Tube amp for rock? Newb Questions

Ive been plowing though the posts here and thought this seems like a place I could find some more help.

Anyway, I listen to rock about 80% of the time. Anything from very heavy metal to 80s rock. Some blues, some softer rock, and Pink Floyd, I dont mind jazz or big band or female vocalists, but im off point....mostly rock. My room is about 12X22.

Im upgrading a very mainstream set of components that ive just sort of lived with for years:
Yamaha CDC 905 Changer
JVC 518VBK AV Reciever
Kenwood JL-680 3-Way, 12"main, 92db, 70w, Circa 1989 Speakers

Going to a hi-fi shop of any kind is just not realistic on a regular basis(very remote) so im leaning heavily on the forums and reviews online to gauge a direction.

So far ive tried a Cambridge Azur 340A and now currently demoing a 540A (both along with a set of AudioQuest ICs). Honestly the ICs made a huge leap with my original setup..I was impressed. Anyway, the CA amps are very musical, more imaged and more detailed. However my initial impression is these are not rock amps. Negatives are the guitars are now more "in the back" so to speak, more harshness/treble/brightness, and also a more general laid back sense, almost like the corners of big rock and roll hits are rounded off if that makes sense.

Am I on track that these amps arent rock amps? Or is it possible the speakers are now more exposed for their faults? Ditto the CD player?

To take this further, I feel whats most associated with "rock" or "heavy metal" are punch, power, volume and bass. I a point. Ill take killer midrange over heavy bass, and what good are punch, power and volume without feel, subtleties and tone?

As a side note, ive been playing guitar for 20+ years, when talking guitar amps, IMO there is nothing to discuss, tube is FAR superior to SS. I particularly like EL84 juiced amps, smooth, warm amd sweet. Is there a correlation with tube audio?

I dont want to start the "what to upgrade first" debate, ive read all the many many opinions....:) Im open to speakers or source, but right now looking at amps(with my system im thinking just pick one and get started...bad idea?)

I know some feel SS is the way to go for a rock amp, but currently im assuming based on my experiences so far and guitar tastes im going to like tube amps. I certainly could be wrong.

I like the talk about the Manley Stingray. Ive read everything every search engine will find about it and talked to Manley as well as some dealers. Any opinions on it for my wants/need? What about the Prologue 2 or the Jolidas? Are then in the same ball park as the Stingray or are we talking a step down?

For speakers ive looked at and considering(based on $$) the Athena F2.2s, Paradigm Espirits, and most others in this price range, but also found some Dali Towers that are slightly more(may get a chance to hear them in a couple of weeks). Based on my future plans/$/listening habits, any recommendations?

I hope tihs is semi-clear, I appreciate any thoughts, Thanks!
IMO you'll get more bang for the buck swapping out your front-end (CD Player), and or speakers first (there is currently a thread on this subject with associated hot debates (which I won't revisit)here. That said, if you are listening to 80% rock I'd stick with SS myself. I don't think tube amps at that price point are going to be able to match the speed and dynamics that an SS amp will offer. I'd agree with you regarding tubes and guitar amps, but the logic doesn't cross over. I prefer tube amps for most of the music I listen to, but my listening includes about 5% rock. For SS amps I'd highly reccommend auditioning a Portal Panache if you can live without a remote. Joe Abrams offers a 60-day in home trial period, and sells demo units on A'gon frequently for around $1250. No bells and whistles, but a damn fine amplifier that will make all kinds of music sound wonderful in a room the size of yours. Speakers? For rock...rather than something new, I would look for a pair of older Klipsch Heresy or Klipsch Forte II's or Chorus II's (the latter are pretty large). Not the prettiest speakers, but boy oh boy can they rock your house with crystal clear, full range reproduction. Dynamic as all get-out. I saw a pair of Forte II's go for $450 here recently which is an outright bargain for what you'd be getting. If you insist on new and pretty speakers, I really don't know much about the ones you mention, but I could reccommend monitors by Silverline, Soliloquy, and Dali.

Good luck!

