tubes rule, don't be a solid state fool.
get a vintage cj mv75 or mv 125, depending upon power requirements.
get a vintage cj mv75 or mv 125, depending upon power requirements.
Tube vs. solid state is a useless distinction. I have auditioned many amplifiers, and I find there is much overlap in tube and solid state sounds, and that tube amps and solid state amps vary widely in their sound. Of all the amplifiers that I have auditioned, the two that sound most alike are the Pass Labs Aleph 3 (SS)and the AtmaSphere MA-1s (Tube). My JJ electronics tube amp sounds more "solid state" than the Aleph 3. Although I've not heard them side-by-side, I suspect the same would be true of Hovland's solid-state offerings. Audiopax makes fabulous sounding tube and solid state amps that sound neither solid statey nor tubey. I have heard the AR LS-25 pre-amp, which I thought sounded very tubey, and very different than the Atma-Sphere MP3. And on and on...
You also need to consider how much you can tolerate heat, maintenance, and tubeomortis nervosa, the constant anxiety that your tubes are slowly dieing and squashing your sound, but you just don't realize it, followed by the cost of replacing your tubes way more than they need to be, because there's no way to tell, or buying a tube tester (and hoping ITs rare vintage tubes don't blow).
Sorry, but there is no correct answer. It depends on a lot of things.
I would recommend Sonic Frontiers Power 3 monoblocks. They sell for a good price on Audiogon and there are two available now. If you don't need 200 to 300 watts, there is a power 2 which is a little smaller. I just retubed mine to KT88s and the sound is great. The nice thing about tubes is you can change the sound by changing to a different set of tubes.
I tried the mix-and match tubes and ss for a while back. Tube pre and SS amps..vice versa. Pretty interesting sounds. I also bought a pair of beautiful monoblocks and the tube pre ( Magnum series) but after a while I sold them all. Tubby sounds can also create listenning fatigue or boring feeling as much as SS sounds. Why don't get two good systems for both tubes and SS. You can have the best of the both.
solid state is a miserable state. it pierces your ears and gives you audio fears.
be a resistor of the transistor.
solid state is miniaturization without representation.
it's like listening to a bunch of elves play their instruments amongst themmselves.
solid state has a sonic signature, a hardness than won't go away even if you put a tube preamp in front of it.
Mrtennis I agree with you that there are solid state amps that can be ear piercing when poorly matched but there are also warm sounding ss amps that can appreciate a tube front end without the nasties. With some experience one can make a call as to what preamp to match to a ss amp and what interconnects to use to either increase brightness or reduce it. Send me a power amp and I'll know after listening to it what I need to do to make it sound the way I want. I have two large bags of interconnects and can choose from that what I need to make corrections. Someone once said in the threads, give an audiophile an amp & he can build a system around it.
Jafox, thanks for the kind words. You are mostly correct, I can appreciate what you just said & that is your preference as it should be but I was focusing my attention on this thread which is about amps. Actually I built my system around my speakers. I suppose one could build a system around speaker wires, if your an idiot.
Bostonjim - Congrats on the CATs. One of my 3 favorite systems at CES this year used a pair of CAT Monoblocks (along with a Reimyo CD player, forget what pre and Ascendo speakers). Rock solid bass, clean natural midrange, powerful and engaging sound. Beautiful to look at, too, with all those big tubes in the open.
Mrtennis - I remember you once posted that you like dull, boring sound (or similar words). Have you ever heard tube amps by AtmaSphere, JJ, or CAT? I suspect you would not like any of these, as they are rather lively and engaging sounding. On the other hand, you might prefer the sound of old Hafler solid state, as I remember, it had a definite laid-back quality. Hovland's solid state has a very easy-to-listen-to quality, which you also might find appealing. Perhaps there is one aspect of sound that you are focusing on that is more prevalent among solid state than tube gear. If that one trait is the most important thing to you, I understand your point, but I have not found such a distinguishing trait that universally identifies ss vs. tube.
So many unknown variables around, but I think, at the end it is very important what type of music you typically listen. If modern rock, pop, blues - electronic music - than solid state perhaps a good option, if classical music: tubes are somewhat better re-creating tonal shades of life acoustic music.
honest1 is pretty right on in his post. There is a lot of difference between amps of any type.
The Pass aleph amps are truely sweet SS amps. I compared the Aleph 3 side by side to an audio research VT100 tube amp with a wadia 860 running direct into either and a pair of Dunlavy athenas. The sound was very nice from both and i could have lived with either. The ARC had more openness in the top end though. That said the ARC amps tend to be pretty solid state sounding tube amps with a solid low end. I ended up with VTL which still keeps the bottom solid but warms the mids a little more. Then you have some of the CJ amps which are the stereotypical tuby sounding amps with soft bass and very warm mids.
Ajahu, i listen to mostly blues and jazz with a dose of electronic thrown in for good measure and wouldn't trade my tubes for the world. You just need enough power to feed your speakers and enough current to control the bottom and life is good. The sound of modern rock...any rock for that matter...seems to be so dependent on production quality that it's a crap shoot wheather it will sound good in any high res system imo.
Go to a rocks, pop or jazz concerts and open your ears , your mind then go home and crank up your tube gears and tell me if there is no color in your systems. Come on guys, the perfect sounding system is built not around your speakers or your amps...It is in your bias mind. I love SS and tubes both for their own quality and their own limitation. Some audiophile is willingly to compromise and some is not. Want a naked truth, go to a live concert.
Phd: Yes, I did indeed get off topic here. Sorry about that.
