Look at the Rouge line.
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There is a lot of nice Cary and AES (a second Cary brand) here on Audiogon. Its top rate stuff and there is a ready market for it which makes it easy to get in and out of.
Many of the units are switchable between ultralinear and triode. They use widely available tubes - and in a lot of cases one amp can handle multiple types - which makes tube rolling extra fun and confusing! All the gear can be sent back to the factory for all sorts of fun modifications when the itch strikes.
If cost is an issue I suggest you look for an integrated simply because that eliminates one unit, plus the interconnects, power cord and tweaks.
I am very pleased with the support I have received from Dennis and the rest of the Cary team even though I was not the original owner.
One more thing - I would be remiss not recommending that you at least consider some of the new product being built in China. Some of it is quite incredible. here is a link running currently on AGon about one such brand - BTW I happen to have some other TAD products and am very pleased
I have recently bought an Aronov 960Lsi integrated tube amplifier just to try out how tube would sound in my system for around 1100USD, here. I have a Wilson Benesch Act One speaker, which was driven by an Mark Levinson 331. It was ok, but I always missed something. It was detailed, dynamic, but cold and lifeless. Especially on classical music. I have tried various cables and tweaks to get right the sound, but i never got it. Now, with the tube amplifier, I am at the right sound. I never anymore look for to solid state amplification. Still, I have to sell some of all those ultra expensive cables, which I bought to get somme music out of the transistors. I am sure, that there are many good, even better products out there than the Aronov, but I am very pleased with it.
With your speakers you will want an amp that retains some of the better qualities of solid state...ie, deep powerful bass.
Not all tube amps are created equal...stay away from the classic tube sound types IMO...they work best with bookshelf speakers...no deep bass needed so not an important factor.
The Aronov and Rogue brands would work well for you...lots of others fit the bill also but I'm not sure what you mean by "Don't break the bank"?
Thanks for everyone's suggestions. The biggest priority in buying a tube amp was the dollars. I was not going to be able to try tubes, unless it was cheap (realitively speaking, of course).
Well after posting this message in the morning, I kept looking at all the listings here on Audiogon. I came across a listing for a demo Jolida JD-302B from Underwood HIFI for $770. Well I called the guy (don't remember his name) at Underwood and we talked for a little while. I explained my situation to him and he seemed like a really nice guy; a real straight shooter. I asked about the 302B and the 502B. He explained a little about the difference in sound between tubes and solid state. He asked about the watts on my Parasound. He said the 502B has a little better low end and more detail and the 302B had a very sweet midrange. He said either one at moderate levels would easily out perform my Parasound. Of course, that is the reason for this whole fun hobby of mine and probably most of you. Keep searching for that better sound.
Again, thanks for everyone taking the time to respond.
Mapleleafs3, have you actually listened to one of those "China mid fi" products? They are surprisingly good. I agree that a used Rogue, Quicksilver, Cary, AES etc. might have been a better investment in the long term for not much more. Just categorizing the Jolida as mid-fi due to its heritage is not quite fair, though. I prefered my 302b to the Unison Unico, a Linn Wakonda/LK85 combo, and to an Audio Aero integrated. The Jolida has lots of potential; in particular, if tubes are upgraded to NOS or at least better current production tubes.
Jolida used to have reliability problems in the past. i.e. pre 2002, but I have not heard of any problems during the last couple of years.
restock, i would not comment on something I have not heard. I heard some just the other day at a local dealer. It is an ok product and is very good to upper Mid-Fi. Its not in the same class as CJ,Rouge,Audio Aero, Unison.
Mind you for 770.0o he got what he paid for. I just think there are many better choices than Jolida. Reliabilty was awfull and has gotten better, but its still stuffed with cheap Chineese passive parts. I am a Made in North America, USA and Canada guy. Anyone can get stuff made in China cheaply .
I have a Jolida 502 B and it is fun and incredible value. I am tired of people suggesting that CJ or made in North America is better Other esoteric equipment with higher price tags may offer better bragging rights to some but to suggest that these companies are mid-fi is elitist and just plain wrong. The main point is that tube equipment is now affordable and reliable and that you don't have to be some sort of idiosyncratic tubeaholic to have fun and experience sound that is far above most comparatively priced solid state units. Our hobby needs more companies building units like this so that it will continue to grow. A global economy is now a fact of life. Accept it. Great small companies will continue to flourish and cater to that part of the market that seeks out individuals who have golden ears and hopefully golden wallets. For the rest of the world let us have our less than super high end tube equipment and revel in the absurdity of technology, that at least in our hobby, seems to be going in reverse.
Everybody take a slow breath and say the magic words ------Music first ..equipment second.....
Well Jolida got me into tubes having been a dedicated solid state fan for about 8 years when I first got the high end bug. But recently sold the 302B and bought a Rogue Cronus integrated and even my wife said WOW before I had a chance to fine tune the bias. So much better made, and in the US, plus it came with decent tubes. So yeah music first, but bang for the buck second, and I do believe that even though the Rogue cost extra ducats, it is the better value. The transformers alone, arguably the most important part, are far better made.
Glad to hear that your new equipment has had a positive influence on your wife. It is important to note that to arrive at your present destination you went through the Jolida portal. If anything this proves that products like the Jolida have a useful role to play even if the only role they fulfil is considered entry level. Think of all the newbies buying used Jolidas at 50% off list price on the used market. Certainly not a bad thing. I like my Jolida and I consider it to be musical and a fabulous bargain(well above entry level). Even if the 502 B is only the journey and not the destination- --it is still a great sounding amp that will satisy the majority of those whom hear it. If I want to up the ante then I bring out my DIY tube mono blocks and my Sonic Frontiers Line 1. Companies like Jolida and TAD (Tube Audio Design) source from China but inspect and assemble in the USA. Funny, don't hear many people complaining about the TAD 60, which seems to have many strong testimonials complete with its own thread. Just for the record, I am not a paid spokesman for the above discussed companies. However, I won't complain if someone wants to slip me a few dollars for uh..uh....yeah ....retubing !!!
