Tube Amps and young children - avoiding burns etc.
I would like to purchase a tube amp (either a stereo amp or monoblocks) but am afraid that my young daughter will want to touch the tubes through natural inquisativeness and will burn herself. (Young flesh burns easier than adult fresh apparently.) Then there's a good chance that her hands will be sticky/dirty and touching the tube (either hot or cold) will leave a residue that isn't conducive to proper tube performance . . .
Do you know of tube brands & models that are covered by some sort of cage, assuming that touching the cage won't burn her but touching the tubes might? The only brands that come to my mind are: VTL, Wolcott, and C-J. Are there others that I've missed and should audition/consider? I expect to purchase either stand mounted monitors or electrostatic speakers so SET amps probably won't apply and because my room is 40ft * 15ft will probably need 100 - 150watts/channel I've been told by Martin Logan head office.
I will be putting the amp in a large wooden armoir on the bottom shelf (hence accessable to small children) and will need to keep the doors open to allow for ventilation as the other 3 sides are wood (of course). The bottom shelf has about 2.5ft of clearance.
So, if you are a tube amp owner and parent of young children, please share with me your tricks at keeping them safe while allowing you the pleasures of tube sound.
I would consider a Counterpoint SA-20 amplifier. It is a tube hybrid design, and the tubes are not accessible to little hands. I would suspect its 220 watts would help if you eventually drive electrostatic speakers. They are regularly available here for less than the models you are considering. You can read all about this amplifier, and upgrades at www.altavistaaudio.com.
The problem is not limited to tube amps. Rappaport, which made the fantastic pure class A, solid-state, Amp One, was put out of business by law suits arising from the burns resulting from the extremely hot casework. I wouldn't worry though, most pets and children will only make the mistake once; ain't Darwin grand?
Antique Sound Lab is another that has cagework, as well as some/most ARC, of course. If you would consider a hybird, the Trinity and Phoenix amps from Randy White have a tube voltage amp and mosfet current amps, running in class A. The heatsinks get warm but not burning temp. The tubes are inside the case. I have a Trinity and it is a very nice amp, with tremendous current capability that should work well with stats. Certainly cheaper than Wolcott ;~)
I would also consider the Manley Neoclassic 250's in your choices. I have owned the Cary's and the Wolcotts and believe I have had the best sound with the Manley's. As far as the kids go I would keep them out of harms way.
I'm with Jab, teach'em to respect stuff. Spend some time explaining to them what each piece of gear does, why they should leave it alone, and, that you'll always be happy to put some music on for them if they ask. Yes, that means listening to the #*$@*^ Barney song a hundred times! My kids grew up knowing I was into music, I've always taken my kids into high end stores and they've never been a problem. In fact they each have their own system in their bedroom and their stuff is pristine. Kids need to learn that they are not allowed to touch anything except the stuff that belongs to them. Your rig is not the only hazard, there are literally hundreds of common household items that can maim/kill. Teach 'em.
Children don't have the maturity to be depended upon to make the right choices. Furthermore some developmental disability delays may not present themselves until the age of two years. Assuming cognition because the teaching efforts are provided can be risky. All things considered, I think it cavalier to think that you can teach young children to dependably avoid danger. It is an ongoing process that may take many years to dependably rely on. IMHO its really a matter of risk management. How old are the children? How reliable have they proven themsleves to be with regard to obedience. Have the children displayed the maturity to make appropriate decissions with regard to safety? Do the gains out way the risks? I could just imagine a child playing on the floor and accidentaly rolling over and burning/disfiguring his/her face. Perhaps you could put the hot tube amps on top of the armoir which has been tethered to the back wall and run longer speaker cables. Best of luck.
I was lucky enough to have 7 kids so when we lost two of them to the 450 volt plate voltage I barely noticed. It's kind of like one of those insect zappers only bigger. The other kids catch on real fast after that.
Thank you all for your responses thus far. Snook2 - did you own the Wolcott monoblocks and if so did you think that the Manley was superior to them? I've heard such great things about the Wolcott's although a bit pricey.
Jab & Jeffloistarca - I'm sure you didn't mean it but the tones of your emails make it sound like I'm an idiot for not considering teaching my daughter what & what not to touch; what you've said is common sense and doesn't need to be said. Come on guys, how about answering the question (What other brands of amps have cages on them to prevent small prying fingers from touching hot tubes?) and leaving your parenting ideologies aside. Let's be pragmatic - the best risk is no risk so regadless of whether I've tought her, regardless of whether she's listened, and regardless of whether she may have a developmental delay let's address the danger of hot equipement.
Thank you Unsound for so poignantly articulating the issue - you sound like you might be an MD or Ph.D in psychology based on your sensitivity to the issue. The only downside to putting the amps on top and tethering it to the wall to prevent it from toppling over is that it'll be too high to turn on & off - the wife isn't about to find a chair to climb up to turn on the stereo.
If you want an amp enough, even tho' it might be open chassis, you will probably learn quickly how to make it child-proof, e.g. construct a cage around it or place it out of reach. The good news for a child is he/she will only touch a hot tube once, and briefly at that.
I can't think of any manufacturer that doesn't offer a protective cage as standard or as an option. Having a cage does not mean someone won't get burned since the cages can become hot themselves. High power tube amps needs massive amounts of ventilation and I would seriously question putting them in an armoire (yes, even with the door open). I would also question having stand mounted monitor speakers in a room accessible to small children. They are easily knocked over.
I put my large tube amp behind my DIY see through cabinet doors. Never had single issue with 2 kids. I put 2 latches behind the door to lock it. I think is a matter of how you want to put you amp in a safe place and look nice
Jadis and Sonic Frontiers (out of business) both offer tube cages. I have BAT VK-75SE and thinking of building tube cages for it to prevent my twin toddlers getting burned. I can train them, but price to pay for little "accident" is way too high and I rather spend the money to avoid it.
No kids left @ home, but with 6 cats I placed the electronics in a hall closet located directly behind the speaker wall. Prior to this I housed a SS amp behind the sliding doors of a Tansu cabinet in the living room (the cabinet is not large enough to hold my tube gear).
I would never place HIGH CURRENT gear (tube or otherwise) around kids/pets. Other than the heat (cases/cages can also get quite hot) it would take but a spilled beverage to cause injury or worse (the cats have liquid liablilities other than that of spilling drinks:-).
I'd look for another location and/or cabinet.
I picked up a nice old pie safe a year ago to hold a second spare room system. It's still in storage as I have not gotten around to cleaning out the room.
I've seen systems installed in all kinds of nice closed cabinets (wardrobes, antique bars, etc.). I almost bought an antique Victrola in a full deco cabinet once, but did not have the heart to gut it for my purpose (the dealer could not give it away @ the local flea and offered it for $75).