sjh32....i chose the same path about a year ago when i bought my goldmund 29m and paired it with an audio tekne 'simona' tubed preamp..which is better then any i have heard or had in my other systems..there is the benefits you mentioned with a combination of ss amp/tubed preamp.i think you are on the right road.
I am looking ahead at my future systems (I love doing that) and have decided that I will do the same. I have my sights set on a McIntosh C2200 which has all the features I want and a glorious sound. I have heard it in two solid-state-amp systems (McIntosh 352 first then BAT VK200) and the sound was some of the best I have heard ever both times. The current issue of hifi+ also raves about it and the article matches my sentiments EXACTLY as far as its sound goes. Soon...soon..... IMO, I think you are on the right track too. The only qualm I have with the idea is that there could be some impedance mismatch problems. It would be better to have SS preamp and tube amp ideally but I think it is easy enough to match anyway so I won't worry about that. Let us know what you decide! Arthur
No need to worry about resolution with the right tube pre. Audio Research does a good job here. Some tubophiles though don't them their gear tubey enough but all the resolution, soundstaging and smoothness are there. This is my second tube preamp, ARC LS 16, and the improvement over any SS pre I've used is impressive. I didn't want to lose resolution or dynamics either and none are lost. Everything got better. There's apparently many flavors of tube gear and you'll have to make your own choices. Accuracy of sound would best sum up the ARC pre I now use.
Im also planning to get a tube pre amp as well for a ROKSAN
CASPIAN Power amp.I dont know if this will be the right
path for the ROKSAN though????Guys ...Need your advise
I humbly suggest you check the archives.
I've just made the move to a tubed pre and SS amp. In my case, both pieces are from the same manufacturer, Blue Circle (specifically the BC21.1 preamp and BC22 MKII amp), which helped avoid impedance mismatch. More than that though, although they are still breaking-in, they are devliering a lot of what you've described you're looking for in your system. If you have the chance to audition some tubed preamps, you should be able to find one to your liking.
Best of luck to you.
Last year i purchased a Convergent Audio Technology Sl-1 Ultimate tube preamp and used it with a Classe CA-301 SS amp....at first the sound seemed very good with good punchy bass control, but after i replaced the Classe with my new CAT jl-1 tube monoblocks did i discover what tube magic is all about!
Looks like I'm on to something here with all the positive feedback. Impedance problems should be avoided with a thorough demo in my system once I narrow down the competition. A new(used to me) Levinson 334 should be arriving in a week. Got a good deal. This reminds me of something I think should be the subject of its own post. I sorta feel sorry for those of us who have paid retail for some of this gear. Case in point, the 334. This sucker retail for what? $7000? Same story with my 360S DAC. In this economy, it's really a buyer's market for used hi-end gear. I wonder how much this cuts into the collective hi-end industry's bottom line? I read on the Levison site that the 360 was such a success since they sold 7500 units, and Levinson is a lot bigger than most audiophile companies. I've seen 5 sell only in the last 2 months on Audiogon. No wonder I've twice heard rumors about Levinson going out of business. They have scaled back/consolidated operations.
But I digress. For those of you who recommended Audio Research. One thing that has given me pause is the size of the power supply in units like the LS16. Actually, until I became aware of this criticism, I was in the market for a LS16 II. Warner, you recommend the 16, is yours a Mk. II? The second interation uses the same circuit improvements as the REf.II and the LS25II. Or some sort of trickle-down version of it anyway. Also do you use the Sovtek tube or NOS? What would you recommend? And since I listen to a lot of modern music, bass response is also a concern with tube gear. Thanks again for all the helpful posts.
Bass response shouldn't be a concern. Bass is very important to me and must be natural and dynamic without any sort of loss. I have VMPS Supertower/R SE speakers with four 15's and two 10's handling the bass. Bass is articulate and dynamic. This ARC LS 16, non II version, easily bested the Krell I was using before. The tubes I'm using are Sovteks. Tried some NOS and they were microphonic, although just a little, and that sound wasn't for me. Will be trying some different tubes again though. The Sovteks are also more quiet. I aim for accurate sound. A touch of euphonic sound is all the more I want as it seems you lose detail with too much tubey sound. In all it's a balancing act. What else is new? Try the tube pre though as I think you'll be surprised if you've only used SS gear like me. The tube pre will make the sound more natural or real. In effect more accurate. I tried 3 different dacs trying to get the sound into the area it's now in with the tube pre. Bought this little Cary AE 3 tube pre as a test and knew I was on the right track. The sound was rich and lush but slow and with a significant loss of detail. The Audio Research is very close to SS and is quite transparent. No loss of dynamics or any bass problems related to equipment here. Now the room acoustics are another story even though I've spent alot of time and money in that direction it seems there's always a little more to do. Good luck
I very much enjoy my combination of Sonic Frontiers Line 3 and Lamm M1.1 monoblocks.......
Warner, I've only owned a tubed unit once so they're still new to me. When people refer to microphonics do they mean a sort of feedback distortion caused by loud music (sound waves) affecting the tube? Kind of how loudspeaker sound gets into a mike, gets amplified and starts a cycle like that?
I don't know what exactly but I've always wanted to demo a sonic frontier the Sonic Frontiers 3. Maybe it's their DIY past. PeterB, are there any major sonic criticism you have with the unit? Fact is, I couldn't really demo one without buying it myself. Have you compared it or have any experience with BAT, Audio Research or other popular tubed pre to make a comparison? Thanks.
Tube microphonics are exactly as you described and will add kind of reverb sound. There's many people who like a bit of microphonics. Problem I have with it is that the louder you play the more effect the microphonics are having. The 3 pre's you list are all similar. I've not heard the BAT but from what I've read it aims more toward accuracy. A good friend just replaced a Sonic Frontiers with an ARC but has nothing to do with quality of either but more of a personal preference. It's something you'll have to try yourself as nobody can tell you what sounds best in your system to you and like I said earlier there are different flavors. Good luck