Why did you get the Sttafs?
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I think you should buy a used PrimaLuna Prologue 2 or Cayin A-70t integrated amp and get your feet wet with tubes. If the tubed integrated amp doesn't do it for you, then resell at little or no loss and buy solid state.
I believe you can do better than the Jungson in solid state amplification.
That's my opinion.
Hi Djh. I have generally found on this forum that the term tube sound really refers to the exaggerated harmonic distortion produced by a tube amp and speaker mismatch. So be careful what you wish for.
If you are looking for a natural, life like sound I would recommend you look at one of the Pass Lab offerings. As I am unfamiliar with the characteristics of your sttaffs, I am reluctant to advise a tube amplifier. From the specs, I believe you could be safe with almost any 35 plus wpc push pull tube amplifier.
I suggest while you are testing the waters, buy on the used market so you can recover you funds if you need to change direction a little later on.
Any of us tube freaks think you should go with tubes. There are a few Consonance integrated amps, with the sweet sounding EL 34s in your price range. I know that this is what I would do. If you go straight to ss, you'll not know what you're missing - if you go tubes and buy one of these units and it's insufficient power (which I doubt, since 40-60 WPC of tube power easily drove my Totem One Signatures easily in a bigger room), then you can sell it withot taking a beating.
The pro-tubers are totally correct. Stop listening to your self-induced doubts ... give up on the notion that tube equipment is a pain, as it isn't at all ... pick up a nice used integrated and some speakers with relatively high sensitivity ... you won't regret it, as long as your goal is to enjoy music
Get your feet wet and go for a hybrid integrated that uses tubes only in the preamp section. Bat vk300, older version with 6922, or if you have the scratch then go for an Einstein. If your not limited to an integrated then the sky is the limit with a tubed preamp/solid state rig. I have yet to hear a single solid state amp that replicates what tubes do. Experiment, there is a treasure of inventory on audiogon you can play with for very little financial loss if you buy and sell wisely.
You don't need to worry so much about tubes. Just enjoy their wonderful sound. The Cayin 70T is INCREDIBLE for the money. My neighbor has one and I've heard it with several speakers and it sounds knockout in every way and it autobiasing so there is no worry at all. Besides it looks killer. Also the Consonance tube amps for less money are also fantastic. I don't know the Jungson.
But if you want rich and full sound, you got the wrong speakers. Or you need a sub. YOur room is too large for the Sttafs to ever produce a full sound - no matter what amp you buy. If you're on a really tight budget, I'd suggest you keep the amp you have now and buy a small sub instead. It will do wonders for your sound quality and will give you the most improvement for the dollar. Trust me on this one.
I'm not familiar with the Jungson, but 80w/c is plenty. Just make sure your rack is well ventilated - preferably have the Integrated sitting on the top in the wide open.
Of course this heat issue is the exact same as you'll have if you were to go with Tubes.
There's no need to agonize over, or apologize for not spending the extra $ for Tubes - SS can be very satisfying.
I have a Jungon JA-88D in my second system. My room is very similiar in size to yours. Since purchasing this integrated, my modded Sonic Frontiers Line One (tube preamp) and Golden Tube Se-40 (80wpc tube monoblocks) have been getting dusty and garnering little attention. I also tried several solid state amps including Luxman and this unit was significantly better than all. I am basically a tube guy, but this integrated gives you a very musical sound somewhere between the two camps. Also, this unit will impress all of your non audiophile friends and they will ask you if it is a Mcintosh.
I also agree with Aball that a decent sub would probably do more for you in the near term than a component switch.
It has been my experience over using tubes for the past 15 years that using small signal tubes (12AX7, 12AU7, 6922, 5751, etc) has been no problem at all. However, I have had problems with output tubes from time to time, and like you, grew tired of all the problems and maintenance. If you think about it, using tubes for what they excel at, voltage amplification, is generally non-problematic, while using them for what they are not good at, current amplification, places the tubes at risk. I love the sound of tubes, so I have a tube preamp that uses tubes for voltage gain. You could also use them in the output stage of CD players and in the voltage gain stages of power amps, and still get some of that tube magic without the inherent reliability problems with tubes.
Good ideas above. The mention of Cayin not autobiasing is a very good catch.
My hunch is that if Djh does not try a tube amp, he will always wonder "what if?".
