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Generally Speaking...


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...speaking generally can at times be very misleading. Let's take the following statement:

"Tubes sound better than SS"

Yesterday I found out that this isn't always true.

Being perfectly happy with what I had, I decided to 'upgrade'. Since I'm doing almost as much time with the DVD player (movies) as I am with CD's - I decided I wanted to get a little more slam and transient attack back into my system. I purchased both a Bryston 3B-ST amp and BP-20 preamp off of AudiogoN.

The original plan was to roll the tubes in my Anthem Pre1L and mate it with the 3B-ST. When the BP-20 showed up on AudiogoN I more or less bought it out of curiosity, and figured it would be easy enough to sell off if I didn't like it.

The Bryston preamp showed up today, and I spent my lunch break swapping out the Anthem with the Bryston. I fired everything up and let the Amp1 warm up for about 20 minutes or so before I started a CD. So what we have at this point is a SS preamp mated to a middle of the road tube amp running stock Russian EL34's, a pair of Sieman 12au7's, and a stock Chinese 12ax7.

Now the way folk talk in general, (and I am actually exluding the likes of Mobile, Colin, and many others on this board who I am sure know better) - you would think that even a middle of the road tubed preamp would sound better than any or most SS units. However, that's not what I found.

In a way, I wanted the Bryston to sound bright and grainy so I could justify going to the next level - what I found was a smooth, effortless, open, and natural sounding treble. The bass was obviously tighter and there was less 'glare' at the higher SPL's.

The unit is obviously a better sounding unit than the Anthem Pre1L. It probably doesn't sound better than the superior tubed offerings - but it certainly sounds better than the Anthem.

I guess I can't be sure a retube wouldn't have pushed the Anthem over the top - but the Bryston does very, very good with the Amp1.

The 3B-ST should be showing up within the next week and I really have no idea what to expect. I have heard there is a special synergy between the BP-20 and 3B-ST and that is what I am hoping for.

Whatever the outcome - I'll be back either to whine or shout praise.

later, Dean

This message has been edited by deang on 02-07-2002 at 04:18 PM

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You are right. I have heard tube preamps that I didnt particularly like; in fact, I have never been too fond of the Anthem gear I have heard. I even think I mentioned this in the past in one of our exchanges. You could certainly do a lot better in the tube department. Some of your very complaints were things I noticed about the units as well. I alway found them a bit grainy and the amp just didnt have that much magic to me. It seemed a bit harsh and forward, which was surprising considering I was listening to it on a pair of older ProAc speakers, which are pretty smooth.

And I am quite familiar with the Bryston gear. It is generally one of the few brands of solid state gear I like. Although I have never heard their preamp outside a hi-fi hut, I think their amps are very nice with tremedous bass and excellent slam and articulation, almost to a fault (it borders on Hi-Fi sound to me..not quite..but close).

Still, I have always detected solid state sound in Bryston, although the ST series of amplifiers are far better in this regard. It is not horrifying by any means...but it is there, in my experience.

Yet, I am sitting here as I type, believe it or not, listening to a stereo, Class A, zero feedback (global), Monarchy Audio SM-70. I have had it on for a few hours...

What do I think? heh....


This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 02-07-2002 at 04:37 PM

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That Monarchy is still on my very short list. I will ultimately have to decide between it and that DIY kit we just talked about - I can't have them both.

I will probably keep the Bryston and buy the kit. I think it's time I actually learned something Smile.gif



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I know little or nothing about tube pre-amps, stopped looking when I got the Dynaco tube pre-amp years ago, I liked it with my SS amp, like it with my 2A3 amps better, have not heard my 2A3 amps with a SS pre-amp, will hear that soon though ...


Colin's Music System Cornwall 1s & Klipsch subs; lights out & tubes glowing!

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A tube preamp with solid state is a great compromise if you have to make one... I did it for 10 years before going all tube. To be honest, I have never liked solid state preamps with tube amps, no mater how good the preamp. Funny how it works that way. I dont mind a good passive with a tube amp, but a solid state preamp just seems to add a certain mechanical texture...a tactile nature that just does not mix with tube amps, no mater what kind. I have felt a passive and active tube preamp to both have their merits, ultimately preferring a good tube preamp if I had to make a choice.


Solid State has come a long, long way....



Phono Linn LP-12 Vahalla / Linn Basic Plus / Sumiko Blue Point

CD Player Rega Planet

Preamp Cary Audio SLP-70 w/Phono Modified

Amplifier Welborne Labs 2A3 Moondog Monoblocks

Cable DIYCable Superlative / Twisted Cross Connect

Speaker 1977 Klipsch Cornwall I w/Alnico & Type B Crossover

system one online / alternate components / Asylum Listing f>s>

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Possibly because of the quality of the Athem pre or possibly the Amp1. If you have a good tube amp, it seems as if a solid state preamp sort of compromises it in a way. I tell you one thing, a tube preamp with a good solid state amp is the better of the two compromises. I would be interested in your opinion how a top notch tube pre partnered with your 3B-ST.


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"I have never liked solid state preamps with tube amps, no mater how good the preamp. "

Oh great - my set up exactly - another thing to add to the budget - one tube pre-amp.

Any advice on what would be a good match for my KT88's?

So that's

One tube pre-amp.

Replace the monoblocks I have now with a 2A3 single ended blah blah.

Revisit the vinyl issue.

Just when I thought I liked my sound....


2 * Heresy 2 (mains)

2 * Homemade horn speakers (rears)

1 * REL Strata 3 sub

Accuphase E211 amp.

Tube monoblocks with separate pre-amp (solid state).

Marantz CD6000 player

Sony NS900 SACD/DVD player

Stax Headphones

Humax 5400 digital satellite receiver

Sharp Video

32" Sony flat screen 16:9 TV

Mogami interconnects

Silver Synergistic speaker cable

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I really like the combination of a Dynaco PAS4 tube preamp with the ss amp in my Outlaw receiver and my Klipschorns. I get the tube sound but also a real solid bass punch. I am looking forward to comparing this with an old EICO HF81 I recently purchased off ebay but have not yet found the time to hook-up and will probably need to upgrade.


Soundog's HT Systems

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