Question back to you, how well does the 45 watt tube amp push the Europa's?
Question back to you, how well does the 45 watt tube amp push the Europa's?
When compared to the solid state Odyssey amp, I don't think the tube amp drives the Europas as well as I would like. I am beginning to think that the Europas want a lot of current and quick power during high transients (like loud drum beats). I was wondering if anyone has had similar experiences since most of these system matching issues are trial and error.
Alot of it also is going to be personal preference. If you prefer mellow, middle of the hall presentations then the tube sound may be your thing. After comparing them for a while, I am beginning to think I like the front row, reach out and touch the individual musicians type of experience.
The McCormack is excellent paired with the Europas, it has alot of power and is an excellent all around amp. I have been contemplating the Gold revision but also have been thinking about tube amps too. Based on the latest review, the AES Six Pacs seem a good deal but I don't think they have enough oomph to push the Europa's properly. I think Roy said they need at least 75 tube watts.
Sold my Coda Continuum Stage+ and Grounded Grid tube pre ($3K total) and am using the Panasonic SAXR45 with the Philips 963sa upsampled to 24/192 in a pure digital format with the Stereovox HDVX cable. The sound is unbelieveable. I have some somewhat snobby high end audio guys for friends and had them over for a listen when I first received the Europas. Put a sheet in front of the Panny and the Philips, the guys thought I souped up the Coda/GG combo, I pulled the sheet away and you should of seen there faces when they saw the Panny and the 963sa, priceless. Plan on doing that at one of our audio club meetings BTW, both loved the Europas and will strongly consider them when they are ready for a speaker change.
When I went with Europas, my amp was a Pass x-250, sound was awesome. I wanted to downsize and take a bit of equity out of my system, so, I went with a Manley Labs Stingray (50w tube). Most won't believe me, but bass improved, soundstage opened up huge, I lost a little of the high frequencies, but the trade of was worth it. I can't imagine needing more.
Great thread! I was just about to open it up myself. I have had my Europas for almost a year now and I have decided to take the upgrade path suggested by Roy. That would be because I am in Hi Fi Nowhereland here.
I have gone with Audio magic IC's and they were a big step up from Signal cable. Then, last April 15th I overspent (oops, darn!) and picked up a Birdland Odeon Ag W/upgrade. Finally we get to my amp-----still the Nad C370. However now I run on the main only by using the Birdland's volume control. Big, big difference! I switched back to the pre-in and it sounded wooden and woolen. Could't take it for a minute---no way.
Anyway, I think Stingray and Mccormack Gold rev A--just don't know yet. For now, the Nad main amp is okay.
Hope we get more responses. That would help.
I use a Musical Fidelity A308 integrated. I haven't tried different amps with the Europas, but I love the MF, and I would guess it mates pretty well. It has plenty power. It also has very detailed, extended highs, which go very well the the Europas detailed, yet slightly soft sound. (soft to my ears maybe because I've justed switched from Thiel 1.6's)
Appreciate knowing about what you think works well. Thank you!
About the powers recommended by me:
70W tubes, 120W solid state. Yes.
In my experience, this is not unique to Europas, and I think it is useful to know how we (and others) arrived at those power levels for an 88-89dB sensitive speaker.
These 70/120W into 8 Ohm ratings are necessary to supply the Peak output for listening at loud, lifelike levels at 11 feet away, in a moderately-dead room with good carpet, from reference recordings having the highest peak-to-average ratios, at the altitude here, into a 4 Ohm speaker.
If you listen 8' away- cut those values in half, for your LOUDEST peaks on those reference recordings.
If you listen to compressed recordings, at 8 feet, cut those powers by 75%. Most recordings are compressed, which is intentional, essential, for us to enjoy them at average SPLs.
If your room is fairly live, make that 85%
And that's at our 6500' elevation. For most listeners who live where there is actually air, knock off another third from that final value.
Which means 70/120 becomes 10/20Watts. Peak. In Pittsburgh, at 8 feet away, for James Taylor (Etta James- make that 30/50 peak), in a quiet room having an average residential RT-60 decay, for what most folks consider "fairly loud": the low 90dB range on the Radio Shack meter, peak.
For reference recordings, 40/60 seems plenty. Peak, into 8 Ohms on fast transients, at 8' away in Pittsburgh, for this 4 Ohm loudspeaker.