Therefore, I suggest buying a used PrimaLuna Prologue 2 when one becomes available. Give it a try. If it doesn't work (I'll bet it will...), then sell it and buy one of the solid state amps suggested above.
I suspect Pass Labs will be out of Djh's price range based on his mention of the Jungson as a possibility.
Djh, FWIW the transistor amp you are mentioning at the beginning of this thread has marginal power for dealing with a low-efficiency speaker like you have.
A lot has to do with your listening habits in this regard, but if you like to rock out or you like Wagner at realistic levels, you simply will have to come to grips with the understanding that to do so you will need a more efficient speaker, tube or transistor notwithstanding.
From what I have seen, finding a speaker that is easier to drive will be a piece of cake. Here are a couple off the top of my head- the Audiokinesis Stormbringer and the ZU Druid. Neither are very expensive and both are easier to drive than what you have, and both will do nicely with a lower-powered amp (i.e. 60 watts or so), allowing you to consider tubes on a budget again. I doubt either one will be a step backwards either, I've heard them both and they can be very convincing!
I'm currently using Wavelength Custom 45 and Triton Sig 300b. Fabulous amps. I've had Levinson, Tekne, Pass, PS, ARC, BelCanto digitals, etc.
The Jungson was one of the best, most useable pieces I've ever had. Well made, very even tempered with various speaker loads and types,super reliable.
I liked my sfirst one so much that when I got rid of it, I replaced it with another one! For under a K used, it's a steal.
I bought the Sttafs because: a) recommendation from a friend, b) I listened to them at a store (NAD amp) and really liked the sound, c) they are narrow and will not overwhelm the room they are in and d) the price was right.
I do find that they have a "tight" exact nature. You can easily pick out each instrument (even with my 30 year old Pioneer). You do not feel the base in your chest but when the band calls for it it's presence can be startling. It amazes me that these little floor standers can generate that kind of attention. Of course, I have little to compare them with so for now, ignorance is bliss.
My idea is that tubes will soften the presentation, create more warmth and, with the added power, create a more fuller overall sound.
I always wanted to try a tubed amp. Now that I am in the market for an amp I thought this would be the time. I just don't know enough about them yet (been lurking here for some time now and the more I read the less I feel I know). And I want a good powerful amp which, for tubes, cost considerably more.
Whatever I get it will probably be the last amp I buy for quite some time (have any of you's said that before?). So I'm always very appreciative of replies from experenced members here.
Pick one and jump in. Learning through listening is a necessary step.
Whatever I get it will probably be the last amp I buy for quite some time.
That's always the goal, but it's rarely the reality. That's why you might as well jump in and get started.
Try the Prologue 2 or the Cayin A-70t (autobiasing) if you listen at moderate levels and don't crank Metallica. Owners of both rave about them. Find one used. It limits the risk.
I was like you in the beginning but I decided to move into tubes anyhow; always remember there are many people with many years of tube experience that you can ask questions of and from.
I found that midrange tube sound is what I like,have never found in solid state and that hooked me; I think you should take some time don't rush and make a educated purchase and you will never look back.
Good luck and happy hunting!!!!!
"Besides there is a Devel's Tower of a learning curve for me to climb around tubes and I'm really anxious to just sit down and listen without any anxiety (if you know what I mean)."
I once felt exactly the same way and couldn't have been more wrong. I'm sure there are twitchy, high maintenance tube amps out there but it doesn't have to be that way, and tubes can offer a great deal more than the typical warm, fuller sound people identify them as having.
I was also considering Rogue for recommendation but I've never personally owned one so Tvad's words of caution shouldn't be ignored; neither should Atmasphere's, my experience with Totem has been that they come alive with power.
In case it helps you, let me tell you that my Atmasphere tube amps (MA-2) have 58 tubes, the MP-1 has 5 tubes and in 3 1/2 years I have not had to replace even ONE tube nor had any problems whatsoever! (except when I installed the amps, I literally broke one and blew a fuse). So, rest assured, tube amps are as reliable as ss amps and certainly are not necessarily any more work. Admittedly, you may have to bias them occasionally, but if you get an auto-bias set-up, you wont even have to do that.
I strongly suggest you keep your tube amplifier for a long while. Any transition is going to be dramatic. I don't mean that in a positive or negative way but more in a matter of taste. I still insert my tube amp from time to time, it's an old friend and tuff for me to let go. Unfortunately, I get board with is lack of resolution and bandwidth in comparison to my current amps. It's also a reference point, if a different design can best it then your on to something.
