Best Entry-Level Stereo Tube Amp under $500?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by EricE, Oct 12, 2002.

  1. EricE

    EricE Agent

    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've gotten curious about tube amps lately and was wondering what would my options for an entry level stereo tube amp? I'm thinking about doing a DIY project to make one, but I also wanted to make sure I was aware of the pre-built tube amps out there in my price range to make sure if it was worthwhile cost and performance wise to do it to begin with... and just in case I flake out and can't find the time to do the project as well. :wink:
     
  2. Eric Wood

    Eric Wood Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2001
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
  3. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2002
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bottlehead Foreplay : $149 kit form.
    ASL 2004 : $299
    If you go used you can find good deals from entrylevel sonic frontiers, counterpoint, Dynaco, etc. Check out Audiogon.

    I have been contemplating adding a tube pre to my HT for two channel listening, for some time now. Are you planning on adding it to a SS amp? if so please post your impressions on it.
     
  4. EricE

    EricE Agent

    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the tips, used would definently be an option for me. Can anyone recommend brands and models for me. To start off I'll be driving my PSB Image 4t speakers. But the amp will be used for speakers that I get down the road as a dedicated 2-channel audio system. Oh yeah, I'd like the amp to be able to play down to nominal 4-ohm loads. Am I asking too much for under $500?
     
  5. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    0
    What are the sensitivity of the PSB's?

    I am thinking that they will not be a particularly great match for smaller powered tube amps.

    DiyHiFiSupply has these China DIY amps and pres their Billy SET 300B amp pumps out 10W and can be purchased for close to your budget. They also have a higher power push-pull design.
     
  6. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yogi, what you are talking about is often done with guitar amplification.

    There are some guitar amps that use tubes for one of the first stages and then solid-state for the final and then there are effects boxes containing a tube pre-amp stage which people use between their guitars and a solid-state amp.

    It seems to mostly be a matter of economics. These tube/transistor approaches let somebody get the tube "sound" without paying the price of an all-tube amp.

    As the sound of an overdriven tube amp is unique and desirable, it's common on recordings that, although what you end up hearing has of course gone digital at some point to end up on CD, it started out with the musician in the studio using a Fender Champ (small tube amp) cranked up until it screams.

    The unique sound results from reaching volume levels where the vibrations from the speaker begin to shake the power-amp tube itself, thus adding a degree of oscillation to the already-warm sound of an all-tube circuit.
     
  7. EricE

    EricE Agent

    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    PSB Image 4ts Sensitivity:
    Anechoic Chamber 89dB
    Typical Listening Room 91dB

    So that means that means...
    1 W = 89 db
    2 W = 92 db
    4 W = 95 db
    8 W = 98 db
    16 W = 101 db
    32 W = 104 db
    64 W = 107 db
    128 W = 110 db
    256 W = ears bleeding heh

    Is that formula above holding true for tube amps? I know there's a big discussion that I might be getting into by asking that question. But is that something I should be concerned about?
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    There are also other approaches to this such as some products from Behringer that incorporate tubes and equalization relatively inexpensively into one product allowing one to bypass the equalization if they so want thereby allowing you to stick with what you've got. Guitar Center, which seems to have stores everywhere in the country carries them I believe and they've got a reasonable return policy if its not your cup of tea.
     
  9. Check out E-bay for old McIntosh amps and the Dynaco ST-70.
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    If Saurav checks this thread, he will tell you all about the Bottle Foreplay DIY amp. That's the one that immediately came to mind when I saw this thread. I have also read good things about the Dynaco ST-70. I know that Dynaco reissued the '70 some years after releasing the original model, but I don't know how prices compare between original and reissued units. The reissue is no longer in production, but check eBay and Audiogon for used units (original and reissue).
     
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Chris, I wouldn't have thought that $500 would get one a used McIntosh amp. McIntosh amps are very well-regarded high-end components, so I would have expected all of them to go for much more than $500. At $500, are we talking about a fully working unit, including working tubes, that is in good cosmetic condition?
     
  12. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Bottlehead stuff will not pump out enough juice for your speakers, except the most expensive one that does 8 watts but costs about $1300. I don't think you are going to be satisfied by 3.5 watts with those PSB's. I have read someone who has some 93dB efficient speakers with an easy greater than 8 ohm load and 3.5 watts drives tehm but he can't rock out with that much juice.
    I have some speakers that are 89dB efficient with 4 ohm load that dips I believe to 3.7 ohms at its lowest point and I have driven them succesfully with the ASL Wave-8's that push out 8 watts. These meet your budget, but I would encourage you to check out these two kits by DIY Hi FI Supply first.
    Ella
    Billie
     
  13. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  14. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    0
    Norh has the SE9 for $400. It's rated at 9W into 8 ohms. I'm interested in this piece myself but, since I'm not familiar with their electronics, I'm looking for feedback from owners...
     
  15. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2002
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am suprised no one has mentioned ASL Wave 8's yet.

    I had the nOrh SE9 ($400) and I also purchased a used Jolida 302b (50w x 2 integrated tube amp) for $500 at audiogon ($1000 new). My speakers are ACI Sapphire IIIs (90db).

    I end up keeping the Jolida. The SE9 was good but there seemed to be more detail at low volumes with the 302b. At night when my wife is asleep I often listen at very low volumes, and with the 302b I hear everything I hear when I am playing 'loud'.

    I have also heard the Wave 8s in my system. They are great entry level amps for $110 each. They do roll off the top end a bit, but you can't expect miracles for that price.

    You can find a great used tube amp at a good price. I jumped on the Jolida and I am very glad I did.

    Have fun. I have enjoyed my tubes quite a bit.
     
  16. Aaron H

    Aaron H Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2001
    Messages:
    592
    Likes Received:
    0

Share This Page