Pros / Cons of Two Amplification Paths (different topology) in a primary 2 Channel system?


I am looking for feedback and results from members actively using two sets of Pres / Amps in their primary systems (and your reasons for doing so).

I am also interested in feedback from members who have tried this but ultimately chose one set of amplification components (instead of two) and your reasons for eliminating the second amplification path.

Thank you very much.
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I have spoken with four audio enthusiasts, each of whom has statement level systems (all uniquely different) and ~150 years of experience, between them.

Three are advising me to add the second integrated amp (a tubed amp) to my system. My primary amp is a solid state integrated.

One is advising me to stick with one.

All have valid and excellent positions vis a vis their advice. And all are correct.

I need to make a choice (SOON)...If any others have their take or advice on this, please share. Thanks!
For a while I had three different systems going, in my fairly large dedicated main listening room. One was a Tact system (modified) with room correction applied: Tact preamp, two Tact amps, four Lyngdorf subs and (at first) Selah line arrays and later YG Carmels and Peak Consult Zoltan speakers. Sounded great, especially with symphonies and big bands—very dynamic and immersive, but could be a bit dry and clinical at times. Room correction adds a lot and detracts a little, but I ultimately preferred a different sound.

In same room, at the same time, I also had a system that added some tube presence and lushness: a Modwright/Sony music server and Audio Horizons tube preamp, with Maker Audio Ref amp and the Zoltan speakers w/o the subs. This system was more intimate, delicate and dimensional with more body—superb with small jazz ensembles.

With the prospect of downsizing, I experimented with a Devialet, which simplified everything—just a transport and the Dev—and it was reasonably satisfying—that is, until one day I played my Modwright/Sony through the Devialet and even with the extra A/D and D/A conversions, it sounded better to me than digital into the Dev—which is when I realized I couldn’t live without tubes somewhere in the system. But I didn’t want to give up the control and dynamics of big solid state amps (and didn’t want the heat of large tube amps—nothing kills signal to noise ratios more than having the air conditioner on a lot—though I’ve considered using a tube amp in the winter).

So presently, in downsizing to a smaller room, I’ve realized my bliss with a (mostly) single system: I found Raidho D2 speakers to be a great somewhat near-field speaker (for some reason the Carmels didn’t work in this room), and the best amp so far with the Raidhos has been a Hegel H30. Still using the Modwright/Sony and a tube preamp (now a PS Audio hybrid).

Oh, and for Tidal streaming I have an Elac music server that uses Roon, into either a modified LKS DAC or an Exogal Comet (still deciding)—even though the manufacturer recommends a direct connection to amp, for my taste the tube preamp is indispensible.

There’s a reasonable argument for two different topology systems, and if space and funds aren’t a concern, it’s a nice option. Then again, if space and funds are a concern, one can compromise (without much compromise) with a tube source and preamp and solid state amp. Plus the funds can be used toward purchasing higher quality components… Good luck…

 


@richards  Thank you, Richards. Reading through your journey and the choices made is really helpful.

I recently wrapped up a number of rounds of evaluating amps and settled on the T+A PA 3100 HV. This gives me a fully solid state system.

The amp in question is the Lyric Audio Ti140 Mk2, a Push-Pull KT150 integrated amp. It is a really good component, but as luck sometimes strikes, recent changes upstream and downstream from it have brought it to another, very special level. 

I have the space to accommodate both amps.

If you and others have any additional thoughts, please share. Thanks.