Which amps work well with VSA?

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Delacroix

Which amps work well with VSA?
« on: 13 Sep 2008, 01:52 pm »
There has been a mushrooming discussion of late on the best amps to partner Von S speakers but these are buried in multiple postings across the boards. Here's a placeholder for a focused discussion on amps/preamps.

Let me put a plug in for a few amps I've used/owned.

Currently I own a BAT VK 500 which works extremely well, producing a very musical sound with no obvious weaknesses, though the bass might  be a little less defined than I heard when I reviewed a class D amp. This pairing just makes you want to listen to music, not discuss gear. I use it with two sets of Audio Art SC5 cables, one pair for the woofer section, one for the M/T module, both connected to the same BAT terminals. Works well but I do think a pair of dedicated shotgun cables is in my future.

I have an Audio Space Ref 3.1 tube integrated amp in for review at the moment, and despite the low power compared to the BAT, (26w in triode mode compared to BAT's 250w) it can sound superb with the Vons when it's warmed up. Tubes certainly have a magic that is hard to replicate otherwise. More to say on this later.

I've also spent a lot of time with a Wyred4Sound 4 channel amp which allowed me to explore biamping options. I wrote in detail about this in the Sept issue of http://www.affordableaudio.org but for those who want the quick read, it excels in clarity, with prodigious bass control but lacks that last bit of air I hear with my other amps.

I sense that several folks here have had wonderful experiences with Lamm and VAC amps.....so let's hear more.

« Last Edit: 15 Sep 2008, 02:43 am by Delacroix »

keith

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #1 on: 13 Sep 2008, 07:49 pm »
My moving from the VR4JR to the DB-99 SE obviously made me head towards flea powered amps.  I've since been a SET convert.  In my personal stable I own a pair of JE Labs designed V-Capped 300B monoblocks, a suped up V-Capped Sun Audio 2A3, and a JE Labs designed 45 amp using the Sun Audio VT25 Limited Edition chassis with Sun's Tamura trannies.  All have provided magical music with the DB-99s. And I can say that despite the low powered wattage, they can handle some complicated passages from full orchestra to house and trance.  I guess that's the advantage of having that powered sub-woofer. 

Right now however, these three amps have been on static display since the arrival of the Lamm ML2.1.

 


DARTH AUDIO

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #2 on: 13 Sep 2008, 09:05 pm »
I use the Jolida JD3000 monoblocs. These amps are 200 WPC based on the 211 tube. They were upgraded by Mike Allen of Jolida. These are very powerful amps(great bass) but they also have very detailed presentation with that beautiful tube mids & highs!! They work very well with my VR-4jr's.

http://www.jolida.com/catalogue/models/jd3000a.shtml

kgturner

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #3 on: 14 Sep 2008, 06:09 am »
i'm using a yamamoto a-08s with my dB-99SE speakers. i've also used a cary v12r. one day in the future, i'd like to test the yamamoto vs. an art audio carissa. however, i think i'll wait until the 845 market stabilizes before dipping into those waters.

kevin t

randybarba

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #4 on: 14 Sep 2008, 09:18 am »
Initially, I used a cary rocket 88 to drive my vr4jr's. However, I couldn't push it to loud levels and the bass wasn't too well defined. I just needed more power so I got a McIntosh. I was first lent a solid state 200wpc Mac (mc 252) which had prodigious bass. Finally, now I'm using a 100wpc tubed model (mc2102). It has more detail and is more musically satisfying but bass is a little "soft" as compared to the ss model but that's Ok with me though. I'm happy with the tubed Mac driving the jrs.  :). Hopefully in the future I can get another mc2102 so I can drive the jrs using these amps as monoblocks (or probably go biamp, whichever sounds better :))

keith

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #5 on: 14 Sep 2008, 12:11 pm »
i'm using a yamamoto a-08s with my dB-99SE speakers. i've also used a cary v12r. one day in the future, i'd like to test the yamamoto vs. an art audio carissa. however, i think i'll wait until the 845 market stabilizes before dipping into those waters.

