Elekit TU8600S impressions

I got the elekit TU8600S in with most all upgrades in (only thing missing is VCAP CUTF, has odam instead). Tubes are: COSSOR Black Plate 300B, Western Electric ECC83/B759, RCA 12AU7 X 2 (clear Top).

Intro
If I have to summarize the amp's sound with 1 word it would be captivating. I wanted to warm up HD800S and inject some musicality into it... the Elekit... well lets just say I am lifting my jaw off the floor after hearing it.

Setup
I had some issues initially with a bit of noise and static. I fixed this by doing 2 things. First I took the XLRs out of my denafrips terminator that were connected to my he9, second I added to the tube cage. After doing this the elekit is insanely quiet with a cosmic void like blackground. I honestly think it sounds as quiet as the he9 and possibly even quieter than my pass speaker amp.
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Tone
The first thing that hits you is this supremely musical tonality throughout the frequency band. Now I know what the word 'effortless' means. Everything flows in such an utterly liquid way its truly amazing. Especially on hd800S where at times it can just have too much bite or glare with certain music and now it sounds like its utterly relaxed and music just flows... but... it is somehow more detailed than my he9 ?!

Detail
The next shocking thing is the detail. I am getting low level microdetail I never even heard in tracks. Trailing edges you never heard before seem to go on so long and perfectly disappear into the blackground. Cymbals shimmer in the air and whispers become obvious in their seductive nuance. Female vocals sound utterly natural, real and I feel transported to the venue with the singer performing for me.
Sound stage
What also is amazing is the spatial + layering capability of elekit. The soundstage sounds bigger in all dimensions but there is real separation and layers to the music.. air around instruments... and imaging definition that I simply have not heard before in my headphones. Instruments and voices are clearly delineated that makes things very defined and placed yet it again is supremely musically cohesive. This adds to the sense of being truly immersed in the music which to me is my #1 quality that I look for in gear.

Dynamics
This thing slams like a truck! EDM sounds fast, detailed, incredible punchy and impactful. The first time I put on Harvey McKay - Hard to See (Original Mix) I wanted to immediately get up and start dancing (but i controlled myself since I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of my wife lol). Elekit sounds just as powerful and brings the bass like he9 does but i think with more bass detail, texture and spaciousness... its simply less compressed sounding. Its more open, reverb is better appreciated as is the entire room of the recording.
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Comparisons
I think the audio gd he9 is a great headphone amp. Its detailed, fast, big sounding but there is no comparison to elekit. Elekit is several tiers above. It does everything better. Detail, precision, 3d spaciousness while bringing a harmonic richness and flowing timbre that he9 just cannot even come close to. The sense of resolution married to a natural emotional sound has left me for the first time brought to tears by headphones. The only time this has ever happened to me before was listening to great speakers (including when i paired NS5000 with my pass labs amp). It has never previously happened with any headphones including (Susvara, TC, SR1a and all the head phones). This is a new stratosphere of performance that I've never even dreamed of.

Pairings
Everything I have sounds amazing on elekit. My favorite pairing so far is probably the hd800S... it just seems to love the tonal richness elekit adds. You get immense detail, speed, dynamic impact with a beautiful warmth that makes it SO EASY to listen to music... but you miss nothing compared to the HE9 and in fact there is significantly more detail. The legendary soundstage of the 800S is enhanced further.

HD650 has always been a headphone that I considered a more 'whatever youtube/gaming' headphone. It sounded fine with music but I didn't take it seriously. That changed with elekit. Detail is taken up 2 notches, again more of a big 3d soundstage... but with this combination you are utterly bathing in beautiful rich tonality... it sounds so natural and beautiful and once I put the headphone on my head... and listened for some period of time.. I said ok now its time to switch to HD800S or Atticus... but.. my hands would simply not move to the headphones to take them off my head. In fact they are still on my head as type this LOL.

ZMF Atticus is the supreme king of darkness. I love that headphone. When I directly compared it to abyss TC on my pass labs speaker amp I found it had more overall bass quantity, impact and slam to the point that abyss tc sounded bass light (and yes I had TC fit right.. and TC bass is still awesome for sure). Pairing with the elekit is fantastic. Again there is more detail, more space and even warmer tonality. Now here i think its possible the pass amp may be a bit better of pairing because i think its a brighter sound that balances the darkness of atticus better... but honestly.. its like drowning in dark chocolate and you just have a big dumb goofy smile on your face when you listen to it. The atticus is the most fun headphone I have ever heard in my life period and sounds just fantastic on the elekit. The thunderous bass is maintained... there is added detail, 3d space, richness in spades... again possibly a bit TOO dark but I honestly still love the pairing.

You may notice a lack of comparisons with my pass labs amp throughout my review. I only have 1 speaker tap cable which I am using on elekit so switching over to the pass amp is a bit hard. I will wait till i get another speaker tap cable from ted allen so the comparison is a bit easier but from memory elekit is AT LEAST at the same level as the pass speaker amp and possibly above... its just that good.

Summary
Wow. My first introduction to tubes. I was previously obsessed with SS and wanted to get TOTL planars. I have lost all interest in that right now. I just want to close my eyes and bathe in the beautiful harmonies that emanate from this incredible amp with my relatively humble dynamic headphones. I still cannot comprehend how an amp can sound this musical, rich but also incredibly detailed, fast with this much dynamic impact. I cannot recommend Elekit tu8600S more highly. A huge thanks to my bros in the SV discord for #1 getting me into tube world and to the elekit and helping me trouble shoot especially the genius Baseonmars and also Famish, Sina, driftingbunnies, Jsim, Lana, MShenay, Parker, Eaglewings, Audio noodle, dnceclectic, Xecuter, Tron, Fishcommander, voxkey, Aman, ho lee fuk, Jonah, Tommytakis, Vanilla hoon (if I missed someone so sorry thank you too).

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Comments

Fantastic write up! I’m on the October 2021 list to receive the 8600s and I’m fully confident that it will excel as the core of Omega speaker system. I also have high hopes for the 8600s as a headphone amp and particularly appreciate your attention in that area!

Have you compared the headphone output to the speaker taps? I’m on the fence as to buy/build a speaker tap cable/converter. I use Sennheiser HD800 and HEDDphone. I haven’t found specs on the headphone output at its various settings so I’m wondering if the headphone output would suffice for the HEDDphone?
 
Fantastic write up! I’m on the October 2021 list to receive the 8600s and I’m fully confident that it will excel as the core of Omega speaker system. I also have high hopes for the 8600s as a headphone amp and particularly appreciate your attention in that area!

Have you compared the headphone output to the speaker taps? I’m on the fence as to buy/build a speaker tap cable/converter. I use Sennheiser HD800 and HEDDphone. I haven’t found specs on the headphone output at its various settings so I’m wondering if the headphone output would suffice for the HEDDphone?
Not yet but I have bought an XLR to SE adapter and when I get it I'll have a listen. Great choice on the elekit its truly amazing!

Not sure if it will drive the heddphone well, maybe ask in the discord? I am guessing should be fine as its fairly powerful.
 
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