Tube amp for Avalon Eidolon ?

I have no experience with tubes, and want to give them a try on my Avalon Eidolon (not diamonds) speakers (87 dB sensitivity, 4 ohm nominal, 3.6 ohm minimum). I'm using dCS Elgar + Purcel front end and currently not using a pre-amp, cardas neutral reference cables. I listen mostly to jazz, some classical, some rock.

Looking for suggestions on tube amp(s), preferably with balanced inputs, but not mandatory. I'm willing to spend some money, up to say $15k, and will probably try to buy used.

Thoughts and recommendations appreciated. Thanks. John.
I listened your speakers with Spectral Set-up, and Vac Monoblocks-Wadia. Vac-Wadia sounded so good that i cannot remember listening better system since. That was in 1997-98, and do not remember what model they were (eccept tubes were kt-88). However, i see pair of Standard 220's for sale, same tube and probably better than the older model.
John, you're on the right track to consider using tubes with the Eidolons. People who have heard the Eidolons only with solid state amplifiers simply have not experienced what this speaker can truly deliver in terms of pure musicial enjoyment.

I use Atma-Sphere MA-2 MkII.2s with my Eidolons. I think this match is incredibly good. Regular Audiogon contributors Slipknot1 and Trelja have listened to this combination at my house and can offer their comments.

For me, the Atma-Sphere MA-2s have the quickness, neutrality, dynamics and bass definition to complement the Eidolons extremely well; musical "authority" is definitely present. Resolution is very high, including at low volume levels. And the Atma-Spheres deliver a natural musicality, with very accurate rendering of timbre and harmonic overtones, that makes listening to acoustic music a joy.

Other Eidolon owners have reported good success with some other large tube amps, but these big Atma-Sphere all-triode Class-A OTLs make the magic for me.

Used MA-2s fall within your stated price range, and if you ship them to the factory, Atma-Sphere will check them out, bring them to current production spec (if needed) and re-up the five-year warranty to you as the new owner for a reasonable fee.

You can get some sense of my listening priorities, and see how they may match to yours, in the postscript to my review of the Walker Proscenium turntable.
Along with Rushton's recommendation, I'd strongly recommend CAT.

VTL M450 or higher.
The other day I helped a friend install a pair of the Tenor 300wpc amps mated to the Avalon Eidolon Diamons.

Not only were the amps beautiful in cherry wood, but within only a few minutes they really began to open up and produce a nice full and warm sound along with a fairly resolving high end.

New these would be out of your alotted budget, but Tenor does have other models.

Rushton is spot on. I have had the pleasure of repeated listening sessions at his home. Anyone who says that tubes can't do bass have never heard the incredible synergy that exists in the Eidolon/Atma-sphere MA-2 pairing. This pairing presents a believable, palpable soundstage that extends way behind and to the sides of the Eidolons to the point where they disappear and all there is is the music. Resolving of detail and nueance at any volume level (a major plus if you are like me and don't listen at crushing levels), but also capable of natural unstrained high volumes. Rushton's system is one of the most truely musical non-fatigue inducing setups I have ever heard (of course it does not hurt that his source, preamp, and cabling are top notch as well). That said, I have heard many mega-buck setups that don't sound as believable as his does. He has paid attention to the details of setup, power, cabling and that all-important synergy of equipment combination.
If you are considering the kind of investment this pairing involves, you would be doing yourself a huge favor by paying attention to Rushton's comments and perhaps reviewing some of the other threads he has contributed to.
A friend of mine has tried four different tube mono-block amps with his Eidolons (also not the diamonds). I got to listen to them all luckily enough for me!
I will list them in the order tried.

1. Kora Cosmos. Great sound, but way too little power at 100W/ch. (I think the sound was the best using these, but only chamber music, and jazz combos really worked with these, as the power was just not enough for symphony music or even high intensity rock.)

2. BAT 75. Good sound, decent power, but seemed to sacrafice some of the nice tube sound for the extra power.
(I compared these to the Kora Cosmos, not to the next two amps.)

3. Manley NeoClassic 250. Very good sound and very good power. Almost a keeper, except it would clip, albeit gently, when pushed to extremes. (My friend is very much into symphony music, and listening at realistic sound levels. It took a very loud symphony passage to get this to clip. Beautiful amp to look at, espcially with the gold face.)

4. VTL MB 450. This was the end of his search. This had very good sound and excellent power.
(Note: It is not the best looking amp, as it is fairly utilitarian looking, but it is not ugly, just kind of plain. I mention this because the Manley's were gorgeous as are the Eidolons. My favorite speaker, which I wish I could afford!)

