Is it true that tube amp's aren't dynamic and detailed as SS amps? Or they are "musical" and "detailed"? Can component be both? I need suggestion for 10K system! Amp+CD+speakers=10K(cables too)
I suggest a tube pre-amp and solid state amp, you tend to get the best of both worlds. Re-tubing pre-amps is cheap, the care and feeding of tubed amps can be quite significant. My Audio Research pre-amp with Classe amps and Martin Logan Quest Z's work very well togther.
I feel some tube amps are much more dynamic and more detailed than most solid state amps, however we are stereotyping. The question is whether or not you want the maintenance of tubes. Most tube amps will not be as fast but tend to be warmer. I suggest: Amp - ARC VT100MKII - 3000-3500 Used (Tube) or AMP - Pass Labs X150 - 2500-3000 Used (Solid State) CD - Resolution Audio CD-55 - 2500 Used Speakers - Wilson CUBs - 3000-3500 Used That is 8500-9500 with a tubed amp or 8000-9000 without tubes and 0 maintenance, with a bit left over for cables.
I agree with the Tube Pre/Solid State Power comments. Also the Sonic Frontier/Anthem Tube Preamps are more solid state like with the best of the tube positives.
I have a Sonus Faber Concerto Grand Piano; an Aleph 3 amp & a Wadia WT 2000 Transport/X64.4 Decoding Computer. Presently using the McIntosh CR 7 Remote Control Center as a pre-amp. I am thinking of a tube pre-amp like, the Cary SLP 50B or an Audio Electronics Supply AE3. I Will appreciate any suggestions guys? Thanks.........
Riv3r this response is pretty self serving since I have an Audio Research SP9 MkII for sale in the classifieds here. I now use an Audio Research SP14, suffice to say I'm a fan of AR, worth considering...Rgds, Jeff
A good tube amp can be dynamic, detailed, and musical. My opinion, buy a tube integrated, such as a Jadis Orchestra Reference(NOT Orchestra) for $3500. This amp is VERY dynamic, musical, and has a wonderful passive linestage(that you will find very detailed). Get a Musical Fidelity A3 CD player for $1000. Buy whatever speakers you like for $4500 or less(one's that are not REAL hard to drive). You can go with an incredible variety here, as this amp has a LOT of guts(due to the HUGE transformers w/KT90 tubes). Spend the other $1000 on good speaker cables, and 2 power cords. No interconnects! This is a system you will live with for a LONG, LONG time.
tube pre-amp plus solid-state amp? i was also hoping that would be the ticket. years ago, i auditioned an ar sp9-mkll - it was so dull & slow, i passed. i really *wanted* to like it - it was so cool-looking! ;~) this was w/an adcom 555 amp & thiel 3.5's, both known for their tendencies to be bright, so ya'd think the ar would have balanced it - no such luck. i can't comment about any other ar stuff, or any other tube preamps - *except* the brand-gnu rogue audio 99, deluxe *magnum* version, that i just got this past thursday nite. well, it's a *lot* better than that sp9 was - great soundstage depth, airy highs, * very* detailed - from the midrange on up. the bass, however, is totally awol, and what little there is, it's very inarticulate. perhaps this will improve when it's broken-in? i don't think so - i've never heard of this aspect of a pre-amp changing much during break-in. and, i'm not talking about head-banger-electronic-type bass, either. listen to the bass on patricia barbour's *inchworm* & *ode to billie joe* on her "cafe blue" album - the bass was *fantastic* w/my linn kairn preamp. in all fairness, tho, my system's lo-end is a pair of bridged adcom gfa555's driving a pair of vmps larger subs, x'd over at 60hz. monitors are meret re's, bi-amped w/a pair of electtrocompaniet amps. maybe other less full-range systems wouldn't even be aware of this preamp's bass deficiencies, but for me, it's a sho-stopper. regretably, this is going up for sale, less than a week old... see audiogon classifieds for specifics.
