Which 300B SET for SF Guarneri Homage?

Driving my Guarneri with a Pass Aleph 3 amp(with audio aero capitole mkIISE cdp+pre), which goes quite well, but thinking of upgrading amp to a couple of 300B monoblocks...
The thing is this is a tricky change because, among other things, the Pass is built like a tank and is an excellent amp. So I want to make the decision carefully with no hurries...
Considering as an option the Coincident Frankenstein's but i'm not too informed about tube amps.
I listen to all sorts of music though fav is Opera, so my expectations with the change would go on the line of getting a more real life experience.
I wonder if anyone had any experience of driving these 87db sensitivity, 6-8ohm speakers with a SET and would appreciate opinions or suggestions
Hi Don, As a fellow owner of GH's, I have heard them with a number of different amps. IMHO, GH's don't really work well with Single ended low power amps. As you state, the GH's are 87db efficient, which is a bit of a tough deal for low power or flea power SE amps. I think the GH's need at least 50+ watts/ch.and more is a lot better.
You do not say how much power the amps you are considering put out, so I can only guess that since they are 300b's that they are putting out less power than 50 watts/ch.
My experience:

I usually drive my GH's with either a Pass XA30.5 or my vintage Marantz 8b. Lately, I've been driving them with a pair of Cary 300b SE Signature monoblocks with very pleasing results. The 300b holds a mystical/musical quality in the midrange that just draws me in.

My advice:

All 300b amps are not created equal. You will want one with nice transformers and power supply and of good design. Your GH's deserve it. Good luck.
I've actually heard this combination with your speakers ....Cary 805 amps with WE 300B drivers and RCA 845 output tubes. SET on steriods without losing any of the inner detail.
Your speakers present a very favable load for an SET amp, this means as much if not more than the sensitivity rating in many cases. How large is your room and at what volume do you listen? I`ve owned the Coincident Frankenstin MK2 for a year and they are peerless in my opinion when matched with an appropriate speaker load, This amp has a premiun power supply and custom- overbuilt transformers.It has excellent drive capacity(driver tube is 6em7 rather rhan the common 6sn7). I would email Coincident owner Israel Blume, he`s yery responsive and quite candid regarding what will and won`t work with his amplifiers.
Best Regards
Thanks all for the advise; i listen at somewhat low levels at a distance of 8' to the speakers (room is about 19x19 although irregular). Cheers,
Given your preferred listening level and moderate room size I feel the Frankenstein amp will serve you very well. Keep in mind this amp utilizes an interstage transformer in place of coupling capacitors in the signal path, this will provide a pure and natural tone without a mechanical/electronic sonic character.
Canary 300B amps are awesome.
My friend has the Canary Ca-339 300B amps on the Cabasse Iroise. Great combination.
Dongiovanni, I looked up the output of the Coincident Frankenstein's. They put out a max of 8watts/ch! I would be VERY surprised if this amp could drive the GH's.( especially since you have a fairly large room) I noticed that Coincident also makes another model-- The Dragon; which puts out a max of 75 watts/ch. IMHO, that amp would be a far better choice. Do you have a chance to listen to the Coincident/GH combo before buying.. That is what I would suggest if you have the opportunity.
Have you personally heard these amplifiers? I have and forming an opinion based simply based on specs alone is`nt good advice at all.Per the stereophile measurements this speaker has a very favorable load and phase angle(8 ohm nominal and minimum 5.8 ohm0 with it`s 87db sensitivity and the given listening preference of the OP the Frankenstein could work quite well. The Dragon amp would certainly drive these spearkers but the OP expressed an interest in the 300b amp. I`ve experienced a number of times when a lower powered tube amp(with good transformer and PS) have matched or outperformed a higher power rated amp on speakers with a suitable load. Numbers don`t always tell the whole story.
Charles1dad, have you heard these amps with the GH's? I admit I have not, BUT I have heard several low powered 300B amps with these speakers that are clearly a poor match . What you end up listening to is basically distortion. I think YOUR advice is actually very poor IF you haven't heard the amp/speaker combo that the OP is asking about. My suggestion, IF you read my post, was for the OP to try and hear the Frank/GH combo for himself and then decide. That is really the only way that I know of wherein one could be absolutely sure that the combo works well enough for the OP's taste.I agree that numbers don't always tell the whole story, however, as I own the GH's ( Do You also?) I know that these speakers do NOT work well with lower powered amps and are NOT that easy to drive ( Plus, I have a much smaller room than the OP!) So, a safe bet would be the Dragon's and the Frankenstein's a very questionable choice, IMHO ( regardless of the transformer and PS).
BTW, your point about numbers also applies to your statement that the GH's have a very favorable load and phase angle ( aren't these numbers?)
We both can agree that listening to the GH/Frankenstein combo would be ideal. I`ve not heard this GH just as you`ve not heard the amp in question. I did place this amp on a friends 89db/8 ohm speaker in a larger room than the OP`s room and they sounded very good and strain free. All 300b SET amps are`nt created equal and yes, power supply and transformers matter greatly. Based on my experience wirh this amp(which the OP specified by the way) I simply feel it could be a good match. Regarding numbers some are more relavant than others. Certainly in this case the known load characteristics of a speaker is critical when considering a match with SET amplifiers as oppose to just knowning the wattage rating without context.Can we also agree that all 10, 50, 200watt etc. amps don`t preform the same despite identical power ratings
I second one of the earlier posters - Canary CA-339 - 50 watts of push-pull 300B power. Everything you like about 300B's but with real world power.
Built like a tank and weighing nearly the same.
Available for reasonable amount used on Audiogon fairly regularly.
I think the OP may be getting a little confused at this point. Will it work or won't it? My answer still is, "it could".

