Schiit Vali 2 Tube Hybrid Headphone Amp and Preamp Review

Instead of choosing between a tube amp and a solid-state amp, how about you get the best of both worlds?

It’s possible. Schiit produced the Schiit Vali 2 Tube Hybrid Headphone Amp and Preamp. It’s a mix between a tube amplifier and a solid-state one. 

This one will give you the rich sound quality of tube amplifiers without spending a fortune. It’ll also ensure the reliability of a solid-state amplifier.

Sure, it’s an entry-level amp, but with great quality, so let’s take a look at what makes it special. 

The Versatility

The amp is versatile in terms of having a tube that can be replaced.

There are so many things that we like about that tube. The first thing is the fact that it lets you experience a clearer signal. 

Normally, tube amps are expensive, but this one is actually affordable. Moreover, it has only one tube, so when it comes to replacing it, it won’t cost you a lot of money. 

Different types of tubes are compatible with it too, so you get to “roll” with whatever suits you. It supports any tube with a 6DJ8 pin-out, a 6V heater, and up to 600mA of heat current. For example, you can use it with 2492, 6DJ8, 6922, ECC88, or 6N23P. 

You only need to make sure that the tube you’re going to use has both triodes matched to avoid any issues while using.

The Sound

Among the things that make this amplifier stand out is the sound. It’s capable of producing rich, fine, and lively sound.

The signal-to-noise ratio is up to 100 dB, which allows you to listen to clear tracks with low background noise. 

It produces a transparent and warm sound as if it’s an all-tube amp. Besides, it works on low gain and high gain modes for better performance.

Another significant quality of the sound produced by this amp is how harmonic it is, due to the low levels of THD and IMD

The amp has total harmonic distortion below 0.03% and intermodulation distortion below 0.05%. You’ll be able to listen to all the instruments without any sense of noise or harsh sounds.

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Specifications 

  • Dimensions: 5 x 3.5 x 2.75 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db/5Hz-150KHz, -3dB
  • Tube’s lifespan: 5,000 hours
  • Power Consumption: 9W
  • Power Supply: wall-wart with 24VAC, 6VAC outputs
  • Tube voltage gain with convolved bipolar current-mode inverter and discrete bipolar class AB output stage

Pros

Besides all the benefits you get from the tube, the design of the Vali 2 is also something that we like, it’s tiny and compact so it fits anywhere.

This hybrid amp allows you to run on high voltage, up to 60V on the plate, which is more than you’d expect from an entry-level one.

It has the option to use preamp outputs, as well as switching between low and high gain modes for low-noise performance.

In addition to all that, it can be used with IEM, and with almost all types of headphones. 

Speaking of protection, it has a mute relay and a fast shut-down for protection. That will protect your ears since it basically means that the amp will mute for a couple of seconds when being turned on or off, to avoid the rush of current.

Also, it comes with a 2-year labor warranty and a 90-day tube warranty. 

Cons

The amplifier doesn’t come with any cables or adaptors, which means you’ll need to buy them yourself. It has only RCA inputs, but you can always buy a 3.5 mm to RCA adaptor to connect it with your PC or Ipad.

Another issue you might encounter is related to leaving the amp turned off for large periods of time. When you finally turn it on later, you may hear a loud pop sound. This means that the mute relay doesn’t function perfectly. Just try to keep your headphones away to avoid this.

The inputs only support analog, which means that in order to use any digital input, you’ll need a separate DAC. No need to worry though, Schiit has you covered with their Modi or Modi Multibit DAC that you can use with the Vali 2 to reach the DAC/Amp experience you’re looking for.

The amp is designed for headphones only, this means that it won’t work on large speakers. It can be used for desktop speakers, for example. 

Other than that, it functions pretty fine for an entry-level amp.

What Customer Reviews Say

Fellow audiophiles are really satisfied with this hybrid amp. Well, most of them are. On Amazon, 75% of the customers gave the amp 5 stars, while only 8% gave it a 1-star rating. Let’s see what they had to say.

They love the quality offered by this hybrid amp, and they say that they use it all the time as it functions nicely. Some say that it’s aesthetically pleasing and affordable. 

Another thing that customers like about this unit is its versatility; the fact that it’s compatible with different tubes makes it a suitable option for most of the users.

While some of the users don’t like the original tube’s sound, the fact that they can change it made this amp better for them. 

Some complained about hearing a popping sound when their laptop or cellphone is next to the amp. Others say that they didn’t like that it’s hybrid, stating that it’s neither a tube amp nor a solid-state one.

Conclusion

That being said, if you’re a hobbyist, or if you need a nice amplifier that provides a sonorous sound, then Schiit Vali 2 Tube Hybrid Headphone Amp and Preamp is the obvious choice.

It’s pretty affordable, it’s easy to use, and it’s versatile with the whole tube rolling option.

I’d recommend this amp if you’re taking your first steps and want to get a glimpse of how a tube amp sounds like. So get your favorite headphones and enjoy the music!

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