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Recommendation for amp to drive Cornwall IVs


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I have my Cornwalls connected to Mark Levinson 432 and a 326 pre-amp. Streaming is routed via my Marantz receiver (basically used as a HDMI router only) which is connected to my ML pre using HT pass-through.  
 

I actually prefer streaming via the Marantz, sources directly connected to my ML pre (including my vinyl player) sound a little lifeless and bright. Guess it means I may like the warmth my Marantz provides?

 

Anyway, what amps do you think are a good match for Cornwalls? Accuphase class A integrated is a dream but expensive, do they work well with Cornwalls? I like that Acupphase have tone controls, not necessary but nice to have. PrimaLuna, Luxman, Line Magnetic etc, what are your opinions? 

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2 hours ago, billybob said:

Are you wanting to lean towards solid state or tube amplification?

I’m just looking for something that makes the system sound it’s best, be it tubes or SS. Sure, if solid state is about as good as tubes I would certainly go SS just because of less maintenance, but main goal is to get the best out of my Cornwalls. 

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I drive my Forte IVs with a Primaluna Evo 400 with kt150 power tubes and Brimar preamp tubes and think it sounds fabulous in my room for whatever that is worth.

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7 hours ago, Fido said:

I drive my Forte IVs with a Primaluna Evo 400 with kt150 power tubes and Brimar preamp tubes and think it sounds fabulous in my room for whatever that is worth.

It seems like a very attractive amp, I like the fact that it has auto bias and that it allows for changing between different tubes. I assume it’s quiet enough as it works well with Fortes. 

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Everyone here knows I am a tube advocate. Although IMHO klipsch speakers can sound fine with a good SS amp, it’s tubes that make the magic.

 

And now to go even deeper into the rabbit hole, I will say that a tube amp with very good output transformers doesn’t even need much power to make the Cornwall sing. I am driving my CW IV with about 12 watts of single ended power and the dynamics are startling while the midrange presence and tone cannot be matched by any SS amp I have heard.

 

But the key is a well designed tube amp and all are not created equal by any stretch.

 

Shakey

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Although IMHO klipsch speakers can sound fine with a good SS amp, it’s tubes that make the magic.


My experience as well. High powered solid state is kick *** but there's just something about low powered tube amplification with my Klipsch.


Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk

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Hi,

You have a fantastic Mark Levinson ensemble, but certainly sounding too clinical to pair with the Klipsch.

If you don't want to break the bank, you can try to find a used and good condition small McIntosh C504 preamp. It has a warm and fantastic sound, especially with its tone controls. You plug it into your 432 amp instead of the 326 preamp, without spending a lot you get just the right amount of heat. And later you can change your 432 quietly, for example for the superb Parasound A23+ recommended here above.

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2 hours ago, John Ek said:

It seems like a very attractive amp, I like the fact that it has auto bias and that it allows for changing between different tubes. I assume it’s quiet enough as it works well with Fortes. 

It is very quiet, A number of members here on the Klipsch forum love their Primaluna integrated amps. I think the sound is very holographic and mine sounds great at very low volumes and equally as good when you want to play loud. I have had mine in my system for the past 18 months and it’s been playing many hours a day flawlessly.

 

I am sure that many tube amps could  bring out the best in your Cornwalls. Heritage Speakers and tube amplification go together like peanut butter and jelly.

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Posted (edited)

I have Forte III's and have used both vintage and modern McIntosh gear. 

 

I first ran them with a restored MX-110/MC240. Certainly gobs of tube magic. I then replaced the MX-110 with a C41 and now finally I swapped out the MC240 with a MC152.

 

What are the differences in sound with the varying combos of tube gear and solid state?

 

With the tube gear, there is certainly an effervescent/ethereal sound. Paring both a tube pre with a tube amp -- doubled down on this glory. The "tubbiness" came through the most at higher volumes and really is what I found to be the most satisfying with this combo (pissing-off the neighbors). The tube gear, in a way, is like stepping back in time to the glory of 1960s hi-fi. The last word in technical competency? Maybe not, but extremely satisfying and enjoyable. 