I haven't heard the CF's paired with the GH's so I don't know how "that" pairing would work and even if I have, what works for me may not for the OP.

What I gleaned from reading the topic was:

His 30 watts from his Aleph 3 was sufficient for him.

He likes Opera (midrange?), he's not looking for louder, he wants a more "real life" experience and wants to try a 300b. I think the "right" 300b amp might give him that (for ultimate purity, try and stay single ended). My Cary 300b's put out 15 wpc. That's 3 db less power/not a big deal/might work for him/does for me. I get a beautiful midrange.

The dream would be for him to try an amp out and see for himself. The reality is, that's going to be tough. So, short of that, you gather as much info as you can and make the best decision.

How loud is probably the most important factor. With the 87 db spec, you will not get 107 db out of any 300b single ended amp. On the other hand, you can you can get 77 db with 1/10th of a watt, 67 db with 1/100th of a watt. Ever hear how loud 67 or 77 db is? Not so loud for some, enough for others. (Factor in listening distances and the size of the room).

So again, in a 300b/GH pairing, I say "it could" work. Depends on how loud and the quality of the amp.

Where is my award? I want my award! ;-)
That was a very good post. I agree with the COULD work given the OP stating his listening level is modest and he sits only 8 feet away. Eight quaility watts may very well be enough, with a revealing system 65-80db is plenty of volume.
Guys, I think you are missing the point here a little... Sure the Frankenstein COULD work and maybe the OP would be happy with them. BUT, the Frankenstein might not/probably wouldn't work with the SF GH's. It seems to me that if the OP doesn't have the opportunity to listen to this combo himself, it would be far more prudent to acquire an amp that very definitely WILL work with the GH's.
The Dragon amp by the same Co. WILL work with these speakers; not COULD work with these speakers-- I think we can all agree on that.
As an owner of the GH's, and having tried this very speaker with low powered 300B amps, I know as a FACT that the300B amps that I have tried with this speaker do NOT work well ( at least in my small room). Unless you own this speaker and the amp in question, all else is supposition. At the end of the day, UNLESS the OP is able to hear the Frank/GH combo for himself, then it is a crap shoot as to what the result will be for him.Knowing these speakers, like I do, I personally wouldn't take that risk. Just IMHO.
The Border Patrol 300B cannot express any high frequencies when mated with Guarneri Hommage that acts like a HF filter!!!
The Goldmund Mimesis 8.4 monoblocks 185 Watts cannot express their speed & finesse either with Guarneri that acts like a brake, destroying the tonal quality of both!!!
Don't get fooled by their size or the tricky specifications:
They need plenty of room to breath their image & voice capabilities and they are VERY demanding of the amplifier that feeds them.
As a comparison example I let you know that a Proac Response 5 in the same small room (3x5 meters) with the same set-up, feels much better and plays the same SPL for half the volume setting!!! (and loves the Border Patrol as much as the Goldmund. In fact I could never manage to clearly prefer one over the other so I pick them both for it).
The Guarneris are going to mask the delicacy of a highly sophisticated but week in current power amp. Also they refuse to open-up the midrange and keep even an average bass foundation if your amp does not have plenty of reserve power both with a full body & robust personality. (in a contradiction the Krells can't do it right).
Make no mistake here. They want big & "beefy" amps. (At the Sonus Faber factory they use an integrated Accuphase).
Also, the minimum room for them is about 5x6 meters otherwise they cannot image the scene (no soundstage at all).
The absolutely best amp that I really love to pair with them is the Jadis Defy 7. (despite I am a 300B SET fun).
I'm afraid you have to choose between SET & Guarneri.
But in a small room & with a preference to low listening volume level...I'm sorry. I wish you to get rid of them and find a way to better serve your listening & not your decorative needs. You see the reviewers are not allowed to inform the people for the specific needs of the Guarneri so, we can assume that is just another small & manageable mini monitor...
So far from the truth!!!
Good luck

