I'm not sure of your budget, but I have heard the Audio Note Kits 300b Interstage Mono Blocks SET version with many upgrades. I'm lucky to have a friend who has a pair of these on Carfrae Little Big Horns (6moons road tour exit 1). Absolute best sound that I have ever heard! Check them out on the AN Kits site.
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Thanks Rodge827 for the suggestion. I should start building my own amps. Unfortunately I have too many hobbies as it is, maybe in a couple of years if and when I can afford to retire.
Goldeneraguy, I borrowed the 845-G SE's some time ago and I thought they were wonderful with my Merlins, although I bought a Joule instead. It would be interesting to hear what the 845s do for the Hornings. I have Thoress preamp thats the best audio component I've purchased in a long time. It's what led me to picking up the Thoress amp as well.
Charles1dad, true the 300b is hard to beat but I've never owned a 2a3 or 45. Can the Hornings handle 4 watts? I've heard that the Hornings sound better with more watts than even my 8 watter. And of course there's the sound preference. I love the sound of a 45 tube and I've been seriously contemplating a Deja Vu 45/2A3 (another Audiogon-er put this amp in my head when I owned my previous efficient speakers). As for the Berning ZH270, I've had this amp for almost 10 years. In those 10 years it hasn't seen a lot of action. I also owned a Joule VZN-80, which I far more preferred. The reason why I've never sold the Berning is its just a friggin' 10lb amp! I can bring it with me when I go listen to someone else's stuff. If youre interested, it's going on the market soon.
I guess you may have gotten caught up with the Joule-Merlin
synergy that so many posters and reviewers write about.I'm sure that combo sounded great but I am a big fan of deHavilland 845 amps.
If you are finding joy with the 8 watts from your 300b's I wouldn't try a 2a3 or 45 amp.Your speakers are 96db and may need the higher wattage.Your Thoress amp and pre are special components when mated together.
Where are you located ??
Yes you're probably right regarding the 45/2a3. I also have a huge room, but I listen mostly to acoustical music. It still would be fun to try a 45.
It's not exactly like I'm looking for something better, just different. I like a slightly warmer breathy midrange sound that you occasionally hear in a 45 and some 300bs. I wouldn't be selling the Thoress. It's here to stay.
As I mentioned in my original post, some people think the Hornings sound much better with more watts. I'm not sure how much is more, but 18 to 24 would be sufficient for me. The 845 is a good suggestion as well as a 211. If I had the spare change that Tron Telstar would be it.
Audio Note Kits has a 20w Push Pull 300b Interstage Mono Amp as well. All of the products on the AN Kits site were built by Pete Fulton. If you don't have the time for your own build, give him a shout he can be found here http://www.digitalpete.net/. He is knowledgable and reasonable too.
I use Art Audio Jota monos (Emission Labs 520 output tubes) to drive my Eufrodite Ultimate Zigmas, as I did on Agathon Ultimates before them, both have been great matches... I think the speakers see about 24 watts output maximum, but I've never gotten close to maximum gain on my preamp.
I think the extra power might just be giving these speakers a little extra jump, but couldn't swear to it, as I've certainly heard them both sound spectacularly good with less power- both at Jeff's loft and at several of his show set-ups.
Hope this helps.
Believe it or not, these speakers do well with some power. Or, at least, a lower power amp with some bottom end. Well, maybe it's not surprising, given the amount of woofer cone they have. The wrong amp will really show poorly, far worse than with a lot of loudspeakers, and the end result will be thin and harsh.
That being case, I don't recommend 300B amplifiers, not enough grunt. Try something else, and you'll likely wonder at how much music you were missing.
My Atma Sphere M60 and a friend's Transcendents were a terribly poor match. I haven't worked it all out, but OTLs work great with front loaded horns, but seemingly not at all with back loaded horns.
I get very nice results with my Dynaco ST70 and an el cheapo Chinese 6AS7G push-pull integrated. So far, the best I've heard has been the Deja Vu push-pull 2A3. That amp kept me and my non-audiophile headbanging buddy happy spinning things like Led Zeppelin or Kraftwerk at crazy volumes. Most surprising to me, my Jadis DA60 mates exceptionally well with them.
