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Looking for observations of budget tube amps

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Hi, I got a set of Cornwall 1’s recently. I’m running them with a PS Audio stellar 300 and a Felix 6922 tube pre. Sound is strong and solid, but a little harsh in the upper end. Replaced  tweeters with Crites 120 which helped. Thinking a tube amp might give a little more smoothness.

I’m considering Prima Luna, Bob Latino st70, Line magnetic 216, (maybe even Yaqin ms13, and I hear good and bad about Rouge)

Any experience with under 2000$ (used or new) amps? Looking for smooth, but detailed.

i know this is a pretty open question, but just looking for peoples experience.

thanks, Ted

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Quicksilver. Not often mentioned here but excellent gear. You can find mini mono'and mid mono amps very reasonably if you want to stay with your preamp or they make an excellent integrated amp. Full disclosure, I own the integrated.

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I built a VTA ST-70 and am running it on the horns of a Cornscala D set up.  No pre, just a MiniDSP DDRC88A as a DSP, it has a volume control.  Sounds very good.  Just placed an order for Jubes, and will be using it to drive the horns on them.

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2 minutes ago, LTusler said:

Just placed an order for Jubes

sorry to hijack a thread like this, but dude.

this is beyond cool.

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45 minutes ago, codewritinfool said:
48 minutes ago, LTusler said:

Just placed an order for Jubes

sorry to hijack a thread like this, but dude.

this is beyond cool.

I'm not sorry, that deserves a sidetrack, Congratulations LT, well done.

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Hello Ted,

 

Any " budget" amp you buy, can be improved easily with about a hundred dollars or less in parts cost, such that the manufacturer would be able to sell the amp to the public for perhaps $500 or more, on the basis of its perceived audible performance. 

 

Are you capable of DIY electronic mods, or do you have a friend who is?  If so, you are in luck.

 

There are two simple areas that require attention.  You do NOT change the basic circuit, you just improve two parts areas, replacing them with higher quality like-value parts.

 

AREA ONE :  Replace the coupling  cap in each channel of a tube amp, with a better one.

 

AREA TWO :  Replace the KEY resistors, typically in the early stages of the amp, with higher quality like-value parts. 

 

" Key resistors " are found in TWO circuit positions.   

 

           First : the plate resistor ( Ra ).  In particular, the INPUT tube's plate resistor is usually the single most sensitive and effective place, to easily and permanently gain audible performance. 

 

           Second : any resistor in SERIES with the basic audio signal path, such as any " grid stopper " etc. is very sensitive to quality and to the amp's perceived music performance. 

 

 

Others can advise you, better than I,  on budget amps.  I generally prefer the simplest of circuits, two stages, Single Ended.  Had I known about what I have written above, 40 years ago, there is many a tube amp, that passed through my hands, that I might have held on to with fuller listening satisfaction. 

 

If you need specific help, with replacement parts that are cost-effective choices, P.M. me and I will try to assist you on an amateur basis. 

 

You asked for observations, and these above are mine !

 

Jeff  

 

 

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You need to find a way to audition a prospective amp in your system as that is the only way for you to know if it will satisfy you.  Some companies, like Decware, offer a return option:

 

https://www.decware.com/newsite/homepage.html

 

I recommend calling Steve Deckert to discuss your goals with him.  His products have withstood the test of time, don’t require component changes to sound well, and rarely show up on the used market.  The lifetime warranty isn’t a bad deal either.

 

Maynard

 

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On 8/5/2020 at 6:19 AM, VDS said:

Hi, I got a set of Cornwall 1’s recently. I’m running them with a PS Audio stellar 300 and a Felix 6922 tube pre. Sound is strong and solid, but a little harsh in the upper end. Replaced  tweeters with Crites 120 which helped. Thinking a tube amp might give a little more smoothness.

I’m considering Prima Luna, Bob Latino st70, Line magnetic 216, (maybe even Yaqin ms13, and I hear good and bad about Rouge)

Any experience with under 2000$ (used or new) amps? Looking for smooth, but detailed.

i know this is a pretty open question, but just looking for peoples experience.

thanks, Ted

I'd start with taming the Cornwall's mid horn a bit. If the crossovers are original, they need a rebuild anyway. Replace all the capacitors with higher quality film & foil and-or PIO's. Then add a resistor shunt at the final lead before the mid driver. Maybe 10 ohms inline and 5 ohms for the shunt (as an example, others here could give you better values). Buy several values (10+ watt) and use what sounds best while maintaining proper impedance (this needs to be calculated).  I'm sure this has been done to Cornwall i's by others here. The right info is out there, including the crossover diagram. Hopefully others with chime in.

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On 8/6/2020 at 9:06 AM, Jeffrey D. Medwin said:

Hello Ted,

 

Any " budget" amp you buy, can be improved easily with about a hundred dollars or less in parts cost, such that the manufacturer would be able to sell the amp to the public for perhaps $500 or more, on the basis of its perceived audible performance. 

 

Are you capable of DIY electronic mods, or do you have a friend who is?  If so, you are in luck.

 

There are two simple areas that require attention.  You do NOT change the basic circuit, you just improve two parts areas, replacing them with higher quality like-value parts.

 

AREA ONE :  Replace the coupling  cap in each channel of a tube amp, with a better one.

 

AREA TWO :  Replace the KEY resistors, typically in the early stages of the amp, with higher quality like-value parts. 

 

" Key resistors " are found in TWO circuit positions.   

 

           First : the plate resistor ( Ra ).  In particular, the INPUT tube's plate resistor is usually the single most sensitive and effective place, to easily and permanently gain audible performance. 

 

           Second : any resistor in SERIES with the basic audio signal path, such as any " grid stopper " etc. is very sensitive to quality and to the amp's perceived music performance. 

 

 

Others can advise you, better than I,  on budget amps.  I generally prefer the simplest of circuits, two stages, Single Ended.  Had I known about what I have written above, 40 years ago, there is many a tube amp, that passed through my hands, that I might have held on to with fuller listening satisfaction. 

 

If you need specific help, with replacement parts that are cost-effective choices, P.M. me and I will try to assist you on an amateur basis. 

 

You asked for observations, and these above are mine !

 

Jeff  

 

 

Jeff, thanks, that’s great advice to get the most out of gear.  I will keep it in mind as a possibility for improving whatever I get. I’m not very educated in electronics, but I’ve been spending time researching crossovers for my Cornwalls, so I’m learning 

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For crossover rebuilding, the ten Watt resistors MechEngVic talks about, I suggest to use MILLS MRA-12s, 12 Watt , available from Michael Percy, and a few others.  Be very careful about film cap selection, as it's also really audible !!!  See what Deang suggests as caps he likes, he does crossovers for others, as a side line, has great experience, decent taste.  

 

Jeff Medwin

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