Most of the modern tech DACs are SS so if you wish to have multi-format capabilities, USB input or multiple digital inputs I'd recommend Mytek 192(can be used as digital preamp as well) or Antelope Zodiac. Both of them are available at major pro audio retailers such as sweetwater, vintageking. You will not find any better accuracy and precision in tube audiophile market.
Tube DACs are just the same as SS that normally have an inverting tube output stage to color the sound with tubes that you don't realy need since you already have MC275.
Marakanetz, thanks for that informed response. Add the Voltikus power supply to the Antelope Zodiac Silver?
ok last question. How do I get more base out of this? I know the Voltikus power supply will help but do I need to look at another MC275 and run as mono blocks and or add a sub? thanks again.....
by the way the system is up and running now without the Antelope; running CD's for now. Sounds Great! Wife wants more base.
A sub or even two.
I'd plug 2x Vandersteen 2wq. It's inexpensive and very precise sub ever made. I consider that the best value sub.
You also can get tube-friendly floor-standers instead of your monitors, but bass will not be any deeper than with sub.
thats a great base suggestion. I like the 3 speaker design for responsiveness. I will look at adding 2 Vandersteen 2wq, the Antelope Silver with Voltikus very soon. Following that i will eventually add a 2nd MC275 and I will let you know how it works.
by the way the Usher Mini Dancers are floor standing speakers they are not the monitors. Never the less the mid and high tones are outstanding.
Thanks again for all your informed recommendations.
I also have an MC275 and a sub. Rel Storm III in my case. Speakers are B&W 804S. Sounds great to me.
Lately I've been focusing on improving my digital front end, but one aspect I have toyed for a while is relieving the MC275 from reproducing low frequencies. Even if your speakers can't get that low, your amp is still bending head over backwards to reproduce the low end, which is consuming significant power and where tube amps are not best. So, introducing a crossover between the pre and amp and allowing the MC275 only to amplify say 100 Hz and up, while letting the sub amplify from 100 Hz and down looks interesting on paper. This is called biamplification and some people swear by it. I haven't tried it (yet), but thought I should bring this to your attention considering the options you are considering. Please note not all subs can reproduce 90-100 Hz well - my REL for example is not good above 60-65 Hz. Even though it's capable of doing higher fdrequencies, it doesn't sound good.
I hope this is useful.
Lewinskiih01, From reading on line the vandersteen 2wq provides the biamp option and crossover but i have to call them on the performance at 90Hz to 100Hz. I also want to understand what happens to the low freq roll off that is sent to the main speakers and want to understand the effects on the warmth of sound of the SS amp in the sub as compared to tube amp warmth; i suspect nothing at that range. I like how the Vandersteen does not feed the sub directly from the crossover to maintain the sonic signature. I am new too all this so I could be missing a lot of obvious so please excuse my many questions and constant questions.
in regards to the digital front end i have just become bit hungry; there seems to be never enough and the quality variation from CD to CD is amazingly sad. so for me its more bits, great DAC, and now starting to think about analog as in vinyl and tape.
thanks for the insight.
A visit to the McIntosh store here in Taipei provided the following suggestions for the "more base/low tones" request in my posts.
1. 2 MC275's as mono blocks if of the same vintage and tubes. (Is this enough wattage and responsive enough?)
2. 1 MC275 (vintage) for the mid and high range on both speakers and running 1 MC275 (new) for the low range on both speakers. (Is this enough wattage and responsive enough?)
3. 1 MC275 (vintage) for the mid and high range on both speakers and running 1 MC501 mono block for the low range on both speakers. (how is the sound effected with the SS MC501?)
4. Same as board suggested here (Vandersteen). Add base speaker with built in amp.
Toward the end of the visit i was getting the impression that they thought option number 3 was the solution and that 2 mc275's as mono blocks would not give me what I wanted; could have been the translation. Later this week I will visit again when the english staff is there and drag my vintage MC275 down and run some actual tests.
Certainly 2 MC275 are a good solution. However, think about the heat and the expense of buying/rolling/replacing that many tubes. Might not be an issue for you.
With 2 identical amps you could:
1. Operate each as monoblock and have them reproduce the full bandwidth to each speaker.
2. Have both amps operate as 2-channels, and have amp A feed mids/trebble from channel 1 and bass from channel 2. Same for other amp. Dividing the frequencies prior to the amps would still need to be dealt with.
3. Have both amps operate as 2-channel, but now have amp A drive hi/mids of left and right speakers and amp B drive bass on both speakers.
Keeep in mind the 501 are monoblocks, so they couldn't drive both speakers.
I'm personally inclined for tubes for hi/mids and SS for bass, provided a crosssover sits in front of them. Maybe a 501 is too much (power and expense). Maybe a 252 would do - depends on your speakers and budget, of course. This would be like my option 3, but with SS for bass. I don't know what advantage is there to have with ttubes for bass.
