I have $7000 to spend, put together a tube amp and preamp for me

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JackD

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brucemarmold

The traditional "lush" tube preamps are considered to be Cary and Conrad Johnson, but as a general rule ones designed around the 6SN7 tube will also fall in the range.  With readily available NOS tubes still available on both ends of the sonic spectrum you can adjust them in one direction or the other.  Others to consider would be the Don Sachs and the Modwright LS-100.  Excellent choices though not on the "lush" end would be the Linear Tube Audio, Backert Labs or even some of Rogues own.  In general if you are looking for classic "tube" sound stay away from preamps based on the 6H30 tubes.

brucemarnold

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brucemarmold

The traditional "lush" tube preamps are considered to be Cary and Conrad Johnson, but as a general rule ones designed around the 6SN7 tube will also fall in the range.  With readily available NOS tubes still available on both ends of the sonic spectrum you can adjust them in one direction or the other.  Others to consider would be the Don Sachs and the Modwright LS-100.  Excellent choices though not on the "lush" end would be the Linear Tube Audio, Backert Labs or even some of Rogues own.  In general if you are looking for classic "tube" sound stay away from preamps based on the 6H30 tubes.

The Rouge Audio ST-100 and MW LS-100 were the original combo I had picked out, but I warned this combo was pretty neutral. I'll look into these (and others as pointed out) by members here, tho.. this did open up Pandora's jar to some extent, but I'm finding it fairly worthwhile to re-consider all of this.

/ed - the SLP-05 is a really nice looking preamp.. I'd almost buy it just based on that..

JackD

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Even though the Rogue is supplied with KT-120 tubes it will take anything from EL-34 up to the KT-120's with a different bias point and a lower power output so it can be "tuned" with the power tubes as well as the small signal tubes.  I have an LS-100 (not currently in use) and it can be tuned to a point with the 6SN7's but not to the point of "Cary Lush."

jsm71

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In your opening post you stated "Just assume I'll find a good pair of speakers to match, so I don't want to get into that right now.. "

Your searches have also found the Cary SLP-05 preamp, which you say you really like the looks of.  I've also heard you say more than once you want lush sound from the preamp.  If so, get the Cary SLP-98 preamp.  I had one and it is on the lush side.  The SLP-05 is a superb preamp, but it sounds much more clear and revealing, not lush.  Mate that with whatever Cary tube amp takes the rest of your budget, new or used.

My two other paring choices:  Both units from Linear Tube Audio (my current electronics) or the units from Don Sachs, also really well done and widely praised.  I have Don's phono stage, and it is wonderful.  Again, if you want lush, Cary gear is classic and fits that profile.

lokie


brucemarnold

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In your opening post you stated "Just assume I'll find a good pair of speakers to match, so I don't want to get into that right now.. "

Your searches have also found the Cary SLP-05 preamp, which you say you really like the looks of.  I've also heard you say more than once you want lush sound from the preamp.  If so, get the Cary SLP-98 preamp.  I had one and it is on the lush side.  The SLP-05 is a superb preamp, but it sounds much more clear and revealing, not lush.  Mate that with whatever Cary tube amp takes the rest of your budget, new or used.

My two other paring choices:  Both units from Linear Tube Audio (my current electronics) or the units from Don Sachs, also really well done and widely praised.  I have Don's phono stage, and it is wonderful.  Again, if you want lush, Cary gear is classic and fits that profile.

ok... I think I'll just do that, then...  and thank everyone here, sincerely.. I've learned a lot and I know I'm going to enjoy all of this going forward!

goldlizsts

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I was a late=comer to the tube amp fanatics, having been exposed to SS for a number of years (Marantz, Crown....), then never looked back.  I played a couple of years several brands.  Then, a friend recommended me to build a 6SN7-based pre from Audio Electronic Supply, a kid sub of Cary.  I built it, and then added a rectifier, and never looked back. 

I'm no expert, but just saying here based on my personal experience.  I had stumbled on some "expert" guidance here, and got hold a document of a pretty good & extensive write-up of the 6SN7 tube, the different brands of it, and the VT231 type included....  I ended up with at least a pair of at least a dozen brands (still have them).  In the end, however, I found the Shuguang 6SN7 my favorite all-around general-use tube.  Its sound is just what I love.  My setup may not have the best in resolution, etc.  BUT, the tonality I just love.  So... on a trip to China (some years back now), I was in the town where Shuguang was headquartered.  I ended up buying like a dozen pairs of that tube, at like $10 a pair. 

I have not looked back, into other more expensive and better brands of amplification.  The other brands, VT231s included, all have their virtues.  But... the Shuguang is still my favorite all-around tube.  Couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I spent like $80 (or more?, and it was on sale) for a tube from a merchant in the DC/VA area.  It doesn't even come close in terms of sound quality.  The mids drive the sound, IMO, and the Shuguang is still better, at $10 a pair. :popcorn:

brucemarmold

The traditional "lush" tube preamps are considered to be Cary and Conrad Johnson, but as a general rule ones designed around the 6SN7 tube will also fall in the range.  With readily available NOS tubes still available on both ends of the sonic spectrum you can adjust them in one direction or the other.  Others to consider would be the Don Sachs and the Modwright LS-100.  Excellent choices though not on the "lush" end would be the Linear Tube Audio, Backert Labs or even some of Rogues own.  In general if you are looking for classic "tube" sound stay away from preamps based on the 6H30 tubes.

Chico Jim

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I’m a fan of Audio Research and own a older VS 110 that sounds very nice indeed.  I like simple passive tube pre amps from Bottlehead.  You should be able to find both on eBay or Audiogon for well less than 7k or mate the Audio Research amp with an Audio Research pre and have money to get a nice new tube set for both.

bluemeanies

Just wanted to say I love tubes and I am very happy with my choices.
I have the SP14 however it is not the Don Sachs version..it is a custom made SP14 from tubes4hifi with a CARY CHASSIS a nice thick gauge of metal...meaty...sounds great with the 803diamonds. Not bright or fatiguing to listen too. My Tube amplifiers are mono-blocks. The m125's from tube4hifi.
A competitor IMO to McIntosh since my friend owns the Mac275. Even he admits the m125's give the McIntosh a run for the money.
My dac is also tubes...Audionote4.1LE
Money well spent.