Tube gear...Finally

Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweebPosts: 5,967
edited December 2003 in 2 Channel Audio
I finally found some tube gear to play with! I picked up this amp from a guy that was selling it on ebay. The reserve was not met so I made a fair offer and ended up with a pretty decent amp. Here's a link to the original listing.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3053785500&category=39783&rd=1

I also won this preamp. It should get here in a couple of days.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3057879648&category=14974&rd=1

I've got the amp connected to my wifes SDA-2b's, and everything seems to be working quite nicely. I' really like the warm sound.

Comments?
9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
Post edited by Frank Z on
«1

Comments

  • gatemplingatemplin Posts: 1,595
    edited November 2003
    Congrats, looks great. I have never heard a tube amp before but am thinking about getting a used one like you did. I heard they are very clean and smooth sounding. Give a review when you get the preamp.

    Graham
    Graham
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited November 2003
    Looks like some cool gear Frank. I've had my eye on that preamp also - look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Frank,
    Try playing something with a lot of sounds on top of each other, you know, something that has too much going on at the same time and just sounds messed up normally. If this amp is like some of mine you will hear all the sounds individually rather than an overall mush that you get from a SS amp. Congrats!!!
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Max,
    Any and all advice is welcome. Got any suggestions for tunes to try out?
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited November 2003
    looks great, Frank! congrats...are these going to power LSi9 or the SDA? I would very much interested to hear how they perform with LSi, if you are going to pair 'em.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Right now it's all about tubes and SDA's, but I'm going to hook up the Lsi9's as well for a mini shoot out.
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Frank,
    The song that caught my attention was Cheryl Crow "the na na song" on the "tuesday night music club" CD. I had heard this song time after time and really knew what it sounded like. The first time I played it on tubes I heard many sounds separately, not the mush between words that I thought the song was. The rest of the CD is great as well. The only thing is that you would have to know the song through SS first, get used to it and then listen through the tubes. I'm sure you will find like sounds in your other CD's you are familiar with.
    madmax

    edit: the reason I say you will have to hear it through ss first is that once you really know what a song sounds like through tubes you will hear the same thing through ss. The mind and ears is a curious thing...
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited November 2003
    Thanks Chuck - I had not pulled that one out yet. I'm going to head to the cave now, and check it out on my tube pre and tube cd player.

    Cheers,
    Rooster
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Being in Rooster mode may turn it back to mush :D
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    Congrats Frank! Welcome to the wonderful world of tube audio.:cool:

    Your tube amp will sound much better when the tube pre arrives. Adding a tube pre can give a bigger improvement than adding a tube amp with ss pre.

    Please let me know how they sound with your LSi9. Both our amps use a quad of EL-34 Push-pull. I think it sounds amazing with the LSi.

    What tubes are you using? If you really enjoy the tube sound, try Svetlana EL-34. They have the warmest and most romantic sound.

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited November 2003
    very simple, clean look, but for some strange reason I look at that pre and think, "Flintstones' mobile"...

    will look forward to your review...
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Originally posted by Tour2ma
    very simple, clean look, but for some strange reason I look at that pre and think, "Flintstones' mobile"...


    I see it too. :)
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited November 2003
    So it has a roll-bar, big deal. ;)
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited November 2003
    maybe it's the key fob remote...
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Actually I think it is those rear fenders.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    I read the whole ad this time. The remote actually goes with the preamp! I thought it was there to show size.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Sorry I haven't kept track of the petty jealousy over my new remote!;)

    Looking forward to getting my new Barney Rubble preamp....

    I wonder if I can mount some off-road lights on the rollbar?!?!:D
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited November 2003
    yabba-dabba-dooooooooooo
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    WWWAAAAAAAAAA!
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited November 2003
    Don't you mean 'yabba-dabba-tuuuuuube'?
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 817
    edited November 2003
    I like thinking outside the box. Trick little pre. I ended up building a custom one off version of the Bottlehead Foreplay for one of my systems.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited November 2003
    Dual mono I take it? Looking at the 'connected' volume controls.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 817
    edited November 2003
    You are correct sir. Very simple layout.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Well I’ve been listening to my new gear with mixed results. Keep in mind that I’ve never owned tube equipment before and was a bit unsure of what to expect. I was a little nervous about buying a DIY amp off ebay, but the sale went smoothly.

    The amp is rated at 40x2, and really does sound good. I’ve listen to a wide variety of music on both the SDA-2b’s and on the Lsi-9’s. One of the things that became apparent right away is that 40watts is not enough juice, at least for me. Although the amp provided nice warm sound, it wasn’t able to drive the speakers at high volumes. Distortion was painfully obvious every time I cranked up the volume. 40 watts is 40 watts, no matter how you look at it. One of the things I learned from the guy that built it (via Email) was that I did not need a pre-amp to use the amp, it has a level control built in. It also is switchable from pentode to triode mode. The pentode mode is not as pleasant to listen to as triode. The only real problem that I encountered was some static from the speakers a few minutes after the amp was turned on. It lasted for 30-45 seconds and stopped after the tubes warmed up.

