Methodology & Reservations
Even though other amps such as Darkvoice 3322 and Little Dot III can use the same driver tubes, it does not mean that the results obtained with those amps are automatically transpose-able on The Pan Am. Or the other way around. In several cases during my background research I stumbled upon “Tube Rolling Guides” for Little Dots/Darkvoices, and yes I can agree with several people and see correlations to some extent. However, I can’t and won’t promise anything other than what I hear when used in the Pan Am/Passport from an iDevice/CLAS out through HD800/LCD-3. I chose only using the HD800 and LCD-3’s since they are by far the most revealing headphones in my collection and they pair well with The Pan Am/Passport + iDevice/CLAS. LCD-3’s give a smooth and relaxed nuance, whilst HD800 are fantastic at analyzing all the micro-detail available. Yes, I know. They most certainly sound better from a Eddie Current Zana Deux or Cavalli Liquid Fire, etc. But I try to find the best possible transportable combination. That is most certainly the bottleneck for me, but hey, “life ain’t perfect and we can only strive to do the best possible with what is given to us”-ish. So which tube is the best for [insert other headphone than the previously mentioned]? Hopefully using the rating standards I’ve chosen, you could draw those conclusions for yourself. But you won’t know until you try it. And the best part? Even the pretty expensive ones don’t cost more than 30-40 USD a pair. So there’s room for “error” with your specific phone. If you wish. Otherwise I’ll offer 3 solid tips. 2 of them both very accessible and cheap. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
All tubes were burned in for a minimum of 24h’s before listening. A minimum of 20 hours has been spent with all pairs. Mixed playlists, but all have been through my playlist of 25 reference songs that I almost listen to every time I make a change in the equipment. See the end of the review for details. They are either (1) song’s that I like very much (thus know every detail by heart) and/or (2) very high quality recordings emphasizing bass/mids/treble, clarity; imaging; sound stage etc. And last but not least. No, I am not a fan of Rebecca Pidgeon – Spanish Harlem.
Note that I have not purchased all tubes possible, since I found the sound I was searching for. Enough is enough. Please note that this is not a guarantee that there aren’t some super-sweet ultra tubes hiding in somebody’s grandfather’s cellar waiting to be discovered. So if you’re on a spending spree. Go nuts. Maybe you’re the one to bring some light on hidden gems?
- 5 = I don’t think any better is possible from this little tube
- 4 = Very good
- 3 = Good/average
- 2 = Well… At least it’s there
- 1 = Horrible
- Sound stage – It’s size – depth, height and width
- Detail – Imaging, separation, speed and clarity in the sound stage
- Bass – A mix between the extension, quality and quantity in the lower end
- Mid range – A mix between the quality and quantity in the mid range
- Treble – The upper region, extension, quality and quantity in the upper end
- Other factors: If needed, whatever these may turn out to be.
- Total: The sum of the above
- Value: The above total score split by the median price (eBay-wise, from respected sellers) for a matched pair
- In short: Just summing everything up – the quickie – for the anxious non-speed reading dyslexics out there. 😉
Continued on Page 3, The challengers fighting for the prestigious title – The Best Pan Am-tube