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Butler Amp: Anyone buy one yet?

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Artar1

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Has anyone purchased a Butler amp for their MLs? If so, would you like to share your experiences?

Thanks. :)
 
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BearcatSandor

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Has any one actually heard this thing yet? I love the idea, but i'm skeptical of hybrid amps.
 

Robin

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Reverb

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I think after Christmas I will try one in home. I still don’t like that it doesn’t have XLR inputs, but I may get a set of king cobra interconnects to test the 5150 and then sell them to Robin. :D
 
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BearcatSandor

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So i wrote Stone and got his/her permission to post our correspionance so far:

Hey Stone,

In the following thread:

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=1070

It was made known to be that you have a Butler amp. I'm really curious about
them as they seem to be a great way to drive a pair of Logans. I'm
considering the Summits and think the Butler T2250 would drive it well.

However, i'm skeptical of the idea of a hybrid design, especially with such a
small tube.

Isn't the Monad (A100) also a hybrid design just using a 300B tube.

The reviews on these products are sparse. Can you describe the sound of your
amp?

If you could do so in the above thread others are interested as well.

Thank you so much,

--
Bearcat M. Sandor

Hey Bearcat,

I did see your thread last night just haven't had a chance to reply. I have
the 5150 for about 1-1/2 years and like it very much. I do not have the
luxury of having experience with a lot of high end equipment so I may not be
the best person to describe it's strengths and weaknesses. Prior to the
Butler I had a Sunfire Cinema Grand Series 2 and prior to that a Denon
3800(?) receiver. For me the Butler is far superior. The amp can reproduce
the finest details, and can also drive the Logans hard when asked to. It is
built like a tank, runs cooler than my Rotel processor and is completely
silent. It has multiple circuit protection and nice big gold plated
connectors. Customer service is great too.

I'm no engineer, but I do not believe BK Butler is using the tube for power,
just for sonics. According to BK the tubes last forever since they are not
driven with high voltages. I personally think the blue LED backlit tubes are
a little cheesy. I would rather just see the very faint glow of the tube.

I also read someone's comment about the lack of XLR inputs. From what I
understand XLR connectors/cables where designed to reduce interference in
commercial applications where long runs of multiple cables created
interference. I do not know if there is an advantage to XLR in the typical
residential environment.

Before purchasing my unit I spoke with BK about the match up with
electrostatic panels. He told me he had used panels while creating the
circuit design and felt the characteristics of the panels and the tubes was
a great match.

I have included a link to a pair of Monads I have my eye on. I really can't
afford them but would love to pick them up to biamp my mains.

Hope this helps.
Paul

Paul,

It sounds fantastic. I have been blown away by most tube systems ever since i
got to audition them. I have heard the Cary Rocket 88's and the Bat VK-55s
both of which sounded wonderful. All that i have read makes me hunger to hear
a SET amp.

The problem with SETs of course is that even if there is just enough wattage
(i want a pair of summits with their 92 db sensitivity) i worry about the
wild impedance loads of the panels and the life of the tubes. The 5150 may
take care of all of that.

It's a shame that the tubes in the 5150 are back-lit by leds. I'd rather just
have the gentle blue glow of the tubes (doesn't everyone listen in the
dark?). It seems kinda cheep to have them lit that way. I'd bet one could
take the leds out of the circuitry easily enough.

So, if the small tubes in the 5150 and even the 300B in the Monad (my wife
looked at a picture of it yesterday and said it should be called the "Gonad")
are just inserted into signal path i wonder how much they are actually doing.
Regarding the Monad, for almost 20K of amp you can buy a *very* nice pure
tube amp.

I wonder how is this different from having a class-D amp (switching, which i
believe these are) and a tubed pre-amp?

Yanno, if you don't want to take the time to reply to the thread, i could just
insert our emails in there as we write them.

Thanks again,

Bearcat

[Bearcat,]
I do think it is a fantastic amp. I am surprised there isn't more buzz about
these amps, good or bad. I am trying to get more listening experience with
high end gear. I've been to CES twice and will be going this year, not the
perfect place to audition but lot's of equipment all in one place.. I hope
to hear the Monads. By the way, the comment from your wife is very funny.

On Butler's website he explains briefly how the tubes are used, apparently
they are not in the pre-stage.

Been thinking about building a small pure tube amp from one of the many
available kits. Could be fun.

Feel free to post these emails....thanks.

Paul
 

Reverb

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Thanks Bearcat.

The tubs are in the output stage of the amps.

The tubes will last partially forever because they are powered at low voltage, because of this Butler Audio solder’s the Tube directly to the board (they are not removable) they are there merely to augment the solid state sold to sound more like a tube amp.
 
