Joule - Electra: Just How Hot??

I'm considering Joule Electra mono blocs as a source of amplification. My fundamental question is not about the sonics rather this is a question for those that actually have J-E in their system: How much heat do they throw off and how do you manage--especially in the warm months of the year? Or is the heat issue not really a major problem? My room is 25 X 17 X 13 (LxW xH)with 4 air conditioning vents and 2 heat extraction ducts.
I have a pair of JE Destiny's - One of about 6 pair ever made (32 6C33B's) & they can melt an igloo!
They do sound fantastic, but their construction leaves a lot to be desired, compared to my VAC Ren. Sig. Mk. III 140's.
Hi second the opinion about the construction. At the price of Joule electra equipment, you would expect no less than superior build. I cannot say that about the Joule Electra amps. Very poorly build compared to Lamm, ARC etc or even chinese amps.
Having owned Joule products, I agree with the comments that construction quality should be better.
I have the VZN-160's without air conditioning, you'll be fine with air. You'll be hard pressed to get their quality of sound anywhere else in the $6500 range. I'm assuming your going for the VZN-100's on AgoN.

I have to admit that I did not expect to hear comments about the build quality. This is a concern in that when I complete the new system, it is not my intention to engage in the whole swapping components in and out routine.

Samhar, I looked at your system. It appears that you are relishing the musicality of what you have put together. Thanks for answering the heat generation question I posed but I have to ask you, "Do you too have issue with the build quality of your amp and pre amp. And, I am actually looking at purchasing the same J-E combination that you have in your system,, not the VZN 100s.
I had VZN-100 in musicwood and they looked quite nice. They do give off quite a bit of heat though. It was never too oppressive, but it can get a sealed room quite warm in about an hour or so.

My main issue was with technical problems. A strong hum that would not go away (and that the manufacturer was never able to fix even when I sent them back), a fuse that blew twice, and a variac that started burning (that also had to be sent back).

Lovely sound when they worked right, but I moved on after putting up with those kinds of challenges.
They are 'hot' as Paris Hilton used to say. I own LA-300ME preamp and I believe its the best in the world. Period.

I auditioned Destiny and I fall in love with them. To my regret, my speakers , B&W802D have very low impedance and I coulf not match it. I am thinking to change my amps/speakers now and get Destiny with may be David Wilson or Verity.

I never have any problem with my gear and I know a few people who own J-E amps and they don't.

I think that problem some described were steaming since time Jud worked alone. Now, for an year he has Simon Thacher who is "crazy" on QA (example - Spectron Audio, worst a few years ago and with near zero problems now. Simon eve insisted that they repair has precedence over production).

With good air conditioning - as you describe - I woudn;t be worry about the heat too much.

All The Best
I'm not sure the build-quality comments refer to the reliability of the units. As far as I know Joule amps are quite reliable in general.
I am thinking, like Rafael, to mate the J-E with Verity's new speaker- Amadis:

Power handling:
250 watts music power
93 dB @ 1w @ 1 m
Nominal impedance:
8 ohms
Minimum impedance:
3 ohms @ 5.5 kHz

They sit between the Sarastro and Parsifal Ovation within the Verity product line based upon my conversation with Verity. Which Verity product are you considering Rafael?

It seems as though the heat "issue" is mitigated but this question about build quality is still upper most on my mind. The question is how much Simon's quality standards have been instituted and if they (and he) will be incorporated into the production process for the long term?
I am suprised to hear about the poor reliability of Joule equipment. I have never heard it or seen it but I have always heard good things about the sound.
I like the sound of the Joule OTLs. Still, I did hear one at a dealership that had a BIG quality control problem. Once in a while the amp would put out a loud pop. This occurred randomly and in both channels. It turned out that the tube sockets had gone bad, perhaps from the heat, and all of them had to be replaced. That is a very major repair on something like an OTL amp.
I have the vzn 100's and have had zero quality issues in two years' use - not one issue. The musicwood is quite nice so I have no complaints about build quality. I also have the joule LAP 150 MkII preamp and have had no quality or performance issues whatsoever. The sound is wonderful. The amps do put out some heat but it looks like you have nice high ceilings in a good sized room so it should not be anything the ac cannot handle. I switch over to a Berning amp for July and August in my room (smaller than yours especially the ceiling) - as much for the change of pace as the heat.
I own LA-300ME line stage and it is the best by far that I ever owned or even auditioned. I am thinking to change my Spectron amps to VZN-220 to run my Watt/Puppy 8. I simply like convenience of solid state amplifier; may be I will keep both.

I know Simon Thacher and his help converted Spectron from totally anarchy to functional institution with superb customer support.

This morning, I spoke with him regarding to some complained and his reply that over the time he is working with Jud - 90% - 95% of problems were with equipment 10 years old.

