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Entry Level Tube Recs


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If you are thinking about raising your budget.......

Analog Ethos has some singled ended amps available as kits or assembled.

https://www.analogethos.com/shop

 

Here is thread on a Legendarium 2A3 build and some thoughts on its sound:

https://www.audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/analog-ethos-legendarium-2a3-set-kit.1005719/#post-15846213

Edited by 82 Cornwalls
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5 hours ago, 82 Cornwalls said:

If you are thinking about raising your budget.......

Analog Ethos has some singled ended amps available as kits or assembled.

https://www.analogethos.com/shop

 

Here is thread on a Legendarium 2A3 build and some thoughts on its sound:

https://www.audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/analog-ethos-legendarium-2a3-set-kit.1005719/#post-15846213

I've looked at them and they're certainly handsome amps. 

 

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  • 2 months later...

I think that ultimately, I've settled on a Willsenton R300 300b amp, but in the mean time, I couldn't resist this little number, a Glow Audio Amp Two, a 15-watt, PTP, hand wired, push pull 12AX7 driven, EL84 powered integrated amp designed by deHavilland Audio's Kara Chaffee, but made in China. Given the mixed reviews on chi-fi products, I was optimistically skeptical, but the price point, reviews, my conversations with Glow Audio's principal and the 30-day, no questions guarantee swayed me. I placed the order weekend before last and 10 days later, it arrived, well packaged and double boxed via UPS. The unboxing was simple enough, it arrived fully assembled but for the separately packaged power cable; it was an easy matter to plug everything in and go.

first impressions:

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it's smol, but handsome! it's a little more half as wide as my rack amp, but at 17#s, it has significant heft for its size.
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I've no idea what iron is beneath the covers, but the chassis seems well laid out and sturdy. It shipped with 2 Shugang 12AX7 tubes and a quartet of Shugang EL84s. I first plugged it in from the pre-outs of my receiver, into a pair of Super Heresy clones and as to be expected, there was a considerable amount of gain mismatch between the Glow and my other power amp, an Emotiva Mini-X 100A diving a pair of Klipsch H700 Heresies, as well as the bookshelf speakers that were driven off of my receiver and my subwoofers, a pair of Velodyne VTX 10B's. With the bookshelf speakers unplugged and the subs and Emotiva attenuated, the sound of the amp was much better, if not a little muddy. putting the receiver in Pure Direct mode disabled the preamp coloration and it really came into focus. Immediately, the soundstage of the Super Heresies expanded. They're just 7 feet apart, but they seemed to fill the entire room. With the subwoofers turned off, the bass response seemed fuller; it almost makes the subs unnecessary when playing Boards of Canada's dub-inspired Aquarius, via a Pro-ject Debut Carbon, equipped with an Ortofon Blue cartridge and stylus. The SQ was a significant increase over my Marantz NR1604 receiver, which previously I had zero qualms with in regard to sound quality.
 
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Next, I thought I'd see how it sounded on its own, so I plugged in my Oppo BDP 83, spinning Beck's SACD release, Sea Change into the other input. Holy cow! every thing positive I've written about this amp is exponentially increased- while the sound was great with the AVR serving as a pre, on its own, it sounded like a veil had been lifted: high and mid range clarity, dynamics and bass response all seemed better, so much so that I'm entirely rethinking my approach to my system: a second set of Heresies seems superfluous, the Glow Audio Amp Two and the Super Heresy clones are really all I need for two channel listening. I'll likely get rid of the H700's, rotate one of my amps back to my bedroom studio, pick up an amp and speaker switcher and rearrange my subs & SH clones so they play with both the Amp Two for 2-channel and my AVR for home theater. This means I'll also need a DAC to better utilize my digital sources, but I was DAC curious already.
 
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I didn't wait to play with a little tube rolling- I went back to my studio and dug into my stash of tubes- I only had a matched pair of JJ EL84's, so the power stage will have to wait, but I had a couple pair of 12AX7's. First up were a pair from Electro Harmonix: they were extremely mid-forward, a trait which combined with horn loaded speakers, were really too much. in addition to honky, shouty midrange, the bass seemed attenuated and the treble, shrill and thin; I couldn't get them out quickly enough! I put the OEM valve back in to reset my reference and in comparison, they seemed veiled, as if a blanket were laid over the speakers, (but still much better than the transistor AVR). The other pair I had were Groove Tube's 12AX-7 C Selects. I remember not liking them in my Fender Deluxe Reverb, but in the Amp Two, they were well balanced, bright, but not shrill, with ample bass and mama bear, just-right mid range. Next up, I've got a switcher on the way and a matched quad of JJ EL 84's en route. Does anyone have any other tube recs, either UK, USA or European made? (Russian tubes are out, although I'd consider soviet NOS from the former republics)  All told, I'm pretty pleased with this purchase so far!
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I've done some more tube rolling on the Glow Amp Two, adding a matched quad of Ruby Tubes/JJ EL84CZ power tubes. Imaging is crisp and the sound stage is vast. I’ve been burning it in in my recording studio, using a pair or KRK Rockit unpowered near field monitors and I’ve never heard those speakers sound better. They’re a far cry from my Super H speakers in my main listening space, but the sound from a pair of monitors on my recording desk, 3 feet apart and as far away, is remarkable. I’m very pleased with this purchase and I can’t believe how inexpensive it was. This amp is a cut above the Shenjen Ali Baba/China HiFi amps at the same price point. with tubes, shipping and taxes, I'm still under $625, all in. Next will be to try a better grade of driver valve; I've read that the JJ Gold Pin 12AX7 is excellent, but I'm open to other suggestions.

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