Tubes all the way.Go for Rogue M-120 Monoblocks.2695.00 Rogue 66 Preamp 1295.00.Anthem CD-1 player 1500.00.Coincident Super Eclipse 5400.00 + Coincident Interconnects and speaker cable.1000.00.Its a little more but you should be able to get better than list retail on these items.I have heard 20k rigs that dont sound as good.
Standard marketing answer? It depends! Some things to keep in mind though is that if your speakers need a lot of current to sound their best; solid state gets the job done much better on a per dollar basis. If your speakers are really efficient and naturally tight on the bottom-end then tubes can reward with more openess and warmth in the mid-range. Can you have your cake-and-eat-to? Yes, but generally at a price point beyond where most accomodating spouses will go. I have happily lived with the tube preamp/ ss poweramps (vertically bi-amped) for several years and can vouch for this being a fairly happy compromise.
I think the matching of amp and preamp is emphasizing the wrong pairing. I find that matchning the amp with the speakers is more important. Discounting magic solutions like Krell's CAST, the amp preamp interface is not full of hidden problems. The speaker however can be a benign or devil load for an amp. I own Thiel 3.6s and was forced to a Krell KSA-200S because the speakers wanted lots of current. I tame this bright combo with a SF Line-3. Its a wonderful combination but I had to start with speakers and work backwards.
Here is the answer, for "both world's": Martin Logan SL-3, CD,Wadia 860X (used),AMP. VTL MB-450 sig. monoblocks (used) Pre-amp Z-system RPD-1 REF. (used)and some Cardas "neutral" for cables. I don't think anything would come close at this price range (probably more than10K, however you can substitute cd player for lower model) or at any price range PERIOD!!!
Buy a used BAT preamp. Any with the SE upgrade.This is a tube preamp( I would personaly call it a hybrid) that kicks butt with a class A ss amp.The BAT raises the standard,don't listen to any old timers that say they're too new of a Co. to know what they are doing. Just went on a preamp shoot out,tried most that I read about including the first sound presence deluxe,rogue 99, Blue circle bc3,the AE3 you mentioned also, which held it's own w/ alot more expensive preamps.I know what sounds good the Bat blows all the others away.You will not be sorry.
I agree with the tube pre-amp and solid state power amp approach-- it's an excellent compromise. I use Sonic Frontiers Line 2 pre-amp, and McCormack DNA-2DX power amp-- it's a great combination with Vandersteen 3Asig. speakers. I have yet to hear a tube amp that has good bass-- if you're into rhythmic, bass important music. Tube amps often have a great mid-range though. If you intend to avoid use of a pre-amp, ie CDP direct to amp, you've got a big decision to make-- I don't know how tube amps work with CD direct??? Good Hunting. Craig
or you could just a solid state amp with the SS power plus tube warmth such as the new Conrad Johnson MF2500 with a used Premier 14
Hi Craig, I read your post and would like to offer my opinion concerning bass reproduction of tube amps. I don't like to generalize but here it goes.... Solid-state amps tend to give a tighter more controlled grip in the bottom octaves where as the right tube amps give the texture timbre and surrounding air around the instruments in ? For me the virtues of a good tube amp are far more important at giving images their reality than solid-state. Out of the solid-state amps that I've heard and enjoyed the Bat VK-500 batpack, and the Pass designs have impressed me. But the texture eludes these fine designs to a degree also. I guess it's a matter of deciding what your priorities in reproduced sound are. The great tube designs have that "magic" for me that I have yet to hear from any solid-state amp at any price. Enjoy, Tom
I am interested in ML, VTL. I've seen them in various show's, however in HT configuration. Anyway they were impressive. What is a Z-System??
sedond!! I wouldnt be so quick to judge or blame your Rogue 99.You have only had it a short time and its too soon to pass blame.I have a 99 and have killer bass!! Could be any number of things thats not giving you the bass you want,but Im sure its not the 99.
