Have you considered Quicksilver?
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I'll give my thoughts and then look for input from members with more experience than I have with EL34 and EL84.
I believe the amps you mention are all EL34-based. I recently got a Manley Stingray that uses EL84s. I love it in my system more than EL34 amps I've had in other systems, but I think it diverges a bit from what you are looking for because I would not call it "warm." So I guess my point is I would suggest "No EL84 for you!" ;)
Lots of great choices in that price range used that can drive efficient speakers. Assuming that the D1s impedance curve is reasonably flat, w an 8 ohm, 90 dB speaker, you could use OTLs or transformer coupled. I can only tell you the amps that I have used and enjoyed that fall into that range include VAC Ren 30/30, Atma-sphere M60, Joule VZN-80, and Doshi/Lectron JH-50. You could go higher up the food chain (of all but the Jh-50) than I had. I will say that the Joule is probably the warmest in my system and the Atma the quickest. Music Reference RM-9 is reputed to be a great amp also but I've never heard it. Since your current rig is v high power you way want to consider higher wattage models from these line-ups, like the Ren 70/70 (or monoblocked 30/30s) Atma M-1 or Joule VZN-100 monos. Be forewarned, the OTLs do run hot, the Joules very hot!!! so if you have kids or pets, that may be an issue. With the exception of the Joules, all of these typically are in high demand on the used market, so you could try one and move it along if it didn't work for you.
Stick to what you like and have heard. If you have enjoyed the sound from Prima Luna and Rogue amps, stick with those rather than buying something unheard based on forum recommendations. I took a quick look at the Prima Luna Dialogue offerings and one of the nice things is it will allow you to extensively tube roll most of the major push pull tube types. You can then tailor the sound based on the tube. Want to add warmth, use EL-34. Need more bass, use a KT-88. The auto-bias is also a nice feature - especially for those new to tube amps. Finally, you can run the amp in both ultralinear or triode mode for even more variety. If you are new to tubes, the prima luna amps are a good option.
I've never owned a tube amp. My preamps have been tube based. Cary SLP-05, Audio research and my current Allnic. We've rolled many a tube on the Cary. I don't wish to "tube roll" the amps other than establishing the primary set that works well with the amp which from what I've read, isn't usually the set that ships with the amp.
I do like amps that can switch between triode and ultralinear. Seems like a good thing with the desparity of recordings.
Selling the Pass is probably a dumb move and not the first dumb move I've made in this hobby. But we do wish to experience tube amps and no doubt we've been drawn to systems employing tube gear.
I am not familiar with Quicksilver.
If you want warmth I would say Conrad Johson. I am not sure of what it is you are really aiming for. $5500 is a goodly amount. I bought a used Jadis DA-60 for much less. It doesn't sound like that's what you want. If you are willing to go Chinese my Opera Consonance Cyber 800s are real giant killers. They are 6CA7 based monoblocks incredible definition dynamics air and stage . I warmed them up by using Cardas Golden Ref ICs just great.
Desalvo, Quicksilver Audio is what all high end companies should be. Great sound, great reliability and Quicksilver products are backed by a great company with personal service.
Sebrof, EL84s are wonderful sounding tubes, but not all EL84 amplifiers have the characteristics of your Stingray. That has more to do with Manley Labs. If you want to warm up the sound a little replace the 12AT7s with NOS Telefunfens. The original Stingray came with EI 12AT7s. Also , depending on which version you have, the later versions are less powerful due to an output tube change which resulted in a smaller power transformer. This is why many believe the original Stingray is the best sounding.
I recently purchased a Primaluna Dialogue 1. A nice, feature laden, well built integrated that is fun. To get the warm full sound you must get out of the stock tubes. I fooled around with various tubes, a snap since this unit self-bias, plus accepts many different tubes so you can tailor your sound. The KT 90s will give you a big warm sound; but the tube I chose was a NOS Russian tube 6N3C-E also known as a 6P3S-E recommended by Jeff Day of 6 Moons and Positive Feedback, read his blog on this tube. It costs only $65.00 a matched quad from Jim McShane, one of the best tube guys in the business...also, I tube rolled the 12AU7s and settled on an RCA Clear Top Side Getter. The 12AX7s are now Sylvania Black Plate with gold pin 3 mica. Wow! Warm, full, detailed, great top end but no screechy violins, huge layered stage, wonderful tone, timber...almost lush, but not quite with my Tekton Lore, very dynamic as well. Read Joe's Tube Lore, it really helps in tube direction .
I will offer an alternative to amp replacement and throw out the notion of trading within Tyler Acoustics' line to the full-sized Woodmeres. Providing your room is large enough to utilize a speaker of that size, you might find that the relaxed, natural sound of the Woodmeres is just what the doctor ordered. I really like mine for many reasons, but the overall tonal sonics is a primary one.