kevin t

Hi Kevin.  I was eyeing those Yamamoto's since before.  Unfortunately, they aren't available in the Philippines.  I did correspond via email with Yamamoto-san in Japan but it was tough as he was using a computer program translating Japanese to English.  It was too tough to understand.  In the end I got a modified Sun VT25 that now uses 45 tubes.  My query, how would you describe the Yamamoto sound on the DB's?  Can it handle full orchestra at loud SPLs? 

varsharun

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #6 on: 14 Sep 2008, 04:07 pm »
I used the NAD 320BEE when I had the VR-1s, and then upgraded to the Primaluna Prologue One which resulted in a much wider and deeper
soundstage and a beautiful fluid mid-range typical of tubes.

I then upgraded the speakers to the Unifield 3 (a modest upgrade  aa  :roll: and opinions to follow). The Prologue just didnt have the power
or bass capability to drive this and I upgraded to the Dialogue Two. The result was phenomenal and breathtaking. The reviews and awards for
the Dialogue integrated speak for themselves. Incredibly wide and deep soundstage, pinpoint imaging, rich and detailed mid-range,
extended airy highs and terrific dynamic snap.

I think Albert demos his speakers at trade shows using the Audio Research tube amps which supposedly work great as well.

-Arun

kgturner

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #7 on: 14 Sep 2008, 10:35 pm »
keith:

i would describe the sound of the yamamoto as razor sharp in detail. it's very well rounded without being slow or bloated. i don't listen to full orchestral works so i can't comment on whether it could do them justice. i do listen to a lot of rock and industrial music. i've never felt that the amplifier was running out of steam at the volumes i listen (usually fairly loud). my listening room is about 2300+ cubic feet. i use the yamamoto with a supratek dual cabernet. it's an amazing pairing.

kevin t

Delacroix

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #8 on: 15 Sep 2008, 06:12 pm »
I've learned with my VR5s the truth of the argument that the first watt is the most important. Muscle helps in some ways, not all of them obviously tied to bass reproduction, but the magic seems to be in the midrange, and getting this right involves something other than power. I forget to mention earlier that I've used a Naim Nait 2 with the Vons too and while it's hard to get exact ratings for anything Naim, I know this has less than 30w. It worked well enough that I begun to think amplifier differences were not worth spending too much money on, until I put the BAT back in of course :)

What's intriguing me is how many people seem to have gone the monoblock route, and while I can appreciate the advantages, I'd like to hear from people about their experiences doing this with VSA. I particularly would like to hear from anyone who has horizontally biamped with tubes on top of solid state (any gain problems etc.) I'm intrigued by the notion of using a lower powered tube amp on top of my BAT.



Jon L

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #9 on: 15 Sep 2008, 07:43 pm »
I particularly would like to hear from anyone who has horizontally biamped with tubes on top of solid state (any gain problems etc.) I'm intrigued by the notion of using a lower powered tube amp on top of my BAT.

Only way to really know is to try.  The VSA crossover specs aren't much discussed on the website, but I can gather that the x-over point between the top module and bass is 150 Hz of unknown slope (likely steep slope, given the "global axis" deal).  150 Hz should be low enough to *almost* let you achieve coherence between tube amp on top and SS on bottom, i.e. not introduce too much confusion in low-midrange/upper-bass area. 

VSA also specs sensitivity of 94 dB @ 1w/1m 2.83V but doesn't tell you into what Ohms.  If it's meant into 4 Ohms, traditional sensitivity rating would be 91 dB @1w/1m/8 Ohms.  These figures are rather similar to my own horizontally-biamped speakers, currently at 140 Hz/18dB slope, which *is* low enough to result in a nice, coherent sound when used with SET on top and SS on bass. 



billc

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #10 on: 15 Sep 2008, 08:06 pm »
If you download the relevant manual from the VSA site, you will find crossover points in the specs.

They have manuals posted up to the VR-7 SE.

