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Tube Wannabe Newbie

mxr dad

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Alright, thats it. I cant take it anymore. I have been lurking and reading about tubes and I have got to get some tube gear or I my mind just wont stop thinking about it. I just dont have a clue where to start, especially with a limited budget.

First, I want to try tubes with my recently purchased LaScalas. Right now, I have an older Sony receiver that has pre-outs so I have a Crown XLS 602 Pro Amp used as amp, with the Sony as pre amp, pushing the LaScalas. Its alright but I want something to "WOW" me since I havent experienced that in a while.

I beleive this may be a start:

I'm leaning towards a tube preamp and still use the Crown XLS 602 for the amp. Based on my lurking, this may be better than a tube amp and a SS pre amp??? Any thoughts on this theory? My problem is I have no idea what to look for when looking for tube gear. My budget demands I buy used, so any suggestuions on a nice set up for my LaScalas would be greatly appreciated. And if someone has something for sale, and its in my budget, I would be very interested. Also, if my budget doesnt allow right now, maybe I can save a little and get it later. I just dont know what to look for.

I figure I might as well get something decent right off the bat instead of working my way up like I did the speaker trail. It was a fun journey and I learned a lot, but I dont want to do that with this. I know I'm hooked and I wont stop till I get something decent, so I might as well do it right the first time. (Of course, limited budget comes into play so I know I may not get the absolute best, something in the middle should be just fine).


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Guest David H

Where tube amps are concerned you can basically spend as much as you want. Some of the tube amps that I have used that were exceptional with Lascala's is the Onix SP-3 40w and the Dared VP-20 20w, both are budget integrated amps that sound great, and can be had in the $500 range.

Classic amplifiers like Scott, Dynaco, Fisher, Heathkit, and Eico are incredible if serviced correctly, but can be very costly. My preference is EL-84/6BQ5 based tube amps.

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Hey mxr dad,

Here is a shameless [:$] plug for a HH Scott 299D that I have listed in the Garage Sale section:


It was completely rebuilt by Craig in August and I have been using it with my Klipschorns with very nice results.
I have tried both SS and tubes with my KHorns, and for my ear, tubes are a much better listen.

Anyways, give my link a look and maybe do a few searches and see what the other members think about how
Heritage go with NOS Valve Scotts.

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Tube pre-amplifiers for big ole horns

With their ultra-high efficiency and amazingly low

distortion, big ole horns love tubes. Tube pre-amplifiers or amplifiers with

big ole horns make music, but only if you ignore conventional solid-state and

cone driver specifications. Let your ears do the listening. (Just look at the Total

Harmonic Distortion of a violin or trumpet – it is enormous!)

Many horn lovers think that tube pre-amplifiers are better

than tube amplifiers with big ole horns. They do have a point. It is a good way

to soften the harsh jitter of digital sources. And although the sheer wattage output

of amplifier doesn’t matter as much with ultra-efficient horns, even tiny class

T solid-state chip amplifiers, such as Red Wine, Trends or Sonic Impact, will still

provide plenty of bass control compared to all but the most beefy tube amplifiers.

So check out frequent forum poster Craig at his NOSvalves.com for ideas of vintage

integrated tube pre and power amplifiers. Vintage equipment must be checked

before judging it. Just like an old car that you are putting back on the road,

many of the worn parts need replacing. There is a wait while the unit is being refurbished,

but the result compares with far more expensive new equipment.

These vintage integrated amplifiers have a lot more going on

in them, and much more to offer than any of the modern integrated amplifier.

You get a REAL preamp section, with a PHONO

stage, FIXED bias which runs the output tubes properly, tube rectification, a

balance control and tone controls.

An integrated amplifier with pre-amplifier outputs will let

you run the horns either with tube power or with your existing solid-state amplifier.

Even better is passive dual-amplification, with tubes on the mid & high end

and solid-state amplifier on the bass bin. But that is a topic for another


Tube pre-amplifier brands to look for are the same as the amplifiers.

Look for classic brands like Scott, Eico, Fisher, Pilot, Dynaco, HK, Heathkit,

Bogen, Knight, possibly Quad, Quicksilver. Consider new ones like ASL

and Cayin. Certainly the excellent pre-amplifiers of the now sadly defunct

Juicy Music. See my EnjoyTheMusic.com


You could also investigate better placement, nicer cables

and room treatments. All of which will make your big ole horns sing like no

other low cost musical solution can do.