FWIW: find a way to listen the Transmission Audio M1i

George, I do agree with you that the GH's like a little stick up front. Along with my 65 watt/ch tube amp, I also use, to get a different perspective, a 250 watt/ch Rowland amp. The GH's have no problem at all with 250 watts/ch! OTOH, I don't agree with your comment that the GH's need a room of 5x6 meters otherwise they cannot image!... I have mine in a 3 X 3.5 meter room and they image very nicely and are able to portray depth well. This room size is not ideal, BUT you can get the GH's to work in a small room, albeit with a lot of experimentation.
I drive my GH with a Viva Solista SE amp, no issues!

Great sound, dynamics, punch... Everything is there.... Saying that, and since the 845 tube is a different thing than a 300B I should audition first.
I appreciate all the informative opinions to aid my decision.
The ideal thing would be to try it, but that won't be possible.
An additional thing is that i have a SF Gravis active sub to help with the bass (cutoff below 42) connected to the amps outputs; i don't know if this factors at all on the equation.
My personal experience is that the SF GH are driven pretty easily by the Pass, but this is 30w.
Dongiovanni, I don't think having the sub help with the bass is going to make much difference. As I stated above, the GH's need a little stick up line. The Pass
at 30 watts has the ability, current wise, to drive the GH's to a satisfying level in your room, helped by the fact that you are not asking it to push much bass. An 8watt 300B SE amp is a different deal. It could work, BUT I doubt it would be satisfying at all; as Flg2001 pointed out, the 300B tube is not like an 845 tube or 211 which in the Dragon puts out 75watts/ch. Since you are unable to listen for yourself, then you had better get return privileges from the dealer/manufacturer, if you insist on trying the flea powered amps.
I forgot to mention that I use a Velodyne DD18 with the GH with good results, the sub fills the <45Hz that the Guarneris miss to reproduce, I cut the sub at 90dB with a soft 12dB rollout.
As you have noted, many suggestions and points of view. Since the original question was concerning the Frankenstein I`ll just say again this amp is`nt a typical 300b amp, it has been found to have exceptional drive capacity and given your moderate listening demands who really knows the end result. As I say in an earlier post email or call Israel Blume he know both his amps better than all of us posting on this thread and he will certainly be honest and upfront.
Best of luck
Charlers1dad, We know that you like and enjoy your Frankenstein amp. What you seem to keep missing, is the point that knowing this amp well is frankly fairly irrelevant. Asking Israel about his amp is not the question, the question is how well he knows the SF GH's? Because, once again, unless anyone, including Israel, would have extensive knowledge of the pairing ( the Franks AND the GH's) then any recommendation on the pairing is pure supposition.
Could the pairing work, would the pairing work, is it likely the pairing would work...WHo knows!! What we do know is that the OP will NOT have a chance to listen to the pairing and therefore would be taking IMHO an enormous risk if it didn't, which again IMHO is HIGHLY likely. What we also know is that there are several good candidates that WILL work... Even one of Israel's own designs.
I don't have much experience with the GH (I have friends with other speakers from that manufacturer -- Anniversarios, Stardivari, Elipsa) and none of these were SET friendly. I heard the Anniversarios on a top quality pushpull 300B amp and even in pushpull configuration, the lack of bass control was very evident. I am a fan of lowpowered SET (I own an Audionote Kageki), but, these are extremely specialized items that should be used only on appropriate speakers.

The only kind of SET I would consider would be an amp using 845s or 211s because these put out significantly more power than a 300b. I have heard, and liked, the Viva Solista, though I have not heard them with Sonus Faber speakers. Another higher-powered SET that I like is the THE Wyetech amp that uses 211s (I believe it is called the Topaz).

