Dream Speakers = landed. Now I need to feed them!


So I scored a pair of Belle Klipsch (1987 models, AB crossover).  I would have gone for Khorns, but the room they were going in just wasn't going to work.  RIght now, I'm running a cheap little Sony (STR-DH190) stereo receiver on them, and even that sounds amazing, but I know I've barely scratched the surface of what they're capable of.  The dream is a pair of SET monoblocks (probably 300B type), though I'm worried about not being able to drive the bottom enough.  I listen to a wide array of music from classical and opera to extreme metal, though my wife is decidedly more of a rock person, so I definitely need something that will push those woofers proper. 

Due to lifestyle and logistics, a big piece of my source audio is going to be HQ feeds from my laptop via Bluetooth.  I know, not an ideal source, but until I build my HTPC, it's just going to have to work.  I also need to run optical out from my Sony Bravia (which I can't do right now because the receiver doesn't have optical in and the TV doesn't have analog out).  

Here's the hard part: Right now, I can't really spend more than $1k for the whole shebang.  So I started hunting.

At first I was sniffing around looking for a tube preamp that can handle both Bluetooth and Toslink, but all that seems to be out there are suspiciously cheap Chinese integrated amps that have no pre out for later use.  I also looked at some dedicated DAC's such as the Cambridge Audio DACMagic, that I knew I could pair with a BT-capable tube pre.  But I'm still sketchy about the cheap Chinese kit.  I've heard positive things about Dared, though, and I was thinking their 5BT would be a good foundation alongside the aforementioned DAC, because I could use its power stage for right now, and if I can't stay in the right now budget to get a good pair of monoblocks, then I could wait for a while and buy the right ones later. 

Thoughts? Opinions?  Alternative ideas?  


jerkface
Avoid Chinese audio gear unless it's made by Topping, or well known Chinese Hi-Fi companies. (Like Woo audio)

Above brands are great. (No racism). I'm saying this because some Chinese companies are really sketchy and use cheap computer caps in their amps. (not audio grade). Along with that, a lot of toxic crap inside.

Monoblocks are nice...you can drive the speakers with authority. Good luck...read a lot of amp reviews..before you choose.
Decware, Finale Audio (used most likely), Schiit audio ( Freya + tube preamp possibly) come to mind for low powered tube gear that is good value. there’s a ton more out there.

I’d pass on 300Bs though too expensive for tubes IMO specially at your budget. 300B’s need very good transformers to sound their best you really don’t get that sub $2k IMO.

used would be ideal more value for the money. also don’t discount a good class A, SS amp ( 20wpc is all you need) maybe matched to a tube preamp.

maybe a dynaco st70 modern build like the tubes4hifi amps. their quite a good value for the money.

I run LaScala’s and have tried a bunch of amps. clean power and low noise is what your looking for, specially the low noise. Also consider the over all gain of your system if to high you’ll have no volume range at all.

surprisingly good is a Schiit freya+ tube pre ($899) and their Aegir class A amp ($799) or their integrated ragnarok ($1499).

lastly if your speakers are original consider updating the tweeter and crossovers huge improvements here. Bob Crites is reasonable priced and will bring the Bells up to modern spec. not to mention make the high end much smoother and enjoyable.

ok i’ done that’s all i can think of off the top of my head.

cheers
glen
You’re on a tight budget. You already have an amp. Granted it is a receiver, the second lowest rung in audio (at least it is stereo, the absolute lowest is AVR) but as you say it sounds amazing. You will definitely get better sound from a better integrated amp. But going to separates on a budget is a huge mistake! The sound you get is the total performance of everything, including the wires powering and connecting everything together. The more separates the more power cords and interconnects. Leave these for guys with money to burn.

Look, my budget is roughly a hundred times yours and am I using separates? No! https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 Nuff said.

Forget stuff like 300B. Not that it’s not great, but you can get a lot of magic from any tubes so why pay the premium? Any good used tube amp will soar over your receiver, last a long time, and have good resale value when you upgrade down the road. Avoid made in China, look for deals, save some for a good interconnect and speaker cables.
One suggestion, 1)buy a DAC having USB, coax, and optical inputs (there are budget ones that are very good); 2)buy a passive preamp like the Douk Audio off Ebay (~$40), 3) buy a used tube amplifier given the vintage nature of your speakers I would consider a refurbished Dynaco ST-70. 

