SL3s with Tube Power - YES, DO IT NOW

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tooslowmonroe

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Full Disclosure: I have only been listening for about two hours...I am far from a professional listener and do not possess poetic attributes...

For years, I have been contemplating tube power for my SL3s. I am not an Engineer by any trade, and I have not been blessed with the gift of flowerly writing...alas...I am an average Joe. I work long hours, get home from work and spend time with the wife and grandchild until he finally goes home. After dinner and time with the wife...there is very little time left for me.

When I do get time, I cherish my time in "my room"...my budget friendly room...

I will get well into depth later as I update the thread. I know, if I were reading I would have all types of questions.

I wanted to get one thing done and off my chest: PUTTING A TUBE AMP ON MY SL3s WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID for my room.

Scouring the web for years, I was convinced that only a five-figure tube amp would be a worthy candidate to drive my ML speakers.

I have loved the ML sound for years...having had the wonderful experience of being a salesman in a high-end shop and basically getting to hear about any combination of high-dollar stuff I wanted to hear. The owners were fabulous people that would have the highest of high-end rooms open for anyone to listen to. I got to hear many a "speaker of the year", multiples of "class A" speakers...you get the drift.

For all that, which I just loved...when it came down to spending what little money I had...it was a set of ML Aerius I's that I took home.

They are still part of my life living as my surround speakers in my room.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get some SL3's and my room is just right sized for them.

Again, I'll soon add all the stuff about my room, associated equipment and the like.

I wanted to put something together for any average Joe out there that has been thinking about tube amp on their SL3's.

The amp I found was a used Yaquin MC-100B. The PO has changed all the tubes, and I have a box full of his experimentation tubes and stockers if I ever see the need to make changes. I will update all this data later and I don't have a clue what tubes are in the amp today.

What I can say...DO IT. Do not be afraid of all the crap that has been spewed on the web about tubes and MLs.

The Yaquin says it has 60W per channel and seems to boast a dual-mono design.

I love it.

It seems to be loud enough for me...I recorded 98db (C-weighted, slow) while listening to Dire Straights "on every street" at about the 3:00 mark (from the CD) when the whole band gets rolling.

To my ears, in my room, with my music...I have never heard my system sounding as good as is does today.

Yes, I have subwoofers that really help the bottom end. I did turn them off for a little bit last night...and the SL's sounded fairly nice with the tube power...I actually thought the bass sounded decent...now, I never really did much listening at all to the ML without the subs...but I think the bass sounds better today (could be that I also just replaced the woofers...see the SL3 woofer thread...)

Overall...I am here to say BULLSH!T to the internet that says it won't work.

Now, would a Stereophile Editor find faults in my sound...for sure...they could probably make a monthly article about TooSlow's sub-optimum listening experience, and tell me all the things that are wrong. I don't care. Do I know what a tympanic bloom is...nope.

Average Joe...de-stressing from an average life...listening to FUN music...I could not ask for a better combination.

Yello has never sounded better IN MY ROOM. Randy Crawford...OH MY...she sounds wonderful. Depeche Mode...I can hear individual singers now where before they were just kinda all together...you can really tell when Martin comes in now...his unique tones totally have "space" of their own. I don't really know how to maximize the thesaurus to describe the sound...I just know it gives me tingles now and I feel the same way I felt so many years ago when I heard my music in the High-End room for the first time...I don't want to leave, don't want the album to end.

Now...will my MLs eat these tubes alive...dunno...way to new to me to tell. PO says the tubes have 20 hours on them. I'm hoping I can get a couple of great years out of the set-up as it is. I also can't wait to read up more on the different tube varieties in the amp and what I may be able to tweak going forward. I had a blast with my little Pro-Ject Tube Pre-Amp for my turntable...and was surprised at the sound different tubes made.

Anyways...just wanted to throw this out for starters for anyone that may be considering going down this path.

I will try to make some time to get on here and describe my set-up and room in more detail. I will do anything I can to help anyone that may be considering this path. I wish I did not wait so long. I was so afraid to spend the money...but I always felt there was more in these speakers than what I was getting.



-TooSlow
 

ttocs

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This is very interesting indeed, thanks for posting!

