Calling all SET fans

What is the least expensive, aka cheapest speaker available
that will do a decent job on classical chamber music on 3-8
watts ?
Do you still have the Triangle Titus?

I've always thought these would do quite well with a set for a lot of music including chamber for not much.b. I would give mine a shot before looking elsewhere.
What is your idea of cheap? The Charney Audio Maestro wit do chamber great at $6500.00
Brownsfan is deeply devoted to classical music as you are. He's very happy with the Coincident Triumph Extreme II with an eight watt amplifier. I trust his taste and discrimination. For less money many people seem to be happy with the Tekton Lores.
Anyone seriously interested in very high efficiency speakers, I would encourage to invest in a modest box modeling program. I see a lot of claims made by manufacturers for bass extension and efficiency that are physically not possible in the size box they are using, unless they make some very optimistic assumptions about boundary reinforcement and/or the contribution of the reverberant field. If you don't believe me, look at Stereophile's measurements of speakers that claim efficiency in the mid-90's or above. Very few come close to delivering on their claims.

Eminence Designer is $79 from Parts Express, and would allow you to make educated evaluations of the claims manufacturers make. This is an easy-to-use and powerful tool, and after a while your own internal "BS detector" will be calibrated well enough that you can just look at a claim and know whether or not it's overly optimistic.

At the very least, something like this would allow you to make valid apples-to-apples comparisons between manufacturers who measure with different yardsticks.


As Charles indicated I really love my Coincident Triumph Extreme IIs. However, at 4K including stands, they are not exactly budget monitors, and at that price, they should deliver the goods (and they do). I will never sell my TEIIs.

Mikirob swears by the Tekton value proposition. He hears as I hear, so if I were looking for something inexpensive, I would start there.

Don't know what amp you have or are considering, but the Coincident dynamo is wonderful at $1250. It is an EL34 based amp running single ended, and has a volume pot so you don't need a preamp if you are using a single source.
Map. yes I still have my Titus202 but I can't see 3 watts doing much for them, but I'll try my 8 watt EE 6Bm8 integrated and see how that goes .
To me cheap is no more than 1 K. I'm aware that Victories
are great , but as I won't be around in 5 years and have nobody to give them to IMO the Save the Child fund or Doctors without Borders should get that much money .

I was always under the impression that Tektons were rockers and there are things I don't like there .

Audiokeninsis, a most excellent post .I came to the same conclusions many years ago and my BS effciency detector is already highly developed, but I could not express it as well as you have .

Fan, thanks for the clue on the Coincident Dynamo. I have
some Mullard, Siemens and Phillips EL34s hanging around
that could use the exercise , good luck with Johnny
Football today .

Thank you , one and all !
You may want to reconsider your impression of the Tekton Lore. According to Mikirob that speaker is more than just a mere rock speaker and according to his listening impressions does justice to a variety of genres of music. Just a thought.
Schu in that Titus is somewhat efficient and does not do much bass below 60 hertz or so a few good watts should go relatively far with chamber music in particular. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out. I have visions of a set amp someday myself starting with the Titus and seeing how it goes. I would expect some good things to be heard.
Hi Schubert,

Imo the requirements of under $1K, low-power SET friendly, and sounds good on chamber music are unlikely to be met by a new speaker.

I suggest Altec Model 14, Model 15, or Model 19. Imo that series of speakers was arguably revolutionary and quite under-appreciated at the time. Right now there's a pair of Model 15's on e-bay for $950.

I see a nice pr of ZU Omen came on today at $85O that the guy was using a 2.5 watt EL34 set with. Any thoughts?I have a ton of ZU wire including their best Event SC. IC and digital cable all of which are very good. Plus ZU is good to work with.