Most DACs have have more that enough gain to satisfy need of an amplifier without active preamp. The DAC will supply required signal gain and serve as selector for multiple source components.  The passive pre has single input and output with volume control. Amplifier drives speakers and a tube one is know as a great fit with your speakers, sonic and power wise.

Not the only way to go, however does fit your budget and allows for easy upgrade path.

  
@mesch - that last line is the key for me. Upgrade path.  Start with components I can replace as both my needs and budget increase. 

But at the same time, there's wisdom in the idea of taking individual steps and see how my needs evolve.  Maybe just getting a DAC to address the TV problem,  build the HTPC, then, free of the need for BT, make a more SQ-focused choice for a pre or maybe even an integrated unit.

I mean, I said they sound great with the Sony, but I've heard these things truly sing at the Klipsch HQ on a tour, so I know how far I have to go before I hit that potential. 
If you want to get started with Bluetooth in an amp that will probably sound pretty  good for a pittance with zero risk (returnable) as an easy start consider:

Amazon.com: Fosi Audio

I have one of these driving a pair of KEF ls50s, not an easy task, and was shocked at how well it does.   My little $80 Fosi  with bluetooth is no slouch by a longshot, its dead quiet in my application and might just do great with a pair of high efficiency speakers like those Klipsch.
There is no right or wrong way to go. If you were to try Townshend Pods, some Synergistic Orange Fuses and Master Coupler power cord, and a $400 integrated amp, I think you would be shocked to discover they each give about as much improvement as the other. I know this is the case from having played around trying one thing at a time with systems I was building for friends and family. At one point I put a $1200 interconnect between a $400 amp and $400 CD player connected to $400 speakers. So $1200 IC into a $1200 system.  

And you know what? Darn thing made just as much improvement, was just as easy to hear, and sounded just the same as when used in my main system that it came from. Just that one thing shattered something like three audiophile myths! 

This is the difference between talking and doing. Go and do it. You will see.
Use what you have, start saving for a monobloc pair or a great stereo amp. 
    Until then, use and enjoy what you have. 
I'd touch base w Aric Audio. 
Don't cheap out, your Klipsch will know the difference. Start with a pair of Quicksilver Horn Monos. They are superb, have power, and are affordable. 
Why not "cheap out" initially with Fosi? It’s fast and easy and no risk. If you don’t like it you can return it or maybe find use for it elsewhere in a second system for practically nothing by high end audio standards.

In general, I find it is a mistake to jump straight into the "high end" deep water. Better to take things one step at a time.

Amplifier technology has come a long way in recent years.   Much like DACs.  You might be surprised what not very much can get you if you are just smart about how you go about it.
@russ69 - just checked the Quicksilver website. That's a sweet pair of blocks for 1500. I might just have to find some extra cash under the cushions for those!
"...just checked the Quicksilver website. That’s a sweet pair of blocks for 1500. I might just have to find some extra cash under the cushions for those!..."

I have a pair of Mini-Monos I’ve used for many years now. They are a top amp and my favorite matched to my Cary SLP-98 pre. Better than my Cary (AES) six-pacs and maybe my PrimaLuna. They will be dead quiet with the Klipsch and still make your Belles sound their best. Call Mike he will tell you what is best for your Belles.
So yeah, now I'm thinking my next move is to pull the trigger on the Cambridge DAC and the Dared integrated unit, then wait for the (much larger than I expected) tax check to come back to pop the QS blocks. 
I have posted this recently - my buddy has the Klipschorns stuck an old 45 tube stereo amp driven directly by his DAC Pure Magic with only 1 watt!

If you are local to NJ come by and try out the amp for yourself

Happy Listening
No worries, any 300Bs bass will smoke the one you currently have.Weak 300B bass experience comes from people who want to drive dead speakers with them. (Your is well and truly alive.)However, 300B is definitively not for budget.I can second (third?) the Quicksilvers as best choice.
I'm on an even tighter budget than you - but I power my Belle Klipsch horns (ca. 1984) with an older Antique Sound Labs MG SI 15 DT SET integrated amp rated at 5/15 wpc (triode/pentode) running upgraded tubes.

http://v2.stereotimes.com/post/the-antique-sound-lab-mg-si-15-dt-singleended-class-a-tube-integrated-amplifier

I'm not advocating this particular brand or model - just illustrating it doesn't take much juice (or $$) to get decent sound from the 104 dB SP Belles. Like you - I'm dreaming of one day upgrading to the QS monos (or something comparable).

