My suggestion is hook up with the yahoo SET forum group, they'll have most of the answers your after. I never could get my arms wrapped around the SET's, but love the lower watt push-pulls using el84's, sweet, sweet mid's...you should probably give a listen to both types if you can, as you can get a nice amp going in either direction with $2k to spend.
good luck, lwood
You haven't mentioned what your speakers are and their efficiency/load curve, that is the biggest determining factor of what SET amp(s) to get. Also, knowing your room size, listening distance, and volume levels would help, too.
Let us know and I'm sure we can give you several suggestions that perform well within your budget.
start with speakers you love and work backwards
I currently own and love my Gershman Avant Gardes. They have nice smooth mids and good bass slam. The problem is that they are 87 dB so the flea powered amps won't drive them properly. So if I go the SET route I'll probably have to sell them and I'm considering HE models such as Audio Note, Omega, Zu, etc. At the moment I have a vintage Marantz 8 with 35wpc that is adequate to drive the Gershmans, but I find its not as open or transparent as an 8 wpc AN Conqueror amp that I heard recently, hence my possible conversion to the SET dark side.
Michael, Fi amps (e.g. Fi Super X 2A3, Fi 45 Fi WE421) have a very high input impedance that matches well with the 10K input impedance and high gain of the Fi preamps (one of the reasons why I was considering Shindo :)
Some of the other ones that get good reviews (some of these I heard already): Bottlehead, Korneff, Welborne, Wright, Yamamoto, Verdier - I am sure we can get a few of these together for a listening session in Toronto sometime in the near future ;)
As others mentioned, a lot will depend on your choice of speakers as well.
Hi Rene, yes my research also turned up a couple that you named Yamamoto, Fi and Verdier. The last two should be relatively easy to audition :) Look forward to hearing them soon.
I must confess, I'm a bit of a bass freak, will these flea amps and single driver HE speakers be able to keep me happy?
If you are a bass freak AND want to go SET, then be prepared to have very LARGE speakers and/or spend a lot of money unless your room is fairly small. Superior bass in single-driver speakers is even more difficult because a single driver has to reproduce (almost) the entire frequency spectrum. Not an easy task.
I have 5 foot tall(95dB) Cain & Cain IM-Ben double-horn speakers which have a Fostex 168 Sigma driver and a Fostex T-900A supertweeter above 12kHz. These speakers are amazing in many regards, but real, accurate and deep bass simply is not possible. I use a pair of C&C Bailey subwoofers for that.
I also have 97dB Hammer Dynamics Super-12 speakers which feature a 12" coaxial driver and a supertweeter above 10kHz. This kit speaker puts out pretty amazing bass for HE speaker, let alone a single driver. There is something about really large single drivers that is even more unique than their smaller brethren. And they rock like no other. This is a great balance between cost($650 kit), cabinet size, and performance.
I would think that some of the new large Hemp Acoustics CO15V 15" coax driver would be even better.
Dark: My basement room is relatively small, 13' x 17' but with only a 6' ceiling. I never could get a subwoofer to blend properly with my main speakers, do you C&C subs work well with your speakers?
When you say I need to spend a lot of money, how much are you talking about?
I admit it is a balancing act and not easily done.
With your room dimensions it looks very do able. You just may pull it off. The Brines Acoustic LT-2000s may work well in that room.
Bass down to around 30Hz. Efficient enough to be driven by a few watts.
And yes you get REAL bass.Transmission line loaded SDs can't play at extreme levels(meaning over 105 dB)before things go down hill,but what they do within their capabilities is quite amazing.
Once you hear horn loaded or transmission line bass done right it will be hard to listen to anything else. Just like when you get that SET sound in your head and expect every thing to sound like it... only to be disappointed.
One of the attributes you'll notice is balance. You'll get good underlying bass even at moderate sound levels. You don't have to crank it to get that full bottom end feeling.
I find many speakers need to be cranked hard before the bass appears. In some cases it still never appears. lol
To be honest the SET sound has ruined me. I only want to hear SS in Home theater now. There's something missing when it come to music if quality tubes aren't involved now. So I feel your pain.
Good luck with the hunt
As Jaybo so succinctly stated, when making your first venture into SET-land, start with your speakers and they will dictate your amp choices.
BTW, "flea power" to most people means anything under 20wpc, but to SET fanatics, that usually means 2wpc or less - the lunatic fringe. (joke)
One thing you have working for you is a (relatively) moderate sized room. Getting tight deep bass will be much easier with decent-sized hi-eff speakers.
do you C&C subs work well with your speakers?
Yes, but my room was nearly twice the volume of yours and opened on one side down onto my dining room of equal size. The advantage of two subwoofers is that they tend to cancel out a lot of problems caused by a single sub, though setup can be a bear to get right.
When you say I need to spend a lot of money, how much are you talking about?
Shindo makes really high quality components, getting amps and speakers of equal performance/quality will cost you, or, take some serious homework and patience to achieve at a lower cost.
Also, "Slam" is something that SET systems don't do particularly well at any cost. Getting bass equal or similar to what you are used to with the Gerschwins will not be easy. SET is a system of tradeoffs, a little less bass production can get you a lot more of everything else, musically.
Audio Note, Omega, and Zu are great speakers, but there is no way you will ever get the same level of bass output as your Gerschwins with higher powered amps without far larger cabinets(excluding Zu's Definitions which have built-in bass amps/subwoofers). We are talking about smaller drivers and/or smaller cabinets with less power, simply no way.
