m
a c

Vali 3

Tube Hybrid Headphone Amp and Preamp

Finish
AC Adapter

$149.00

Ships 3-5 days

Description

Specs

FAQ

Downloads

What if we blew up the whole entry-level tube headphone amp idea by making a stunningly beautiful product that outperforms stuff that’s way more expensive? Well, there’s no “what if” about it. Meet Vali 3, the new standard in affordable tube gear. 
 
Class-Crushing Tech
Go ahead and compare Vali 3 to the competition…and you’ll find there’s no comparison. With a full 100V on the plate, Vali 3 crushes other designs using only 12-48V. Tubes love voltage, and Vali 3 provides it. For output, Vali 3 uses a fully discrete, Class AB bipolar stage in our own Coherence™ current-feedback topology—no op-amps or chip amps like you’ll find in other products. The result is an amp that’s nothing like anything near its price.
 
Insanely Good Looks
At the same time, you’ll notice our new advanced form, custom-stamped chassis—made in California, by the way—that takes affordable design to new levels. Compare to other gear in off-the-shelf or open-frame chassis. Again, no comparison!
 
A Complete Tube System
Vali 3 is ready to tube your entire desktop—delivering plenty of power for hard-to-drive headphones, and a low noise floor for more sensitive cans. Plus, it covers all your needs with preamp outputs for your powered monitors or speaker power amp…and it stacks perfectly with
our Modi DACs or Loki Mini equalizer to create a complete desktop system.
 
One Tube to Roll Them
We chose one tube, because, let’s face it: good tubes are getting harder to get. Vali 3 ships with a 6N3P tube standard. Stick with that for great stock sound, or find the perfect tube for your needs with tons of interesting options, including 5670, 2C51, ECC42 and CV4013. Got a big wallet? Heck, it will accept the legendary WE396A!
  
Designed and Built in Texas
By “designed and built in Texas," this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Vali 3—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made in California. Our PCBs are done in Utah. And it all comes together in our Corpus Christi, Texas, facility. Yes, the wall-warts are made in China, but there's some give and take at this price point. 
 
2-Year Warranty and Easy Returns
Vali 3 is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for 2 years, and 90 days on the tubes. And, if you don’t like your Vali 3, you can still send it back for a refund, minus 15% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving your amp.
 

Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1000mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 400mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 200mW RMS per channel

Note: Maximum power rated at less than 10% THD for tube and tube hybrid amps, as compared to less than 1% for solid state.
 
Low Gain:
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.02db at 300 ohms, 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.6db at 32 ohms
THD: <0.007%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, 300 ohms
IMD: <0.014%, CCIR, 300 ohms
SNR: >117db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Crosstalk: -87dB, 20Hz-20KHz, 300 ohms
Output Impedance: 0.5 ohms
 
High Gain:
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.04db at 300 ohms, 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.6db at 32 ohms
THD: <0.35%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, 300 ohms
IMD: <0.45%, CCIR, 300 ohms
SNR: >105db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Crosstalk: -70dB, 20Hz-20KHz, 300 ohms
Output Impedance: 1.8 ohms
 
Input Impedance: 50K ohms
Gain: 5 (14dB) or 1 (0dB)
Topology: Coherence™: tube voltage gain with convolved bipolar current mode inverter and discrete bipolar class A driver and Class AB output stage
Protection: delayed start and fast shut-down with muting relay
Power Supply: wall wart with 24VAC and 6VAC outputs, regulated HV and LV rails for tube and bipolar components, 6V AC heater 
Power Consumption: 9W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 2.75”
Weight: 1 lb
 

So you like this Vali thing so much you now have a third generation?
Well, yeah, though depending on how you count it might be the fifth, because there was Vali and Vali 2 and Vali 2+ and Vali 2++. And yes, we know, that last name is really dumb. But we fixed that now with Vali 3.

What’s the big deal about Vali 3, then?
The big deal is the 100V on the plate of the tube. Tubes like voltage. They run better, with higher gain and more linearity, at higher voltages. That’s why it was a big deal when Vali 2 went to 60V from 45V, and it’s a much bigger deal that Vali 3 is now 100V.

Why is all this voltage important?
Again: Gain. Linearity. Performance. A lot of affordable tube amps run with 48V or 30V or 24V or even 12V, which really isn’t going to get the best out of the tube. 100V is serious. 100V is what Lyr 3 and Lyr+ use. It allows us to use some very interesting tubes, and use them well.

