Tube amp with SS like bass

I demoed a used BAT VK-60 amp and while the mids and highs were very good I just could not warm up to the bass. I have the VK-200 and am spoiled by its wonderfully tight bass response.

Can I have what I'm looking for under 2K, preferably, 1.5K?

Contenders are:
Butler 2250
Audio Research VS-55
Rogue 90

Any others to consider?

Unfortunately, the answer is no in your price range. To control woofers (i.e., to have decent bass), a tube amp has to have top-notch output transformers (as well as serious power supplies). The former are very, very expensive.

The Sonic Frontiers Power 2, which does not have particularly distinguished output trannies but is a well-made amp, is about a close as you'll come for $2k (used).

There are only a tiny handful of readily available tube amps that can really control the woofers of dynamic loudspeakers, the most notable of which are the CAT amps.
I agree with Raquel, I auditioned several amps including the Rogues and ended up buying the Sonic Frontiers Power 2. There are lots above your price range, but in it, the Power 2 is your best option.
I don't know about the Rogue Rogue 120 Magnums (Kt-88's) have Krell like a matter of fact they replaced a Krell Kav-500.

That said, no amp can drive speakers which require more power than that amp can exceptions.

Your speakers, room, and SPL's required will be a big factor in determining bass didn't mention any of that.

Moscode 401HR ($4995), Wolcott P220-S ($6500), perhaps the Music Reference RM-200 ($4000). The Moscode and Music Reference are tube/SS hybrids.

I know of no tube amp in your price range that will give you SS-like bass.
Of the ones you mentioned the Butler would be my pick. I heard it at RMAF and thought the bass was very good. It is a hybrid design and OTL, no output transformers.

That being said I would generally agree with the others who indicated you will have to set your budget higher to attain the goal.
audio by van alstine has hybrid amps with the most expensive being $1800 and in the 200 watt range.
I don't know how much power you need, or what your trying to drive, or how big your room is, or how loud you want to go, but, Audio Research and VTL have the reputation for offering better bass than some of the other lower priced tube competition.
Tube audio design 1000 monoblocks- 100 watts per channel. i have the 60 and it drives my Vandys(86db) with ease...
Second for Audio by Van Alstine. Although his most expensive hybrid (the Ultra 550) is over $2K, the Ultra 350 is $1850. I would strongly urge you to try it out. AVA is direct sale and you'll have 30 days to see if you like it. I think you'd be pleased with what these amps can do. Solid, quick base with excellent articulation, and a midrange and high end that is many times better than the price. It can also drive tough loads.
Trust Me check out ROGUE 120 MONOS, They will suprize you. Ive put them next to big solid state, Plinius 250, krell ksa250 ect and the rogue is stronger within its power limits.
If you need mega power A VTL Deluxe 300 will floor you. Its a great Bi-amp amplifier for lows. A rogue zeus is another winner but she is expensive. Iv owned all of these. Feel free to email questions
They make that amp you are looking for it is called BI-AMP
I always wanted to try an Audio Research VT100MkII, which supposed to have very good bass definition, but unfortunately, with my speakers, this amp is not an option. But if you do have efficient speakers, you can consider this amp. Right in your price range too. I think they sell good, so if you don't like it, you can re-sell it(although it's extra effort, but may be worth it). What is the preamp and speakers you are using?
You absolutely will not find a 2K tube amp with bass except some very shaky 6550 amps about 20 years old which are remotely close.
The one important qustion is your preferece in terms of volume, now be honest. If you are genuinely a quiet listener which all the "truest" audiophiles seem to claim. You can get SS controlled but not thumping bass out of a tube amp. Turn it up to real levels and you will get major, miserable bass distortion. No $2K tube amp can do otherwise that I know of. A hybrid amp doesn't sound like tube poweramps.
Sure biamp, but that is still a challange and easier said than done. Firstly there are only decent to good tube amps for $2k to start with, some no doubt (dep on vol see below),but then you want $4k bass Solid State sound for the bottom end, not cheap SS bass, from the little you have written.
I am not a 75db listener. Yes I just came out and said it. I have always seem to enjoy music with dynamic, about 90 db crescendos when I want to really get into it. That is if I don't feel too rambuctious, then of course it should go to 95 or even higher. At 80-85 I'm ok when using my tube integrated at its max before "tube blow" (=distortion) sets in, or my wife is around eitherwill causea sudden unwelcome loss of volume. I would prefer the option of going louder but that is what most $2k amps can do at best. If you have a wife- well uh, there is no stopping that volume control.
As for all you Nattering Naebobs of Negativism, the OSHA hearing loss data is based on a full day of exposure, I am lucky if I get a couple of hours of free time. I have read hearing loss is worse in in these kids with those blasted ear buds, than people my age, late 40s. I have some hearing loss in theory, in the high frequencies ranges as I age, which I imagine I am not magically immune to, and so should you, it's natural (nothing to be happy about but nothing to be ashamed of either). To those who claim they have no loss of high frequency hearing above the age of 40, because of their meticulously careful listening habits, I recommend you see a true audiologist then Psychiatrist to deal with the truth.
If you play really loud about 100dB if I recall, for hours on end you can of course hurt yourself.
If you really want chest thumping tuneful bass with holographic tube sound at real listening i.e. reasonably loud volumes in the 80s adjust your budget by triple. Sorry but big power tube amps or big sounding tube amps cost a lot. You don't need watts all the time but you need the big trannies to control bass, or some like the rather sterile IMHO sounding class D or ICE based amps. Or get a real sweet $2-3k amp like the Manley EL84 sterbloc and keep your BAT SS for the bottom and Biamp. Now you just need to figure out how to get them playing in synchrony. I guess TVAD can tell us.
I run the Butler on the Legacy focus 20/20 with great results.We are talking 6-12 in. woofers and the bottom end is tight and snappy mids....of coarse the highs are to die for also.I will second the sonic frontiers....line 3 if possible.Good luck in your search,Cheers
My first question to others is... how can we know what will work without knowing his speakers and room size? My speakers can put out truly wall-shaking bass with 25-30 watts. There are plenty of amps at $2k which can do that.

