Yes, tubes rock, look at the guitar amps many of the better players use and you'll figure it out. But you'll need beaucoup horsepower to do it with your speakers...and I do mean beaucoup.
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I agree with Carl. First of all, your room is pretty large. Second of all, your speakers are lower impedance. On top of that, they aren't SUPER efficient. You will need a very rugged tube amp with a lot of "guts" to do the job. I would also suggest something on the warm side of neutral if mating them with Thiele's. While some of the big VTL's might do it, the first amp that comes to mind would be the Mesa Baron. If your into rock and roll, you know what a Mesa / Boogie amp is. It's the same company, just a different point of view when making guitar vs. audiophile amps. Otherwise, i would look into a BIG, high current SS amp and possibly a tube preamp. From what i hear through the grapevine, the CTC modified Parasound HCA-3500 will supposedly stand toe to toe with ANY amplifier on the market. These run $5000, which includes the purchase of the amp. My source tells me that they have "embarrased" amps costing $40,000 in direct comparisons. If you've got the cash, i'm sure that they would be well worth checking into. Sean >
Of course tubes rock!!! Why else would they be in the serious rock 'n roll equipment? But, for Thiel 7's they are not a good match. Not unless you want to get a beast with 16, 24, or 32 output tubes(probably wouldn't have the right tone anyway, and you'll go broke feeding those dinosaurs during retube). Go with solid state for this speaker. One more thing, THE tube for rock is NOT the EL34/6CA7 or 6550/KT88/KT90. It is the 6L6/5881/KT66.
Yes tubes are able to Rock BUT.. As stated in previous posts the cost of a high power tube amp 100 wpc++ can get prohibative. The retube issue can also be costly. I also believe that the bass issue is in play as previously stated. My suggestion would be to check into a high current hybrid amp. Tube driver circuits with SS power. The cost and upkeep is greatly reduced in most instances and you can get plenty of power to drive your Thiels. Check out the Van Alstine 350hc or 550hc at Avahifi.com. Very worthy of your consideration.
Got me ALL riled up ! I think the el-34 is THE more definitive rock sound. A little 5881 vs el-34 comparison. I've only seen the 5881 used in the Mesa Baron high end amp which has an 'upgrade' to the el-34. My friend who owns one claims this is a much better sound. Anyway, I have heard/played direct comparisons of these tubes in guitar amps. The 5881 is the classic fender sound (Stevie Ray Vaughn (SRV), Buddy Guy) which is very clean with a beautiful sustained ringing echo tone. SRV playing 'Lenny' or 'Tin Pan Alley' is a great example of this sound. This sound is great for jazz and clean played blues. I use a fender deluxe w/these. The el-34 is the classic Marshall/British Rock sound (Hendricks, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, AC/DC, Beatles-Vox w/el84). It has more of a gutsy distorted crunchy character. Examples are: lead notes to On The Road Again (Metallica), the intro to Hells Bells (AC/DC), Whole Lotta Love(Zep), and All Along the Watchtower(Jimi). Those sound like rock (or at least a good argument for) to me
EL34(my favorite tube) is a polite, sweet, laid back, warm, euphonic tube. 6L6 is trashy, gutsy, punchy, and dirty. Which is exactly why you don't see it much in high end audio these days(Mesa Baron and Golden Tube used it). It would get trashed by many a reviewer(playing jazz, classical, folk, chamber, etc.). Maybe not the best for overall performance, but definitely is ROCK. I guess we are saying the same thing when you point out the EL34 is superior to the 6L6/5881 in the Baron(upgrade for audiophiles). We are 180 degrees apart in what we think about guitar amps. Play around with a Mesa Boogie(which I consider THE best non-exotic guitar amp made today). They come with 6L6 standard, but also accept EL34(so you can A/B them directly, unlike comparing different amps). If the amp with 6L6 isn't balls out rock, nothing is. Now switch over to EL34; you can sit right down and play some jazz, fusion, or any other "clean and mellow" sound, and nobody will even blink. Switching from 6L6 to EL34, the amp goes from the garage to the living room.
