The DarkVoice 336SE OTL Amp Review
Every audiophile knows the importance of a powerful amplifier, and the DarkVoice 336SE definitely falls into that category. The 336SE is an output transformer-less (OTL) tube headphone amplifier. It’s mainly used as part of a hi-fi stereo system. This amp provides a powerful and clear sound without compromising on quality.
Let’s talk more about the features of this amp in our DarkVoice 336SE review.
The power switch has a basic on/off flip design. The volume knob is also fairly straightforward.
This amp doesn’t come with any filters or controls of any kind. So how do you alter the sound to your preference? You change the tubes.
There are two connection options on the 336SE. First, there’s an RCA input terminal at the rear part of the unit for both right and left channels. There’s also a 6.3mm stereo output jack in the front.
However, you won’t find any modern ports on this amp — neither optical input nor USB. It’s rather old-school in this aspect.
The 336SE is suitable for headphones with an impedance that ranges between 32 and 600 ohms.
An exceptionally unique feature of the DarkVoice 336SE is the ability to swap out the tubes. This feature allows you to fine-tune the amp’s sound signature.
It’s true that your headphones can control the fine details of your audio output. Yet, the 336SE manages to override these features to provide your headphones with a ‘warm’ default tone. This boosts the sound quality and makes it crisper and better detailed.
The built-in tubes on the 336SE provide a mid-frequency sound clarity to your music. At the same time, you can buy extra tubes to get the specific sound characteristic you’re going for. Few amps on the market provide such a convenient way to personalize your listening experience.
The 336SE comes with two tubes: 6N8P and 6N5P. The 6SN7 tubes would be a powerful upgrade that boosts the audio to give a more enhanced performance.
- Tubes included: 6N8P, 6N5P
- Rear RCA input terminal
- Front (1/4-inch) 6.3mm stereo jack output terminal
- Impedance: 32–600 ohms
- Signal-to-noise ratio: >100 dB
- Power handling capacity is 1 W
- The power supply is available in two versions: either 110V or 220 ~ 240V
- Frequency: 10Hz–20kHz
- Distortion: <2%
- Weight: 12 pounds
- Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 11 inches
Audiophiles will appreciate the fact that they can swap out tubes on the 336SE. This allows them to create a customized sound. Another impressive feature is its sturdy, metal build. Just by looking at it, you know you have a durable unit on your hands.
When it comes to performance, the 336SE gives your music a detailed and well-balanced quality. One of its best features is its ability to work with any setup — be it your headphones, computer, external speakers, you name it.
With this amp, you get a nice mix of classic vintage tube sound. Plus, the built-in tubes give a warm, mid-range effect to your music. It’s one reason why the 336SE is highly popular among audiophiles.
While the 336SE has some wonderful features, there are also a couple of drawbacks. For one, it weighs 12 pounds, which makes it heavier and less portable than other amps. Plus, it doesn’t feature a carrying handle.
Another problem is that it heats up after extended use. Also, the tubes get extremely hot after some time, so you have to be careful when handling them.
A second drawback is that it doesn’t have a USB port or optical input. While the ‘old-school’ vintage look is charming, the lack of a USB port and an optical input limits the amp’s functionality.
What Customer Reviews Say
As with many other products, some people love the sound of the DarkVoice 336SE, while others think it could be better.
For starters, consumers were impressed with the crisp and detailed sound quality. Some users waited several hours until they broke in the unit, while others didn’t even have to. They were also pleased with how easy it was to set up the unit.
One thing they all agreed on was the need to purchase replacement tubes along with this amp. While the amp gave incredible performances every time, the tubes are bound to wear out after some time.
Also, the tubes tend to become hot after extended sessions. This makes the entire unit heat up, which reduces its functionality.
Of the reviews, 64% of customers gave 5 stars, which may not sound good enough. However, the 1-star reviews are capped to 3% only, which is no mean feat.
DarkVoice 336SE vs. Little Dot MKII
Both the 336SE and the Little Dot MKII are headphone tube amplifiers. They’re two of the best-selling amps among audio enthusiasts.
These two tube amps give a ‘warm’ sound quality to your music. Having the ability to change the tubes gives you the freedom to alter the sound according to your preferences.
The Little Dot MKII is literally ‘little’ with a weight of 5.5 pounds, meaning that it weighs almost half the 336SE. This feature boosts its portability and ease-of-use.
On the back of the unit, you’ll find four RCA gold-plated ports: two for input and two for output. On the front, next to the volume knob, there’s a 6.3mm jack for your headphones. But just like the 336SE, the MKII doesn’t have any type of high-tech connectivity options.
Audiophiles will face no overheating problems with the MKII amp. It’s power-efficient and can be safely used for hours.
Unfortunately, the MKII isn’t as readily available on the market as the 336SE. Plus, it’s not eligible for shipping in some countries.
If you’re looking for a high-end tube amp that can be easily customized to your listening preferences, the DarkVoice 336SE should be a solid choice. It’s capable of combining both modern and vintage sounds in one system.
With this tube amp, you’ll get a clear and crisp performance in every song. It’s a unique experience every audiophile will surely enjoy to the max!