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Receiver as preamp for SET tube amp?

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Does it make sense to use a receiver as a preamp for tube SET amplification?  I am currently driving a pair of Fortes with a Marantz SR7008 receiver.  Sounds wonderful as it is, but I am intrigued by SET tube amps and the type of sound they are said to deliver. 

 

Do I need a tube preamp or an integrated SET amp to get the maximum benefit, or am I OK using my receiver to control everything and just connecting some SET amps from Marantz preamp outs to the Fortes?

 

Thanks for any insight

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I think the Marantz is very good sound quality wise.  I listen to music from my computer, running HDMI to the Marantz receiver.  I see a lot of people using tube preamps with SS amps, but not the other way around, so not sure if it makes sense.

 

What is the ideal way to enjoy a SET tube amp with digital source?  Something like this?

 

Computer --> external DAC --> tube preamp --> SET tube amp

Computer --> external DAC --> integrated SET tube amp, or a SET tube amp that does not require a preamp

 

What I am proposing is:

 

Computer --> receiver --> SET tube amp

 

So using a quality receiver between a digital source and the tube amp would be a limitation on realizing the benefits of SET sound?  The way I am looking at it is that the receiver solves a number of problems in the chain, including a DAC, remote volume control, source switching, equalizing, processing, etc...all I'm really changing is the actual amplification stage from the internal receiver amplification to the tube amp.

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I go BDP to tube integrated amp to speakers for my Forte's.  I have not change to for quit some time.  I know this is not quit the same but, it is the same principle.  Is there a better way, most likely but, this combo sounds darn good.

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I don't think you need any tubes upstream.  (Why no tubes upstream?  The SET sound is achieved by a SET amp driving speakers.)  I prefer a nice, simple, clean digital front end.  Well, maybe not simple, as I apply eq, but it's all on the digital side of things.  Anywho, your Marantz  is more than up to the task, it's a nice piece of gear.  Audioholics had a lesser Marantz AVR on the bench and it's pre-outs could put out 7v unclipped.  If yours follows suit, you're golden.

Edited by Ski Bum

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I think the Marantz is very good sound quality wise.  I listen to music from my computer, running HDMI to the Marantz receiver.  I see a lot of people using tube preamps with SS amps, but not the other way around, so not sure if it makes sense.

 

What is the ideal way to enjoy a SET tube amp with digital source?  Something like this?

 

Computer --> external DAC --> tube preamp --> SET tube amp

Computer --> external DAC --> integrated SET tube amp, or a SET tube amp that does not require a preamp

 

What I am proposing is:

 

Computer --> receiver --> SET tube amp

 

So using a quality receiver between a digital source and the tube amp would be a limitation on realizing the benefits of SET sound?  The way I am looking at it is that the receiver solves a number of problems in the chain, including a DAC, remote volume control, source switching, equalizing, processing, etc...all I'm really changing is the actual amplification stage from the internal receiver amplification to the tube amp.

 

One of my setups is comprised of: Computer --> external DAC with Vol capability --> SET tube amp.

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I don't think you need any tubes upstream.  (Why no tubes upstream?  The SET sound is achieved by a SET amp driving speakers.)  I prefer a nice, simple, clean digital front end.  Well, maybe not simple, as I apply eq, but it's all on the digital side of things.  Anywho, your Marantz  is more than up to the task, it's a nice piece of gear.  Audioholics had a lesser Marantz AVR on the bench and it's pre-outs could put out 7v unclipped.  If yours follows suit, you're golden.

 

That's what I was thinking too.

 

 

I think the Marantz is very good sound quality wise.  I listen to music from my computer, running HDMI to the Marantz receiver.  I see a lot of people using tube preamps with SS amps, but not the other way around, so not sure if it makes sense.

 

What is the ideal way to enjoy a SET tube amp with digital source?  Something like this?

 

Computer --> external DAC --> tube preamp --> SET tube amp

Computer --> external DAC --> integrated SET tube amp, or a SET tube amp that does not require a preamp

 

What I am proposing is:

 

Computer --> receiver --> SET tube amp

 

So using a quality receiver between a digital source and the tube amp would be a limitation on realizing the benefits of SET sound?  The way I am looking at it is that the receiver solves a number of problems in the chain, including a DAC, remote volume control, source switching, equalizing, processing, etc...all I'm really changing is the actual amplification stage from the internal receiver amplification to the tube amp.

 

One of my setups is comprised of: Computer --> external DAC with Vol capability --> SET tube amp.

 

 

And how do you like it?  What tube amp are you running?

 

 

I think the Marantz is very good sound quality wise.  I listen to music from my computer, running HDMI to the Marantz receiver.  I see a lot of people using tube preamps with SS amps, but not the other way around, so not sure if it makes sense.

