Silver Pioneer to Tubes..?


I am a novice to audio and looking for guidance regarding how one might introduce tubes into my mid-‘70s audio collection. My Pioneer components include: SX-1280 receiver, SA-9500II and SA-8500II amps, and PL-530 turntable. I also have a pair of JBL L65’s and L300’s. I play mostly classic rock, all on vinyl.

I am considering a jump into tubes, but understand that it would take a rather high-end tube amp to drive the power-hungry L300’s. If that is the case, I’m considering using either the 9500II or 8500II amp output to a tube pre-amp as an alternative.

My dilemma is whether or not to go with a vintage tube pre-amp such as a Dynaco PAS or a more contemporary unit like a Jolida Fusion? Is there typically much sound quality difference between vintage and new pre-amps? Is one approach better suited to '70s vintage Pioneer equipment or would the sound quality be nominal and not necessarily worth the investment?

Thank you for any insights and recommendations as I am unsure which direction to go and from what I‘ve read the trial and error experiences appear infinite.

Power hungry JBL L-300s? I don't think so. I tried many amplifiers with my L-300s including the powerful Pioneer Spec amplifiers, Audio Research solid state and many others. However, the best sound was with a 14 watt Mastersound single ended integrated tube amplifier. The sound was amazing and the bass was the best I have heard from any system regardless of price.
Hello Rrog,

Good to know lower powered amps provide great results too. I've been told that speakers with less than 88 db sensitivity would not fair well with low powered tube amps. The L300's are rated at 80 db sensitivity.

Thanks again,
Reo- The 80 dB sensitivity is for 1 watt, but measured at 15' from the speaker. If you search the web you will see that translated to more common specification , it is considered to be about 93 dB sensitivity, which is well within the range that is considered "tube friendly". Depending on your listening distance and room size, you probably could drive that speaker to very high levels w a 300b based, 8-10wpc amp. It might run out of steam at very high volumes on orchestral music, but as Rrog says, 15-20 wpc should be able to reach ear bleed levels in a medium size room. Also, speaker-amp matching depends on a lot of different factors, sensitivity being only one. Also relevant are room size, type of music, typical volume levels, minimum and nominal impedance, how much impedance varies w frequency (so-called impedance curves), phase angle, etc. Do some searches on topics like speaker-amp matching and check out Atma-sphere Music's white papers to get a start on understanding this complex topic.
Hello Swampwalker,

Thank you for the great explaination in lay person terms. I appreciate your advice and will check out the speaker-amp matching articles to learn more.

Again, many thanks for helping me head the right direction..!
YW, Reo. My guess is that w a typical EL-34 or 6CA7 based tube amp of 30-50 wpc, you will have no problems rocking the house. If you want to experiment w tube sound, there are several Chinese integrateds for sale in the $500-750 range that might be a nice place to start. If you post your budget, room size, and musical preferences, you will get some specific recommendations.
Hello Swampwalker,

Thanks to your earlier advice, I quickly sprang into action this afternoon as I had a line on a Jolida SJ-302a for sale locally. It came with upgraded tubes (Svetlana EL-34's, Ampex Holland Cleft Bugle Boy 12AX7's and Mullard 12AT7's) and a new Bozak phono pre-amp. The ironic part is that I purchased this before seeing your latest message regarding Chinese amps and an estimated cost of $500-$750. I have to say you were right on as my purchase fell into the upper end of your estimated range. How interesting that we landed in the same place..!

So I connected the Jolida to the L300’s and wow, what a great listening experience. I know the amp is considered entry level, but as my first foray into the world of tubes, I am more than impressed with the results. I doubt I’ll ever part with my Silver Pioneer amps, but tubes will now be a permanent part of my system. Perhaps one of these days I’ll be ready to upgrade, but for now this is a great start and provides the results I was looking for without having to skim funds from my daughter’s college savings plan..!

What do you think about the tubes I mentioned above for listening primarily to classic rock? My man cave is on the smaller size to really let the L300’s sing, but that is the compromise I’ve made to keep volume levels reasonable and my marriage intact at the same time..! If there are better tubes for this type of listening, I’ll go for it down the road.

Thanks again for the advice as it has opened up a whole new world..!