What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?

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chgolatin2

I am looking at a few options for a tube amp, currently, I have a Cary Audio SLi-80 and a Jolida FX10, these amps are set up in one of my master bedroom and a guest room paired with JBL '50s and L16's, classic speakers!  I have a set of VR2 speakers being powered by a Peachtree Audio Idecco and a Cambridge 840C cd player, which quite honestly I haven't used in years since I'm only listening to vinyl these days. 

I want to replace/sell the Peachtree Audio iDecco and replace it with a tube amp.  My budget is around $3500 max!  So far I've looked into Ayon Scorpio which is a pure class A amp running KT88's, which can be had for around $3500 give or take, but I also looked into Cayin A50 TP MK2, -CAYIN A-88T MK2 TUBE EL34/KT88/6550 and lastly an inexpensive Class A tube amp being sold by USA Tube Audio which is a Meixing MingDa MC34-ASE.  I like the fact that the Cayin A88T gives you more options to run different tubes, such as KT88, EL 34, and 6550's.  But this is a Class AB1 integrated tube amp.  It does provide you with the option to switch from Ultralinear to Triode but I'm a bit confused.  So what's better for sound reproduction, Class A or can a Class AB1 give you the best of both worlds?

Guidance, suggestions needed~  Thanks~

FullRangeMan

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #1 on: 21 Mar 2019, 09:29 pm »
The best sound topology(mainly the deep soundstage) is Single Ended Triode Class A1 with 0 NFB using a good Output Transformer, avoid Class A2 few tubes can operate in +V grid.

Class AB1 or PP use more output tubes for more power, use only if you need as a last resource, UL is the ugly duck of tube amps in true it is Ultra Non Linear, but it may sound nice to unexperiencied ears or rough music styles.

Triode to UL switch is a nice feature though.

Delta77

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #2 on: 21 Mar 2019, 09:47 pm »
I use a Decware Zen Mystery Amp (35 watt PP) , Paired with Tekton D.I. speakers (98db) , and absolutely love it..
Still wish I had bought one of the following amps ( don't need 35watts )..

This single ended amp (25th ANNIVERSARY ZEN TRIODE AMPLIFIER) is making big waves on the Decware site..But only 2watts... (95db speakers or higher only)  Around $3,000
http://www.decware.com/newsite/SE84UFO25.html

This Single ended amp looks very promising, 6 watts x 2 or 12 watts x 1.. Buy one for around $1,500 , and if its not enough power get a another one..
http://www.decware.com/newsite/SE34I.htm

FullRangeMan

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #3 on: 21 Mar 2019, 10:24 pm »
+1 on the SE34 Rachel, great amp to horns or fullrange drivers.

OBS.: Many info here:
http://www.glowinthedarkaudio.com/thoughts-opinions.html
« Last Edit: 23 Mar 2019, 09:12 am by FullRangeMan »

witchdoctor

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #4 on: 22 Mar 2019, 07:43 pm »
For the price of some nice cables you get a Klipsch Powergate for around $150 an Amazon. Check it out before pulling the trigger on your next amp and you can return it in 30 days if you don't like it.

Freo-1

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #5 on: 23 Mar 2019, 12:05 am »

I've got a different take on this question.  Personally not a big fan of SET amps.  Yes' they can have a great midrange, but I find the bass and treble too rolled off for my liking.  I like large floor standing speakers, and even the more efficient types need power to sound their best. 


At 50 watts and above, my preference is pentode output, as I have found that it is superior to ultra linear.  It's easier on the output tube as well, as the screen grids can be tightly regulated to keep the amp within operating specs.  I've seen too many UL amps eat tubes prematurly, usually by overdriving the screens. 


If you can find a good tech, going Do It Yourself (DIY) could be a viable option.  DIY has the potential advantage of using higher quality parts, a wider choice of tube options (based on tried and true designs), etc. 


