$500 Amp advice

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irishpatrick33

$500 Amp advice
« on: 17 Apr 2009, 04:29 pm »
Hello,
I am looking for advice. I have to downgrade temporarily (physically and monetrily). And I am asking others because there is much out there that I am not aware of.

I am looking for a 2 channel amp preferably under $500. It will be driving 88dB 4Ohm speakers. There will only be one source (which has no volume control).

Now my big issue is that I have owned tube amps for years and love the fat sound. I can't imagine going back now.

Simplicity is the key for me. I would rather avoid multiple components (tube buffer, preamp). Not to mention I don't want a huge amp.

So here's what I have looked at but doesn't seem to fit the bill exactly:


Winsome Labs Mouse (scared it will lack the tubelike sound)
Trends TA-10.1 (scared it will lack the tubelike sound)
Kingrex T-20 (scared it will lack the tubelike sound)
Roth Audio MC4 Music Cocoon (seems stupid owning an ipod amp and not use it for it's purpose)
Fatman itube (seems stupid owning an ipod amp and not using it for it's purpose)


Am I missing THE ONE? I am really interested in checking out these new T amps. But I fear I will be desperately missing the tube.... especially considering the source needs some tubelike refining.

BrassEar

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #1 on: 17 Apr 2009, 05:01 pm »
Vintage Scott LK48 or 299B.

BrassEar

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #2 on: 17 Apr 2009, 05:09 pm »
>>I am really interested in checking out these new T amps

The polar opposite of tubes. Hyper-analytical sound if that is what you are after.

The only sand amp that I have ever heard that sounded tube-like was the Pass stuff.

richidoo

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #3 on: 17 Apr 2009, 05:12 pm »
Check CraigsList for vintage SS receiver of good pedigree. Find a good local tech for tune up and basic mods.

Thebiker

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #4 on: 17 Apr 2009, 06:30 pm »
If you feel you need to stay in the new market, check out Jolida.  I have seen a new hybrid integrated amp from them for @$400.

Their EL84 tube integrated is in the $650 range, which I know is above your $500 limit but might be worth trying to wrangle yourself into it. :?

Walt

Ericus Rex

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #5 on: 17 Apr 2009, 06:38 pm »
Used Jolida or Antique Sound lab integrated.  Lots of interesting integrateds these days.  You could look on Audiogon in their integrated category and get lots of ideas better suited to your sound preference than what you've mentioned.

Best of luck!

djdube525

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #6 on: 17 Apr 2009, 07:29 pm »
You should be able to an Onix SP3 used four $500ish shipped

Edited: Forgot to mention... several reviews online... and comments by people who rolled tubes.

irishpatrick33

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #7 on: 17 Apr 2009, 11:39 pm »
Sorry. I guess I should have mentioned that I would prefer new.



Brassear, I hear what you are saying. Though only thing that makes me wonder is the two T amps reviewed have been suggested to be as close to tube audio as it gets: Kingrex T20 and Virtue Audio 1 & 2. So I have left the door open considering their fanfare.

Listens2tubes

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #8 on: 18 Apr 2009, 01:59 am »
You could use the T amp in a bi-amp configuration when you go back to your original amps. :thumb:

Alan

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #9 on: 18 Apr 2009, 02:14 am »
Haven't heard it but the Sophia Baby looks interesting

doug s.

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #10 on: 18 Apr 2009, 04:31 am »
check out my post here.  the auction closed but $460 would have gotten you this amp, delivered:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=66986.msg619943#msg619943

doug s.

Angaria

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #11 on: 18 Apr 2009, 09:36 am »
Have owned everything on your list sans the Roth.  I preferred the trends most of all.  The winsome had astonishing bass, but somehow never produced music that was as "integrated-sounding" if that's a term.  That being noted, @88 db I'd go for the sophia el34.  Can be found for astonishingly low prices... best amp I've heard for around $400.

doug s.