Reading thru all of the responses, I concur with Tvad on trying the recommended Cayin or Prima Luna integrateds. These amps all have exceptionally solid "bang for the buck" reputations. Rogue Cronus is also a noteworthy suggestion.
Aball's suggestion about adding a subwoofer is also hard to dismiss. I added a REL Storm III ($1,000 used) to my Dynaudio C2's and it really made a significant positive impact to the overall sound.
You've already received a lot of good input...I only risk boring you with my experience because it might help allay some of your concerns. I went to an integrated tube amp several years ago and haven't looked back. I didn't have all that much opportunity to audition live. Researched a lot on line and came across a TNT Audio review of the JoLida 502B. It was in my price range and carried by Community Audio in Phila. John the owner there spent several hours with me and my wife listening to music using a JoLida to drive a pair of Totem Hawks. I loved the sound. To my ear, more detail, better imaging and mid range presence - all in all, just a more satisfying listening experience than the solid state receiver I'd been using (Yamaha R-1000 bought in the early '80s. Carver electronics, current switching, 100W/channel and well-reviewed at the time). You can say I didn't have a good basis for comparison given that I was coming from an admittedly NOT high end starting point, none the less, let me also note that a good friend who had a succession of solid state amps including (finally) a Krell (sorry don't recall model except that it weighed a ton and had output current sufficent to perform electrocutions) is now running an Audio Research tube amp. To make a long story short, the owner let me audition the JoLida at home with my own speakers. Ultimately, I bought the 502B from him. It isn't auto bias but if you can read directions you can bias this amp. I bought an inexpensive multimeter from Sears and after some initial anxiety found that it is easy. I'm not so much trying to tell you JoLida is the way for you to go - though I'd at least recommend you read the TNT Audio review - more that I think you will really enjoy "tube sound". By the way, the 502B is rated at only 60 or 65 watts and I'm using it with Totem Forests that are rated at 87 db efficiency. Sound levels are adequate. Given my budget and based on feedback to an inquiry I posted on A'gon, more "loud" is going to take a move to more efficient speakers (but I really love the Forests) or going to a hybrid (tube pre, ss power - as I understand it). The JoLida is staying for now. Good luck in your decision.
Kinda funny in reading this that you always hear advocates of SS amps complain about the inaccurate over done even harmonics of tubes, then follow up by saying that the really good SS amps sound so tube-like...
I've owned many examples of both tubes and SS. Tubes are more fun and you can tailor the sound by rolling different tube types as well. On some levels tubes may indeed be less accurate, but how come then that they sound so much more correct?
Have fun Djh-
Try the JungSon with your speakers, if you can. Reading about the Jungson, it sounds like a good buy. If you are getting it at a deep discount, it may be a great buy. Get a tube DAC if you want to get some tube warmth into the system. Question: what kind of service is available for the amp if it needs repair? At sixty pounds, shipping it to get it fixed is going to be an expensive pain.
I have a question to add to this thread - sorry to hijack your discussion Djh.
there's a good deal of attention to self/auto bias merits above. It's certainly easier, but is it better?
I have 3 guitar amps - all tube - and auto bias is an undesirable feature if you're interested in "tuning" your sound. It's not hard to do, indeed in some amps it's really easy. Guitarists pay money to mod their self biasing amps to enable manual bias.
Is this also the case with home audio Tube amps? That is, is it more desireable to have manual bias?
I have heard the amp you speak of at my home.It really is a nice piece.
I have run the gamut of all tubes to all ss to a mix over 30 years.
In the end I ended up with a hybrid integrated as i like both options in their strengths, ss vs. tubes but realized that in the end what I was missing was some tube influence.My wife even noticed :^).
Best of luck to you in your search.
I second Bob's recommendation. If you like all kinds of music, a hybrid amp is the way to go, IMO. I still have a 300B SET amp, and it is for my home office. I also have a pair of KT88 monoblocks and they are for my bedroom.
For my main listening area, I have a hybrid power amp with SS driver and output stages but tube gain stage. I also have a tube preamp and a tube CD player.
I love the mids and highs of tube power amps. But the lows can be improved if you like tight bass. Besides, the even harmonics are cancelled out in Push-Pull output stage anyway. So you might as well putting SS there.