Not trying to change your mind here but, why are you doing this? I know you said you were downsizing but, do you really need to? Are you moving to a smaller place and no longer have the space? Forced downsizing (such as a divorce, loss of income and you have to sell) and you have no choice? Don't need to know the divorce part, but forced downsizing tells me much. If not, I wouldn't get rid of that excellent equipment. But, if you have no choice, I would look at audio magazines that reviewed equipment in your price range. Find equipment that suites your ear (regardless of whether they are solid state or tube) and go from there. You don't have to limit yourself to strictly solid state. Within a price point there are just as good tube equipment as solid state. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't go with good solid state. I'm saying 1) if you don't really have to downsize, don't, 2) pick a price point and look at tube and solid state and listen in your own system to determine what suits you and go from there.
I am interested in your conclusions.
IF you like the tube amp sound but must downsize to an integrated amp, why not a tube integrated?
If you are looking for something different or more modern sounding, then a move to SS might yield dividends.
What works/sounds best mostly depends on ones goals. Lots of technical choices to achieve those.
Or how about a hybrid integrated? The newer Peachtree Nova integrateds seem to have gotten mostly everything right on paper and these are on my audition list. At least if digital source material is a big consideration.
Thank you both for your excellent and valued responses. Fortunately, the contemplated downsizing is not urgent nor forced. In fact, my wife of many, many years loves the sound of the system and is much more cautious than I am when it comes to change.
This "downsizing" notion of mine may be a function of getting older and thinking about "simplifying" my life. I must say that the MFA gear has been exceptionally reliable and trouble-free, and has required little of me except basic maintenance. Their physical presence in our living room cannot be ignored, however. :)
Perhaps the reason I started this thread is to "think" aloud with some feedback from a few dedicated audio kindred spirits.
I will be auditioning a pair of Larsen 6 speakers soon. If they meet my expectations, I will likely sell my upgraded Chapman T7's- a truly great speaker, but one which makes its physical presence known and requires placement at least 2 or preferably 3 feet from the wall.
Thank you again, and please feel free to give me more feedback. I've been out of the audio game for a long time and miss the courteous camaraderie. :)
Just my opinion but downsizing is a mistake. There I said it. Clean up your set-up, maybe buy a new table or rack but you wont like the results of moving down from the gear you have.
I would get Class A solid state.
I think you need to figure out what speakers you'll be using. Without that, its hard to make recommendations.
Your wife loves the sound? And you want to mess that up? (takes sip of single malt).
I wouldn't change a thing based on the reasons you provide. Change for change' sake alone is likely to be disappointing.
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. The more I think about "my situation" the less inclined I am to change electronics. The MFA gear has been extremely reliable and has required little more than basic maintenance during the many years we've enjoyed it. The upgrades I had Scott Frankland perform were beyond what was "necessary" but something I elected to do. Even it their original form, they sounded great.
Russ69 suggested I clean up my set-up, which I have been doing. A fine idea! The TT is a Rega P5 and does not disappoint. CDP is a Shanling CD-T 100se, a very nice unit. IC's and speaker cable are by Grover Huffmann. Great wires at a great price. They just get out of the way and let the music speak.
So, that leaves the speakers. As I mentioned, I expect to be auditioning a pair of Larsen 6's soon. The reason I'm interested in those is that they are smaller than the Chapmans and are designed to be placed against the wall. Hence, they will be much less intrusive, and, if I like the sound, the days of toe-in are over. No more searching for the "ultimate sweet spot." :)
Our new living room/audio configuration dictates I sit fairly close to the Chapmans and it's not an ideal situation. I'm too aware that the music is coming out of boxes. This is NOT the Chapmans' fault, but it's how I have to arrange the room. A dedicated listening room is not an option. I will, however be installing a couple of dedicated electrical lines now that my wife and I have agreed on the room arrangement.
You guys are really helping me to sort things out!
See Ps, all you REALLY needed was a bit of encouragement to talk yourself out of it, good decision and continue to enjoy with your wife!
for a tubed integrated- I can suggest Audio Research and Rogue Audio-
for solid-state integrated- Pass Labs. Keep us posted on your situation. Happy Listening!