I agree with staying solid state, however you can get very close to tube sound.. Depending on budget, I Am into the EXACT same type listening you are, I would Seriously consider a Big Mcintosh Blue meter intergrated, find one local to audition, very sweet sounding with tube type hi's, and Big bottom end fuzz and punch to really balance out heavy recordings to sound consistent, even thinned out 80's hair band stuff.. They cost however, your up in the 3 grand range nearly with a used mc 6500 or more for a mc 6900, Both have tone controls too, which will help in the type of recordings you wish to have perform well. I have owned Cary Tubes, Rogue audio Tubes, Counterpoint Hybrids… They all can do well, but truly Mcintosh solid state in the last 5 years of models is definatley the way to go. It will work well with most speakers too, much more universal sounding equipment that is not super picky on you speaker selections, yeah its still important, but you have a lot of options that will work this way.
Like you, I listen mostly to rock, too. Marco makes some good points and suggestions above.

However, I have used tubes and SS, and I prefer tubes. For rock, I'd suggest a KT88 based push pull amp...perhaps the PrimaLuna Prologue II...or similar.

Also, you're going to need some speakers that go below (or damn close to) 30Hz, and are fairly easy to drive. If your speakers don't reproduce lower bass, you can't rock.

The Klipsch suggestions are very good. I'd bet Klipsch Forte II or Chorus II with a PrimaLuna Prologue 2 would rock the walls. Also, I have recently heard and read good things about Odyssey Audio Lorelei loudspeakers. They are likely over your budget at $2700/pair, but they can be auditioned for 30 days.

I use Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE. They rock.
Undertow, Zamdrang is considering a Cambridge Azur 340A or 540A which retail for $250 and $599 respectively. Your suggestion of a McIntosh amplifier is very good, but it's way beyond his apparent budget.
Sorry I did not see any price point given, and he was considering manley, so that told me in the used market that it was gonna be into the at least low thousands, around 2000.00 or so.. My mistake if stingrays and all that are far cheaper, By the way I owned the above speakers, and other klipsch they match well with the mcintosh, actually about as perfect a combo you can get, I am sure most will agree with this.
I too would stick with SS. You're talking hard rock & metal on a serious budget. Heritage Klipsch with an older McIntosh amp will get you a lot farther than those on your list of considerations.

However, for the money you're talking, you are going to be hard pressed to better your current setup by turning over the entire system in one move. FWIW, I think you'd be better off addressing one component at a time. Start with the CD player.
I withdraw my suggestion.

Jax2, Boa2 and Undertow have all been around this block, and they know what they're talking about.
I can tell you that i found a like new pair ( church benefit ) of Klipsch KG4 loudspeakers.These things can boogy with the best of them .Not sure what the Market value is but If I were you I wouldn't rule out any on the Klipsch speakers mentioned....They drive easy and sound smooth.The bass is incredible considering the modest size...
Rogue Audio M-150 push pull tube amp can rock. 150 watts in ultralinear and 100 watts in triode. Good solid bottom with tube magic on top.

Go tubes. The "sounds almost like tubes" only works for folks who are unfamiliar with the sound of tubes. Since you are familiar with the sound of tubes, you’ll soon be disappointed with anything other than he real thing.

The EL34 is a great tube, but you can consider a KT88 or 6550-based amp also. As far as Jolida and other less expensive amps go, I have owned a number of ASLs. With minor mods they perform as good or better than most name brand amps. They are super easy to mod, but if you soldering iron shy a number of can do tweaks for a reasonable price.

The only caveat is that you need to consider your choice of speaker carefully. Tube amps work best when run against speaker with benign impedance curves.

Look at the Onix SP3/Reference 1 combo! You can get for good $$$ and you would not believe the sound!
Another option just came to mind. If you can find a used Audio Aero Prima Hybrid amp, it will run about $600. We drove 90dB and 93dB speakers with its 40W to ear-bleeding levels, and anything from Van Morrison to Pantera sounded phenomenal. Truly one of the most enjoyable amps I've ever heard.
Tube amps are great for rock, you do need to match them with your speakers of choice. High powered tube amps cost a lot of money...choose your speakers wisely and you'll be a very happy camper.