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #12 on: 18 Apr 2009, 11:06 pm »
Have owned everything on your list sans the Roth.  I preferred the trends most of all.  The winsome had astonishing bass, but somehow never produced music that was as "integrated-sounding" if that's a term.  That being noted, @88 db I'd go for the sophia el34.  Can be found for astonishingly low prices... best amp I've heard for around $400.
i owned a sophia bebe, (the el84 iteration), but it had a different name on it.  same amp, tho, and a wery nice one, at that.  you can buy the el34 iterations brand-new, w/o the sophia moniker on 'em, direct, for less than $400 shipped:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220398524660


doug s.

irishpatrick33

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #13 on: 19 Apr 2009, 06:17 am »
Thanks for the help guys. I'm still looking.

Not sold on the Sophia types. If I was going to go that direction... I think I would grab the Glow Amp. But it seems they jumped their prices up in the middle of a recession. Actually it seems just about everybody is doing that.


I am really surprised there aren't more affordable hybrid options out there. I found the AMC and Bada.... and not much else.

Airborn

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #14 on: 19 Apr 2009, 09:30 am »
Not sure why you are only looking at new products. If you expanded your search to used you would greatly increase the available offerings. And for amps, used vs. New hardly matters imo. If you would consider used, I would second the Onix SP3 for about $500. It is a great integrated and has the tube sound you say you want to keep. Good luck.

wilsynet

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Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #15 on: 19 Apr 2009, 10:05 am »
There are of course plenty of examples of tube preamps and amps that are warm and euphonic, some might even call them syruppy.  But there are also examples of tube gear which are clean and neutral, some even a little cold and bright.

I have heard a number of t-amps, and did not find them cold, sterile or analytical.

The Bel Canto ICEpower amps, yes, and Nuforce amps too I found these to be decidedly analytical, but I don't feel the same way about t-amps, at least not the two KingRex amps I owned or the Red Wine Audio 30.2 I own now.




irishpatrick33

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #16 on: 19 Apr 2009, 12:00 pm »
I hear what you are saying wilysnet.

The more I look around the more it seems to lead back to a T amp. Some have recomended the Virtue Audio 1, which happens to be out of stock.

bunnyma357

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #17 on: 19 Apr 2009, 12:15 pm »
I have a Yaqin MC-10L that I got from eBay that I really like, decent power and nice warm tone. The only problems have been a slightly noisy volume pot when adjusting. There is probably a little more risk buying eBay from a small vendor, if something goes wrong, but for the price the risk was worth it to me. Also you'll want to get some Russian NOS 6N1P's, but they're only about $2 ea. on eBay.

This is the vendor I bought mine from, and it was a good experience:

http://cgi.ebay.com/YAQIN-MC-10L-Push-Pull-Integrated-Stereo-Tube-Amplifier_W0QQitemZ130301019487QQihZ003QQcategoryZ3280QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem

As far as buying used, especially newer models, most people who try tubes aren't likely to abuse their gear and you often get the benefit of some of their tube rolling experiments. A lot of entry level tube gear is kind of a "testing the waters" purchase when people switch from SS, then once they're hooked on tubes the upgrade bug hits. Of course, you have to get what you're comfortable with. I have an Onix/Melody SP3 as well, and I'd say it is a better built and sounding amp than the Yaqin, and wouldn't hesitate to pick one up used.

If you are inclined to go with a chinese amp, you might also look at some of the offerings from Pacific Valve:
http://www.pacificvalve.us
They have a lot of interesting tube, hybrid and SS models.

Jim C

bunnyma357

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #18 on: 19 Apr 2009, 12:25 pm »
A lot of people seem to like the Virtue One/Two amps from Virtual Audio as well. They sounded nice in a few rooms at RMAF this year, but I haven't heard one in the real world.

http://store.virtueaudio.com/category-s/26.htm


Jim C



Ericus Rex

Re: $500 Amp advice
« Reply #19 on: 19 Apr 2009, 01:07 pm »
I'm also not sure why you're not interested in used equipment.  Nearly all of my system is second hand.  When buying at a price point you greatly expand your capabilities when adding used as a consideration.

Good luck!