Tube Amp Recommendation


I am saying goodbye to my Linn active system (at least temporarily) to give tubes a try. I have purchased a set for North Creek Catamount speakers, said to be designed for tube amplification. But, of course, I need a good tube amplifier. Looking to purchase something used in the under $3000 range. While I'm looking for the tube experience, I don't want anything too colored and it must still have good, crisp low-end performance. My present consdierations are a Audio Research VT 100 mkII or BAT vk60. Any thoughts and recommendations would be appreciated. Amplifier will probably be fed directly a Wadia player. My thanks in advance.
lavoy
I just picked up a pair of Rogue Audio M-120 Magnums I'm using to drive my Apogee Duetta Signatures for the last few days...everything I read about the Rogue amps is true in my system... and they are a keeper.

You could even find the larger M-150 Magnums under $3,000 without a problem.

Dave
I have a Cary V12R with the oil cap upgrade going direct with a Capitol mk11 and a pair of Verity Audio Fidelio's and could not be happier! I had a Music Reference RM200 which I also liked.
YOU MUST NOT OVERLOOK THE jj LINE OF AMPS. I HAVE AND SO DO MY FRIENDS THE jj 828 a 100 POUND BEAST OF AN AMP. THIS IS FULLY REMOTE CONTROLLED AND HAS BEEN GAUGED [MEASURED] AT UP TO 120 WATTS PER CHANNEL . fIT AND FINISH VERY NICE AND VERY NUETRAL IN IT'S SOUND. POWERFULL BOTTOM END. DID I MENTION FULL REMOTE? I AM AT THE MOMENT PLAYING MINE ON A PAIR OF hALES WITH VERY GOOD RESULTS. tHESE DO PREFER A SEALED BOX SPEAKER. FOR SOME REASON. HOPE THIS IS OF ANY USE. PAUL
Quicksilver, CJ, Rogue are all good. I find the first two more refined than the latter. CJ probably has the best midrange.
TAD-60. Read the reviews.
I am a big fan of VAC and Manley. Great sounding stuff from 2 excellent companies. Take a look at the Manley Snappers and VAC Auricle.
Quicksilver, CJ, Rogue are all good. I find the first two more refined than the latter. CJ probably has the best midrange.
The Catamounts are a super speaker, but they really don't need a whole lot of watts unless your room is huge. I'd look for the best damn 50-75w amp you can get, rather than go for the big watt stuff like the ARC VT100 you mention.

You could use some of the high-power SET amps that would sound heavenly (if you like that heavy cream texture), such as some of the Canary push-pull 300B amps or the Dehavilland 845 amps. These would be among my first choices if I could afford them.

Another nice sound would be with the latest version of the McIntosh 275 amps.

Another completely different approach would be the OTL route. You'll be impressed with the Atma-sphere MA-60's if you can audition them. Or you might look for the Berning Z270 as a fast, clean and dynamic alternative.

Lots of choices, depending on your taste and budget. But all these would work.

I'm currently using a couple different North Creek speaker systems, and you'll find they take a LOOOONG time to break in. My Eska's in the bedroom took a good month before they opened up (Scanspeak Revelator Tweeters). I'm running them with a Transcendent Sounds T8 OTL amp.

Did you get ribbon tweeters in your catamounts, or the Revelators, or one of George's silk dome tweeters? Great speakers, and practically unknown here.

Hope this helps!
Doug
If you have a $3000 budget then I cannot recommend VAC strongly enough. You will most likely be looking at used in the $3000 range, but you would be hard pressed to better VAC in almost any price range.

The quality and reliability is unbeatable and Kevin's customer service is second to none in the industry. He happily supports used gear and offers upgrade service on almost all his models. Do some research on VAC - it will speak for itself.

There just so happens to be a pair of PA 90 Mono's on Agon and I also have those amps and can speak from expereince. Those rarely come up for sale and generally don't last long - I bought mine off Agon 3 years ago and have never looked back. I am pushing 87db speakers with NO problems at all. I have the D upgraded versions and they are a 4 chassis design with seperate power supplies. Check out the link below to my virual system and you can see what they look like.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vevol&1106443849&view

Very natural mid range and presence on femal vocals, great tonal accuracy, overall fantastic amps. You would need to spend 3x your budget to do better then the PA 90's!

Do yourself a big favor and do some research on VAC before you make a decision!

Hope this helps and good luck!!

Please feel free to e-mail me should you want some additional insight on the PA 90's, I am happy to share my experience with them!
arc vt100ii...great amp.. very powerful and explosive presentation... really like it a lot...
If you are considering ARC VT-100, you should consider SF Power 2. Most agreed SF Power 2 is more neutral and resolving, better bass, and better build.

BAT makes great amp. If possible, stretch your budget and try a SE model. Difference is not subtle vs. the non-SE model.
Aronov LS 960 60W stereo or LS 9100 100W monos could be worth a look for well under $3000 used-around $1300 and $2000 respectively. I dont know them well but am considering them myself.
I second the TAD-60 recommendation. Great unit at a great price. Even better with the TAD-150 Signature preamp. Buy both new for well under your budget.
The comments by Dfhaleycko make a lot of sense. Rather than focus on the power, focus on getting an amp whose sound mates well with your system. A pair of Atmasphere MA60s or the BAT VK60 would be worthy of serious consideration. If at a later time you wanted more dynamic headroom, getting another BAT and converting these to mono amps would make this affordable.

If you are seeking a big 3-dimensional, more lush midrange bloom, great decays, textures, the ARC VT130 literally destroys the VT100 in these areas. I owned this amp several years ago and regret selling this. If you could stretch your budget to $4k, the VT150 mono amps (suped up mono amp version of the VT130) for sale on A'gon is an absolute awesome value. The VT100 was fine but it simply lacked the musical involvement that I enjoyed so much with the VT130. Just stay away from the ARC Classic series amps. They are tonally forward and fatiguing that could give you a very bad first impression of tube amps.

If I were you, I would start another thread to find other audiophiles in your area. Maybe you could hear some tube amps that they might have in their system and then work to borrow some amps to hear in your system. I suspect that many of the older amps listed in this thread will be hard to locate at dealers but you just might be lucky with some local A'gon members.

John
Thanks for the many informed responses.

Doug, I purchased the Catamounts with the Scanspeak Revelator tweeters and mid-woofers, which I hope will result in a refined and revealing two-way that supposedly reaches into the mid-40hz range without a problem. Have you ever heard these and, if so, your thoughts?

Chris.