Dpe has already stated twice that he gets excellent results with his Thoress 300b, When it comes to 300b amplifiers there`s quite a range in terms of ultimate performance. Some have 'much' better transformers, stiffer power supplies and part quality than others.
Also much of the grunt/drive factor is influenced by the choice of driver tube. there are many variables that seperate 300b amps from average to outstanding.
To generalize is very in accurate.
Horning makes his own 300b amp, he must find them quite capable I`d assume. Some 300b amps would just be okay and there are others that would drive these Hornings to hell and back.
Actually Charles1dad you were correct, Horning did once make a 300b (Taj Mahal) and an 845 (Emperor). The Sati 520b appears to be the only amp he's producing now. From the posts on this tread only Latinsamba1 has heard the 520b. It would be interesting to hunt down Horning's previous incarnations, but I don't think you're likely to find many in the US. I haven't owned an integrated amp in years. With the exception of the external power supply, it would free up a lot of rack real estate. At least you know what this integrated amp was voiced with.
Trelja, did you hear a Deja Vu 2A3 Horning combination? Led Zeppelin on 5 watts, that's impressive.
Johnk, it's always a pleasure to hear from you and thanks for the recommendation by the way. I'm well aware that you're a big fan of both those amps. I previously had a pair of your speakers. I seriously miss the sound of the Seas Exotic W8 in your cabinets. I will eventually pick up another pair of single drivers speakers. I loved the soft enveloping sound of SEAS in your cabinets. I also think it was you who planted the seed in my head regarding the Mastersound 845 or 300b monos.
As 845s go, I would love to find a rare pair of Komuro 845. One of my A-gon friends once owned and raved about this amp. He's probably shaking his head now over this discussion. I blame my curiosity and yearning on him. ;-)
Charles1dad, I would say if Dpe's results were truly excellent, this thread would not exist.
Holding the variables you mentioned constant, the 2A3 tube will most definitely eclipse the 300B in terms of low end response and impact.
Taking the Lowther route, Isochronism's Beauhorn Virtuosos would be a better match for a 300B amplifier than the Hornings. Not to say that a 300B amplifier won't drive the Hornings, it most certainly will. But neither are you going to get to hear all of the speaker you paid for.
Dpe, yes, I did hear the Deja Vu push-pull 2A3 amplifier with Horning loudspeakers. I recently had that combination in my second system for a couple of months. Though I told my buddy (a fellow Audiogoner) who lent it to me to never sell it, I'd say if you are interested, he'd be willing to talk. It was the best amp I've thus far mated to my Hornings. Not sure where you are located, but if you're within driving distance of Philadelphia, most likely we can put the combination back together for you to come and give a listen to.
When I say crazy volumes, I mean 110 - 120 dB with both ease and requisite slam. My only complaint, you pay for some of that bass the solid state rectification yields by sacrificing a bit of tube rectification sweetness and romance.
Being a push-pull amp, as opposed to SET, its output was closer to 15 watts than 5. The much underrated 2A3 used in this configuration will sound a lot more like the typical 30 - 35 watt per channel tube amp, and the seat of the pants feel of the Deja Vu with the three loudspeakers I used it with was actually more than my Dynaco ST70, with some seriously meaty low end. 2A3 (2 - 5 wpc) SET amps will never come anywhere close in terms of power or extension.
I must respectfully disagree with your 2A3/300b comparison, it just restatting the usual stereotypes(bass performance varies widely among 300b tubes and individual amps) Both are fine DHT tubes, one is`nt inherently better, Far too many choices of 300b(wide ranging quality) to neatly apply general characteristics. It you prefer the 2A3 no problem,it`s all subjective, I prefer the 300b. A high quality 300b amplifier SET or PP will drive the Horning wonderfully, as would a high quality 2A3(PP),211,845 etc.
The fact that Dpe is curious about other amps(who is`nt from time to time) does`nt mean he`s disatisfied with his current 300b amp(which he clearly indicates he is`nt).
IMO he should try other amps, he may find better or just different, maybe realize that his current set-up is best afterall, who knows.