Posted: 12/19/2003 4:57 PM 10/30/2009

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Hey there Power, thats not a shamless plug, I did ask if anybody had some for sale so thanks for adding it. Thanks to all for their input. I'm trying to curve the addiction a little with the amp / preamp and bypass the upgrade bug. For example, heres a brief history for the speaker upgrade-itis:

The smallest Klipsch I have is the 2.1 computer speakers. A close second is a pair of KG .5. Then a pair of KSP 300, then a pair of RF 5's, and I am up to LaScalas now. Who knows, maybe the bug will bite again but for now, the LaScalas are keeping the bug at bay.Thats not really the exact path of upgrade, I think the upgrade-itis started after the KSP 300's. Then came the RF 5's and then the LaScalas. The others were just for the kids.

I just know my mind keeps thinking tubes, so I'm trying hard to get a preamp or amp thats not necessarily top of the line, but I dont want just something that I will upgrade later. Kinda meeting in the middle. Thats so hard to achieve when the bug bites.

I'll take a look at Powers link and start my research. Thanks again!

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Giving us some more info on your needs and budget would be helpful, if you need a phono preamp and have a budget of around $1K you couldn't go wrong with a used Audible Illusions M3A, this preamp has been around for many years for good reason.

I think if you really want to experience the sound of tubes you would be better off getting both a tubed preamp and amp, or a tubed integrated. The vintage gear people here are suggesting are great choices. Keep in mind your speakers are very efficient and thus don't require a lot of power. You also need to decide between a PP amp and a SET amp. PP will give you more power with better bass and SET will give a more relaxed sound. I prefer the sound of an SET amp but it depends on your listening preferences, if you listen to mostly rock at higher levels then you should be looking at a PP (push pull amp) but if you listen to jazz and more acoustic type instruments it's hard to beat a SET (single ended triode) amp, guess it's all a matter of choice.

Take a look at Audiogon and Audio Circle for used amps, there are quite a few good deals right now, probably due to the economy.

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mxr dad, my first tube amp was a Cayin TA 30 with Forte II's, a dramatic change over the SS Marranz. There are several threads on the forum on it, I've added a review from GoodSound, that is worth reading. I still have the Cayin and trade it in and out of my livingroom system, need to cut back, if you're interested email me.



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If you're just starting out with tubes you might want to take a look at the old Dynaco stuff, ST70 and PAS2 & 3 can be had for a few hundred bucks.The other stuff mentioned is fine too. Just make sure that its been refurbished by a reputable source or expect to do so if you want to keep it and to assure that the sound quality is representative of what to expect from tube gear.

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I have a Conrad Johnson PV 10A tube preamp I'd part with for $500. Only reason I'm selling is that I recently picked up a Blueberry. It's a really nice preamp and the phono stage sounds wonderful. I think it would work nicely with your Crown. You could make payments for up to 3 months if that helps.

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I have a Conrad Johnson PV 10A tube preamp I'd part with for $500. Only reason I'm selling is that I recently picked up a Blueberry. It's a really nice preamp and the phono stage sounds wonderful. I think it would work nicely with your Crown. You could make payments for up to 3 months if that helps.

if you dont sell by the first of the year I might be interested.



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  • 7 years later...

Yes; wanted to try tube amps also. But wasn't ready to shell out thousands of $$'s. (Aside from being a Klipsch "nut," I do have another hobby - boats - unfortunately even more expensive than Klipsch :( ) So, got a (cheap) Pilot 230 tube amp for $200 from my local (Tampa, FL) record store. 24W/ch; hooked up to Forte I's and not bad ... but did an A/B  comparison with my SS Marantz 1060 and the Marantz won :(  So; do I forget about tube amps, or do I need to spend big big bucks?


Cheers, Emile

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Emile, nothing wrong with the amp you brought but, it is an older amp and may need a tune-up.  Is SS drastically different than tubes, it depends on who you ask.  I have both and could live happily with one or the other.  No clear winner for me.  Look into Yaqin for some tube amps that may be cheaper than tuning up the Pilot amp.  Amp restoration can get very expensive and still, no long term guarantee.  There are guys on the forum that do restoration/tune-up.

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