These are long out of production, and I don't know if the firm still exists but I doubt it. Golden Tube gear was reputed to have substantially more reliability problems than average. I personally owned an early SE-100 and could never get it to run without breaking down for more than a day or so.
But Golden Tube had many happy customers. Their most popular amp, if I recall correctly, was the SE-40.
Probably a lovely euphonic sound more than neutral, linear.
I would personally hesitate to buy one unless I knew electronics and could do my own repairs.
They are out of business, and have reliability issues. From what I have heard, schematics may be hard to get. Beware.
However, they are very good sounding amps. They can benefit from some mods, and can be real nice.
It's sort of a quandary, because they do sound good, but you don't want to get stuck with a broken amp that is hard to get repaired.
I'll basically repeat what was previously said i.e. good sound, horrid reliability. As far as having a tube amp fixed, unless it uses some type of OEM ( Original Equipment Manufacturer ) type of transformer or odd-ball part, that shouldn't be a big deal at all. If you look around, there are PLENTY Of people that can fix this type of stuff and do the upgrades that Twl made mention of. Sean
Thanks for the feedback. So what is a good tube amp to go with that is in the same price range?
The guy who made Golden Tubes is with Antique Sound Labs or so I heard.
The one that combines undisputed reliability along with excellent sound is Quicksilver M60.
This one also excells on tube longetivity and probably today's champion on this issue. Never I gues you would have to do anything with these amps. Jus plug and play.
I bought a pair of used Golden Tube Audio 40W monoblocks from a local audio store. They had been modified by Manley labs, I've had them for 2 years now and never had a problem. I'm fairly new to audio and have not listened to many different types of systems, but an old audiophile friend was extremely impressed with the sound of these amps and said they were a bargain at the price.
I read about the reliability issues - there is a long discussion on audioreview, and so a few months later I bought a second pair used on audiogon, thinking that I'd use them for parts when the first pair broke. Well, no surprise, idle amps beg for new speakers...I ended up getting a pair of used SL3s and set up a second system with the second pair of GTAs, and have used these for 18 months with no problems yet.
Maybe I've been lucky...but I highly recommend the GTA amps.
Hard to go wrong with a McIntosh MC240 or MC225; both around 1000 to 2000 depending on condition. Runners closer to a grand to 1500; pretty ones closer to 2000. Great amps with some minor upgrades to the components.
For the record and to correct the comment made in the first post
"Probably a lovely euphonic sound more than neutral, linear."
The SE40 is not overly euphonic nor does it sound particularly "tube-y". It is very neutral, especially in the midrange. It's single ended. Some of the best midrange reproduction, solid state or tube, that I've ever heard. So clean, it will embarass many amps as veiled and muddy. It just sounds good, not good for the price or good for an entry level tube amp.
Most people who say bad things about the SE40 are people who have never owned or heard it. It's just plain careless and useless.
Yes, reliability is a concern, but it depends. I've owned four SE40's over the years. Three were perfect, one had some problems, but nothing any competent tech or DIYer can't fix.
Another useability concern is that it is somewhat of a pain to bias. It has to be turned over and the pots are too sensitive and requires use of long plastic screwdrivers.
It also runs very hot. Great space heater for winter. Tube life is not as long as some, need replacing every two years or so.
All in all, the SE40 is a great amp, underrated, sometimes maligned, but loved by those in the know.
Another words we are talking Chinese made gear.I almost bought a new se40 when still made.But Thanks God the people at Audio Outlet convinced me to get A conrad Johnson MV-55
instead.Soon after I bought my MV-55 GTA went under.I guess Audio Outlet knew inside information.
Yioryos: "I guess Audio Outlet knew inside information."
...or they simply advised their customers to stay away from equipment of marginal reliability.
Zosima: "Another useability concern is that it is somewhat of a pain to bias. It has to be turned over and the pots are too sensitive and requires use of long plastic screwdrivers."
Does that ever sound like my Chinese-built New Generation poweramps (see My System). First disconnect them, get a couple towels for padding, remove the bottom covers, and reconnect the speaker cable. Each of the 8 pots in my 2 amps seem to have different friction, and they all have FAR too much range, so it's too much, then not enough, then too much...
Their good points? They were quite inexpensive, they're attractive, they're easy to work on (to upgrade), they have a triode switch, and they sound quite nice. I've replaced all the HV PS 'lytic caps with bypassed Solen 'propylenes, replaced the coupling caps with NorthCreek Harmony 'propylenes, and replaced the cathode-ground (IIRC) resistors with Mills NI 12W. wirewounds. Pics are at http://community.webshots.com/scripts/editPhotos.fcgi?action=viewall&albumID=278066578 .
Yes, I should have clarified that I've not spent time listening to the SE-40. I did have substantial reliabillity problems with my SE-100 and also read many others reliability complaints about this firms products. It could be that if you got a good one, it lasts a long time, I have no idea.
