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Belles with Valves


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Here is my experience to date as a SS amp guy using a tube amp.

The system is a NOSValves reworked Scott 299A acquired from forum member Kevmosmith with Telefunken preamp tubes and Mullard Blackburn power tubes. The audio player is an upgraded Denon 3910. The speakers are a pair of Belle Klipsch acquired from forum member Jeeper. The Belles are modified with Altec 811B horns, self built ALK Universals crossovers with Jansen Supreme Z caps and the K-77v tweeter in the vertical orientation. The SS amp is a Scott Thompson rebuilt Sansui AU717. The listening room is 14 by 24 feet with the belles on the long wall.

The music played to date, in no particular order; Clapton, The Blues a Musical Journey, Chet Atkins, Santana, Linda Ronstadt, Dave Grusin, Paquito D'Rivera, fourPlay, B.B. King, John, Coltrane, Vladimir Horowitz, the Klipsch tapes, Chesky various artists, Yo Yo Ma, Nora Jones, The Persuasions, Patsy Kline, Roy Orbison, John Williams, various Broadway recordings, ZZ Top, Stan Getz, Windham Hill various artists, and others.

With the amp warmed up at idle, no music, the amp is dead quiet. No back round hiss. The volume is barely cracked with John Williams in queue, hit play and the room filled with acoustic guitar. There is no need for high wattage with the tubes. I can get chased out of the room with a volume level of barely a quarter turn and the output of the amp is only 15 to 17 watts p.c.

Cymbals sound a bit dulled, not as crisp or sharp, the edge removed.

Acoustic strings have fuller body or sustain not heard with SS, a fuller more wood tone.

Some voices have a full lush sound with tubes. Others a bit nasal.

Some of the jazz tracks were not as crisp or snappy (percussion), and in some cases the music did not sound same.

Sax was very mellow, full and laid back in a good way. Some trumpet pieces more raspy.

Woodwinds became a new sounding instrument in a good way, full wood tone.

Drums, bongos, the low end have a big full sound and will vibrate the floor and windows at a lower level than SS.

Piano sounds a fuller, as with acoustic strings above.

Trying to describe with words what I think I hear has been much more difficult than expected. Do I think one amp is better than the other no, just a different sound and I can appreciate both. The one thing this experience has shown me is not all music is recorded with good recording systems and the difference can be heard in the playback with a good accurate system SS or tube.

Edited by toolz
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