I'm using Rogue Audio tubed monos...great amps for rock as long as you don't choose speakers that need more power than the Rogues can rocket science at all.

If your going to use large floorstanders with big woofers you'll need a tube amp with a good transformer/power supply regardless of speaker efficiency.

If your going to use a sub (or subs) can fudge a little if your carefull.

When I was looking for tubed monos I looked at... Rogue Audio, Quicksilver Audio, and Aronov labs....all around 120 watts a side and all monoblock.... which is what (I NEEDED) for my system.

I have a couple of big solid state amps...I prefer the tube amps in every way.

I withdraw my suggestion.

Jax2, Boa2 and Undertow have all been around this block, and they know what they're talking about.

I thought yours was a good point as well Grant. If I were to point to any tube amps for Rock I'd think about a KT88 amp in Push/Pull or Pentode. The ones that do rock best would be the ones that use a bunch of tubes and huge transformers, and would seem to be beyond the budget of the poster though. I had a Mesa Baron that gave great rock. I don't think the amps you're considering will have the same prowess and speed, not to say they are not good's just the 'rock' thing.... A Jolida 502B might be a contender, as well as the Prologues, but I still think the same money can get better boogie from an SS solution. I haven't heard the Manley Stingray, but can't imagine the EL84 tube in pentode giving the authority of a KT88, though the EL84 would likely excell in speed. If the percentage of rock were lower I'd say go for the tubes too, but if rock's your bag SS is where I'd point. Howard's hybrid suggestion is another good option. The Unico Unison is a great little amp in that regard too.

You admiration for the EL84 tube gives you another option--the Decware Zen amps that utilize this tube (or can use this tube). I have a Decware SE84CS amp mated with Altec Lansing Valencia speakers. While this amp is only 1.8 watts/channel, with the Valenicas and right source, it's a no brainer for me. Doesn't matter the musical genre, it sounds fantastic. In addition, one can use get into tube rolling. I find that NOS Mullards throughout sound best to me.

Obviously, the key here is the match between amp and speakers. Investigate the Decware site and forum:

I have recently read good things about the Unison Unico. Enough good things to put it near the top of a "check-it-out" list. I particularly like that it uses 12AU7 tubes rather than 6922 tubes.

Personally, the most frustrating thing about putting together a system intended primarily for rock (yet used for all genres), is finding speakers that are visually acceptable in a mixed-use a living room. Horn loaded speakers always seem to be the best option, but they are rarely welcomed by the fairer sex.

KT88 tubes or the Unico, and Klipsch might Get the Led Out.

Sonic Frontiers Power 2 (I own and love)
Rogue Audio (I auditioned and it was my 2nd choice)

Nuff said
Thanks for all the advice/tips, lots to think about. I do realize speakers will be key, so im keeping that in mind.

Boa - Ive come to agree with you. My initial budget is limited, initially my logic was to spread about 1k between amp and speakers. I dont think ill be happy with that scenario for long, it most likely will not improve on what I have(like i'd hoped). I chose amp first because my JVC has some issues. The source argument is convincing but I plan on upgrading everything eventually anyway.

Finding Audiogon really opened my eyes for used gear possibilities. Others had pointed at the Stingray, Ive seen them on Audigon @ just over 1k.

Along with the Stingray, Prologues and the Jolida 502B i've seen the Rogue Cronos used for around the same money, the remote volume and phono stage are appealing (Stingray has neither) I know reviews are just reviews, but two I skimmed just now sounded very positive overall, including rock.

Pauly - My guitar amp experience..and lots of it...really parallels with your thoughts. Through the years, ive read the reviews, heard all the talk, played the supposed latest and greatest....and never has SS compared to tube. Never. Its all about feel. Tubes move you SS doesnt. SS amplifies guitar sound, tube amps sing. Not to say I dont trust everyone's opinion....not at all, just my (comparable or not) experience

Marco - thanks for the insight. Im now trying to educate myself on more tech, push-pull, triode, pentode etc. Ive never delved as deep with guitar amplification. Though I have favorite tubes, which would be in order EL 84, EL34, and lastly KT88s and 6L6s, which I find a little harsh and less warm.

