Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?

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stevecuss

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Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« on: 18 Feb 2018, 03:41 pm »
Friends,

I'd appreciate any advice you might be willing to share.

I run some GR N2X monitors through an Arcam AVR350 and a Carvin TS100 Tube Amp. I began with just the Arcam receiver, but got curious about tubes and picked up the Carvin a couple of years ago. It is an EL34 50 watt per channel amp. It brought a significant step up in the listening experience over just the Arcam. So I'm using the Arcam to send signal to the powered sub, manage digital inputs, general preamp duties. I only use the "home theater" part of the Arcam for a center channel to watch TV and DVDs. We don't do surround and I could easily use a sound bar for that.

I'm considering selling the Arcam and trying a tube preamp and possibly a dac.

Questions:

1) Do you think a tube pre will step up the sound the way the tube power amp did?

2) Any experience with the Jolida Fusion DAC/Pre?

3) Any thought on the various chinese Tube Dac/Pre's that are around (Grant Fidelity used to rebadge one years ago.)

4) Any Tube Pre's you think I should consider?

I love that the Arcam manages the sub output, switches channels and has remote volume, so I'd ideally want a tube pre that can do all that for WAF issues.

I appreciate everyone's input.

Tyson

Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #1 on: 18 Feb 2018, 04:10 pm »
The Aikido circuit is quite famous (justly so) - here's a build that uses it, has remote volume and source select of 3 inputs:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis8edje-abacus-aikido-tube-preamplifier-with-remote-tube

Though I'd probably go with something like the Atma-sphere UV-1 preamp because it uses the best sounding tube I know of, the 6SN7:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis8e86f-atma-sphere-uv-1-preamp-w-phono-modified-tube

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #2 on: 18 Feb 2018, 06:41 pm »
Thanks Tyson, I appreciate the recommendations and I'll chase those options. I like the convenience and digital friendly nature of the Jolida - on paper it seems to offer it all

Captainhemo

Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #3 on: 18 Feb 2018, 06:49 pm »
I  used a GF tube DAC 11 for a couple of years, great bang for the buck.  Very good  SQ and it'll accept many of the lower current v 9'pin tubes (6/7DJ8, 6922, 7308, 6N23P etc etc).  No DSD support and no remote. It may lack a bit of detail compared to some of the  newer offering but tone and  listenablility is exellent. It'l function as a DAC/PRE  as it has a   volume pot  (again no remote)  and 2 variable single ended outputs (tube out and solid stae out which bypasses the tube stage so works well for the  subs) Coax, Toslink, and USb digital inuts, 2  single ended analog inputs so you can pass any analog signal  through the tube stage if desired.   If you  can find one of rhese cheap,   grab it and give it a go.  My buddy  has  mine and he loves it

Don't over look the Dodd pre's/buffers that pop  up for sale from time to time.  Again,  outstanding  bang for the buck, I'd say even more so than the  above.  Many  have   3   inputs and usually  2 variable outs as well as  a tape/fixed out.  I believe Gary used a variety of tubes in his  designs but the  6v 9 pin seems to be the most  common.   Many (not sure if all) of his  6v 9 pin designs will  handlethe higher current 6N6P/6N30P DR  tubes as well :beer:

jay

S Clark

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #4 on: 18 Feb 2018, 08:10 pm »
   Many (not sure if all) of his  6v 9 pin designs will  handlethe higher current 6N6P/6N30P DR  tubes as well :beer:

jay
His early battery pre's do not use the 6N30 tubes, but don't give up much in comparison to the newer ones... I have both. Using a nice 7dj8 in the older version sounds just as good, but different, from the newer pre and the 6n30DR

In short, any of them would be a sizeable step up. 

Early B.

Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #5 on: 18 Feb 2018, 10:30 pm »
I like the convenience and digital friendly nature of the Jolida - on paper it seems to offer it all

Listen to these guys. You can do a lot better than the Jolida for the same money or less.
 

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #6 on: 19 Feb 2018, 12:15 am »
Thanks - I really appreciate the feedback. The Jolida is currently available for $600 which seems hard to beat dollar for dollar. But I'm looking at the other options suggested as well. That Abacus link looks fantastic! I've heard the Dodd Audio equipment first hand when Danny has come through town for the RMAF - they're incredible, but I'm guessing out of price range.

I appreciate any and all feedback as well as any first hand experience on the Jolida.

