First Tube Suggestions

Discussion in 'Tube Audio' started by anotherhobby, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. anotherhobby

    anotherhobby AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Waterford, Mi
    Looking for an easy to use first try at tubes amp and maybe phono pre ... I have DCM 1000, currently run 2 sony 55ES bridged, emotiva pre and a cambridge phono pre ....

    suggestions on a great starter tube amp or mono blocks .....

    Budget ... I dunno ... depends I guess .....
     
  2. Tinkerbelle

    Tinkerbelle Everything in Moderation ------- Hudson Valley, NY Super Mod Subscriber

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    This will depend on your speakers, listening space, music taste, etc. Assuming the DCM 1000s are ~90dB efficiency range you could start with a modest tube amp 10-20W such as an EL84/6BQ5/7189 push-pull amp. Are you looking for a power amp, separates, integrated, monoblocks etc.?

    Amp choices are widespread, as are the budget ranges. If you move up in power through tubes such as 6L6, 7591, EL34, KT88 etc. the price will vary upwards.
     
  3. primosounds

    primosounds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I agree with tb, it would be most helpful if you can narrow your choices, as prices go from peanuts to caviar. Usually, your budget and musical tastes determines the kind of amp.
     
  4. Paully

    Paully AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Also, can you solder and follow straightforward directions? Got a friend who can? If so you can consider a Dynaco or other vintage amp that can drive your speakers of choice.
     
  5. soundmotor

    soundmotor super modified Subscriber

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  6. anotherhobby

    anotherhobby AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    276
    Location:
    Waterford, Mi
    DCM-1000's 91db - power amp or monoblocks

    Musical taste is all over - Dire straits - Bel Canto - Janis Joplin - Iron Maiden - willie Dixon - Sabbath and everything in the middle

    Budget is dependant on what I am getting - if a good starting place is say 300.00 but for 450.00 you can XXX and it makes sense I will spend the 450.00
    If I have to put a cap - $500.00 - but I am considering the iFI retro 50 for sale in here thats $1000.00


    Sorry sound motor your reply makes zero sense to me - I asked a question based on my lack of knowledge in hopes of finding some form of direction
    or starting place for a first time tube amp ....

    I apologize if my lack of knowledge is annoying and I am simply taking up server space and bandwidth.
     
  7. primosounds

    primosounds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You can't go wrong with Dynakits. Located in the USA, all major components made in the states, great support and great resale value when your tastes out grow or you need more power.
     
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  8. Tinkerbelle

    Tinkerbelle Everything in Moderation ------- Hudson Valley, NY Super Mod Subscriber

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    No need for apologies. Your thread is valid - just takes some understanding both ways for what you are looking for vs. what is available. It's a bit like someone saying they are thinking of buying a new car and asking what they should buy - it is difficult to recommend something when you don't know the priorities & needs for the purchases - commuting/sport/off-road/kids, gas/diesel/electric, fuel efficiency/load carrying capability/high performance, car/SUV/Truck/hatchback, etc. So please stick with it here, you should get some good advice as members understand more your needs.

    For your preferred budget you should be able to get a good EL84/6BQ5/7189 or 6V6 integrated amp. These are typically in the 5-18W+ range depending on configuration & design e.g. single-ended, push-pull, parallel push pull etc.. Vintage can be a good option if updated to spec as many have excellent designs & components. Modern amp options can provide creature comforts such as remotes and easy bias set (for fixed bias amps). There are dozens of options here and every member will have their own favorite. Most well recognized brands & models will sound good, so doing a little searching for reviews (lots of threads here & elsewhere) will help.

    If you move up to the 20-35W range with 7868, 7591, 6L6, EL34 type tubes, e.g. as suggested by primosounds, you will likely move into the next level above your preferred budget. The Dynakits or vintage Dynaco ST70 amps are a popular choice; the ST70 is a ~35W power amp with EL34 tubes, optionally 6L6 tubes. In this bracket you can also find items such as Fisher, H. H. Scott, Sherwood, Pilot, HK, Heathkit, Sansui and many other integrated amps or receivers in vintage. All of these choices generally provide excellent performance and most vintage have appreciated in value of late. Modern options may or may not hold value as well depending on make, performance reputation, manufacturer recognition but there are some excellent modern amps out there.

