I went tube integrated around 20 years ago. Very happy with my Melody but if it ever died that PrimaLuna integrated would be my first stop. And, from what I've been able to gather, probably last. Seems to me they have absolutely nailed everything you really need in a good integrated.
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Tubes are simply more interesting as you can swap 'em out (you eventually have to do that anyway, so that part of "interesting" is built in) to adjust tonal preferences, they look cool...my 7581a tubes have that blue glow fluorescence, their linearity and harmonic "musicality" are what solid state stuff often claims to resemble yet rarely manages to cop the mojo, and a great tube amp actually does reveal stuff you could be missing in your recordings...besides, when friends come around you can bore the crap out of them by showing off your tubes...trust me on that one. Has anyone ever said, "hey man...look at this lovely Class D module?" Maybe somebody has, but who cares?
I have a friend who has the older version of the Cornwalls and I’ve heard them extensively driven by a VTL IT-85 and First Watt J2 (using pre-out from VTL) and we both agreed the J2 sounded much better. Another option if you decide to stay with solid state. He had a Line Magnetic integrated before getting the J2. We both felt the J2 sounded more balanced and less fatiguing especially at higher listening levels, contrary to our expectations.
I have owned many solid state amps. I researched and finally went for a Primaluna Dialogue HP loaded with KT150s with Brymar gain tubes and I am done with amps! This thing rocks. The 8 KT 150s (thank you Kevin) give you bass that is soooooo authoritative it’s simply amazing. Ran them with ML Ethos speakers for years until I moved to Schmidtlambrixaudio Monk 801 speakers and now I can say I am done. Did not think I would ever get here but power of Primaluna with precise imaging and detail of Monk 801s and can not stop listening. Word of caution though... poorly engineered recordings will not be rewarded. These speakers will amaze with good recordings but so accurate that any issue with bad quality sound will be exposed. Good engineered tracks will keep you coming back for more!
I own the Primaluna Dialogue HP integrated. It's great. I do, however, think, you might want to try a SET amp. You do not need much power to make those C-Walls sing. I should know. Why? Because I have Klipsch Forte IIIs (in addition to less efficient speakers) and they sound better with a SET amp than the Primaluna, in my room.
You could start with a Dennis Had amp (find him on eBay--he's the former owner of Cary Audio). Wolfe (above) has one. https://www.ebay.com/itm/STEREO-TUBE-AMPLIFIER-INSPIRE-by-DENNIS-HAD-300B-TRIODE-SINGLE-ENDED-AMPLIFIER/153463991221?hash=item23bb2aabb5:g:j7sAAOSw~PVcwdjC
I built the Elekit 8600 300B amp recently reviewed in Stereophile. In a few nights you can have SET nirvana for ~$2K--if you do all the upgrades. https://www.stereophile.com/content/gramophone-dreams-27-elekit-tu-8600r-amplifier-kit
If i may butt in here for just a moment and derail this topic momentarily to ask a question because it has to do with tubes. I just switched out my Callia DAC for the MHDT Orchid which has a tube output. So far it sounds REAL good (not yet broken in) and i am happy i made the switch. Problem is, i do not have volume control or very little via Tidal. So, my question is, is it possible to use (temporarily) the callia which has volume control or say a Mojo DAC which also acts as a preamp without it bypassing the Orchid? And lastly, i was thinking about getting the Schiit Freya preamp, it has tubes so would that kill the hybrid sound i now have or enhance it? Any comments, good or not so good would be helpful...
I’m Single-Ended Triode. I also like mechanical watches. I have a SS amp down below for the family system. Like a mechanical watch - it wins before turning it on. I am enjoying my wife coming up to my cave to hear the music she can’t hear on the SS. To be fair, I spent 10X as much on it. Just like my watches.
Edit - add:
@15W/channel - I am near field, but never go above 30% dial. I have run Martin Logan 35XT and not Watkins gen four (wow). No issues with power. Pushing ribbon, I understand I need more power. So not pushing ribbon.
