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You Can't Go Back!


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While I'm cleaning my new MC240, I decided to hook up the old Kenwood KR-9600 to the altecs. This is a very good vintage SS reviever in perfect working condition which I used for 25+ years.

This is the first SS I've listened to in about 6 months and I was shocked at how thin and lifeless it sounded compared to the Macs and especially the scott. Someone walking in off the streets would probably be impressed but after listening to nothing but tubes for just this short period of time, I was expecting much more. I certainly could live with it but.........

You really can't go back once you've seen the light. Its got a great tuner though!2.gif

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I'm a believer! Listening to my bro's JoLida JD 202a and a friend's Cary Audio changed my perspective. I love my MC250, but I know a tube amp will definately "do it" for me! My first step is buying a slick new 6SN7 SRPP line stage preamp to mate with my SS Mac until such time as I can buy a tube amp to replace it. I will be a true "bottlehead" eventually!

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Well, Gary, it IS a Kenwood.4.gif

Ha Ha Ha J/K.

Couldn't resist.

It's the mid-fi in me.

Tubes are an adventure whereas solid state is an evolution of the experience.

Now...whether that evolution is aurally beneficial or not, still remains a mystery to many.

Keep 'em glowing.



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"thin and lifeless, it will sound thick and opaque"

Thin and lifeless? Well I have never heard the Scott but that differes markedly from descriptions on this board and my own experiences with PP amps.

Not sure I like the sound of thick and opaque either come to that...

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Hey Mike, aren't you about overdue for the DRD review? I mean, we've only been waiting two months. C'mon man, it's time to give us the scoop on these things.

Opaque -- impenetrable by light; neither transparent nor translucent.

I'll go along with the "thicker" description, but I think "opaque" is too strong of a word. It's not like a dark curtain is being draped over the presentation. Even "thicker" is only a matter of degrees, and depending on the rest of the setup (especially if only using a "digital sounding" digital source) -- can actually be a good thing.

Max -- "thin and lifeless" was the description assigned by Gary to his old Kenwood receiver in comparison to the Scott.

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Whoops - my bad - sorry Mike - missed the reference.

Although I have never heard that Kenwood either....

Actually I am not sure I have ever heard any Kenwood....

where does all my time go? Still have no experience in this hobby of ours.

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Dean: The DRD review is coming. I've been busy as heck lately and not had a chance to complete the review. I've also not been on the Forum much lately either.

Max: I don't mean the Scott is thick and opaque in any absolute sense. It's a great amp. I only mean compared to SET, p-p, feedback designed amps will sound thick and opaque.

Defining "Opaque" in audio terms. Hmmmm.

First, I love tube amps of all types and grew up listening to my dad's Eico and Fisher units, so I don't have any objections to feedback designs. I currently have a Fisher 400 for my second system and enjoy it.

I have owned several tube amps over the past 16 yrs: Quicksilver 8417, Audio Note P2-SE, Aranov 9100 (reviewed for SoundStage! and purchased after the review), Margules U280SC (SS review), Audiomat Arpege, Prelude Ref and Solfege Ref (SS review of Arpege, purchased after review and later sold in my shop), Art Audio PX25 SET (sold in my shop), Wyetech Onyx SET (sold in shop and personal use), Audio Note P1-SE, and Welborne DRD300.

These were all great amps, but I still prefer the sonics of SET (with hi-eff speakers). I guess "opaque" could be described as a comparative lack of transparency, air, space, etc., in the soundstage.

On certain recordings (mainly classical stuff which I listen to ~80%), using typical p-p, feedback designs, I can hear the music, timbre, etc., and get a decent 3-dimensional presentation of the orchestra, string quartet, etc, but with SET I can hear the acoustical environment of the concert hall, church or whatever.

As to why, I can only speculate that this micro-detail/dynamics may be lost in the employment of feedback or even the tube design itself. For example, the Margules U280SC (6550 tubed)


has switchable ultralinear/triode modes. The triode wired mode is clearly more transparent and 3-dimensional than the UL mode. But a triode-wired 6550 (pentode) is not as transparent, etc., as a true triode. Neither is the single-ended EL84 powered Audio Note P1-SE as transparent as the DRD300B.

Cary owners having amps with adjustable feedback can pipe in withe their experiences.

So, whether it's feedback or tube design (pentode vs. triode), I prefer the SET over other tube designs. YMMV.

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Sure you an go back, I have. After owning several tube amps I've gone back to SS. And I know several other Chicago area hornies who have ditched tubes in favor of SS.

To prefer tubes is reasonable but to think that everyone will share that preference, or to think that preference is a physical fact, like the turning of the earth, instead of a matter of opinion and taste is not reasonable.

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On 10/24/2003 6:58:57 PM bkrop wrote:

Gary, how does your SS sony you use for HT compare?

Are you using it for SACD,HDCD, how does it compare?

Different speakers I know but generally?


The sony is horrible for 2-channel. The kenwood blows it away. I don't own an SACD player but DVD (5.1) music sounds good.

Tom B.,

Yes this is just my opinion. I'm sure there are many who would go back to SS with the right amp. I'm just not one of them.

Maybe someday I'll hear a SS amp that I prefer over my tubes. Maybe not. It wasn't an all or nothing type of post. I was just describing my current findings.

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