My maximum "bang-for-the-buck" system also includes a Denafrips Ares II R2R DAC ($700) and a refurbished Cambridge Audio CXC transport ($400).

Whatever you end up going with - plan on adding a decent subwoofer.

Terry
The Klipsch are 104db 1w1m?   
Not going to recommend a 300WPC  amp, unless it’s tube watts. 
    You will still neeed 200wpc for the headroom :)

  took me just about 4.5 years. Of saving every bill I could save,  missed lunches, being mr pink for a while, but in paid offf.

    Just use what have for now, while you save 2500-3K for a killer amp (s)

 with those 104 db beasts, I highly recommend a used Sunfire with the tubey taps, or a nice pair off tube blocks to help with the mid and treble of those speakers. 
    If I had those speakers,... honestly, I would enjoy them while I saved for a bada$$ pair of tube monos, 

    That’s just the way I do it.  Don’t have the. Funds like many on here, so I had to save a bit every week or month, roll it up, not touch it, hide it from the wife, I had a great place in the basement. 
   Carver 275 tube monos, are nice, only 75 watts, might not give you the headroom you want.          I ramble I know.    Enjoy the journey!

    


jerkface OP 

  Dream Speakers = landed. Now I need to feed them!

So I scored a pair of Belle Klipsch (1987 models, AB crossover). I would have gone for Khorns, but the room they were going in just wasn't going to work.


At 104db I think this could be very good match, as  glennewdick stated, a 20w Class-A Schiit Aegir, it will be smooth and extended right through the mids and highs (horns love class-A) yet still have solid state control in the bass.
https://www.schiit.com/products/aegir

Cheers George
Music Reference RM-10, Quicksilver, used Wavelength, van Alstine clone of Dynaco but improved, lots of choices...

have fun, enjoy the music
The equipment from China I own is superb. Not all brands are, but many in fact are — as with “any other origin” of manufacturing to be very transparent. 
Check out the ps audio sprout 100 integrated amp. I use 1 in my office and for $600 it sounds very nice. There have been a couple of reviews of it in magazines that were positive.
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BTW - didn't mean to gloss over this one, just been mobile most of the afternoon/evening and am only now back on the laptop - 

lastly if your speakers are original consider updating the tweeter and crossovers huge improvements here. Bob Crites is reasonable priced and will bring the Bells up to modern spec. not to mention make the high end much smoother and enjoyable.

The boys over at the Klipsch forums also suggested that I convert the AB crossover to an A, making a few cap replacements, but I'm NOT good with a soldering iron.  I might look him up when it comes time to make that tweak.  But I have the K-55-M tweets, which from all technical reports (including some direct A/B spectrometry) is the far superior option - were you thinking of the old K-55-V's? 
Post removed 
@millercarbon  
my budget is roughly a hundred times yours and am I using separates? No! https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/836
I've followed your system for years; guess it's time for me to applaud your design theory.


If you can get this for under $500, its a no brainer.... Of course unless everyone that see's it on here bids against you.  

Audio Refinement Complete Integrated Amplifier: Silver Version | eBay


This is the second thread tonight that says "buy reputable Chinese, like Woo Audio..."

Woo Audio is from New York!

Woo Audio
Long Island City, NY 11101

1-917-773-8645



As to the OP,  I think he is on the right track with a 300b system. Plenty of bottom end on my LaScala IIs.
BTW, at shows, Klipsch frequently demos their Heritage speakers with  Cary SLI 80 (or whichever upgrade is current).

https://www.caryaudio.com/products/sli-80hs/



Then again, if you're expecting audiophile equipment to be sold by those platforms it's probably worth looking online elsewhere (i.e. Audiogon to start

