New to tubes


Currently have a Denon receiver and would like to replace it with an integrated tube amplifier. Considering the Onix SP-3, some of the Jolida line, or maybe a Primaluna Prologue 2 (budget $900 or less). My speakers are Monitor Audio Silver 5i's. I've been reading about speaker impedance curves and how the high output impedance of tube amps can really change the response of speakers. Anyone have experience with the Monitor Audio line and various tube amplifiers? These a good match for something like a Prologue 2 or an SP-3?


I don't think you would have a problem with any of the units that were mentioned.The speakers are 6 ohm/90db and better yet-a two-way (less complex a crossover).As long as you are not trying to fill a huge room,you're in good shape.
I agree with Tpsonic, any good tubed integrated on 12 or more watts should be just fine. I have no specific recommendations, but there are some nice looking refurbished vintage amps in your price range that look interesting. Most of all, take your time, read up, and if possible listen. And have fun!
I am not selling this item, but there's a SoundQuest SQ88 (made by Consonnance I believe)for sale here on the Gon $850. Like you I am relatively new to tubes and purchased one of these via Quest for Sound (not affliated with them either) it is a very nice sounding tube amp with plenty of power, auto bias.
Look into all the cayin units. Buy used. Yes, matching is important. If you go new, try to get a dealer to loan you a demo unit so you can check out compatibility right in your home. Primaluna Prologue are great units and has a larger dealer network, so the try before you buy may be easier.
Welcome to the club...the previous posters gave you accurate and good information....if you don't mind tube gear idiosyncracies then join us! I was a SS guy for many years and now would never consider going ss again.
Thanks to all for the great response and info!

I've been meaning to upgrade my trusty old Denon for some time now - I like the sound of my Monitor Audios, but they may be a touch bright on the top end. Originally considered SS seperates, but then I decided to go wholly different and give tubes a try - I love idiosyncracies, I have plenty of them myself. Also love tinkering, tweaking, and the occasional fiddling. Also have much preferred the 'thick' sound of my Fender tube guitar amps vs. various SS guitar amps so I look forward to the same experience in my audio setup.

Ok so I'm adding Cayin and SoundQuest to my list for research. Can't wait to join the club!
•Hi and welcome to the tube World
•To get your feet wet try used 1k units from AgoN.
•Many to choose from ( make the list - set priorities. That is start.)
•Prime Luna is a great starter. Consonance 15th Anniversary int-amp looks quaite good - by any standards.
•And lastly, SQ 88 is not made by Consonance.
It is a brand of SQ (sound quest) - it is also good choice for "beginers".
That SQ88 was my best buddy's first tubey-glowey amp. A year latter he went through CJ used (new $7000) and now settle down with Consonance Cyber 211 (around 5k new)mono-blocks and loves it.

Ones you get a lick .....that is it, you'll be hooked.
Just a warning pal.
Yes that is one thing I have noticed - there is a almost overwhelming sea of variety in tube manufacturers, tube types/characteristics, modifications/tweaks, etc. Lots to learn - I guess I'll just pick one to start and see what I like from there. I live in the NYC area so I figure I can demo a few things as well. I went to look at the offerings from Consonance and I noticed the Cyber 10 Multi Integrated SET amp - neato all in one option for my lossless-encoded music files along with class A operation to boot. Not sure if it's enough juice for my MA's though....
I is a nice piece but your speakers might be under powered with only 12wpc.
It might be enough but I would not take the risk of recommending it base only on company's reputation or features. IMO, Prima Luna might be a the sefer choice. However, contacting qualify dealer will most likely answer your questions or recommende other alternatives within your budget.
Thanks for starting this thread Bfrank. I was going to start one almost identical to it. I too have some Monitor Silvers, though mine are the 9i set, just taller and a little deeper on the freq response (30Hz-25k I believe is their range). I have been using them with a B&K ref20/Sunfire Theater Grand for 6 or 7 years now. But they are getting an upgrade and moving to greener pastures since I have a full HT set hooked to the Sunfire now.

I am only beginning my research, but I like the idea of tubes. I think it would be fun to have a voltmeter and bias tubes every 3 to 6 weeks. Call me a kook. I really like the idea of experimenting with multiple different tube brands and discover which sound I like best. I listen to a pretty eclectic mix of music myself. A lot of British rock, indie rock, some classic American rock, some classical, some jazz, some hip hop, a tiny bit of rap, even a touch of country (Lucinda Williams is a badass). I am not sure a tube setup will be the best setup for a rock n roller, but the more jazz I buy (Ellington, Davis, Bassie, Adderly and Mony are my favorites atm) the more I buy, lol.