For the VR-4jr it reads "Crossover Points: 200 Hz, 2.2 kHz"

For the VR-7 SE is reads "Crossover Points: 190 Hz, 1.9 kHz, 19kHz"

Bill C

mfsoa

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #11 on: 16 Sep 2008, 12:43 am »
Quote
I particularly would like to hear from anyone who has horizontally biamped with tubes on top of solid state (any gain problems etc.) I'm intrigued by the notion of using a lower powered tube amp on top of my BAT.

I'm doing just that now. 100 watt tube on top and a (borrowed) 600/1200 8/4 SS Sunfire on the bottom.
With the 200 hz crossover, there really isn't much problem matching-wise. When I turn the tubes off and listen to the bass bins only, there really isn't too much readily intelligible, audiophile-quality information. I mean, there's bass and some impact and all, but overall pretty mushy and indistinct - I was surprised how much so. Try it - unplug the upper cabs and check it out. So I think the quality of the bass amp could be skimped, if need be, for power without impacting the heart of the music in the mids.

Thinking of sending the VAC back to Kevin to get it wired for triode, then trying to match with mono ICE-power amps possibly in the future.

This cuts the tube power in half-ish but will still be plenty, even for my oft dreamed of upgrade to 4SRIIs.

For now the setup sounds great, to me. I feel that the mids and highs improved significantly when the tube amp was relieved of the bass duties (and the VAC is a gutsy 100 watt tube amp).

I can definitely recommend trying out a biamp setup such as this. 1200 watts on VR4JR bass cabinets = woohoo

Gain-wise the amps are pretty close by ear. I keep asking if there is too much bass, too much treble etc and overall I like the balance - pretty even top to bottom.  :drool:

-Mike

Delacroix

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #12 on: 16 Sep 2008, 02:30 am »
Quote
I particularly would like to hear from anyone who has horizontally biamped with tubes on top of solid state (any gain problems etc.) I'm intrigued by the notion of using a lower powered tube amp on top of my BAT.

I'm doing just that now. 100 watt tube on top and a (borrowed) 600/1200 8/4 SS Sunfire on the bottom.
With the 200 hz crossover, there really isn't much problem matching-wise.

That's what I mean. I paired two channels of a W4S amp ( 2 x 500w) in the bass with my BAT VK 500 (2x 250w) in the mids/uppers for a test this summer, using two pairs of XLR cables from my PS Audio preamp (which has double outs) and two pairs of Audio Art SC5 speaker cables (1 pair per amp). Despite a 3db difference in the gain according to each amp's spec, the results were really pleasing. The class D on the bass gave me a super tight bass which when used without the BAT tended to be too sharp for my ears, but in partnership worked really well. The BAT has a wonderful musical delicacy that, once freed from powering the bass, gives the music real life. The combo was too bulky and costly in combination for me to keep but it had me thinking about buying a couple of W4S mono modules just for bass duties.

Originally, before trying this, I contacted various amp manufacturers and received very mixed suggestions - ranging from 'try it and see, it'll likely work' from Victor at BAT to 'the gain differences are huge and this will never work' from one of support staff at another manufacturer (not W4S). I only had the two amps together for a short while so I didn't really get a chance to live with this, and we all know you have to live with a sound to really know it, but in the hours I spent listening to the combo, I found the lack of a perfect gain match to be a small issue. Of course, BAT suggested I really try to get a pair of their top of the range tube monos for the top to pair with the VK500 but even they admitted this might take some time with attenuators (and no little money) to get to work.

At the other end of the complication and costs scales, I am now really enjoying an integrated tube amp at the moment....sweet music from a simple package. Now that is hard to beat.


MichiganMike

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #13 on: 16 Sep 2008, 05:27 pm »
I have three VR4 JR with the right and left speakers powered by a Parasound A21 and the center by a Parasound A51 which also drives four TS150 speakers for the side and rear surrounds.  My preamp processor is a Parasound C2.  I have been very happy with this combination for both music and home theater.     

