I am looking for an integrated tube amp that will fit in my office. I play CD's on an Underwood mod 1 Jolida 100D with Siemens and Amperex Bugle Boys, at low volumes with a Creek 5350 SE and biwired-Proac Response 1s. The sound is great but I miss tubes in the amp..........and it plays 12 hours a day. Room size 14 X 16 feet. Any suggestions for that "tube" sound? The equipment is housed in a lockable closet and cant be more than 12" deep to fit. It is locked as my partner likes to come in and turn the sound off!!:) (Philistine)
You can go with a Jadis Orchestra or Orchestra Reference (JOR), Springbok10. Although they are not deep at all, they are a bit wider than most equipment. I am not sure if that is a problem or not... If you are very interested, I can measure the exact depth of my JOR.
Great tube sound, really, really good. I sometimes wonder why I screw around with other equipment as the amp produces nice tube sound in a simple, easy to use package.
If you can, spring for the Orchestra Reference, as you can use the bigger 6550, KT88, and KT90 tubes, beyond the EL34 & 6CA7. In addition, they have bass and treble controls, much larger transformers, and gold plated brass hardware instead of plastic of the Orchestra.
Brilliant suggestion! Thank you, Trelja. I have read all the reviews I can find and it sounds excatly what I am looking for. Thanks!! If you dont mind, could you measure yours, including depth of binding posts at the back. I have exactly 12" depth - width not an issue. If I have to, I can cut into the sheet rock at the back of the closet for i/cs and PCs. Are they still being made? I couldnt find the Orchestera Reference in their Blue book and there are none for sale on A'gon. I will pursue it. Much appreciated. Denis
If you can turn this sideways in your closet, you might have found the ticket. The Audion Sterling runs 12W of SET power, and runs in ultralinear mode at a certain volume output. Thus, you get a smooth midrange and a punchy bass response. Excuse me if my terminology is not spot on, but I think you get the picture. The amp is 9" in width.
Thanks, Boa2. Wonderful suggestion. How would 12W work on a speaker of 86 db sensitivity? The dimensions would work out great. I could replace the Proacs with Totem Sig 1s, that I have at home - 86 db and 4 ohms. Any experience with these amps without horns? Denis
86 dB, would IMO, be a little bit low on the sensitivity scale for a 12wpc amp, if you were looking for anything close to realistic volumes. But of course, a lot depends on music type. I am guessing you do not run the volume high in a home office. If you are just looking for background levels, then it should be fine.
I've heard this amp on a speaker (non-horn) with 89dB efficiency, and it drove it just fine in a room that was around 14' x 15'. To reiterate what Swampwalker said, with the type of music you want to listen to, and at the stated volume, I think you would be just fine. And the amp really sounds nice. On this particular one, I would suggest swapping the Sovtek 6922 for something NOS. Hope that helps.
The QA/QC on some ASL products has been variable, based on my experience AND posts on headfi where lots of folks use their headphone amps. If new with warranty you would be OK. How about the Cayin mod from Bizzybee? Anyone know the depth?
I apologize for not getting back to you quickly, Springbok10.
Yes, the Jadis Orchestra Reference (including the binding posts and knobs) will meet your 12" deep requirement, with an inch or so to spare. Although there are none for sale here on Audiogon, they do pop up with a good bit of frequency. If you are that interested, I have too many amps, and might just sell it as my wife would probably prefer a solid state integrated with remote control in her system.
Personally, I heard the Almarro amp at HE2004, and we just happened to be there at one of those "embarrassing moments" for the manufacturer. They played the system, and it was a disaster. Clock radio like power. It was a disaster. Needless to say, we left post haste, awestruck in the worst of ways. You may want to take what I say with a grain of salt, as others have assured me this was just a moment in time, and that the amp is actually quite good. Still, I have to be honest, and say what I experienced.
