Solid State and Tube Listener Challenge

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by sheltie dave, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. Rob41

    Rob41 Don't stop believin'

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    It's nice when the little Misus let's us endulge even if it's in the basement eh?
     
  2. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    Tube amp demo

    We will be at it again on consecutive Saturdays, January 17th and 24th, from 1 pm to 6pm both days, here in St. Louis. We will be running some Klipsch RF7s with modded ALK crossovers, an Audio Research SP9 tube preamp, and either a Canary Audio CA301 with 300Bs, a Sun Audio SV2A3, or an Atma-Sphere S30 MKII OTL amp in the main room.

    In the kitchen we will be running Altec 19s with a Juicy Music Merlin tube preamp, with either McIntosh MC30s or a Sean Casper 5998 amplifier.

    This will give folks quite an assortment of output tubes to listen to, as 300Bs, 2A3S, 6AS7S, 350Bs, and a 5998 will be represented.

    RSVPs will be required, and we will have some beverages and probably a hot soup to nourish cold tummies. :thmbsp:
     
  3. beric

    beric New Member

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    I always assumed that what you think you hear is subjective. You know what you like and that's it. Around and around it goes.
     
  4. goober58

    goober58 Member

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    Not sure extrapolating results garnered from these manufacturers components is of much importance when reaching a conclusions about the sonic character of various amplification designs. There's just no reason to assume any generalized result would align itself with a different set of manufacturing efforts or different test conditions. Of course one might be able to say most of this kind of design or that sounds like this or that (because that's the how the designer wanted it to sound) but accepting such generalizations seems overly simplistic. Personally the best sounding amps I ever heard were high powered class A Solid State (Threshold/Pass), or lowish powered SS with overbuilt power supplies (Naim/Exposure) and a few higher powered tube amps tube amps (VTL/BAT). Given a system and a test I could chose the best sounding amp but ultimately any amp that sounds like the technology is going to fall short of being the best sounding in a test of great amps.
     
  5. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Yeah but there are general characteristics that most everyone can agree separate the bad from the good and the good from the great.

    Once you get to certain level of performance however I do agree that the differences become subjective.


    Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.
     
  6. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    New Luxman SS vs old Luxman tubes

    Although this thread was started in order to report the experiences of a shoot-out/get-together, it seems like a good time and place to add something new, and a bit different. Please forgive me if this is a faux pas…

    This is a short summary of a my recent experience with the thread title’s subject, but from a long-term listening perspective. In other words, just a couple more data points, with relevance TBD by you folks.

    I’ve been listening to my Luxman L-505u integrated amp for a couple of years now, until I began replacing sections of it last fall. It is Stereophile Class A, fwiw, and includes a “wonderful” phono section (the only word I’ve seen used in reviews, and as an aside, not a focus of the review). It is a solid state class A/B amp rated at 100w into 8 ohms. It would be unfair to call it “bottom of the line” for Luxman’s range, but it is kind of a baseline for Luxman, with a few slightly cheaper models, but many more expensive, some very much so. It’s a pretty darn good sounding amp, beating the Hafler DH-110/DH-220 combo I had for quite awhile in every aspect I can think of, and probably beating the DH-220 fed by an Apt-Holman, although I gave away the Apt-Holman without directly comparing them. In short, a very respectable solid state amp, but not boutique. I actually bought it to drive Magneplanar 1.7s, which I got to hold me over until the first (black) pair of Quads were refurbished, which is still on the to-do list…

    [​IMG]

    Last fall, after the speed control on the turntable in my avatar, the Teac TN-400, went haywire, I got a Marantz TT-15, which comes with the Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge, and have been using it since. This is the source for all comparisons that follow. Although my Benz-Micro Wood SM cartridge on my Denon DP-1200 has a bit more detail, and a bit more tone and texture, the Virtuoso definitely wins on bass and forcefulness, and is not that far behind the Wood SM otherwise. For a person who has preferred MC cartridges, it’s a pleasant surprise, and quite capable. The turntable is in the next room, on a wall shelf I made, which has closets between that wall and the living room. So isolation should be excellent, especially at the moderate volumes I prefer for listening. At first I ran my older Luxman C-1000 as a phono preamp. There are 5 meter cables (Audioquest King Cobra) from the preamp to the main system in the living room.

    [​IMG]

    After getting used to the TT-15 for a few months, I saw the Fosgate Signature tube phono preamp on the Music Direct site with a Black Friday discount on top of the closeout price. I got one. I described my impressions on this thread:

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=633875

    [​IMG]

    So, that’s one data point in my own tube vs. SS experience. Awhile later I got myself a Promitheus TVC (transformer volume control). This is neither tube nor SS, but a passive device that uses 24-tap transformers as attenuators. My experiences with it are here:

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=649914

    [​IMG]

    Now it’s down to the power amp, and its relevance to this thread…!

