top 5 tube amplifiers

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan_Garcia, Jun 16, 2002.

  1. Ryan_Garcia

    Ryan_Garcia Extra

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    JOHN RYAN GARCIA
    greetings audiophiles!

    im planning to buy a tube amplifier but i need your opinion based on actual experience. please help me narrow down to top 5 the best and affordable tube amplifier the market has right now from low end to high end. indicate the pro's and con's and the actual price you bought them. bear in mind that budget is important. ill be using them just for music, thanks in advance.
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    If you're looking for budget amps, I would recommend spending some time at the Antique Sound Labs (ASL) page on www.divertech.com. I have the ASL Waves - $200/pr, 8W/ch. It is impossible to predict whether you can use this amp or not without knowing a lot of things about your room and your speakers. And it's not just about watts, there are more things to consider when trying to match a tube amp to a pair of speakers. In other words, it is impossible to come up with a "Top 5" list without determining what you need (and want) in an amplifier, be it tube or SS.
     
  3. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  4. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Yup, they're cheap all right, and sound amazing for what they cost. If you have speakers which can be driven by 8W, I really don't think there's a single SS amp in the same price range that can touch these for sound quality. Big claim, I know [​IMG] For that matter, I doubt there are many SS amps in that price range, period. And in my experience (i.e. with the ones that I've heard), that value-for-money is consistent across the ASL product line. I've heard a 30W integrated amp that sells for around $600 or $700 which sounds pretty amazing too, ditto for their preamps ($300 or so). I believe they recently introduced a 15W amp/ integrated to the US market, that would allow the use of many more speakers.
    I'm using these with 88dB sensitive monitors (GR Research Paradox 1), in a 25'x15' room. The important thing is my speakers' impedance curve - nominal impedance 8 ohms, minimum impedance 7.2 ohms - i.e., a very flat impedance curve with no sharp dips. That is really important when trying to drive something with tubes - AFAIK, tube amps hate big dips in impedance.
    Rest of the system:
    Rega P3 with a Dynavector 10x4 MkII (turntable/cartridge)
    DIY phono stage
    Denon DCM-270 CD changer, fairly extensively modded
    DIY NHT 1259-based subwoofer, DIY crossover for that
    Monster HTS-something-or-the-other
     
  5. mike_decock

    mike_decock Supporting Actor

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    Saurav:

    I have a pair of the Waves and was just looking for info on the GR Research Paradox 1s. How do you like that combination? My listening room is small (10x14) so power isn't an issue. I really want good imaging, good soundstage, clear highs, warm midrange and a lively, punchy midbass (deep bass is not an issue - that's what a sub is for if I really want it). My PSB Image 4Ts are OK but the midbass never comes alive.

    Any of your opinions on your setup in those respects would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    -Mike...
     
  6. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Well, AFAIK, the Paradoxes are no longer in production, because Focal stopped production of the tweeter used in these speakers. GR Research makes another monitor called the AV1, which is supposed to have a softer sound. I suggest you check www.audioasylum.com for more information on these speakers, there have been many discussions on them in the past.
    Other than that... I think the Paradoxes are really good at imaging and soundstaging. Which is ironic, because those were pretty low on my list of reasons for choosing this speaker. In my room, I consistently listen to all of the music coming from well behind the speakers, often from beyond the wall. Width easily extends beyond the sides of the speakers on some sounds (I've noticed this more with high frequency stuff like cymbals and acoustic guitars). The highs will depend a lot on your room, this particular Focal tweeter is supposed to have a fairly wide dispersion, which can be overpowering if the room is too bright/reflective. Punchy midbass - now you're talking [​IMG] That is the reason I bought this speaker, because of all the reviews which said how dynamic and lively the sound was, and in that respect it hasn't disappointed me. I used to own Paradigm Mini Monitors, which are a pretty good speaker for the price IMO, but these are in a whole different league.
    I'll be moving on in a few months though - I need higher efficiency for some of the amps I'm considering. But for now, the Wave/Paradox combination works really well for me. It's lasted several months at this point, which is saying something [​IMG] I have been tweaking the Waves though, don't know if that disqualifies the longevity argument.
     
  7. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I think someone on this forum tried out the Waves with the B&W 303 (or something similar). He thought it sounded great, but didn't go very loud at all, and distorted easily at higher volumes. If you know the sensitivity and minimum impedance on that speaker, I might be able to give you a better idea of how well it might work.
    So... I wouldn't recommend the Waves, unless you can try them out with no loss. You should be able to find many SS amps for $500 to drive those speakers, especially if you're willing to buy used. Try www.audiogon.com for your options. In terms of tube amps, ASL has a few higher powered amps that they're shipping to America. Check www.divertech.com for more information - a dealer can sometimes get you lower prices than what's quoted on the Divertech page (Divertech's the distributor for North America). Again, check Audiogon, also search for Jolida, they make pretty good budget-priced tube gear.
    If your speakers are hard to drive (and I believe B&W would fall into that category), you might be better off buying a tube preamp and an SS amp. It takes $$ to get a powerful tube amp - some speakers are designed with tube amps in mind, many aren't, and trying to drive them successfully requires lots of tube power, which costs money. An SS amp will solve all those amp-speaker matching problems, and a tube preamp would get you some of that sound you're looking for (assuming you're looking for it in the first place [​IMG]).
     
  8. mike_decock

    mike_decock Supporting Actor

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  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Well, I was hearing rumors for quite a while now, maybe they're still in the going-going-gone stage. According to GR Research, customers who listen to both speakers pick either one about half of the time, so one isn't necessarily a better speaker than the other. AFAIK they share the same woofer and similar crossovers, the tweeters are different. The cabinet shapes/sizes are identical.

    Enclosures - Brian Bunge of Rutledge Audio Design makes enclosures for GR Research speakers, I believe he worked out the details with Danny Richie of GR Research. Brian posts on this forum, so you should be able to get his email address with a search.

    I have no idea who AVM solutions are.
     
  10. Bruce Chang

    Bruce Chang Second Unit

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    I would say Jolida tube amps. I got a 50x3 integrated tube amp for $400.
     
  11. mike_decock

    mike_decock Supporting Actor

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  12. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Saurav:

     
  13. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Mike:
     
  14. mike_decock

    mike_decock Supporting Actor

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  15. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Mike:

     
  16. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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