Here is a link to an interview with the late David Manley, who was a proponent of high power tube amps.


http://positive-feedback.com/Issue65/manley.htm





RPM123

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #6 on: 23 Mar 2019, 02:59 am »
Check out the Aric Audio "Transcend" amp at $3500.

http://aricaudio.com/products.php?product=TRANPP88


SET Man

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #7 on: 23 Mar 2019, 04:42 am »
I am looking at a few options for a tube amp, currently, I have a Cary Audio SLi-80 and a Jolida FX10, these amps are set up in one of my master bedroom and a guest room paired with JBL '50s and L16's, classic speakers!  I have a set of VR2 speakers being powered by a Peachtree Audio Idecco and a Cambridge 840C cd player, which quite honestly I haven't used in years since I'm only listening to vinyl these days. 

I want to replace/sell the Peachtree Audio iDecco and replace it with a tube amp.  My budget is around $3500 max!  So far I've looked into Ayon Scorpio which is a pure class A amp running KT88's, which can be had for around $3500 give or take, but I also looked into Cayin A50 TP MK2, -CAYIN A-88T MK2 TUBE EL34/KT88/6550 and lastly an inexpensive Class A tube amp being sold by USA Tube Audio which is a Meixing MingDa MC34-ASE.  I like the fact that the Cayin A88T gives you more options to run different tubes, such as KT88, EL 34, and 6550's.  But this is a Class AB1 integrated tube amp.  It does provide you with the option to switch from Ultralinear to Triode but I'm a bit confused.  So what's better for sound reproduction, Class A or can a Class AB1 give you the best of both worlds?

Guidance, suggestions needed~  Thanks~

Hey!

   Well, for me that will be DHT SET amps... no surprise coming from from someone with "SET Man" as a screen name right? I'm talking about 300B and up to 845 tubes here. Tube like 2A3 or 45 just a bit too low in power for me.

    SET amps are not for everyone. If you have small to medium room and of course high efficient speakers with easy load this set up might work for you. Of course a good SET amp won't be cheap, because output transformer in SET amp is everything. And the biggest problem with SET amp is finding the right speaker for them. But if you value the detail, emotional directness and etc. When things come together right SET system can be quite magical. Actually, I know that my system probably measure badly compare to modern SS or Class D amps, but it is emotionally correct.
 
    Anyway, if you don't want to get into SET like 300B and etc. There's one non DHT tube that I like and that's the EL84. I don't know why but they sound wonderful even in PP. They are cheap and easy to replace. If you can live with 17wpc this is might work, I think they do sell fully assembled unit also if you're a DIYer...

http://www.ankaudiokits.com/l1el84.html

   And a little disclosure, I don't own or have heard that particular EL84 amp. But I have Audio Note M1 Phono I bought back in 1997 I think. And I always enjoyed their rooms at all the audio show I have attended.

Buddy

FullRangeMan

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #8 on: 23 Mar 2019, 09:21 am »
I like large floor standing speakers, and even the more efficient types need power to sound their best. 
Need more power? Try a GM70 SET or the GK71 Pentode:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skCCd4O-fVQ
Handmade by Anatoly in SoCal.

Tyson

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #9 on: 23 Mar 2019, 03:26 pm »
What will sound best is whichever is better designed and built, and fits your power needs best.  Personally I always look for 2 things in a design - does it use a tube rectifier?  And does it use octals on the input/driver board?  If yes to both of those questions, I'll consider it.  If no, I'll generally give it a pass.  If you're looking at SET, be aware that there's a wide range of power available from each tube type:

Type 45 - 2 watts
2A3 - 4 watts
300b - 6-8 watts
211 - 18 watts
845 - 25 watts

Now if you need more power, there's single ended parallel which keeps the magic of SET but gives you more power.  Or there's push pull amps that will give you a lot more power.  IME, the PP amps sound more punchy and have better dynamics while still having a nice tube sound.  The SET amps have more tube magic and sound freaking real (spooky real) but give up some grunt in the bass and dynamics department. 

So, it just depends on your listening preferences and what type of speakers you have. 