I have some experience with ASL gear, and find the sound to be incredibly good in the stuff I heard (Wave 8, Hurricane, and 1009 - my favorite). I think their early stuff was probably built like crap, and that still weighs on people. From what I have seen, the current stuff is as well built as most high end gear you will see.
Another brand of integrateds I want to recommend to you is Jolida. Although they have kind of fallen off the map lately, I have always found their sonics to be very, very good. Again, some people have issues with the build quality, but I have always found them to be good. The 202 would be an excellent choice in a small sized integrated. I am not sure if the 302/502 wouldn't be too deep. The 801 might also actually work, as it is laid out more like the Jadis Orchestra. But, that 202 haunts me with its really sweet sound.
When you say that the Audion is sold, did the seller forget to mark it as such? The Audion phone stage is sold, but I don't see that the Sterling EL34 is. I'm listening to one right now (a loaner), and even with mediocre tubes Tchaikovsky sounds terrific.
Barring that, I would also second Trelja's recommendation of Jolida. The 302B might be too deep for your closet, but their other models could fit the bill--the 202, as he mentioned. They are not at the top of the audiophile heap, but I personally have found few amps that are as listenable for hours on end. Good luck,
I must admit I liked my Wave 8s and MG Head, but had problems with a passive impedence matching device (reference tools) for headphones. Given the simplicity and absence of any active circuitry, a DOA NIB unit does not inspire confidence. But Trelja has, I am sure, a better pipeline into overall build quality than I.
I can appreciate how Swampwalker feels. Getting a DOA high end audio piece, no matter who the manufacturer is will sour anyone. I personally experienced a somewhat similar situation with three Cambridge D500SE CD players I went through. Needless to say, I didn't tackle a fourth. In their defense, the C540/C640 iteration seems to be built by a different manufacturer and the build quality has ratcheted up several levels.
I will say that Swampwalker's feel on the Wave 8 is uncanny. One look inside the amp reveals possibly the worst design decision a company can EVER make on an audio component. Sadly, it is also the one thing I NEVER see any of those who sell modded units correct. Even more sad, simply fixing this one issue does more to improve the product than all of their typical mods (NOS tubes, binding posts, RCA inputs, coupling capacitors, etc.) combined. So, while I am more into ASL than many, I think the fact that I came into their game late has me not as bitter as most who suffered through owning the gear are.
The more I think about it, getting a Jolida 202 would really be a good move on the lower end of the budget. Stay away from modded units, and do not pay more than $500. Above that, the Jadis Orchestra Reference seems to make more sense to me, with its superior sonics and build/parts quality, and the flexibility of using the big tubes (6550, KT88, KT90) and the EL34, putting you in the envious position of having the amp produce more or less any tube sound you want along your audio journey. They should range in price from $1000 - $1700, and are a true bargain. Especially, when you compare them to the rest of what is produced in the audio world. Caveats are the difficulty in keeping the gold plating looking nice and a rather involved biasing procedure.
You have all been incredibly helpful - so much so that I made your task tougher byu taking out the shelfr and replacing it with a 15 inch one!!! So now I have 15" to play with. So, keep them coming! I have a Jolida 502B at home - it's good but I want a more liquid, "magical" midrange and sweeter highs. The Sophia EL 34 is exactly 15" deep. Opinions on this amp? By the way, it's really hard getting dimensions off websites and I have to e-mail sellers to measure their units. Boa2, the seller of the Audion Sterling e-mailed me that it was sold.
To be quite honest, I never cottoned to the Jolida 502B, for exactly the reasons you listed, Sprinkbok10. I always felt the 202/302 amps were much better sounding. The 801 seems to correct what the 502 does wrong, but still has a touch of that 6550 hardness.
On the cheap end, you could have your amp converted to a 302, and use the EL34 tube, which provides the midrange and treble you seem to be searching for. You would get away at VERY low cost by going down this road, a simple reconfiguring of the amp, if I am correct.