Charles, I had a buddy who had issues with Tekton .
Map. be a week or two till I get around to it, will PM you.
Have Fritz make you a pair of Fostex single-driver speakers. I have a pair kicking around the house and I prefer the 4" driver to the 6". You wouldn't think it would be better, but it is. I used to listen to them quite a bit when I had my Opera standmounts, but I don't bother anymore. I don't know where you live, but I live in the JFK airport area and you're free to borrow them if you like.
Chayro, thanks very much ! I live in St.Paul though so its a bit far .
I had a pair of single driver Omegas with 4" Fostex, a bit
shouty in upper-mids for my taste .
If your friend had issues with the Tekton I can understand your hesitance reservations. Mikirob, Brownsfan and I have very similar taste, so when one of them is enthusiastic about a product it gets my attention. There's a very long thread comparing Zu Omen and Tekton in the audiogon archives.
Best of sucess to you in your search.
Never heard these speakers but the Birch Acoustics Sparrow on AudiogoN MIGHT fit the bill ... 4" full range driver in a a laminated birch cabinet. Very attractive build (IMHO) and a nice price ($380). Claimed 87db efficiency but no crossover so should be an easy drive. Hopefully someone who has heard them will chime in!
Schubert - when you had your Omegas, were you using a low-powered SET amp to drive them? IMO, that's what the single-driver thing is really about. I remember a friend's system with Zu speakers - I was not very impressed when driven by the big 60-watt Cary monoblocks, but the magic happened when we hooked up the 2-watt Yamamoto. Really not enough power for the Zu's, but you could definitely hear the beauty come through.
I used various amps I had at the time ,smallest was a low powered bottleneck I borrowed to use with my

bottleneck pre, I think it was about 5 watts but no set of course.
But I've heard the 4 " Fostex many times in many systems, the upper mids are just plain rough ,at least the way my ears work. They can be overall OK, but the hemp drivers Omega uses
now are far better .
I've never hears a real SET rig, as least as far as I can remember .

Smallest amp I used was a bottleneck , I had a bottleneck pre at the time . I think it was about 5 watts but no set of course.
But I've heard the 4 " Fostex many times in many systems, the upper mids are just plain rough ,at least the way my ears work. They can be overall OK, but the hemp drivers Omega uses
now are far better .
I've never hears a real SET rig, as least as far as I can remember .
I'm leaning to have Sean at ZU make me a used Omen for classical on that $999 "Dirty" deal they have on their website . Not least because the ZU Event wire I have is VERY good . And I enjoy the placement fuss the Omens seem to require .
A few watts shows its limitations most with lower frequencies. Either the speakers have to make up for the lack of muscle needed to produce quality bass by being very large and if also good quality very expensive, or else you have to punt on the bass to some extent with the speakers depending on your needs. You can have 2 or three bass, efficiency, or small size but not all three.

I heard large more expensive and "efficient" Zus off a set amp at a show a few years back. Sounded very good for smaller scale classical works but not for works requiring more power and muscle in the delivery. The Zu guy admitted the SET was underpowered for all kinds of music. He chose his demos carefully to play well within the limitations until I asked for something more challenging.

I think my little Titus speakers could have done equally well as the Zus (Essence I believe) with the music demoed. If they had used a more suitable powered amp then I think the results may have justified the cost of those Zus. The demo was clearly put together to convince people the Zus were suitable for use with a SET amp but they were definitely quite limited depending with the SET.

So I take all adverts regarding teh capabilities of "high efficeincy" speakers off a few watts of power with grains of salt. Maybe in some cases.

The only demo I have ever heard where a flea powered set performed top notch with all kinds of music involved very high efficiency, large and expensive custom Goto horns. I suspect other very high efficiency horns like Avantegarde can do the job as well. But I doubt any speakers are efficient enough to truly perform top tier off a few watts in lieu of being highly horn loaded to gain the efficiency needed. Even then large bass units are required to fill in the low end.

So I think one just has to be realistic about the limitations. For smaller rooms, lower volumes, and music forms where lower octaves do not mean much, you are golden with smaller high quality moderate efficiency speakers in many cases, but the ante increases exponentially from there.
Thanks Map, great post !
Having said all that, being one who is always ont eh lookout for something a little different, I greatly look forward to testing the SET amp waters myself someday soon starting with modest expectations 9and my triangle Titus speakers if I still have them)and seeing where things might go from there.
Also with a good quality powered sub or two set up just right, almost anything is possible otherwise. So there is always that very practical option available to help pick up the slack whenever needed.
In that one cannot have all three of bass, efficiency and small size in a speaker its a useful exercise to rate a hifi speaker in each of these categories.