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BearcatSandor

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Directly soldered to the board? The more i learn about them, i just don't know.

Hmm.. I love the idea, but if this blue tube is such a great idea why hasn't someone done it before? I'm just not sure i buy it and something bothers me here.

I mean how do these blue tubes sound compared to a good SET, like a Art Audio or a good p/p like a Sixpac?

I looked on the site for a "local" dealer, but could find no dealer listings. Are they web sales only?
 

Reverb

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If you have not yet gone over to Butler Audio’s web site and gone threw there right up’s on the technology, I subject you do so, it’s very informative and in lighting.

The amp itself is sold state, but butler audio added a tube into the output stage of each channel of the amp. The tub is run at low voltage so it does not fully power up, hence the reason why it glows a faint blue. The audio is passed threw the tube before leaving the amp and powering your speakers.

The Idea is an amp with sold state power and a tube sound.

Here are two reviews I have found.
http://hometheater.about.com/od/audiocomponentreviews/fr/butler5150new.htm

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/butler/2250.html

I too do not have a local Butler Audio dealer, or I would have already tried one. Butler Audio will let you purchase one off the web site and do a in home trial, which I may do early next year.

If I do try one the Martin Logan Owners Club will be the first to know about it.
 

Robin

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Soldered tubes directly to the board...

Zip3kx07 said:
Thanks Bearcat.

The tubs are in the output stage of the amps.

The tubes will last partially forever because they are powered at low voltage, because of this Butler Audio solder’s the Tube directly to the board (they are not removable) they are there merely to augment the solid state sold to sound more like a tube amp.
Joe,

It is interesting, I did not know the tubes were soldered to the board and not removable... :rolleyes: I was thinking, if I was to purchase this kind of amp, I would have replaced the tubes with up-graded tubes, I guess, that option is out... Yes, I'd like to hear your review, of your audition next year, as I am not into the hassel of shipping it back, just to audition it... :)

Cheers

-Robin
 

Reverb

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Robin said:
Joe,

It is interesting, I did not know the tubes were soldered to the board and not removable... :rolleyes: I was thinking, if I was to purchase this kind of amp, I would have replaced the tubes with up-graded tubes, I guess, that option is out... Yes, I'd like to hear your review, of your audition next year, as I am not into the hassel of shipping it back, just to audition it... :)

Cheers

-Robin
Yep,
I too was thinking about getting one of these amps and rolling the tubs until I found out the tubs were not removable. I do understand the reasoning behind it, why spend the extra money adding a socket for the tube when you can solder them, and save a few bucks on manufacturing.

The reason I wish this amp had XLR’s is because I have spent the time, money, and effort in putting together a system for XLR balanced interconnects, and I would like to continue to use them. I am using AudioQuest’s top of the line interconnect the “SKY”, so going out and picking up another set in RCA in a little out of the question. However if I can get a set of AQ RCA interconnects for a trail period something like the King Cobra or Jaguar to test the butler and I decide to keep it I can send my SKY’s back to AudioQuest and for a small fee they will re-terminate them into RCA’s which is a far better option them buying all new.

I am still looking for an amp to replace my Sunfire, but every time I keep going back to the butler. I am really very curious what this thing sounds like? I wish I had a local dealer.
 
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Artar1

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Well, I took the plunge today, but it was not a Butler. I bought a McIntosh MC 2102. It should arrive by next Thursday, just in time for Christmas. It, by the way, does have balanced inputs as well as unbalanced ones. After I get it hooked up, I will let you all know how it sounds.

My next task is to tube roll the MC 2102. Any suggestions on the 12AX7s and the 12AT7s?

Thanks.
 

Reverb

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Artar1 said:
Well, I took the plunge today, but it was not a Butler. I bought a McIntosh MC 2102. It should arrive by next Thursday, just in time for Christmas. It, by the way, does have balanced inputs as well as unbalanced ones. After I get it hooked up, I will let you all know how it sounds.

My next task is to tube roll the MC 2102. Any suggestions on the 12AX7s and the 12AT7s?

Thanks.
Congrats,

I hope you enjoy it.

Which input are you going to use, the RCA or XLR?
 

Spike

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Good choice!

Artar1 said:
Well, I took the plunge today, but it was not a Butler. I bought a McIntosh MC 2102.
Good choice on the Mac! I hesitated to post regarding the Butler since I must be missing something obvious. IMHO, just having tubes inserted in the middle of solid-state circuit to get the warm tube sound of the amp sounds more like using tube as a glorified tone control device. Not exactly my cup of tea where I like to keep things simple and keep the component count down to the minimum in order to maintain the integrity of the original signal. Just my 2cents.