Converting it to triode at the same time turns it into a TRUE giant killer, though you may want to try that first, and run it with KT88 tubes. I think I would investigate that, actually. The JJ KT88 is my favorite "normal" output tube, very sweet, with an enticing, punchy bass, and holographic highs.
On the sonic side, you will not find a tube integrated that compares with the Jadis. At least, that was the conclusion I came to in 1999 after basically trying everything, power amp or integrated - ARC, Cary, CJ, Jolida, Manley, Pathos, Quicksilver, Rogue, VAC, VTL. As far as most other tube amps go, they may be quite good, but believe me, a Jadis is a really special product.
The only product that I found on the same level is Air Tight, so that will comprise another recommendation I can give to you. Air Tight, the Tamura transformers! Like the Jadis, not deep, but on the wide side. In my opinion, Air Tight and Jadis are the Rolls Royce of tube amplifiers, and yet they are so underrepresented/underappreciated in our hobby today.
It is a true tragedy what has happened to the Jadis brand here in the USA over the past 7 or 8 years, but as they have a new distributor (Pierregabriel), I am holding out hope for things to change. Finding some dealers in the USA would return the marque to its former glory as seeing and hearing the product really leaves an astounding impression. I honestly had tears in my eyes when I played Dar Williams' "Southern California Wants To Be Western New York" during my JOR audition - and that was with Monitor Audio speakers no less! Never had THAT happen again to me, no matter what the system.
I'm not sure that any of what you will find can sound any better than running your Jolida, converted to KT88 triode operation.
Trelja, Who could do the conversion you suggest (and a very appealing one) from a Underwood modded 502B Jolida to KT88 triode operation? By the way, I do run Svetlana KT 88s and Amperex Bugle Boys and NOS Siemens in the driver stages in the 502. I replaced the Stage 1 mod tubes (Electro-Harmonix 6550s and drivers) immediately as they did nothing for me.
It sounds like Trelja is spot on here. A KT88 amp running in triode would really sound nice.
Alternatively, if you could find an Audion Sterling MKII demo/used model, you would be loving that holographic midrange. Randy at www.ossaudio.com may have something for you, and the Sterling MKII retailed for $2100. A gorgeous sounding amp, and an underappreciated marque in this country IMO. Good luck, Springbok10.
Springbok1, I would talk to both Jolida themselves and maybe to the Parts Connection about the triode conversion. I once heard a Jolida 302A converted to triode operation (glorious sound), and I am not sure if the guy did it himself, had Jolida do it, or Jolida referred him to someone...
I am happy you have switched to the KT88 tubes, as I like them sooooooooooo much more than 6550s. A lot easier to listen to; more tubey.
I am wondering if the "upgraded" Jolida is the source of your discontent. I have nothing at all against UnderwoodWally, in fact he seems to be one of the best dealers on Audiogon. Just that if you read one of my posts above, you will notice that I SPECIFICALLY mentioned to look for a non - modded Jolida 202.
In my experience, most of the modded equipment that I have heard is not exactly to my liking. Yes, they upgrade parts, but does the end result represent better value than the starting point? Often, a lot of the mods (such as better caps, especially those made in California) can bleach or whiten out the sound of a component. This can destroy the easy to listen to nature of these mostly Chinese built components. Their endearing nature is that they sound musical, where they fall short is usually in resolution and refinement. I think a lot of the mods often rob Peter to pay Paul. Resolution and refinement go up, but musicality and their relaxed nature sometimes is lost.
I am of the opinion that at the price of the modded equipment, I'd rather move to the Carys, Granites, and Rogues of the world.
But, modded components are hot, hot, hot, so you figure most people like them a whole lot. Perhaps, I am the one who doesn't know what he's talking about...
