Baby Steps back to Tubes.

I have been thinking of doing this for a while now so I descided to go back to tubes gradually. I just bought a cary sl98p . I would like some recommendations for solid state amps that work well with this pre. For speakers I have NHT 3.3's so obviously, well to me anyway I would require at least 150 watts a side preferably more and high current. I am using a Musical Fidelity Tri Vista 300 integrated now and listen to more vynil than cd,s and have a Graham slee Reflex era gold for the phono end of it with a Michel Gyro SE mk II , Rega Exact II MM . Digital is an Esoteric DV 50S .I Primarily listen to rock and blues mostly 60's and 70's era.The room is 15 by 27 with 9 ft ceilings. I got away from tubes back in the late seventies when I first got married and now single and happy again thought I would give it a try again (the tubes that is!). Your experiences are much appreciated. Cheers!
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I would certainly consider an all tube power amp as opposed to a solid state amp. Tube amps that utilize the KT-88 type tube have a great sound. They have adequate power, control, bass and a liquid characteristic only found in tube amps. The tubes are also readily available and affordable. Remember that a tube watt will play (4) times as loud as a solid state watt. Of course there are other scientific reasons you might favor their sound quality.
As to power ratings, if the first watt is not any good, how many more of them would you want. I would even go so far as to recommend a SET amp that uses a 6550 or KT88 tube. If it uses (2) tubes per channel (like a parallel SET) it would still have adequate power for most speakers.
Recently, there was a Master Sound integrated amp like this made in Italy for only 1500 on Audiogon. (I realize that you have the Cary pre) Even push pull amplifiers with this tube type will wipe the floor with solid state amps in my opinion. Just do an audition some time and go with what your ears like best.
I have sold Hi fi for 26 years and have experienced both solid state and tube technologies and personally like the tube amps better. Thanks for listening and best regards.
Remember that a tube watt will play (4) times as loud as a solid state watt.

Hadn't heard that quantitative comparison before.
"Remember that a tube watt will play (4) times as loud as a solid state watt."

Gee, and all along I thought that P=EI, where P is power, I is current, and E is voltage. I guess we need to rewrite basic physics in light of this discovery....
So- He should have said something like, "a tube amp WILL GENERALLY SOUND louder than a SS state amp of the same wattage." Some things are difficult to quantify, but- still facts!
>>08-11-09: Cine100
Remember that a tube watt will play (4) times as loud as a solid state watt.<<

Please explain watt you just wrote.

I'm ohmfamiliar with this concept.

Thanks in advance.

Just how much are you looking to throw at an SS amp, BTW?

Mono blocks? Stereo?

I'd think a natural mate would be the Cary 501s.

Does that pre go out xlr and rca?

on a budget, you could do worse than an odyssey Extreme, or for less, the Stratos Plus.

For the $$, and with your pre, I think you'll be suprised!

A BAT vk500 would be nice after that... BAT pack preffered of course.

Pass too might give you as much bass.

those 402 Mcintosh' amps sound pretty good and keep their value... but they're pretty hefty.

for that matter the Krell FPB 200 has great botom end and is very neutral. your preamp will definitely have an influence.

I enjoy your musical tastes, and would mention the Dodd MK II or even the ones out now, depending on how much is in the till for this adventure... with the cap upgrade, blues, R&B, complicated jazz, etc, should sound great! BTW, the 120 wpc MK II do seem to have a bit more on tap than does the Odyssey Stratos Plus at reportedly 180wpc...; or it sure seems that way.... it isn't 4 to 1 though.

if you want to stradle the fence some, try auditioning the Butler 2250. outstanding imaging and quite natural sounding. Plenty of that PRAT business too. Very nice IMO.
A little FYI regarding the perceived loudness(some cite 12db) advantage of tubes over SS: click on, "Basics of Tube Amps for First Timers": ( and read the last two subjects("SIGNIFICANCE OF MUSICAL HARMONICS" and "RELATIONSHIP OF FACTORS AND FINDINGS") covered in this JAES treatise: (
Go with a solid state amp with the NHT’s.

Any speaker with an impedance curve that varies a lot across its frequency range is generally not a good match for a tube amp.
If there's any way you can swing it, get a Cary CAD120s tube amp. It has 4-6SN7's and 8-KT88's. I traded a V12R for it and it's hooked to a SLP98P. The amp runs a lot cooler and sounds fantastic. If you can afford it, you will not be unhappy. Good luck.

...just a passing thought...