Just throwing my two cents in here...
If you like the PrimaLuna sound, I would seriously consider the Dialogue Seven monoblocks provided you don't need balanced inputs. I have owned two of their integrateds (prologue two and dialogue two) and enjoyed them a lot. In my experience, the only thing that was missing was a bit of grunt and transparency, but with the sevens, you should likely have plenty of grunt and a couple of sets of Ceraballs from Finite Elemente will assist with the overall transparency as well. One other nice point is that you can work with Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio, whom I have dealt with a handful of times and he is always strait forward and does what he says he will do.
I have been looking at your system and think you have some very nice components. I owned the very same speaker you have and found they like power and IMHO no tube amp of 50 to 70 watts will do. Sensitivity ratings on paper don't often tell the whole story and these like power.
From your comments you enjoy the sound of tubes and I have a suggestion that may help you. First, the D1's are not relaxed sounding and would benefit from an amp with with sweet and refined tonality. If you want to keep them I would consider these two Hybrid amps.
Monarchy SE260 monos
Aesethix Atlas stereo amp
Both will give you what you are looking for. The Atlas amp is the better of the two and will cost you $4500 IF you can find one used. I use one on my Nola Viper Reference speakers. I am also annoyed by thin sounding recordings and female voices that hurt my ears at louder volumes. I am more sensitive to this as I get older. What you are experiencing is exactly why I purchased Nola speakers and this Atlas amp.
I have not heard a Pass amp but understand they are very good sounding and wonder if replacing the amp is really what is called for? For what it is worth, I have heard tube amps that are brighter and more forward sounding then some SS amps. I ended up moving on from the D1's because they did seem to attack me when I wanted to be drawn in. Very good speakers to be sure and the builder is simply a great person.
If you want the warmer sounding amp, I would strongly recommend the PrimaLuna over the Rogue - the Rogue units are quite a bit brighter in sound than the PrimaLuna, partly because they are higher wattage, but I am mainly referring to the respective "house sounds." I currently use a Dialouge 2 with my Klipsch Cornwalls, and I have some EL34's in there now and am really enjoying them - better than the stock KT88's, for sure, though those sound fine.
The hybrid idea by Grannyring is a good compromise and the amps listed are both solid. I would only add not to forget about Lamm's hybrid amps, the M1.2 Reference, which gives you 110wpc of fully Class A output (more natural sounding) plus the benefit of a tubed input stage, or the M2.2, which is more powerful (220wpc) and biased heavily (41wpc) in Class A before switching to Class A/B, also with a tubed input stage. I owned the M1.1 (predecessor to M1.2), which did a great job of powering 90dB, 4ohm Aerial 9's, until they would run out of steam at a quite loud volume. These are massively overbuilt which is why they sound unstrained, right up to their power limit...very highly recommended.
Those are some great suggestions - thanks.
My plan is to build a set of line arrays, the LS9's from Danny Richie. These are also tube friendly speakers.
I like the Decades and have already spoken with Tyler regarding an upgrade to Woodmeres. That's a $4K upgrade and I'm on the other side of the country with no boxes so it's expensive and complicated.
I know it's a problem with synergy. The Decades are great speakers but probably not designed for Rock & Roll. We listen to everything from Radiohead to Sia, Clapton to Indie, Brazilian to classical. We miss what the line arrays gave us in terms of low bass. Plus, I always wanted to build a set of speakers even though it is in kit form and has all the wood CNC cut and all the parts, drivers and crossovers to fully assemble.
So I'll end up with 2 sets of BIG speakers and one will have to go.
Hybrid are interesting. Always wanted to try the Butler amps which are a bit of a hybrid. Or is it hybred?
We love looking deep into the recording but want the impact of the musical event. Female vocals are especially important as we listen to a lot of female artists.
The Prima's would probably be a better choice than the Rogues. I see a number of Cary 120's on the market. Interesting.
The Allnic amps are crazy expensive! I'm lucky to have that pre! It's not going anywhere.
Thanks again for your responses.
I've read a lot of good advice on this thread - especially the idea of using EL84s, and great product and service of Quicksilver Audio (though no EL84 amps).
I do wonder if moving to the Class A Pass XA.5 might bring you some of what you are looking for? For me it is the brand that I could live with as a tube guy - not tubes, but one hell of a great amp line.
Might be that with your speakers 30 watts may be enough, the XA30.5 is very conservatively rated.
Lougiants - No direct comparison. In fact, the room with the PrimaLuna's were using NOLA speakers. That's hardly fair. It was a great combination. Thus the discussion. I'm an newbie to tube amps and love the feedback I'm getting.
