Tube Pre-amp

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Jonathan T, May 11, 2003.

  1. Jonathan T

    Jonathan T Second Unit

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    Would using a tube pre-amp in your system with a solid state power amp yeild the same sonic effect as using a tube power amp?
     
  2. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    How similar may depend on the rest of your system. Speakers, room, source and SS amp. Many believe that some SS amps are very close to the sound of tube amps. Different, but when matched with a tube preamp and the right tubes. Can sound on par with an all tube system. I recently bought a used Audible Illusion Modular 3A tube preamp. It with my Rotel 1090 stereo amp. Aided with ByBee power cords from the AI and 1090 sound incredible with the Revel F-30 main speakers. I bought the AI locally. And had a chance to listen to the sellers system. Cary mono block amps, First Sound Mark II preamp and Coincedent main speakers. He is using Shunyata power cords. He also came over to my house to have a listen to my setup. His system has more transparency and some more detail than mine. But, cost about three times as much as my setup. He later e-mailed me and said.

    "I would NOT say that I am getting the same level of performance based on price that you are".

    "If I were to start over and wanted to go Solid State, I would get the Rotel 1090 and Revel F30's. You hit that combo dead on. I was impressed".

    So IMO matching a tube preamp with a SS amp. Can impress even dye hard tube based people.
     
  3. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    There is no certain answer here. It is all about your preferences, as well as your system.
     
  4. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    A tube preamp with B&K amplifiers is as close to tube sound you can get without the hassle of tubes, IMHO.
     
  5. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    A tube preamp with a Bel Canto eVo2 would be close to all tube IMO. I've heard the eVo2 with a Cary SLP-2002 and the sound was very smooth and transparent.
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I would urge all of you to consider the power matching, impedence, and other requirements of the speakers before making blanket judgments. Scott Oliver is right in that there are too many variables to consider.

    I have found with Audio Research gear that their tube amps sound better with a tube pre-amp all else being equal. The amp-speaker combination is generally far more critical than the pre-amp selection. I would say that preamps have gotten much quieter over the past four years so I would choose something recent. I used to like the classic Audible Illusions preamps but the new ARC preamps are much better.
     
  7. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    BTW, my preference is an all tube system. I have not heard a SS system do the things a tube system can, especially when it comes to texture and emotion.

    I now have a Granite Audio Preamp and an Art Audio Concerto amp and the combo is divine.

    Personally, the hassles of tubes are way overated too, espececially if you just buy a self-biasing amp.

    Oh and I also must echo what Lee statred concerning the amp and speakers matching. I think system design to a large degree must start with what type of speaker you are going to use. SS designs can have lots of wattage for much less money than the big tube powerhouse amps. So if you are considiering a tube amp make sure you get a speaker that doesn't need huge amounts of power, otherwise your wallet will pay for it.
     
  8. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Solid State amps can be made to sound like tubes. Tubes
    add more even order harmonic distorsion (pleasing) than
    Odd Order (not pleasing) Solid State tends to do odd order
    but this can easily be changed by the design of the amp.

    It all depends on what you want.. Tubes add coloration to
    the sound they are not "transparent" because if they were then there would be no difference between tubes and solid
    state (though when you get into super expensive tube gear
    there really isn't much measureable difference between them
    and very good solid state amplification.)

    If you are looking for pure unaltered sound then tubes may
    not be the way to go. I personaly have tubes and solid
    state and I think they both have thier place. The tubes are
    nice when I want all source media to sound nice and smooth
    and I am not worried about volume (I can't afford a 200+
    watt tube system... So the 20 watts I have sound good but
    they won't drive the setup to 120Db like my solid state will.)

    In the other sense when I am casualy listening to music
    like I have been for the past 4 days since I got XM in the
    house (non stop) I won't turn the tubes on.. Why burn up
    tubes when I am just walking around, surfing the net and
    listening to music.

    Burning up tubes is more of a moote point with PreAmps
    since they are linestage and generaly not driven hard they
    tend to live a few thousand hours easily. Power tubes in a
    good tube amp won't last that long without loosing thier
    sonic signature from what I have read thus far.

    For me Tubes in the Pre was too much hassle though. For the
    level of quality I wanted I couldn't get for less than a
    few thousand dollars. When for under a grand I have a S.S
    Pre that will give some of the best S.S Pre's out there a
    run for thier money.

    It's all in what each person wants.
     
