I've decided to try Tubes


I have been going back and forth a while. I was thinking of the Yamaha AS2100 to replace my B&K amp (ZU audio Omen Def speakers). For some reason I now have a tube bug. I first thought about DECWARE and now thinking of Primaluna after reading great reviews. If tubes are not for me, both should be easy to resell. I have an opportunity on a Primaluna Prolouge 5 stereo power amp. It has autobias (which is a must for me) and is easy to roll tubes. It comes with KT88's which seem to have better lower end than el34's (from what I read). 35 watts per ch is more than enough to drive my Omen Defs loud if needed (101 db). 

Thought's on the PrimaLuna and ZU combo (Peachtree NOVA-PRE)? I listen to Classic Jazz, Classical and Classic - Prog Rock mostly. 


aberyclark
I think that you'd find more color and interest if you went with a tube integrated, especially with those speakers. There are so many good ones for reasonable prices from companies like Cayin. You'll also get more dimensionality.
I've heard the Zu pair nicely w/Yamamoto amp. You need little power, maybe a SET amp would be the way to go. Most seek KT88s when driving tougher speakers. They aren't as refined as 845s, 211s, EL84s, let alone the tiny <10w Fi type amps. 
No reason to drop the motor from a school bus into a Prius. Cheers,
Spencer
Post removed 
integrated or pre-amp

pre-amp uses little power; the tubes last a long time and will give a tubey "musicality" (or a big phat sound, depending) even with a good SS amp

I have 2 tubed pre-amps and a SS amp
I paired Zu Unions with Atma-Sphere amp and pre and can say they are a winning combination. A used M-60 or  S-30 would be more than enough power and still be in your price range.
Bob
I would go with the Quicksilver mini-mites and preamp. Self bias, uses kt88/6550/el34/6l6, etc., American made by hand. No retrograde circuit boards. A really nice combo for not a lot of money.

Another recommendation for Quicksilver.  Point to point wiring, no circuit boards, big transformers.
+3 Quicksilver
It’s too bad that Mike discontinued the Mini-Mite. They were a real bargain!
http://www.quicksilveraudio.com/products/index.html
With those speakers you should be looking at SET amps. If you want a little more bass, as your post suggests, go with an 845. Here's a beauty, given top marks by TAS:
http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649217914-mint-line-magnetic-518ia-set-tube-amp-845-one-owner-gol...
Thanks for info. I checked out the Mini Mites a few years back. Too bad they are discontinued. My budget is approx $1300. I looked at Jolida and their quality control seems to have issues from what I see on many forums. Rouge is a little out of my price range. The cheaper Decwares seem to be a bit power shy with only 2 or 6 watts.
You  might consider the Coincident Dynamo 34SE MKII. The price is right, the company has a great reputation, and the reviews are excellent. I run my Zu Def4s with a 300b SET and like the combination.
Rogue Sphinx integrated is exactly in your price range (1299.00 without remote).  It's a hybrid (tube pre-/SS amp) that puts out 100 WPC into your 8 ohm speakers.  The only question is whether the hybrid sound is "tubey" enough for you at this stage.

I would call Sean - he will have multiple recommendations.


I actually wrote Sean a while back. He stated, unlike the Soul's, the Omen Defs are good with pretty much anything you throw at it SS or tube. I was using a Pioneer Elite AV receiver when I first got the Defs ( I had 5.1 at one point at the house before) and they sounded great. Same with my current B&K

Hello,

I 2nd the suggestion of the knowledgeable gsm 18439, the Canadian Coincident Dynamo MK II version. The current MK II has bigger and better transformers and improved (stiffer) power supply, crucial areas for tube amplifiers. This company is very established in terms of product reliability and customer service. I believe it would make a beautiful sonic/musical match with your Zu speakers.The original Dynamo was very well reviewed but the MK II is considered a definite step upward and is in your price range.

Best of luck,

Charles

I agree with others who say Quicksilver......great amps and more importantly some of the best support in the business.....

I have a pair of Middle Monos and love them,  huge performance for the money.   Super reliable and tough too,  I had a driver tube short out, it took the input tube along with it.....called Mike before doing anything and he said it was probably limited to the tubes and he was right.  Didn't even blow the main fuse .  Replaced the tubes and all was well.   Rock solid build quality,  huge bang for the buck
I meant Mid Monos.....damn spellcheck 
@aberyclark, the Primaluna Prologue is decent although the bass is a bit too loose for my tastes.  I thought the autobias feature while convenient is a bit gimmicky.  I prefer manual biasing.  The newer Jolidas are nice, don't overlook them due to posts from the past about QC.  I have a Jolida 3502 and it is simply superb.  Bettered the Primaluna in every way and I have owned it for a year without issues.  As others have said, Quicksilver amps are also really nice for the money.
We had a set of ZU Druids here for quite a while. It seems that all of the ZU lineup is tube friendly, and they are also fairly efficient, so you don't need a crazy amount of power.