Hi Tom; and thanks for your response to my "terse" post. I too shouldn't generalize. Some of the most important aspects of say, R&B music to me are pace, rhythm, and timing, and in my experience (limited w/ tube amps), SS amps are quicker, and have more control of woofers, and thus serve PR&T much better. I auditioned for a week, an SFS-80 (STPH Class B), and while it had a great mid-range and deep powerful bass, the rest of bass characteristics were terrible, ie slow, bloated, boomy, and it totally destroyed PR&T. This was in comparison to my McCormack DNA-1DX which had quick, tight, articulate bass with great PR&T. Other than this, I've only casually heard a few other tube amps at dealers. I agree that mid-range is most important, but to me good bass and PR&T are a close second. I would guess that some of the super tube amps must produce good bass-- I would like to know which and at what price. My long term solution may be to go to Vandersteen 5 speakers, that have built in SS amps for the woofers, and put a good tube amp on the mids + tweeter. Cheers. Craig.
I agree with Tom. I think it is a general misnomer to categorize tube amps as missing in action in the bass department. Agreed that generally solid state has a tendency to have better CONTROL but tube amps DO have a tendency do articulate the timbre more realistically in the lower frequencies as well as the midrange. Craig if you want to hear a tube amp with some bass SLAM listen to an ARC D-250 servo; VT-200 mono's, Jadis 200's, Manley Reference. They may not reach the depths of say a big Krell but I hardly think you could want for too much (excepting maybe a lower electric bill). Personally I have owned and listened to many solid state amps over the years and after owning tube amps for the past 10 years and switching in solid amps on occasion to see if I was missing anything, I have come to the conclusion time and again I am not. Truth of timbre is most important to me and even though the gap may be closing I still don't hear it.
Virtually everyone who has responded is a bit misinformed. Power amps don't have a sound on their own. As such, they can't be dynamic or detailed. It is the speaker/amp combination that provides the sound. Certain combinations can be more dynamic or detailed than other combinations. This ultimately has nothing to do with whether the amp is tubed or solid state. Instead, it has to do with whether the amp/speaker combination is optimal. Case in point, I have a 3 watt Fi 2A3 amplifier that sounds more dynamic than any of my solid state amplifiers (Krell KSA 200S, Pass Model 2s, Sunfire). How can this be? I use the Fi with 103 dB sensitive horns. The solid state amplifiers power speakers with sensitivities ranging from 85 dB to about 90 dB...Don't even think about using solid state on the horns (it sounds terrible). Detail? Both tube and solid state amplifiers can sound very detailed when optimally matched to a speaker. A lot of tube amps get a bad rap because folks use them with speakers that can't be driven well with tubes. A veiled sound is the result. Moreover, solid state amps can have a sound which appears more detailed to many listeners. This, however, is really an illusion caused by higher levels of odd order harmonic distortion (relative to tube amplifiers) which are subjectively perceived as greater detail. Musicality? I've found that an optimally matched tube amp/speaker combination (especially with SETs) more frequently provides a higher degree of musicality than a solid state amp/speaker combination. This is not to say that solid state can't sound musical, but none of my solid state amp/speaker combinations achieve the high level of musicality delivered by my tube amp/speaker combinations. If it were my $10K, I'd buy a used pair of AvantGarde Duos (To my ears, AvantGarde's horns are the best horns I've heard. They're not as good as the new Duo 2.0 series (I own a 2.0 pair), but with proper setup, they're still killer. I've seen them as low as $6K on Audiogon), a used 300B or 2A3 SET amp (it must be very low in noise since the 103 dB sensitivity will magnify and hum and noise), a new Sony SCD777ES SACD player (State of the art on SACD and more than acceptable on CD. Can be had for $1800 or less brand new). For preamplification I'd use EVS passive attenuators (around $225 new). For cables, I'd invest in Goertz copper or silver used. Even used, however, silver is probably out of your price range...but oh, what a sound! The above system will simply smoke anything else I'm aware of at or anywhere near that price point. It will, in fact, smoke most systems regardless of price. And when I say smoke, I'm not talking about a subtle or minor difference. It will obliterate most of them. If for some reason you don't want one of the best systems on the planet, check out Silverline Audio speakers. Although they will fall dynamically and musically short of the best horn systems, they mate better with tubes than most dynamic loudspeakers.
