Desktop tube amp promised to sound as good as it looks
Following the success of his first Kickstarter campaign, New Zealand's Martin Young of IMS Electronics has returned to the crowdfunding platform with an updated hybrid valve/tube amp he's calling the Desktop Valve Amplifier. Housed in an enclosure machined from a single block of aluminum, with a Gorilla Glass viewing window up top, the unit is certainly something of a looker. And Young is promising top notch sonics, too.
Young says that during and after his first Kickstarter outing he received a number of design suggestions that couldn't be implemented for the original Hybrid Valve Headphone Amplifier, which started shipping to backers in January 2016. This update sees some of those suggestions taken on board.
The new model retains the hybrid circuitry found in the original unit, but a 100 W Class D amplifier has been added – which should be enough to drive most living room stereo speaker setups. Two separate Burr Brown OPA2134 headphone amp stages (so that listeners can share the output with a friend), with independent volume control, are reckoned capable of driving everything from high street consumer to high-end audiophile headphones.
Marrying the amps to SaviAudio SA9227 and Texas Instruments PCM5102A DACs supporting up to 32-bit/384 kHz audio resolution (including DSD when the SaviAudio is in Master DAC mode) and Raytheon 6418 glass tubes is reported to result in "a warm rich sound with plenty of dynamic range and much more spatial separation."
Elsewhere, an OPA2134 phono preamp stage allows users to plug a turntable straight into the amp, there's an analog signal input, too, and a Bluetooth receiver. The latter may seem a little out of place for such a desktop amp, but will allow users the convenience of streaming music from mobile devices through the device without resorting to cables.
All of this spectastic goodness is wrapped in 140 x 120 x 25 mm (5.5 x 4.7 x 0.9 in) CNC aluminum housing, which has a viewing window to the top so that listeners can enjoy the warm glow of the tubes while in use.
Production funds are being sought through Kickstarter, where pledges start at NZ$699 (about US$495). If all goes according to plan, Young estimates the first units will go out in June. Watch the pitch video for more on the project.