    Then we can move up in power & price - or in prestige & price, perhaps to McIntosh, Luxman, Manley Labs, Leben - many variables but as a first amp I would suggest keep it simple before getting into big $.
     
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  9. battradio

    battradio Electron trainer Subscriber

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    Since you are a subscriber , go to barter town and search Eico HF 20's , i have seen a nice pair there recently they would be a very good pair of amps , magnavox console pulls would be another reasonable choice .
     
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  10. juno

    juno Super Member

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    I am in a similar situation. Looking at the Bob Latino amp or a pair of Quicksilver amps. Either the mini-mites (25 watts) or Mid-mono (45 watts). I have the DCM Timeframe 400 and 600. My 6 watt per channel amp drives them fine.
     
  11. airtime

    airtime Super Member

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    My vote the VTA amps. Can't beat-em and tons of support. As well as being a very flexible amp when it comes to tubes.
     
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  12. juno

    juno Super Member

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    I think I read somewhere they they are a little hot in the treble.
    Not saying they are, but I do recall having read that somewhere.
    Is that the case or just internet rubbish?
    They look like a really nice option.
     
  13. airtime

    airtime Super Member

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    I think you may have read one persons opinion on a particular output tube. The beauty of the VTA is you can use a WIDE variety of output tubes. I found the KT-66 and KT-77 to be lean but very energetic. Those are great options to have if your speakers need that sort of amp. If you use a standard EL34 you will have the traditional sweet full midrange with a more polite top end. I prefer the Gold Lion KT-88. A fuller midrange as compared to the KT-66 and 77 but with the same energy. Just a great all around sound.

    I also would recommend using the EH 12BH7 tube in the center driver board position. You can use 12AU7's in the two outer positions or just use 12BH7's in all three. And I would recommend a Genalex Gold Lion GZ34 rectifier tube. Contact Jim McShane for tubes.
     
  14. decooney

    decooney Active Member

    Messages:
    244

    anotherhobby,

    discovering a few gems way too late, it took me too long to figure this out but after messing with higher power tube systems for too long, and now building an affordable low watt den room system, now I realize I should have tried these affordable EL84 based tube systems long ago. Gotta chance to try a nice second hand HH Scott 299-B integrated tube amp today with some efficient horn speakers to learn more about what I had skipped over and hand been missing out on with my early tube amp discovery. If you have a decent/local service person, these older units can be an option too and don't lose a lot $ if you decide to resale later. Personally, i like EL34s over my larger KT88 systems, but still learning more about EL84s and what they offer in terms of sound and value. Don't overlook EL84 based amps and more efficient speakers like I did for too long. Good luck on the search.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  15. primosounds

    primosounds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I
    I personally, like vintage gear, from a time before planned obsolesense, counterfeit name brands and grey market reproductions. The tube audio market was begun in the USA as post ww2 middle class americans had extra income for lifestyle improvement and lps and a home stereo were no longer the domain of the wealthy. Into this void stepped the likes of DYNACO, Fisher, EICO, Heathkit, HH Scott, Marantz, and a host of other companies. And like classic automobiles from the 50s and 60s audio pieces from this era will always be coveted. To be truly collectible the piece has to be in excellent physical condition, with working condition not as important, as long as the transformers are good. The low end collectibles of this group are the el84 powered amplifiers. These are usually easier to maintain and have low cost tubes.Up the food chain has 7591 and 6l6 type amps. Amps that use el34 and 6550 types are now getting in the 1000 and up price range. Any piece made after 1980 is probably out of this "golden age of tube audio" era but there are also good brands like Quicksilver, Audio Research, MFA , and other lesser known brands. European gear did not make it to the American shores very much except for some British brands like Rogers and Leak, Mullard, and a few others, but these are usually excellent sounding units. And there is a surprising amount of Japanese product from the 60s to 70s of which Sansui is the most notable but Pioneer, Kenwood, and some other like Hamlin and Trio were made in Japan for American markets. There are books about the audio masterpieces from those days and they make a good starting point to know what to look for if your quest is for a VINTAGE tube amp.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  16. No Money

    No Money AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I would look at Yaqin myself, or some of the other good Chinese brands. Not sure if you can AudioSpace or Line Magnetic where you are, but if you can they are well worth a listen.
     
