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Tube "curious"


schwock5
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Hey all,

 

there's a lot of information in this tube section to go through, but had some straight up questions to start with if anyone can chime in or point me to some specific threads that could help.

I've been a straight receiver/SS amp guy since i've gotten into this hobby since i've always been a mix of HT and music, but now i'm starting to get some urges i'd like to explore. i'm tube "curious". 

 

There's no way for me budget or space wise to setup a dedicated 2 channel system. My music is always integrated with the home theater.

Current mains are the original RF-7s, but looking to upgrade in the future to the RF-7iiis or Cornwall IVs as the next evolution.

once my basement is done in a few weeks and the system re-setup i'd like to start exploring tubes potentially.

 

questions below:

1.obviously i don't wanna use a tube amp full time for TV/movies as it would be too much mileage.

So to integrate tubes, i was looking around and saw a few products where you can connect 2 amps to a switcher and output to 1 set of speakers.

Using a switch like this i could connect my receiver's Front L/R speaker out (or if i had an external SS home theater amp, those speaker outs) to this switcher, and then using a zone 2 pre-out to a tube amp connect the speaker outs to this switcher and essentially be able to swap back and forth for HT/music.

main zone woulds be HT and zone 2 use the tubes for 2 channel. am i missing anything on this setup, anyone use these sort of product before, does it degrade quality a lot?

 

2. If this solution works, seems strange to use nice cables when in the beginning path you have a separate short section to this switcher, any advice?

 

3. using this setup, i guess the next question would be, would there be a big difference between using a straight tube amp vs a tube integrated?

essentially using the receiver i could use my turntable and cd player through the receiver to a tube amp, but technically i could run the analog out of the cd player and my turntable into a tube integrated and run it that way using the switcher method described above as a pure "analog" stream (obv disregarding cds are digital). but at least from the outputs of each source. what are the benefits/cons?

 

Thank you if advance, and let me know if there's any questions i can answer to help pinpoint where to go from here.

 

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or skip surround (like many of us did) and enjoy the sound of the screen via 2 beautiful boxes 🙂 For me all the hussle isn't worth it (anymore) and trust me, i have been there...

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There are a variety of ways to accomplish what you are looking to do.  I would suggest using a speaker switch box for your front two speakers.  On one side of the box, you'd have your existent HT system.  On the other side, you could have an integrated tube amp with your CD player and Turntable connected.  That way, you are not dependent on your receiver to act as a pre-amp, as you would if you used pre-outs.  You get a "pure" tube system for music that way. 

 

 

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Each two amp channels to one speaker needs a DPDT switch that's all. Current carrying capacity and quality of switch is important. Just be sure whatever unit you choose that when you switch between amps select which amp you are using and then turn the power of the amp on. The SS amp will probably not care about having an open circuit for a load but the tube amp MAY NOT like driving an open load.

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I also switch back and forth between the tube amp for 2-channel listening (CD's and turntable), and HT (movies, TV, video games). I could or originally intended to use the pre-outs from the AVR to one of the line in's on the tube amp, which would work, but I've found that just swapping banana plugs back and forth works good for me (one set of cables from the AVR, another one from the tube amp, center to AVR). Sometimes, if I'm playing a video game, I just run the sound thru the AVR on the center at low volume and listen to music via the tube amp at the same time. If you want a one-stop solution without a switching box, you can (if your AVR has pre-outs) run that to a line input on the tube amp, but like you, I was concerned about doing that because of unnecessary wear on the tubes.

 

I have a jolida black ice F22 (integrated), and am quite happy with the improvement over my marantz AVR.

 

Good luck.

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Keep in mind that you cannot operate a traditional tube amp with no load, ie speakers connected.  I do not claim to know the physics behind it but from what I have read, it creates a black hole and will transport your dog into another dimension.

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5 minutes ago, Cicerogue said:

Keep in mind that you cannot operate a traditional tube amp with no load, ie speakers connected.  I do not claim to know the physics behind it but from what I have read, it creates a black hole and will transport your dog into another dimension.

You mean speakers DIS connected?

