Help in picking out a tube power amp.

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flavo

Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« on: 30 Jul 2019, 01:47 am »
Thank you all so much for the help with picking out a pre amp.
Now I'm looking to figure out which power amp to get.
I've been eyeing what look to be some pretty excellent amps.
Digging a little deeper into the user manuals and I'm being reminded of important things like on and off sequencing to not damage any associated gear.
I'd really prefer to not have to add that worry to my life so I'm looking for a little guidance.

Here's what I'm looking for.
my current and past speakers have all been fairly efficient. In the mid 90s or higher range
I typically run a bi-amped set up with a non tube bottom end.
Would like low(ish) heat output if possible
easy or self biasing
no need to follow a strict on/off sequence with the amp and it's associated gear.
I lean towards liking a warmer more lush sound
budget is sub 3K and looking for something used.
Not having to worry about what sequence the amp gets turned on or off is essential to me.

Right now I'm leaning towards a Primaluna Dialogue for it's ease of use, good reviews and possible tube rolling abilities.
But I don't know what I don't know. So please help fine tune this search a little bit.
Many thanks
Mike

Mr Peabody

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #1 on: 30 Jul 2019, 02:03 am »
Take a look at Conrad Johnson.  Not self bias but easy, the amp just has an LED to watch as you dial it in.

I had MV60's but under $3k you should have plenty of options.  The CJ sound just seems to breathe life into the music.


FullRangeMan

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #3 on: 30 Jul 2019, 02:21 am »
If looking for a Triode SE there is this amp hand made after order:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/BRAVO-2-3-6C33-class-A-Integrated-Tube-Amplifier/182796114718?hash=item2a8f7f5b1e:g:RfoAAOSwvflZOUTg
If 6W are suited great option are Decware Rachel SE34.
If SolidState also fit best option are Odyssey Khartago IMO, a great value.

The Amazon price on the same amp are $2495  :scratch:
https://www.amazon.com/Jas-Audio-Bravo-2-3-6C33-Integrated/dp/B008K46K98

EDIT: Found that the Amazon amp already was imported from China and ships from VA, USA.
« Last Edit: 30 Jul 2019, 03:22 am by FullRangeMan »

musicdre

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #4 on: 30 Jul 2019, 02:28 am »
Here's one I'm looking at
https://www.audiomirror.com/product-page/45w-mono-blocks-set-class-a
http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1018/Audio_Mirror_Reflection_Monoblock_SET_Amplifier_Review.htm

those amps look stunning and likely sound great.  but to address your "low heat" factor - amps running 6C33Cs to 45 wpc may be likely to run on the hot side of warm - this is based on my 6C33C amp which is biased to run perhaps 30wpc.  if heat level is important, you may want to inquire about this.

good luck!

Mr Peabody

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #5 on: 30 Jul 2019, 02:40 am »
A guy on another forum has a pair of the Audio Mirror and raves about them all the time.

He was going to sell them which would be surprising based on his raves, except this is his third brand of amps in a relatively short period.

In SET you might check Cary Audio who sells direct now and allows in home audition.  They often have refurb/restored deals as well.

I don't know much about pricing on separates but Triode of Japan really impressed me when hearing them.

FullRangeMan

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #6 on: 30 Jul 2019, 03:21 am »
those amps look stunning and likely sound great.  but to address your "low heat" factor - amps running 6C33Cs to 45 wpc may be likely to run on the hot side of warm - this is based on my 6C33C amp which is biased to run perhaps 30wpc.  if heat level is important, you may want to inquire about this.

good luck!
Just one 6C33 made 80W of heat, one GM70 made 180W of heat.

jmolsberg

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #7 on: 30 Jul 2019, 11:38 am »
Perhaps add this to the consideration set. Lots of power and cool as a cucumber in bowl of hot sauce

https://www.bobcarvercorp.com/copy-of-crimson-raven

I have not heard the audio mirror amps but I do have Vlad's tubadour lll tube dac and it is wonderful!

Decware is a great recommendation no doubt

JLM

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #8 on: 30 Jul 2019, 12:12 pm »
Please clarify, are you thinking of still running a solid state amp for low end or a single amp?

