Vali

Subminiature hybrid headphone amplifier

AC Adapter Type

$119

Description

Specs

FAQ

Reviews

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STATUS: In stock. Orders placed now ship in 1-3 business days.
 
Welcome to the least expensive serious tube hybrid amp on the planet. Vali delivers solid power into headphones from 32 to 600 ohms. It's a great way to get a taste of exceptional tube sound, for only a tiny investment.
 
Tubes: Not Just for Show
Some inexpensive tube amps have tubes that aren’t good for much other than show. Not Vali. The 6088 subminiature tubes are triode-connected and provide all the voltage gain. They’re run off a regulated 60V rail, which is optimal for a tube with a 67.5V maximum plate rating. In addition, we're using a regulated 1.2V DC heater, for lower noise, more stable operation, and long life.
 
Solid Power Output 
At the same time, Vali’s tubes are coupled to a solid Class AB output stage that can deliver 650mW per channel into 32 ohms. The result is an amplifier that can drive many different kinds of headphones, including some hard-to-drive orthodynamics. And, it has plenty of voltage output for high-impedance headphones.
 
On Tubes
Just getting into tubes? Be aware of microphonics. Many small tubes, including the ones in Vali, are microphonic. When you plug in headphones, you'll hear a little "tiiinnnnggg...." noise that takes quite a while to go away. If you rap the chassis, it will do the same thing. 
 
Made in USA 
By “made in USA,” we mean made in USA. The vast majority of the total production cost of Vali—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our board house is 20 minutes away from our office in Newhall. Our chassis guys are just over the hill in the Valley. Yep, the wall wart is from China, but there you go. There is some give and take to reach this price point. 
 
2-Year Warranty
Vali is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for 2 years, and 1 year on the tubes. That’s 2x the coverage of most amps in this price range.
 
Return Policy
Unlike our other amps, Vali is so affordable we can’t offer the same 15-day, 5% satisfaction guarantee. But if you don’t like your Vali, you can still send it back for a refund, minus 15% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving your amp.
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 5Hz-100KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 650mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 550mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 220mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 115mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.4%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.45%, CCIR
SNR: >93db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: 6.5 ohms
Gain: 4 (12db)
Topology: Tube voltage gain stage, triode-strapped, with bipolar phase flipper, buffer and bipolar class AB output stage
Protection: delayed start and fast shut-down with muting relay
Power Supply: “wall wart” style 16VAC transformer, regulated 60V, 26V, and 1.2V rails for tube HV, solid state, and filaments, respectively
Power Consumption: 8W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
Weight: 1 lb
 

Wait, hold on a sec. You have Magni. Why did you suddenly do a bizarre little tube amp? Did you hit your head?
Why do people climb Everest? Why do they spend $25,000 customizing a $2500 car? Why do people take salsa dancing lessons? Does there have to be a reason for everything? Bottom line, we were playing around with these little tubes, put together something for fun, and thought it sounded good. When we figured we could do a little tube hybrid for a little more than Magni, we figured you might think it was pretty cool, too. 

But…a $119 tube hybrid amp? Now we know you’re cutting corners!
No, not really. Even at $119, we have a custom chassis, a real high-voltage supply, and a solid Class AB discrete output stage. The tubes we use are NOS JAN (military spec) Raytheon 6088s.
 
So you probably cheaped out and left the protection off this amp, or something stupid like that, right?
No. Vali has a relay mute for delayed startup and fast shut-down. You can leave your headphones plugged in all the time. 
 
So what's the catch?
Compared to Magni? Several. One, Vali's ultimate power output is lower, so it's less suitable to orthodynamics and other hard-to-drive headphones. Two, many tubes, including the ones in Vali, are microphonic. When you plug in headphones on Vali, you'll hear a little "tiiinnnnggg...." noise that takes quite a while to go away. If you rap the chassis, it will do the same thing. If you work on, say, a paint shaker table, Vali's not going to be the best amp for you. Three, tubes also have a lifespan, though Vali's tubes are expected to last 10,000-20,000 hours--which is 7-14 years of listening 4 hours a day, every day.
 
What happens when the tubes croak? 
You'd send it back to us and we'll replace them for $20. If they ever do go bad, that is. We're betting they won't.
 
I heard that ultimate accuracy is the result of exemplary measurements, including vanishingly low THD, low noise, and low output impedance, so I don’t know how this thing can sound very good.
A: Are you going to let others think for you, or are you going to listen for yourself?
 