OzarkTom

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #10 on: 23 Mar 2019, 06:11 pm »
You might want to look at Wolf Ear Audio here on AC. I got to hear their 2 watt SET on Zellaton speakers and it was stunning. No treble roll-off at all. They just made a 5 watt version.

https://www.wolfearaudio.ca/products/kitoki-v2-0-5w-single-ended-stereo-amplifier

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #11 on: 23 Mar 2019, 07:27 pm »
Your VR2 speakers are only 87 db efficient, so SET is pretty much a non starter unless you only listen to music softly.  Even the most common Push-Pull amps in the 15-40 watt range won't be enough for full dynamic range. If you were happy how the Peachtree drove your speakers, you'd probably be fine with something like a KT-88/6550 PP amp. But if you were running it our of gas, you're probably looking at a parallel Push-Pull amp to get into the 70 watts plus range. You can buy into those reasonably (Primaluna, maybe Rogue Audio) but they do get pricey to re-tube.

Freo-1

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #12 on: 23 Mar 2019, 09:32 pm »
Your VR2 speakers are only 87 db efficient, so SET is pretty much a non starter unless you only listen to music softly.  Even the most common Push-Pull amps in the 15-40 watt range won't be enough for full dynamic range. If you were happy how the Peachtree drove your speakers, you'd probably be fine with something like a KT-88/6550 PP amp. But if you were running it our of gas, you're probably looking at a parallel Push-Pull amp to get into the 70 watts plus range. You can buy into those reasonably (Primaluna, maybe Rogue Audio) but they do get pricey to re-tube.



Thank you.  That was point I was attempting to make in the earlier post.  Hence, the reference to David Manley, who was in the higher power tube amp camp. A lot of the Manley/VTL amps provide higher pentode power out.


Here is a random suggestion for the OP:  Consider auditioning a McIntosh MC152 for comparison.  The current Mac gear (IMHO) with autoformers are the best sounding to date from them, and the autoformer gives some of the presence afforded by tube gear from the audio transformers.  Unlike an transformer, an autoformer does not suffer from saturation like a tube output transformer.  It may give you enough of that mid range magic that could work out. 

opnly bafld

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #13 on: 23 Mar 2019, 10:30 pm »
deleted


 

UncleMeat

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #14 on: 3 May 2019, 07:51 am »
Consider the new Bob Carver 'Crimson 275'. Stereo 75WPC, 4x KT-120's that run so cool (when not being pushed) that you can put your hand on them.  All of his new tube amp designs use a circuit that reduces the idle bias without loss of output when power demand increases.  The tube life is also greatly extended, they give a 5 year warranty on tube life, but I suspect they will last much longer if not abused.

The amp sounds simply stunning as well.

Music Direct sells this amp for $2750, which is a bargain in terms of tube amps with this amount of power/sound.

I have no financial affiliation with Bob Carver or Music Direct.  Just a happy purchaser of this amp.

Wind Chaser

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #15 on: 3 May 2019, 03:29 pm »
The best amp ... really depends on your choice of speakers.

I've owned more tube amps than SS, but those days are over.  :D :D :D

Freo-1

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #16 on: 3 May 2019, 03:47 pm »

It really depends on the speakers.  Most modern speakers are under 90 db/w, so a higher powered push/pull amp generally works best.  IMHO, pentode amps actually sound better than ultra-linear.


However, with a Klipschhorn, a well made 5 watt amp should suffice.

OzarkTom

Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #17 on: 4 May 2019, 06:23 pm »
These are very difficult to find used, but my #1 choice for the Klipschorns would be the David Berning Siegfried 300B tube amplifier. It is about 5-7 watts per channel.

http://www.davidberning.com/products/siegfried

FullRangeMan

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Re: What's better sounding, Class A, Class AB1 Tube amp?
« Reply #18 on: 4 May 2019, 08:01 pm »
Looks a great sounding amp, if you want buy an used it certainly is expensive.