Integrated Amp help


Hello, I just purchased my first tube amp, so im not very experienced with tubes yet. The model is a Jasmine Seranade integrated, 11watt x 2, Class A, SE, input impedance 100k ohm. The tubes are 2 EL34 mullards, and the 12ax7. I am using it with custom designed studio monitor 2 way speakers(Focal drivers) with an efficiency of 89-90. I use it with cd's only, with a pioneer elite Dv-59avi cd player.

The sound is definitely more lively and 3 dimensional than my past solid state amp. However, it is very bright and very straining to listen to at decent volume levels. Also, the amp is much louder than expected and can only turn the volume 1/3rd of the way up before too much. Granted its a smaller tube amp so not much bass.
Anyway, what are your suggestions for a warmer sound. Different tubes or different cd player? Is it best to try different power tubes before the preamp tubes? Also, is it possible to have too much gain? Thanks for the help!
ct1974
I think it's the speakers that need upgrading
Is this what you have?

http://i00.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/620588688/Jasmine_Serenade_EL34_intergrated_tube_amplifier_Multi.jpg_350x350.jpg

That's a headphone amp. On a regular pair of speakers, that amp would be straining to drive your speakers, and as a result, could sound like what you're describing. Also, since your speakers are custom, they're completely unknown.
The amp MAY sound very loud, bright and straining because it is clipping or it may be a result of one of the constraints of a single-ended circuit. Single ended amps distortion levels increase substantially as they move closer to their maximum power output, even before clipping.

Some other information will also be useful:
Is the efficiency rating you quoted (89-90) for an 8 or 4
ohm load?
Does the actual impedance vary significantly w frequency?
How big is your room and how far are you from the
speakers?
How loud is "a decent volume level"? Remember a 3dB
volume increase requires a doubling of power.

And yes, it is possible to have too much gain.

Zd, that looks like what he has, and according to the company website this unit can drive "traditional speakers", however his speakers may not be tube friendly due to their impedance/phase angle relationship.

Is the impedance switch on the back of the amp set to 4 or 8 ohms? Sometimes 8 ohm speakers with an impedance that drops severely at certain frequencies will sound better on the 4 ohm tap of a tube amp. Have you tried both switch positions? And switch only with unit powered off.

Also, here is something you may try with the Pioneer.

Connect to video, then in the menu for 5.1 adjustments, set front L&R to "large", then center, surround, and sub to "none". Now use front L&R out instead of the 2ch L&R out.
However, it is very bright and very straining to listen to at decent volume levels.
Also agree with Swampwalker, depending on distance and volume level, amp may be clipping, therefore, not enough power.
Good comments by the others. I would particularly emphasize the question by Swampwalker about how the speaker impedance varies with frequency, if that can be determined.

A lot of two-way speakers have considerably lower impedances at most of the frequencies that are handled by the woofer than their impedance at most of the frequencies that are handled by the tweeter. The impedance often being around 4 ohms at lower frequencies and around 8 ohms at higher frequencies. That can often signify that the speaker is best suited for use with solid state amplification, as the interaction of that kind of impedance variation with the relatively high output impedance of a tube amp, especially a SET amp, will tend to result in excess brightness.

That effect will be somewhat less if the 4 ohm taps are used rather than the 8 ohm taps, so as was suggested you should definitely try the 4 ohm taps if you already haven't. And if you are presently using the 8 ohm taps, going to the 4 ohm taps would also help with respect to the gain issue, although probably just slightly.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
I don't think we can get reliable info on the speakers because they are custom made according to the OP. Another option would be to try a different pair of speakers that have some known characteristics. If you live near a Best Buy, maybe pick up a pair of those Pioneer bookshelf speakers to try. They're not much over $100. I have a pair myself, on one of my computers and they're pretty easy to drive. If you don't want to keep them, they can be returned. But having a speaker like the Pioneer availability to you, would go a long way into getting to the root of the problem because so many people on AG have them. We know what they typically sound like.
Thanks. When I originally auditioned my speakers they were running on an all tube system and sounded phenomenal. Anyway on my Jasmine amp I tried the 4 ohm setting but there was noticeable sound distortion. Anyway I have a pair of older PSB 600 speakers from 1996 that I can try tomorrow.