OTOH... if Gooddomino still has Tyler F2s as per a previous thread, then with 89db sensitivity and a bottom end which only goes down to 44Hz, I might suggest that he'll get better bass out of SS. However, he would get truly great bass only with another pair of speakers.

Gooddomino, if you want both tubes and the Tyler F2s (if you still have them) and your room is not too big, I can suggest that you go for the highest power tube amps you can find in your price range; you might try older VTLs, Manleys, or Audio Research (probably only the VT100 for that price).

In any case, I'd be interested in hearing how you fare...
Or get a real sweet $2-3k amp like the Manley
EL84 sterbloc and keep your BAT SS for the bottom and Biamp. Now you
just need to figure out how to get them playing in synchrony. I guess
TVAD can tell us.
MechansĀ  (Threads | Answers)


10-28-06: T_bone
My first question to others is... how can we know what will work without
knowing his speakers and room size? My speakers can put out truly
wall-shaking bass with 25-30 watts. There are plenty of amps at $2k
which can do that.
There are any number of
tube amps that can make the walls shake with
bass. The difference between most tube amplified bass and solid state
amplified bass lies in the quality of the bass...control and tightness all
the way to the lowest frequencies. This is where solid state is superior
and where most tube amps suffer, and I believe this is what
Gooddomino was referring to when he wrote, " I have the VK-200 and
am spoiled by its wonderfully tight bass
Haven't been able to respond to my own thread due to a GI virus that had floored me. I really like the F2 floorstanders but will go with something bigger in the Tyler line, with a bigger cabinet and woofer in the next six months.

House is very open with an effective listening volume of about 1800 sq. feet up to a 22 foot ceiling.Stereo room is a carved out nook in this loft style arrangement of about 400 sq. feet.

How about the Audio resaerch 100.2? Sounds like this amp was a winner in the midrange.
this is the 10 year old father of the VK-55 and has deep tight bass. Looks like new, has low hours on the tubes, and has original box and manuals, I'd let it go for $900.
Of course I meant the Audio Research 100.2 SS amp. May give me the best of tubes and SS. But do I really get an advantage over my VK-200? Guess I'd have to buy and try.
Again trust me Rogue 120's or VTL 300 if Big time power is needed.
Atma-Sphere OTL amps deliver the tightest and most articulate bass of any amps I've heard; all the positive benefits of solid state control with the ability to reproduce harmonic overtones, timbre and resolution only seen with the best tubes. Unfortunately for your budget limit, you'll probably not find an M-60 MkII under $2500 (and the MA-1 for considerably more). But if you're able to stretch your budget and if you have a speaker compatible with the M-60, I think you'd find what you're looking for.
Tvad, you are right on the wall-shaking part - my bad analogy. For me, bass is so important, I would not wish to listen to a speaker/amp combo that could shake the walls if it could not do so with utter control and precision. However, the ability to control the bass is also a matter of sound pressure level, which begs the question of environment. With a smallish room, a nearfield listening position, and efficient speakers (with a relatively high and stable input imepedance across the frequency spectrum, including the bass), any number of tube amps can drive the speakers to satisfying levels and deliver beautiful taut bass. With small-ish bookshelf-like speakers (on floorstanding bases) which only go down to the mid-40Hz region, in an 1800sqft room with 22ft ceilings, I would venture to say the same amp might not deliver the goods.

Gooddomino, I would wait until you have gotten your new speakers to look for amps. Depending on what you go for (PD-series, Freedom series, or something like the Linbrook), your possible amp selection would change considerably. The PD-15s would have pretty darn good bass with some 845-based amps; the F-5 would need a lot more power to drive that room (partially depending on how far away you sit).

If dying to get big tube power (with great bass control) for a low price, the VTL 300s mentioned might do the trick.

Best of luck!
T-Bone, agreed. Talk about apples to oranges, though. The Tyler PD-15, with high impedance and bass that goes to 38Hz and are quite different than even the Tyler System II that have lower impedance and go down to 32Hz.

The question of SS-like bass is almost moot with the 38Hz PD-15...several good KT88 tube amps would do the job nicely, IMO.

However, if the Tyler Signature System with bass down to 25Hz is being considered, then bass control is more of an issue.
I am using the Butler 2250 on Dali Helicon 400s and find the bass to be very tight and fast. As far as I know the amp is under only $2k used.
Try an AVA Fetvalve 550 hybrid amp or a Blue Circle amp if you can get by with less power. Both have a very similar sonic signature that no pure ss amp can match with excellent bass.

That's as close as you're going to get. I've not heard most amps but I've never heard an SS amp that sounds like a tube amp very much including Pass.