Dave - What would be considered "large floorstanders with big woofers"? Im going with floorstanders, most ive looked at are no bigger then 8" woofers. If I recall from Manley with the Stingray they concentrated on a new transformer design specifically for the lower registers.

To be more direct if I was (and I guess I am) trying to decide between the Stingray the Cronus or the Prologue 2, whats the best pick?

The Stingray and Cronus are double the cost(new) of the Prologue(or the Jolida 502B or Onix). Is the sonic improvement a step above?

To be more direct if I was (and I guess I am) trying to decide between the Stingray the Cronus or the Prologue 2, whats the best pick?

The $64,000 question.

I have noticed more happy Prologue 2 owners than just about any other owners of tube integrated amps in the same price range. Also, the Prologue2 can use both EL34 and KT88 tubes, thus opening up the possibility for experimentation and tailoring of the sound.

On the other hand, both the Manley and Rogue amps are made in the USA, if that makes any difference.
I listen almost exclusively to rock and started with speakers. (Vandersteen 2 CE sigs.) They are well balanced, maybe a little soft on the top but, never ever give me any listening fatigue. Then I went from B&K (OK but, not real warm) to a Sunfire preamp (hard sounding)to Counterpoint SA-3 (Liked the mids but the bass was too soft) to an Audio Research Sp9 MK2 (better especially with a pair of Amperex USN-CEPs. then I got the Tube Audio Design 150 preamp. Totally different league. I put a pair of Groove Tube 12 AX7s for more punch in this pre. On the power side I went from a B&k 4220 to a Mccormack DNA-1 unmodified which was warmer and a nice match for the vandy's. But, when i went to a Tube Audio Design 60 and put some Tung Sol 6550s in it, the punch and sound stage really opened up. This amp also takes two 12AU7s which I got some RCA clear tops and one 12AX7 which I settled on a Telefunken ribbed plate. For a CD player I went from an Adcom GCD-600 to a Eastern Electric which uses two 6922 tubes and I put the two Amperex USN-CEPs.

While I do not know if this is a dream system, I do know that it spreads out the music nicely, sounds balanced, does not give listening fatigue, and is not overly expensive. You can find reviews on the amp, preamp, and CD on the forum and Vandersteen is pretty well known to be a great value... The pre is not made anymore but, a similar unit that I have heard is made by Audio Mirror here in Houston. Check out his website.

Good luck...

OOPS forgot... I heard a DK Design Integrated MK2, liked the punch, and thought that this would be a good nmatch for rock music...

I grew up listening to Rock with SS equipment. Now I listen to Rock & Jazz about 50% each with tube equipment. I don't think I will ever go back. I have two systems that have been mentioned in this thread.

The first is a Single Ended Magnavox EL84 amp driving a pair of modified Klipsch Heresies. The modifications lower the tweeter and squawker 3db and flatten out the impedance curve. The speakers are on 12" stands and placed in the corner at a 45 degree angle. The room is 13' x13.5' and this system plays incredibly loud (louder than I need) and it's a four watt amp. But it also has great punch and dynamics. Imaging and sound staging are superb and most people can't pick out which speakers are actually playing (I have two pairs of speakers in the room). IMO the Heresies need a subwoofer because they don't put out enough bass for me. I would love to hear this system with a Stingray or an Almarro amp, though for the $130 I spent for the Magnavox I am not complaining.

The second system is based around the same Tube Audio Design amp and pre that Eagleman6722 uses. I use a pair of KEF C75 which sounds like the Heresies but have way more bass. These speakers are floor standers but are very small. In the pre I went the opposite way Eagleman went. I put in a pair of RCA black plate 12AU7s for a little less punch (it still has plenty). I use this system in triode mode so it’s only 30 watts per channel. In a 16' x 24' room it has no problem playing louder than I would ever want it to. It has all the punch and dynamics you would ever need for Rock music along with a beautiful midrange and gorgeous highs. Sound staging and imaging is superb.