I LOVE Joule-Electra most of all because of heavenly sound and next due to the customer support !

Good Luck
I haven't had any problems with the VZN-160's. The preamp is
a Conrad Johnson Act 2 and I haven't had any problems with it.
Well there you have it. I guess any companies gear could fail at some point. I have been lucky so far knock on wood.
Again, "build-quality" and "reliabilty" are two different things. I've never known the Joule stuff to be anything but reliable. Build quality is a little more subjective and debatable, more related to fit and finish than whether the thing works and will do so over the long run. I think the Joule gear is reliable. As is my Atma-sphere gear which arguably does not have "eye candy" build quality - though I happen to like the way it looks.
I own the VZN-100 monoblocks in Musicwood. Build quality is simply suberb- these amps are functional works of art. Reliablity is excellent. I would only advise that the contacts of the driver tubes be occasionally cleaned with fine sandpaper. I say this because I've had one driver tube melt down, but fortunately I caught it before it did any damage to the tube socket. I live in Tucson AZ and therefore only use the amps during the colder months. If your AC is reasonably quiet, you should be fine.
Personally, I could not spend $15-30k on an amplifier that did not absolutely exude the essence of care, craftsmanship, and quality. Simple.
I should add that people buy Jud's OTL's because they want the best tube sound available, at any price. The amps require care and attention, but the sonic and aesthetic rewards are there for the chosen few.
I own a Joule Marianne 300, so I can't speak about Joule amps, although I am very interested in the Rite of passage amps and have read much about the amp, the feedback I have from owners has been nothing less than spectacular for sound quality, build quality has never been an issue anyone has mentioned to me! You would think on private email that would come up if there was a problem.

The 300 preamp is a beautiful unit. I don't think it is as big and impressive looking as say the MBL6010D, which is the other preamp that was in the running when I was preamp shopping! Then again, the 6010 is nearly twice the price. After plugging the 300 in and listening to it, it was obvious the money went into the parts, and that in the end is just where I want it. A while back I purchased a Nagra PLL first tube pre. I hated the looks of it, but the sound was undeniable, so I bought it and loved it, the sound quality of the 300 is that much better than the Nagra, and I do feel the built quality "under the hood" is as good as it gets.

Another thing that impresses me with Joule is, when I phone them, you don't get a phone message, or a receptionist who can't get ahold of anyone, or have to leave a message and they'll "get back to you". When you call, Simon answers the phone, and he seems to work 24/7. He has a wealth of audio knowledge, and I trust his audio integrity. I am very happy with my Joule product, would and probably will buy again.

On the other hand, my current amps are the Levinson 33H mono's, which I also love, and are the reference amps in many many systems. However, if you started a thread looking for issues with them, I'm sure you would find lots of people who would step up to the plate and blast them. That being said, if anyone wants to trade their Rite of passage for my Levinsons, drop me an email.
"Which Verity product are you considering Rafael "

- Parcifal Ovation or Amadis but Destiny !!!!!!!!!

Regarding the Simon, he retired year or two ago, and its the 2nd carrer/hobby as long as he lives or capable to work. This is that he says and I can't ask him for more. To the best of my knowledge he and Jud have excellent professional and working relations. Lets not forget that the "man" is Jud - Simon just bring his organization skills as well as whatever engineer/musician brings to the equation in the somewhat secondary manner.

All The Best
I have never heard anything negative about Joule gear until I read this thread.
Maybe it was just a phase in Joule's production / manufacturing line.

My issues were with new OTLs being built in 2005 / 2006, and I was surprised to find (through private correspondence) two other gentlemen that were also having problems with their OTLs from this era and one of the guys was also having issues with his Joule phono stage.

Believe me, I went to the ends of the earth to try and resolve the issues in an amicable manner with Joule-Electra. I also made sure to have multiple members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society come over and listen to the OTLs on multiple speakers, in multiple rooms, and on various dedicated circuits in order to validate that it was not just one disgruntled buyer.

I had never heard of any issues before I bought the amps, so maybe my issues and the guys I was corresponding with represent a moment in time for the company, rather than the general experience everybody has had year after year. About a year after I sold my amps a European Joule customer emailed me asking about problems. He was having the same kind of challenges that he had seen me write about and wanted to know if I had advice.

I wished him the best, but told him that I had moved on. Again, lovely sound when they worked properly, but at that price point I needed a more reliable experience.
No reliability problems at all w my VZN-80. Disclaimer and shameless plug- its for sale. They certainly run hot and tube socket replacement sometimes is required if an output tube blows, but it did not happen to me the one time I lost an output tube. It went cherry red on me and I shut the amp down, waited til it cooled off and, popped in a new tube, re-baised it and away she went. I had one repair required due to operator error, which was handled quickly and professionally. The rear apron is not the strongest, but otherwise no complaints about build.
With earlier Joule products, Jud preferred point-to-point wiring as a purer approach than circuit boards, although he used boards to a limited extent. But over time he admitted that circuit boards provided more consistency and possibly better QC so began using them to a greater degree in his amps.