Certainly the speakers you have aren't easily 'digestable' by tube amp, but integrating them with sub can give you a possibility to keep tubes. If you aiming for more control, than certainly getting MC252 or MC352 will justify your goals(if we speak in terms of Mac)
Financially and logically adding 2x2Wq is a lot cheaper. Having MC275 is more like investment that will never lose the value just like gold so I would think forever before I would decide to sell this unit.
I have been greatly enjoying my system, which includes a tubed DAC. I run a late 2009 Mac Mini to a Lenehan Audio PDX Level 2 DAC to an MC 275 MKV out to Totem Acoustic Forest speakers. I have swapped out all of the stock tubes on the MC275 (12ax7s = late 1950s Bugle Boys, 12at7s = early 1960s military spec Mazdas and KT88 = Shuguang Treasure Tubes). I have not yet upgraded the tubes in the DAC (currently Gold Lion 6DJ8s), but understand that dropping in Amperex 7308s will make yet another big difference. The detail is tremendous, with female vocals and acoustic instruments, in particular, really shining. Very, very involving and emotional system. I'd strongly recommend trying out the PDX if you can find a way to do so. Good luck!
I understand Lenehan is a boutique shop out of Australia, with very limited distribution. Do you know if they distribute elsewhere? There was a forum member whose userid escapes me now, who has a PDX and kept speaking highly of it, but also mentioned the PDX was more like a work in progress than a finished product, so being close to the manufacturer was a big benefit (he was down the road from Lenehan).
BTW, I wasn't aware the PDX was meant to directly drive an amp.
It's true that Mike Lenehan has very limited (no?) distribution in the States. He has told me that his preference is to engage directly with audiophiles and rely on word of mouth rather than sink money into marketing. I have very much enjoyed the conversations on the phone and via email that I've had with Mike. He is very, very accessible and completely committed to helping you get the most out of his DAC.
If you happen to be in the Bay Area, I would be more than happy to work out a listening session.
Mike has designed the PDX to be an upgradeable platform, so in that sense, yes, it is a work in progress. I found this to be a plus, but perhaps others won't see it that way.
The PDX can drive an amp directly; that was a key requirement for me. The analog volume control is optional, so buyer's choice on whether or not you'd like to employ it as a pre-amp. I'm using unbalanced Harmonic Technology Pro Silway MKIIs, at the moment. I've tried Mike's RibbonTek interconnects, but could not discern a difference between them and the Pro Silways.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Here is a short update and summary in regards to DAC question and More Base Question:
1. I have learned a lot about the content and variation of the recording quality since I original posted and have to say with the right quality recording the base of the MD2"s is very nice. But I would agree more power would bring more out.
2. Since posting i have had a chance to listen to newer versions of the MC275 and there is as expected a big difference in performance when compared to the vintage MC275 so much that the new MC275 is not acceptable in my opinion and not an option for vertical bi-amp pairing with the vintage MC275. The new MC275 was bright, fast response, but missing detail and in fact in some content specific instruments just dropped off especially in the mid range.
3. Since posting I have added a vintage McIntosh C22 Preamp with Telefunken tubes. The pairing of the MC275 with the C22 is nice; more warmth, more base, more detail and extension of the sound stage.
4. Since posting I demoed an Antelope DAC...more on this later. Seemed flat, way to bright which could have been the SS amp running it and no I dont remember the amp or system but I did not prefer it. I will have to run the Antelope on my system.
5. Vertical bi-amping with SS on the low end will cause problems with the response time/ rise and fall mismatch between amps. I have not tried it but can tell it will be a problem so that is out
6. Added a Music Hall MMF 5.1 turntable but looking for a vintage Thorens. Again learning about the quality of the recording and the many variations. Leonard Cohen is a kick.
7. Ultimately I believe I will add a second vintage MC275 for the additional power, a back up system and more base even though I am starting to be happy with what I have now; C22 made a nice impact, content getting better, and speakers starting to break in. In fact they system is down right impressive.
8. Purchased 4 match KT88 Genelex Gold Lion Tubes mfg in Russia. The mfg states they are mfg to the exact design of the original Genelex tubes and that they are licensed to do so. The tubes look identical to the originals and the electrical tests were spot on. I am not however able to check the materials; I have to think there is a variation based on environment regulations. As for the sound quality they only have 50 hours on them and they sound brighter than the originals and maybe not as clear or detailed. At a cost of $50 a tube vs. $350 its worth further exploration; I think they could use a 1000hr burn in then see how they sound.
9. Cables are next to review but I am hearing I should be moving to silver coated copper cables for the turntable and the pre-amp to amp.
10. I apologize for the variation in information that is furthermore not related to the original post. I will see about breaking it up to more appropriate sections of the forum. Thanks for all the input.
Thanks and yes I do get the Bay area just about each month and will try and arrange to hear this DAC you are recommending.