I have a Conrad Johnson 5600 5 channel amp. I'm running B&W 805's and a new Rotel 1066. I've been contemplating adding 2 additional channels to get 7.1. My thought was to possibly add a stereo tube amp as my front right and left and use the cj for the other channels. Any thoughts? I thought maybe that new Cary Rocket. Let me hear your thoughts.
It's your money. But, most of the experts I've had any confidence in have argued for "timbral matching". That is, the amplification and the speakers should be similar or identical. I've heard, in my own systems, what can happen when you mix and match. It's not pretty.
If it's for movies,,, I dont have an opinion, but for the music part of it, I have also been thinking about tubes for the two main channels..either in a preamp or amp. For music those two channels are (of course) primary and I think getting the best sound possible out of them, regardless of matching with the other channels, is of highest importance. So, music wise, it sounds like a good idea to me.
I use monoblock tube amps (VTL) for my two front channel and solid state (Anthem for rears and center & Bryston for sub) for the rest. Since all my speakers are matched (Snell), I find it works great . . . excellent 2-channel and seamless HT. I use an HT pass through on my pre (VTL).
On a budget I use 3 ASL Wave 8s for the front three channels ($119 each) and Adcoms for the other 4 in a 7.1 setup. My speakers are all Soliloquy and I like the results.
I have a Cary Rocket 88 for sale right now, and I would absolutely NOT recommend adding tubes to a HT system.

Why? For one tubes go bad after a certain amount of use and that use in amps is about 1/10th the time tubes tend to last in tube preamps.

But aside from this tube question, I have done a lot of experiementation in the past with different amplification driving rear channels. My conclusion is that it really does not matter A LOT as to what quality of amp one uses to drive rear channels. Rear channels are not recorded well at all (compared to say 2 channel recordings). A lot of the stuff that goes on in the rears is echo and background noise. I could safely say that I could not tell the difference between a 100wpc Sony amp driving my rears (a few years ago) and Monarchy SE100 deluxe monoblocks driving my rears.

Now if you had a precise HT setup in a large room... well that may be a different story. You might need serious power driving the rears (and I would not choose the Rocket 88, it is a darn fine 2 channel tube amp, but at 40wpc max it does not drive 90db speakers terribly loud well).

I run 7.0 channel sound now with a receiver driving all the channels except the L & R front channel (run through the two channel system). The sound is very good. About the only thing I would upgrade is center channel amplification. Center amplification does matter a lot, and this is an area that my system is lacking.


OOPSE I just discovered I misread your post... You want to add a tube amp for your L/R channels. I would not recommend it due to the tubes burning out issue. I would go with something a bit more powerful and solid state. Lots of SS options out there, depnds on how much you want to spend.

I went with tubes for the LR and I'm pretty happy with the results. The center and surrounds are solid state (and also VASTLY less expensive), although I may consider upgrading the center channel amplifier.

If you get into 5-ch music, you may decide this isn't the optimum setup - however, I have little 5-ch music and the vast majority if my time is spent with 1) 2-ch music, 2) stereo TV, and 3) 5-ch movies.