Since ptp wiring is more expensive and not used in most products, many consumers looking "under the hood" may be surprised at the absence of major circuit boards in older amps and therefore believe construction quality is not up to contemporary standards for high end amps.

And yes, they do put out a fair bit of heat but it should not be a problem in any home with AC.
I bought a pair of Grand Marquis 160's about nine years ago and found them to be almost bullet proof. Except for two power tubes that needed replacing all the tubes were original. I had to replace a couple of fuses. Finally the Variac burned out and had to be replaced. I don't consider the problems I had very bad for a tube amp that is over 9 years old. As far as the heat factor, I live in Florida and with A/C the heat never bothered me. I replaced my original pairs of amps with the same in the Musicwood chassis. That is how much I love these amps. Usual disclaimers. Don
Incredible thread.Reminds me of 1936-47 Harleys[knucklehead].Built/designed to leak oil,and some guys loved and others hated.Sounds like the whole American experience in general.Keep on keepin on,Bob
I wouldnt say that I hated owning Joule amps, but I would say that I would love to own an HD knucklehead, oil leaks, suicide shift, and all. :)
Wow, I hear that... well I have not had any problems except this, this, and this, geez. I was actually thinking of auditioning them at some point, but maybe not.
The Harley metaphor is perfect.
I owned Grand Marquis 160's for a number of years. Loved them. Only sold them as I went to a high sensitivity speaker that required but a few watts. My amps never had a problem. Quality control superb. Reliability superb. I've been following Joule Electra for many years, talking to other owners and reading comments from other owners, their equipment has been more than very reliable. This is well built stuff.

Previous to the Joules, I owned another domestic OTL amp which had so many QC, build, and reliability problems that the best use for that amp would have been for landfill. My experience with the Joule Electras after this disastrous experience was like a breath of fresh air.

In some rooms when monoblocks are used a hum is evident due to a ground loop. The hum does not indicate a problem with the amp. There are tons of variables involved with ground loops including factors that pertain to the other equipment in a system. With but a little work a ground loop induced hum can be eliminated.

Back to Joules the company. I've dealt with lots of audio companies. Joules is one of the best to deal with not only before the sale but after the sale. It is after the sale where many other companies fall short. I would not hesitate to purchase any components from Joule Electra today or in the future.

Some people who responded to this thread expressed shock/surprise to hear of the few issues mentioned within the tread. To my knowledge there's no history outside of his thread of any problems with Joule Electra gear. Whereas many other amp vendors have track records over the years with some to numerous complaints. Joules Electra has a stellar track record and I would not let anything mentioned within this thread cause someone to hesitate exploring the acquisition of a Joule Electra amp or preamp.

Also keep in mind if buying used equipment that not every person takes care of their equipment in the manner that you do. Even a Rolex can have problems if a previous owner did who knows what.
Tubes108, I hope you are not implying from your post that the hum that I had with my Joule amps was a ground loop that was caused by the multiple systems and multiple residences that I inserted them into.

I have had ground loops in the past and I know how to fix them. My experience with my Joule amps was not a ground loop.

I'm glad you had great experiences with Joule-Electra. I, on the other hand, did not have a great experience. As much as an informed buyer / reader should value your opinion in this thread, I hope they also value mine.
Hello Rottenclam,

1 - Very interesting moniker ;--)

2 - I cannot see a big deal in one-time Variac problem. Sorry.

3 I take exception with hum problem. Its not easy to fix. Since you sent your amp to manufacturer who was not able to help you then ground loop originated OUTSIDE of the amp.

You are not alone. I had to sell my Plinius SA-102 amp because I also could not fix hum in it or with it nor Vincent, their distributor and I also sent to him and amp and even preamp.

5 In 2005 there some very, very, very tragic events started in Joule-Electra family which may or may not contribute to less attention you deserved or you believe you deserved - whatever, I am giving you benefit of the doubt. Its not my role to discuss these tragic events in this or any other public forum but I have to respond to some "rotten" (pun intended ;--) audiophile who does not understand that ground loop by definition is caused by difference in non-equal "ground" voltage in two different parts (but it has been excluded) or two different components - one of which is obviously not Joule-Electra!

4 - I see no problem at all in blowing fuses even two times(!). This why fuses for. To blow themselves and protect your equipment. Its pure whining

I never saw or spoke with Jud Barber (I dealt with Simon) and I have no personal financial benefit - however, listening to the magic, truly MAGIC sound his equipment re-produce I cannot think of him anything but great (industrial) artist. Speaking with Simon about his experience from inside with the equipment failures and reading this and other audio forums writings - I can see that as the rule J-E equipment is much more reliable then most.