    The sound is sweet, even though the low end does suffer. That’s not to say that the low end disappeared, but the loss of punch in the low range was distinct enough for me to notice. To my ears the SDA’s performed better overall, even though they are a larger speaker. I believe that having the passive radiator made a big difference. The one area that the Lsi’s did sound a lot better was at reproducing piano music, credit the Vifa tweeters. On the SDA’s pianos sounded kind of fuzzy, the detail just wasn’t as good as the 9’s. Mid’s where about the same with as light edge going to the SDA’s. Rock music did not sound as good (on either speaker) as jazz/blues/classical did. I was particularly impressed with the Lsi/tube combo when listening to Mozart –The 5 Violin Concertos by Itzhak Perlman (Deutsche Grammophon Cat #455-535-2). Perlman’s Stradivarius violin sounded absolutely incredible!

    The Dared Pre-amp is small, but it performs well. The only thing that I don’t care for is the small amount of noise from the servo that rotates the volume knob. It’s not a real big deal, just something that I could do without. After listening to the tube amp mated to the Dared pre-amp for a couple of days I dragged out my spare Pioneer Elite M-10x 2 channel amp and went through a lot of the same music. At 75w x 2 @8ohms and 100w @ 4ohms it’s not he most powerful thing on the planet, but it did serve as a point of reference between tube and solid state. The sound was still excellent, but the mid range was not quite as warm. The low end was back, and higher volume levels were available without distortion when needed.

    I used a Sony DVP-C660 5 disc changer as the source. Most of the CD’s were standard redbook titles, although I did play through a few stereo tracks from a couple of Hybrid SACD’s

    Bottom line, the tube amp and pre-amp performed better than I expected as far as sound quality is concerned. I have to admit that I was expecting a bit more as far as volume is concerned. I’m sure that a more efficient speaker would be a good match for the amp, but I’m happy with my Polk speakers and am really not interested in sampling more speakers right now. So I think I’m going to hang on to the pre-amp and use it with my PE amp for the time being. The amp is going to be sold, either here or on ebay. I’m not giving up on tubes, but I’m going to research some more and perhaps invest in an amp that is rated at 100watts x 2 or more.
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 42,917
    edited November 2003
    Frank,

    Nice review.

    I've become a believer in the tube pre/SS amp camp. Just seems to be the best of both worlds.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited November 2003
    Frank,

    Nice review and some good observations. I did get to audition some tube gear myself this past week. My dealer told me that in general, every tube watt amplification is equal to 2 - 3 watts of solid state amplification. So your 40 watt tube amp should equate to 80 - 120 watts of solid state. Most likely marginal for peek LSi performance which is more like 175 - 200 watts (in my opinion of course).

    I listened to some JM Lab Electras (standmounts) and some Spendor S8s on a Rogue audio tube amp rated at 60 watts / channel in a carpeted sound room 15 X 25 ft with a 12 foot drop ceiling and the system never went to distortion .. pretty loud in fact. The source was a Cal Audio Lab CL-15 cdp. Easily 85 - 90 db from the listening position if I wanted it (loud enough for me!). The Spendors are 90 db efficient though and 8 ohms so that may have been a big factor.

    I may be looking into some tube gear to experiment myself on the two channel rig. Of course the Rogue is high on my list but I have also been reading about the Jolida 202b modified tube amp available from Underwood Hi fi.

    Paul
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Frank,
    I used the tube amps on the lsi15's and agree with you totally on the power. When hooked to the SDA-SRS 1.2's the sound level is more than enough but with the '15's it sucks. Maybe the 2B's are not efficient enough? Just keep in mind that a pair of 1.2's really don't take up much more space than the 2B's. Just taller. Don't react too quickly is all I'm saying. Once you get the right speakers with the tubes you will wonder why you ever listened to anything else. Maybe rather than selling the amp it is time to invest in a pair of large SDA's? You wouldn't be sorry. Just an opinion.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Paul,
    Thanks F1 and Paul.

    I'm leaning toward some Conrad Johnson gear, or perhaps this....

    http://www.innersound.net/itubeover.html

    Waiting to hear from them on dealers and MSRP.
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • Frank ZFrank Z Polk-a-dweeb Posts: 5,967
    edited November 2003
    Max,
    I'm in agreement about getting some larger speakers, but the space just isn't there for 'em.


    BTW, For anyone that is interested, I did put the amp up for sale in the Flea market. Polk-heads will always get first crack!
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D
  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited November 2003
    I guess I have a question now about tube amps. If one watt of tube amp is equal to two to three watts of solid state (at 8 ohms), then how does this change when you use a 4 ohm speaker like a LSi? What my dealer told me pertains to 8 ohm speakers I'm sure because the speakers I was listening to were both 8 ohms. I'm thinking it should be the same as the solid state rules right?? roughly 75 - 100 % more power or is this a limitation of tube amps?? Seems like 40 tube watts should be a lot if one follows these rules for a 4 ohm speaker unless it is just equally a function of the speaker efficiency.

    P.
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