Affordable Tube Amp

So I'm about to take delivery on some 96db speakers and figure I could use a lower watt tube amp with them. Any recommendations on a lower cost unit that is good. Thinking of less that $500 if that is even possible. Thanks!
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Comments

  • tonyp063tonyp063 Posts: 600
    At that price you will probably be looking at a Chinese option like a Yaqin, Douk or Nobsound.
    They can sound quite nice for the price, albeit hit or miss on the quality.

    I have one running el34s in class A for my office setup. Not too crufty at all, to be honest.
  • factorzfactorz Posts: 350
    Yeah I figured that would be the case. I had owned a Yaqin back in the day and like, but didn't see they made anything other than integrated amps.
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 3,492
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800, Usher R1.5
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra
    Speaker Cables: Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9, Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In Micro, MG Audio Design Planus Cu2,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    Totally possible -- the other option is to go quasi-Chinese (i.e., a Chinese brand with a US presence): I am specifically thinking of Jolida, and specifically of this 'entry level' EL84 push-pull amplifier. Enough power (albeit perhaps just enough ;) ) for an easy load @ 96 dB SPL/1 watt/1 meter sensitivity.

    irk06xbqv7ar.png

    Jolida, as such, is a very US-based (though very small) company which has been in this business for a long time, especially by "ChiFi" standards. There was some ugliness years back between this Jolida and a Chinese-based company claiming true ownership of the name and product lines... but that has long since blown over AFAIK.

    MD wants 700 smackers for one.
    https://www.musicdirect.com/integrated-amp/jolida-fx10-integrated-tube-amp?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIupDHhomJ3wIVAlcNCh1czA0sEAQYASABEgIHlvD_BwE

    Now, here's the thing. I've owned a lot of vacuum tube hifi amplifiers, and have heard many, many more. I have yet to hear a bad sounding EL84 amplifier, push-pull or single-ended. They're just nice amplifiers. Very pleasant to listen to. Indeed, I've lived long term with push-pull EL84 amplification several times in my life, and happily so. :)

    The nice thing about the Jolida is that you have someplace to turn to if you ever have any problems.

    Pity about those dorky blue LEDs under the tubes though! :p

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    edited December 2018
    Two other things I want to "say" :|

    1) Just because a loudspeaker has 96 dB sensitivity doesn't necessarily make it, a priori, either "vacuum tube friendly" nor "easy to drive". Depends on the impedance curve (frequency-dependent impedance curve and the phase angle curve).

    Which 96 dB speakers are you getting, if you don't mind sharing?

    2) The other cost-effective options for inexpensive amplifiers of good quality can be used/vintage or kit built. The former option is great if the amp is fairly new and/or has been restored, but the cheap options usually need work. Not a big problem for a DIYer, but a significant expense if one has to pay someone to do it.

    The kit option is great if and only if one wishes to do it.
    The easiest to build kit that would give excellent results with 'typical' loudspeakers, in my not-at-all humble opinion would be this:

    https://www.dynakitparts.com/shop/st-35-kit-120-vac/

    This is a power amplifier (i.e., a preamp, active or passive, is almost absolutely required for most users!) and still a little over-budget, but these are no kidding around excellent amplifiers, based on (arguably) the "real", original Dynaco's best-ever amplifier (the ST-35).

    ypq8a05f02aj.png
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 30,906
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    Two other things I want to "say" :|

    1) Just because a loudspeaker has 96 dB sensitivity doesn't necessarily make it, a priori, either "vacuum tube friendly" nor "easy to drive". Depends on the impedance curve (frequency-dependent impedance curve and the phase angle curve).


    This is true. My Legacy's were 95 efficient, but still needed some good current to bring that dynamic swing out in them to it's full potential.
    HT SYSTEM-2 channel
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Dynaudio Audience 72
    Polk FX500 surrounds
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k Ref 4420 amp

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    It's not all about that bass, but it is all about that impedance curve :p
  • factorzfactorz Posts: 350
    Thanks for the feedback. The speakers in question are Tekton Lore Reference.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    factorz wrote: »
    Thanks for the feedback. The speakers in question are Tekton Lore Reference.