JackD201

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #14 on: 24 Sep 2008, 01:58 am »
We may be Lamm dealers but that only came about after an extensive search for what we considered to be the best match for VSA speakers from the VR-4 SR II on up. The grain of salt should also be quite a bit smaller since you guys are outside our market. In my personal opinion the new generation Lamm amps that shed off the last vestiges of darkness in lieu of a more profound inner lit quality and finely filigreed as opposed to a crystaline top end are the perfect match for VSA loudspeakers. Both VSA and Lamm excel at the reproduction of even the most complex harmonic structures with no over emphasis from top to bottom. The result is musicality without having to sacrifice inner detail and microdynamic swings. The sound is extremely well balanced.

The caveat is that to get the utmost best be prepared to first invest in the room and also to invest in proper equipment isolation. Don't sweat the power requirements. Outside of good power cords, Lamm's built in power conditioning is at par or better than after market external line conditioners.

Delacroix

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #15 on: 4 Oct 2008, 01:56 pm »
Anyone ever hear the Red Wine amps with the Vons? I asked over on the Red Wine circle a while back and did not get any feedback other than comments indicating there would be no problem given the specs, but I am really interested in hearing from people who have heard this for themselves. The Red Wines are fascinating in that they are battery operated and the thought of moving off the grid, and giving up with expensive power cords is always a plus.

jrun

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #16 on: 5 Oct 2008, 01:57 pm »
Great thread!  I am new here and very happy to find specific interest in VS speakers.  I currently have the VR4SR MkI.  I purchased these from forum member Disco in Plano Tx. (Hey Scott!).  At the time of purchase I was using a Llano Designs A200 SS amp with a Morrison Elad pre.  About 5 months ago, the Llano had a catastrophic meltdown, and the search was on for a new amp.  In the meantime I had upgraded my pre to a Thor Audio TA1000MkII.  I have no local dealers to advise me and I am 200 miles from Dallas, so I haunted the internet and  Audiogon for ideas.  Finally decided to call Albert and ask his opinion.  By the way, I have never had such personal attention from any manufacturer of any product. Albert, after listening to my story and asking about my room and musical tastes recommended I try the AudioSpace ref. 3.1 with the KT88 tubes.  He said these amps seem to have a special synergy with his speakers.  I was initially worried at having only 26 watts in triode or 42 watts in ultralinear, but Albert said I should be fine as long as I didn't need to listen to Metallica at concert levels.  Albert informed me that they do a cap upgrade in house to improve the already good amp.  Needless to say I ordered one.  I have been living with the amp for approximately 5 months now and for the most part I have been happy.  It took the bass about 50 to 60 hours to fully show up.  A recent trip to Dallas to hear Wilson Watt Puppy 8's with Boulder electronics made me realize I was lacking "air" and "presence" in my setup.  Another call to Albert and I have since upgraded input tubes to NOS and changed source interconnects to Verastarr Silver Reference.  I feel I am on the right path and the tubes and interconnects made a large difference, but at some point I may move on and try some class D amps with a tube pre. (I have since sold my Thor).  I will keep watching this thread to see what success all of you have had with various electronics.

                                                  Good Listening!

mfsoa

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #17 on: 5 Oct 2008, 02:54 pm »
I've always thought about the RedWine stuff for the mid/tweeter cabinet w/ traditional SS for the bass.

And I think it's available (standard, maybe) w/ a quality attenuator to make biamping a snap.

This is definitely worth a try for somebody.

-Mike

es347

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Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #18 on: 5 Oct 2008, 06:33 pm »
Would a VR4 SR MKII owner be ostracized if he chose MAC amplifiers?  The MC46 preamp and the MC252 2CH power amp...both are solid state (shudder)  :roll:.

JackD201

Re: Which amps work well with VSA?
« Reply #19 on: 6 Oct 2008, 03:33 am »
Hi es347,

I believe the majority of VS owners are passionate about great sound and music as opposed to being zealots for tubes, solid state, digital or analog. As such VR owners don't do much ostracizing :)

VR speakers are unique in their implementation having all the patented goodies packed into them. The ambience tweeter alone gets raised eyebrows from so called purists. The fact that you are even considering VRs means you are an open minded individual with a penchant for exploration just as all the VR owners I know are.

Jack