I'm not a tube guy, but these thoughts go regardless. Do not buy an amp to try/audition. There are plenty of dealers that will work with you on a loaner. The last thing you want to do is plop down hard earned money to experiment. You may not like the amp you buy and end up having a hard time finding a buyer or take a big loss. As far as going direct to the amp, you have to experiment. In some cases you will get a sound that you like better with a preamp in some cases not. Since you have a dac that you can run direct I suggest you find an amp you like, then try some preamps. Good Luck, Doug
opinionated reply,but...only tubes i'd try are the atmaspheres. they come balanced if your looking for a tube-like sound, try the belles 150a hot rod or the warner imaging amps. i know they're not expensive or ultra shiek, but they sound good, although you will give up a little w/ the wadia cause they are'nt balanced outs. the new belles 350 will be. stick to no preamp w. the 850.
You will not have any problems connecting directly to a tube amp. I have owned the Kora 100SB Triode amp and found it to be one of the best I have ever owned. Atmasphere is a fine amp for sure, but it is not the only fine amp. Auto bias is nice but I have heard that it can have sonic detractors. If you get an amp that you have to bias manually, you should only have to do it about once or twice a year or whenever you change tubes. Kora amps have some exetremely attractive prices, i.e. there Cosmos monos can be had for about USD 4.4k. When introduced about 2 years ago I think HiFi Farm was asking USD 18K for the pair. Concerning if a tube amp will sound better than your Rowland, only you can answer that for yourself. I have heard some very fine sounding SS gear, but when it comes down to pure musicality IMHO nothing beats tubes. Funny how the better SS gear tends to lead reviewers to compare the SS gear to great tube gear. That says a lot in and of itself. Best regards, Mike
I listented to a Wdia 850 direct through an audio research VT 100 mk II and it was wonderful. I also listened to the 850 through a Pass Labs SS amp during the same session and the tube amp seemed smoother on the top end.
I have a 850 running through a BAT VK60. Great combo. This amp is different than the ARC VT100. Depends on speakers that you have which may be better for you. The BAT is killer in my system. IMHO, use the balanced outs in the Wadia with a fully balanced amp, it helps...and you paid for it with the Wadia, might as well use it. BTW: If you spend a ton of $$'s, a preamp does help the Wadia, but it's not cost effective. I'm using a BAT VK50SE now, started with the Wadia only...
Maybe the 850 is much better than the 830, but I own an 830, and while I love it, I have heard it direct into many amps (Bryston, Classe, Krell, Music Reference RM200, Moon W5)it is just not as good as with a preamp. Not even close.
i run my 850 directly into a pair of cj's perm. 12 amps (wltraliner, generally using 6550's. but i have experimented with kt90s). as cj does not incorporate balanced in/outputs, evenrything is connected via rca. i'm really, really happy. your choice of amp should depend, in part, upon your speakers (that is to say, it's power output should adequatly drive your speakers). in terms of blbloom's commnets, i was origionally shopping for an 830, but found a great deal on an 850 and snapped it up. there is a big difference between the two. they're both really well made and extremely musical machines. but i'm not at all surprised to learn that they behave differently when used with and without a preamp. by the way, bias adjust is a good thing. in short (and wihtout a lot of techincal explination, which is generally lost on my pea brain), it allows you to bias each tube (or each side) individually to get maximum performance. and you needn't worry about buying matched sets (but i still do). good luck. randy
Thank you for your comments. Randalleron,what interconnects are you using.
i'm currently using kimber's kcag and i really like them. i experimented with some of transparent's offerings (i'm using their speaker cable) but was happier with the kcags (they were a bit tinny at first, but broke in quite nicely). by way of background, until recently i was living in asia where good deals were relatively easy to come by (thus, the 850 rather than the 830). anyway, i got a good deal on a 1m pair of rca kcags and snapped them up. since then, i have seen a number of postings here about other, less costly, silver-based cables. sorry to say that my memory (or, more specifically, what my undergrad days did to my memory) isn't being too helpful right now. but if you spend a few minutes searching cable threads, you should be able to find out some more info. separately, as i re-read your thread, i too have pretty efficent speakers (somewhere in the 90-92 db/4 ohms range) and they are more than happy with the 140wpc that my amps give them. before i upgraded, i ran them briefly from cj's mv55 (45 wpc). they sounded good, the the additional power really opened them up and helped them sing. i've been told that they would have reacted just as well to about 70-80 wpc (i was shopping cj's premier 11a, an 85 wpc vtl offering and ar's 100wpc offering) but i never tried. i'll be interested to learn what amp(s) win your heart. randy.
I purchased a Wadia 861 (when my transport died) with the intent to connect directly to a Classe CA400 (removing my Classe DAC..). With the 861, the transients and detail were really phenomenal but I lost some of the midrange and sweet vocals. I considered auditioning some tube amps, but instead, I had the opportunity to auditioned a Sonic Frontiers Line 3 with a single pair of NOS seimens 7308 tube upgrades and the midrange was better than I have ever heard before. So much so, that I didn't dare change a thing. Just wrote a check for the Line 3...and every evening when I listen to music, I still get goose bumps on the vocals! The exact sound I was looking for! Happy Listening...Kent