My two cents worth anyway. Good luck in your search.
I agree with the previous posts regarding Atma-Sphere/Eidelon synergy. Works well in my system, but the front end, including my preamp is very musical. Ample power to drive the hugry Eidelons. I have heard great things of the Joule OTLs. The CAT monos have been in my system and I really enjoyed them. A friend presently has the CAT JL-2 with Eidelons. He's fine tuning it to a most musical system. Other options offering vast potential are the large LAMMS; some really good solid state with very musical preamps, such as Classe and Rowland with Jadis in front.

Oddly, the one time I heard Eidelons with ARC and Spectral, the results were unsatisfying. It was in an audio shop with what appeared to be a well thought out design, although a dry non-musical presentation was what I heard. Actually, had I been in the market for this speaker at the time this audition would have sent be elsewhere.
Do anybody try Eidolon with Gryphon Antileon Mono Block? Or MBL 9010?

How about Rowland 9?
Dear John: I don't know which is your amplifier but I know that is a SS one. I think that you have an exellent audio system for the music reproduction. If you want still hearing that music reproduction with what is in the recording then don't go to a tube amplifier. I think that you want that your audio system be ACCURATE TO THE RECORDING, a tube amplifier is a product that is very far from there.
All tube amplifiers works like an equalizer: they change its frecuency response with the changes in the speakers impedance that, normally, change with the frecuency spectrum.
So, if you change to a tube amplifier then you will have a heavy " make-up " sound reproduction.
Many peoples like it, I don't. A tube amplifier goes against the music sound reproduction: it is an equalizer, a expensive one.
John is up to you. What do you want ? What are you looking for ?.
Regards and always enjoy the music.
I am using Sonic Frontiers Power 3 monoBlocks with my Eidolons. A very good match.
John: Maybe too late but....Joule-Electra Grand Marquis or Rites of Passage (depends on room size) preferably in Musicwood. Regardless of the yakk, there is nothing else even close. JMHO
VTIN: I had a Gryphon Dm100 and Anthileon later on wioth a pair of Avalon Eclipses some years back. It has been, at least for me, the best sonic match I have had between amp and speakers. I owned for my Avalons Rowlands (2 and 8), Metaxas Soliloquiy, ML23.5, Jadis DA5(the worst of all) and Gryphons (DM100, S100, Anthileon and Tabu Century). Now I am using a Pass X250 also with great success.

I tried pairing different tube amps with Eidolon in past few years. Jadis JA-500,VTL Ichiban,VTL Tiny Triode,Audio Research VT-100mkII,ASLHurricane200,McIntosh240 and McIntosh275 bridged mono. I like the sound of McIntoshMC275 run in mono-block(150watt per channel) with CAT Ultimate preamp. When these amps coupled with the Burmester DAC970 and BurmesterCDtransport960, it delivers the most musical sound which I can get from Eidolon.
Vtin: I had a Gryphon Anthileon with Eclipses, the match was just fantastic, just as good as my current PASS Xamp.

Sorry to go against the whole crowd here, but I have had experience with Avalon spkrs (Ascent, Eclipse, Avatar, Radian and Eidoleon) and tried them with different amps (tubed and SS), In my system, room-setup, music genre, etc... SS was a much more musical satisfying than tubed-based amps.

I will strongly recommend a trial audition at yoru place (1 week).


I would consider the Audio Research VTM200 as well. I have this amp with Eclipse and heard it several times with both the Eidolon and Diamonds, it is so close to live music. It has so much power and it moves air like in live concerts. Consider to buy a 240V version and have a dedicated 240V line drawn, even at ARC they think the 240V version sounds better.....
Considering that your musical preference is jazz, some classical and some rock. I believe that the Graaf GM200 (200 watts otl ocl tube amp) this is a very refined italian amp which sounds exquisite with jazz and classical, also pretty nice with rock. I have heard many tube amps ,audio research, bat, vtl, airtight, quad. The Graaf is very musical, quiet, warm sounding. It is worth a listen.

I have a similar problem. I have a pair of Nagra VPA (push pull 845 triodes, 50 watt pc) which i love. They play very well with my current Avalon Arcus, but I am upgrading to Eidolon Vision. Does anybody out there know about this combination? The VPA sounds very powerful, but I am concerned that they will not control the big woofer in the Eidolon.

Rest of the system is Wadia/ARC Ref 2; cables are Nordost Valhala and Red Dawn, power conditionner and cables are Shuniyata.

My tastes are accoustical: classical (mostly chamber) and jazz. Some world music.

Thank you for any comments.

