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Ultralinear or Triode?

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jhorowitz128

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This is a question for those of you who have a tube amp with the option of switching it to either Ultralinear or Triode modes, and have either Aerius i's or SL 3's.

Which mode do you use? Can you hear the differences and, if so, what are they?

I own the Rogue M-150 Monoblocks and want to see if your perceptions are the same as mine.
 

roberto

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jhorowitz128 said:
This is a question for those of you who have a tube amp with the option of switching it to either Ultralinear or Triode modes, and have either Aerius i's or SL 3's.

Which mode do you use? Can you hear the differences and, if so, what are they?

I own the Rogue M-150 Monoblocks and want to see if your perceptions are the same as mine.
Hola jhorowitz128. It depends a lot of your liking and type of music. Of course you can hear both very easy...triode is more pure, less distortion, more open sound, the other has more power, but less detail...it is your liking. Mine is triode mode...trust your ears, happy listening,
Pura vida,
Roberto.
 

kach22i

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I have tubes, but as far as I know - can't switch back and forth.

From what I've read, Pentode/Ultralinear mode is for rocking down the house.

From what I've read, Triode is for moderate and softer volumes and perhaps softer music.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule:
http://www.caryaudio.com/reviews/iar.shtml
Interestingly, we also found that we could actually play music louder in the triode mode, in spite of the fact that the ultralinear mode puts out twice as much power. How could that be? Well, when you turn up the volume, you usually stop when you hear your amp starting to sound ugly with distortion. This onset of distortion indicates that the amp is unhappy, not performing well, or overloading. But your biggest motivation for stopping is not our altruistic concern for the amps welfare. More important is the fact that distortion is very unpleasing and fatiguing for us humans to listen to. Thus, you stop and back off on loudness when the amps start distorting, so you don’t have to endure this torture yourself. The Rocket 88 is so clean and pure in triode mode that we could push the volume up to pretty healthy levels. But when we change to the higher power ultralinear mode, the higher audible distortion of that mode (or at least is uglier harmonic composition) was already obnoxious enough so that we actually had to turn the volume down to a lower level in the higher power mode, in order to lower the distortion to non-fatiguing levels. Note that this contrast is really a tribute to the Rocket 88 and its wonderful triode mode, showing how loudly and cleanly this amp can play in triode mode, giving you that special musical beauty that triodes can provide. In effect, it proved that the 20 watt Rocket 88 in triode mode can actually play louder than competing 40 watt conventional ultralinear tube amps.
 

Spike

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Triode for me

I auditioned the Cary V12R extensively in my system before "settling" for the AES SixPacs purely due to size. The V12R is just too deep for my rack while the SixPacs monoblocs were of better manageable size. I went with the SixPacs with the rationale that I like the sound in triode mode much better than ultra-linear. For the Cary, triode mode is fuller in the midrange, and has better depth (air) around the voices and instruments. Ultra-linear has more bass, but the mids is a bit more recessed, translating into a false-sense of extended, detailed highs. The highs are there in triode mode, but I was so mesmerized by the excellent midrange performance that the highs went... unoticed. I had to work hard, drawing my attention away from the mids, and focusing on the highs in order to come to the conclusion that the the highs in triode mode has faster attacks and longer decays (translating into better sense of air). Since my intent is to use the solid-state Classe' for bass, I didn't need the higher-power ultra-linear mode and put more focus on the midrage performance. The ARC VT100 running in ultra-linear mode did not fare as well as the Cary V12R in ultra-linear. The Cary is a bit fuller with bigger tone, making the ARC sounded too...thin, hi-fi and too hi-resolution. My impression of the Cary V12R mirrors that of Stereophile review of Cary V12 albeit, the review is for the original V12, not the V12R version.

Spike
 

aliveatfive

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The ARC VT 100 III does not have an optional mode select switch. It only runs in AB with 6550 beam-power pentodes. The sound of this amp literally takes months to reveal its final nature. When very-well broken in, it stops sounding strident. BTW - it's all moot as the amp has just been discontinued.
 