    Should be easy-peasy.
  • SIHABSIHAB Posts: 860
    How many people looked at that dynakit pic and wanted to start modding it.
    :#
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,672
    If you could up the budget some, I'd be willing to go down to $800 + shipping on some 20 watt monoblocks:

    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/182768/audio-mirror-parallel-single-ended-monoblocks
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    edited December 2018
    Heathkit AA32 is a decent quality entry level amplifier. PP 6GW8 for about 8 watts per channel (very similar to PP 6BM8,another popular 'entry level' amplifier tube near the end of the vacuum tube era).

    The 6GW8 and the 6BM8 were 'dual purpose' tubes -- a pentode that could be used as driver or phase splitter and a power output tube in the same bottle. :) This enabled a stereo push-pull amplifier with as few as four physical tubes (doing the work of eight) -- a bean-counter's dream! Nothing wrong with either tube, though, for hifi. Indeed, to this day some folks in Japan are quite enamored of the 6BM8 (push pull or single ended). Neither the 6GW8 nor the 6BM8 is available as a current production tube, AFAIK, and I think stocks of NOS tubes may be limited (i.e., replacement tubes may be pretty expensive).

    The worst thing about the AA32 is that the original paint tends to slough off of their (aluminum) cabinets and chassis. :|

    32514545741_a833ac7bab_h.jpgHeathkit 1964 p17 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr


    Is the one @tonyp063 linked to restored? It should be for that price (even in Canucki dollas). ;)


    Here's an old photo of mine (FWIW):

    24365491607_a0964fcaf6_b.jpgAA32 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr


    One thing I don't like about many of the 1960s Heathkit vaccum tube amps (and the original Dynaco ST-35 & ST-70, for that matter) is the use of printed circuit boards. The old phenolic boards, under the ravages of heat and time, have not aged well :( There are improved aftermarket boards available for the old Dynacos --- but not (AFAIK) for the old Heathkits.

    CAVEAT: I must say that it's been a long time since I popped the top on an AA-32. The AA-32, I think is actually point to point wired (now that I am thinking about it)! :)
  • tonyp063tonyp063 Posts: 600
    @mhardy6647 , the seller has links to high resolution photos in his ad.
    Point to point wiring & it looks nicely restored to me
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 13,182
    Jolida was announcing that their new name was going to be Black Ice at Axpona so thay might be something to look for.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    Jolida was announcing that their new name was going to be Black Ice at Axpona so thay might be something to look for.

    derp -- did not know that!
    Thanks.
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,975
    Tube preamp and SS amp?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    edited December 2018
    factorz wrote: »

    gxyk2zf2c2y0.png


    Lots of amplifier for the $.
    If you can do what you want to do @ 5 wpc*, this amplifier should do quite nicely.

    Otherwise, it would make a heck of a treble amplifier in a biamplified system :)

    ____________
    * Some of us certainly can ;)

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,672
    factorz wrote: »

    If you have to you have to, but you might find it a limiting factor with those Tekton speakers. Transformers in those units are not known to be 'quality'. Then again, $500 is a tough price point for any tube amp.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    Here's a link to the "mods" that were (presumably) made to this amplifier, based on the seller's description.

    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/magnavox-flea-power-getting-more-out-of-the-8600-series-a-lot-more.665735/

    Now, I haven't heard a Maggotbox SE EL84 console amp thus modified, and I note that the amp in the CL ad has new OPTs, so I cannot vouch that it'll still have the magic that the almost embarrassingly simple and cheaply made Maggotbox console amps have -- but it's clearly been carefully and diligently modified, using good quality parts. For the $, it seems like a very reasonable risk :)
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,672
    I haven't seen Bottlehead mentioned. I think a pre-built one might be a good fit and you could probably find one under budget.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    Affordable Bottleheads are going to be squarely in the fleapower category.
    A used Stereomour or a pair o' Paramours would be dandy from a sonic perspective, though.