I am also very partial to output transformerless amplifiers. These tend to be very fast and sound very lively and "present." I really like the immediacy of the OTL sound, something one can also get with certain SET amps (but only with very high efficiency speakers), but OTLs make that kind of sound available to a broader array of applications. Atmasphere makes OTLs at the 30 and 60 watt power levels that should be fine for your application. Joule makes OTLs that sound warmer than the Atmasphere models, if a warmer sound is what you want (the 300b sound is on the warmer side).

Good luck on your search.
Larryi, I think what you posted is very good advice. Generally the whole SF line is NOT really low powered/flea powered SE friendly. Like you say there are SE amps that are a better match for these speakers;however, none of them that I am aware of use a 300B tube.
As an additional note about the Frankenstein's, on his page about these, Arthur Salvatore mentions the exceptional power/volume capability of these monoblocks and hints - as possible reason - at the current delivery / 6EM7 input-driver tube.
Well folks, in the end I got the coincident frankensteins... with safety net, in case they wouldn't work. Got them yesterday so no time to burn-in but so far my conclusions are:
-gorgeous sound driving my guarneri homage (a sf gravis attached too)
-fat, rich, smooth transparent sound
-sounds good also on orchestral or rock (eg wagner's flying dutchman's or led zeppelin)
-these 8W per monoblock sound like much more power
Thanks for all your inputs!
Congratulations, based on my own experience wirh these special amps I felt there was a very good chance for a sucessful match with your SF speakers. Given your listening preferences, the speaker`s load characteristics and the Frankenstein`s very exceptional drive capacity I just believed the chance for failure was rather low. As you now have realized this is`nt an average 300b SET but instead a quite powerful 8 watt amp with great attention paid to it`s transformers and .massive power supplies. The good news is the Franks are going to improve in drive,dynamics and transparency over about the next 100 to 200 hours, you`re going to be extremely impressed. I`m glad you took the chance to buy these amps despite the cautious warnings by other well meaning posters.Enjoy.
I for one am not surprised that these 300b amps work on some speakers that some wouldn't think possible. You really have to listen to them with different speakers before you can form a conclusion.They do open up 300b SET possiblities to people who thought could not drive their speakers.
Congrats and enjoy!
Don, have you put more time on your Frank's yet?
If so, I am curious as to your thoughts when your system is
required to reproduce dynamics?
I think that the posts between Charles1dad and Daveyf offer an excellent example of the different expectations audiophiles have of their systems. Nobody is wrong, IMO. The fact is, you don't need a lot of watts to make music if you don't place great value on those elements that are enhanced by additional watts. Fortunately, choosing an amplifier for a given speaker isn't quite fraught with the smoke and mirrors issues of say, choosing speaker cables. There's a lot of hard science behind choosing how much power to provide a speaker, and results are more predictable, based on the numbers, than they are with many of the other choices audiophiles have to make. I agree with you Charles1dad, that an amplifier's wattage isn't everything (my current 25W amp sounds more powerful than my former 75W amp), but Daveyf isn't quite shooting from the hip just because he hasn't heard this combo himself, IMO. I've seen more than a few jaws drop when longtime owners of a less efficient speakers, paired with an SET, heard what that same speaker was capable of when paired with an amp that offered reserves of power.

Dongiovanni, it's great that this pairing works for you. Congratulations and happy listening.
"heard what that same speaker was capable of when paired with an amp that offered reserves of power."

I should have written:

