Entry into tubes

I would like to hear from experiences out there on good starting integrated tubed amps if making the transition from solid state. I live in semi rural coastal Georgia and am unable to audition anything, (living at the beach is hell.) I made my solid state decision based on 1) reviews and 2) availability/popularity (thinking easier to get repair and parts) and still believe that logic is sound for my situation. My present system is: Creek 4330, Bel Canto DAC 1 with Pioneer DVD as transport, PE Leon Prima mini monitors, and a PSB sub. I use XLO reference type 1 interconnect and XLO toslink with the DAC 1. I have both XLO Ultra type 6 speaker cable and the Mapleshade clearview golden helix speaker cables, (I prefer the Mapleshade.) I also use the Blue Circle BC84 line conditioner and all Blue Circle power cords. My long distance dealer assures me that I should wait on the upcoming Blue Circle hybrid integrated amp that should cost about $2500-$3000 sometime in 2001. That is a budget buster for me. Can we keep it under $1500, please? And, can we drive Maggies with it? Also, I played string bass in the school orchestra 25 years ago, so bass is a must. Great shopping with you, and thanks ahead for your thoughts and time typing. Charlie Daniell
Rogue audio have a new Int the Tempest 1999.00.Give it a try you will be pleased.
Used Jadis, ARC, or CJ integrated would meet your budget and sound terrific. Good resale value too if you change your mind later. The Manley and VTL integrateds I'd to this list, but as both are still relatively new models, they're a bit harder to find on the used market and a bit pricier when they do show up. If you can stretch your budget just a tiny bit more, and stick to the used market, you could actually put together a very satisfying 2-piece preamp/amp combo. Something like a VTL 2.5 and a CJ MV55 for example would be outstanding, and used would come in right at about $2K. Best of luck!
Your desires may be a bit unrealistic. You will have to compromise in some area to take full benefit of tubes. The problem area is your goal to drive Magneplanars for $1500. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I want to save you disappointment. Integrated amps in your price range(Jolida, Golden Tube, C - J, and Jadis) do not have the guts. I haven't heard the new Rogue yet, but I can tell you that the EL34 based Jolida(202/302), C - J(MV-55/CAV50), and Jadis(Orchestra) simply are not suited for driving difficult loads. Period. A dealer in my area insists on showing the C - J CAV50 amp with B & W N805's. The amp is flat out STRAINED. Both products are wonderful, just not suited to each other. You could look into a 6550/KT88 based amp(Jolida 502/801), or maybe this new Rogue(I don't know what tubes it uses - their other products are 6550/KT88 based), but you lose a good bit of that EL34(classic tube sound) magic. You may try to buy an EL34 based $1500(or less) amp, make sure it has some decent tubes from Europe, upgrade the power cord, and get some high sensitivity/high impedence dynamic loudspeakers. You may find nirvana. Good luck!
dunno how well the rogue will do regarding bass - i am the new owner of a rogue 99 preamp, tweeked by rogue, & the only thing that makes it listenable in the bass range is the addition of n.o.s. ge 6sn7 tubes - and this is w/a pair of adcom gfa 555's driving a pair of vmps larger subs, w/a pair of electrocompaniet amps driving my bi-amped meret re's. rogue's *upgrade* phillips nos tubes are not very good. i dunno if the latest rogue integrated is an all-tube design or not, but my experience, coupled w/what i have read about their amps, is that their integrated would not be satisfying for you, if it's all-tube. i was fortunate to have a *very* knowledgeable tube-roller locally. http://www.bws-tube.com/ if there isn't one in your area, you should be prepared to deal w/a company like this via the mail, to try & get the response you are looking for, *regardless* of which tubed product you choose. (also, stereo subs will help your sound *immensely*). i would suggest a hybrid integrated, such as the pathos classic one, which combines a tube pre w/solid-state amps. $2k new, i've seen these things for ~$1200 on the used market. (&, they're drop-dead gorgeous!) or, as suggested above, find a separate toob pre & a solid-state amp. or, try a solid-state integrated, such as electrocompaniet or alchemist, that's known for a warm sound. there's currently an alchemist kraken integrated f/s on audiogon for $575, asking price - you would *not* go wrong w/this... doug
Hey Charlie Daniell, I'm not an expert and I didn't spend last night at a Holiday Inn :-), but you asked so here's my 2 cents(actually loosely based on my tube journey).With a $1500 budget I'd spend maybe up to 650 on a decent used tubed linestage or full function preamp which probably retailed in it's day ~1500, throw the remaining 850 at a set of either EL34 or KT 88 older mono block amps- and if they didn't drive the Maggies to my liking, I'd turn 'em and use those bucks to get a set they would. But an essential ingredient would be hours and hours of research (audio asylum good start)-- but that's me. You have a quite nice SS set-up, so you might actually want to hook up with some one who has an analog(tube) system to check it out. I was extremely fortunate to be exposed to tube audio (read- bitten real bad)this way. There are 2 distinct tube worlds -- vintage sound (warm,laidback, rich mids)and modern (transparent, uncolored, slightly forward). Neither being bad, just what your ear prefers. I was flat out floored by the vintage gear I was listening to, that when I listened to newer gear I found it wanting -- not as full and rich as the vintage. So have fun and enjoy the journey. I've met some good people here on mine! --FIREBOTTLES RULE!!!!!! --