Also, the Jolida has 2 12ax7 preamp tubes - are more tubes preferable over less for a preamp or does it not really matter?

Tyson

Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #7 on: 19 Feb 2018, 01:11 am »
Thanks Tyson, I appreciate the recommendations and I'll chase those options. I like the convenience and digital friendly nature of the Jolida - on paper it seems to offer it all

I dislike digital integrated units - what happens when you want to upgrade the digital portion?  Digital technology is very volatile and fast moving - if/when you try to sell it to get the next best thing, you'll take a bath on the preamp portion because no one will want it because it's chained to old DAC technology.  Best to keep the DAC and preamp separate, IMO, and just buy the best standalone preamp you can afford.  That gives you the flexibility to upgrade DACs later on down the line & not lose any $$ having to switch preamps too... 

Keithh

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #8 on: 19 Feb 2018, 01:20 am »
The Carvin TS100 is an inexpensive guitar amp. Guitar amps are usually designed differently than home audio amps.
They often have a limited frequency range and circuits designed to add distortion instead of lowering it, which guitarists
want but may not be the best for home audio.
Your Arcams preamp probably exceeds the performance of the Carvin, so unless you are planning on upgrading the Carvin it
might be best to stick with the Arcam for now.

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #9 on: 19 Feb 2018, 04:14 am »
The Carvin TS100 is an inexpensive guitar amp. Guitar amps are usually designed differently than home audio amps.
They often have a limited frequency range and circuits designed to add distortion instead of lowering it, which guitarists
want but may not be the best for home audio.
Your Arcams preamp probably exceeds the performance of the Carvin, so unless you are planning on upgrading the Carvin it
might be best to stick with the Arcam for now.

Actually Keith, the Carvin is a rather transparent Bass/Home Audio Stereo Amp. I'm a guitarist and understand what you're saying about typical guitar tube amps, but this is a different beast - clean, non distorted power tube tone. It sounds fantastic and doesn't add any distortion to the sound.

And Tyson, thanks for the good word about keeping the preamp separate from digital - that makes a lot of sense. That Abacus you sent is mighty tempting.

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #10 on: 19 Feb 2018, 04:40 pm »
Has anyone had direct experience with the Mapletree Audio 2SE? It looks intriguing - within budget, tube variety etc.

Tyson

Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #11 on: 19 Feb 2018, 11:26 pm »
I owned one a while back - I really liked it.

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #12 on: 6 Mar 2018, 12:05 am »
Just an update on my search. It was so helpful to get everyone's input.

I've narrowed down to either switching the Arcam out for a dedicated tube pre or selling both pieces and just using an integrated. I'll get a separate DAC either way.

For integrated amps, I'm looking at the Yaqin MC-30L or Rogue Tempest. Both are in price range and come with the all important remote :)

For Preamps (if I keep the Carvin), I'm looking at the Akido pre that was suggested, and also the Schiit Freya and a few options from Rogue Audio.

For DAC, I've got all manner of options: Musical Fidelity, Schiit, Cambridge. Seems like lots of options there.

I think its most likely I'll sell off all buy gear and buy an integrated tube amp and a decent DAC and go from there.

thanks again for the advice and I'll update when I pull the trigger.

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #13 on: 8 Mar 2018, 04:49 am »
Thanks again for the input. Tonight I pulled the trigger on a preowned Silk Audio (Yaqin) MC-30L. Its an EL34 integrated with upgraded tubes and runs in triode or UL mode. It will arrive in a week and I'm keen to get it set up. Now to find a decent used DAC...

stevecuss

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Re: Switch out my Arcam AVR for a Tube Pre?
« Reply #14 on: 20 Mar 2018, 02:12 am »
Just a quick update to close the loop on this one.

I set up the Silk (Yaqin) MS30L and I really like the sound. It has plenty of power, great clarity and warmth out of the amp. I added a Peachtree DacIt for my Apple Airport Express for wireless iTunes and I also use the dac for a pioneer elite blu ray I'm using as a CD transport. Great sound and system all the way round.

The AEX drops out with the Peachtree - the Peachtree guys say the Express has a significant jitter issue, so I'm figuring that out - might need to use an Apple Tv or a different DAC. The Airport played just fine with the Arcam receiver's built in Wolfson Dacs.

Anyway, that's where things are at. Thanks again for everyone's advice.