If I had to guess my impression of the speaker is that its actual efficiency was a few db lower; more like about 97-98 db. They really seemed to benefit from some power, so we used them with our M-60s. They will make on special request, a 30-ohm version of the Definition, which works nicely with lower powered amps.
I'm not going to mention the excellent Jolida tube amps again as it simply makes me look like too much of a fanboy. However, like I've said before, tube amps make you personally seem more interesting regardless of whether you actually are.
@wolf_garcia 
Don't be ashamed for being a fanboy. When we hear what we like, it is only natural to share the enthusiasm.
And, yes, those glowing tubes do make us more interesting. ;)
B
No…I'm deeply, deeply ashamed…although I've mentioned Jolida amps exactly 10,412 times in these forums and all it's engendered is scorn and derision…and no free stuff from Jolida.

Wolfie, as an unabashed Vandy and Atma-Sphere fanboy, I understand your frustration. Hopefully, the saying 'no good deed goes unrewarded', will be applied to you. ( Me too ;)...).
B
Here's another vote for Quicksilver.  Any of their monoblocks will work ... you might even try the horn monos with  your very efficient speakers.  They're as uncolored as solid state, but with all the palpability and liquidity that makes tubes special.
Hi , I am currently running a Schiit Bifrost into a Rogue RP-1 with NOS Telefunken Tecktronix to a Dennis Had Inspire KT-88. My speakers are Zu Omens . I use Anti-Cable interconnects and speaker cables, with a Cardas Clear USB. Silnote power cables with a power filter and a sub. My Omens are on spiked blocks like Mapleshades . I purchased 6 pairs of new production and NOS power tubes . 6 NOS driver tubes . I have 1 new and 4 NOS rectifier tubes . I think I have more in tubes than the amp cost . Depending on the tube combo, power  is 8-12 WPC. I love the system , but more importantly, it's been a blast to experiment with cables, speaker placement and tube roll . This coming year I'm considering Bob Latino M125 kits and a higher level Schiit Dac. I have a pair of mint JBL 4312a's , Sound Anchor stands and a nice pair of Knipsch Heresys in the closet .  Long term I'm looking at REL or JL subs and Emerald Physics open baffle speakers . Schiit has a couple cheap preamps for consideration and my Bifrost Uber Analog  DACChas served me well . My friend is a former Rogue/ Mod Wright/ Parasound/ Acoustic Zen/ Dalhi dealer . All great gear , and his house is full of it . But expensive for my modest lifestyle . I was brought up on Dynaco and enjoy point to point amps . The Had Inspire has a modest price and is the best 12 watts I've heard on a budget . The Prima Luna is very popular , and you have Upscale Audio to help. But I haven't had one .  Well that's my 2 cents . YOU WILL HAVE FUN ! Happy listening , Mike B.

The KT88 120 150 are for losers, real audiophiles have 2a3 300B 845 etc SETs.
I started my audiophile journey with a solid state amp and quickly moved to a Decware Torii. It did so many things right, but it still felt lacking. Especially in the bass. I have since moved on to Pass Labs 30.8. 

The 30.8 was everything my tubes were and more. The tube amp was definitely fun to tinker with and look at. Great conversation piece. But when it comes to sound the Pass was better in every single way. 

I still use tubes, but now in a BAT PREAMP. Best of both worlds!
I started my path away from solid state toward tubes with a Rogue Cronus integrated. It was a revelation, but not the most refined amp -- serious bang for the buck, however. For a few months I switched between a killer Ayon KT88-based amp and a Raven 6L6 amp. Both sounded great, they were very different amps and I finally moved the Raven into my home office and kept the Ayon in the primary system.

These equipment changes are exactly what the doctor ordered if you want to find a solid excuse to change interconnects, speaker cables and everything else in the signal chain... (what a hobby, eh?)
Check out www.musicalparadise.ca
Mdavid0 is correct…in a meeting of tube designers years ago it was determined that losers needed tubes too, so the KT88, 120, and 150s were designed to meet that need.
@buellrider, 
I have the Bifrost Multibit as well as a Modi, and just upgraded to the Gungnir.I didn't think it could get better, but it did.
 If you can move to Balanced interconnects, I recommend you do so. Though even using optical cable, the sound was improved using the Gungy.