Have a look at the power supply. Into 4-6 Ohms, many tube amps act like they have more power-supply-related "oomph" than than the same RMS-power SS amps. At least those below a 70W rating. I'm no expert- is this indeed the difference for my 70W and 120W recommendation? Any amplifier designers who'd enlighten us?
How do some listeners get away with 7-10 W tube amps on speakers of average sensitivity?
Because they are less than 7 feet away, and have very little background noise from the world outside.
Because their system and speakers are broken in really well.
Because the gear was chosen for its purity and clarity at very soft levels
(which seems easier for tube amps than SS, $for$).
Because they have cleaner electricity (late at night).
Because using this system, they have re-learned what it is to hear very quiet sounds, training mind and body to hear and feel everything musical at soft SPLs- under 85dB peak, including their reference recordings. Which is a few watts/channel. Where most amps are still in their class A mode, fortunately.
Try to audition an amp late at night, and run through as much music as you can, at very soft and very loud volumes, besides "your normal volumes". If it is a better amp, every recording would be improved at every loudness. Live with the amp for a week, don't think about it, then replace it- as valid as listening to one song then changing it, but often leading to different impressions.
Reference recordings with high peak-to-average ratios include direct-to-disc Harry James LPs, "Jazz at the Pawnshop", Christian McBride's "Gettin' To It" CD or Clark Terry's "Live at the Village Gate" (Chesky), some Allison Krause or early David Grisman, "Far More Drums" from DMP label, the Reference Recording CDs/LPs of the Turtle Creek Chorale, the old Mercury and RCA classical re-issues.
There are many more, but you have to look at the recording info sometimes to tell. Folks are often delighted with the apparently wide dynamic range of Dire Straits- yet it is compressed and greatly peak limited, especially on the drums. Their expertise in the studio, like that of Prince, Sting, Alan Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Rush, Supertramp, Tina Turner, Cher, Elton John, Tori Amos, Neil Young, Brooks and Dunn, most new-age music engineers, makes compression and limitng an impressive sound.
With the Europas I've used Conrad Johnson MV-75's (updated/upgraded by their original designer, Bill Thalmann), either in 75wpc stereo or 150wpc monoblock configurations, a Conrad Johnson Premier 11A at 70wpc, and an Odyssey Audio Stratos. All sound great to my ears. My preference nearly always falls toward my now hot-rodded MV-75s, but occasionally not by a lot.
Roy, thank you for the additional information. BTW, here is an email sent to a colleague of mine from you (headers/info deleted.) I did not fully remember your earlier advice, and the question does make reference to medium listening levels, something you have posted publicly that Pete Whitley regularly exceeds:
>It has been so busy, I could not remember if I got back to you on this:
>>Could you please give me any opinions on integrated amps listing for under about 1,500? Since I rent, the size of my room may vary, but probably will be less than 20 x 20 x 8. I don't tend to listen much above medium volume levels. Many kinds of music.
>I wish I was more familiar with all the choices, but I think you would want at least 40Watts into eight Ohms for tubes and 60 for solid-state- you need the power for the brief peaks, and more power would be better, if you can keep the sound quality. I would check with our dealers listed below for amplifiers, as they try really hard to hear everything and not just stock what the magazines say is good.
>>Are there particular stands you like?
>No brand comes to mind- although Target has always been good. The stand height depends on your ear height AND your listening distance. See the first page of the attached owner's manual, an MSWord document, ok? The speakers are 8x10 on the bottom, and a top plate 6-7" wide, 8-9" deep would be appropriate. Use very small, 1/8-inch balls of BlueTac to keep mid-frequency resonances out of stands.
>Lastly, do you have a dealer list for eastern PA, southern NJ or NYC?
Thanks for the email copy. I still stand by that advice- my answers above on Power are more explicit.
And Pete is not a wild man- he's just being Pete. There can only be one.
We all use up a lot more power, very quickly unfortunately, when we finally decide to play it LOUD, listening 15+ feet away.
If we just start to clip any amp, often we don't notice that at first, in some speakers because they are not clear (agile) enough. And in the Europas, in my opinion, this is because they don't "hold onto" an amp's clipping distortion- the actual onset of clipping is not magnified by them (its duration extended).
Any brief hardness/harshness from the amp remains brief because A) it does not trigger some particular cone resonance, etc. and B) because the time-coherent design keeps the packet of energy concise, if you will.