Being conservative on a scale of 1-10 for my Triangle Titus XS:

bass - 6
efficiency - 7
small size - 9

I also have Realistic Minimus 7s that I think could work well within their limits off a SET amp

bass - 4
efficiency - 5
small size - 10

Dynaudio Contour 1.3 mkII

bass - 7
efficiency - 4
small size - 8

OHM 100 Series 3

bass - 8
efficiency - 6
small size - 6

Adding good powered sub set up well to the mix eliminates the limitations in most all cases.
Brownsfan, Charles, Schubert,
Coincident is coming out soon with the Dynamo Mark II. Larger/better trannies, plus Blume is switching to 5AR4 rectifier...I really don't get some of the comments about Tekton. Every reviewer that has reviewed them gives them extremely enthusiastic high praise. I bought mine prior to any review, and must concur. Tim Smith, 6moons likes them better overall than his Harbeth 7. Most other reviewers have compared the Tekton to speakers that cost three or four times more. Usually like Tekton more, or tie. How can you go wrong at $799 for the Lore Reference for low power at 96db, 8 Ohm nominal, bass to 37hz for less than $1,000? They kill the Zu Omen (much more expensive). The Stereo times Reviewer favorably compared the Lore Reference to DeVore 0/96, a small amount of hyperbole? Yes, but only by a couple of smidgen. Their are other reviews that make similar statement. All I know is that top to bottom I really enjoy them. I listen to my brother's Harbeth HL5 ($6,500) frequently and between them, to me, it's in the ear of the beholder. I know the Tekton Lore/M-lore are better in my room with head-to-head competition to the DeCapo with either my Coincident Dynamo or Cary V12/SLP98 combo. If I lived near Brownsfan it would be interesting to compare side by side to Coincident Triumpth. I suspect the Triumpth would Triumpth, but by how much? For $650-$1,000 I do not think you can do better. Best, Rob
I listen mostly to Jazz, Classical of any type, Folk, Rock, Pop, hey, I'm a music lover, the Tekton plays them all extremely well. What do you expect to get for $1,000? And how expensive is real bass? The low-E on an electric bass is about 40hz, the tekton I'm talking about Lore, 30hz, 98db, 8 Ohm nominal, or Lore M, 38 hz. Reference 37hz, where else you getting that for these dollars? You get 95% or more of the costly stuff. The rest, treble, mids very good. My bias is I am a "timbral" listener. Tone, texture, timbral rightness; with the right ancillary equipment these are fabulous performers. Best, Rob
I've never heard the Tektons but for chamber music, which implies less dynamic range than full orchestral pieces, I think the Ref 3a monitors deserve a serious look. With no real "crossover", they put most of the wattage to work. I would also look at Coincident monitors.
Oh, also the Omega line.
Gang, my question now just boils down to the amp.
The Dynamo looks like a winner and I have NOS Mullard 5U4G and 5ARF on hand but the EL 34's have on hand are pull-outs from old Dynaco 70"s and the Russian "reissues" may be great and all by MY ears just don't believe it.
I have heard the Almarro A205 quite a bit and was very impressed , plus I know from many back in the day trials my ears much prefer EL84's to EL34's , and I have NOS prima EL84's on hand but will the extra 2 watts of the Dynamo make a diff ?
Thanks Swamp, I have access to some Omega 3xr with the hemp drivers ,I 'll try those before I buy any other speakers .
And, unless I am mistaken, Tekton has a generous in-home trial period.
YW, Schubert. Two watts normally would make no discernible difference but that's a 33% increase, so maybe so. IIRC, Atmasphere has pointed out that very important to get adequate power w an SET amp because because their distortion rises very rapidly as power output goes up. I have no independent knowledge of these kind of technical issues, so if I'm not remembering correctly, my apologies.

