Tubes and Rock and Roll, Can they go together?

I just got back from Harvey Electronics in New Jersey. I demo-ed 2 sets of equipment:
Set 1
McIntosh MC-2102
McIntosh C-2200
McIntosh MCD-205
Sonus Cremona
Set 2
McIntosh Mc-402
McIntosh C-45
Marantz SA-11s1
Martin Logans

The CD's that were demo-ed were Various Artist. I enjoy easy listening music, but I do have a number of CD's that are classical rock (80's Rock Bands) The tube set up was incredible on Vocals and solo instuments, not to mention their stunning looks. Probably the very best I have heard to date. The problem was when I put in some classical rock, the sound became less enjoyable and almost seemed like it lost definition and it's musical appeal. When I listend to the solid state set up, it sounded better with the Rock, but it lost it's enjoyable appeal. The tubes set up, I felt I could have listened to soft music all day. Besides buying the new 15K McIntosh tube/solid state pre, is there away I can enjoy classical rock from a tube based system? Would changing speakers help? Thanks!
You listened to 2 completely different systems. The only conclusions you can draw must pertain to the entire systems, not the individual components.

Yes, tubes can rock.
Make one change at a time. Get used to it & go from there.
Ironically, Rock-n-Roll wouldn't sound like rock-n-roll without tube amplification. ;)
Its a shame that most classic rock music was recorded so poorly. If you like tubes just try a tube pre and ss amp just to get a good mix. But not all ss is forgiving just seek out a happy balance;
>>Its a shame that most classic rock music was recorded so poorly<<

Most is a poor choice of words IMO. "Some" is more appropriate. I have a substantial collection which began in 1959 and can easily disprove your statement.
Since you listened on different speakers, all other comparisons are out the window. Unfortunately, there's probably a good reason why they set up those speakers with those amps. It's been a while since I listened to Macs but I remember a multiple personality disorder amongst the family, way back when.

There is some ground for your question, historically, but it's far from the rule. You might want to listen to bigger Manley, VTL and Rogue (to name a few) before judging prematurely. Not only do they have the dynamics, but many models are suitable for "rockin'" speakers.
I agree with Ngjockey. I have a CJ preamp with two VTL tube monoblocks. Let me tell you my system rocks harder than Angus Young at an AC/DC concert.

By the way I have a lot of classic rock LP's that sound amazing. Ususally it is the classic rock cd's that sound bad.
I was at Harvey in Paramus and listened to the Logans and Cremonas.
In my opinion what doesn't go together is rock&roll and Martin Logan speakers. They are not for rock&roll and I haven't heard a pair of Logans to date that played rock music good. I think the Cremonas with a right tube amp and a tube preamp can repro rock as well. You demoed speakers that are pretty laid back(Cremonas) with dark sounding electonics(Mac). Not exactly a good match, especially for rock music. You need something more lively than the Mac to go with Cremonas.
Try Cremona speakers with Krell. Solid state, I know, but this will wake the Cremonas up and get them all ready for that rock&roll music you wanna hear. And then you can get a nice tube preamp to go with that Krell amp.
You also listened to two different pairs of speakers here, one of which, the Cremonas, I would think would do better with jazz, classical and vocal music than rock. I'd look at Manley amps for rock. If that doesn't suffice, go for a hybrid solution with a solid-state power amp and tubes everywhere else. And be sure to audition your speaker choices carefully.
A few years ago I went into a high-end Brick-n-mortar shop with the intention of auditioning a couple of surround sound systems. I really liked what I heard, then the salesman ran a McIntosh 2102 amp through the same speakers.

He put on some serious rock and I accused him of changing sounded so good. He had to take me back to see the wires to prove that the only change was the amp.

I think you should go back and give the 2102 another try, having let it warm up a bit. Bring your own favorite music. Make sure they are using the same speakers.
My BAT VK60 tube amp driven by the Modwright SW9SE with RCA bronze plate 5687 tubes do excellent job for both Jazz, Blue, rock & roll and havey matel ! In fact, the VK60 provides a much tighter bass than my previous biamping setup (Bryston 2BLP and 3BST).
Tube amps are fantastic with Rock music! I listen to 60's - 70's music. I run a tri-amp configuration. This gives you the best of all worlds. The LF and HF are driven with SS amps and the mids (80 hz - 10K hz) are powered by the tube mono-blocks.
Thanks everyone for your comments. I find that there is hope for Rock and Roll with tubes. Just a quick rebutle, unfortunately, Harvey's only has two major high end speakers and that is the Sonus's and Martin Logan's. The Sonus's, I tend to agree with the above comments, they are laid back and tend to work best with only certain types of music. The Martin Logans, I think are a horrible speaker. I don't think they present well. I would have been very curious to hear them with B&W's maybe the 805s. In terms of switching away from McIntosh, I tend to really like McIntosh. Although I hear they have just been bought out by another company, but in terms of good looks, sound quality, build quality, I just dont they can be beat. I'll have to demo McIntosh Tubes and B&W's and if it still does not sound good with rock, I'll try some of the above tube equipment. I have pretty much made my mind though that tubes are the way to go, so I am a tube convert. lol. Thanks Everyone!
B&W 805s will not give you the bass you want for rock music and you'll need a sub.

