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Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Jesse Sharrow, Jun 8, 2005.
Be careful! 2-channel systems can be addictive and expensive!
My memory is a litte fuzzy here, but I'm pretty certain that Bob Carver was trying to duplicate the sound of a Conrad-Johnson tubed amplifier; the model number escapes me. He actually had to degrade the performance of his SS amp to succeed (which he did). This challenge led to Carver's "T" series of amplifiers. I don't recall anything about a bet.
As long as you're going 2-channel, why don't you go pro? Many people do; I've used a Crown Macro Reference 760 watt/channel amplifier for years and currently have a QSC SRA 3622 inserted in my system. Soundwise pro amps (at least the good ones) are the equal of any consumer amp, at any price (I include the big-buck amps), plus they have the advantage of high watt/weight and watt/dollar ratios and excellent reliability. Downsides are fan noise (no problem with either of my amps) and pro type inputs. Noisy fans can be replaced with quiet ones and adapters are available for the inputs. You might not even need adapters; I don't.
So - look into pro amps before buying.
The Outlaw Monoblocks are kick ass for a SS amp. They do not add anything to the signal to either enhance or degrade the signal from the preamp.
If you are going to prevent your 1 year old from playing seek and distroy I definitely wouldn't get a tube anything. Even if it was off and he got his hands on one of the tubes and decided to use it as a new chew toy then you would be out a lot of mula.
I would go with SS now and after your child is a little less in the distruct-o-matic mode you always go with a tube system then.
Believe me I know about the seek and distroy missions that children get on as my 5 year is still in that mode.
i would demo a pair of aes sixpacs. 50-watt tube amps using 6 EL34 output tubes made by a subsidiary of cary audio. aes is run by dennis had so you are getting cary quality at a fraction of the price. they sell for $2400 for the pair plus shipping. aes will refund your money if you find the amps are not to your liking. i should know. these are the amps that made me fall in love with tubes. unfortunately, they weren't powerful enough for my speakers / musical taste so i had to request a refund. as far as maintenance is concerned, tubes are NOT hard to come by unless you are looking for some esoteric new old stock (NOS) tubes. almost any modern tube can be obtained at:
the tube depot
the tube store
maintenance on a tube amp is not difficult. all you need is a multimeter to adjust the bias. some amps even self-bias. yes tubes do get hot. no way around that. you can however purchase, or make your own tube covers. personally, i find that most commerical tube covers obscure the beauty of the glowing tubes so i purchased a set of acrylic display cubes that my amps sit in. they are open to the back with plenty of ventilation of the 8 kt-88 output tubes. good luck in your search.
Thanks kevin. I am going to go listen to some tubes.... somewhere this week.
Seems you remember better than I do. Best I could find was "the infamous challenge in which Bob Carver claims he can match the sound of one of his inexpensive solid state amplifiers to an expensive Conrad-Johnson (tube) mono-block."
Perhaps the 1 ohm resistor is not so ingenious but it sure is an effective way to answer the question for the "tube curious" with no real downside.
I am glad you still have that Crown Macro Reference. 760 watts per side into 8 ohms, and what, about 1100 watts per side into 4 ohms. That thing is a classic! Tom Nousaine uses one to power his 8 fifteen inch IB subwoofer. Don Keele used one for many years for all his amp and subwoofer testing. Apparently simply bulletproof! I would opine that it is about as far from a tube amp as you can get. Damping factor of about 20,000. Compared to tube damping factor of 25. Minute amounts of IM and THD. Ruler flat FR.
Just the opposite of what you buy tubes for. Tubes are all about euphonic even order harmonic distortion, non-flat FR.
Another good company that packs big bang for the buck into their tubed amps is Rogue Audio. They make a couple different pairs of monos and are very good sounding for the mono, as well as reliable. Excellent customer service as well.
Antique Sound Labs is another good company for a wide range of tubed amps.
On the ss side, I currently use a tubed preamp and ss monos from Herron Audio. Love the sound - the music just seems "alive". I love the synergy with the all Herron set up, but if I didn't have the Herrons I'd be investigating Edge ss amps.
BTW, having used ss for many years, I don't find most modern tubed designs to be euphonic, tubby, rolled off, slow etc although you can, of course, mismatch your tubes and other equipment to end up with less than great sound. There is a "roundness', dimensionality, immediacy, clarity and sense of effortlessness with good tube amps that is hard to resist. Not all tube amps are flea powered mites only to be paired with high efficiency speakers.
If I could afford it, I'd love to have the VTL MBL450 monoss - 450 watts of tube power per side! If I had stats, I'd be beating a path to Atma-Sphere.
Lots of tube stereotypes bantered around here, but just remember stereotypes are just generalizations built over time. They may describe some of the offerings but certainly not all, plus a lot of these stereotypes are much more applicable to tubes of yore.
Personally I am not sure tubes would work best for your situation, but if your set on trying them here are some integrateds I would lead you towards that are reasonably priced, especially if found used.
Audio Research VS-55i
Jadis Orchestra Reference
I think you would be best served with SS gear with the Dunlavy's however. Dunlavy's were not designed with tube amplification in mind.
I would love to hear your Dunlavy's driven by an Accuphase integrated, as I think the Accuphase can get you close to tubes without going there.
Scroll down to the bottom of this article for a new review on the cheapest Accuphase integrated.
Oh and since we all know your budget isn't swelling right now, here is a used offering that might just be the ticket, at a ridiculously low price for everything.