So then, if you don't hear what you think is clipping, it seems ok to take it up another full notch, to put the hammer down, because we say it's ok. But clipping any amp, or peak power levels exceeding 80W into 8 Ohms on compressed rock, means the tweeter will eventually go. Just like racing a sports car- new tires every race. About $30 for a re-tread here, per cab.
One can hear the clipping of course, if you know the recording and then take the loudness up very, very, very, very slowly, until you hear the amp just start to haze the image, then hear compress the depth, then finally rat-out the leading edges ever so slightly, but only on just one particular 'yelp' from the voice... sounds like a brief mic or mic-preamp overload (like an old doo-wop recording), except.. it goes away with a few dB decrease in the volume.
This is not the speaker distorting, because speakers, of any kind, seldom "clip" harshly- they just gradually compress the dynamics, then finally hard-limit (clip) in the woofer's stroke (or fuzz out at large excursions), or the tweeter finally blows up.
The gradual-compression effects in speakers are just that- gradual. They do not "go away" because you reduced that slowly-increased loudness by 3dB (half the power). Nor do you hear THE problem of image diffuseness, hardness on the voice, etc "come back" because you went back up by just one dB.
Hope I said that clearly- sorry if you have to re-read that. It's a linearity issue. Speakers and amps have different ways of leaving their linear behaviour regions. It's why an amp designer can tell the size of a power supply on just about any speaker at only modest SPLs. The departure from linearity he has trained himself to hear from a transformer is different that what speakers "always" do to the sound. He's also heard a lot of speakers.
So you miss the fact that the amp is starting to clip on rock, or loud R&B, etc. Because you don't care, because you don't know the recording that well yet. So you crank it on up one more full notch and leave it there- then the tweeters eventually die in the Europas, because you are near 100dB AVERAGE levels at 8 feet away. Which means pounding loud at that distance, yet merely "pretty darned loud" at fifteen feet, especially if the room is not a lively one.
It is always instructive to borrow a high-horsepower amplifier, even if you know it will be rougher-sounding than what you have, just so you know what happens from having the large power-supply capacity available on a moment's notice.
The Europas can handle peaks, briefly, to 120W into 8 Ohms, midband, like a snare drum whack, which at 8 feet away, is about twice as loud as most people think as being LOUD. Close to "my friends up on stage at 20 feet away- can't hear you right now!" loud.
Which in some societies is considered fun.
Ok guys, here's a list of amps that were recommended to me for use with the Europas by an excellent source of information on this type of thing.
A properly re-built 17W/channel Dynaco SCA-35 integrated amp on e-bay. About 40 years old. (~$350 or so. They come up weekly- look for ones that have had "capacitors replaced and new diodes installed".)
The new Blue Circle integrated amplifier ($1100?).
Edge amplifiers (edgeamp.com ?) in Florida.
newest Plinius integrated.
Manley tube gear.
VAC tube gear.
Joe Curcio's website (can't remember)- Dynaco modifications.
Welbourne Labs in Denver (kits).
Birdland.com for DAC someday.
Audio Magic (audio-magic.com) for the finest cables etc I have heard, including their own DAC (expensive).
A used Tandberg integrated amp (Soundsmith.com I am pretty sure specializes in Tandberg).
A Kenwood KA-600 used integrated amp- silver, from the late 70's. Good luck finding one. Not a "601" or any other model number- just "KA-600" (or the smaller KA-500). They don't get on e-bay very often.
Croft amplifiers from England (tube, fairly $$)
Wavac brand tube amps (big $$ unfortunately)
Something our dealer in central California is carrying- an integrated I cannot remember, but I think $1500 (too much $$??) See attached dealer list for MotherlodeAudio.com
The Marantz PM7000 on e-bay- excellent. Also the PM-94 model.
The used Harmon/Kardon gear from the early to mid-1980's- typically champagne/light gold colored.
Used McIntosh tube gear on e-bay, and at Audio-classics.com
I am still waiting to purchase Europas, and am looking at a pair here. I recently purchased a Cayin 30/watt channel tube integrated, and love the sound. Since I listen from less than 8 feet, I am hoping it will suffice for the Europas.
OT, Roy, any word on when the "new" Europas will be available?
We are still shipping/catching up on the last orders of the current Europa to dealers. We are working on a replacement, but I need to wait a little longer before announcing the details- thanks.
The difference is clarity more than in musicality, I'd say.
The replacement's higher price finally reflects the increased parts costs we have been sitting on for more than a year, and the extra labor we found we could never get away from when finishing the marble. And petroleum prices (the resin and the shipping). And the weakness of the dollar. And since this isn't a forum for marketing...