Had a Prima Luna Dialogue Premium integrated a few years back (Stereophile class A rated that year).  Enjoyed rolling output tubes.  My favorites were 6550 followed by KT77.  EL34 were way too warm for me, KT88 and KT120 were OK.  Plenty of power (90 dB/w/m, 8 ohm speakers in 8ft x 13ft x 21ft room, old fart - mostly moderate listening).  But always felt, like others, that the auto-biasing and protection circuits, while great for a tube newbie, were holding back it's sound as it honestly didn't sound any better to me than my old Channel Island Audio D-100 mono-blocks (originals).  So I kept the D-100's. 

timind

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #9 on: 30 Jul 2019, 12:41 pm »
A few years ago I bought a Prima Luna power amp. I don't remember the model but it was one of their lower tier amps. Anyway, my experience was very similar to JLMs above, the amp was ok, but nothing special. I absolutely wouldn't call it lush. Sold it fairly quick.

lokie

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #10 on: 30 Jul 2019, 02:55 pm »
Find and have refurbished a vintage el84 amp. Fisher, Eico, Heathkit, etc..
You have to spend thousands of dollars on a modern equivalent. And you can always sell it for what you have in it.

The transformers on these old pieces sound sublime. And the el 84's are cheap and plentiful... not to mention a blast to listen to. Nice and punchy w good dynamics and the wonderful tubey  midrange.
Then... find a vintage speaker to go with them!

timind

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #11 on: 30 Jul 2019, 03:12 pm »
Find and have refurbished a vintage el84 amp. Fisher, Eico, Heathkit, etc..
You have to spend thousands of dollars on a modern equivalent. And you can always sell it for what you have in it.

The transformers on these old pieces sound sublime. And the el 84's are cheap and plentiful... not to mention a blast to listen to. Nice and punchy w good dynamics and the wonderful tubey  midrange.
Then... find a vintage speaker to go with them!

I didn't make a suggestion to the OP, but I if I had, I would've suggested exactly that. I use a recapped Fisher when I want a lush tube sound. My amp uses 7189 tubes which are a more robust version of the EL84.

abd1

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #12 on: 30 Jul 2019, 03:49 pm »
I have a Primaluna Dialogue One integrated amp. It's a bit of an older model but is extremely similar to the Dialogue Premium. I actually was thinking of upgrading but after listening to the Premium a couple times at a dealer I didn't think the juice was worth the squeeze and kept my Dialogue One. I've loved this amp. It was my first tube amp and it sounds amazing. I've used it with Totem Hawks, which aren't that efficient, and it sounded fantastic. Now I'm using it with Salk Song3's and it is a much better match and sounds even better. I've rolled tubes and really like the Gold Lion KT77 and Sophia Electric EL34 blue glass tubes. The Sophia Electric tubes are amazing. The amp sounds pretty close to a class A SET with those tubes. MAtter of fact I had some friends over for dinner last weekend. They are not audiophiles at all and mainly listen to music at home through an Amazon Alexa device thing. They saw the Primaluna and asked what it is, so I played a couple songs for them. They couldn't move off the couch. First they thought the sound was coming from the tubes so I had to explain stereo imaging. Then they thought there must be speakers in the ceiling and behind them, again had to explain stereo imaging, etc. It was pretty funny. Last night my friend texted me and asked if I'd help him put together a stereo system - no more Alexa. I might sell him the PL because...

I also have a Line Magnetic LM-508ia. However, when I got the amp there was something up with it because after 2-3 hours of playtime I'd get a loud buzz, so it's being checked out now, which is why I have the Primaluna hooked up. From the 2-3 months I had the LM in the system I can see it does have a more open and yet more dynamic sound than the Primaluna, but it also costs about twice as much so it should. Some downsides to the LM is that it is extremely heavy (80ish lbs), gets very hot (class a), and while I think it looks awesome (I call it Tubezilla), my wife prefers the cleaner, more understated look of the Primaluna. She said she also prefers the PL sound because its a bit more laid back to her. I planned on selling the PL when I got the LM, but I'm going to wait until I get the LM back and test it thoroughly. In the meantime I'll use the PL and then let my friend have a chance to purchase it or sell it online (assuming I keep the LM).

Either way, I do recommend the LM sound, and I think mine got knocked during shipping. It is a beast so I could see something happening. I also recommend PL. With your budget you should be able to find some nice options as well. Good luck with the search.