    When I was away from home working in California, I bought a pair of Luxman MB-3045 tube amps (Tim de Paravicini) to go with my C-1000. They were unconverted, using the original, unobtainium sweep tubes, and one broke after four delicious hours. So, I doubled down, and got a pair of Luxman A-3000s, the same amp, but the Japanese domestic model that runs on 100v instead of 110v. They were converted, but incorrectly, and when they broke too, I had them converted to KT-88s the right way (triode) and put new Gold Lion tubes in. They are the basis for my last comparison, to the good ol’ L-505u’s power amp section.

    They won. There’s simply more “there" there. Notes have beginnings and endings, with all the curlicues in between. Not that the L-505u just produces tones, but these are better. And I can hear more of them!

    There are possible conflating factors, such as running without subs, and an ever-so-slight change in position. But I’ve run w/o subs before on the L-505u, and the position change was a fraction of a degree less toe-in, perhaps pointing at my ears rather than my nose...

    Paul Simon - Greatest Hits is an old favorite. When he sings “…all that winter we shared a cold”, all traces of him actually having one are removed! The bubbles bursting and water drops splashing effects are totally separated from his voice. Two sides worth of little observations - “hey, that’s not three notes, that’s five!”, etc, etc. Liquidity. Or to coin a new audio phrase, all of the curlicues! :D

    [​IMG]

    I’ve got an all-tube analog rig now, and it’s sounding glorious. It kind of reminds me of the difference between a good MC cart and a good MM cart, actually. I’m hearing the textures and detail of the Wood SM, but I’m still using the Virtuoso! I hope this pair lasts for awhile; the new tubes may help in that regard. According to the tech, these amps have resistors that are designed to burn up when a tube fails, to protect the transformers. Idiots replace these with wire-wounds, and up the fuse values. Morons, like the tech for Shelley’s Stereo in Woodland Hills, ruin output transformers anyway, on their bench. But that’s another story. I just hope these keep running for awhile. I’ve never heard a good SS class A circuit topology amp with the Quads, so that question remains, but right now, tubes are winning.

    [​IMG]

    Remember, these are driving Quads, so YMMV.

    Comments?

    :music:
     
  7. WhiteNoize

    WhiteNoize New Member

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    Nice thread thanks!
     
  8. Gang-Twanger

    Gang-Twanger Resident Wharfedaliophool

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    You (Sheltie Dave) mentioned using the 8b in the comparisons, and you named the Klipschorns as your main reference speakers for said comparisons. I heard through the grapevine that you're a big fan of the 8b (combined with a certain pre ;) ), which is something I plan to get for my W90's. It's funny, if you used those speakers for your blind comparison tests, people would have zero trouble distinguishing tubes from solid-state (because those are clearly meant for tubes), but you WOULD end up with a lot of tube converts though ( :D ). That combo is supposed to be quite a thing. I just hope I can save enough scratch and hold onto it long enough for the right deal to come along. I love the look too. I was originally wanting a Leak, which has a gold look, and the 8b is like a champagne hammertone finish, but both visually-match my other gear very-well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  9. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    While the Marantz 8b is in my top 5 favorite tube amps, it is not my favorite; but it sure sounds nice on the hot rodded khorns.

    We will be doing this again on November 7 and 8, this time only with SET amps. Feel free to pm if you are interested in attending.

    Dave
     
  10. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I like these threads! I'm sorry I'm too far to join and add my 2c. Keep up the good work
     
  11. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    Related to this topic:

    Michael Fremer on his Analogue Planet site recently published an obituary on Norman Pickering, the founder of the Pickering cartridge company.

    http://www.analogplanet.com/content/norman-pickering-rip

    In that obit where you see Norman Pickering's name ________underlined, there is a file to an interview Fremer did with Pickering prior to his death. The interview touches upon blind testing of amplifiers and I feel that Pickering's comments are very interesting and I think that you guys will find them interesting also.
     
  12. crystal20

    crystal20 New Member

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    11
    yeah very interesting ! i thnk this is a Great test and will Validate when a lot of Music, Ten agin it just might Suprise tool.
     
  13. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    We were dissapointed that everyone who attended thought the amps all sounded different - none of the flat Earthers made it. We were forced to listen to many different amps and eat lots of jambalaya, which made the double blind test very difficult. Too many folks were belching and farting. ;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Erik Tracy likes this.
  14. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Maybe you should make chili next time.
     
  15. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    Multiple chilis, some with ghost peppers. :yikes:
     
  16. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    Reminds me of that Johnny Cash song. Ring of Fire.
     
  17. Sam Cogley

    Sam Cogley Last of the Time Lords Subscriber

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    Food should fight back! :D
     
  18. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    "And it burns, burns, burns. The Ring Of Fire. The Ring Of Fire".

     
  19. a.wayne

    a.wayne Active Member

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    Any details on the winner ...?
     
  20. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

     

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