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Tube amps: Getting ones feet wet looking for some advice


Alexander
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I have seen several threads like this but most are dated and any links no longer usable sooo…...

 

I would like to dip into the tube amp pool to see if it is for me. The budget will be ~$500 if at all possible, would hate to spend too much on the chance it isn't my cup of tea. So reading it lists tube types like el34, kt88 & 300b just to name a few and this only adds to the confusion. So with what is mentioned  is there a descent entry level amp (not integrated) out there to start out with?

 

Music taste: Lodon Grammar, Daughter, Mark Knpofler, Michal Franks, Radical Face, Mars Lazar, Lamb, Zero 7, Lana Del Ray, Sting, The xx's, Kate Havenik, Imogen Heap, Flaming Lips, The Church, Moody Blues, Scott August, Seal and Crofts, Pat Methany, Pink Floyd, Missy Higgins,  Gotye, CSN, Acoustic Alchemy.....
ok that should be enough :)   Absolutely no heavy metal, just classical, jazz & soft rock.

The room info:
17' x 18.5' + 75% open to another 13.5' x 18.5' (Kitchen/dinning area), ceiling lowest 9.5' to 13' center peak
 
Speakers  on short wall 7' apart 1' off wall listening position ~10-13'(adjustable) 

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1 hour ago, Alexander said:

I would like to dip into the tube amp pool to see if it is for me. The budget will be ~$500

Dipped into the same pool :D  and got out after about 3 months :( Bought a Dynaco ST-70 clone kit for about $1100. Was impressed for maybe a couple of weeks (haha; "had to be impressed" after spending that kind of money).  Then did some A/B comparisons with my vintage Marantz 1060 (30wpc) ... the Marantz won ... the Dynaco clone was anemic. OK; apologies to the tube fans here :)  many swear by these setups.  Maybe I just never got it dialed in right :D  

 

One more thing to consider ... most tube amps only have ONE input. So, if you use more components, add a pre-amp to your budget :( 

 

Cheers, Emile

 

 

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Choose a topology that compliments your personal listening habits. A SET amplifier is a great sounding unit, but slightly soft in the lower registers... that is why I tend toward a Push Pull design. Plenty of horse power, sweet smooth mid range and an imagining and liquidity that I love ... but everyone is different.

 

Certainly there is an aspect of care that us required from the tube owner over a solid state owner...

 

What I am afraid of for newbies is that 500 dollar investment really isn't going to get you anywhere near what is necessary to really experience a good tube system.

 

What I did was to begin very slowly by introducing a tube preamp to my solid state system... that got me into some low cost sweetness and tube rolling customizability. it served me well as I slowly stepped up the ladder.

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Although this one is doubles your $500 bucks, it does come with a 30 day return policy if you don't like it.  As well, it's a popular brand,  Primaluna, which get great reviews, so if and when you do sell, you might only lose a couple of hundred bucks down the road, unless you find a great deal on the used market instead. I took a look around at $500 bucks and didn't find anything but old stuff.

 

https://www.upscaleaudio.com/collections/primaluna/products/primaluna-prologue-four-power-amplifier

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5 hours ago, Alexander said:

I have seen several threads like this but most are dated and any links no longer usable sooo…...

 

I would like to dip into the tube amp pool to see if it is for me. The budget will be ~$500 if at all possible, would hate to spend too much on the chance it isn't my cup of tea. So reading it lists tube types like el34, kt88 & 300b just to name a few and this only adds to the confusion. So with what is mentioned  is there a descent entry level amp (not integrated) out there to start out with?

 

Music taste: Lodon Grammar, Daughter, Mark Knpofler, Michal Franks, Radical Face, Mars Lazar, Lamb, Zero 7, Lana Del Ray, Sting, The xx's, Kate Havenik, Imogen Heap, Flaming Lips, The Church, Moody Blues, Scott August, Seal and Crofts, Pat Methany, Pink Floyd, Missy Higgins,  Gotye, CSN, Acoustic Alchemy.....
ok that should be enough :)   Absolutely no heavy metal, just classical, jazz & soft rock.

The room info:
17' x 18.5' + 75% open to another 13.5' x 18.5' (Kitchen/dinning area), ceiling lowest 9.5' to 13' center peak
 
Speakers  on short wall 7' apart 1' off wall listening position ~10-13'(adjustable) 

 

Which speakers do you have?

 

And which preamp will you use?