The point is that you can definitely play rock music with tubes if you take the time to set it up right. Another advantage of tubes is you can listen for a long time at high volumes without any listener fatigue. For reference some of the rock bands I listen to are Rush, Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Floyd and Gov't Mule.
Thanks Eagleman...more to ponder....:)

Tvad- "I have noticed more happy Prologue 2 owners than just about any other owners of tube integrated amps in the same price range".

Ive read much the same. With "price range" are you referring to new or used? (honestly I havent seen used Prologues THAT much cheaper than new)

"On the other hand, both the Manley and Rogue amps are made in the USA, if that makes any difference."

Exactly. Is the difference only in price?(because they're USA made) or is there a true quality and sonic difference?

I guess I sort of asked this already....your response helped me refine my thought.


"Dave - What would be considered "large floorstanders with big woofers"?"

15"...a pair of 12's...maybe even a pair of 10's

For instance...I have a pair of VMPS Supertowers with a 15" and 12".... rated at 91db, These things eat power even though the 91db rating may fool you into thinking you can get by with very little power, ie....a looks good on paper spec, but dosen't always work as well in the real world.

Priced range I'm referring to is the new price of a Prologue 2 to a new Cronus...roughly $1200-$1800. That's generally considered the same price range.

Frankly, I don't believe where a product is made makes a bit of difference provided the product has a good record of reliability and/or service is readily available in the USA. Certainly in the case of the PrimaLuna products, both criteria are favorable. A product's origin would be important to a xenophobe (or a xenophile...depending on one's POV).

Marco - BTW thanks for the Klipsch recommendation. I looked them up and im sure one of the two(Chorus or Forte) are the same speakers a buddy of mine had with a Adcom system back around '96 or so. This system was my first exposure to hi-fi. I got to listen to it daily..and yes..the speakers rocked....:)
My mistake, I thought the Cronus was more comparable to the Stingray at the $2200-2300 range.
I bi-amp. Tubes for the top and midrange and SS for the bass. I use a scott 208 for the upper and a Mc 2200 for the low. A mc 2100 would work also. I can adjust the Macs gain for any listening I want and run them from the scotts center channel.Mac cost around $500 and the Scott about $500 after rebuild.My speakers are AR 9 ($660)+ recap and surrounds. I am looking for a preamp and am auditioning a Precision Fidelity hybrid. Stay with your cables till you outgrown them.
You cam buy new but you will get more miles out of the old.Your front end is another choice down the road.
Maybe you should try the Fisher-400 tube receiver. I listen to mainly classic rock type stuff and this has been my favorite "amp" so far. It maintains the peppiness inherent in good rock and roll while giving you some of that tubed midrange. It also smooths out some of the stridency in the albums that were not too well recorded.

Aronov 960LSI is fairly good. You could get one around 1000 usd, and far better than the cambridge stuff.
To refresh this post. I ended up going with the Stingray and the Dali Royal towers, ive had them for a year now. Initially I was quite pleased, but over time found myself listening less and less, and each session being shorter and shorter (fatiguing) I like metal and rock, and just feel these arent the components for it, and/or the synergy is not right. The sound is beautiful with smoother softer passages, accoustics, blues and jazz...vocals are actually stunning...really impressive, but when the power chords kick in...its just isnt "there" if that makes sense. That rock guitar punch (mids?) that I crave isnt there and I just want to turn it down.

Ive still got the same CDP. Ive done lots of experimenting mixing it up with my old components and some different players. I just kept coming back to the Singray and/or the Dalis lacking. What do you guys think? Why does my old garage sell JVC receiver and Kenwoods sound 'almost' as good to me? Im still a newb...what am I missing?

(ive set this system up in every room of two different homes, room dynamics don't change what im missing)
Hi Zamdrang, if you want punch and dynamics without brightness, consider that you will have to work with an amplifier that is zero feedback. Amps with feedback have enhanced high order odd harmonics, which the ear uses as loudness cues. This works great for a guitar that has to 'cut through the mix', but lousy when you want to listen to a music gestalt. Zero feedback amplifiers come in all power levels, but I would also consider speakers that have higher efficiency. Three decibels is a small change in volume to our ears, but means that the amp has to make twice as much power. So if your speakers are high efficiency your amplifier will be easier to find.

