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Hipgrncln

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Looking to break off my HT system into a 2 channel separate system. Thinking about a tube system but know very little about them. Where do I start???

BoB J
 

kach22i

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Life is too short not to give tubes a try - good decision.

I looked on-line at www.audiogon.com for a long time. Finally a local shop which takes trade-in's posted some used tube equipment. One was their "loner" pre-amp (GRAAF) they give to people while their other stuff is being serviced. I picked it up for a $1,000 less than they wanted a few years ago for it, which was already half of new price.

The amp I picked up at the same shop a couple of weeks later was from a company that went out of business 5 or 6 years ago (Golden Tube Audio - SE-100). This orphan amp has a slight dent in it, hardly notice - sound great.

Both pieces sound wonderful, I was not looking for either of these brands, but the home audition through the local shop made me fall in love with them.

Do consider 4-5 hours travel time to pick up equipment from a stereo shop. Many of these pieces are checked out and retubed before being put back on the market. Dealing with someone at a local shop may limit the information you get, and may limit the choices you have - but until you really know what you are doing, they are there for you.

I went tube preamp, tube amp (est. 6-yrs old) - total cost $2,000. New, if avaliable would of been about $6,000.

There are some real loser tube equipment out there, some brands are out of business for very real reasons. Do a some searches over at the Asylum and get a feel for what people are saying. Many catagories, might have to search a few sections or post a question.

http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/general/bbs.htm

Remember it doesn't have to be perfect, just better than what you have now.
 

risabet

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Don't limit yourself!

There are many good lines of tube equipment. Integrateds by PrimaLuna, Tube Audio Design and Jolida come to mind. Separates of course by AR, CJ, Tube Audio Design (which I own, and IMO represents the best value in tubes today) and many others can provide a slice of sonic heaven. Have fun with the search
 

DTB300

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Hipgrncln said:
Looking to break off my HT system into a 2 channel separate system. Thinking about a tube system but know very little about them. Where do I start???
Audition Amp #1
Evaluate strengths and weaknesses...
Audition Amp #2
Evaluate strengths and weaknesses...
Audition Amp #3
Evaluate strengths and weaknesses...

And so on and so on.......Wait as long as you can before you pull the trigger to get as much time as possible to listen to as much gear as possible...Set your target budget and go from there....though as we all know, we usually end up spending more than we want to :)

There are too many products out there to just list a couple companies to try out. I just went through the process of purchasing a new amp and I listened and auditioned quite a few, in stores and at home - home is really the best way. I found what I liked the best in my setup and bought it.

Dan
 

socialxray

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Never heard a tube amp but I love the look of a tube amp. Something about brass, glass and chrome that just does it for me.

I am not sure if I have time in my life for the maintanence of a tube amp. Isn't the life of a tube fairly short? Don't you have to make all sorts of adjustments during the life of the tube to keep it sounding good?
 

zaphod

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did someone say freud?

socialxray said:
Never heard a tube amp but I love the look of a tube amp. Something about brass, glass and chrome that just does it for me.
me too. and from what i've seen most guys. you put two and two together

socialxray said:
I am not sure if I have time in my life for the maintanence of a tube amp. Isn't the life of a tube fairly short? Don't you have to make all sorts of adjustments during the life of the tube to keep it sounding good?
yes and no. i've seen tubes that are decades old and still running fine (no, not NOS :). it's like lightbulbs, some last longer than others. the big power tubes (6l6 and so on) have shorter lives for me, the smaller pre-amp tubes (12xxx series).

i've never had a rectifier tube go, but sure did appreciate the improvement when i replaced them.

for many, the replacement of older tubes - or rolling a set of tubes to match your amp is a big part of the fun. your milage may vary.

the "adjustments" are for bias. some amps can't be adjusted. no tweeking needed. some have dials and knobs built in, and some you need to by an external unit like "bias king" to adjust things.

the tube store has a number of great information pages on biasing and the three types of amps: fixed bias, cathode bias and adjustable bias.

cheers.
 