I've listened to the Legacy Audio Classics with tubes a few years back, they sounded great. I'm sure the Jolida will have several qualities that will be pleasing...strong bass response will not be one of them.
Not much point in owning near fullrange speakers and not being able to to enjoy to the last drop so to speak. Regardless of amp types...SS or tube, the two must compliment each other as a working team.
That said, I'm sure you will still enjoy your new Jolida Gssrjpc...a great learning experience (that you will enjoy) for not a lot of money!...way better than a great learning experience, for a lot of money (I've had a few of those HeHe).
Mapleleafs3, glad to hear you are not prejudging equipment and I am sorry I assumed wrong. My guess is that at the dealer, where you listened, they were using the stock tubes which are much less than stellar. A very basic upgrade of the preamp and power tubes to just better current production tubes makes a world of difference. As for:
[qote]It (the Jolida) is an ok product and is very good to upper Mid-Fi. Its not in the same class as CJ,Rouge,Audio Aero, Unison.[/quote]
I owned the Jolida for 15 months (until I upgraded to SET) and owned the Unison Unico integrated for 3 months at the same time and compared both. Built wise the Jolida feels like midfi, but soundwise the Unico is not even close to the Jolida: The Unico sounded veiled, lifeless, with fatiguing highs. I rolled tubes in both and the Jolida (WITH UPGRADED TUBES) is way better. I really wanted to like the Unico (remote!) but it was not even close.
The Audio Aero Prima MK1 integrated was much better than the Unico and similar to the Jolida, better bass, but not quite the midrange of the Jolida.
I can't compare to Rogue, but the Cronos is three times the price new, so that I would expect much more of course. Also, the Rogue amps come with much better stock tubes right out of the factory.
Anyway, just some minor differences in opinion here, but as VINYLROW mentioned the Jolida is a great starter product, and much better than a Unico in my opinion.
Just my 2c (once more),
Agree with some of the responses esp restock's comments. When i had my classics for a time I used Jolida 801 and it was wonderful, beautiful sounding. Lush and excellent tonality. A truly excellent system for not a whole lot of money but was always wanting a little more spl and lower end. It just did not get the volume levels in my fairly large open room that satisfied me long term, and I believe its a fair bit more power than the above Jolida amps mentioned. The Arc VT100's had more dynamics, bloom and body and vocals were to die for. I'd be happy with the Jolidas in a smaller room as the sound was more refined than the ARC, but for smaller scale music, vocals, jazz, acoustic etc. Honestly, I don't think you'd be let down with the Jolida at all with those caveats but you also won't hear everything the Classics are capable of either.
In my mind there is no question about the high value of Jolida gear. For many, it may be the end of the line and with good reason. In selling the 302B, I don't feel in any way that I got rid of it so much as I am glad it now has a new home and that someone else gets to begin the journey I am enjoying. Or perhaps for that owner, this will be all that is required for the long haul. For a smaller room such I had before I moved, the 302B was perfect and I didn't require any more oomph, but with a larger room to fill now, the Rogue serves the need much better. And, depending on where and in what condition one purchases a Jolida, it may not necessarily be only 1/3rd the price of a new Cronus. Some 302Bs go for nearly a grand especially if they have been modded.
This is the way discussions about equipment should be conducted. Nobody here is attempting to influence Gssrjpc to buy a Jolida and in any event the point is now moot since he has taken the plunge. What he has received for starting this thread is iinformation about a company and its products from real owners who own equipment from this company and most importantly their REAL WORLD experiences with the equipment.
Real owners have given valuable insights into why they like the product and under what conditions it will operate to its best potential. All the respondants own other equipment and they may have moved on, but few, if any have anything negative to say about what you bought and the way you went about buying it. It should be obvious that you are on the right path and you are going to have a blast. Perhaps in a year or two you may want to change tubes and do some experimenting and your equipment will respond to the changes you make and it will not cost you a fortune to experiment.
For those who attempt to cast doubt or suggest that Gssrjpc has made an unwise choice all I can add is that the participant who made those comments should just stick to what he knows best.
This is the second thread this week that great products that represent value (China sourced) rather than "high end". have been criticised by this person. The other product was the Prima Luna 2 which every possible forum out there has praised. The praise comes from owners of the products --- not a bunch of paid journalists. However Stereophie were extremely impressed with the Prima Luna. I suggest that he / she maybe take the time to revel in the choices becoming available to us music loving tubeoholics. Marvel at the beauty of a product like the Onix SP3 tube integrated at $999.00 and tell me that its sonic abilities, design elegance, and build quality is inferior.That beauty weighs over 50 pounds and and is a perfect integration of high tech looks with retro styling. The best looking not made in Italy Chinese sourced amp out there.
Perhaps there are some that don't enjoy the fact that tube exclusivity is now available to first timers and that the inner sanctun of the "high end" can now be entered for reasonable dosh
I am sure these people mean well but isn't it better to gain info from actual owners and users rather than someone who hears something in a stereo shop snd suggests its inferior. I mean no disrespect to our naysayer but do hope that in the future that he will have a chance to experience a well made musically satisfying product from the value side of the spectrum that lights his or her musical fire.
Welcome to the great tube revival rennaissance. I'm sure that there is plenty of room at the table for all of us.