I play in two bands ( and; I listen to a lot of material that would probably drive a lot of audiophiles out of the room... guilty pleasures, so to speak. IOW I want bass extension, impact, detail- you know- the good stuff.

I should also point out that an amp that is genuinely good for rock should also be good for anything else- amps don't really care what signal gets pumped through them and an amp that is genuinely high fidelity will be able to play anything you through at it. You have already found a few that don't inspire; that should tell you something...
Words of wisdom, Ralph, words of wisdom. I believe the same applies to loudspeakers that are genuinely high fidelity.

BTW, Ralph, my line arrays are due in by mid-November. I'll put your wisdom to the full test (via my M60s, of course), probably starting with "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out" and Jimi at Berkeley, 5/70!

Thanks for the advice At. No..they didnt inspire which does tell me something, but what other than I didnt like them? Would the Stingray rock with a different speaker? Would the Dalis sound better with more power?....lots of variables.
How do you know if an amp is no-feedback design? Something thats published or a certain number on the spec sheet? Is the Stingray?
Im still learning tech stuff, but I was suprised that the dealer touted the Dali Towers so highly, 89db 4ohm speakers. Spec wise...from what I read....they didnt sound like the ideal load for the Stingray.(being a novice..what did I know...u know?)

I would agree if its good for rock it should just be good, but my experience so far would not lead to believe the reverse it true (good for jazz, vocals etc..being good for rock). But maybe your talking an entirely different price point??
So anyway, thanks for the advice, any recommendations?
Hi Zamdrang, I'll put it this way:

If you are investing in a tube amplifier, any tube amplifier, that investment dollar will be best served by a speaker that is at least 8 ohms rather than 4, all other things being equal. Sixteen ohms can often be a revelation.

Four ohms became common with the advent of the transistor, before that 16 ohms was common. A lot of tube amps have 4 ohm capabilities, but in 99 and 44/100ths percent of the time, the 4 ohm operation is compromised by lack of bandwidth, lower power and higher distortion (read:lack of transparency) than operation at higher impedances.

Tube amplifier power is also harder to make; there is a direct benefit from speaker efficiency. Even 3 db more will mean that you amp need make only half the power for the same sound pressure.

As an example the Coincident will be easier to drive and play louder; it might actually sound better than the Dali not because it actually is (and I don't know if it is or isn't) but simply because it is intended for tube operation and the amp can now perform that much better.

You might want to read this paper:

It will help you understand a lot of the controversy that exists between tubes/transistors objectivist/subjectivist and the like.
jb- Can I come? Sounds like a good time!
I just picked up a Rotel 1062, yes a "downgrade" as I keep being told. But we'll see what it does with my Dalis.
The Stingray/Dali combination sound like a very poor one and I suspect both pieces are quite good when matched with appropriate equipment. Atmasphere's explanation states the problem clearly. Tube amps need different types of speakers than SS to work right and the Dali sounds like it would probably work better than the Stingray, although the Stingray is proably the better amp with the "right" speaker. If you like the Dali, stick with SS at your price point.
Appreciate the advice. Its really eating at me just "why" the combo didnt work for me, so that helps...but yet on paper (and ive read the "trust your ears not the specs" advice) it should be a good match. The Stingray is optimized for a 5 ohm load. The Dalis I have are a 4 Ohm, 89db with a very flat impedance(so I was told)

I went back and scoured the net for Stingray reviews and discussion(torturing myself I know..:) and it sounds absolutely perfect for what im looking about sellers remorse! Even found a review running a 4 ohm, 89db speaker which caught my eye.

Before letting it go and thinking heavily about my problem being a speaker match issue I did some experimenting using it to drive my old '89 era Kenwoods (8ohm, 92db, 140 watt, 12" 3-way floorstanders). Since the Dalis use a smaller driver(5") I was thinking the bass would be much better on the 12" Kenwoods. Though a little less refined it sounded much like it did with the Dalis. It was noticeably louder at a given volume setting but generally the same animal(probably no news to true audiophiles...but a revelation to me) And the punch you hear/read about...well I just didnt hear it, same as the with the Dalis.