I have heard NHT 3.3's with Pass gear and it was wonderful; vice-like grip on the bass, totally veil-free mids and extended highs, without too much 'bite'.
Great reading provided by the link given by Rodman99999. As the amp question, should you go with tubes get one that has some power, which may in turn cost a pretty penny. If SS, get one with some real guts in the lower end. Having had a pair of NHT 2.9's, they do indeed thrive of power. Good hunting and good luck to you.
I understand what cine100 was trying to say and without getting away from my initial reason for the post I realise that tube watts do seem to have the perception of playing louder. Thanks Rodman9999 for the link. Some very good reading and info for sure. Because at this point (now anyway) I would like to keep the NHT 3.3's in my system and for the very reason that Pauly made of the variation of the impedance of the NHT's and the 87 db sensitivity I thought for these speakers anyway solid state would be an "easier" match other than an expensive more powerful tube amp(s).Thinking in the 2 to 3 thousand used or new region max, less if there are some good amps out there I,m not aware of. Cheers
Some things to consider: ( (
Has2be. No amount of tube "power" will ever make up for big variances in impedance curve. If you want to use tubes you must have a tube friendly speaker.

On an over, over simplified level:

A transistor amp’s output goes up as the impedance drops i.e 100wpc into 8 ohm, 200wpc into 4ohm, 400wpc into 2ohm etc. etc. Obviously as the speaker impedance goes up, the output goes down. So speaker manufacturers will make certain that when their speaker’s impedance drops, the speaker is less efficient, and more efficient where the impedance is higher. That way the speaker’s output remains constant across the frequency range.

Tube amps do not react like transistor amps. Their output does not double when the impedance halves; in fact some of my amps put out more as the impedance goes up! And they lose the plot totally when the impedance drops too low.

So can you imagine the frequency response you get when you play a tube amp on a speaker voiced for a transistor amp? Not nice ...
Thanks Rodman9999, thats exactly the type of options I would like to know about . Not nessacarily the well known but some of the descent not so known brands.Thanks! Keep em comin! Pauly, I fully agree with you on tube friendly speakers and the importance of it when using tube amps. I like the NHT 3.3's and they are by no means tube friendly by any stretch of the imagination. Thats why I thought a good ss state or maybe a hybrid would be best for my system. I know if I went for an all out tube amp I would then be looking for speakers . Thats what I,m trying to avoid for now, till I can afford to make more changes. If I had the money the Reference 3A Grand Veena with 30-40 quality tube watts/ch would make me very happy !
Has2be, is your question then what 30-60 watt tube amps do we recommend? Pauly, of course is right about that speaker with tubes. So are you just looking for tube amp recommendations of certain wattage and our price points? Seems you are already decided that tube amps with tube friendly speakers is the way you want to go. Another tube friendly speaker to consider would the Merlin VSMs when you are ready to make a speaker change. If sticking with SS, you can hardly do better than something from PASS with enough power for your NHTs.
No that was not my question. It was a statement or more a wish to happen quicker. The question is the one asked at the start of the thread! Eventually down the road I may like to go tube amp and change speakers. But not right now. Thanks , have been eyeing the pass labs and have heard the X250.5 at the fellows house I bought the Esoteric DV50S from. Impressive. Cheers
Sorry, misread your question. Then yes, hard to beat a Pass X series for driving a speaker like yours (the XA.5 series might be better a yet, but a lot more $$$ for the watts). Another SS brand to consider is Ayre or Symphonic Line (German), if you get a chance to audition.
Consider also the Odyssey Line, Symphonic's "little brother". Many of the same parts as Symphonic. Huge bang for the buck. Their Stratos or Khartago amps can be had for ~$1k and up. Buy direct with a 30 day no questions, no re-stock fee policy. Or buy used for less here. Interesting write up about the Khartago in this month's Absolute Sound.
$3500 will buy a used Moscode 401HR hybrid amp. In my system, the Moscode drove Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE very, very well. The VR4 Gen III HSE speakers had a pretty diverse impedance curve dipping down to about 3.5 ohms. Therefore, I would think the Moscode would drive your NHT 3.3 quite well.

The 401HR allows tailoring of its sound through rolling small signal tubes. It's a terrific sounding, fun amplifier that's worth investigating.

However, if you're seriously contemplating making a speaker change, then I wouldn't make an amp change until you make the speaker change because you could find yourself reworking your amp choice yet again.
Thanks Guys for all the good ideas and products to do some looking into. Tvad, good advice on the speaker part and possibly reworking the amp yet again. I,m trying to avoid that and I will look into the Moscode. Thanks again guys! Cheers