Been where you are at. The best amp that I would buy would be the manley's studio 440 or 550 they are used in the pro/studio enviroment with high output wattage. I have 4 Optmization Lab amps that were made for Boeing in the late 70's to test spl in jets. High output (250 w ea) with 6 el34 on each amp. I am seriously thinking about selling all my hi end stuff and going the pro studio powered monitors. I have 4 of the big tube amps, 1 burmester 250w 2 adcom 565 mb 300w ea 4 ml electrostat speakers and a pair of german physiks boarderland $$$ and still cant rock like a good club or bar band. I want to move alot of air and sock you in the gut feeling that I want. Never heard the Theil's are you happy with them and what else did you listen to (Dunluvy 5 or 6 's ) But these amp's I have are built alot like the manleys and are rack mounted and have been modified for the Hi Fi enviroment Good Luck Kelton
I am currently auditioning a Music Reference RM200, a 100 WPC tube amp, with my Wadia 830, and Medowlark Hwron i speakers. This amp rocks. It has a huge soundstage and incredible imaging. Jonathon Goldman, of Goldman Audio in Ct., has been great about letting me audition amps in my home. I have been searching for the right one, and it is great to have a dealer who is willing to let me spend time with a number of pieces. I will also demo the Bel Canto Evo, and the new Marsh solid state. If anyone wants info on how to contact him, feel free to email. Back to the RM200. This amp is a great piece. It does everything solid state amps do and is holographic in soundstage and imaging. It was first recommended to me by the people at Meadowlark Audio, who use it to demo their speakers.
Hey Trelja, Glad to see we politely agree to disagree ! Can you use a mesa baron as a guitar amp ? How would you connect the outputs of the guitar into this ? Now that I'm thinking of it, I'm going to retube my fender with some alternate 6L6 tubes. I've always used stock issue groove tube 5881's (aka Sovtek 5881WXT), but I want to experiment. The sonic descriptions of the sovtek 6L6WXT+ and even more the Svetlana 6L6GC look interesting.
John_l, I too am glad we politely agree to disagree. I have never thought about using the Baron(it's stereo) for guitar. As I am not around them now, I am not sure... My friend just got a Boogie last month, and let me tell you, it kicks SERIOUS butt. He has had a Peavey 5150, and a few Marshalls(including some cool vintage ones), but this is far and away the best. We threw some Groove Tube(JJ for people who don't want to get ripped off) EL34s(just have to flip an internal switch, the amp takes care of the rest - bias, etc.) a guy had laying around in it, and it totally changed the amp. But, he much prefers the sound of the 6L6 in this amp. Just his taste in music. Trust me on this one, if you want a KILLER replacement for your 6L6, try the Sovtek KT66. Yes, they cost 3X more($60/pair) than 6L6, but you will be stunned at their tone. Great conversing with you!
This amp is a dual rectifier, using 5U4s. As you probably know you can get single, dual, or triple rectifier from Mesa. You can even switch between tube or diode rectification. Have to say they are built and sound terrific. The interesting thing to me is how guitar people look at the $1200 cost as astronomical. And my friend makes great money. We spend that much on an interconnect...
As a fellow Thiel owner, I appreciate your situation. The CS 7 is a terrific speaker but craves a mountain of current and watts to sing right. You can get it with tubes, but quality tube current is seriously expensive (and a continuing retubing cost). You should also consider that your listening preference will further narrow the field. A good many tube amps, when pushed by tough loads, don't offer quite the same bottom octave definition as an SS design. Your room is NOT small, so you'll really need some power to get the SPLs you want from the CS7s. IMHO, the right tube amps for that situation will likely replace your heater too. And I'm talking push-pull - if you want triode mode, well . . . Were you running horns or some other high efficiency speaker, the situation would be entirely different. I've played with many tubes over the years with my Thiels. The EL34s are probably the 'classic' sound for rockers. However, they're not my top choice for durability with a heavy load unless you're going to run a lot of them. I've had the best success with KT-90s - a very rugged tube with fine dynamics. KT-90s are harder to find now. The 6550 is not a bad power tube, linear and a bit 'dryer' than some of the others, and very available. Thiels have a fairly flat impedence curve across the range, which helps. Nevertheless, all being said, I've found my Thiels sound best with an SS power amp and tubed front end. With this arrangement your Thiels will get their fill of watts, yield the detailed and transparent bass slam they're capable of, while retaining much of the fluidity, presence and soundstaging that tubes do best. Thiels are amazingly detailed and do the whole range well - the flip side is that they'll cruelly expose any and every upstream shortcoming. This is why as much as I love tube amps (especially in triode, zero feedback mode), I think it's too difficult a match with the big Thiels. There's a lot of smoother sounding SS gear today - Classe and McCormack are two that immediately come to mind. I thought the old Thresholds were really musical. Musical Fidelity makes a wonderful little SS amp right now, the A3cr, that sounds delightful with the small Thiels, but would be underpowered with the CS7s. With SS power and tubes up front you'll save a lot of money and space, have a much cooler room and get great overall sound. Oh, by the way, run a dedicated circuit for whichever amp you decide upon. Thiels like that.