I think the combo you will really like is Mac and B&W 803D.
This system will play anything from classical to jazz to heavy metal. Go to Stereo Exchange in NYC to listen to this.
or go to Rabsons on rt4 in Paramus to listen to 803D with CJ equipment, which will also give you some idea about the B&W D series.

MLs are not bad speakers, they're just not for you(and not for me either). They are good for certain types of music and certain type of listener, that's all.
I am sorry to hear you are having such a trying experience, but welcome to the club.

I just purchased the Cremonas a couple of days ago and have been very happy with how they perform with rock. Last night I was feeling a bit mellow and had a 3 hour Beatle fest..........amazing. I am using the Cremonas with Van Alstine.

Good Luck with your search.
No problem

In fact I use Lamm ML 2.1's (18 wpc SET) driving Wilson X-2 (750 lb speakers) with no sweat. In fact I can play R&R at ear bleeding levels without making the amps clip. The only thing which you won't experience is the in your chest visceral slam of the low end the SS provides.
Why are you confined to shopping at Harvey? If you are in NJ there must be tons of good audio store in both NJ and NYC. Why not shop around and find someone to set up a good tubes/rock demo for you with appropriate speakers? Happy listening!
musicaudio- if you like the mcintosh, then find the speakers to mate with them....i'm a big mac man and wouldn't have it any other system will definately rock and roll...

try not to limit yourself to one dealer- i'm sure they're are plenty of people in your area that have good systems and would be happy for you to stop by....good luck, brent
Insert high quality tube preamp, mix with high powered SS or chip amp, and you should be very close to the best of both...
My McIntosh 2102 serves a pair of Kef Referance 205 speakers. Yes, I do love my Rock-n-Roll!
The Cremona, despite its 90db/w/m efficiency rating, really doesn't perform to its potential on the output of the Mac 2102. You should have heard it with the MC402 -- the least McIntosh amp that expresses the synergy between the speaker and Mac gear. Going up the line only improves that match until the combination of MC1201s + Cremonas puts the speaker in another league entirely, cost ratio of amp:speaker be damned. And the Mac quad differential autoformer SS amps do a better job than most very high output PP tube amps, save possibly the top ARC, for less cost.

I can't live with the discontinuity in transient behavior of the ML, between the dynamic woofer and the ES panel.

Tubes can definitely put you in rock & roll bliss with snappier speakers that have much lower power requirements. Tubes, even SET using 845s, or a good PP amp like the Mac 2102, used with Zu Definitions or Zu Druids + Zu Method Sub easily give you rock impact and slam, with sonic definition preserved.

I'm near you. I'm in Valrico

Tube front end and solid state amp is my current preference.
And how. Like Oneobgyn, my Lamm ML2s rock the house on 18 watts...just need the proper speakers, in my case Avantgarde Duo worries here when I want to crank the White Stripes, Bad Brains, Minutemen, whatever.
push/pull have a shot...louspeakersare the critical component
being a guitarist, i look at it this way. tube guitar amps are the BEST way to get that great classic rock tone ala zepp, ac/dc, sabbath, cream ect.
I'm doing things a bit differently - SS pre (Simaudio) with a big tube amp (Rogue). PMC speakers.
I can rock the neighborhood! From Allmans Bros, to Moe, to the Who!
I am also a guitarist, and tube (guitar) amps are the only amps I own, so I figured......
Take your time, SHOP AROUND, and you will find your musical bliss out there.
...I was lucky enough to see them at Carnegie Hall in NYC during the "Completion Backward Principle" tour.

The acoustics were simply incredible for a rock show.

I've never witnessed a more sublime blend of musicianship, stage show and sound quality!

James "Mingo" Lewis (better known as an original Santana band member, but also in the original Tubes lineup) was in town and came on stage with a full drum kit to add to the quintessential final encore song, "W.P.O.D.".