Springbok10, No one has mentioned the Primaluna Prologue integrated amps to you. It comes in 2 models, one optomized for EL34's, and one for Kt88's (6550's/KT90's). Produces about 35wts. Its a simple unit, no frills. But its idiot proof as well. Auto bias and has a plate fuse so if a tube blows you won't have a bias resistor to replace. I bought the model One for a second system which I have in my office - I broke it in on my main system where it drove 86db 6ohm and 92db 4ohm speakers to moderately high levels with out difficulty. Very "musical". Excellent midrange detail, full powerful bass, and good HF. Excellent build quality. Hard wired. I couldn't be more pleased with this modest purchase! It meets all of your dimension requirements.
Well, I ended up with the Jadis, courtesy of Trelja, whom I think, somewhat guiltily, I coerced into selling it, although I doubt that he really wanted to! But he did, and my conversations with him revealed a truly passionate and knowlegeable Audiophile, who really loved his Jadis. I am running it with new EL34s, a modded Jolida JD-100 CDP (Amperex Bugle Boy and Siemens NOS tubes) with Proac S1 speakers. ICs are Wireworld Gold Eclipse 5, S/Cs Mas Signature bi-wires. The amp is superb; fast, dynamic, with a sweet mid-range and good, sound bass. Initially I heard an edgy, strained high-end, but as the tubes warmed up (now about 100 hours), this softened and the highs are now much sweeter and not edgy at all. Initially I thought that this could be a function of the S/Cs and that I would have to change them to cables that minimized glare; however, time on the tubes has softened the edginess and it is possible that the S/Cs will be OK. The other problem is the speakers - the Proacs are situated 6" from the wall, and, being rear-ported, they should be a few feet from the wall. But it may well be that the Jadis is "too good" for the accompanying equipment and I will soon bring it home to pair it with my Kharma 3.2s and EMM source, just for kicks to hear it at its best for a short while. However, it certainly does the "job" in my office and has given me 100 hours of pleasure - for which I thank Joe! As always, I appreciate all your input on this forum - you have all been responsible for my best choices in audio, and Stereophile and Dealers' studios for all my worst ones..............:) By the way, there is only one big negative to this amp - biasing. No way I can dissemble it in my office in its tight space, connected to speaker loads that are intricately threaded through holes, crevices and angles at the back of the closet. That's why I haven't tried KT 88s and KT 90s; nor will I for a long, long while. By the way, he (Trelja) even printed me his own manual on how to bias the amp. A true A'gon star! Thanks, Joe.
Tvad, I'm glad someone else "feels" that song. It's truly why I am involved in the high end. The equipment is merely the means to get there; secondary to the music.
I really want to thank Denis (Springbok10) for the opportunity of getting to know him. He's truly one of the BEST people one will ever encounter - audio or otherwise. Please don't feel so bad about buying the Jadis. As it was, it was collecting dust, and my wife has been on me to "liquidate" some of the things I am not actually using.
Denis is a unique audiophile, and person, in many ways. What separates him from most is that he truly knows what he is looking for. Beyond that, he obviously has an incredible ear. He's tried a lot of components, and his impressions of everything we discussed were incredibly spot on. As such, it is a rare component that will make the grade.
As Denis said, the amp is surely a pain to bias. Actually, I find the bias procedure itself to be a snap once it's understood (which is why I included photos - a picture is worth a thousand words). It is not at all intuitive from the instructions I was given. Putting the amp back together is what I dread. I got it reassembled in 10 minutes this time, but it's still far too big a hassle.
Ah, the French! We laughed over the same online review of the Jadis Orchestra, where the reviewer was sent a brand new amp, only to try install the tubes, but couldn't get the tube cage off. Once he did (after acquiring the necessary tool), he noticed the Allen key was packed in bag inside the tube cage.
In all seriousness, as I write this, I just got the idea that I would make a few more holes in the bottom panel of the amp (it already has vents), that line up with the resistors and potentiometers (they almost do now) involved in the biasing. That way, what is now a real chore would be a simple, 3 minute operation. No muss, no fuss.