E

ernio1

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If you are new to tubes, I would suggest starting with a tube preamp and a solid state amp. You can get a lot of the "tube" sound just going with a tube preamp. This is also a practical approach, since you do not need to hassle with having to replace and bias tubes... which can get very expensive.

Tube preamps to me sound very different from solid state and will change your sound if you are used to a ss preamp. I've found that they tend to sound less dry with more presence than ss preamps.

A good start is Audio Research tube preamps.....LS16, LS15 and SP16 are excellent to start with.

Thanks,
Ernie.
 

DTB300

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ernio1 said:
If you are new to tubes, I would suggest starting with a tube preamp and a solid state amp. You can get a lot of the "tube" sound just going with a tube preamp. This is also a practical approach, since you do not need to hassle with having to replace and bias tubes... which can get very expensive.
This is the way I have my system now and I have been using a Tube Pre and SS Amp. In fact after much seaching into a new Main Amp, and listening to Tube and SS, I purchased another SS Amp to power my CLSIIz's.

A good start is Audio Research tube preamps.....LS16, LS15 and SP16 are excellent to start with.
I now own the ARC SP16L (line stage only) pre and I am very happy with it. Worth a listen to along with the CJ and other Tube Pre's.

Dan
 

DTB300

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ernio1 said:
If you are new to tubes, I would suggest starting with a tube preamp and a solid state amp. You can get a lot of the "tube" sound just going with a tube preamp. This is also a practical approach, since you do not need to hassle with having to replace and bias tubes... which can get very expensive.
This is the way I have my system now and I have been using a Tube Pre and SS Amp for years. In fact after much seaching into a new Main Amp, and listening to Tube and SS, I purchased another SS Amp to power my CLSIIz's.

A good start is Audio Research tube preamps.....LS16, LS15 and SP16 are excellent to start with.
I now own the ARC SP16L (line stage only) pre and I am very happy with it. Worth a listen to along with the CJ and other Tube Pre's.

Dan
 

Jeff Zaret

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socialxray,

Thanks. I guess in my getting older with age syndrome, simple seems to be better. I do not need the flash. I am not sure who makes a tube pre for NT. CJ and Audio Research may amke them as well I think Sunfire did at one time. I do know they will not be cheap and that Audiogon is always a good plaec to start.

Good Luck and the offer still stands if you ever are lost and near my house to listen to my CLS's and the CJ. :D

Jeff
 

jolen1aub

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Hipgrncln said:
Looking to break off my HT system into a 2 channel separate system. Thinking about a tube system but know very little about them. Where do I start???

BoB J

Just wanted to add and make it clear that tube power amplifiers requires Bias adjustments when replacing power tubes in some cases. Some tube power amps depending on circuit design may require manual adjustment where in some can be as simple as replacing the tubes (self-biasing).

A good tube power amp can make your ML sing (as long as the upstream electronics are matched).

Most tube preamps (if not all) does not require any adjusment after tube replacement. Preamp tubes last longer compare to power tubes.

Audiogon is one good source of info in starting your quest.
There are a lot of good tube gears on the used market (Audiogon).

I went with a stereo tube preamp and SS power amp for my Ascents. :D

In addition to other ML members's post, Sonic Frontier tube gears although discontinued are one of the best built in the used market IMHO. :)

Just my 2 cents.

Joel
 

socialxray

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Hello Jeff,

I have been meaning to make it to Lancaster honestly! 4 kids and a wife who has a very active social life makes spare time a precious commodity. But, I will make it out there because I have got to hear your setup!

I am in the same boat as you. Simplicity is king!

This was learned years ago after owning the original consumer surround sound product, Yamaha's DSP-1. After a few years of frustration I dismantled this setup and put it in the closet.

Lesson: there is no substitute for a good recording and a good set of speakers.