A few thoughts based on some of the recent posts. First, with respect to the Ref 3A deCapos, I found them to be a bit slow in the low frequencies when driven by the dynamo. I think they need more that 8WPC. Second, it might be worth waiting to see what gives with the Dynamo MK II that Mikirob mentioned. If it is a substantial improvement, it might be worth the wait, if only for the used MK 1's To hit the market. I'm using the Psvane Philips reissues, which are pretty good tubes but with some reliability issues. I bought a quad, and got two usable tubes (which is all I needed) plus a refund on the two duds. I'd try to snatch a pair of nos mullards before they are all gone.
The extra 2 watts may or may not make a difference, depending on which speaker you choose.
Thanks , Fan . As I remember when brand new Mullard EL 34 were 20 bucks a quad it would would be impossible for me to spend 600 bucks for a pair for if my net worth was 20 million .
As I recall when I bought the new quad of Mullard EL84 I have 20 years ago they were 30 bucks .
11-17-15: Swampwalker
YW, Schubert. Two watts normally would make no discernible difference but that's a 33% increase, so maybe so. IIRC, Atmasphere has pointed out that very important to get adequate power w an SET amp because because their distortion rises very rapidly as power output goes up. I have no independent knowledge of these kind of technical issues, so if I'm not remembering correctly, my apologies.
You're remembering correctly, Michael. Atmasphere has said in a number of past threads that to get the best sonic performance from a SET amplifier it should not be asked to supply more than a small fraction of its rated power (something like 25% if **I** am remembering correctly), because of the progressively increasing amounts of distortion SETs produce at increasing power levels (and the progressively smaller amounts of distortion they produce at decreasing power levels).

However, neither the Almarro A205A nor the Coincident Dynamo is a SET, as the EL34 and EL84 are not triodes. And based on their power ratings and on the schematic and comments shown in this review of the Almarro A205A MkII I'm pretty certain that neither amp is even operating those tubes in the so-called triode mode. Therefore I'm not certain of the degree to which Ralph's point might be applicable to those particular amplifiers.

Regarding the difference in power capability, the Almarro A205A MkII is rated by the manufacturer at 5 watts, with the review indicating 4.8 watts. The difference between 4.8W and the 8W rating of the Dynamo is 2.2 db, not a great deal but perhaps enough to be significant on some recordings. As we all know, though, specs commonly don't tell the whole story when it comes to subjectively perceived power capability, with distortion characteristics, power supply robustness, and other factors being involved.

The one other comment I would offer at this point is that the multiple mentions on the second page of the Almarro review of hum, buzz, and the need for a cheater plug would definitely give me pause. I say that in part because in the photos of the unit there and elsewhere, and also based on the schematic shown in the review, it appears to me that the ground shells of the RCA input jacks, and hence the circuit ground of the unit, are probably connected directly to the chassis (although I can't tell with total certainty). Which would inherently create a susceptibility to ground loop issues, that may or may not materialize depending on the grounding configuration and other characteristics of the component(s) it is connected to.

Best regards,
-- Al
I owned the Almarro 205, in fact sold it here on Audiogon. Nice little amp, but watts aside the Coincident blows it out of the water in every meaningful parameter. How come on Audiogon a poster says he/she wants to spend no more than a thousand bucks and folks start recommending multiple thousand dollar speakers? This happens over and over, pet peeve of mine. Best, Rob
The main improvement of the Dynamo MK II is bigger and better transformers. Israel Blume(Coincident owner/founder) believes transformer quality is a "crucial" factor for tube amplifiers. He feels this MK II is a notable upgrade. Based on my dealings with him, I wouldn't doubt this at all.
I suspect this is a very stout and robust 8 watt amplifier with appropriate speaker matching.
Al, if I'm reading you right it would seem one should go right to a 3-4 K 300B amp or just forget about it ?

Len, no, I was not implying that. My mention of the fact that the Almarro amp and the Dynamo are not SET (Single Ended Triode) amplifiers was to make the point that for them to perform at their sonic best, whatever that best may be, it **might** be LESS necessary to run them at a small fraction of their rated power than in the case of a true SET.

Best regards,
-- Al
Al, then what makes a SET amp sound better that my neat 8 watt Eastern Electric 6BM8 integrated ?
The 6BM8 combines a triode section and a pentode section in a single tube. The triode section is much more limited in power capability than the pentode section, so the triode section is normally used to drive the pentode section, which in turn provides the amp's output power. But the pentode section is itself very limited in power capability, such that to achieve 8 watts I believe the EE integrated must be using two of them in push-pull.

So as might be expected there are many variables that distinguish the EE integrated from a 300B or other comparably powered SET. One being single-ended operation of the power tube vs. what is probably push-pull operation in the EE. Single-ended operation avoids "crossover distortion," which affects the zero-crossing of the signal and therefore becomes increasingly significant at low power levels. Another being use of a triode power stage in a 300B amp vs. a pentode power stage in the EE, with good triodes generally being considered to be more linear (at least when not pushed in terms of power delivery). Another being that the 300B, as well as the lower powered 2A3 and 45 tubes, being especially well regarded for their sonics in comparison to most other triodes. Another being that since the 300B, 2A3, and 45 tubes are relatively expensive, they tend to be used in amp designs that are less constrained by cost considerations than amps that would be designed around less expensive tubes.