My Pass just sold and so did my ATI. Got a lot of shipping to do. But now I'm ampless, well, except for my HT Arcam 7 channel. One should have such problems.
No worries, no hurry. 12 week wait for my cartridge to get rebuilt after Jr removed the needle...
The Pass company has customer service that rival Nuforce. Can't get better than those 2 companies. So Pass wouldn't be out of the question.
But I would like to experience tube amplication.
Many good suggestions have been offered above. I totally agree with Grannyring about having enough tube power. FWIW, I discovered that the sound in my system gained some body when I hooked up my digital components to a 'balanced' power conditioner. Same detail, less digititus. Yet, that same conditioner constricted my 35w tube amps. Go figure.
My reason for asking about the speaker is that even though they are sensitive, what I tend to hear from folks with large multi-driver speakers that they really do need more rather than less power for reason beyond simple sensitivity, so I would think 30 watts would note be sufficient to control all this drivers in the way a higher powered amp would, and of course with tubes power is $$$.
Good to know. I was actually thinking about an Audio Note kit. The Interstage Mono Block PSE 300B / SE 300B SET. It's 20wpc. I love building things, that's why I'm excited to build the line arrays which I already know are stellar performers.
I could go sideways and get a higher sensitivity speaker - open baffle wouldn't be out of the question.
But this is an amp forum so why don't I see much feedback on Audio Note gear?
I'm actually thinking about building a higher sensitivity speaker. Gr-Research has a speaker called the Super-V which is tube friendly at 97db. It appeared to be very popular at the RMAF. Wish I could have been there.
That would open up possibilities for low watt amps but I'm not sure that's a good thing. Too many choices.
I connect my amps to wall power and digital equipment to a Power Plant Premier. Then I play with my assortment of power cables.
I became part of a long list of folks waiting to get thier Decware Torii Mk III. 91 customers ahead of me! That'll give me time to build a set of GR-Research Super V's, open baffle speakers with a 97db senstivity.
I still want to build something from Audio Note. Maybe their phono stage.
Thanks for all your suggestions!
If you like female vocalists, then I think your idea of a more efficient speaker like the Super V would be ideal and would offer you something very different than your current set up. It would also allow you to build an Audio Note Set amp and the pairing might be very nice indeed! I have not heard the Super V's but have been tempted myself and I have a good friend who has a pair of the Super V's and loved them, though he told me my Zu Omen Defs were better, especially with jazz and vocalists.
I am currently breaking in a pair of Tekton Pendragons and I think that they are amazingly musical and very engaging on even poor modern recordings. Radiohead for example has never sounded better and the bass is the best I have ever had. They are very engaging, great imaging, and allow a wide range of amplifier choices.
I will soon hear the Super V's and can maybe give you a comparison. The friendly guys on Audiocircle are also quite informative and helpful.
True, but what is the tradeoff? If there were none, I would imagine they would build high-efficienty speakers (unless they also sold high powered amps) :) No?
The problem with high efficiency speakers is that the drivers cost about 10 times more than lower efficiency drivers, for the most part.
Otherwise, in general, the more efficiency, the more likely that bass extension will be compromised. Most speakers over 102 db or so do not go below 40-50Hz. However they are capable of all the resolution and musicality of speakers of lessor efficiency, if constructed properly.
My speakers (Classic Audio Loudspeakers) trade off efficiency for extended bass. They go to 20Hz but are only 98 db. However they are as revealing as any I have heard.
I have Prima Luna mono blocks and I love them. I believe with the NOS tubes I have, they sound as good or better than ARC, also they're a tad warmer; although not as warm as the CJ's I've heard.
I think it's best to go with what you've heard and liked, however; with a budget of $5500. you can do some more listening.
I have Decades and know Ty's speakers very well. I would recommend something from Rogue or a Audio Research VT-100 MKIII. Even a BAT VK-75SE might be a good choice. A buddy of mine is running a VT-100 MKIII with his Thiel 3.7's and it sounds fantastic. The Thiels are not an easy load but the AR handles them rather well.
After reading all this I think you should really get a pair of NOLA speakers and the Prima Luna mono blocks with rolled NOS input tubes. You may even want to try rolling the outputs depending on whether you overshot the warmth target you are aiming for. It is clear that's what will do it and you even know from personal experience what the sound of that combination is. Why fight it?
I forgot to add that you should recable with an entire loom (all cabling) with Cardas Golden Refs or similar Cardas copper cables. Everything will be nice and "toasty." I am quite serious, I think you will love it. For inputs use 50-60s Mullard Blackburn longplates if you can get them. For 6SN7s I would think Sylvania 60s Green lable GTBs will be a good choice but there are many other excellent choices, just picked a reasonable one.