Ya know, I gotta say, the Chinese have been coming up with some very interesting tube products that sound great! Last Christmas my brother gave me a point to point wired, tube, guitar amp made by a company called Wangs. It sounds great with the stock Chinese tubes, and these amps are extremely affordable.

What I do know about tubes with ML, and specifically the MC275 and Vista - the speakers I own, is that at higher volume the treble seems to roll off. But . . . . it might not be the amp, because the dealer was using speaker cables that I had issues with while connected to my Krell (cheap, DIY cables are a perfect fit for me after many tries at $$$ cables). It's all about the complete package, and I now realize speaker cables and interconnects are tuning devices, not the end all/be all.

So the point is, I'm very interested in trying tubes with my setup. And it would be for musical bliss at normal listening volume, not 105dB THX blast 'em up movies. And this amp you got is really affordable. The fact it's Chinese doesn't phase me a bit after owning the Wangs amp.

Please keep posting about your experience.
 

timm

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Well I don't have a tube amp - but a tube pre. I remember when I thought a preamp didn't make much of a difference. Man was I wrong. When I put my Cary slp98p in for my prior solid state pre - my jaw hit the floor. :).
 

RDC

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[...] I actually thought the bass sounded decent...now, I never really did much listening at all to the ML without the subs...but I think the bass sounds better today (could be that I also just replaced the woofers [...]

That reminded me of when I switched from my Cambridge Audio 851W (200 watt SS) to my current PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP (70 watt with EL34 tubes). The change in bass was immediately perceivable. Better defined and bolder. Something I wasn't expecting at all and just shows that higher wattage isn't the most important part.

Enjoy your tube amp!
 

Brad225

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Welcome Slow,

Great Story. I too owned SL3's and think they sounded wonderful with tubes.

Remember, its the internet not laws of the universe.

Brad
 

tooslowmonroe

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UPDATE - It's now been a few days...and I am still enamored with the sound in my room.

For those of you that want more information on the complete system, I have added a thread to the Members Systems, LINKY

Being a holiday week, I have had both of the children over, and they both say the room has greatly improved.
My son: The rest of the music caught up to the highs...he reports a much fuller audio spectrum, improvement in imaging and sound stage depth and width.
My Daughter: The sound is so real, much more human.


So...feeling real good about this change.

For those of you who want more info on the amp, I was able to get some data off the tubes...Hope this helps!

The layout is identical for Left and Right...only going to discuss one channel:

12AX7: Baldwin 12AX7 (date code: 32 13 29 AOU)
V1: Baldwin 6SN7GTB
V2: Sylvania 6SN7GTB
Power: Electro Harmonix 6550EH

I have a big box of tubes provided by the PO. I'll be organizing and inventorying over the coming weeks.
 
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tooslowmonroe

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ttocs...so...its a complicated answer.

Short Answer: Yes...I love the sound of my panels with the Yaqin amp.

Long Story: A Jolida JD-1000RC is now powering my panels.

Had the Jolida never showed up...I would be rocking that Yaqin and smiling every night. I loved the sound of my room one I got that Yaqin tuned and the room dialed in. Putting the woofers on the Nak was a great suggestion and really helped the overall sound.

Having this old Jolida show up...it really took the room to 11...quite literally...it has 100 WPC and it really makes these panels sing.

Remember, I am just some dude who likes to relax and enjoy music...I am by no means a professional Audiophile...but the Jolida seemed to take everything to the next step...the soundstage is huge now...the midrange is so fluid...oh man. It took about five or six songs to decide to pull the Yaqin out.

It was totally bitter sweet. The little Yaqin made me so happy...and I was so impressed with what it did for the money. Mine was tweaked with a series of tube rolling to get it to sound right in my room.

The Jolida was pretty used...and the tubes were still the stock tubes and former owner did not know how much time was on them...so new tubes are getting ready to be broken in.

I have the Yaqin in the closet right now...just in case...but the Jolida has taken my room one step higher. I love these SL3's...and having the ability to tweak the sound a little bit with tube rolling is fantastic.

Hope this helps. I'll get back on in a few weeks and let y'all know my final thoughts on the Jolida as I will have time to run some music through it.
-TooSlow
 

twich54

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Glad the honeymoon continues with your toooobs Todd !
 
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