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25 minutes ago, Sam S. said:

I also switch back and forth between the tube amp for 2-channel listening (CD's and turntable), and HT (movies, TV, video games). I could or originally intended to use the pre-outs from the AVR to one of the line in's on the tube amp, which would work, but I've found that just swapping banana plugs back and forth works good for me (one set of cables from the AVR, another one from the tube amp, center to AVR). Sometimes, if I'm playing a video game, I just run the sound thru the AVR on the center at low volume and listen to music via the tube amp at the same time. If you want a one-stop solution without a switching box, you can (if your AVR has pre-outs) run that to a line input on the tube amp, but like you, I was concerned about doing that because of unnecessary wear on the tubes.

 

I have a jolida black ice F22 (integrated), and am quite happy with the improvement over my marantz AVR.

 

Good luck.

i won't be able to swap the cables since the receiver will be in a cabinet and hard to access and the tube will be on top of the cabinet. so was looking into a switcher to bring it all within reach next to the tube amp.

 

there are some where it switches if it detects a signal automatically, but not sure what would happen if i was listening to the tube and accidentally turned on the marantz?

one that was remote controlled would be nice to program my harmony with some delays

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28 minutes ago, Sam S. said:

I also switch back and forth between the tube amp for 2-channel listening (CD's and turntable), and HT (movies, TV, video games). I could or originally intended to use the pre-outs from the AVR to one of the line in's on the tube amp, which would work, but I've found that just swapping banana plugs back and forth works good for me (one set of cables from the AVR, another one from the tube amp, center to AVR). Sometimes, if I'm playing a video game, I just run the sound thru the AVR on the center at low volume and listen to music via the tube amp at the same time. If you want a one-stop solution without a switching box, you can (if your AVR has pre-outs) run that to a line input on the tube amp, but like you, I was concerned about doing that because of unnecessary wear on the tubes.

 

I have a jolida black ice F22 (integrated), and am quite happy with the improvement over my marantz AVR.

 

Good luck.

for the black ice integrated, would that need a separate pre-amp for the turntable?

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Hi --- Yes, the one I have doesn't have a phonostage (or phono preamp, same thing). I'm running a Vincent PHO8 (MM or MC). I'm happy with it - but there are numerous options. Just run your RCA cables and ground wire to the phonostage, then line out (RCA) from the phonostage to any of the line inputs on the tube amp. Most of the integrates don't have phonostages, but a few do. Rogue Cronus Magnum I'm pretty sure does.

 

My gear is also in a cabinet (AVR inside on shelf), with the tube amp on top (airflow). Let me clarify - I run 2 sets of speaker cables - one from the Marantz AVR and one from the tube integrated. Each of those stay connected at each amp connection full-time. The opposite end of those cables (going to the speakers) have banana plugs. I plug/unplug them ONLY at the speaker connection (forte III). Might not work for you if you don't have access to the back of the speakers. On one of mine, it's open space to the side so it's easy. The other one (between the corner wall and the cabinet), I just tip forward and reach behind it. Takes about 30 seconds. That might be more difficult for yours (taller) or if you have Cornwalls, depending on location, and your room setup. If that's the case, the switchers mentioned above might be the best option, or a HT bypass. I think most of the Primaluna's have the HT bypass, maybe one of those owners could chime in if they've used it. 

 

 

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with a HT bypass though, doesn't the tube amp have to be on at all time then? that can't be good......

i could see that being fine for a SS integrated for home theater, but seems problematic to run it through the tube amp powered on all the time, unless i'm missing something?

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/9/2021 at 12:59 PM, schwock5 said:

any recommendations for the switch box? i see a lot of different ones floating around, but haven't seen a lot of reviews/comparisons

I use a 4PDT toggle switch mounted on the side of my stereo cabinet to switch my Khorns between a Sony HT receiver or a 2 channel tube amp.

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I destroyed a set of output tubes once when I didn't notice that one of the speaker cables had disconnected. Turned up the volume with no load; that channel's tubes glowed like light bulbs ... for a moment. Don't run tubes open-circuit!

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