I had two good ones and they lasted for 4 years with no problems. I thought they had a really nice midrange but the bass was wanting so I sold them.
I have a Golden Tube SE-50 integrated amp. The problem is that I don't know how to set the bias. Does anyone out there know how to do so?
Don't buy them, their sound quality is questionable, I was very dissappointed. Also reliability can easily become an issue & the manufacturer is out of business as mentioned above.
As mentioned, I have a Golden Tube integrated amp and need to know how to set the tube bias. I'm very pleased with the sound of this unit. It has proved reliable so far. I've only had to replace the output tubes, thus the need to set the bias.
There is a Golden Tubes club on Yahoo where you'll be able to find the information you need. I don't have the link right now but if you go on Yahoo and search their groups, you'll find it. It's very active.
I had a 300B Amp from them. Wonderful sounding unit.
Just to chime in a bit.....See if this link works to the Yahoo! group for Golden Tube Audio equipment.
I have owned an SE-100 (1-6SL7GT, 2-EL34 (driver), 8-EL34 (output)) for over 12 years with just one initial issue. A capacitor went in the small input circuit board that the 6SL7GT is also mounted. GTA replaced it.....no issues since.
Yes, if an issue arises, there are many guys out there that repair these.
Very, very nice sounding amp......a little warmer than VTL 100 mono's. Absolutely beats the heck out of the Aragon 4004 Mk II I had before it (made it sound two-dimensional, grainy and much less life-like by comparison, and the 200w solid state amp didn't even produce better dynamics or bass to trade).
My only issue with the amp is the gold anodized front.....doesn't match anything else I have. Can this be changed? I love the look of the Cary V-12's.....and the GTA has me convinced that I like the 8 x EL34's. If anything happens to the GTA, I'd like to try the Cary.
The Golden Tube has been a great match for my Alon II's and ProAc Studio 200's. Both speakers, I believe that may prefer tube amps.
Foeraus, I think your comparison of the Golden Tube amp to a solid state amp is like comparing apples to oranges. But at least so far you are the only one that has made a direct comparison of one tube design (Golden Tube) to another like your VTLs.
Tube & solid state both have their advantages & disadvantages, matching the type of amplification to one's speakers can be a critical factor in deciding which direction you want or have to go.
Generally speaking some of the best solid state amps only offer a 2.5 dimensional sound. I too have owned the Aragon 4004 MKII and when paired with a good tube preamp it was much closer to a grain free three dimensional sound and to this day it still represents a major audio bargain at its price point.
My above post on Golden Tube Audio gear was not so positive although I did think the gear looked damn nice at the time. On loan from a local HiFi store I tried a Golden Tube used preamp & power amp (can't remember the exact model numbers of either but it was a few years ago). The store manager told me I would not be overly impressed with it and it turned out to be true. Maybe if I spent more time with it and had the chance to tube roll I could of possibly came to a different conclusion.
I thought they had a decent sound for the money. Compared well to my Mccormack dna 0.5. Better than anything new you could buy SS. My problem was reliability. Had it serviced twice. I still have it, would be interested in some of the mods. My old spectral 50 blows it away, though.
Foeraus, thanks for that link. It works fine, and I'll see if someone there has an answer.
I have an old SE-40 (parallel single-ended 40 wpc stereo) which sounded glorious, especially for the coin...but the circuit was unreliable and I threw in the towel after having it repaired twice.
It's still in my garage in Boca Raton, FL, free to anyone who wants to pick it up.
I just wanted to thank you in the forums for the opportunity to repair this amp, and give it a good home. You have it all arranged down there by now, I should be down in a few weeks to pick up from my friend, and meet you if you have the time.
As an aside Triode, what genre music do you enjoy ?
I had a SE-100 hooked up to Magnepan 1.6 speakers and the sound was wonderful until the amp sparked and a flame shot out of it. I had it repaired and never used it again. They are very nice sounding amps but I would go for something like a Rogue or McIntosh.
Well, my friend Mark just picked up the amp from Triode. I just want to state to anyone following this thread, and I will use the name Triode here, Triode does exactly what he says he will do.
Thank you Triode for the opportunity to repair and modify, and own a tube amp I would have had to save probably a year to purchase, and still have to repair.
Mark and I are making arrangements to meet up so I can pick up the amplifier and bring it home.
It will be in a nice home, and I will update you as to what I am doing to it, and when it is finished.
I picked up a modified SE-40 a few months ago and have been really happy. Sounds so good I'm on the prowl for another to run as a pair. The power is barely enough to run my NHT superpowersuckers but the addition of a second should cure that. I shouldn't comment on reliability as it's only been a few months but from what I gather the mods cure any issues.
My question is this: How the heck do I bias the tubes? I'm new to this, what tools do I need? I'm very handy and electronically inclined, is it absurd to do it myself? I'd rather not fork over my hard earned cash for something I can do myself.