Dpe, Read up on the Cary 805 monoblocks. They may do the trick for you. This is what led me to a pair:
I own/owned 45, 2a3, 300b and 845 amps. My favorite is a 300b (well designed of course). I have them mated to "proper" speakers in one of my systems. My other system has Magnepan 3.6's and I wanted to see if I could get any of the SET magic to play thru them. I was able to pull it off with the Cary 805 (Anniversary Edition). This model (the AE) uses a 300b to drive either an 845 or 211 and is rated at 50 wpc with the 845 and 70 with the 211. It does what I had hoped for.
A big part of it might be due to using the 300b tube as a driver. I know that I can hear changes when I have used different 300b's like the WE,KR,EML and Sophia Meshes. I was also suprised that I preferred the 211 to the 845 but I do like them both and it's nice being able to switch.
My Maggies are less efficient than your speakers but it worked for this 300b "SET" lover.
My point exactly, you could audtion 5 different 300b amps in the same system and they would sound nothing alike. I`ve heard 2A3 amps sound great and others crappy.
Onemug, I would`nt advise a 300b SET to drive Maggies, but the Horning is an entirely different story.But your point in the effect of various 300b tubes as a 'driver' is spot on.
i've been using a pair of Eufrodites' in my 2nd system for a few years.
used to drive them with a 211 based SET (Kondo Ongaku) but felt the combination to be overly euphoric. i've since been using 6c33 based SET amps (Lamm ML2.1). timing & general presentation seems more neutral, but i'm not entirely convinced. still prefer my 1st system.
Atmasphere, interesting that you suggested your M-60 for the Horning. 60 watts would certainly up the power in comparison to anything I've driven the Horing with thus far. Actually I would think the S-30 would be more than sufficient power for either the Aristoteles or the Eufrodite. By the way I always spend a great deal of time listening to the M-60 and CAR T1s at RMAF. Very impressive!
I also (naively) find it confounding when power equates more bass extension. I doubt I listen to very much music that goes below 40hz, Led Zeppelin doesn't get spun that often and even if it were I'd just be listening to Jimmy Page's acoustical tributes to Bert Jansch. So rather than thumping bass notes I would rather hear great bass articulation from the sound that I do enjoy.
Another puzzling thing for me is 11flat6 term: "euphoric", which I take for meaning exceedingly warm. When I attend a live performance of someone like jazz guitarist Jimmy Bruno and his Fender amp, I'm not hearing a resolving defined sound; rather the sound is euphoric (if my interpretation of this word is correct) and fusing. When I listen to a Bruno recording I want to hear a little heat and breath to emulate that Fender amp. I've heard a lot of amps render that sound sterile. Having said that, I'm not quite sure I want the same sound when listening to an un-miked acoustical guitar. From some of my previous posts you'll get a similar rant regarding my love for definition and dissipation of jazz piano notes. In my cramped, but too large listening room I have two sets of speakers and have up until recently owned more than one amp. If I'm not paying attention to what I'm listening to, and it's music that I like, then I know that the sound is dry and sterile and it's time to switch out components or blame it on the recording.
Here I go rambling again, but I think my initial post implied that theres no one solution depending on what we listen to and how varied it might be. I think we convince ourselves that where were at in the evolution of our sound systems is the end all be all, but for a curious person like myself I always have an insatiable urge to further experiment and entertain others opinions. I like the idea of a 2a3 PP or possibly throw another OTL amp at them (Although I dont like the Horning/Berning combo, but thats just my preference).
I would encourage you to try OTL and other amps with your Hornings .Your Thoress may best them all if your priority is realistic, natural and full sound.
I visit local jazz clubs fairly often and acoustic instruments heard live are very full bodied,dense and have deep tone saturation.The sound is dynamic and immediate but always full of body and tone.
It seems many current components follow the audiophile standard of detail emphasis and most tend to sound lean,dry,sterile etc. They don`t sound anything like what I hear live at all. A good SET amp in my own experience comes closer to the realistic-organic sound I hear in the clubs.
If that type of music presentation is what you desire, your amp may be hard to beat. Certaintly other amps will sound different but better? You`re starting with a very good baseline for comparisons.
Best of Luck,
Charles1dad, "I disagree with that based on my own experiences."
Thus far, you've provided ZERO evidence that you were able to compare apples to apples when it comes to the 2A3 and 300B vacuum tubes.
Again, I will say, you need to hold ALL of the other variables constant before making your statement - transformers, power supply, circuit, driver tubes, etc. In other words, all of the things you previously laid out as making one amplifier superior to another. Then, and only then, will you be able to speak with any degree of authority.