 

With solid state gear, the noise floor is much lower, think 115db S/N vs 90db (which matters with high efficiency speakers). I found the solid state units provide much more clarity and detail, but with less ethereal magic. This is most noticed at louder volumes. However, in exchange, I find more detail/resolution at lower volumes. The bass with the MC152 compared to the MC240 is not a subtle difference. The MC152 provides much more loud, solid, and defined bass compared to the MC240. Is the difference amplifier design? Difference in watts at 1% THD (225 vs 55)? I am not so sure. But I am convinced the Forte likes watts to really perform in the bass department and I would imagine that is also the case for the Cornwall. It begs the question, I wonder how bi-amping my Fortes (or Cornwalls) would sound with active crossovers and DSP? Tubes on top and solid state on the bottom.

 

What do I mean by tube gear and louder volumes? With tubes, the Forte's came alive over 75-80db or so. With the solid state gear, what you hear at 60db is what you get at 100db -- clean, detailed and resolved sound. In my mind, it reminds me of the sound at your favorite music club. With the tube gear, it is a more curated and aesthetic vibe that shines through -- think speakeasy or dark bar. Village Vanguard (tubes) vs 9:30 Club (solid state)?

 

The solid state pre with the tube amp spilts the difference. I think a tube pre with solid state amp would also be a good way to go.

 

Also keep mind mind, I am talking subtle differences here. Both amplification approaches bring the best out of my Klipsch speakers. It really is about preferences. Could I really tell a difference double blind? Doubtful? But, I don't really know. 

 

So why did I make the switch to solid state? Vintage tube gear require maintenance and love.  I have a toddler running around and the solid state gear fits my lifestyle better. The Forte's also beg to be listened to 8-10 hours a day and that works better with solid state. Do I miss the tubes? Sometimes, yes. But the connivance of solid state is hard to beat. In an ideal world, you bi-amp (with both solid state and tubes), or have both a tube setup and a solid state setup, depending on your mood. 

 

I think you have been given some excellent suggestions. The solid state Yamaha I am sure is fantastic. Modern tube gear I am sure is also delightful (and approaches solid state in connivance). Vintage tube gear such as the McIntosh or Scott or Fisher are really cool and I bet sound great too. The Parasound I bet would give you almost (if not all) the performance of the MC152 for less than half the cost. I am partial to the McIntosh gear, which in my view, takes the best of their 1960s era achievements and places them in a modern and technically state of the art package. I also think they look really cool. Having a partner, makes me realize my stereo in essence is also elaborate room decor -- that happens to make really nice sound. At the extreme, home hifi is an artistic expression. In this regard, I aspire too and think often of the Tom Sachs exhibit of his boomboxes I witnessed at the Brooklyn Museum several years ago -- https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/tom_sachs_boombox_retrospective

 

Closing thoughts? Preamps matter, a lot (my C41 is just modern enough, but not too modern to lose many nice features such as loudness and tone controls). You can split the difference with tube/solid state by having one half of the combo either tube or solid state and get a lot of the tube magic with not going all the way. Watts matter. For my Fortes, having more watts for the woofers really helps with the bass (but certainly not essential to achieve maximum performance out of the speaker).

 

Good luck on your search! In many ways it comes down to sonic preferences, aesthetics, and value propositions (which we each have our own way of defining).  

 

Edited by mdm7eb
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22 hours ago, John Ek said:

I have my Cornwalls connected to Mark Levinson 432 and a 326 pre-amp. Streaming is routed via my Marantz receiver (basically used as a HDMI router only) which is connected to my ML pre using HT pass-through.  
 

I actually prefer streaming via the Marantz, sources directly connected to my ML pre (including my vinyl player) sound a little lifeless and bright. Guess it means I may like the warmth my Marantz provides?

 

Anyway, what amps do you think are a good match for Cornwalls? Accuphase class A integrated is a dream but expensive, do they work well with Cornwalls? I like that Acupphase have tone controls, not necessary but nice to have. PrimaLuna, Luxman, Line Magnetic etc, what are your opinions? 

Wow, nice equipment. 

 

McIntosh seeks to be a favorite and might be what the dealer had. 

 

 

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