It really didnt rock the Kenwoods any better then my old (much cheaper)JVC HT receiver. It was more layered and dimensional, sweeter, but I wouldnt say hugely more dynamic, and certainly not any punchier in the bass dept..actually less so. Crazy to me. My son and I sat for 2 hours with all our favorite metal cds....back and forth between it and the JVC, and in the end we both agreed it was better....but not THAT much better. That night it went on Agon.

(I want to emphasize this was with Metal cds..Megadeth, Iced name a few. As I said above I LOVED the Stingray/Dalis with softer stuff, accoustic guitar, jazz, blues, and really impressive)

But its killing me to admit it didnt work, I really wanted to like the Stingray. Based on all that I read and heard...and still hear...I just know I must have been missing something...u know?

But anyway, enough crying in my beer..... Im sure the Stingray does things that the Rotel wont, ill post after ive had some time with it driving my Dalis and my Kenwoods.
Zamdrang, there is a lot of difference between tube amp designs. To get a more dynamic quality (often audiophiles *mean* 'distortion' when they use the word 'dynamic' so I am clarifying that point by insisting that I mean *actual* dynamics), the less feedback used, the less compression the amp will exhibit. The problem is that often distortion increases with decreased feedback, so to really work right the amp has to have low amounts of distortion *without* feedback.

This is possible, but it is unusual. Many tube amp manufacturers want to get their amps to work on the same speakers that transistors do, and so add larger amounts of feedback- this pushes them closer to transistor sound.

I feel that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its probably a duck. What I mean is, if we are going to use tubes, let's embrace that and then see what is possible if we let go of trying to make a tube amp do what transistors do. The result is a different world.

BTW, check out Aesma Daeva ( a favorite of mine.
Zamdrang, a quick look at published specs for the Stingray & Dalis reveals the following challenges:

*output impedance Stingray 20 /100 Hz: 2,8/2,6ohm resp. Quite high, given that...
*Dali, "nominal" impedance (i.e. 1W/ at 1kHz???): 4 ohm

* Stingray output power triode/linear modes= 20/40W resp. which gives you a maximum undistorted sound pressure level on paper of 99/102dB at one metre away fm the speakers. Minus 6dB for every doubling of distance so at 4m away (usual listening distance) the max would be ~87/90dB. That's loud but not that loud ESPECIALLY when you have a lot of low frequency content (which eats up power)...

An approximation of real world dynamics may be had through horn-loaded speakers... such speakers would typically mate well with tube-based amps.

As a side issue, the Stingray output impedance specs: 20Hz-2,8 / 100Hz-2,6 / 1kHz- 2,0 seem to indicate that the output transformers are optimised for higher frequencies rather than lower frequency interfacing with the speakers. Also the, the 5ohm "optimal speaker load" plus "damping factor: 10" is puzzling; it would make more sense if this read: "optimal speaker load: min. 5ohm". Manley is a serious company so, if I'm not missing something, we can assume it's their marketing copy that got mixed up -- certainly not their engineers dept!
I think you went wrong in a couple of areas:

1. Speakers...those were "NOT" rock speakers.

2. Rock amps...if, after your research... you come to the conclusion that you need 50 watts, buy at least 100....150 is even better.

I rarely listen to hard rock anymore...but when I do, I use my "rock" speakers.


I still have my TAD 60 with Tung Sol 6550s and I just put some Amperex made in usa 12AU7s in. I listen to 99% rock and with the Vandys, (86DB I think) this has turned out to be a real nice combo for my ears. The TS and Amperex has changed the sound to be more up front with nice extention and punch. I played Dark Side of the Moon CD last week and heard dynamics that I have never heard before with the other combos. I do not have to push this amp very hard to get room filling punchy sound.

With tubes, I have come to realize that the particular tube flavor can influence the characteristics of the sound quite a bit. I have tried RCA cleartops and EH 6CA7s in this amp and did not feel the robust character that i am hearing now. If I were listening to classical or softer music, I believe that I would try a different tube flavor which might be a better fit. Atmosphere might disagree though as I am still a newbie at this.