I am driving a pair of Avalon Ascent II speakers with an ARC Ref 2 into a Pass Labs 350.5 The combination works quite well and is far more musical than the ARC VT200 it replaced.
Audiodiver - I tried the VPA with my Visions and they drove them without any problems. I much prefered my Lamm M1.2 Ref though, which are a better amps alllaround IMO.
Thank you, Elberoth2, good to hear direct feed back on this match. I have never heard the Lamm's (difficult to find here), but they are apparently 110 watt hybrids, so, on the same speaker, they should play louder and with less strain thant the VPA. I will keep you posted when I receive the Eidolons.
Why does Avalon frequently pair their speakers with Boulder amps at shows? Just because they are neighbors?
I'm sure the fact that they are neighbours has "something" to do with it; but you've made a good point.

If you are talking about the last RMAF show, Avalon was not exhibiting - they were supporting one of their dealers, that also happen to carry Boulder.
Not just RMAF....though I can't cite each example just from memory really...perhaps I am misguided but I do somehow recollect that this was frequently the case.

CAT JL2 sounds absolutely fantastic with dSC Elgar Plus and Avalon Eidolon.
VAC Vintage high power 100/100 or VAC PHI.
BAT VK Monos work too if you replace the leaky Jensen caps.
It's the quality that matters :)

To the person who is using SF Power 3s:
You are missing out a lot.
Lets see up to $15K....hummm, thats easy a pair of 800MK Cayin mono blocks along with Cayin's top of the line tube pre amp, both for under $6K....lets see you still have another 9K to spend. Heck take that 9K go to europe with your family for a week, while you are there drop in any Cayin dealer and pick up the units there.

Nice....really nice....

In my experience you only get the magic of valves with efficient speakers.This is regardless of the power of the valve amps.
I think you are chasing rainbows really.The low sensitivity and complex crossovers of your speakers means they will never be an optimal match with valves.
If you are wanting a more valve like sound you should probably listen to something like the Nu Force amps [or digital types] and look to use them with a good tube preamp like the 300B Supratek Grange.

My experince with the Avalon/Atma-Sphere; or CAT; or Joule has been quite magical. These tubed amps have proven to have ample power in the systems I have heard them. I agree some tube applications may be maxed out with a speaker such as the Eidelon, but these refered to higher powered amps have extremely musical presentations with exemplary extension...competing with some fine solid state products in their realm of respectability.
I have Eidolons and am using Convergent Audio Technology electronics. The sound is incredible. I have not heard a better sound from any dealer that I have been to on the west coast. I am using the new JL-2 Mk2 Signature (about 17K retail). This new amp contains the new type of capacitors called "black caps" which are supposed to be expensive. I had a JL-2 that was great but this new one is fantastik! I have also heard the Eidolons with Spectral electronics and they sounded very good also. I drive a 7 year old pickup because I can only afford my addiction to 2 channel stereo. Good luck.
i am using ARC Ref 300 MkII with Eidolons - very very good
Well, since this thread is still being posted to, I figure I should update my post.

My friend has since moved on from the VTL MB-450s to the (hybrid) Lamm M2.2s. While the printed power rating of the M2.2s @ 220 wpc is about half of the VTLs, the sense of power does not seem diminished at all. The Lamms have a firm grip on the bass response (much better than the VTLs), and yet it retains a sense of that nice tube lushness in the mid-range. The treble response is even better than the VTLs as well. It has such a nice decay to cymbals, that it still astonishes me.

(The Lamms impressed me so much that I bought a pair myself. I could not afford to buy them new, so I did the next best thing, which was to get a pair of used M2.1s (the 200 wpc predesscor to the M2.2s) for a much lower price. I always thought my Revel Studios were good speakers (no, not Eidolon great, but good), but when combined with the Lamms, the sound is very good, and better than I had ever hoped for.)

Hope this helps!
I am driving my Avalon Eclipses with a pair of Conrad Johnson Premier8 with great success - it has a lot of authority over the speakers, great musicality and drive - you might like it.
Vtin - I had an Anthileon Stereo with a pair of Avalon Eclipses some years back (as well as a DM100), terrific combination as well. Also had it with Rowland 8s and 2, not at the same level as the Gryphon gear I am afraid.

Am driving Eidolons with VAC 140 monblocks, which I really like.
By the way, the best digital system I have ever heard was all Boulder driving Eidolon Diamonds.
I am using VAC PHI 70s and they better all my previous

ML333 (awful)
VT200 (metallic)
VT130 with KT88 and Auricap (OK)
VAC Vintage 100 mono (getting there but sometimes strained)

I listen to classical and Jazz mostly.