But it's less powerful and noisier than Magni!
A: Dude, it's a $119 tube amp. So, well, yes.
 
But I don't know if I'll like tube sound.
A: Dude, it's a $119 tube amp. 
 
I hear a tube amp isn't accurate, it’s euphonic and fun?
A: $119. Tube. Amp. 
 
Ok, change the subject. Can this thing drive orthos?
Depends on your listening preference, and which orthos. With half the power of Magni, it’s not going to drive low-sensitivity orthos to ear-bleeding levels. However, it does well with the HiFiMan HE-400, the Mad Dogs and Alpha Dogs, and even the LCD-X, XC, and 2, and HE-500.
 
What about IEMs?
Man, you want everything, don’t you? The noise floor is higher on Vali than Magni. We wouldn’t use it with most IEMs, but it could work with some of them, depending on your hiss tolerance.
 
What the hell is a Vali?
In Norse mythology, Vali is the son of Odin and the giantess Rindr. There’s this amazing resource called Wikipedia. You may have heard of it.
 
I want a combined DAC/amp! Why didn’t you put a DAC in here?
We did. It’s just in a different chassis and costs another $99. It’s called “Modi.” Stack the two and tell yourself it’s a combined tube hybrid DAC/Amp for $218.
 
Can I plug in some uber-special, gold-plated, cryo-treated, 85-lb 2000VA wall wart and have even better performance?
Unless you know what you’re doing, we don’t recommend that. Vali uses an AC wall wart. Most are DC. DC won’t work with Vali. 
 
Hey, these tubes don’t really light up! You threw some LEDs in there to make it look like they’re glowing. What’s up with that?
Submini tubes running 1.25V heaters don’t really glow, sorry. And yes, there are LEDs in there. But we didn’t just “throw them in.” They bias the output stage. Nifty, huh?
 
The Hybrid Amp That Could
Purrin (Changstar.com founder)

"Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Holy Schiit fantastic. This is tubes done right. We are talking about expansive soundstage, tube clarity, tube microdynamics, tube microdetail, tube dynamics and slam. (Yes, all the things which folks who haven't heard good tube amps don't think tubes sound like.) The first time I heard this, I almost pee'd in my pants. An amp this cheap shouldn't sound this good.

I would seriously buy an Abyss headphone, hook it up to the Vali, and call it a day. That's how good it is. Of all the gear I've heard in the past year, this is by far the most impressive. No words can do it justice. This is tubes done right at an impossible price."

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Head-fi Winter Buyer's Guide
Jude Mansilla

 Schiit continues to blaze trails with this one. A tube hybrid headphone amplifier, made in the U.S.A., for $119, that sounds very good. Given its price--and given that its chassis matches Schiit's $99 Modi DAC--I can't help but think of the two together as a single $218 DAC/tube hybrid amp combo component (just as I think of the Modi / Magni as a $198 combo component).

 
For its price, the Vali is an amazing amp...For driving headphones that are not super-sensitive--and/or for driving high-impedance headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800 and HD 600/650--the Vali is going to be the first amp I recommend for people interested in tube audio....
 
Earlier I mentioned the Sennheiser HD 800. If you bought yours and are still looking for a good amp match (I find the HD 800 one of the tougher amps to find a good match for), start with the Schiit Audio Vali. It's marvelous pairing, sounding full-bodied and quite detailed. You just might find yourself stopping at the Vali. I've heard the HD 800 with no fewer than a bazillion amps, and I'll say right now the Vali is by far the best value of all I've tried so far with that headphone. You can do better for the HD 800, yes. For $119? Not. Even. Close.
 
I honestly don't know how the Schiit guys make any money at the prices they sell their gear for; but I'll just continue to revel in the insanely high value their products provide, and let them worry about their margins. The Vali. Wow.
 

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The Best Vali Review, Ever...
Radio_head

Just click on the link and read it. The best parody of an audio review we've ever read.

One example: "The DSHA sounds like butter while the Vali sounds like I can't believe its not butter."

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CNET Audiophiliac on the Vali
Steve Guttenberg

"If you want to get a taste of tube sound on the cheap, the Vali can't be beat. If you're not sure tubes are right for you, buy a Vali and a Magni, listen for yourself and return the one you like less." 

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