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Best "taste of tube sound" for the money for first-timer


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My budget is probably less than $600-750 for a pre-amp or integrated amp over the next few months. I could save longer if it was necessary, but at my income level, that amount is a pretty big "toe in the water". I like the idea of the Scott 222 or 299. There's also the Dynaco SCA-35 though I have no idea of its' comparison to the Scotts. A friend had one along with Dynaco A-25s many years ago & I still remember how good the combination sounded. I also like the idea of getting a Dynaco PAS3-X pre-amp instead, for pairing with SS amp or possibly a tube amp later on.

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I have both the HHS 222 and 299D and right now prefer the sound of the 222. It sounds a little warmer and more musical to my ears. Both are great amps IMHO. The 299 has more inputs so you can have two TTs hooked up at once. Both Scotts have been re-caped so the difference I hear my be the difference in caps, I really don't know.

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My budget is probably less than $600-750 for a pre-amp or integrated amp over the next few months. I could save longer if it was necessary, but at my income level, that amount is a pretty big "toe in the water".

I hear you. I was running a vintage Marantz integrated & was happy but had the oportunity to pick up a decent condition ST-70 & PAS-3 from a forum member (thanks Scott!) with a FM-3 thrown in for $500. The tubes included were nothing special but it got me started. I have them in for refurbishing right now and I can't wait to get them back! Not sure how much its going to cost as I have several options for NOS tubes. We'll see. Probably not cheap but I could have continued without the service & been happy.

The Dynaco separates are my first experience with tubes & I must say there is really nothing like it, especially with Klipsch heritage. Personally, I've got Forte IIs & couldn't be happier.

Good luck! Sounds like you're on the right track!

Frank W.

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I ordered the N3. I'll be on the phone tomorrow ordering the Mullards. By my math, using a Paradigm Servo-15 sub and the MiniWatt wide open as a power amp (passive volume control), I should get my Heresy IIIs to fill my kid's elementary school gym with the audio I mixed for his 5th graduation slide show. 3.5 watts vs small gymnasium. I like the odds. Espescially as I made sure the peak and rms signal levels were pretty smooth when I edited the audio. I'll let you know.

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I am running my Cornwall II's with a Rogue Audio Magnum 66 with a Yamaha M65 and the sound is luscious. A used Magnum 66 is well within your listed budget and so far mine has been well worth every penny i paid for it. I have a second system with a chinese tube pre and a 15 wpc class A ss amp running with KLF20's. The 15 wpc is plenty and the M65 amp in the other system is probably overkill, but hey it is what i have on hand and sounds really incredible.

The tube pre/ss amp combo is a definite consideration you should make. Start out with the tube pre and go from there. Then if you want to go all tube with both pre and amp, you are already halfway there. I am sure you will catch the fever after a few hours listening. My satisfaction with the tube preamps i have dealt with so far have been highly dependent on the tubes i have in it, so expect to have to go through some tubes before you find the right set to your liking. You will learn a lot about tube details in a short amount of time as you chase the sound. Hope you have as much fun learning as i did and still am experiencing every time i power the system(s) up.

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The MiniWatt came today. It's now in my editing bay running my Paradigm Reference 20s (Sensitivity = 87dB). The pre is the pre out from my Peachtree Nova, with my MacBook as the source at the moment. I'm only sitting a few feet away. The amp is dead quiet when on w/o signal. It seems to drive the 20s up to a moderate level (comfortable level), but no more without getting congested. That said, it sounds great! Very deep. It's a great value - I think I'll like it even more as I mess with some old Telefunken tubes I ordered, etc. Stay tuned... I need to link it up my other systems.

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Here's one suggestion: More than one Cornwall owner drives them with a restored Scott integrated amp, and loves the combination. Garymd's sounds wonderful, just right for kind of music you listen to. Of course, Scotts are vintage 40-plus year-old equipment, so you'd need to have one restored. Although he's very backlogged, Craig is a super-helpful artisan in such things: http://www.nosvalves.com/

A glance at his queue page shows how busy he is. Give him a shout, and at least get his advice on where and what to look for in the way of a used 222 or 299 that you can put in the queue.

Larry

Larry,

Thanks for the mention! I guess I need to update the fact that I'm not even using that queue page these days. My current back log is 4 to 6 weeks on Vintage gear. I changed the way I handle orders since wait time for vintage gear was getting absurd for my customers which in turn was drivng way too many customers away. VRD sales were taking over my business for a while there and honestly the profit margin isn't that great! I now limit VRD builds to no more then 2 pairs in any given month and VRD customers have to choose there month from available slots. This has proven to be a much more sane way to handle both aspects of my business so far...... Who knows what will happen when the economy recovers.

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Tube pre and power amps will definitely give you a

"lush, rich, less fatiguing" sound without losing the sense of

"being there" that you get from properly positioned big ole horns.

I second what Mark Deneen said. First choice would be Juicy

Music pre-amp with NOSvalves VRD amps, but also reviewed ASL and Cayin integrated

tube amps on big ole horns and loved them.

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  • 2 years later...

i would suggest you hop on ebay and check out a carver tfm series amp they are solid state but as close to tube sound as you are going to get. i just bought a tfm 55 on ebay and it is phenominal driving my klf 30's tfm 55 specs 380/ch into 8 ohm rms 500 watts per chinto 4 ohms rms and over 1000 watts mono into 8 ohms log onto BOB CARVER.COM and check the out!! u won't be dissapointed !! paid 800 for the tfm 55

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