Finding a happy medium...

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Finding a happy medium...
« on: 24 Mar 2006, 05:02 pm »
It's sure been quiet around here, but I thought I'd see if I can get some conversation started.

My system has changed a bit over the past months: Still using the De capos, but gone is my Pioneer PD-65 CD player, replaced by a Sony SCD-1 I bought for a great price. Also gone is my McIntosh MC-2100 amp, replaced by a pair of Quicksilver Mini Mite Monos (using the stock Chinese EL-34 and 12AX7 tubes).

My solid state Audire Audio Diffet preamp is still in the mix, although it is currently up for sale.  I've also added a pair of Kimber Silver Streak ICs between the amps and preamp (am still using my homebrew Mogami between the source and preamp, and Home Depot extension cords on my speakers). Finally, also still using my Adire Audio Rava sub.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, here's the deal: The Quicksilver amps have been a nice addition--offering a ton of that "tubey" sound: full and lush in the midrange with nice low end. In fact, due to the emphasis in the mids, I notice a slight lack of air and extension on things like cymbals, the breathiness of voices, the "blat" of horns, etc. The sound is in no way dull, but just a bit laid back sounding.

A coupe of days ago, I experienced a tube failure in one of the amps. So, while I'm waiting for the replacement to arrive, I borrowed a buddy's Sonic Impact T-amp to tide me over (I once owned a pair myself, but ended up selling them).

Interestingly, I find that the T-amp has all of that upper end detail I'm missing in the Quicksilvers, but is lacking the lush midrange I've come to enjoy. In a perfect world, I'd like to have the warmth I hear with the tubes along with the nice high end detail I hear in the T-amp. So, I'm now wondering how to find that happy medium between the two amps. I want to have my cake and eat it too, darn it!

Any ideas? Maybe different tubes? A SET amp?

Thanks, guys!


Wind Chaser

Finding a happy medium...
« Reply #1 on: 24 Mar 2006, 05:27 pm »

You can have your cake and eat it too.  Try a Charlize with the air core inductors.  As good as the Sonic Impact is, the Charlize is superior.

If that by itself doesn’t quite get you there, add a tube buffer.  Decware makes one called the ZBOX.

I have one built into my CDP with a volume pot, thus eliminating the preamp.  The performance to value ratio of these two things combined is stupid good.



  • Jr. Member
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« Reply #2 on: 28 Mar 2006, 09:48 pm »
Well, for me, the DeCapos did not really come alive until I went to an SET, 300B, amp. In my particular case, the KR Enterprise 18BSI integrated amp. It was a stunning improvement over everything else I had tried. The second best amp with the DeCapos was the ASL "Leyla" integrated which I believe uses an 845 power tube. With either of these amps, the bass is full (perhaps a little too much with the Leyla), the top end is extended but clean, and the midrange is, well, outstanding.
Unfortunately, not just any SET will do. For example, the ASL "Fox" integrated, which I think is a pentode SET, is not quite up to the standards of the triode amps. Still, the Fox is also a lot less money and maybe something you should try.


Finding a happy medium...
« Reply #3 on: 9 Apr 2006, 03:28 am »
Thanks for the comments, guys.

Having lived with the Sonic T in the rig for a couple of weeks while waiting for the new tubes to arrive, I finally got it all put back together, along with a new silver interconnect I bought from Quicksilver, and a $2.50 bicycle innertube under my SCD-1.

I don't know if it's the cable or the innertube, or maybe the bad tube in the one amp was always deteriorating the sound (or maybe I just needed a break to get a fresh perspective of how good my system sounds).  In any case, it sounds great.

Although the Sonic T performs at a level that is absolutely ridiculous considering its price and diminutive physical stature, it simply doesn't compare to the sound of the Mini Mites.

I would still love to sell my Audire preamp (hint, hint  :wink: ) so I could afford something with tubes, but for now I'm happy.

That said, I'm not ruling out a SET amp for some time in the future.


  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 88
Suggestions for a preamp
« Reply #4 on: 10 Apr 2006, 11:29 pm »
Hi Jonathan,

When you are considering a tubed preamp, do not forget the Transcendent Grounded Grid pre. If you have any skill, and it does not take much, with a soldering iron you can build this preamp for about $500.00. It is a giant killer and has bested preamps costing 4 or 5 times as much. I have never owned this preamp myself, and deeply regret not having purchased one; however, heard it compared to the Audible Illusions M3A, the BAT 3i and the Wyetech Opal. It was clearly superior to the BAT, darn close or better than the AI, and remarkably close to the Opal (the Opal costs about $8,000 and is, coincidentally, also a grounded grid design). Just a suggestion - you don't have to spend a fortune to get a first class preamp.


Finding a happy medium...
« Reply #5 on: 11 Apr 2006, 10:10 pm »
Thanks for the suggestion, Terry. I have heard of the Grounded Grid preamp and will definitely add it to the list unit to check out when it comes time to buy.

I'm also thinking that Quicksilver's own line preamp would be a good choice in a similar price range, used.