I'll also add that the gold plating on the faceplate is impossible to keep looking good. But, it's still better than the plastic of the Orchestra.
Although I have a spare quad of KT90 tubes, the fact that I have not yet found them and conversations with Denis on his likes and dislikes led me to try a new quad of JJ E34L tubes in the amp. Immediately after install, the sound was absolutely DEAD. I mean nothing. But, as I continued to play them, the sound began to open up. This was Friday night.
Upon listening on Sunday (about 10 hours on the tubes), I noticed that this was the best EVER sound I have gotten from my Coincident speakers. Forget about triode versus pentode, SET versus push - pull, tube versus solid state, all that stuff we always argue about. Nothing I have ever heard before got the notes so perfectly right as this little Jadis. Period, end of story. Triangles sounded like triangles, voices like voices, brass sounded like brass, cymbals sounded like brass and not that harsh metallic thing we normally hear.
And, the soundstaging was absolutely shocking. It stood out to me like nothing else in my past, and my two other amps are monoblocks. It was to die for.
The only downsides I heard was that the music could run out of steam more easily, ~95 dB, than I was used to in the past with the amp. And, the bass was not as slamming. I'm sure these were the tradeoff in going from the KT90 to the E34L tubes. But, it was a tradeoff I'd make any day, as EVERYTHING else was far better.
I was in heaven, but also in hell, realizing I had just sold the darn thing. Denis assured me that I could still back out. But, no. I had given him my word, he had already paid, and besides, I did have too much stuff...
I decided to play around a bit. With the glorious music still playing in my head, I tried the E34L tubes in my Granites. Well, they did have more power, and didn't run out of steam at high volumes. But, in all other areas, the Jadis absolutely slayed the Granites. And, the Granites are the best tube amps I came across during my summer audition. I listened to Cary, CJ, Rogues, and my Atmas. I liked the Granites better. Yet, here was the entry level amp of a company no one ever talks about anymore playing music with all get out.
Then, for kicks, I tried the Granite's JJ KT88 tubes in the JOR. Oh my God! The power and bass quibbles that I had were more than straightened out, while none of the midrange and treble magic was taken away. This was incredible. It was truly "just go with this, and live happily ever after with the music" kind of sound.
Again, it was by far the best sound I have ever gotten out of my Coincidents. Better than my AtmaSpheres, better than my Granites. With the better front end and cabling than I had 5 years ago and the new tubes, I was finally getting to hear what the Jadis could really do.
What the hell did I just do?!? Oh well, I resigned myself to the fact that I'll be buying another Jadis in the future, and this time I'll do it with gusto and get an even better one (DA30, DA50, DA60?).
In the end, I am really happy that Denis was the one who ended up with the amp. He's someone who can appreciate what it actually is, as opposed to someone on the merry go round, constantly buying and selling. Hopefully, as the tubes get 250 hours on them, we'll really know what they sound like. And, whether they or KT88 are the ones to go with. I am sure that over time, he'll get everything right around it, and truly get to hear what I heard in getting it ready for him. And, when that day comes, he'll know that the Jadis will be a lifetime purchase.
Denis (Springbok) has helped me in obtaining some used Audience sp cable on Agon.This cable not imported to South Africa,so there was no chance of purchasing locally.I also did not see any alternative to the Audience cabling as they seem to be the perfect match for my Merlin speakers. Denis has been extremely helpful and kind , it is very much appreciated.
Trelja, As the EL34s burn in the sound becomes more liquid, more mellow highs and better soundstaging. Its approaching 150 hours and sounds now like it did from your descriptions. It is one sweet, musical and special amp and I was able to listen long into night when everyone had left, at high volumes and the high end edginess has vanished.........just beautiful trebles. The mids are liquid and smooth, but not in any way cloying - just perfect. Thanks again - I'm sure you will miss it. I'm sure as the JJ EL34s burn in, it will get even better. The sound from the same CD - Karl Bohm's Mozart Clarinet Concerto at home on my main rig played immediately after, was no more compelling! I see what the hype about the Jadis sound is all about; it really is a lush presentation, but very real and true.