So as might be expected many factors are involved, undoubtedly including others that I haven't thought of.

Best regards,
-- Al
Al, you know the EE uses 4 6BM8, 2 a side ?
Thanks for the lesson , I really appreciate it .
I was just reading about the cool EE amp. It uses one of the triode sections for the input gain stage which then goes to the other triode section of the other tube to split the phase of the signal. The signal is then recombined in typical push pull fashion in the pentode sections of each tube. At least that's how I think I am reading it.

This phase splitting is the most crucial part of a push pull amp and if not done perfectly can diminish the sound quality of a push pull amp. i think in one of Shindos amps they split phase with an interstage tranny. Al might be able to better comment on the strengths and weaknesses of plitting phase with a tranny vs tube. Jet
Thanks, Jet. Yes, implementation of the phase splitter in a push-pull amp is certainly a critical aspect of the design. I can't offer any particular insight, though, regarding the tradeoffs between use of a transformer and use of a tube for that purpose.

I'd imagine, though, that as with many things in audio either approach can provide results that are either better or worse or similar to the other, depending on the specific implementation and the other aspects of the design.

Best regards,
-- Al
My understanding is use of one output tube versus multiple tubes that must be "integrated" well as discussed above is the inherent advantage of a SET.

The downside is the power limitation and the distortion that comes into play if the amp is pushed hard at all.

So its a very clean pure and simple circuit design that is the benefit but the "slack" must be picked up elsewhere, by the speakers which correspondingly have to be very efficient and a very easy load otherwise you cross into high distortion territory a lot faster than with other more "scaled up" designs.
Shu, I heard the Glow audio Single Ended Pentode design amp at a show a couple years back and thought the sound to be one of the best of show. Very nice product that will not break the bank!! I think think it was running with Audio Note speakers of some sort, or something similar, but not sure.

Some of the Decware amps have also caught my eye for just a bit more.

I think the speakers to be used and kinds of music to be played and how loud more than ever are perhaps the biggest considerations in determining what simple topology tube amp to choose. You can spend as much as one chooses on either amp or speakers depending. The work involved to deliver music realistically never changes, but there are many ways to skin that cat.
Schubert if you are going to listen to some Omega Speakers, try to make sure that they are using the RS5 driver. Compared to the older hemp, it's much warmer, has lower bass and just sounds better. The difference is not small.
Why not listen to DeVore 0/96 or 0/93? Maybe Rethm? Coincident Triumpth? Each several times, perhaps six or seven times your budget, but hey, maybe "you can s-t-r-e-t-c-h a bit". Rob
If building around a particular SET amp, its only gonna pay to hear speakers with the chosen amp more so than ever. What speakers sound like with other amps will not mean much.

Schu already has the Triangle Titus speakers to try with his current EE amp and then maybe with teh new SET that I think have a chance to work well. I would wait to hear that first before making any other moves regarding speakers.
As usual the genius of the one and only Mapman strikes again .
I'm listening right now to my Triangle Titus 202's, the cheapest speaker (600$) ever to be a Stereophile Class B , with my 8 watt EE Minimax integrated . They are fast as lighting and coherent as hell with a cap crossover at 6 K.
VERY realistic tone and staging , one of those hard to shut off jobs . At a rated 90db eff I never thought to use then with the little Minimax with Hitachi 6BM8's , but the presentation is flawless !

Smokes everything else I have on hand in my small condo,
Meadowlark Kestrel 2 and Eagle
Silverline Prelude
Totem Model 1 Sigs
Gallo CL-3
Rega R1

Wire is Morrow MA-5 and SP-4 biwire .
I have less than a grand into the speakers and amp and about $500 in wire .Wish I knew this 20 years ago, but I was too busy listening to music ,
Schubert, you made my day.

Glad to hear it seems to be working well. This may well accelerate my plunge towards a flea powered tube amp to use my Triangle Titus XS sooner rather than later.

Just goes to show to always take specs with a grain of salt. I see no reason why most any amp including SET would not do well with the Triangles. They are hard to beat in their price range as you describe and they have a reputation from users for sounding best with tube amps to start.