Bostonjim46: Congrats on the JL1's. I run with the JL-3's and discovered a greater degree of fullness and textures in the mids when I changed out the stock small-signal tubes. The Mullard 6922 and 12ax7 made a huge improvement not only in the portrayal of space but also dynamics. The latter is a Mullard strength. The Telefunken 12au7 over the stock 12au7 was a very slight improvement in the clarity of the mids. I have since discovered the Telefunken 6DJ8 which is absolutely magical every place I have tried it. But I have not yet had the chance to try this with the JL-3's. So try to locate some of these and discover even more with the CAT amps.
Andrewdoan: I have been to many rock and jazz concerts and so often the bass is boomy, the amplification used by the facility is terrible, and its downright impossible to hear clearly what the singer is singing and/or saying. If I want great sound quality, I am pretty much limited to the smaller venues or the great orchestra halls. The places we hear our favorite bands is not even remotely close sonically to where the studio recording was made that we listen to in our homes.
I go to a concert simply for the opportunity to see my favorite musicians. It's an issue of having fun; the ultimate sound quality is not a factor here.
As for the issue of one's tube gear causing major colorations, the recording engineers had far more to do with altering the sound than any tube-based home system playing that altered recording.
I'm going through the struggle of trying to decide on a new preamp, and whether to go with a good tube or solid state. This all based on what I've read about mating a good tube preamp with a good solid state amp to get the best of both worlds.
I'm a little skeptical of the stuff I read on the huge sound differences between equipment, especially electonics -- it's rather subtle differences that I heard when I got my last amp and preamp -- while some of the descriptions I read would lead me to believe certain equipment would introduce me to an entirely new piece of music...
I've noted that when I attended a lot of classical concerts, my subjective involvement and appreciation of the quality of the music depended greatly on my internal emotional state and expectations. Why wouldn't that also take place when I listen to recorded and amplified music? I have noted my subjective judgement about the sound quality of my own system varies at times.
I think I suffer most from "audiophilia nervosa" when I'm about to make a purchase decision, rather than my day to day listening. I want to get the best value for my money, and become obsessed on the equipment. When I get it I sometimes wonder if the upgrade really got me that much more improvement in sound quality. Of course I have to rationalize that it did, since I did lie down that big wad of money.
I think I may be happiest with my system when I have the least amount of disposable cash. Means I'm a true American consumer I guess, and it keeps all these great companies in business.
Andrewdoan: I have no experience with your specific speakers so I am not at all qualified to suggest what amp may be the "best". I dislike using the word "best" here because there really is no such thing as best. We all have different sonic attributes that are higher priorities than others. And ultimately, we are assembling a system. What may have worked before might not after other system changes.
If you notice my comment above, I am a fan of tube preamps first. But the problem here is that so very few tube preamps bring on the sonic qualities that for me is the whole purpose of running with tubes. And tube gear can be a major pain with tube replacement and the related costs, more heat into the room (a good thing here in Minnesota in the winter) and often greater reliability problems.
Besides the obvious benefits of the great tube products out there, having such components does allow the user to tune the sound to their own liking. My DAC, phono stage, line stage and amps all use 12ax7 and 6DJ8/6922 tubes, as well as a host of other tube types. And one thing I have been able to do is try the various tubes I mentioned before to optimize the sound to my liking. Choosing different brands/models can bring on greater dynamic contrasts or shift the tonality to bring on a greater overall system tonal coherency, etc. This is obviously not something I can do with solid state components. Cable swaps allow for some such sonic changes, but I find that often to gain one major improvement with a cable change, I lose something else that I do not want to give up....unless I really pay a fortune for another cable altogether. At $50-100 a pair for many of these tubes, I can take my system to a whole new level for $1000 that no cable nor other component change of this price can even begin to match.
Recently I dropped in a pair of Telefunken 6DJ8 tubes in the Aesthetix Io and another pair in the Callisto. With these two pairs, I got a sonic improvement over the Mullard gold pin 6922 that exceeded component upgrades I made in the past that costed far more money. And I like the Mullards very much. But the Tele's here are phenomenol in these two products.
Have you noticed the cost to upgrade to the next level of a solid state amp or preamp? It's typically going to cost at least $1000 to move up to gain a worthwhile improevement. A pair of $100 tubes can do the same in many cases.
One final thing on amps and speakers. These really go together as some amps only work well within a certain load impedance. And many speakers require a lot of current to start to perform to their potential. I like to listen to many speakers to find one that stands out from the crowd for me. Then I go through the same exercise to find an amp that brings out that speaker's strengths that caused me to buy that speaker. And only the owner of that speaker can make that final determination.
What made you choose Energy Veritas 2.4 speaker? Surely there are some sonic attributes that caught your attention. Once you identify what these are, then you can audition amps that are reported to excel in the same regard.....as long as those amps can handle the speakers' load.
Jafox. Thank you for your post. I have very limited experience with tubes and I hope I will learn more about tubes so I can enjoy tube gears as much as SS. I love my Krell 400xi even though it is not a perfect amp and I am not wasting my time to look for a perfect one. I am abt to finish to set up my SS systems and I choose the intergrated amp for its simplicity and that fits my " golden age" well. I am planning to build another system with tube intergrated amp so I can have the best of both. I don't knock down tube sounds. As a matter of fact, I o love certain things that tube gears can offer while SS cannot and vice versa. Happy listenning.
Raygun - I agree wholeheartedly with all you say. While I can hear the differences between components in my system when comparing side-by-side, and have taken many steps toward better sound, I often wonder if these small steps have added up to enough of a big step to be worth the effort I've put into it.
You're mood while listening is as important a component as anything else. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to say, and have been tryuing to write it for a while, but I'm just too tired!! But I agree with you, Ray!
It is very reasonable to become very stressed out over spending a large percentage of your disposable income (whether that be hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of $$), yet it is extremely difficult to judge equipment in this state of mind.