recommendations for tube preamp and amps wanted

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris_B, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Chris_B

    Chris_B Extra

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    I know next to nothing about tube gear and was looking for ways to tweek my 2 channel music setup. Can you recommend some tube gear in the sub $800 range? Also, my speakers are not very efficient (87dB) so how would that affect my tube amp search?

    I have heard that just adding a tube preamp is a good way of getting the warmer tube sound. Is this true?

    Thanks for the help,

    Chris
     
  2. PomingF

    PomingF Second Unit

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    Chris, your best place to start is the tube gear section of audioasylum. I know I hate their format but you've gotta start somewhere. You have to have pretty efficient speakers in order to run those relatively low power single-tubed amps and tubevalley.com has a good list of brands listed. Higher power tube amps aren't usually single tubed and probably costs a lot more both to own and maintain (more tubes to replace). If you already have your not too efficient speakers chosen you may go the tube-pre/SS-amp route which should quench your tube thirst for a while. AES (audioelectronicsupply.com) a subsidiary of Cary carries some modest priced tube gear that may fit your price range. Go to upscaleaudio.com and it's web site should have links to AES & upscaleaudio's main store which is another good source for higher quality tube/SS gear. Good luck.

    PF
     
  3. Rob Braden

    Rob Braden Auditioning

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    I was never happy with the sound of my Yamaha receiver in straight 2-channel stereo. On the recommendation of a friend I built the Bottlehead Foreplay preamp. I love this little thing! It really does sound good, better than any $150 preamp has a right to. I've got probably $200 in it now, and I've been slowly making mods. This thing just keeps getting better.
    It's easy to build, even for a beginner - I had barely touched a sautering iron in years, but the instructions are clear and the circuit is simple.
    Currently I'm running it to my PSB Image speakers (92dB) through my Outlaw amp, but pretty soon I'm going to built Bottlehead's Straight 8 speakers (96dB) and a pair of SET amps (probably 300B) to drive them. I'm hooked. [​IMG]
    Cheers!
    Rob Braden
     
  4. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    A preamp would affect the sound more than the power amp, unless you play your music so loud that the power amp becomes unlinear.

    A good tube preamp would be the Audible Illusion Modulus series. Probably a used Modulus 2C/2D would go for no more than $500. If you don't have phono. A used L1, which has the line stage more closer to the Modulus 3 series (Stereophile Class A, their older stuff were not ranked only because the M3 reviwer came from TAS, a long admirer of AI,) would go for no more than $700.

    If you want tube power amp, maybe one with tube driver stage and SS output stage would suit your need. Used counterpoint SA-220's are always on the used market for decent price, some even modified/updated by Michael Elliiot (SA-220's original designer) of AltavistaAudio.com.
     
  5. SeanMcV

    SeanMcV Auditioning

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    I'm using a conrad-johnson PV10AL in my two channel system, along with a solid state McCormack power amp. It adds a bit of that tube magic to the solid state amp, and was pretty close to the price range you mentioned when I bought it. ($995, I think) It's strictly a line level preamp, but if you do need a phono section, they sold the PV10A for about $200 more.
    That was a few years ago, and I think they've moved on to the PV10B (and PV10BL) now, but it should still be in the same price range. You can find more info at: http://www.conradjohnson.com/
    If you can find one for sale used, it should come in well under $800.
     
  6. Cary P

    Cary P Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,

    I recently purchased an Anthem Pre 2L SE tubed preamp new in the box for a little more than your $800 budget. I love what this thing has done for the 2 channel performance of my system. The high end is so extended and smooth with the Anthem, there is a lot more presence and weight in the lower midrange, and the bass has greater depth than what I was getting with my Marantz SR7200 receiver in source direct mode.

    It is very quiet for a tubed preamp, and it has been very reliable and well-behaved so far. If the Pre2L is any indication, the build quality and packaging of Anthem products is top-notch and I can recommend them without hesitation.

    One of the great bonuses of the Anthem Pre 2L is that it has a home theater bypass input for seamless integration with a home theater setup. I simply run two quality interconnect cables from the FL/FR preout of my Marantz 7200 receiver to the Anthem ht bypass input, and I'm good to go. I'm mostly a music guy, and this setup allows me to invest in and upgrade my 2 channel signal chain without worrying too much about the 2 channel performance of my home theater gear. I've programmed the Anthem remote codes into the AUX settings of the Marantz remote, and now I can control the whole setup very easily.

    The combination of a really nice 2 channel pre-amp with a home theater bypass and a mid-level home theater receiver offers a lot of bang for the buck, IMHO.

    Cary
     
  7. Chris_B

    Chris_B Extra

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    I think I am going to try to build the bottlehead Foreplay Preamp. For only $150 there is not much risk and I may learn something. It sounds like fun too [​IMG].
     

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