So, I really, really, suggest that you look into hi-eff speakers before buying an amp. See what the benefits and limitations are first. Decide on a size appropriate for your room and musical tastes, then look for amps. Otherwise, you may end up unable to drive your speakers well enough to satisfy your musical needs.
Once you get that settled, there is quite a large selection of high quality SET amps we can help guide you through.
Dark: I agree with your advice, I will look into HE speakers first to make sure I like the sound.
Gmood: the Brines you recommend look very interesting! The prices also seem very reasonable, if I can get them shipped here to Toronto it would be great. I notice you have some mods on your speakers, did Brines do these for you or did you do it yourself? What are the benefits of these mods? I would hate to buy them unheard though, wonder if its possible to audition them here in Toronto first. If not, is there another speaker with a similar sound, eg Lowther? so that I can be sure that I like the SD sound?
the classic marantz can be bettered by a mac mc275 and a host of other push pull designs that are more articulate(but jeez, its an 8b). the speakers however are pretty incredible too. going to the ones you've mentioned just to accomodate an amp, may be fun for awhile, but the gershmans will haunt you in years to come.
one more thing on your way to SETville...wave goodbye to real bass.....unless as stated, the new speakers are larger than than a refrigerator
Jaybo: coincidentally a friend brought over his MC275 the other day, and you're right its a lot more detailed and articulate. Now you have me second guessing myself about selling the Gershmans, they are pretty damn good and I don't want to have buyers remorse in 6 months.
the gershmans are special...maybe the jewel for dollars vs sound in their entire line. i use the mc275 series 2...i'll drive almost anything and has just enough midrange sweetness to remind me of why i still love it.
No the upgraded parts can be added when the speaker is built per Bob Brines. He'll give you the specifications and you can order the caps, resistors and inductors from a number of places and have them shipped too him... Or he will order them for you.
He makes several models. The LT-2000s are one of the most sensitive. More sensitive than my FTA's. It will be tough to audition these speakers. They do not sound like other SDs. Because of the BSC circuit and Mass loaded transmission line used, they are of a different breed.
So do not confuse them with the basic SD..they aren't the same at all.
I know of one owner that has the same speaker as mine. One of his former speakers, if I'm not mistaken was the same speaker you have now. Believe it or not I remember him stating his FTA's had bass just as deep or deeper than the Avant Gardes.
So do not dismiss until you hear for yourself. There are different definitions for great bass. My definition of great bass is deep, articulate and realistic.
These speakers do not have bass humps engineered in them to add wow factor. They don't flap your pant legs either. It is more of a subterranean type bass they produce. It is the foundation of the music not the highlight of it.
So as far as saying goodbye to bass...you would be mistaken.
I know for a fact my Single 8 inchers mated to 14 wpc SET produce more and better bass than a pair of Paradigm Signatures 8's using eight bass drivers powered by a Bryston 4B SST producing 500 wpc into 4 ohms..no B.S. !
No the SDs won't play as loud as the 8's, but at sane SPLs they'll wipe the floor with them!
So every time I see statements about how you need big watts and multiple drivers to produce good bass...I laugh! I'm more than happy to prove them wrong.
My FTA's are no larger than the Paradigm Signature S8's. Although they may weigh a bit more than the S8's and not as pretty.
JohnK here on the Gon also builds very nice SDs. Beautifully built in fact! You could contact him and pick his brain as well.
He's a very nice guy that will take the time to answer your questions.
Gmood: your description of the Brines is amazing and I've emailed Bob Brines for more info. Although what you describe is exactly what I'm looking for, I'd hate to buy them without hearing them first. I don't suppose you live within reasonable driving distance of Toronto? :) When you say they don't sound like other SD speakers because of the BSC do you mean that your speakers sound different from the other Brines speakers or SD speakers in general? What exactly does the BSC? I'm kinda leaning to the LTs since I have a smaller room and need the higher sensitivity. Does the BSC work on the LTs as well?
Another tube friendly single driver with great bass, that is made closer to you, is the Gemme Audio VAVICE made in Montreal. So you might find a dealer close by.
I have the Tanto which employs the same Vflex technology, and the same cabinet I believe.
Not only bass :) These speakers disappear as a sound stage of music flows out from a musical bass foundation, to die for mids, and on the the high end. Worth a listen.
thanks for the tip Springnr, the Gemmes also sound very interesting, 20 to 20K from a 4" driver!!! I'll have to look into them also.
All of Bob Brine's speakers use baffle step correction circuits installed.
You can read about the BSC on his site. When I say they do not sound like most SDs it is because of the BSC and the mass loaded transmission line.
Unfortunately I'm in the the southeast. You would be more than welcomed to come over for a listen if I were near. I totally understand wanting to hear before you buy. I took the same chance..it paid off for me.
The few that I know that own these speakers are scattered. Two in California, one in Wisconsin and Ohio, and two in New York city. Mijknarf
here on the Gon has a pair of the LTs that he seems to enjoy. They replaced Green Mountain audio Callistos .
You could ask him his impressions of this model. Bob's speakers have a very smooth and well behaved frequency response compared to most SDs. They do not have that signature shout some complain about.
This is one of the reasons it is so hard for me to find a speaker to replace them. I like a speaker that I can listen too all day long without fatigue. There are few that I could live with for a long period of time because of the way they are designed.
If you are accustom to tipped up highs or 50 Hz bass humps..you'll be bored with these speakers. They'll only give you the bass if it is in the recording. Their not going to make up for a recording that is overly compressed.
You can add a tweeter if you desire more air. I find for my taste this is unnecessary.
Those Gemme Audio VAVICE sound quite interesting as well!