Charlie, I agree with some of the above posts, and I am also a tube lover. All of the components in my system except for the speakers and the transport contain tubes. I am a previous owner of maggies (before wife & kids) A couple of suggestions to think about... Beware of powering the maggies with tubes and a budget - I did it (with MG-1As) unsatisfactorily with 50W (Audio Research VT-60) for a while and then switched to 100W (Audio Research VT100) - which was enough power. Also beware of powering maggies with anything EL-34 based - good EL-34 tubes are getting rare and expensive and maggies eat them fast (pre-AR amp I owned) Maggies tend to be rough on tubes because their impedance can dip pretty low, and they are relatively inefficient. I do not have any suggestions for integrated solutions ~$1500, but if you have the patience, audiogon has been turning VT100s in the low 2K range (not for the MKII)....And upgrade with a preamp when more $$ are available.. If you do not have to drive maggies, I would give a the Rogue a shot, or look for a used Audio Research CA-50. If you haven't detected my bias, I am an AR lover, and no -- I have no affiliation with them. I have received no flawless service out of all the various AR gear I have owned for the past 10yrs. Never had to check out the world class service center other than for tubes every 2000hrs. Last suggestion is to spend ~$1200 for a AR VT-60, and an old counterpoint 7.1 pre-amp ~$300 - Easier to upgrade later, the VT-60 is holding value well, can be used as balanced monoblocks with custom cable connections for future upgrades. My humble biased opinions John
YO, I live in Charleston SC (you cant be more than 3 hours away) and there are a couple of dealers in here. Both carry tubed integrated amps, both are run by good people. At your price I would suggest a SS amp to drive the Maggies, though. I was at one of the above-mentioned dealers today, and we put together a nice system using the Maggie 1.6. However it took A PAIR of the Conrad Johnson MV-55s (GREAT AMP)to drive them. These speakers "lika the peppere" if you know what I mean. Another tip, though take my comment with a grain of salt, as you shoult take all others: Be wary of dealing with one dealer and one dealer only. People have a tendency to exhibit a sort of hyper-loyalty to a specific brand, without actually comparing it to anything else. IF it sounds better than what you already have, why should you not buy?? SIMPLE. Because what you have may sound horrible (relatively) and what you want to buy may sound better, but it may be worse than everything else at the same price. I have friends in the business, but I realize that it's in their best interests to sell their gear. Trust their opinions at your descretion, BUT ALWAYS TRUST YOURT EARS AND WALLET FIRST!!!! If you want info on my local shops, feel free to email me. good luck
sedond your opinon is baseless.You where crying about the Rogue before you put 5 hours on it.I have Rouge 66 and 120 Mono's.As for bass i have no problems.They give me more than enough.your problem is the Mid FI Adcom Junk you are using its not the Rogue.Bottom line is it sounds like you dont know what you want and are slagging the Rogue's.like I said you whinned about the Pre before it was even brokin in.Have you put a couple of hundred hours on it yet.
Be patient and find someone willing to sell you the Audio Research VT100 for your price. You will find someone. It will drive just about anything and it is phenominal. Great soundstage and so easy to listen to.
I can't speak for others and all choices available. It appears that you may require a little more power with Maggies than what you might find in an all tube integrated especially at your 1500.00 price point. It that is indeed the case your choices are very limited indeed. The VT 100 whether a Mk1 or Mk2 is a budget buster but is indeed a superb amp. You MIGHT find a Mk 1 just South of 2K but I haven't seen one. So you still need a pre-amp. I would look at a D-90 or D-115 Mk 2. I have the D-115 Mk2 and it DOES compare favorably with any of their current products albeit a smaller power supply than the VT-100 Mk2 but comparable with the Mk1 (280 joules). The big plus is I have seen the amp as cheap as 1150 on Audiogon and believe me that is a good deal for that amp. It sounds superb, wonderful extended highs, a glorious midrange and well defined bass, you know that word that is so commonly used "musical", fits like a glove. I can't imagine you doing better for the dough, only make sure the output tubes are recent. Now you still need a pre-amp. Depending on your needs; a phono stage unit Conrad Johnson PV-5 for around 500-600; ARC SP-6 series for 600-700. Line stage only maybe a little less ARC LS-2 600.00. NOW you have got a good tube set-up close to your budget. Fair warning the D series amps run HOT, and that D-115 needs space if you want to prolong tube life. But you'll love it. Good luck.
Go to the AVAhifi website and take a look at the new AVA integrated. As good as you will get for the $$. Maybe not the prettiest stuff out there but built like a rock and 110 % customer support by Frank V. himself. You could spend a lot more and get a lot less.