heard what that same speaker was capable of when paired with an amp of comparable quality that offered reserves of power.
A keen observation you make, all amps are`nt equals just looking at power ratings. As others have pointed out the Frankenstein is far from a generic 300b SET amp. For sure the`re 300b amps that would fail at driving Don`s speakers(no arguement) but with the knowledge of personal ownership and an understanding of the design priorities and it`s sucessful implementation, plus hearing this amp with several moderately effiecient speakers mate very well I felt Don had a good chance at sucess. I don`t question Daveyf`s experiences with this speaker, he was simply unfamiliar with this particular amplifier.It`s worked out well for Don and that`s all that matters.
I agree with you Phaelon; your observation of how a 'phile's jaw drops once they hear their less efficient speakers driven by a quality amp with power reserves, is my general observation also.
I actually am beginning to think that in many ways Charles1dad and I are talking of the same thing. It's true, I have not heard the Frank amps or with the SF GH's combo. He also apparently hasn't heard the SF GH's and therefore neither the combo. I don't question his experience with the Frank amps; He doesn't question my experience with the GH's. Turns out that the OP seems to be happy with the combo...which is clearly to do with his expectations. Good for Don.
Would this combo work for me or other 'philes with different expectations?
Who knows, BUT I very seriously doubt it would be to my liking.
Luckily, to each their own applies in this hobby..:0)
Well said, personal preference is the key to ultimate satisfaction with one`s audio system. You have to know what sound/music reproduction makes you happy and just try to obtain it to the best of your ability, many roads lead to Rome. It seems we both have sucessfully found our paths.
I was leery of the Frankenstein's "lack" of power- until I got them. It's a damn robust 8 wpc, and I like to listen at pretty loud volumes. Couldn't comment when the thread came up, because one is never sure how a purportedly low power SET amp will perform with a not so sensitive speaker....but I had a strong hunch he'd really enjoy the Frankensteins. They are remarkable amplifiers- so much so that my beloved MastersounD Compact 845 amp is off on temporary loaner duty while I continue to explore what the Frankensteins can do. They're that good. Don, what I can tell you is that if you like the Franks, consider getting the Coincident Extreme IC's for them- opens up a whole new door of transparency with the Franks. Did you get them from Israel with the Shuguang Treasure Black Bottles? If not, I'd say go for that, too. Yet another decent upgrade to the amplifiers.
Afc makes a good point regarding the Shuguang Treasure series(black glass) tubes. I use these also, as good as the stock 300b is the treasure tubes are better in every way. They`re more dynamic, open, natural and transparent. They reveal just how low the noise floor of the amp really is. You`ll hear the most subtle nuance and inner details that seem to make the music come alive. the only down side is increased cost, but they`re worth it.
Yes, i guess it will depend on the listener's expectations, and there are so many factors involved that even cables i suppose will affect the combo. The truth is i was a bit puzzled of what could happen, but i'm really pleasantly surprised at the response i got: sounds like more power than my previous amp, more spaciousness, bigger soundstage, fuller sound (more on the vynil side) even though i play cd's. I think it's also quite dynamic: i even tried a chesky presentation disk and sounds good on the dynamic test tracks. Who knows how it sounds with the coincident dragon's - maybe much better. But for my expectations it sounds very good, so i don't need to pay the extra $$..
I did get the shuguang treasures from the beginning. I use nordost spm as speaker cables and aftermarket prepared short nordost valhalla IC with WBT connectors. I imagine the coincident IC's are good but not sure how they compare with the nordost. I'm waiting to try the 16ohm speaker b.post after i have the tubes somewhat more burnt-in, to compare with the 8 ohm binding post i'm using now. By the way, do you notice any difference with tube dampers - is it worth it? Anyway, thanks a lot for all the suggestions
Hi Don,
As good as those tubes are out of the box,the black bottles will take a while to burn in,around 500+ hours but are well worth the wait.
I am using Pearl tube cooler/dampers with my Franks. The help to reduce the microphonics and you really feel the heat coming off the tubes. Israel recommended them when I was experiencing a slight microphonic issue after going to the treasures from the Full music carbons.
After borrowing or audititioning different interconnects from MIT's to Nordest and a few inbetween, the Coincident Extreme interconnects worked the best for me. They sound like they are not there is the best way to discribe its effect on my system.
After that I went for Extremes from power chord to speaker cable. The intial interconnect switch I made, had the biggest impact for me.
I would love for you to hear those amps with a high efficent speaker of 94+ with a stable impedence curve. That would really display the dynamics of these 300b`s
Glad you are enjoying these special amps. After nearly three years I look forward to listening as much as I did when I first got them.

Don, if you go for it, I think the Extreme IC's will be a sizable upgrade for you.

I too use Pearl Tube Coolers. The guys at Parts Connexion have them...they'll tell you that Pearl doesn't make a cooler for the 300B tubes, but Israel says the PF-150's fit the 300B tubes just fine. Do NOT go with the Dragon tube dampers for the 300B tubes- mine keep falling off the shoulders of my 300B tubes, and you can't mount them from below. Do the coolers work? I haven't had many problems with microphonics, but you can notice it if you tap the 300B's lightly, but as I said, can't hear it when playing music, to my ears at least. But they will, by the cooling effect, probably increase tube life, which makes them worth it IMO.
Hello, I don't know if this response is still needed. I used to own the SFGH, then decided to change to Merlin TSM, which I don't regret. Later got the Berning ZH270: I do regret not having kept the GH until hearing them with the Berning, as I seem to remember, that this team was very much in Serblins ear..
If you can, try it - I would certainly try that, probably now a ZH230, to which I've just switched, so I am partial :-))