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Bottlehead + Klipsch Forte III ?


danielg
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I've recently purchased a Line Magnetic Push-Pull LM34 Integrated amp to go with my Garrard 401 TT and Klipsch Forte III speakers, I feel like the amp too harsh with my speakers, very hot trumpety high-mids, and lack of bass, oomph and flow in the music. I'm starting to get more and more interested in old horn + SET systems, and thought maybe it isn't a bad idea to build a SET amp myself. I don't have experience in electronics etc, but I'm willing to learn, I am based in the UK.

I heard great things about Bottlehead, and it seems like their prices are really fair.

- Does anybody here have Bottlehead + Klipsch experience ?

- Which of the Bottlehead kits would you recommend that I buy?

- Do you think a SET Bottlehead kit would make a good match to get some gentleness and musicality out of my very sensitive Klipsch?

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Before you consider other amps I need to ask some questions.  Have you tried both impedance taps?  In some systems one tap can provide a very different sound from the other.  With a different amp is the sound radically different?  And, does the LM-34 sound well with different speakers?  Another option to try, which is not costly, is to try swamping resistors to smooth out the speaker impedance variations:

 

https://www.zuaudio.com/diy/loading25r

 


Maynard

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Thanks for your kind response @tube fanatic!

I have not tried the Fortes with another amp or vice versa. Though I have changed to the 4ohm ports. I noticed a very slight difference, but I still found the overall experience shouty on one hand, and lacking slam/ oomph on the other. I feel like perhaps there is no leeway for the amp to "breathe" because it's a 2x 40w PP amp, and it gets very loud upon the lightest touch of the volume knob up from zero. That's why I thought perhaps a low power single-ended triode amp would smooth out such characterises, with these speakers I don't really need more than a few watts and it's almost like such a powerful amp is going to waste.

The thing that puzzles me is how despite this amp being relatively powerful (for a tube amp), and the Forte elements being so large + passive radiator, there is barely any kick, definition or power to the bass.

I thought perhaps rolling the stock Chinese tubes to another brand / type will help taming the highs and tightening/boosting the lows, this might be my next step.

Nevertheless, I'm not gonna lie, I am quite intrigued by the Single-ended side of things.

What are your thoughts ?

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Well, I have never found that tube rolling produces significant changes in sound although others may disagree.  As far as single ended amps go,  they are the only type I design and use.  I find that SEPs and SETs offer a “magic” which I don’t experience with push-pull types.  If your listening levels allow the use of low power amps, then they may be the route to the kind of sound you are looking for.  
 

How far from the speakers do you sit and how large is your room?  What type of music do you listen to?

 

Maynard

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Posted (edited)

  

45 minutes ago, tube fanatic said:

Well, I have never found that tube rolling produces significant changes in sound although others may disagree.  As far as single ended amps go,  they are the only type I design and use.  I find that SEPs and SETs offer a “magic” which I don’t experience with push-pull types.  If your listening levels allow the use of low power amps, then they may be the route to the kind of sound you are looking for.  
 

How far from the speakers do you sit and how large is your room?  What type of music do you listen to?

 

Maynard

 

Oh interesting point about the tube rolling @tube fanatic. A few days ago I ordered two fairly cheap JJ Tesla tubes to replace my two 12AU7 input tubes let's see if I'd be able to feel any difference.

This "magic" is certainly something which interests me, currently the listening is very fatiguing but not engaging. I listen mainly to jazz, ambient, classical/avant-garde, folk/blues, African, Latin. I do however come from a DJing background and would sometime enjoy disco/ house/ techno with a good volume. 

I sit about 2.6m from the speakers and the speakers are spaced 2.6m apart. They are fairly close to the wall and toed in, and about 50cm from the side walls (see picture).IMG_8141.jp2

Edited by danielg
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5 hours ago, danielg said:

Thanks for your kind response @tube fanatic!

I have not tried the Fortes with another amp or vice versa. Though I have changed to the 4ohm ports. I noticed a very slight difference, but I still found the overall experience shouty on one hand, and lacking slam/ oomph on the other. I feel like perhaps there is no leeway for the amp to "breathe" because it's a 2x 40w PP amp, and it gets very loud upon the lightest touch of the volume knob up from zero. That's why I thought perhaps a low power single-ended triode amp would smooth out such characterises, with these speakers I don't really need more than a few watts and it's almost like such a powerful amp is going to waste.

The thing that puzzles me is how despite this amp being relatively powerful (for a tube amp), and the Forte elements being so large + passive radiator, there is barely any kick, definition or power to the bass.

I thought perhaps rolling the stock Chinese tubes to another brand / type will help taming the highs and tightening/boosting the lows, this might be my next step.

Nevertheless, I'm not gonna lie, I am quite intrigued by the Single-ended side of things.

What are your thoughts ?

 

I don't have experience with the type of tube amps you are infested in. I do have experience with Klipsch Forte III's with both a solid state amplifier and a tube amplifier and I can speak to the differences I discerned. I hope bringing my solid state experience into the safe place of the tube forum is not too offensive. Apologies if what follows is inappropriate for this setting. 