  9. Jonathan T

    Jonathan T Second Unit

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    My speakers will be a pair of HE10.1s. Adire audio says it was designed to work well with tube amplification. Although, I've heard other people say that solid state will work better in this case cause the HE10.1s need an amp that has very good control over the bass. And, from what I've read, tube amps don't have enough dampening to keep the bass on these speakers tight and smooth. Now that I think about it, there are so many hassels with tubes from high voltage to burning out tubes, I'd rather buy a good solid state and use that. THanks guys.
     
  10. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Jonathan,

    There are tube amps that have good dampening factors. But
    they don't come cheap! My $500.00 pair of tube monoblocks
    (20 Watts Class A Push/Pull) will power a 89Db Sensitive
    speaker to decent (not ear bleeding) listening levels. And
    has great control over the Midrange (They are not pushing
    anything below 100Hz).
     
  11. Jonathan T

    Jonathan T Second Unit

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    With my setup, I would have the crossover set to 80hz, everything below would be sent to a AV-12 sub. C500 a pair is a lot for a 15 year old. I am getting a job this summer but 1000 is still alot.
     
  12. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Jonathan

    Thats $500.00 US
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    focus on girls and having a good time.
     
  14. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    "focus on girls and having a good time."

    But before that make sure they have good working tubes.
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Real Name:
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  16. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Brett and Lee,

    Please don't turn this thread into a Tube vs Solid State quagmire. Nothing comes from it. Both of you come across as intelligent gentlemen who both happen to enjoy tubes. Everything else is just semantics...

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Jonathan,

    There is no absolute answer to your original question.

    1) Not all tube power amps sound the same.
    2) Not all tube preamps sound the same.
    3) So it's impossible to induce an answer from these two unknowns.
    4) Remember, it's not the "design philosophy" that's important. It's the designer's skill of implementation.

    You are young. I think it's great you want exposure to tubes. You can only gain knowledge from the experience. Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.

    Kevin
     
  17. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    You can always add a resistor and a diode and fake the tube thing [​IMG]
    Somehow I think these teens have checked these things out Yogi.
     
  18. Jonathan T

    Jonathan T Second Unit

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    "Focus on girls and have a good time"

    I got WAY too much homework[​IMG]

    Just kidding, I always make time for the girls and a good time, but that's another thread on another forum.

    Kevin:
    I'm not sure what I'm gonna do yet. As you said, experience is the only way to learn. When I get and build this amp, there's gonna be a huge learning curve as I've never done it before. I guess it will just come down to the $$, complication of build and up-keep.

    Brett:
    I read it as 500 for each monoblock, oops. Sorry bout that.

    THanks guys, I'll just do some more research and then make a decision.
     
  19. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Kevin,

    Honestly did you see any particular paragraph where I said
    S.S is better than Tube or vice versa? Nope.. And I am not
    nor is Lee, turning this into a debate over either.

    Me and Lee get along just fine we're all adults and we can
    carry on a peaceful "discussion" that is what the forums
    are for. [​IMG]

    Now with that being said.. I have a question for Lee...

    Lee,

    You said and I quote "Brett, I must strongly disagree with this statement. Tubes these days are as accurate as any solid state amp"

    Okay my question is.. In the past tubes were choosen for
    thier well documented fact that they add even ordered harmonic
    distorsion to the signal or the output and this has been
    deemed as pleasureable. If new tubes are refined to the point
    where they are as accurate (Neutral) as some Solid State
    then what would be the premise for going with Tubes which
    do cost more on average over solid state?

    I am honestly curious as to the rational this is not a poke
    at tubes or ss I own both and honestly I love both for
    different reasons.
     
  20. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    Hey Jonathan,
    since you mentioned something about building an amp and a learning curve, I have to throw out the possibility of you purchasing a DIY amp or pre-amp kit. Bottlehead makes some really good and cheap products, but if you are worrying about their ability to drive your speakers then you might not be able to use their amps as they are low wattage SET designs.

    Welborne Labs makes some incredible DIY tube products that can compete with the big boys, but their kits are probably out of your price range.

    The perfect kit company for you however might be DIY HiFi Supply and their Consonance amp kits that they carry. One of their amps is called the Ella and it is a push-pull design that pumps out around 40 watts with El-34's and can also use KT-88's and 6550's. The Ella costs ~$400 plus their are some options that can add a little to the price if you want them.
     

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