As a lifelong user of class AB and recently class D ss amplification mainly out of necessity with my multiple succession of inefficient Magnepan speakers, I'd recommend going for the Primaluna and tubes or even a SET, especially with your highly efficient Klipsch Cornwall IIIs. You'd still have the option of switching back to your ss McIntosh during the summer or whenever you desired.
I owned a pair of the original very efficient Klipsch Heresy speakers in college 40 yrs ago and still regret not even contemplating driving them with tube amplification.
I didn't even realize until years later how spectacularly beautiful music can sound with good tube amps driving well matched speakers.
Ever since listening to my 1st high quality system about 35 yrs ago, I've considered tubes as having a certain mystique and, please excuse the oxymoron, a certain coolness. I've since experienced several friend's tubed systems, always impressed with the sound performance but also with the tubes glowing in the darkness that, imho, just adds to the enjoyment of listening to good music well reproduced.
Note that Dennis Had's amps are almost unobtainium and I found mine, a late 2016 sep ("p" for pentode), simply from a lucky Ebay score. You can buy the mono blocks from Moon Audio but they're pricey although likely worth it. My little Firebottle version is 12wpc or something (depending on the tubes you stick in it) and drives Klipsch Herersy IIIs with gusto. A Steampunk tone monster that has astonished me from day one. I'm also a mechanical watch freak...latest faves are an Oris Divers '65 with the distorted deco-ish numbers, and a Ball Trainmaster Power Reserve (tritium glow tubes...who doesn't like those?)...another hobby that exactly zero of my friends care about.
I follow Had's stuff on Ebay as one of my "saved sellers" (in fact the only one of those), and if I actually felt the need for another Had amp I'd buy that 300B version immediately (I wonder why his amps don't sell in the first hour of listing 'em)...still, "almost" unobtanium seems accurate when a very well regarded amp designer manages a couple of dozen Ebay only amps a year, likely because of commitments to build the Inspire headphone amp for Moon as well as the previously mentioned mono amps...by the way the mono amps are 25 watts each and at 4 grand a pair seem to represent a serious bargain in this Kondo Ongaku $95,000 world. Buy a Had amp pair and save over 90,000 bucks...money to bribe the kid into college, get that Porsche Cayman, buy your own massage parlor...endless possibilities...
I switched in January this year from refurbished Dyneco monoblocks to a Primaluna Dialogue HP powering Tekton speakers with 95 or so db sensitivity. The PL is really some amp, loving it. However I want to add that although I'm not familiar with your Cornwalls from this thread it seems they are efficient and some advice was that you can go with a lower powered tube integrated. I have my system ina fairly large room with a high vaulted ceiling and I sometimes like to listen loud. Upscale thought I'd be fine with a regular Dialogue at 36 watts but my Dynecos were 60 and barely doingbit so went with the HP at 72 watts and I've used every watt. I've had it turned up almost to full a few times, depending on the volume of the source recording. If you like to occasionally recreate a live rock concert at home then don't be shy about watts.
Several customers of ours have commented to us that our M-60s make the Tannoys sound the best of any amplifier they've tried. I get these comments but its rare that they tell me what the other amps are. It does appear though that if the amplifier is low distortion that the speaker benefits from having more power. When the power is clean it does not sound loud- IMO/IME that is a sign of a really good system.
I have come to the conclusion the best compromise is to use Tube and Solid State in combination. Tubes for Pre-amp, and Tubes for Power Mid range and Highs, and Solid State for Bass. This can be achieved by bi amp or Sub-woofer. I prefer Sub-woofers. I would recommend SET amp. There is no right answer - I guess.
I've never seen a tube driven sub, so an all tube pre/amp system (as I have) with one or two (or a swarm) of solid state amp driven subs seems fairly normal, and using 2 RELs with the mains left alone works for me. The tube amp I use is a 12wpc or so single ended thing, and the subs total 250 watts...sounds sublime.
In my last few systems I’ve had sucess using a tube pre-amp with a SS amp.You get the bottom authority of SS, with the sonic signiture of a tube.The braun, with the warmth, without the need of expensive power tubes.
You get the same (if well designed) just by going Class-A solid state.
This is why I suggested to mfdamon OP to look at the new 25w Class-A Schiit Aegir which would have no trouble with his 102db Klipsch Cornwall III’s