Which is why I went first to the Klipsch forums, then here, after the shock of trying to sort out what the hell I was looking at in terms of new tube options. 
I’m with MC on this. When you are looking at a limited budget, an integrated is the way to go. You can put money you would spend on interconnects, PC’s etc. into a higher quality Int. For your source, see if you can find one with an onboard DAC. If not, add an inexpensive DAC for now. You’ll be way happier, and a good tube flea watt Int. can drive those 104db speakers just fine.
@millercarbon  
my budget is roughly a hundred times yours and am I using separates? No!
It's lovely to know. Please let us know exactly and often.
@jerkface Welcome to the Belle Klipsch experience.  I love mine.  Crites is great as is ALK for upgrading your crossover.  Also cheap improvement is to cover your horns with Dynamat.  It was recommended that I do the full "Doghouse" even the brace that holds the midrange.  I have not done that yet, but the horns made a nice difference.  Have fun!
I 2nd the Schiit Ragnarok, it is a very good amp. You can get it with built in dac also but the total cost is about $2k. If you can find one used it may be lower. I think an integrated with a dac is the best option in this price range.

Another idea would be the new Leak Stereo 130 for about $1k. I think it has a built in dac. 

Regarding optical in that is unusual nowadays but there are converters you can buy.
Since you considered a Cambridge DAC and also a pre amp why not look for a used Cambridge Azur 851N.
You may find one in your price range. Its a really good sounding DAC with all the connections you could need, that has a built in streamer and a preamp you can turn on or off.
It will connect to your Sony reciever until you save more and figure out what direction you want to go in amp wise.

In 2012 when I decided to hop back into HiFi I jumped on a Peachtree Nova and some discounted Wharfedale towers. 

OK sound but hard to tailor in my downtown loft with many hard surfaces (no tone controls) plus the DAC was outdated almost immediately although still great for CDs. 

For separates I would buy a Project Pre Box
 https://www.project-audio.com/en/product/pre-box-s2-digital/

and pair it with the best used amp/receiver you can find (I got a refurbished Pioneer SA-9100), even using your current one with the Pre and comparing it to others as you try them. You might find a used Pre or if not you would still have $500 to spend on each. 

If wanting to get one and be done with decent DAC, AB power and Phono I had luck with the older version of this for awhile
https://outlawaudio.com/shop/stereo-receivers/56-rr2160mkii-stereo-receiver.html

Good Luck!!

Don’t care what anyone will say but you can’t do HT and two channel with one system without major compromises to the two channel sound. Even if you have to plug and unplug the speakers for the different applications keep they systems separate. Trust me been there three it thought it was great but soon realized it was a big fail. Went to two channel independent and never looked back. 
For that price, get the best integrated you can afford and pair it with a Pi Streamer or Pi Streamer/DAC if the integrated does not have a DAC. If you want a bit of tube-ishness consider something with a tube preamplifier. Ditch the Bluetooth. Continue to dream about the mono blocks, this will be a good upgrade you can replace piece by piece, pre, power, streamer, DAC, as allowed.
I have a 151 Heathkit by the famous Sam Kim with a mc & mm phono option.  All build from the ground up by master builder Sam Kim.  At my asking price nothing comes close.  7 watts of sinic bliss.
For that price, get the best integrated you can afford and pair it with a Pi Streamer or Pi Streamer/DAC if the integrated does not have a DAC. If you want a bit of tube-ishness consider something with a tube preamplifier. Ditch the Bluetooth. Continue to dream about the mono blocks, this will be a good upgrade you can replace piece by piece, pre, power, streamer, DAC, as allowed.
Oh, I've got a box all prepped and ready to be turned into an HTPC.  I'm just waiting for an additional hard drive to arrive. 
Don’t care what anyone will say but you can’t do HT and two channel with one system without major compromises to the two channel sound. Even if you have to plug and unplug the speakers for the different applications keep they systems separate. Trust me been there three it thought it was great but soon realized it was a big fail. Went to two channel independent and never looked back.
I have no intention of trying to deploy a surround system.  "HTPC" was probably better termed as "Media Server".  

Meanwhile, I think I might have found a one-box answer to the various and sundry connectivity questions, and enable me to keep the Media Server in the office where it belongs.  

Anyone had any experience with this seemingly perfect little solution?  

https://www.abt.com/Denon-HEOS-Link-HS2-Black-Wireless-Pre-Amplifier-HEOSLINKHS2SR/p/100967.html?cam...
Hideous. Look, the last thing you want to do on a budget is throw money away on absolute crap. There are two kinds of people here: one or two like me who know what's what and will tell you no matter what, and a whole herd who will happily encourage you to spend, spend, spend. You've got your info. Choose wisely.
Hideous. Look, the last thing you want to do on a budget is throw money away on absolute crap.