 

I originally ran my Forte's with a restored McIntosh MX110 and MC240. The MC240 bench tested at 55 watts at 1% THD (similar to the power of your tube amp). Lots of tube magic/goodness. I transitioned to more modern McIntosh solid state pieces; C41 and MC152. Note, the MC152 bench tests around 250 watts -- so significantly more power than MC240. The result? Tighter, punchier bass with more kick. The warmth of the tube amp sound is still present and the system is quieter (thanks to the better SND; 90 vs 118db). Does it have the same magic as the vintage gear? I don't think so. The evanescence/ethereal atmosphere the tube combo provided is replaced with a more detailed sound. In an ideal world, I would have both a solid state combo and a tube combo. For this period in my life, modern solid state gear fits my life style better (I have to pick one or the other).

 

My recent experience with more watts, also leads me to believe the woofers on the Forte's like and benefit from power. If I was running a fully horn loaded system like a Klipschhorn or La Scala, I wonder if the benefits of a tube system would shine more brightly? 

 

I will not pretend to have the technical expertise to fully explain/support the why. But, I do wonder if the size of the Forte woofer likes the higher damping factor (control) a solid state amp can provide? With a fully horn loaded system, damping factor is no longer a concern.

 

Good luck on your ventures in tube gear. The glow of tubes and the music they make, really brings a smile to ones face and a lot of joy. Have fun! 

 

 

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15 hours ago, danielg said:

  

 

Oh interesting point about the tube rolling @tube fanatic. A few days ago I ordered two fairly cheap JJ Tesla tubes to replace my two 12AU7 input tubes let's see if I'd be able to feel any difference.

This "magic" is certainly something which interests me, currently the listening is very fatiguing but not engaging. I listen mainly to jazz, ambient, classical/avant-garde, folk/blues, African, Latin. I do however come from a DJing background and would sometime enjoy disco/ house/ techno with a good volume. 

I sit about 2.6m from the speakers and the speakers are spaced 2.6m apart. They are fairly close to the wall and toed in, and about 50cm from the side walls (see picture).IMG_8141.jp2


Before considering ordering a single ended amp it is worth measuring how much power you will need to satisfy your loudest listening levels.  When the time comes I can point you to a very simple method which takes about 2 minutes using a cheap multimeter.  Do post your impressions after the tube swap.

 

Maynard

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On 7/14/2021 at 12:43 AM, mdm7eb said:

 

I don't have experience with the type of tube amps you are infested in. I do have experience with Klipsch Forte III's with both a solid state amplifier and a tube amplifier and I can speak to the differences I discerned. I hope bringing my solid state experience into the safe place of the tube forum is not too offensive. Apologies if what follows is inappropriate for this setting. 

 

I originally ran my Forte's with a restored McIntosh MX110 and MC240. The MC240 bench tested at 55 watts at 1% THD (similar to the power of your tube amp). Lots of tube magic/goodness. I transitioned to more modern McIntosh solid state pieces; C41 and MC152. Note, the MC152 bench tests around 250 watts -- so significantly more power than MC240. The result? Tighter, punchier bass with more kick. The warmth of the tube amp sound is still present and the system is quieter (thanks to the better SND; 90 vs 118db). Does it have the same magic as the vintage gear? I don't think so. The evanescence/ethereal atmosphere the tube combo provided is replaced with a more detailed sound. In an ideal world, I would have both a solid state combo and a tube combo. For this period in my life, modern solid state gear fits my life style better (I have to pick one or the other).

 

My recent experience with more watts, also leads me to believe the woofers on the Forte's like and benefit from power. If I was running a fully horn loaded system like a Klipschhorn or La Scala, I wonder if the benefits of a tube system would shine more brightly? 

 

I will not pretend to have the technical expertise to fully explain/support the why. But, I do wonder if the size of the Forte woofer likes the higher damping factor (control) a solid state amp can provide? With a fully horn loaded system, damping factor is no longer a concern.

 

Good luck on your ventures in tube gear. The glow of tubes and the music they make, really brings a smile to ones face and a lot of joy. Have fun! 

 

 

 

Thanks for the kind response @mdm7eb, your point does make sense. As Klipsch are considered horn speakers I often tend to forget my Fortes are not actually 100% horn. At the moment anything like McIntosh is out of my budget. But what I did realise after reading your post is that the Forte IIIs have a bi-amping option. So perhaps using a SS amp for the bass and a SET amp for the top would make a good combo?

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On 7/14/2021 at 12:49 PM, tube fanatic said:


Before considering ordering a single ended amp it is worth measuring how much power you will need to satisfy your loudest listening levels.  When the time comes I can point you to a very simple method which takes about 2 minutes using a cheap multimeter.  Do post your impressions after the tube swap.

 

Maynard

Cheers Manyard, I'll pop a message once the tubes have been replaced and burnt in!

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6 hours ago, danielg said:

 

Thanks for the kind response @mdm7eb, your point does make sense. As Klipsch are considered horn speakers I often tend to forget my Fortes are not actually 100% horn. At the moment anything like McIntosh is out of my budget. But what I did realise after reading your post is that the Forte IIIs have a bi-amping option. So perhaps using a SS amp for the bass and a SET amp for the top would make a good combo?

Bi-amping would be cool! I still have my MC240 (have not let it go yet). In an ideal world, I would run the Fortes active with solid state on the woofers and tubes for the horns and DSP to tailor to my listening room. One can dream…

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