My suggestion, from a habitual changer of gear every few years or less, is to make 1 change (just change the speakers if you are so inclined) and then live with it for a few months. Otherwise, if you make multiple changes at once, say electronics and speakers, you won't really know which one is affecting the sound.
And live with the change for a while. I've noticed, and believe, we all have an aural memory. When you make a change, for better or worse, our ears remember the old sound that we used to have. It takes a while to get used to the new sound and forget the old. If you've had tube gear for years and are used to that sound, to change back to SS is a very big adjustment to make. Personally, I would not recommend it.
If it were me and I had tube gear for years and wanted to change electronics, I'd get other tube gear or a tube integrated. From personal experience, I've made the change many times from tubes to SS and every time, I've regretted it. Unfortunately it was done more out of necessity than anything else. I'm a tube guy at heart and when I go SS, I end up having the itch every few months to want to get different gear; however, whenever I've had tube gear, I'm content not to make any changes for a much longer period (5 years or more).
Get a Class A Accuphase or Luxman integrated. These are the top 2 integrateds, imo.
Thanks again, you guys. I am learning a lot here. I will make but one change soon, and that will be speakers.
Lou_setriodes, I appreciate you sharing your experience and completely agree about aural memory. And, I can see myself easily becoming a "habitual changer" and do not want to go there. :)
My goal with the speaker change is to remove the two large floor standers from our living room and I hope this will make it much easier to simply sit and enjoy music. I've been cautioned by a trusted dealer NOT to get rid of the MFA tube gear. He, too, said I'd regret it. I built a very heavy but attractive audio rack a few years ago, and all the gear, while hardly unobtrusive, sits on the rack in a purposeful way. The rack is in a corner so it's a reasonably tidy presentation, and not in a visual or traffic path.
I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Larsens and will let you know how that goes.
I am not going to perform any tweaks or any other changes until I've lived with the new speakers for sufficient time. This should be quite fun and at the very least, interesting!
I agree, I would not touch the MFA gear it is classic tube gear and the preamp was especially very highly acclaimed. What kind of output tubes do the mono amps have? I am not as familiar with them, but remember reading incredible things about your preamp. Would love to see pictures of your system and room when you have an opportunity.
"I agree, I would not touch the MFA gear it is classic tube gear and the preamp was especially very highly acclaimed. What kind of output tubes do the mono amps have? I am not as familiar with them, but remember reading incredible things about your preamp. Would love to see pictures of your system and room when you have an opportunity"
I appreciate your comments. The term "habitual changer" is now in my lexicon! :) I am using 4 matched Genalex Gold Lion KT-88's in each amp. They are a substantial improvement over the old 6550's. I am not much of a tube roller but I also have a set of almost new matched Ruby KT-88's which I'll try one of these days. Scott Frankland did a fantastic upgrade on the Lumi Preamp- taking it as far as he could. Even though it sounded darn good prior to his work, I was astonished at how much better it sounded after the upgrades. The amps were also noticeably improved but not quite as dramatically as the Lumi.
This thread has helped me to understand that change may not always for the better. :)
I'll see about doing a snapshot or two of the system.
Regardless of amplification technology used, a focus on coherency in the sound can yield great results for minimal cost.
Ironically, often the less complex gear tends to be the most coherent sounding. ICs and speaker designs, especially in regards to crossover and baffle geometry, are two areas of focus that can yield big dividends and work well with any kind of amplification if matched well to the speakers.
SPeaker wires used may also yield dividends in regards to coherency but I have not dabbled much there to-date.
Specific products I have heard that are particularly coherent:
DNM Reson ICS due to simple cost effective minimalist design I believe
OHM Walsh and Triangle speakers due to use of wide range main drivers and/or simple crossover
Any Walsh design speaker or even more conventional single driver full/wide range speakers should also share similar traits regarding coherency.
Another 2-way speaker brand I have not heard that I believe to have these traits is Ref 3a. I have also seen some older Meadowlark designs that are said to do well in this regard. Thiel perhaps as well.
There is a thread going on about the DEQX digital correction solution that addresses the time coherency issues inherent in many systems. Teh consensus seems to be that this is a real issue in many cases and specialized digital processing to compensate these days is a viable solution.