Since I do like multichannel music what I want really want is a 6 channel pre-amp, a source that decodes all of the current formats AND sounds good doing so. I would like to be able to do all of the setup and processing on the source itself. This way when formats change all you have to do is replace the source. (This can currently be had but at a price that is beyond my current budget. :mad: )

Of course the industry is not moving in that direction and for a lot of good reasons, but that discussion is for another thread.

BACK TO TUBES!
I found the worlds only 5.1 channel tube pre-amp! The Fosgate Audioncs FAP V1. Designed by the creator of PL II, the living legend himself, Jim Fosgate. This baby is a thing of beauty and if I had $13,000 burning in my pocket I would surely have one in my listening room. Here is the link.

http://www.fosgateaudionics.com/products/FAP-V1.asp
 

risabet

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Tube Pre/SS Amp vs. Tube Pre/Tube Amp

For years I ran the tube pre/SS amp combo and loved it. Both the Counterpoint pre and my current TAD-150 made a wonderful combo with a PS Audio 100C. Yet only when I switched to tube amps did the system take that next step towards realism IMO. The increase in harmonic accuracy and soundstaging are incredible. The tube pre/SS combo gave about 70% of the tube benefits/sound but only with the tube pre/tube amp combo does the true superiority of the tubes shine through.

Regarding biasing, unless you roll tubes you'll need to bias once every 18 months to two years, and the whole process takes about 30 minutes per amp in my case and each tube has an individual bias pot and test point. It is really quite easy.
 

Hipgrncln

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If simplicity is the key ... why use a pre-amp.... cannot one just connect the cd player (providing it is one with a volume control) directly to the power amp??? Alsom what is anyones expirience with tubed cd players?

Bob J
 

risabet

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Other sources!

Hipgrncln said:
If simplicity is the key ... why use a pre-amp.... cannot one just connect the cd player (providing it is one with a volume control) directly to the power amp??? Alsom what is anyones expirience with tubed cd players?

Bob J
What if you listen to vinyl (preferred by many), FM, or other sources, in that case a pre-amp or some sort of passive attenuator is a necessity.
 

socialxray

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I have a Sony ES cd player with a volume control that was even controlled by the remote. I ran it that way for 13 years. I loved it. Sadly the laser died on me.
 

Spike

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As simple as possible, but no simpler

Hipgrncln said:
If simplicity is the key ... why use a pre-amp.... cannot one just connect the cd player (providing it is one with a volume control) directly to the power amp???
If only everything is so simple (pun intended). "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler", as quoted from A. Einstein. In theory, and if you only have digital source, you're correct that the pre-amp is not needed. However, after many emails to various designers, there seems to be a convergence that a beefy, well-designed analogue (output) section is needed to drive the amplifiers via the interconnect cables. This usually means an indepedent power-supply section, preferrably having choke on the input side to stabilize the input voltage, supplying discrete circuitry. Having this "preamp" buffer circuitry crammed inside a digital player may not be the best approach when noise may "bleed" between digital and analogue sections. One could lessen the noise bleed by having seperate compartments for digital and analogue circuitry as well as having separate power-supplies for various purposes. Suddenly, now one is faced with a complex chassis design with multiple (shielded) compartments in addition to the high quality of components used. We're now talking about the likes of Wadia, Krell and Mark Levinson to name a few. But, when cost is factored into the (expensive) equation, one could go with separate CD player and a decent pre-amp, thereby maintaining the flexibility to replace/upgrade in the future.
For my specific system, theoretically I should have 2 volts output from my APL modded universal player. My amplifiers specs state that they need 2 volts to drive to maximum power. Purely from the specs alone, I should only need a passive attenuator to control the "volume". I used a pair of "nude attenuators" from EVS but found the music "lifeless" for some reasons. A ton of details, great transparency, but I felt something amissed. In comes the ModWright SWL-9.0 linestage and everything came to life. There was not a big difference (at first) going from passive to active, I only noticed the music becoming "lifeless" when transitioned from the active preamp to passive. Your mileage may vary with your system, and it also depends on how picky you are with music. A huge difference/improvement for me may only mean a little difference in sound for your case. Trust your own ears. Good luck.
 
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