Tube integrated's and low watt SET tube amps

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bebop

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For stereo only users, on jazz, and classical music, with ML Theos I'm a fan of small watt SET tube amps and KT88 based tube integrated's.

With great success I've mated a Shuguang S8MK integrated stocked with upgraded Black Treasure tubes. The below amp is 60 watts. Regarding low watt SET amps, I use a 10 watt Dennis Had Inspire Fire Bottle KT88 SET amp with a matching Inspire preamp.

I use a single Depth i sub which is more than adequate for my room.

Folks have the misconception that all ML's are power hungry. For 20 years I drove ML's with 100 watt Class A Plinius and Pass Lab amps. My solid state days are long gone. Small watt tube power is power a plenty for an average room. Everyone listens differently and has individual volume needs depending upon their musical tastes and listening habits. But don't rule out quality low watt power.







 

Wildcat Rudy

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I was going to ask a question about tube amps with ML speakers, but, here is this thread. :)

I'm working on refurbishing some Sequel IIs (yes, still--been too busy with work lately), and while I'm happy with my solid state amp (a Nelson Pass "Stasis" design), I passed by a really nice Conrad-Johnson MV60SE due to a lack of funds (60w/ch). I wondered if they would be able to drive the speakers to the levels I sometimes play back the music at. (Hard to reproduce a proper orchestra crescendo, or a funk bass line or bass drum, without clipping an amp.) I'd love a pair of Premiere Twelve monoblocks but those are even more out of reach. They are rated 140w.

I imagine it would sound quite good, no doubt about it. I just wonder if they could put out the volume I'm used to. (Not that I play loud often, but there are certain attacks or transients that can easily cause lesser amps to clip, in my experience.)
 

SHKnapp

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I was thinking of trying to drive a pair of Aerius with something like a Marantz 8b or a pair of McIntosh MC30's. Anyone know if those amps are up to the task?
 

Rich

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If you guys want to drive the older ML speakers with lower powered tube amps, I highly recommend you bi-amp them with a SS amp driving the woofers. It makes a huge difference in the tube amp's ability to drive the panels without strain, especially noticeable during sharp transients and complex passages (rock music or full orchestra) and higher volume levels. Just make sure you match the voltage gain of the SS amp to the tube amp you use on the panels. And I would go for a minimum of 200 wpc for each woofer, preferably 400. Speaking from experience driving the Ascents with a tube amp, both with and without biamping. It makes a huge difference in the quality of the sound.
 

C.A.P

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I agree with Rich, I have never done it and want to try it as I have Bi amp capability ! Unless someone has them to try or demo I will not take the leap of faith as its damn good now !
 

SHKnapp

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Thanks for the great tip Rich! I'm gonna start looking for a SS amp to bi-amp them.

One question, how does one match the voltage gain? Is that looking for a matching spec between the two, or is it an adjustment to the tube amp? I found a good deal on a Marantz 8b that I'm gonna use for the aerius panels.
 

Aqualung56

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Hi. New poster here. Just bought my first ML speakers, the ESL. I love them! Currently using a Jolida hybrid (JD1501RC). I am very pleased with it. I think I might want to upgrade when I get some more money, but for now it sounds great! Anyone else have any experience with these hybrids? Also, what would be a nice upgrade without spending crazy money?

Cheers!
 

W0LBER1NE

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Hi Aqualung, it’s been a while and I’m curious if you’re still using your Jolida tube amp or something else these days. Thx
 

tooslowmonroe

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Wanted to chime in here as I have also discussed this in other threads.

I have an old set of SL3's that I am bi-amping as described above. The woofers are being driven by an old NAK SS amp, only 100wpc. Panels are being driven by Jolida JD-1000RC. I have two 15" self-powered subwoofers to help out too. The sound is epic. I've had Audiophiles, musicians, DJs, speaker designers...you name it...anyone that wants to listen to my room has been up there for hours. I just love the sound. I love how I can identify the different sounds of different tubes, and refine my sound to suit my tastes (and my room...) OH...and on that topic, I use the Jolida as a pure power amp only, with an Anthem pre-amp with the Anthem room correction.

I am just amazed with this preamp and the room correction software.

I have been doing this since the early 90's, and have spent many a day behind the screen of a spectrum analyzer..moving speakers, moving room treatment, listening to hours and hours of pink noise. What the Anthem does in 20 minutes is magic.

Anyways...I highly recommend a hybrid system with tubes on the panels and SS on the woofers...and, yeah, I love my subs too. -Todd
 

BDH55

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I had been driving my ESL 15's with a pair of Para JC-1's (800 wpc), but last year I moved to an Audio Research Reference 75SE tube amp (75 wpc) and just never looked back. While I will continue to love my JC-1's (they are still in service in my home theater mode), I think it is the beautiful midrange that the ARC tube amp delivered that won me over. I was also surprised how well the lower powered tube amp filled my room with no hint of effort. This got me thinking more about tubes...

Anyway, it seems like I've been seeing more mention of using a low watt single ended triode amps to drive highly efficient speakers. Depending what you read, low to middle 90's dB or higher. My ESL 15's have a sensitivity of 92 dB/2.83 volt/meter, so they are toward the lower end of the 'highly efficient speaker' range. I was thinking about potentially building a SET amp partially for the fun of building the amp, but also to try with my ESL 15's. I also read somewhere that these SET amps really don't like to see speaker impedance drop below 4 ohms, which could be another issue.

Just looking for some thoughts from the experienced tube guys up here to see if this would be a total waste of time and money, or if this is actually worth pursuing. Thanks in advance...
 

hoodjem

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I drive my CLS I pair wonderfully with a Cary CAD-280 V12 (EL-34 based) power amp. (Aren't these early CLSs supposed to be notoriously problematic to drive, with difficult impedances?)

This Cary amp is not a single-digit wpc output, "flea-watt" amp. But the great thing about is that one can switch between triode and ultralinear pentode. Indeed, one can even switch to a variable hybrid of these two modes.

The CAD-280 can put out 50 watts per channel in pure triode or 100 watts in pure ultralinear--or (here's the best part) 67 watts in 2/3 triode and 1/3 pentode or 83 watts per channel in 2/3 pentode and 1/3 triode. (I almost always use the latter two settings depending on the needs of the music.)

I am amazed at how wonderful they sound with "only" 83 wpc or 67 wpc (specifically tube watts, of course).
 
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Lurch

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Currently run my Summits with a pair of 90wpc Icon Audio MB845SEs, with any luck somewhen in the next couple of weeks a friend will be bringing his 22wpc Line Magnetic 845 SET over. Am looking forward to seeing what this amp can do, as if all is good it means I can have some fun playing with the el cheapo Chifi valve amps on eBay/Ali Express.
 
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