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6 hours ago, Schu said:

 

What I am afraid of for newbies is that 500 dollar investment really isn't going to get you anywhere near what is necessary to really experience a good tube system.

 

 

Same story that goes for the speakers we love...

 

How many of us chucked the dough for a pair of LaScalas FIRST?

 

I think 500 bucks gets one tube in the amps I have heard that made my jaw drop, the 300b clones. 

 

 

Great post @Alexander

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That would be close to getting you into the Eico HF81 integrated I have for sale in the garage sale forum, or either of the Sherwood’s, or the Magnavoxes, or some of the others.

 

some are restored, some are restomodded, some need restoration, and most are much better than getting in new at that level.

 

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@Alexander

A few months ago I also decided to try tubes. I listened to several different amps including a vintage Dynaco, a newly built VTA 120, a vintage Fisher 800B, Fisher 500C as well as a Scott 299.

All of the above amplifiers will probably cost more than $500, but it is very likely you can find one for less than $1000.

I purchased a fully rebuilt Fisher 500C, in part because it has the capability of powering 2 sets of speakers as well as a center channel. It also has a phono section and an FM receiver. I am very satisfied, but I am not getting rid of my Marantz 2285.

As others have suggested, you need to listen to several amps before you make your decision. 

 

Good luck!

 

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On ‎2‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 6:35 PM, Shiva said:

Although this one is doubles your $500 bucks, it does come with a 30 day return policy if you don't like it.  As well, it's a popular brand,  Primaluna, which get great reviews, so if and when you do sell, you might only lose a couple of hundred bucks down the road, unless you find a great deal on the used market instead. I took a look around at $500 bucks and didn't find anything but old stuff.

 

https://www.upscaleaudio.com/collections/primaluna/products/primaluna-prologue-four-power-amplifier

 

As awesome as this amp appears to be the funds are no where near being available for some time (months). It sounds like it will be some time before I will be able to dabble in tubes at this level.

  

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On ‎2‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 5:13 PM, Schu said:

Choose a topology that compliments your personal listening habits. A SET amplifier is a great sounding unit, but slightly soft in the lower registers... that is why I tend toward a Push Pull design. Plenty of horse power, sweet smooth mid range and an imagining and liquidity that I love ... but everyone is different.

 

Certainly there is an aspect of care that us required from the tube owner over a solid state owner...

 

What I am afraid of for newbies is that 500 dollar investment really isn't going to get you anywhere near what is necessary to really experience a good tube system.

 

What I did was to begin very slowly by introducing a tube preamp to my solid state system... that got me into some low cost sweetness and tube rolling customizability. it served me well as I slowly stepped up the ladder.

 

Looks like I will be doing a lot of learning before I am through. Sadly, I live out in the sticks (in this case) so the chance of getting opportunity's  to listen to some examples is next to none. 

 

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2 hours ago, Shiva said:

 

The most un-tube like tube amp I ever owned. I expect a warm lushness out of a tube amp with lots of depth and good imaging. Not so much with this one for me.

Currently have this one with my K-horns:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A7IZN70/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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7 minutes ago, tromprof said:

 

The most un-tube like tube amp I ever owned. I expect a warm lushness out of a tube amp with lots of depth and good imaging. Not so much with this one for me.

Currently have this one with my K-horns:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A7IZN70/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

That looks very cool!  Free shipping too.👍

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Are you looking for one you can build?
I have most of the parts to build two channels of a EL34 push/pull tube amp
I have the boards and part to populate the board
Parts still needed are the transformers for power and speaker outputs and the tubes and tube sockets and case and rca and speaker plugs
Email if you would like more info

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On 2/15/2019 at 10:08 PM, Alexander said:

 

 

The Preamp being used right now is an Emotiva XSP-1  and speakers are modded klf-30's listed in my tagline below.

 

Thank you. The taglines don't show up on my phone.

 

Your speakers are plenty efficient for a single ended amp. You won't get a Single Ended Triode for $500 but there are several Single Ended Pentode amps that should sound great on your speakers.

 

I discussed the ~$400 Musical Paradise amp on the other thread. There are very similar amps from a number of manufacturers.

 

If there is any way you can stretch your budget to $800, I highly recommend the Push Pull EL84 KingKo KA-101 - 12 very sweet watts per channel.

 

http://kingkoaudio.com/en/pages/KINGKO-AUDIO.html

 

Hope this helps.

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