jhorowitz128

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Spike said:
I auditioned the Cary V12R extensively in my system before "settling" for the AES SixPacs purely due to size. The V12R is just too deep for my rack while the SixPacs monoblocs were of better manageable size. I went with the SixPacs with the rationale that I like the sound in triode mode much better than ultra-linear. For the Cary, triode mode is fuller in the midrange, and has better depth (air) around the voices and instruments. Ultra-linear has more bass, but the mids is a bit more recessed, translating into a false-sense of extended, detailed highs. The highs are there in triode mode, but I was so mesmerized by the excellent midrange performance that the highs went... unoticed. I had to work hard, drawing my attention away from the mids, and focusing on the highs in order to come to the conclusion that the the highs in triode mode has faster attacks and longer decays (translating into better sense of air). Since my intent is to use the solid-state Classe' for bass, I didn't need the higher-power ultra-linear mode and put more focus on the midrage performance. The ARC VT100 running in ultra-linear mode did not fare as well as the Cary V12R in ultra-linear. The Cary is a bit fuller with bigger tone, making the ARC sounded too...thin, hi-fi and too hi-resolution. My impression of the Cary V12R mirrors that of Stereophile review of Cary V12 albeit, the review is for the original V12, not the V12R version.

Spike
Yes, Spike...I find the same thing with my Rogues as you do with the Cary's.
More "slam" with UL, deeper bass, and the highs can get kind of strident with symphonic violins. Triode is a bit smoother and a laid-back somewhat.

The distortion factor that was previously mentioned is not an issue since I don't listen overly loud and the Rogues put out approx. 100 watts in triode mode anyway.....plenty of power.

Thanks for the feedback. Was just curious if others were getting the same results.

Jeff
 

risabet

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I use 100 w/channel TAD-1000's in their 60 triode mode. The sound is much more detailed, fuller with better, IMO harmonic balance but is a little softer at the bottom than in pentode mode. I like the tride mode for almost all kind of music, but I will switch for some higher powered pop/rock/reggae music.
 
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alex

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i used to drive the sl3 with 30watts in triode and was enough for a medium listening level, so with 100w you'll be more than perfect.
 

kach22i

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alex said:
i used to drive the sl3 with 30watts in triode and was enough for a medium listening level, so with 100w you'll be more than perfect.
What size room?

How far from the speakers are you?

Long wall or short wall?

Sounds intriguing. :)
 

kach22i

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alex said:
the side walls are 15' and the front and rear walls 13' the pannels were 5' away from the front wall and the listening position is almost at the back wall.
the amp is 30w triode/60w ultraliner class A http://margules.com.mx/index_margules.htm (u280sc)
Sounds like a nice small room setup.

My understanding is if the backwall is real close to the back of your head, you don't suffer much from the rear wall reflection - not enough time/space to make a big impact on the ears/brain.
 

DTB300

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kach22i said:
My understanding is if the backwall is real close to the back of your head, you don't suffer much from the rear wall reflection - not enough time/space to make a big impact on the ears/brain.
But the closeness will excentuate the lower registers - again depending on the how close one is to the wall.

This is getting off topic from the original post on ultraliner or triode. Personally I always liked the Triode settings in the Tube Amps that I have heard and/or auditioned (that has the option to set). But like anything else in this hobby it is a personal preference. If you have the ability to change see what you like best.

Dan
 
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kach22i

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DTB300 said:
But the closeness will excentuate the lower registers - again depending on the how close one is to the wall.

This is getting off topic from the original post on ultraliner or triode.
Five feet from the front wall is really good - not too much bass being reinforced there. This small room, large speaker, triode thing is all related and all on topic - which if I had a point - this would be it.:)
 

DTB300

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kach22i said:
Five feet from the front wall is really good - not too much bass being reinforced there.
Ummm...I was talking about rear wall reflections...as by what I quoted from your post...

Dan
 
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alex

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i know that is not the best listening position, but the room don't leave me much choice, i try to fix it with some acoustic treatment, i also think that for ML speakers a good sub is the way to go i like velodyne the servo models.
so, triode amp+ML is a good combo. :cool:
 

mondoribo

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I like both

Thought about this thread last night while playing around with the triode/pentode switches. I too have the TAD-1000 monoblocks, and I've really preferred the pentode mode for most music. More dynamic, tighter bass. I listen to a lot of acoustic music, like bluegrass, and some jazz. Last night my 9-yr. old wanted to hear some AC/DC on the new Ascents. I turned it up. With the music pretty LOUD, I then switched to triode. Sounded much better. I guess the lesson is that since the switches are there, it doesn't hurt to use them depending on what type of music you are listening to. And that loud, distorted music probably sounds better if you don't add more distortion to it, i.e. try triode mode for those real rockin numbers.
Jon
 
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