite: not a chance. Although Valhalla can deliver large voltages into high-impedance headphones, it cannot supply the current needed for low-efficiency, low-impedance orthodynamic headphones. If you have Audeze or HiFiMan headphones, look at Lyr. LCD-2s, HE-400s, and HE-500s are also efficient enough to be used with Asgard, if you’d like an all-solid-state option.
Which tubes does Valhalla use?
One 6N1P dual triode for input and one 6N6P dual triode for output per channel are stock.
Are Valhallas “rollable?”
Earlier Valhallas (August 2010-April 2012) are not designed for tube rolling. All Valhallas shipped since May 2012 are rollable to accommodate E88CC, 6DJ8, 6922, 6N23P, etc on the input stage (that is, the shorter tubes.)
How long do the tubes last?
They should last about 5,000 hours. Some last more. Some last less. If you want certainty, go with solid state.
What do I do when the tubes fail?
You buy new ones from us. They’re only $40 for a complete set, so you won’t have to give up many happy meals.
“Here is what the Valhalla is: an outstanding sounding headphone amp for the money. It’s dynamic, essentially transparent, and essentially neutral. There may be a very slight top end reticence, and a very slight lack of power at the very bottom, but these were not all that noticeable really. In general the sound was engaging, enjoyable, and was better than the majority of the under $400 tube amps I have heard. It’s also dead quiet – I had no hum or hiss, or microphonics issues from the tubes used.”
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“... HD800 and T1 were dynamic and gutsy, i.e. right. With happy-hour levels at high noon and pounding material like Gaudi’s Dub Qawwali with its club treatment of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s potent scatting, foundation might and control were impressive. Percussive elements in the midrange retained that forward slightly sizzly quality most such albums major in.”
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“The Valhalla’s soundstage depth on the Walkmen’s excellent new “Lisbon” CD was more spacious than the Asgard’s, but don’t get the wrong idea; the tubes didn’t soften detail, and the band’s guitars had plenty of bite. The Valhalla/Grado sound is fuller-bodied and organic; the Asgard/Grado combo offers greater clarity.”
“The Sennheiser HD 580′s sound was more laid-back (with less treble) and more diffuse-sounding when directly compared with the Grado, so the differences between the Valhalla and Asgard were less dramatic, but still evident. Female vocals were especially natural-sounding over the HD-580. An above-average-sounding concert rock CD, like the Drive-By Truckers’ “Live in Austin TX” had great dynamics, and its wide-open soundstaging made for a powerfully engaging listening experience. The Valhalla’s sound may be somewhat less clear than the solid-state Asgard’s, but the tubes’ sweetening effect makes for a more enjoyable experience with less-than-stellar-sounding recordings, like Arcade Fire’s compressed-to-the-point-it-hurts “The Suburbs” CD. The music still doesn’t sound great, but the Valhalla made it less grating.”
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Unfortunately, Vade’s sidebar review of the Valhalla wasn’t published with Asgard, but he did buy the amp for his personal use, and commented, “it just nails the sound of instruments.” If you contact him, he may share some more details.