Hello Craig and thank you for your response. It's a pleasure to be able to exchange our thought's in this hobby. For me and I'm sure for you and others it's more than just a hobby. It's for the love and joy of music that enriches or life in such a profound way. It is essential to mate the right tube amp and speaker. If there's a synergy I'm sure you will hear the timing of pace and rhythm that you desire along with the beauty of the timbre of tone that for me is void to a degree in every SS amp I've every heard. Craig, as you may recall I recently purchased a pair of Eidolons. A friend of mine who is also an audiophile and pianist came by to check them out. I was playing them with my BAT mono VK60's, it was a great listening session that went into the late late evening. The sound was "magical" and had a presence that was uncanny. At the end of the session we had switched amps to the latest version of the Bryston 4b that I had borrowed from another friend so I could start the lengthy break-in of the speakers. In seconds of playing the system with the Bryston my friend and I looked at each other in utter disappointment. The sound had completly lost its realism. Where was the texture of tone and the sound of the space? There was space but it did'nt have sound, that sound of air. The images lost timbre making them sound artificial. The "magic" was gone! Please don't take this as a bashing of the Bryston, I'm sure it's a good solid-state amp at its price point. I've had the Bat amps for almost 2 years now and over time I guess I took their qualities for granted, and let me tell you boy was this ever a smack in the face. (or ears) To Craig and others do yourself a favor and audition a high quality tube amp in your system and make sure it can drive your speakers properly. I don't think you'll be going back to SS anytime soon. Thanks for hearing me out. Sincerly, Tom
david99, thanks for your comments. i can *assure* you it's the rogue 99 preamp that made the bass go away - it was all there before, & the preamp is the only thing that's changed. since my last post, however, several folks have said that this will improve w/burn-in - we'll see. i hope so, cuz the rest of the stuff this pre does is *very* nice...
I too have had good results by using a tubed pre and a solid state amp,if used with the right cables! The S.F.Line2 sounds very good with my Krell KSA-150 With the right cables between them but can sound harsh with the wrong ones in there. As someone mentioned earlier the speakers may dictate what combo you may wish to go for.....If you have a speaker that you already like look at it's requirements and work backwards from there.
I too have had good results by using a tubed pre and a solid state amp,if used with the right cables! The S.F.Line2 sounds very good with my Krell KSA-150 With the right cables between them but can sound harsh with the wrong ones in there. As someone mentioned earlier the speakers may dictate what combo you may wish to go for.....If you have a speaker that you already like look at it's requirements and work backwards from there.
I've been both ways. Tube on pre, tubes on amp, both and none. My favorite is tube pre and ss for exactly the same reasons everyone has mentioned above. When you get too many tubes in the system, however I find a loss of detail and a too laid back sound. Besides then when one tube goes bad you have to sort through ten or fifteen tubes to find I've not heard some of these new "super" tube amps like the problem tube. And it get's expensive to boot. However, Manley or Wolcott. So my advice would be if you are going on less than 5K budget, keep it cheap all around and do tubes on the pre and ss on amp.
Sorry I guess when I submitted I garbled the post...sorry.