This represents the essence of Scientific Method, developed out of the need to objectively draw conclusions when making comparisons between two things as we are doing with these two tubes. Otherwise, you're making a statement based on nothing beyond false hope.
Bud Fried liked to state that a backloaded horn was the opposite of a (true) transmission line. And, though of late it's become somewhat fashionable to try and equate the two, the differences come across as fairly obvious.
Though many times I've said that I've yet to find a better loudspeaker for the Atma Sphere than the TL. Conversely, I will again state that I have found that backloaded horns (Hornings and otherwise) do not mate at all well with OTL amplification (Atma Sphere or otherwise). As I've previously said, I haven't worked it all out, but there is something in regards to the impedance a backloaded horn presents to an amplifier that separates it from more ubiquitous loudspeakers, including front-loaded horns. What I am certain is Bud's point speaks to all of this.
That's not to say you can't drive this type of loudspeaker with such an amplifier. Obviously, you can. However, we all know that folks having poor (or worse) loudspeaker - amplifier marriages are as common as the day is long.
Like I said, preferences are what they are.It`s not important enough for me to debate about something as relatively trivial as the "better" DHT output tube.There`s no objective "test". Come on now, it`s just subjective, nothing more or less.Dpe can try some 2A3 amps and form his own conclusions vs his Thoress, no big deal.
Charles1dad, this is a classic case of one of Bud Fried's absolute favorite topics, cognitive dissonance.
Simply put, you've proved unable to address the question I've put to you multiple times.
You may have compared (some 300B, some 2A3) different amplifiers. But as you initially maintained, there are so many other elements that go into such a beast, the picture becomes too murky to understand. Yet to simply accept that is to give up, without having obtained any actual knowledge or perspective.
Again, the answer is to return to one of the tenets of the Scientific Method, to observe the differences of two items being compared, holding ALL other variables constant. I admit it's a difficult task, and few have the ability, opportunity, or even desire to do so.
If we're going to be honest, which is the only route toward knowledge, you have no idea as which tube you prefer. The reason I say that is because it seems likely you have never directly compared the two tubes.
You have your own amps, which use one of the two tubes (in reality and objectively speaking, which of the two is meaningless) currently under discussion, and you like/love them. That's fair enough. As you said, "As long as we are both happy with our choices/results what else matters?" You "hope" that the tube your amplifiers employ sound better. If they did not, perhaps, it somehow invalidates your own purchase/judgement, and throws you out of equilibrium - the comfort zone. It's far easier to go round and round with someone like me here than to face such a possibility.
My experience is that high-end audio is all about compromises, making choices around such, and then going about living with them. In truth, my opinion is that for your application, the 300B is the far better choice. While I've maintained that the 2A3 produces the clearly superior low frequency response of the two tubes (not sure why that is so threatening a proposition), I, and I believe most people, couldn't live with just one of them. A 2A3 SET amplifier is simply not up to the task of driving all but a very few loudspeakers.
Dpe / Charles1dad,
i didn't feel the Kondo+Horning pairing to be euphoric in timbre (tube rolling would address this), but rather in presentation. it was generally a tad echoey for my tastes (i.e. many recordings sound like they were done in a large concert hall - which sounds great for certain recordings, but somewhat unrealistic on others).
Lamm+Horning sounds quicker/livelier, but does not hv the ethereal & effortless quality of the former. maybe the grass is always greener on the other side? (i've most likely not found the right balance yet).
"Again, the answer is to return to one of the tenets of the Scientific Method, to observe the differences of two items being compared, holding ALL other variables constant. I admit it's a difficult task, and few have the ability, opportunity, or even desire to do so."
How is it possible to hold all other variables constant? You either have an amp designed for a 300B or an amp designed for a 2A3. Therefore there will be variables. What am I missing?
Sebrof, "You either have an amp designed for a 300B or an amp designed for a 2A3. Therefore there will be variables. What am I missing?"
Buy or build an amplifier that can run both tubes. The only difference one needs to account for is the heater filament voltage; easy enough to get around with a power transformer with multiple taps. The rest of the amplifier remains the same, and then you can directly compare the two tubes.