Several customers called me about the Cayin integrated amp out of the blue, to say how absolutely pleased they were. Collectively, they had heard a lot of amplifiers over several years each, and from what they talked about, I have little doubt that it is special.
I have used tube amps of many brands, of that power rating and less, and if I am in
A) within 12 feet of the speakers, AND
B) not in an overly-dampened, non-resonant room (a heavily-carpeted basement with low, treated ceiling),
then this Cayin will be enough power for most any music, at all but the loudest levels. And probably even at the loudest levels, given your 8' listening distance.
Next best $$ after that, IMO:
Put Audio Magic Sorcerer interconnects on it and give them about 300 hours together with varied music.
Use Black Diamond cones under CD player.
Also, seems like importer has tube advice/mods???
In the second-to-last paragraph above, I said "Most any music.. at all but the loudest levels". This does does not conflict with my advice about high power and loudness above. This is about being with the music everyday, and this amp should be great from what I hear.
On the best gear here, it is really easy to hear when the rhythm section pushes the tune forward, just a little, and when it pulls it back, just a little, etc. Things in the music you've heard live that make it fun, but you kind of forget about when casually listening (if not, you'd throw the car radio out the window).
Anyway, I do hear that swing to the music from a lot of small tube amps, notably ones of good, strong power-supply- which I understand is in the Cayin. This also includes those amps in the list Dubzilla published above (that's my list).
I'd like to know what you hear! And from more owners, of course.
Thanks for the kind words Roy but Suits_me has it right. I love to listen loud as the evening wears on. With a first child on the way in two weeks I think the loud, alcohol induced, listening is going to simmer down and the quite listening/diaper changing will be the new thing. It's funny how you can tolerate ultra loud volumes after tieing one on. What's really funny is you listen at that level while sober and think "my God how did I stand it that loud!" No wonder I've destroyed three expnsive amps by touch wiring the speaker cables, moving speakers around while playing. Oh well, such is life as a Dead Head. (<:
Phasecorrect- I will be looking into that. If we were to change the tweeter, the circuit mods may be ones that you can't get your hands in to perform (nor could we). The woofer stays the same.
One would have to knock out the old crossover circuit (via a block and hammer), from which we could salvage maybe $25 of parts, with a half-hour to strip those out, and a few bucks credit for getting the old tweeters back. Two new circuits with tested, matched tweeters would be ~the price differential to the new speaker. Plus a fair amount of install work at your end. And it still wouldn't have all the improvements.
At the moment, it would seem selling `em to a buddy and getting the new ones would be the best way to have a comprehensive upgrade. But I will look into it.
Pete- congrats on the new baby! You'll be a great dad.
You are entirely right about listening "habits". We do what we need to do. Remember, the middle-ear bones are bridged by a small muscle that contracts to protect against loud sounds. This changes much of your hearing.
Listen loud and long with some good wine, and the muscle stays locked up, then relaxes some, as your mind eventually says "nothing here to worry about, ok?" But it still never relaxes completely.
During that contracted phase (like after a concert), several things happen:
Your threshold of hearing has been raised (friends need to yell at you),
the tone balance changes (for less bass and highs),
dynamic inflections are not as strong (less subtleties, and "big" changes need to be "bigger"),
the body takes over "feeling" the bass, because you are vibrating different parts of it more and more,
the pitch of the song rises (for psychoacoustic and/or mechanical/biological reasons).
So you are shocked the next day. Just don't do that every evening, and chances are your hearing won't suffer too much beyond what you lose with age, and by living in a city instead of in the country, in my experience.
But if you blow things up, we have parts. So proceed onwards, Mr. Whitley. Dad. Mr. Mom?
Just don't expose the little one to even a moderately loud TV program for extended periods (like an hour) if you can avoid it, ok? But you will expose him/her to music, right?
Have a good weekend y`all!
Hey Pete, a word of advice from the Dad of 2 very sound-sleeping kids: DON'T BE EXTRA QUIET for them. Listen to TV, stereo at normal volume (within reason), talk in normal voices. If you go around whispering "shhhhh, the kids are in bed", they will forever wake up at the slightest sound, and you might as well sell your speakers and buy headphones.......LOL. Further advice, avoid the basinette in your bedroom, put em in crib in own room from the first night home, or you WILL regret it. They will be just fine, and believe me, you will awaken from across the house at the slightest whimper anyway....