Hello one and all, Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. The exchange of information on this site accelerates the learning curve even though some b.s. get mixed in. As a neophyte, (I have had the Creek for about 2 years,) with a “budget” (?) system, I am having a lot of pleasure listening to my system mature with each change. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated. From this thread I have learned: 1. forget the maggies for now and gain a ton of choices in my price range, and 2. tube people are much cooler than ss people. :) May you always find solace in your music, Charlie Daniell Brunswick, GA
charlie (& Tm12), 1st of all, my comments regarding trying rogue stuff are directed at someone who specifically mentions that bass response is important, & that they want to use maggies, which are a hard load to drive, especially in the bass. the rogue will *not* do it, period. i have over 400 hours on my preamp now, w/~150 hours on the n.o.s. ge tubes, which bruce wenger (www.bws-tube.com) said need 10 hours at most, to break-in. while the bass response is now *ok*, w/my prior linn kairn preamp, it was absolutely *outstanding*. & i'm talking about acoustical upright bass, not electronic synth stuff. and, yes, this was w/my *junk* adcom gfa 555's, putting out 900wpc into the 95db/1watt/<1/3%thd larger vmps subs (-3db @ 17hz). there's no way *any* other amp would better the adcom's output here - jeez, we're only talking frequencies below 60hz! say what ya want about adcom stuff, *no* one has *ever* slammed the bass capabilities of the adcom gfa555's (except Tm12!). not even *one* hi-end dealer, even tho salivating at the prospect of a sale, has told me i would gain anything by upgrading my subwoofer amps. *every one* has said "don't bother". and, besides, since the acoustic bass only goes down to 44hz, the fact is, most of the bass output is being handled by my electrocompaniet aw100 amp, driving the woofers of my monitors. while the soundstaging dimensionality of my system is *definitely* nicer w/the rogue 99 in my system, compared w/my previous linn kairn, i had *real* low-bass & mid-bass w/the linn, & it's now gone. that's why the rogue is for sale - i want it *all*. the rogue products (like adcom) are nice-sounding entry-level hi-end stuff, but if ya want *more*, ya gotta spend more. if bass is important to you (as it is to me), the rogue won't cut it. several critical listeners have heard my current set-up, and the bass is fine for *them*. two of 'em specifically understood what i was referring to when i complained i miss the bass - they heard the difference compared to how it was previously - but, they dint care, cuz they liked everything else! Tm12, i am not saying your rogue stuff doesn't put out satisfactory bass for you in your system. it's obvious that there are one of two things going on here - either you've never heard what *real* bass sounds like on a home-stereo, or it's not a priority for you (like it wasn't, for my friends). i had *real-live* string-bass-players in my living-room before, and i won't be satisfied w/a preamp until they return! ;~) doug
Sedond,I think your after something everyone wants but is almost impossible to achive.That is Audio Nirvana.Everything is a compromize.Does the 99 have a Phono stage. Good luck in your quest. I have heard what real bass sound like many times.what i have found is the Rogue gives you what the artist put on the recording.I have had people comment that the bass is lacking.I then put on a different recording where the artist wants you to hear the bass and the commnets are wow.Listen to how good the bass sound.Its all a matter of how you like the sound. If you do find the right combo let us all know.
Danvetc, I'll give you my experience with tubes and the other guys can just skip this post, cuz they've probably read it before. If youre just entering tubes, I would grab an old Dynaco St-70 on the web for about $350 bucks. Then go to www.tubestore.com and get a matched quad of Svetlanas for 60 bucks. I tell ya, I have a Dynaco with Svetlanas and a 200 wpc class A solid state (perreaux). My Dyna blew a capacitor awhile back and I was just using the Perreaux. I recently got it fixed and hooked it up. No matter what anyone says the ST-70 has some of the best midrange anywhere for any price (at least the one I've got does). With the Svetlanas it has as good of a bass response as my Solid State. I've heard tube integrated amps from Jolida and they just didn't sound very good. Personally, I'd skip integrated amps altogther--- If your gonna go tube go all the way. Play around with one of these old Dynas...you can't go wrong and if you don't like it there are always people lined up to take them off your hands. Heck you might even make money. Yes, you can get better than the ST-70...but you'll pay about two grand to do it. Good luck.
Tm12, the *quantity* of the bass is ok - not as good as i've heard, but it's ok. it would be acceptable, but the *texture* is also lacking - not as tonal, more like hi-fi than the real thing. two albums come to mind where this is really noticeable to me - both by patricia barbour: modern cool & cafe blue. it's also noticeable on a bluegrass cd called skip, hop, wobble, w/jerry douglas, russ barenberg, & edgar meyer. you're rite - i may never get to *audio nirvana*, but i'm gonna get closer in the bass! ;~) & you're also rite - could be an impedance mismatch. a well-respected engineer sez i should be getting a 3db drop if i insert a 100 ohm across the leads from my preamp-to-x-over, if the rogue's impedence is as the factory claims. well, i get a 3db drop w/a 2.2k ohm resistor, 100 ohms give me more like a 20db drop! so, this may be part of the problem. i *am* gonna try another tubed preamp; i'll keep y'all posted.
tm12, i forgot to ad - i'm using a pentagon p-3 fono stage into the rogue... doug
Good luck in your quest.You should give Coincident Interconnects a try if you can get a hold of a demo pair.