I have looked at and read about integrateds, separates, SS pre with tube amp, tube pre with SS amp (which seems like a nice balance), and even a Tube integrated with pre-outs to a SS amp to Bi-wire my 9is. And this is all just for pre/amp solutions. I haven't even scratched the surface of a source unit yet. I still have to decide if SACD and DVD-A are worth putting money into (Modded Oppo?), or if I just want a great redbook player (leaning toward MF A5 if so).

So, I would love to hear from you on impressions of the Monitors through a tube setup. It would help me better prepare myself for what I want to look at next. And anyone else here that wants to make suggestions to a mostly rock listener (I would guess ~80%), I am all ears. Thanks.
Thats cool - Judging by how the MA's sound with the Denon (a bit warmer on the SS side of things), I am hoping they will sound brilliant with tubes... hoping :) I spoken to alot of people about the Silver series, and it's kind of a love/hate thing overall. I in particular love them, though I do hear what people are saying about them being strong or edgy in the high range. A high impedance tube amp would likely roll the top end off a bit, which might be just the trick - as soon as I decide on something I will let you know my experience.

With regard to the SET, I know the sensitivity rating on the MA's is borderline. I also know that slight tube amp breakup is much easier on the ears than the abrupt clipping of SS, so tube watts tend to sound 'louder'. I also know many of these high end mini SET amps sound alot louder than their ratings compared to some other tube amps. And lastly I also have the powered MA ASW210 sub paired with my 5i's - so I am thinking of running the tube amp to the speaker level inputs of the sub and then out to the 5i's, and set the sub crossover at 60-80hz - this might put a bit less of a load on a smaller tube amp.... although I have no idea what kind of impedance curve the amp will see with this setup... guess I just have to jump in and try it! :)
Most speaker-level inputs on subs provide a couple Kohms to convert high to low-level.This value doesn't affect the impedance that the amplifier sees.
You will probably be happier with chinese output tubes,as some of the russian are more forward in the top-end.
Between the PL1 and 2,I would suggest the PL2 with KT-88s.It will be stronger in the bass and the highs are preferrable to the 34s IMO/YMMV.
Hmm, this is all good stuff. Again, I am glad a found someone else looking to do what I am looking to do with effectively the same speaker. I agree, I think the Silvers are a remarkable little speaker, especially for the price I paid. In fact, at my old house, I didn't find them bright or harsh in the least. But they are just a little fatiguing now, and I want to rectify that. :D

I am now looking at a Cary Sli80, Jolida 1000, or a VAC Avatar, all of which are right in the same price range (Around 2K). I love the look of Mac gear, but I don't know a $4000 MA2275 could be twice as good as the units I am looking at, and ultimately I think I would be buying for aesthetics. On the SS side of things, I would consider a MF A5, Creek Destiny, Naim, Chord... the usual suspects.

I have heard nothing but great things about VAC and the Avatar, so it is hitting the top of the list right now. It supposedly deals very well with any kind of music, which is important to me, since I listen to almost everything and a great deal of what I listen to is rock. Anyone with knowledge or experience with any of the above that wants to continue giving advice/suggestions I am still all ears. And that includes suggestions on source, ICs, cables, etc. Thanks again!
Grenamc, I happened to find this in poking around today:

From the Stereophile review of the 9i - this image shows their measured impedance for the 9i (solid line). Don't know enough about how this will affect power delivery and frequency response curve when used with a high output impedance tube amp, but it looks to me you might see a boost around 40 hz, 200hz, a dip around 2khz, and a boost around the 10khz mark (as compared to an ultra low impedance SS amp). Again this is just my novice interpretation from what I've read so far, but I thought it would be interesting for you to see this. Regarding my 5i's, I'm my impedance curve is likely different as I have a different crossover setup in mine. BTW there's a guy I found here who does crossover upgrade work on the Monitor Audio Silvers who says it's worth it - I haven't followed up with him yet but he goes by Vman71 here.
Hmmm, now you've got me thinking even more about getting into tubes myself.

I've got a pair of B&W 703's currently driven by a pair of Electrocompaniet AW220's and a Musical Fidelity A308CR preamp.

So far I haven't done any research but might just start looking now. Since I have no clue what kind of power output I need from a tube amp to drive my speakers I'd love to get some input.

Do I need the same kind of power I get from from an SS amp or is there any difference.

Thanks for the response curve and the info on Vman71. I think I might try and get in contact with him. I am hoping to go down to Indianapolis at the end of the week and look at some integrated tube amps in my price range. I know it won't be my house/speakers/etc, but it should give me a better idea how tubes deal with my listening material. I may end up deciding to go with a tube pre-amp and SS amplifier, or even a tube integrated with pre-outs for a bi-amp setup. Haven't come to any conclusions yet. As long as I get detail, soundstage, great sonic placement and no fatigue I will be thrilled. :)