Denis, I am so happy to hear that the sound is coming around for you as the tubes break in. Yes, the Jadis sound is incredible. Again, it is a crying shame that the brand has fallen off the face of the world in North America. Obviously, I feel that they among the finest audio components ever produced.
When I was looking for a tube amp, I listened to one heck of a lot of them out there. This is THE one that stopped me dead in my tracks. Nothing else really ever got it right. When you consider this is one small step up from their entry level product, it is absolutely mind blowing.
I hope you don't get angry with me, but you are REAALLLY driving me towards posting a "Want To Buy" ad for a DA60 integrated here on Audiogon.
Please keep us updated. I think that as they reach 250 hours, you will have a complete picture as to how they sound.
Obviously, I am biased towards JJ tubes. In my experience, they have always sounded the best to me. Others like Svetlana, that's why they make vanilla AND chocolate. But, trying the JJ E34L tubes in my Granites proved to me it is the superiority of whatever Jadis is doing that makes the sound so very special.
I think that as time goes on, you will discover, as I did, that the amp seems to rise in sonics to the level of components in the system. But, I wasn't able to find its ceiling with my ancillaries.
With all due respect gentleman, I think my statement about Jadis falling off the map in North America rings true in answering your questions.
While I have not yet heard the EE Minimax, I hear it is a good budget component. I have heard most of the Jolida stuff, including the hybrid gear, and if you look at Denis' statement, you'll see that Jolida does not come anywhere close to the Jadis Orchestra Reference. HONESTLY, Jadis equipment really does sit, along with a few other marques, at the top of the mountain.
Thanks, 711 smilin, but with the Jadis, I think I am now set(unless the biasing gets the better of me................)and very happy. Besides which, the Jadis can drive my Proacs with 86 db senistivity, which I don't think the Wavelengths can do. (Can they?) Thank you all for your input.
Springbok10, did you ever find you Meitner gear yet, if not, I may have a contact for you. BTW, the cardinals would work up to the low 90's db wise. You may want more though. How much power do you really want. Than I could help much easier. I went thru 14 sets of amps in the last year. I am just not a believer in overpaying for stuff, to have a name. IMO I look for the sonics, no need to be yuppified. I got rid of my mercedes, and bmw ect. been there done that. Now a collectible porche, thats another story(heheheh)
711 Smilin, Yes, I have the EMM combo at home. And the Jadis/Proacs are fine for the office - but thanks for the offer. The Jadis fits the size and it is sonically superb. So the set-up is done. Quest over..............:)I am now a contented audionut and I drive a Subaru WRX...............
Springbok10, thank god for audiogon, to buy try and sell these off. My first SET was the Wavelength Cardinal X1, I was blown away by the holographic soundstage, and midrange magic, but was less than thrilled with the spl on rock and roll. I had been waiting for a BEZ 2a3, for my 98db speakers, and I was in an audio shop listening to Lamm 2.1 playing on Avantgarde speakers, along with a set of wavelengths. My head was bobbing to the tunes with the cards, but was analysing the music, and extension, detail, ect with the lamms. I realized I liked the Cards better. I bought them pre-owned as they were a trade in. I swapped them for my custom PP when I wated to rock, and used them for lower spl listening. I went to see a buddy who is a horn guy, and he gave me a homebrew digital amp, made by Kurt CH... of the Chicago Horn club. It was a Gain Clone. 25 watts, 50 bucks, unbelievable. More extended than the cards, more reveiling, better bass, I got confused, mad, frustrated, I sold my cards 2 days later. Than I realized my ears could not take teh high frequency and sterility of the digital, and need the musicality of tubes, or SS. So begins the madness and search for my audio truth.....