Tom, Tubegroover, Phill; You guys are a tough and dedicated lot, and I surely do appreciate your posts. Truth of timbre is also probably the single most important characteristic of music to me too. And I think tube amps maybe promote it moreso than SS. In fairness, when I auditioned the tubed SFS-80, I had too big speakers in a too small room so it wasn't a very fair audition-- and in those days I had to run my 2Ces at low volume. I'm intrigued by tube amps, and have never read anything bad about BAT or the newer ARCs. My big McCormack DNA-2DX is pretty sweet as SS amps go, but I'd sure like to try some good tube amps in the $5k - $7.5k range (MSRP). I'd have to look for a used one though. Do you guys have any experience/observations on Sonic Frontiers Power 2 or 3 tube amps? I'm also kind of interested in some of the mid-sized VTLs-- seems like you get a lot of power for reasonable cost, and the option of triode operation. I've read that Richard Vandersteen uses an SS pre-amp and big ARC tube monos. Thanks, and Cheers. Craig.
Issabre; have you been nipping on the cooking sherry again:)? Cheers. Craig.
Hi Craig, If you would like to exchange e-mails you can reach me at I would like to share my experiences with you when I compared the Bat mono-VK60's to the ARCVT200 and other amps as well. Thanks Tom
Craig It is a funny thing you should mention it. When I purchased a pair of Vandersteen 2C's in 1987 what sold me on the speakers was the electronics they were hooked up with the first time I listened, ARC M-100 mono's with an SP-11 pre-amp. Also listened with the Threshold SA-1 Class A mono's, didn't lose too much with those amps either. But there was something special about that ARC combo that never left me. I ended up buying an S-200 amp because I couldn't afford the ARC gear at the time. Let me tell you the S-200 wasn't an ARC tube amp or an SA-1. It really makes a difference. I have got to hear these BAT V-60's, I can't escape the buzz on those amps. Will
I am with the groover, go with the ARC all the way and forget the rest. In Bill Johnson we Trust! Use a transistor go to jail. I recomend ARC amp and pre and Vandersteen or Magnagans. Use the vandersteen subwoofer and you can get away with a smaller amp. 10k will buy a hell of a system with this approach. An ARC VT50 with a Vandersteen sub is a great set up and gives you the realism of the low bass.
To many good amps and preamps in both sold state and tube. I guess the reason I love tubes, is you can change them with different brands and experiment. SS gives better bass control, unless you are looking at some very good ARC or VTL or the like, then they can give even the best SS a run. COnsider a integrated, wheter SS or tube. Krell makes a killer one, as does YBA, Classe, Linn, and other good SS people. In tubes the the VTL Avitar or even the CARY 300b SEI. But in the end, what do you like musically, some synergys are better than others, just as in speakers. A 5 watt SET may sound great, but they dont do Heavy Metal. Solid state may not give the best soul to chamber music. The arguments grow by the second. For a general system for most music, try the following ideas: Audible Illusions preamp ($2000), ARC or VTL in the $4000 range, good Monster Cables as a compromise (or Kimble, or AudioQuest), then on speakers, if classical or Jazz try some Magnapans, for Studio Jazz rock and Pop try some Klipsch ( Yes Klipsch, they rock great!). For simpler set ups try a Musical Fidelity A300 integrated at $1500, agood turntable and arm like the Rega 25, a Rega Planet cd player, and Klipsch speakers or Maggys. This will give you lotsa of fun! The best advice, just go out and audition as much as you can, with music you know and love. Let YOUR ears decide for you.
I originally auditioned a pair of Dunlavy Athenas with a ARC vt-100 tube amp. When i went back for a second listen the speakers were hooked to a Pass Labs aleph (i think it was a 2, about 60w) and something wasn't quite right. Re-attaching the dunlavys to the VT-100 brought back the openness and smoothed out the highs. There was no comparison the tubes won hands down. I ended up with VTL 185 monoblocks and a VTL 5.5 pre driving the dunlavies and couldn't be happier I added a ARC cd-2 andt HT cables to the equation, bought it all off this site and didn't exceed your budget by all that much. keep your eyes open for deals and focus on the glow
Piezo, The Pass Labs Model 2 are monobloc amplifiers, not stereo. There would have been a pair of them. They also output 100 watts per channel and sound great on my Dunlavy SC-IVs. A CJ Premier 11 though, does sound better to my ear. IMO, Dunlavy speakers sound best with tubes.