It's a DAC that also handles Bluetooth.  I do need a DAC here.  Why is it hideous?
And having a DAC that also handles Bluetooth means I don't need to worry about having Bluetooth capability in the Pre.  Seems like a win-win to me, being able to focus exclusively on SQ in my pre... 
Cayin A100T on USA audio mart asking 1200. HELL of a lot of great watts for the money. Also with the sensitivity of your Klipsch you want something quiet and the one I had was dead quiet. Check it out. Could offer a grand and see if they bite. 
sgreg1109 posts04-01-2021 12:02pmDon’t care what anyone will say but you can’t do HT and two channel with one system without major compromises to the two channel sound. Even if you have to plug and unplug the speakers for the different applications keep they systems separate. Trust me been there three it thought it was great but soon realized it was a big fail. Went to two channel independent and never looked back.
@sgreg1
Yes you can! I have a HT and I would challenge you that my 2 channel sounds as good as many 2 channel systems. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot to get that sound( Vertere Acoustics MG-1 table/ Rogue Ares Magnum phono drive,Classe SSP-800 processor with analog pass through to 2 Jeff Rowland Model 12 monoblocks powering JM Lab Mezzo Utopia’s). There are zero sonic compromises.

I think a lot depends on the processor in many ways.
Don’t listen to Millercarbon.
Go with a Dyna 70.
It’s even sorta period correct.
There are many available as stock, or modified as this one is:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/DYNACO-DYNAKIT-VTA-ST-70-Tube-Amplifier-NEW-Build-/154394386390?_trksid=p23...

Still considered one of the best amps of all time. Period. 
Pair it with a Dyna PAS. You will want a rebuilt modified PAS.
A bit more than your budget at the moment, but if you stretch it, this could last you a long time. A very long time.
I too went down a similar journey and found that a pre-owned Peachtree Nova 150 did the trick until I could afford to build the front end I really wanted.  Lived with it for 2 years and it's really good for the money @ $800-$1000 used.  It has a decent DAC, good class D power with great low end control and all the connections you could possibly want, including optical and even Home Theater bypass.  You get a whole lot for your money.  It's what most would consider a mid-fi solution but I think it will push your  Klipsch's nicely at 150 watts into 8ohms.  Not to mention it's stunningly beautiful and has a sort of vintage look of its own.  Because you're buying pre-owned, you can likely get most of your money back once you upgrade.  
I can highly recommend the Bob Latino (VTA) ST-70. I ran one with my Silverlines @93.5 db with great results. FWIW I bought it to dip my toes in the tube amp side just to see. It replaced a $4500 250 wpc amp which was from a well respected company. So don't listen to those who think you need "headroom" with 200wpc. Its NOT true especially with 104db speakers. If you are handy with a soldering iron you can buy the kit for the ST-70 for a little less than your budget. The pro built one is about $1300 and worth every penny. Its also a tube rollers dream amp that can use a LOT of different tubes. Sometimes a used one comes up for sale.

tubes4hifi amplifier KITs page
I too went down a similar journey and found that a pre-owned Peachtree Nova 150 did the trick until I could afford to build the front end I really wanted. Lived with it for 2 years and it's really good for the money @ $800-$1000 used. It has a decent DAC, good class D power with great low end control and all the connections you could possibly want, including optical and even Home Theater bypass.
Just saying, I'd just as soon stand pat with my Sony if I can't move into tubes.  Klipsch speakers, particularly the Khorn, Belle, and LaScala, were literally designed for tubes.  I feel pretty strongly like I have a path here, starting with the Denon DAC I just ordered and ending with the Quicksilver monoblocks.  I might look at tube preamps afterward just to bridge that gap, but there will be a lot of room treatments (not to mention house reno work including cutting a big hole in a wall that is currently a big reflector in the back) happening before I even consider taking that step. 

This is not a set-in-concrete plan, but it is a point of emphasis that I'm not interested in spending on digital or SS amps to pair with these babies. Even the shitty Sony sounds great through the Belles, and I'd rather put up with its deficiencies than spend money on kit that doesn't get me closer to the end-state.