Are we reenacting the "Prestige", which door(thread) are you behind?
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I've got a little experiment for you. Send Totem another e-mail and ask about the Vista Audio i84 integrated amplifier. (a self biasing - push pull EL84 integrated that runs the first 8 watts in class A, with the remaining 7 in class A/B mode).
I mention this $730 integrated because I too have ran the wonderful Sttaf for a number of years. A lot of very expensive and highly regraded speakers have come through these doors, none have managed to oust the little Sttaf from their main stereo duties. That said, quite a few inexpensive (Jolida, Antique Sound Labs, Rogue, Prima Luna) have come through these doors - and none of them can do what this little integrated can do. When it comes to matching the Sttaf with an affordable tube amp, I've yet to come across anything better - provided you can live with 15watts.
Good look in the hunt - if you do e-mail Totem, I'd be very interested to hear what they have to say.
Thanks for this follow-up. Totem gave you a nice answercomplete with useful details and a good selection of amps at different price points. Kudos to them.
You can bet their recommendations are based on experience. They will actually have tested the Sttaffs with each amp on the list.
I agree with you that the Manley Stingray tends to induce drool. Manley products have an excellent reputation. The president and CEO is well-known and often appears at audio shows.
And ooh, an Air Tight... look it up just for fun. Maybe not your style, but so cool.
Heres what the gibberish you mention means: its hard to get big, clean, reliable watts out of Class A amp designs without spending big money. Thats why, overall, class A amps have lower rated output than push-pull. Since good Class A designs tend to be expensive, unless you are willing to spend, dont bother with class A. If you do want to spend, the Staffs will be happy with fewer watts in Class A.
Happy amp hunting!
Thanks for the reply Ghosthouse. I'm sifting through all the info and having a ball. I'm starting to relax about trying something different. Afterall, if I don't like the results, a different component is just a sell/buy deal away. I just wish I didn't have to conform to a financial limit:-)
I've e-mailed Totem again Rumadian. Will let you know of their reply when it comes back.
Thanks for all the advice.
I'll say what other have said already and hope this gives you full confidence for tubes and sttafs.
My system was previously mated with sttafs & cayin a88t. there was never a problem with enough power. speakers sounded lively, open, just overall pleasant to listen too.
Now, my cayin is now paired with Arros (even more difficult to drive) and again, the sound is fabulous.
P.S. both sttafs & arros were driven by solid state Bryston, NAD & Marantz with double the power on paper, but the tubes just sounded better!
Djh - I recently went through a similar search. I have a very fine Simaudio I-5 integrated but after I got some Devore Fidelity Gibbon 8 speakers I was curious what they would sound like with tubes.
The Devore 8's are two-ways with the same sensitivity as your Sttafs and almost the same physical dimensions. My list of candidates for tube amplification was almost the same as yours but when I came across an interesting deal on an AES Cary AE-25 Superamp with a box of extra tubes I bought it. I then added an AES AE-3 DJH preamp and the combination with the Devores is absolutely wonderful.
I'd been extremely happy with the I-5 but the tube amp and preamp combination, which together cost about the same as the I-5, is simply more enjoyable to listen to. The AE-25 amp is auto-biasing and can take EL-34, KT-66, KT-88, 5881 or KT-90 output tubes. It came with two quads of KT-88's and one of KT-66's and I bought a quad of EL-34's to try.
The tube swapping has been fascinating, each type has a quite different sound and, because of the auto-biasing, comparing them is as simple as shutting down the amp, waiting just long enough to keep your fingers from getting burned during the swap and powering up again.
I hadn't owned a tube amp in forty years, since I built a Dynaco kit when I was 19, and had convinced myself that tubes weren't worth the extra effort but I was wrong. There is slightly more effort but not much, mostly in being disciplined about proper turn-on and turn-off sequence and shutting down the power amp when I'm not going to be listening for awhile.
The 15 triode watts of the AES Superamp are more than enough power for the Devores in my 11x17 listening space.
Then they say something giberish like " in class "A" single ended the sttaf will only need 15 watts, but these amp are generally quite expensive for a good design".
Not giberish, but valid comments you really should consider. Single ended tube amps are a very very special breed of amps.
I use a 12wpc single ended (class A) tube amplifier on speakers with the same ratings as your Sttaffs, and it seems your Sttaffs are tube friendly also. My 12wpc single ended amp has more than enough power to pound down the walls. I have used many push pull designs over the years but not one come close to the magic a single ended tube amplifier can achieve.
If you do some searching on Audiogon you'll find a couple of single ended amps for sale that will fit you bill. You will not be disappointed.
My experience is that the smaller Totem speakers really need tubes to bring out their best. My favorite pairing thus far is the Jolida 302b. It works beautifully with both the Arro's and the Staafs. It's OK, but not spectacular with the Hawks. From the Hawks on up (Forrest, etc) I feel that solid state amplification becomes more feasible, or higher-powered tube amps.