    Did I not mention 'em earlier? Doesn't look like I did -- probably thinkin' 3.5-ish wpc was cuttin' it a little fine for most normal folks :)

    35012452392_ae479f19ec_h.jpgDSC_8376 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
    (Marky's Paramours)
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 3,492
    oddwatt has some kits
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800, Usher R1.5
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra
    Speaker Cables: Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9, Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In Micro, MG Audio Design Planus Cu2,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 2,879
    I have one I've been thinking about selling, but, it would come in a bit more than your price.
    xscny8p8rlma.jpg

    It's had a bias pot added on the rear panel along with an rca jack and plug for multimeter to check/adjust. Link to some info:
    http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/introducing-the-new-hercules-power-amp-from-audio-electronics-by-cary-audio/
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
    Dual SVS SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

  • vcwatkinsvcwatkins Posts: 1,861
    Any opinions on Elekit?

    This Elekit TU-8200 Stereo Tube Amplifier Kit is $699, but I have no experience with the brand. I've sorta had my eye on this TU-8600 300B SE for my first stab at a 300b and would welcome any thoughts on the brand in general or either of those kits.
    Den: Rega RP6 * AT33PTGII * Budgie SUT * Jolida jd9 * Roon (Sonic Transporter) * PS Audio DirectStream Jr. * Joule-Electra LA-100 mkIII * Sunfire Signature II * PSAudio Power Plant 3 * MIT S3 * Polk SRS 1.2
    Office: Roon * Sonore UltraRendu (LPS-1, WW Plat7, Iso Regen, Lush) * ProJect Pre Box S2 * Pass ACA * PSA Dectet * DH Labs Q10 * Brines Folded ML-TQWT RS 40-1354
    Beach: Music Hall MMF5.1se * Speed Box II * DL103r * Lounge Copla/LCRIII * W4S Sonos * Schiit Yggdrasil * Belles 20a Pre * First Watt F5 Clone * PSA Dectet * MIT S3 * Polk SRS 2.3tl
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 21,466
    edited December 2018
    The Elekit kits get good press. No actual experience, though. Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to try one if there were a model that fit my interests ("needs" :p ) and budget.

    it is, in some ways, unfortunate that they use PC boards rather than point to point wiring -- but it certainly makes them easier to assemble and it's not like it's a deal killer or anything!

    I just prefer the long-term robustness of point to point construction and there's just something about forcing the signal to travel on them little flat traces on a PCB that seems kind of unfortunate, you know? :/
  • stretchlstretchl Posts: 1,294
    @factorz I have a Yaqin Mc-10t integrated, purchased here on the forum a few years ago, that I've been considering selling. It was my first tube amp and though it's amazing my recent acquisition of a Joule Electra LA-100 Mark 3 makes the Yaqin not suitable for my current set up.

    The only reason I've not offered it for sale already is that I didn't want the hassle of listing it and I've been telling myself I might put it back into the system at some point. But the JE is just so marvelous, I'm beginning to accept the fact that I'll never not want to use it. Let me know if you have any interest.
    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
    - Isaac Asimov

    Hi-Fi
    Apple Lossless --> Squeezebox Touch --> Joule Electra LA-100 Mark iii --> Yaqin MC-10t --> LSiM-705's
    Cabling by Groneberg
    Visuals
    http://StretchPhotography.com
    http://Vimeo.com/channels/stretchphoto
  • factorzfactorz Posts: 350
    edited December 2018
    Funny thing is when I owned a Yaqin before I bought it from the guy that started Silk Audio. Really nice guy who went above and beyond with his customer service. Not sure if he is still in business.

    Thanks everyone who offered advice and even items to try. Right now I'm running a PS Audio Sprout 100 so a integrated wouldn't work. The sprout has a preamp out which is why I was thinking a tube amp. Looks like I need to up my budget to get something worthwhile so I think I'll just enjoy the speakers for now and keep saving.
    Post edited by factorz on
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