That effortless quality you refer to is priceless. When your system is capable of reproducing(retaining?) the ease and natural flow of music it`s indeed a wonderful achievement(and hard to live without once found).
At the RMAF this year I heard a number of rather expensive systems that lacked this quality and as a result they came off with a stiff and mechanical presentarion.
Trelja, what would there be about a rear horn-loaded speaker that would make it unsuitable for an OTL??
I can't think of anything... and they've worked fine every time I've tried them.
I can think of plenty of things that can cause a particular amp to not work with a particular speaker, but I have found examples of every kind of speaker technology that works with OTLs. I would think something like this:
or raw impedance to be a far more likely explanation for a specific mismatch.
Ralph, I think it comes down to what I relayed Bud being adamant about - a backloaded horn (BLH) and true TL are the converse of one another.
I believe your seminal work was done with a pair of Frieds, yes? The Frieds couple magically with the Atma Spheres. Even the current four ohm versions. In fact, the low impedance does not at all present the expected difficulty you see in more typical loudspeaker offerings. Bud was never surprised at this, and chalked it up to his raison d'etre - the resistive, not reactive loudspeaker via true TL, low Qts drivers, and (most importantly) series crossovers.
Unfortunately, as you know, he passed away (wow, has it really been almost a decade?!?) before I could really get it all out of him, and though he did provide a thorough and well thought out and worded explanation at the time, I'm unable to recall enough to discuss it intelligently. In summary, more or less, the TL will taper down as one moves through the line, snuffing out the backwave. The BLH will do the opposite, expand, and amplifying it. The ramifications of this are not subtle.
Fast forward a couple of years...a friend of mine who you know pretty well began using a well-known pair of single driver BLHs. One day we tried several tube amplifiers on them: an 16 wpc 211 SET, 15 wpc 300B PSE, 78 wpc Class A push-pull tube, and an 60(?) wpc OTL (not Atma Sphere).
For whatever reason, the first two amplifiers were head and shoulders better with these speakers than the latter. A real surprise, as other more ubiquitous speakers we had tried in the past always yielded the expected results. The two triode amps came across sounding powerful, particularly, the 211 SET. Most surprising, the 78 wpc PP tube amp, which one reviewer claimed sounded like 150 wpc, just could NOT put power into the speaker. Very strange, indeed. The OTL was thin, harsh, and lacking its typical low end performance. Perhaps, it could handle the driver itself, but the folded horn presented something far more difficult for it to push through.
Along these lines, I do believe there is something there in terms of the impedance these speakers present to an amplifier that is much different than the norm. It might not be something folks have yet been able to measure or quantify, but it's something that can be felt, heard, and experienced.
My own Hornings have been a challenge, the biggest I've had to work through in audio. Several times, I came close to giving up on them. The one thing that remained in my mind to the contrary was that Jeff Catalano has always done a masterful job in setting them up and producing what I consider perhaps the most natural and beguiling sound of any room at a show. It's taken me several years to get to the point where I now believe I can have these (or the next iteration) for the long term. Of course, no speaker (or product) is perfect. I do wish they imaged a whole lot better than they do. But the combination of clarity, dynamics, overall realism, and that aforementioned naturalness is something I do not hear in most loudspeakers I've been around.
Hi Joe, I understand your empirical position as being real, but I would not regard it as universal by any means with regards to OTLs and rear-loaded horns. It simply means that the amp you used sounded the way it did with that speaker, and it does not follow that that is true of all OTLs on the same speaker.
IOW it may be that your experience was real, but that it may well have been possible to make that OTL work better by playing with other variables- speaker cables and power cords come to mind- OTLs usually don't like long speaker cables and can be quite sensitive to cable design! BTW most OTLs other than ours use a lot of loop feedback, which can cause them to sound thin on a speaker that is built with low or zero feedback speakers in mind. see http://www.atma-sphere.com/Resources/Paradigms_in_Amplifier_Design.php for more information.
I have the Sati.
It's now back in Denmark for service so I'm running a couple of classic ss amps like the spectral 150 and ML 23.5.
They all work fine though I'm still struggling with some room acoustics that drive the bass all over the place. There's another thread discussing it.
Think though I've made some progress with it now.
Also, though I get great life, dynamics, height and width of the scene, I don't get that much layering and depth. Not sure why.