Introducing Tubes?

Hello gang!
Well, It's been said of my system that "you could use some tubes in there". So, here is what I have: McCormack UDP-1/ Lexicon MC8/Krell FPB400cx. Tyler Linbrook Signature System (1piece speaker).
The system started as a home theater set up, which for family reasons, I should keep. The Questions:
How could i add tubes to the setup for 2 channel listening? Just add a tube cd player? Add a cdp AND a tube pre amp? (The Krell will do the amplification. ) Would that be enough to get the "tube sound" that has been so often described here on Agon? (I've never used tube gear). What would be a good sounding tube CDP for a rookie tube guy? (around $1000 new or used) Suggestions and/or advice is welcome and appreciated.
Thanks so much.
I favour tubes on the pre.Important to see how a tube pre will match with the Krell,look at the voltages and impedances of both components.Get a good matching tube pre with your excellent ss power and welcome to .....heaven !!
Good idea !
Very good tube CD player Audio Aero Capitole Mk2,but expensive.
Good luck
Jolida JD100A or Eastern Electric MiniMax CDP.
I personally think the preamp influences system sound mo ethan any component and thus would suggest a tubed preamp might be what you're looking for. But first ask yourself, are you saying you need tubes or are your friends? If you like the sound then stick with what you have, but personally I couldn't be without a tubed preamp. What's your price range?
I second Jond's response as it has been my experience as well. A tubed pre-amp is easy and economical to maintain and generally speaking the heat/ventilation issues associated with a tubed pre-amp will be minimal. As an example a used conrad johnson PV10b can be had here for around $750. There are other choices as well if that doesn't meet your requirements. Your choices for a tubed CD player are limited especially in your price range.

I think a tubed pre-amp is the best place start. But before you go there best ask yourself exactly what are you trying to get. All tube pre-amps don't sound the same. Some are warm and some are bright, most have a more liquid sound. Don't underestimate the effect that a good tube amp has on the sound of a system, but thats for another day (after you have tried a good tubed CDP). Upscale Audio advertises an Ah Joeb tubed CDP that cost less than $1000 that gets a lot of good comments. By the way, good speakers!
My question is, "do you like your system or do YOU feel there is something missing or otherwise not right with the way it reproduces music?? If the answer is yes, can you isolate the component responsible? Rather than just add stuff willy-nilly(I always wanted to write that) first find out if there is a problem, what the problem is and then try and identify the source. Components don't "add" anything. There is the information recorded on the source material such as a cd or an album. That information can be retrieved by your components but it can't be "added" to. The information that's there is the information that's there. The only thing tubes will do is add a type of distortion that I guess your listeners think would nicely counteract soem other type of distortion they are hearing and don't like.

Improbability, FWIW everything in the chain adds distortion to some extent! Some tubes can cover-up some of the distortion added by CD systems and other SS stuff! Take that!!!! And that!!!!! :-)
Ok. -
Bluebull Re: voltages and impedences. Do the numbers have to match? Or be in a certain 'range'?
Mtbrider - Thanks for the recommendations!
Jond - I do 99% of my 2 channel listening alone :-) So this is more for me. Tube sound is just a curiosity i've always had. HT is with the family which is why the HT stuff needs to stay. Didn't you mention the Syrah before?
Newbee - I would like to hear a detailed, liquid and airy sound but still with good bass.
Improbabilitydrive - No, i don't feel like anything is missing in my HT system but i'm always wondering what 2 channel playback would be like with tubes.

Any further recommendations on pre amps and cdp's. Looks like 1K isn't gonna do it. :-)

Everone forgot the Anthem Cd-1, a suprb choice on the used market.
I agree, a tube pre is the way to go. There are some jumpers/switches in the Krell that will need to set. Call Krell and they will fax or email you the instructions. It's easy and only takes five minutes.

All the Best

I personally favor Rogue Audio Magnum 99 tubed line stage.
It goes for around 1400$ used(no phono version).
Paul, For less that 1K you can pick up a EAR 834L. This is a very basic, simple to operate, preamp using 3 tubes which have very very long life (5yrs at 24/7 +/-). Tonally it is much like your Tylers - smooth and musical, but not dull and boring. It is voiced very much like my ARC SP10II. I have used one in a secord system for about 5 years with zero problems. Tube rolling with this is cheap and easy, assuming you want to fiddle with the tubes.
Newbee. I must commend you on your choice of the ARC sp-10 mk2 preamp sir,to this very day has be considered a giant in the high end preamp sweepstakes. Yes... the ear 834L is a decent little vacuum tubed preamp, it can also be tweeked with better parts and perhaps voiced with nos tubes.And for the money,it's certainly a good recommendation here as well. No offence here sir....."BUT".... comparing the voice of the 834 to the that of your sp-10 is a weeeee bit of a stretch. To be candid here...not even remotely close for that matter.
Cant really match a cheapie Tube Pre with a very serious ss amp like the Krell FB 400 cx.Krell has balanced inputs ,I'm shure.Atma-Sphere has tube pre's with balanced outputs,how that will work with the Krell,I don't know.Get a pre with high voltage output,then there shouldn't be a problem.I think you have to consider spending a bit more than $1000.Have read some nice comments about Joule-Electra as well.
Good luck.
What do you guys think of the Audio Research LS 16 or the SP 16? What's the difference?

thanks again
Wow! I never realized how difficult it would be to add tubes with a KRELL amp. I'm no engineer, and, I don't pretend to be into the "technical" side of the audio world. So I'll try to explain.

It seems that tube Preamps create DC. I've been told that DC will dammage my Krell amp, and possibly my speakers. UNLESS, I open the amp up and do something the the "jumpers on the digital board" . This puts some protection into the signal path. The Bad thing is - it also colors or degrades the audible signal coming thru the speakers. So, if I want to use my SS set up, say for SACD or DVD-V/DVD-A, I would have to open the amp up again and reverse the proceedure. This would remove the "blockage" in the signal path. :-( This of course, would have to be re-done when I want to go back to the tube setup. WHAT A PAIN!

Needless to say, this has thrown the proverbial 'wet blanket' on my tube enthusiasm. Is this problem common to ALL SS amps? Or is it just a KRELL thing?

Any thoughts would be helpful.

Forgot to ask. Would the same issues arise if I were to JUST add a Tubed CD Player?


When I added tubes to my Krell 200 FPB/Adcom 750 pre, I started with a CAL Alpha tubed DA processor. Like you I asked here before making a move. I liked what the tubes added so much that I added a Cary AE-3 tube line level pre. My reasons for going with cary were the good comments/reviews here and the resale was good if it turned out to be a bad match. I called Krell, they faxed the instructions and said if it looked to hard just call back and a tech support person would walk me though the steps. I never had to call back.

If you would like to talk in person email me and I will send you my phone number.

I have a Conrad Johnson PV14L, this preamp has an HT bypass mode. It is often paired with their SS AMPS. It basically set the gain to unity so you HT preamp works normally. You could hook up you CDP to the CJ and have it go direct to the krell. I did not follow all the thread but it sounds like the Krell has no decoupling caps in the input. Most AMPS do and I would not worry about making he mod to put them in line and needing to revert later. I would assume the are good quality caps. I have an all tube setup (CDP, PRE, AMP) so I'm not sure how much tube sound this would add alone. This preamp is a bit of a hybrid since it has a FET input stage.
You might consider something very light wieght to begin with. A tube headphone amplifier! relatively inexpensive, offers experience with tubes and the potential for a second system, and may be used as a very simple pre-amp.