"My concern is this: my local dealer mentioned that I should stay away from tubes as he has seen tubes "blow up" and ruin good speakers. Really?"
No, not really
No, not really
With 15K to burn you can get into some tube mania...be warned as tubes can be extremely addictive. After over 40 years using tubes in guitar and bass amps I have never had one blow up, and those things get bounced all over the damn place. Kind of like your dealer saying, "I've seen heavy amps dropped on people's feet." In my hifi heap I recently switched from a SS power amp to a tube amp and I absolutely love it, it's fun, I prefer the sound of tubes, and I now have collections of tubes to play with. The ones that aren't plugged in...I just play with them on the floor...roll around, put little pants on them, draw little faces, give them names...
Wolfie, definitely the best post of the day, and probably the week :-)
Mbovaird, I'm not particularly familiar with your speakers, but based on their impedance curve I suspect that most tube amps would not be good matches for them. Their variation of impedance as a function of frequency (low in the bass and lower mid-range regions; high in the upper mid-range and lower treble regions) will interact with the relatively high output impedance of a tube amp to produce a significantly brighter sound than with the low output impedance of a solid state amp. I suspect that with most quality tube amps that added brightness will be objectionable.
Also, given their roughly 4 ohm impedance at lower frequencies, their 86db/2.83V/1m sensitivity is effectively only 83db for a 1 watt input at 1 meter. So you will obviously need lots of power, and it is probably safe to assume that high powered tube amplification will be considerably more expensive than high powered solid state amplification of comparable quality.
I have no particular opinion on Classe vs. Bel Canto, or on Class AB solid state vs. Class D generally.
Good point! Tubes are a lot more fun to play with than transistors. Not that I've tried....recently.
Well, I seem to recall I may have actually as a kid. I had a shoebox filled with little gadgets I collected around to play with. I seem to recall a tube or two in there. I did not have a lot of things from the toy store as a kid so I had to improvise. I probably used the tubes to help create sets for re-enactments of scenes I had seen on "Lost In Space" where the sets tended to glow a lot.
Anything can happen. Output driver tubes can "blow" and place full voltage at the speaker terminals. Same as output drivers on transistor amps blowing and taking out speakers. There are protection circuitry in good equipment that mitigate this so, it is really hard for this to happen. Maybe the guy was trying to sell you a SS amp. However, my advice is to don't buy the mind blowing tube vs solid state argument. Just go "borrow" equally matched amps, solid state and tube in your price range, (compare apples to apples please) and place the amp in your system without changing anything else and listen for yourself. You will find some pleasant suprises with good tube equipment and some drawbacks. Same as with solid state. You will find something that will simply make you smile and not want to get up. Typically, that is the one you can't afford, but if you can, that is the one you buy.
plain and simple. Tube and solid state equipment have been around for quite some time. There are some outstanding tube equipment and some outstanding solid state equipment. Again, audition apples to apples. Same price point, etc. for tube and solid state and you will definitely get a good indication of what you (not anyone else) like. Try hard to not buy until you after you have heard both in your system. You are thinking of both the amp and pre-amp so this is really difficult. For $15k, you can find a combination that would be wonderful. However, don't dismiss the posibility of a tube pre-amp and solid state amp. The fun is that you have time and can take your time comparing and listening. Any decent store sells demo equipment all the time, so they will either set up a room for you with equipment similar to what you have a home for comparison purposes or they will let you take the amp/pre-amp combination home (after giving up the credit card information) for a home demo.
With your price point established, take home a tube pre-amp/amp combo first, the swap the tube amp for a solid state amp, then swap the tube pre-amp for a solid state pre-amp and then back to the tube amp and you will have a good idea. However, there will be many amps and pre-amps both tube and solid state within your price range and many are outstanding, so don't just listen to one manufacturer. listen to several and have fun.
Minorl has given you the best advice I have seen in a while in any forum...There are always tidbits of this and never into this amount of detail and honesty. ...And its true and should be seriously considered...We all have gone on the merry go around and then you got the Wolf Garcia stage...playin with yer tubes...thats a good one...dont wanto to know what you dress them up to be..but...hmm sounds like a new thread...
Its up to your ears and the music you are delighted with that will bring you hopeful satisaction and Minorl has paved the way for you..Enjoy the journey...
The Music Never Stopped........
Almarg is correct. Without getting into the whole tubes vs SS thing, the awesome Ultima 2 is probably one of the least tube friendly speakers I can think of. As mentioned, their funky impedance curve and low efficiency pretty much rule out all but the biggest ARC or BAT tube amps. Think Krell, Levinson, Boulder or Pass for these babies.
REf1000m is a rock solid choice in your case I would say. Lots of things in common with some of the larger and better tube amps I have heard except with seemingly unending power reserves. I too have large power hungry speakers and am unable to phase my ref1000m's running them with any kind of music. I auditioned a larger Rogue tube power amp (not sure of exact model) and smaller JEff Rowland Class D amps before going the ref1000m route. I liked the Rogue a lot. I am very happy and set for the foreseeable future with teh ref1000ms.
Almarg`s post is significant,the speaker type/characteristics will determine the sucess of a particular power amplifier. As he clearly pointed out your speaker is a difficult load for most tube amps and is likely better matched to a high quality SS amplifier.The load impedance and phase angle are really 'more' crtical than sensitivity in determining amp-speaker compatability.I`m not saying no tube amps would work but most SS amps offer a more natural fit =drive ability(for your speaker) based on their design.
Thanks for the responses. No chance of getting different speakers for the foreseeable future. Maybe Quads one day or KEF 207/2 or B&W - all would be on par with what I have now, with there own strengths and weaknesses no double So, unlikely.
My reaction was similar to what many of you said. The requirements of the Revel's would lead me down the SS path. I think the Classe' 600 mono blocks are something to consider. Rave reviews and they certainly should be able to handle the Revel Salon 2's.
As a side, I did purchase the Classe' CP-800 preamp. What an amazing piece. I am delighted with it. The sound is head and shoulders above anything else I've heard at two or three times the price. It's functionality is unique, if not revolutionary. If you have not seen/heard it, do yourself a favor and check it out.