 

What is the ideal way to enjoy a SET tube amp with digital source?  Something like this?

 

Computer --> external DAC --> integrated SET tube amp, or a SET tube amp that does not require a preamp

 

 

 

I would consider this as being the ideal but I am firm believer in less is better. I do use a tube preamp because I catch my sub signal from the preamp before the power amp even though my SET does not actually need a preamp. I have tried it both ways, with and without preamp and there is not a lot of difference that I can hear but probably better without a preamp if is it not actually needed. Most do as you have stated in that a tube preamp is used with a SS amp and I do like this combination better. It is not many times I have heard anyone actually wanting to use a SS pre with a tube amplifier not that it cannot be done. Try it and see how you like it.

 

 

I guess that is the question, which has the greater impact to sound - tube preamp or amp.  I am inclined to think it is the amp since it is the final step before speakers.  Sounds like the best thing is to just try it.

 

Thanks everybody for your thoughts.

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I guess that is the question, which has the greater impact to sound - tube preamp or amp.  I am inclined to think it is the amp since it is the final step before speakers.  Sounds like the best thing is to just try it.

 

 

 

 

I agree. 

 

Me too.

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One of my setups is comprised of: Computer --> external DAC with Vol capability --> SET tube amp.

 

 

And how do you like it?  What tube amp are you running?

 

I run music digitally from my PC to Grant Fidelity DAC-11 DAC (which is both SS and Tubed) most often to my Yamamoto A-08S Amp. The Yamamoto runs two 45 power tubes, two 717A tubes and an 80 Rectifier tube.

 

The Yamamoto is my best sounding amp with my Belle speakers. I think it sounds pretty awesome.  :emotion-29:  :emotion-29: 

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I use a tube amp from an Onkyo reciever pre-outs. Sounds just fine to me. Tube pre-amps can be quite expensive and not have as many features as a solid state reciever with pre-outs.

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To connect the amp to preouts on receiver, does it have to be a power amp, or can it also be an integrated amp?  If it is an integrated amp, does it need to some special bypass mode for its own preamp stage?  Does this even matter?

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You don't need any sort of processing beyond what you'll do in the Marantz (don't hesitate to take advantage of it's capabilities), so there is no need for a full featured integrated tube amp. It may be beneficial to choose an amp with at least a volume control for gain staging purposes.  If you go with a straight up power amp (no volume control), choose one that requires 2v or slightly more on the input side for full output.  (What's the point of having high voltage pre-outs if you cannot use them to full advantage, right?)

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Very glad to have read this thread. I was going to ask the same question. The heart of my modest system is a Marantz AVR. Sounds great to these ears but I have been considering adding a tube amp for use with my pre outs for two channel listening. From what I am reading it should work.

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I did this for a while in a temporary situation.  I had a Harkman Kardon HK-730 that fed a Fi X 2A3 SET amp.  It wasn't the ideal set up, but it worked fine.

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Just to give an update, I bought a Norh SE 9 tube amp and hooked it up to my Marantz.  Works great!  Thanks everybody for your replies.

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I was previously running a similar setup (digital signal>Denon avr>300b amp) and while it worked well and was super convientient, the sound quality i get from my curent setup is way better and worth the extra hassle. Now i feed a digital signal from a raspberry pi into a dac and then into my amp. If you have the oppurtunity to try running your system that way I would highly recomend it. 

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Nothing wrong with using receiver as preamp if you have preamp out with a tube amplifier. Most everything these days is digital before it gets to the receiver anyways. The tube sound is dominated by the tube amplifier. Yes the tone controls can still be used and are in the circuit. At least on 99% of the receivers out there. The preamp out is usually right before the amplifier  output stage of the receiver. 

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1 hour ago, henry4841 said:

Nothing wrong with using receiver as preamp if you have preamp out with a tube amplifier. Most everything these days is digital before it gets to the receiver anyways. The tube sound is dominated by the tube amplifier. Yes the tone controls can still be used and are in the circuit. At least on 99% of the receivers out there. The preamp out is usually right before the amplifier  output stage of the receiver. 

I tried to run from preout to the aux input on my tube amp but it just overrode the sound of the tube amp with the Marantz...maybe I don’t have the right input on the tube amp to do this?

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That out acts more like a tape out, not being controlled by the receiver volume control. There are some very cheap passive volume controls on Ebay that will reduce the amount of mv from that output and should work for what you intend. In other words you need some attenuation of that output. 

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Why compromise the magic of SET with the preamp section from a receiver? Like JMON said it will work but I can’t believe is the best solution or the end game sound you’re looking for. 

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