HELP ... Need Advice/Recommendations on Tube Amp


Hi, all. So, the upgrade bug is calling, and most you likely know how annoying that can be. For years I have been using a tube preamp (BAT VK-3i) and a SS power amp (Musical Fidelity A300cr @ 225 wpc). Since I  bought new speakers a little less than a year ago (JA Pulsars), I was wondering whether a tube power amp  might produce even better sound than I'm getting currently. 

I've been looking at the Carver Crimson 275 (75 wpc) and the Rogue Stereo 100 (100 wpc). The Carver looks really interesting ... the Rogue does as well, but it requires manual biasing. I know the jury is still out on manual versus auto biasing, so I'm not sure which way to go on that issue. Anyway, I have never owned a tube power amp before and can't audition most products due to my current location. Any thoughts on the above or recommendations for other tube amps would be much appreciated. Thanks.
rlb61
Don't be scared of manual bias.  If you can set the time on your watch, you can bias your amp.  :-)

That Carver really interests me, too.  A really novel implementation that allows tubes to run cool enough to touch, and supposedly they last 5 years.


Manual biasing should not be a big deal when you are looking to purchase a tube amp. I have Quicksilver amps and in the ten years that I’ve owned them I only had to bias them is when I replaced the tubes. You might take a look at Quicksilver they are point to point wired and built like tanks!
http://quicksilveraudio.com/amplifiers/
Keep in mind that the Pulsar has an efficiency of only 83.5db. The load is not particularly demanding, so a tube amp would work ok. However, you may have limitations in ultimate volume level, especially when compared to your 200+ wpc solid state amp.
Take a look at the modulus of impedance the speaker exhibits (fancy term ;-) . If it strays far from it's nominal impedance (4 ohms, 8 ohms), you will want a tube amp with a low output impedance to keep the frequency response of the speaker from following it's moi. Many tube amps don't.
I really wish the tubes were more visible on the Rogue Stereo 100. Part of the appeal of tubes (with me anyway) is actually seeing them out in the open
@aberyclark ... agreed. I really like to see tubes glow, especially big power tubes. Plus, in order to manually bias the tubes on the Rogue, you have to remove the cover held on by ten screws.
BAT, Dehavilland, VAC, Music Reference, Atma-Sphere, Manley...plenty of nice options. Read the other recent thread about tube amp manufacturers, so many happy owners. Cheers,
Spencer
Be aware, the Rogue Stereo 100 is really a 50w or 55w amp in Triode mode which is how you are likely to prefer listening to it.  The 100wpc is in Ultralinear mode where you will get tighter bass but lose a lot of the detail and nuance that make tube amps so special.  It is still a wonderful sounding amp but want to make you aware of what you are getting.  

I have read some great reviews of the Carver but haven't heard it.   
I use a PrimaLuna Dialogue integrated. PL also makes a stand alone amp. I couldn't be more satisfied and am "thrilled" at the tone, body and dimensionality I'm experiencing. In my many decades as caring about good audio I'd owned several tubed amps and went SS when I got tired on manual biasing, monitoring tube life, system hum etc. What I have now has made owning a tube rig a no brainer. There is virtually none of the issues I had experienced in the past. BTW, I owned a VK-5i pre-amp at one time running into a SS VK 500 amp. Good luck in your search. I'm never going back to solid state again.
I would highly suggest looking at the BAT VK55 used its in the same price range and its a really nice amp.  It will match up nice with your preamp.  Im interested in the new carver as well, heard it at the local store,  going to bring it home and try it one of these days. I think they are hitting a nice price point with the new carver amp.
@batman1971 ... how did you like the Carver?
Jolida power amps are easy to bias and simply giant killers at their price point. Before joining the "Single Ended Amp Slave to Efficient Speakers" cult I used a Jolida 502p for years and it sounded great, and was far less expensive than any other similarly equipped amp out there. I think they've improved them recently (model 3502p?) with "actual" balanced inputs and a switch to allow many differing tube types beyond the 6550s, KT88s, KT120s and 150s I used in the thing.
Be aware, the Rogue Stereo 100 is really a 50w or 55w amp in Triode mode which is how you are likely to prefer listening to it.  The 100wpc is in Ultralinear mode where you will get tighter bass but lose a lot of the detail and nuance that make tube amps so special.  It is still a wonderful sounding amp but want to make you aware of what you are getting.  

I have Rogue M-180 monoblocks and much prefer the sound in Ultralinear mode. 

Here's a quote from the Stereophile review of the M-180s.  I agree with their assessment of the differences.

"Early on in my listening, I did a great deal of comparing the Rogues' triode and ultralinear modes. Given my love of single-ended solid-state amps, I was sure I'd prefer triode mode. Wrong. Though triode sounded a bit more relaxed, its lack of power was very obvious in my system. Triode mode also seemed to cast over the music what I heard as a slight veil or scrim, whereas ultralinear mode played to the M-180s' strengths of immediacy and in-the-room image palpability. After those early experiments, I pretty much left the Rogues in ultralinear mode."

Perhaps with some gear triode mode would sound better?

I haven't heard the Stereo 100, so don't know if the voicing is the same, but would assume that results will be similar.