For all this talk about gain and linearity, the THD measurements seem about the same as the last Vali 2++. What’s up with that?
Yes. That’s because we chose to reduce the overall loop gain through additional degeneration, which resulted in similar measurements. But a lot of people think this new one sounds better.

Well, yeah, that’s a whole lot of hoo-ha. I prefer better measurements.
Cool. We have Magni and Midgard for that. Oh and Jotunheim.

So why do you bother making it, when you have amps that measure so much better?
Have you considered that maybe all great-measuring amps sound the same, and we’re all just looking for the right euphonic distortion?

Well, that’s crazy talk.
We agree. But here’s the thing: not all amps have to push the limits of our test equipment. And this one certainly doesn’t, not with distortion that’s 1,000-10,000x higher than Magni. In other words, yep, it measures like a typical tube amp. It even has typical tube amp type distortion—lots of second harmonic, with third and fourth falling off sharply afterwards. If you want, you can download the APx555 report on this amp, where all that is laid bare. You may also notice that, despite the high distortion, the noise floor of this amp is pretty darn low, so you’re getting that tube distortion without the hummmmmmmmmm that might make listening on sensitive headphones a pain in the rear end. And, given that, if you’re curious about tube sound, you might come to the conclusion this is a fun, inexpensive way to check it out. Or you could just decide you want an amp with great measurements. Both are cool as far as we’re concerned.

Is higher plate voltage the only difference in Vali 3?
There are a ton of small tweaks relating to optimizing performance for the higher gain, and a completely different layout with better signal path, and a totally new chassis that looks wayyy better and has much better ventilation so it runs a lot cooler…so yeah, a few more things.

Is this thing still safe?
Totally. In fact, it uses the same power supply. We achieved the higher rail through internal power supply redesign. Which remains 100% linear, by the way—no switchers in Vali 3. In addition, Vali 3 incorporates slow turn-on and fast turn-off to protect sensitive headphones from transients.

What about DC?
Vali 3 is a capacitor-coupled amp. No DC. Well, unless there’s an electrolytic capacitor backwards. In which case it would be caught by our 100% instrumented and 100% internal listening tests.

You listen to every one of these?
Yes.

Every $149 amp?
Yes. Also everything else, from $49 to $2799.

You guys are nuts!
Absolutely, most definitely. Thank you.

So is Vali 3 good for hard-to-drive headphones?
It’s got decent power. It may not be ideal, say, for Susvaras and stuff like that, which are super hard to drive. Beyond that, yep, it’s a great little tube amp that you can use with almost anything.

How about IEMs?
It’s quiet enough for many IEMs, in low gain.

Low impedance stuff is fine?
Yep, plenty of current for those.

And high impedance, 300, 600 ohms?
Yep, tons of voltage swing for those.

So do those preamp outputs mute when I plug my headphones in?
Yes, they do. 

You go on and on about how you can change to different tubes, but what if I don’t want to change tubes all the time?
You don’t need to change tubes at all. The stock 6N3P is a really nice, tested, sorted, ensured-its-really-matched tube from New Old Stock (those are really old, unused tubes, to be super specific). 

Why would I want to change tubes?
Some people love to experiment. If you’re one of them, you’ll be thrilled to know you can use a whole bunch of different tubes in Vali 3, including 6N3P, 5670, 2C51, CV4013, ECC42 and even the fabled WE396A . Pretty much any tube with a 2C51 pinout, 6V heater, and less than 600mA of heater current will work fine.

I’m new to tubes, how long do they last?
About 5,000 hours, give or take. Probably longer in Vali 3, since the tubes are run very conservatively. And…don’t panic. Humans lived for decades with only this electronic technology at their disposal. We even went into space and stuff with it.

I'm scared about tube availability.
No worries at all. 6N3P are especially easy to get, and very inexpensive. JAN 5670s are also readily available, plus they're the cool short tube size.

And when the tube goes bad?
You replace it. We sell single 6N3P tubes. Or you can get them much cheaper almost anywhere else. Or you can try one of those other tube types mentioned above.

What the heck is 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. They are just in different chassis and cost another $129 or $299. They’re called “Modi+” or “Modi Multibit 2." Stack either with Vali 3 for an amazingly capable system.