Tyson

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #13 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:00 pm »
I really like the Dennis Had Inspire tube amps - they are a tube roller's dream.  Single ended pentode, which will get you 14 watts with a KT150, 12 watts with a 6550 or KT88, 10 watts with an EL34 or KT77 or 6L6GC, 8 watts with a 807, or 5 watts with an EL84.  Yep, it really can roll just about any pentode ever made, which is freaking awesome. 

That fact that they are hand built by Dennis Had, the founder of Cary Audio (now retired), makes it much sweeter.

rollo

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Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #14 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:03 pm »
  Stick with the brand of your preamp. Synergy matters.


charles

flavo

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #15 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:22 pm »
I really appreciate all the info. 
Am I over thinking the on off sequence? I never even knew there was a sequence to follow until recently and I have had close to a dozen tube amps in and out of here. I try to be careful about changing speaker cables but I'm pretty loose with that too. I switch cables on an almost daily basis because I use the same speakers with both my 2 channel amp and my HT receiver. 
I'm worried about ruining something and know I won't always get it right or that my wife might try to swap something at some point and potentially damage something.
Maybe I should add some sort of speaker cable switcher to the mix?
Do I really need to be concerned about the on off sequence of the amps?

richidoo

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #16 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:22 pm »
To avoid the turn-on problems of tube preamps get a preamp with output relay to automatically mute the output until the preamp is warmed up and stable, usually 30-60 seconds. Without such a relay many tube preamps put out DC offset, or transient pops and noises that when amplified by the power amp can damage your speakers. I still would not shut off a signal to any power amp that is powered-on and connected to speakers. I've seen too many disasters from trusting amps to behave, even the biggest brands of solid state amps. You can learn the easy way from other's misfortunes, or you can learn the hard way by blowing up your own tweeters. If turning off the amp first is impossible, then I recommend using an integrated amp.

There are a lot of good integrated tube amps in the power range you want, like Manley Stingray2 and Cary SLI-80. These are switchable between triode/ultralinear : warmth/detail. Gold Lion offers output tubes for both, they are available new, very reliable, stable bias and sound very good. Ease and stability of bias is determined by the quality of the output tubes.

flavo

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #17 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:24 pm »
I really like the Dennis Had Inspire tube amps - they are a tube roller's dream.  Single ended pentode, which will get you 14 watts with a KT150, 12 watts with a 6550 or KT88, 10 watts with an EL34 or KT77 or 6L6GC, 8 watts with a 807, or 5 watts with an EL84.  Yep, it really can roll just about any pentode ever made, which is freaking awesome. 

That fact that they are hand built by Dennis Had, the founder of Cary Audio (now retired), makes it much sweeter.

I've been eyeing Had's stuff.
I believe this is still available and he lives an hour away.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=163276.0

Looking at his other offerings, they all seem to be lower power then you stated, and I'm not sure if it would be sufficient for me.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/STEREO-TUBE-AMPLIFIER-INSPIRE-by-DENNIS-HAD-45-2A3-TRIODE-SINGLE-ENDED-AMPLIFIER/153560108178?hash=item23c0e54c92:g:6P8AAOSwWHBdJQMr

What amp are you getting those numbers from?

flavo

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #18 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:25 pm »
Please clarify, are you thinking of still running a solid state amp for low end or a single amp?

I currently have and will be keeping for a long time. GR servo sub H frames with the rythmic plate amps.

flavo

Re: Help in picking out a tube power amp.
« Reply #19 on: 30 Jul 2019, 04:29 pm »
To avoid the turn-on problems of tube preamps get a preamp with output relay to automatically mute the output until the preamp is warmed up and stable, usually 30-60 seconds. Without such a relay many tube preamps put out DC offset, or transient pops and noises that when amplified by the power amp can damage your speakers. I still would not shut off a signal to any power amp that is powered-on and connected to speakers. I've seen too many disasters from trusting amps to behave, even the biggest brands of solid state amps. You can learn the easy way from other's misfortunes, or you can learn the hard way by blowing up your own tweeters. If turning off the amp first is impossible, then I recommend using an integrated amp.

So as long as my pre has the mute relay and I turn that on and off first, I'm good to go?
I got a great deal on a Rogue Super Magnum 99 Pre-Amp that is currently on it's way to me. My Rogue chronus integrated has that feature, so I'm assuming the pre does as well?