Check out the autoformers at http://www.zeroimpedance.com, they might allow for a better match between your current amp and speakers.
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I am facing similar situation! Everything is there, sweet detailed, but it is too far out, way behind the speakers. You might not have to spend much more $ for the ** amp to get your speakers come to life?! But that will be at the expense of something else that only your tube amp does. I decided not to experiment with ** amps! Get another MV60 and use it as mono? If you can! Or change your speakers.
You said: ... no SS discussion?
Eldragon-- Thanks for the input. The speakers are alive, but there is just something about the sound. I am not sure if I am still suffering from Bedini-itis (gave up my old 25/25s) of if it is that I am running the system passive. Could even be the front end. Maybe I also need to go the next step in cables. Noooo, not that again. Could be that the MV 60 and speakers are there and I do not want to stop.
But the idea of two MV 60's is interesting. More of everything for each speaker. Two with EL 34s or two with 6550s?
How many marriages have you broken up with your ideas? Does anyone have a garage apartment for rent?
OK, I will open the door. I admit that I have been looking at the dark side. What SS recommendations do you have? I have been eyeing Blue Circle and other CJ amps. I am intriqued with 47 Labs but am not sure if the dollar:sound ratio is there or even the power. And, of course vintage and modified DNAs of for that matter, new McCormicks.
Just had an interesting discussion with someone in St Louis belonging to an audio internet DIY club. Someone claims to have taken apart a 47 Labs amp to find cheap parts. The group was able to price out these parts and found the retail cost of the amp should be less than half of what it is. This is based on parts/labor ratio and getting the product to market.
Vertical bi-amping sounds like a viable alternative (see Cary Audio website for description) unless the c-j is a soft sounding amp. If so, two of them will not remove what's designed into them. By the way,do you have Spendor speakers?
You also might look into Transcendent Sounds OTLs starting at 25wts for stereo version and going up substantially in power from there. Sold only over the internet. You can try them out for a couple of weeks and will only cost the shipping charges.
Seek ye out an Aleph 3, 4, or 5 before you buy.
Both will retain almost all of the tube virtues you like but offer what you miss. They are the best of the SS breed.
Since your already into tubes you ain't looking for ground moving amps. Just more accent on the music.
It may be what your looking for. The Aleph 3 has only 30 watts but is the best sounding of the bunch.
I haven't yet, destroyed anyone's marriage but MINE! Twice! And i think i am well on the way to do the same thing with this (current) one. Anyway, i thought you went with Kestrels? Or you are still using the older monitors? If you are using passive pre, low gain will result in some lose of dynamics, if speakers aren't easy to drive. I believe, that should be an answer instead replacing the amp. CJ makes some of the best pre amps, and compatibility with your amp won't be an issue. Good Luck!
I'd recommend stepping up the CJ line: get into some Premier monoblocks... all the virtues of the MV60 and then some. Of course, I am a bit biased as I have CJ Premier 5's (EL-34, 2 x 200wpc in UL, 2 x 100wpc or so in Triode mode). IMNSHO, some of the best amps CJ's ever made. The only thing even close is Premier 8XS @ $17,000/pr. With adjustment of various NOS tubes, you can tailor the sound of the Prem. 5's quite a bit. I had a 47 Lab gaincard for a while - a nice amp certainly ,but not at the power level of the CJ stuff. A whole different ball game really. Probably not enough power for 85db speakers. I am needing to sell the Premier 5's, they are listed here on A'gon and are within your budget range. Email me if you are interested.
3 possibilities I can think of:
1-change to a more aggressive tube, ie GE vs mullard
2-go to a powered sub/crossover running between the pre and amps. This will give a ton more power and shouldn't be an audible difference crossed below 100hz. According to the owner of Janis (subs, crossovers and sub amps), if you cross over the system at 100hz, you will effectively triple the output power available to your speakers!
3-Get a more detailed cable-I love nordost
Alphas are on my list as is moving up the CJ food chain. I agree that the passive set up may be the issue. I am borrowing a CJ preamp this week. Eldragon, the Kestrels came and went as did the Vireos and ProAc 1SCs. Glad we are all on similar wavelengths. Many thanks for all your input. I will bring you up to date.
I see that your minis are 85db and I believe the MV60 is 55wpc. I am considering getting an MV60 myself and matching it with Vandersteen 2Ce at 86db, but I have been wondering if the MV60 can successfully drive a speaker with that low of sensitivity. How is the MV60 at driving your 85db monitors? How much do you crank on it for good listening levels?