My hat off to Jud Barber.

The End.

All fair comments I suppose.

Fuses blowing are something totally normal. A burning variac is not normal, but I think it is something that would not have broken my spirit with the gear.

In regards to "ground loop" / hum that I am inferring you and Tubes108 are placing on me (and if my inference is incorrect, then I do apologize), I do disagree with that.

A few steps that I took to disprove the ground loop was my issue:

1. Over the course of 18 months of ownership I placed the amps on 5 different dedicated circuits across two residences.

2. Each time, the amps were either fed a signal from an LA-150 pre-amp, or they were shorted using the appropriate switch on the back to not receive a signal. I even went to extreme ends during a number of late evenings to turning off all other circuits of the house during very late hours in order to make sure that the circuit was not being contaminated at the breaker box. BTW, I did this at both residences that I resided in during that time.

3. There were over 6 source components tried in the system during this 18+ months period. At various points I had everything on one circuit (the Naim approach), and at various times I explored placing components on separate circuits.

4. True to form, the hum could be lessened by putting the amps on less sensitive speaker. It could also be neatly masked by holding down one of the bias buttons. However standing over a warm monoblock with your finger on a small button was not a scalable solution so whenever I listened to folk music or chamber music (that had many quiet points), I would jam a toothpick in the tiny space between the chassis top and one of the bias buttons so the bias button was held down. This was a trick that I learned from one of the other gentleman that I was corresponding with that bought amps from the same era.

My point in all this is to explain that I worked very hard, was very patient, and also very forgiving in trying to get very expensive amps to work the way that they should. In fact, I am the first to admit that my experience was not the norm. However, the experience was shared by other audiophiles, so my challenges were not unique.

So to the other Joule owners out there that are very happy, I say that I wish your experience was the kind that I had. To the prospective Joule buyer, I say that my experience was not a good one, but I hope that you enjoy your amps should you choose to purchase them.
I am sure they have to be pretty reliable or they would not have the reputation that they have. I have to say that I do have my reservations more than I did previous to this thread.
I realize this thread is a bit old, but it speaks to my question. I have a 3 tier audio rack & about all the space I could allocate to the amp would be about 16" (between the bottom & middle shelf) this enough space above these amps? The stand is open on all sides otherwise.
I wouldn't put one there.
Gwng8 I don't know the overall height of these amps but I would venture 16" would probably be high enough for them to fit. The problem is that these amps put out so much heat that it would be a better idea to have them in the open on a dedicated stand or on the top shelf of the rack, not always practical. The heat they would throw off would probably be too much for both the amp and the component/shelf above, they need plenty of space above for the heat to dissipate.
^Thanks guys
AS a former owner, I'd would strongly advise against it. The amp itself is 9" high. The bottle on one of the output tubes is probably about 6". The amp would probably fit, but the tubes get VERY HOT and I would think it would be real fire hazard to say nothing of the reflected heat would do to the amp and the conducted heat to anything on the shelf above.

Take a look here for VZN 100 pictures in my room.
I'm not sure I have ever seen them used and positioned other than what Joneill has done - and shorter speaker wire to boot:)
Ok I see now. I had seen they were 9" high, I thought that was tubes and all. The bases underneath, are those part of the system, or extra?
Nice room Jim!! Love to hear your set-up.
Your welcome any time! How are things in Florida?
Mine went rogue and arc'd causing a huge catasrophy that took out a mcintosh grove and a nearby lamm barn. In the end, not even with a good vac or ice amp was I able to get the system back to normal. The smell was so bad that I tried peachtree and even turned to redwine for a while.

Not sure what to do.
The heights of my Musicwood VZN 160 & my non Musicwood VZN 160 are: VZN Musicwood enclosures 8 1/4" H, "regular" VZN enclosure 6 1/4" H. The MW amp with tubes in sockets height is 12"; the non MW amp with tubes in socket height is 10". These may vary some with choice of feet.
Gwng8: Space of 16" may or may not be enough for J-E OTL amp - depending on the amp you want.
a) dimensions including free space above tubes
b) Power output. if its VZN-80 its one thing and if its VZN-300 then its totally different thermal environment.

Done right you can be in sonic heaven. Done wrong....hmmmm... better not

Call them and ask.

Good Luck,
I was looking at either the VZN 80 or 100....but based on the comments above I'm looking elsewhere. Thanks for responses
Food for thought Gwng8, there must have been a reason that you considered the Joule in the first place. Aside from the heat issue, consistent with OTL designs, one thing that can't be denied, with the proper load, is the reproduction of music. If you haven't listened to the Joule you might first want to at least try auditioning before deciding, a very special amp.

Jim, Florida is still too hot for a Joule in my space, even in the winter, otherwise everything is great!