Zambrand,Eagleman, & everyone else...
This post has been great! I'm looking for the same thing. A tube amp, probably integrated, for rock. I am getting rid of my Classe CA-100s & CP-35, but keeping the Hales Concept 2s. I did pick up the Jolida JD1501RC and a pair of Totem Arros for a 2nd System and that combo is pretty good. But still looking for something else for my main system. I too liked what was written about the Stingray, and even talked to Albert @ Manley. He was quite up front and didn't think the Stingray would be a good match with the Hales. A local shop has the Valve Audio Predator (from South Africa, I think) and it was amazing with with tracks like 'Your Latest Trick', Dire Straits. But I didn't like what I heard with harder rock. So, I'm still interested in Rogue Audio Tempest II, or maybe Jolida 502b, or one of the others that have been mentioned in this post. Anyway, you guys keep writing, I'll keep reading, and if I find something that works I'll let you know - Thanks!
Greg, interesting, particularly on sound levels. It certainly was not what i'd consider loud, and trying to make it "rock" only increased fatigue and distortion.

Dave, I have to smile at your post. Past all the technical this or that, my gut has told me the exact same thing....rock speakers, more power. Im guessing...just guessing...the Rotel will be a pit stop...we'll see.

(got any "rock" speaker recommendations?)
"(got any "rock" speaker recommendations?)"

There is a pair of Altec 19's for sale at the audiocircle forum. My "rock" speakers are an older pair of VMPS Supertower/R's that I bought brand new...ten years ago.

It seems the question is better asked as S"peakers for Rock", because any amp can rock if it is mated to the right speaker. I imagine that some Klipsch speakers will rock with almost any amp, even your Stingray. I think that all that rock bass energy is really above 60Hz, you don't really here the real low stuff, but you do feel it and it increase or better portrays the venue's space.
Zam -- to generalise the issue: when I want s/thing to rock, I mean (among other things) I want to hear and feel the staccato, the sudden, the hard & the soft sound (whichever the rock player intended) -- and of course some of the impact energy contained in bass & percussion. This stands for rock music.
For rock you need the impact and the sudden acceleration & precise breaking (to use an automotive analogy).

In classical, restitution in harmonics, perceptibility and duration, and phase & timing (among other things) are absolutely necessary.

Having said that the applications (i.e. systems) MAY be different in both cases you ideally need ENERGY to emanate from the speakers.

To all intents and purposes, the most acoustic energy that can be had today will come from extremely sensitive speakers, i.e. ones that produce the most spl for each unit of power fed to them...
Failing that, you have to choose very powerful amplification and spkrs using very robust drivers that can take power abuse (i.e. mostly pro) .

Flimsy, designer, hi-end stuff ain't going to do it (or will typically cost more than a house + swimming pool)

And a final point: in an attempt to play, say, 89-92dB speakers "louder" rather than at whispering level, the loud musical passage is very likely to produce distortion and eventually blow one of the anaemic mid-woofs used in many spkrs. Why? Because to get the impact of, say, Mr Pastorius' slamming his bass chord in full musical transcendence (worse still, take a BBC recording of J Hendrix) you may feed the drivers with a gazilion watts for a few milliseconds even more, and this will be recurring -- you're listening to music after all...
They'll blow or if not, complain.
I agree, the focus needs to be on the speaker. Then get enough watts to drive that speaker - you don't necessarily need a lot of watts, depends on the speaker.
I use the Classic Audio Reproductions T-3. The speaker is 8 ohms (newer versions are 16), goes from an honest 20Hz to about 40KHz, and is 97 db 1 watt/1 meter.

I can shake the building with our 60 watt amp. Check out:

for a discography of bass reference recordings.

While having full bass extension, the speaker is also finely detailed, images beautifully and is easy to set up. With 60 watts, its almost impossible to clip the amp in my room (17'x22', 9' ceiling).

The difference between 89 db and 97 db is 8 db; that means to do the same thing on an 89 db speaker will take about 400 watts. Many amps, especially ones with feedback and operating in some mode other than class A, will strain at higher power levels. To get punch out of them without strain (harshness) you need efficiency. To get the distortion down (which enhances transparency/detail) you need to keep the speaker impedance up as the amp will make less distortion.