Spike
 

Robin

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Anthem P5....

Zip3kx07 said:
Yep,
I too was thinking about getting one of these amps and rolling the tubs until I found out the tubs were not removable. I do understand the reasoning behind it, why spend the extra money adding a socket for the tube when you can solder them, and save a few bucks on manufacturing.

The reason I wish this amp had XLR’s is because I have spent the time, money, and effort in putting together a system for XLR balanced interconnects, and I would like to continue to use them. I am using AudioQuest’s top of the line interconnect the “SKY”, so going out and picking up another set in RCA in a little out of the question. However if I can get a set of AQ RCA interconnects for a trail period something like the King Cobra or Jaguar to test the butler and I decide to keep it I can send my SKY’s back to AudioQuest and for a small fee they will re-terminate them into RCA’s which is a far better option them buying all new.

I am still looking for an amp to replace my Sunfire, but every time I keep going back to the butler. I am really very curious what this thing sounds like? I wish I had a local dealer.
Joe,

I know one amplifier you wouldn't mind in your system... :D
With AQ Sky's hooked to it would be cool... ;)

Cheers

-Robin
 

kach22i

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Artar1 said:
McIntosh MC 2102.
Beautiful, a $12,000 amp.............................I'm jealous.



I listened to this amp with a Mac pre-amp and a Mac DVD player playing a CD. The speakers were boxes which had self powered bass units. As much as I loved the look of the amp - and I think it to be a fine amp, the set up I heard was lacking.

Somehow the begining of each note was missing - it just was not there. It was like the setup produced the world biggest late starter. Imagine a track event or a horse race where one of the horses/racers is late getiing out of the blocks - that was this setup.

To this day I don not know what part of the system failed and produced these results.

The sales man said it was the DVD player.

I have a Mac CD player and like it very much, don't know how it could of been the source.
 
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Artar1

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Spike,

In general, I agree with your observation.

If one is going to go with tubes, hybrid designs, in which the input stage uses valves and the output stage uses something like MOSFETs or bipolar devices, do not have the same holographic, three-dimensional quality that most tube designs impart. Hybrids may very well add more warmth and body than most solid state amps, but they do not impart the same kind of palpable midrange that an all tube design offers, especially SETs and triode push-pull configurations.

Whether tube amps are accurate or not is of little concern for me, for they deliver an emotional involvement that holds my attention that no solid state unit can match, even though I know that a well-designed solid state amp may be more accurate. That is, it may sound more like live music, in some circumstances, but only to a limited degree. Yes, the fundamental tones produced by solid state units may be more precise, detailed, and transparent, but solid state amps and even hybrids seem to rob the music of its overtones and richness. Tubes add this back and maybe a little more.
 
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Artar1

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Zip,

Initially, I will be using the unbalanced connections, but eventually I want to use the balanced connection with my Klyne System 7 preamp.
 
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Artar1

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Kach,

The MC 2102 only costs about $6,100 new, and I got a good deal on a pre-owned mint condition model which cost much less than MSRP.

What I think you're describing is transient response and dynamics. Most tubed units, especially Macs, are not known for great dynamics and transient speed and snap, with the exception of ARC amps of course.

Given my own listening biases, I don't like to be startled by my music; I like warmth and gentle envelopment, which might put some people to sleep. Yet I know live musical events, especially those that are amplified, have dynamics in spades.

Other amps that I considered included the Conrad Johnson Premier 140 and the Cary Audio Design 280SA V12 Monos, used of course. These two models I would not describe as dynamic heavyweights.

At one point I considered a GamuT D200, but found it too dynamic! It seemed too relentless in it portrayal of some of my jazz favorites, like "Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section." While listening to this amp, I felt a strong need to get out of my chair and move away from the music. After 30 or 40 minutes I couldn't take it any more so I ended the audition. The sales person, in contrast, was really "grooving" to the "tunes." I, on the other hand wanted to leave fast.
 
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Artar1

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Kach,

One more thing to consider, the speakers you listened to were box speakers and may not have been a good match for the all McIntosh stack that you heard.

I have ML Ascents, which have very good dynamics and can be too revealing in my opinion.

For a very long time, I did not like MLs because when they were mated with solid state equipment, they sounded too bright, and I seemed to get a headache after 40 minutes of listening or so.

Now, with the McIntosh MC 2102 and my Proceed AMP5, the brightness is no longer an issue. But, my system will not impress anyone looking for pile-driver dynamics. So amps like the MC 2102 make the MLs more agreeable to me and enable me to listen to them for three and four hours at a time.
 
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