Roy, thanks for the advice, this little amp amazes me, even driving NHT VT2's for the time being (yeah, yeah, I know). Amazing little amp for my first venture into tubes, and for only $600!
OK, so the amp and the Osiris stands are waiting for the Europas. I guess the next purchase is the speakers themselves...........
Roy...thanks for the quick reply...for the moment...and probably well beyond...I am very content with my Europa purchase...every time someone hears the response is always the same:"where did you get those speakers!"...and this from folks who own Maggies,Vandies, and the like...I really dont want to monkey with the cabinet or crossover...so if there is every a time you could suggest a tweeter upgrade without the above mentioned hassles...let us Europa owners know...keep up the great work at GMA...just curious...what is the new price point for the Europas?
I would like to report excellent results using all Musical Fidelity SS system......amp used is A3.2cr rated 130 watts.
I also use HSU VTF3 MkII sub with Europas.
I currently own several very good pairs of @$1,000 monitors
and what I like most about GMA Europas is they have very balanced natural yet detailed sound which sounds very good on a wide range of real world music.....not just a handful of booring audiophile recording (we all know what they are)
Also soundstaging is close to the best available at this price level.
Some speakers I own are better in certain areas (Von Schweikert VR1 has more vivid detailed treble for instance)
and Europas do not have elegant appearance like others, but as far as overall sound quality and ability to play average recordings (rock) very well I think GMA Europa is as good as any $1,000 monitor I have owned. (we are only talking 5-6 top rated @$1,000 models here)
Also I wish people would tone down the "hype" a bit and only report what they have direct first hand experience with and not make exaggerated general statements about these vs other much more expensive speakers.
One other comment I prefer the Europas on upturned cones on speaker stand, instead of cones I use brass capnuts with dome top turned up into speaker bottom. Some pictures can be seen in system 1.
Right now am using the Europas with a Rotel 1065 receiver. I think it is 120 Watts. In a couple of weeks I am getting the Spectron Musician III for my main system so I will be pairing a modded PS Audio HCA-2 with the Europas. Anyone else experience their Europas actaully getting a lot better between the 500 hour mark and beyond? I guess breakin is a lot longer than 200 hours.
Will do Roy. Right now I am auditioning a pair of Khartago mono's from Odyssey Audio. Here are the specs:
150 watts into 8 Ohms class A/AB
300+ VA single toroidal transformer per channel
120,000 uF capacitance
>100 amps current RMS
Damping Factor >800 continuous @ 8 ohms
These amps sound nice with just a few weeks on them. They really can deliver power when needed. I became a little suspicious of my present tube amp (45 watt) when I started listening to more rock than soft jazz. Plus, I am going to move my setup from a 16'x12' room with 8' ceilings to a 18'x24' room with 11' ceilings and listening at around 10' away. I think I will need more power than the tubes could provide. The Europas still sound great. Still the best deal in speakers around.
Try contacting telescopetrader here on Audiogon (is there an underscore in that word?)- he had the Spectron amp (still does have?) and has had Europas on it and other amps for quite a while now. Perhaps he can tell you more about the 500 hour differences.
Personally, I know they continue to get better- clearer, less mechanical, more gentle when called for, as you pass the 500 hour mark. If you listen everyday, as we do, you hear the improvement. If you listen only a few times a week, it might be hard to tell any improvement after that 200 hour mark.
I'm enjoying hearing about all these amplifiers. Thanks! We can't get much new gear here in Colorado. Have to order it from the Sears and Roebuck catalog, it seems.
I use two different amps. (2nd one first) a pair of vintage/upgraded Heathkit A-9C integrated monoblocks with 20 wpc in a 17x18x11 room with carpeting. The one o'clock volume position is as loud as I can stand it. This is plenty of tube power for loud listening (and for insane listening...well...hard to say).
(1st amp) Forte 4a, Class A, with 50 wpc (and a LARGE power supply), same room. The 11 o'clock position is often louder than I can stand it. Preamp is an AVA modified PAS 3. This setup could produce insane levels quite readily and without effort.
What I discovered about amps powering Europa's is that I could not stand any amp with even a slight edge in the sound. It was TOO obvious and painful. Thus quality is so much more important than quantity (in my opinion). So, with Europa's, amp "rolling" could be an issue (and I say this after comparing notes with another Europa owner). Also, with the Europa's, clarity is so fine that I prefer normal listening set not quite as loud as I would have thought at first.