@madavid0 , Well I guess I'm just a loser . I thought that we were sharing positive experiences , not measuring our penis. Eventually I might get to your perceived level of greatness . In the meantime I'll just have fun learning about audio equipment from like minded people . I'm just trying to enjoy audio on a tight budget. Maybe if I sold my Ranger boat , HD roadking and Buell, I could move up to the big boy league . But hey , nobody ever took my lunch money when I was a kid. So best of luck to you and thanks to everybody else for sharing their wisdom with me.   Regards, Mike Bolger . 

buellrider97,

I'm with you 100%. Enjoy your journey and don't let fools like that bring you down.

Lol, obviously I was being a clown. I tried to apply some peer pressure tactics, guess it didn't work. The big SETs are still king.
Have Bear, over in Japan whip you up a dual-chassis (power supply, amp head)
3CX300A7 dual, (push-pull) ceramic triode PA. Pressurized plenums and chimneys
to direct the air through the fins.

Life is too short for flea power.

And Remember, the emphasis is on instantaneous power, but RMS will carry the day.

 
Huh???
Leonard, 
What is the frequency?

What is the frequency?

What is the frequency?


Since my tube amp is in use a lot…I turn it off if I'm out of the house on an errand or riding my fabulous 2012 slightly modded Bonneville t100 (tossed that in as a nod to other bikers as I've been into motorcycles to some degree for over 50 years…it's sad that Beull seems to have bowed out again…I've always thought they were cool) I think a great ultra linear push pull tube amp can sound astonishingly good and be somewhat more efficient than an SET, although one of my fave guitar amps is a little SET class A 18 watt thing that really sings (Burriss Royal Bluesman). 
(^^ 1982 MotoGuzzi LeMans)
first of all, congratulations for taking the leap.  i have had all tubes for about a year an a half and will never go back to solid state.  the spacious open sound and huge sound stage are something i can never give up.  
i have put solid state amps back in play on occasion but instantly notice that is is a step in the wrong direction.  
the highest value tube amp that i have heard is the raven audio nighthawk (~2600) for a true high end sound.  look it up.  it will be perfect for your speakers.  
Atmasphere…a GOOSE…well done. And, since I think everybody should feel the same as I do about everything (it's simply a mystery that they don’t), I wonder why everybody isn’t into great sounding audio and motorcycles. You get blank stares when talking to most people about either thing, along with the "my cousin Bob had his head crushed on his Harley" stuff regarding motorcycles…or "my uncle Clem had some McIntosh amps I think"…it’s a strange world.
Never heard Primaluna driving Zu's, but I drove my Zu Definition Mkiii's with 5 watt Cary Audio 2a3 mono blocks for a couple of years before trying a $995 Decware Zen and falling in love with it.  I can say with 100% certainty that the current Zu full range drivers thrive on SET power.  The little Zen might be worth a shot, especially considering the incredible support system that comes with Decware gear.  I've owned tons of well respected tube gear over the past 35 years, but to my ears, the 2 watt Decware SE84CKC, at far less cost, is as good or better than all the rest.  

Kinda gives the "first watt" concept new meaning since after the first watt there's just the second watt and that's it.
Linear tube audio has some amps that might work nicely, and they offer a 15 day in-home trial that might be very good for perspective if nothing else.   Best of luck. 

Look for Triode Labs El-84 amps, used, for a stretch of your price. (See 6-Moons review.)  Or, Decware Mini Torri MkII El-84's \the best choice of a top speaker placement specialist I'm aware of (on Def IV's, in Atl.)  (Not me, though I do own Def IV's...Tannoy Churchills, lots of Living Voice, Opera, Totem & DeCappo). They're a good start, you'll might move to 2A3's or OTL's later for a little more extension or transparency but with a loss of bass solidity. - Don't think these smaller output tubes don't do bass.
El-84's were what some of the best amps "of the day/back in the day", Scott Amps, used. Don't count them short. -About 20 push/pull watts. "Good" is  still  Good.
(I too, think the Zu speakers are a bit less efficient than they claim to be.)

One question for Tube owners. How long do new tubes typically take to break in. I've rbeen ad that some high end Gold Lion tubes need a couple of hours of burn in time to open up.  Just curious
After hearing a Linear Tube Audio amp, I sold all of my Decware gear and rebuilt 2 systems. This LTA stuff is incredible.
Did you pop a cookie after you heard them!!
@aberyclark I've personally found tube burn in to be a fairly subtle thing, a good tube will sound good from the get go, and will certainly open up a bit as it burns in. I don't think it changes the nature of the sound that much but it does improve. Just pop the tubes in listen and let break in take care of itself. As with all things YMMV.
I'm in a perpetual state of cookie popping