  17. decooney

    decooney Active Member

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    244
    QUESTION:
    Of the Yaqin, Oldchen, Raphaleit, Bowei, Audiospace amps and more well known Chinese brands - is there one with 100% point-to-point wiring (no circuit boards) and higher end transformers for a reasonable price say under $1000?

    I searched over a year and could not find one great example and the closest I could come was the Glow Audio amps. I received multiple photos from the makers and all had some kind of circuit board or line strip board, which is not terrible - just did not want that. Ended up going vintage HH Scott instead for fear if the Chinese amp broke, I'd be stuck with no replacement circuit boards or a good way to fix it. Any good updated examples out there lately with all P2P?
     
  18. No Money

    No Money AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Pretty much everything in that sort of price range uses circut boards in some part of the construction. I have seen some cheaper ones that are point to point or tag strip but what is lacking is higher end tranformers. I have a very cheap SET amp for example, that I bought for a project. Good for what it does, which in my case is just spoken voice. It is all point to point, but the transformers are a bit lacking.

    Edit and an update: How about one of these, https://goo.gl/fx5V29 looks to be close to what you are looking for I think?
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  19. decooney

    decooney Active Member

    Messages:
    244
    Cool, that's a neat little amp, Thanks for the link on that one... nice. Interesting, in fact I looked at the exact same one in the 2A3 version (pondering it for months) from Raphaleit and came real close to pulling the trigger - but sorta chickened out this past week and went with a more well known and collectible Scott 299-B instead. I needed it like an extra hole in the head for a so called "den room" system is how I tried to justify it for the W.A.F factor. I have also been looking for a good 299 "-B" version (with 7159s) for a while and found one with mostly original tubes too, I may resell it down the road for a pair of small SET mono blocks I have yet to figure out and find. As I recall, the lower $ Raphaleit amps have the tag boards in them. I sort of like the industrial gray color. What stopped me was seeing another AK'er or someone on Audioasylum who picked up a similar Bowei amp, and then proceeded to pull all three of the original transformers and replaced them with Hashimotos anyhow, all new caps, and all new NOS tubes I believe - might as buy a well known used amp that's been upgraded at that point, or getting close to that point cost-for-cost comparatively. At that point this guy was looking for great sound at a lower budget and now was essentially now down to only re-useing the Chinese chassis, most of the wiring re-used, and main switches everything else was scrapped. That sent me right back to square-1 looking at scratch builder amps - but I could not find a good one. With that much $ invested revising a newer Chinese amp, it sent me right back to the vintage route with old (known) iron transformer, however other small upgrades to contend with on vintage. No free wins either way, gotta pay and I'm still a believer you get what you pay for in the under $1k amp range.

    I am going to keep studying the Bowei, Raphaleit units too and want to see if they have (or will have) a nice mono block version with higher end transformers. One of these Chinese manufactured units was sourcing some upgraded/higher-end transformers from Japan and don't recall which one it was. I believe they exist, but you get right back up to the $2000+ range per amp. Still looking for the best point-to-point version to see if it might tempt me to resell the vintage stuff and go for it on the den room system. For my main room system, I run all higher power Cary pre/amp gear but still lust after a nice lower power amp for the den room system. Good idea, I will def keep an eye out for some good 6L6 systems including USA scratch built amps; from some reputable builder, as tbd.
     
  20. Nutsfortubes

    Nutsfortubes AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Over $200 for shipping! Give me a break.
     

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