What is a good entry level amp for tube amps

Discussion in 'Tube Audio' started by rselby, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,000
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    It really depends on the speakers you intend to use the amp with. A Yaqin MC10T push/pull will output a little over 50WPC and work fine with your average (87db@1m) speaker. It has plenty of room for improvement with tube rolling, coupling cap and volume pot upgrades which allows it to compete with some far more expensive amps.

    WP_20160510_22_31_10_Pro.jpg

    If you're running some efficient speakers they're always the Oldchen EL34B SEP amp which outputs 10WPC. Drives my 96.5db@1m Dayton USA PS220-8 speakers very nicely. No need to really upgrade anything in this little amp as components are already of a decent quality. It benefits from tube rolling though. I run all Soviet eta Russian tubes in mine.

    IMG_20161015_144018_HDR.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016

     

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  2. KKnight

    KKnight Active Member

    Messages:
    341
    Youve got to good Chinese for $500usd and below.
     

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  3. Dswankey

    Dswankey Super Member

    Messages:
    3,464
    Great suggestion
     
  4. costerdock

    costerdock Super Member

    Messages:
    2,935
    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    Building the amp is a blast - beyond entry level and a great price - as others mentioned Tubes4Hifi ST 70.
     
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  5. FlaCharlie

    FlaCharlie Active Member

    Messages:
    493
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    You haven't mentioned if you're looking to build or rebuild something or just buy a working unit. It would help if you'd comment on that.

    I'm skeptical of Chinese amps, having read more than a few stories from owners who have had problems and tales of questionable, underspeced, parts. No experience myself though and maybe they've gotten better. But, why bother?

    There are plenty of examples of vintage American gear, some of which has already been rebuilt with good quality parts if you're not interested in doing it yourself. Or buy something and pay a competent tech to rebuild it. If you check online auctions and are patient there is no reason you can't find something quite nice for under $500.

    As others have mentioned, the Magnavox amps get lots of love and are a good place to start. Here's one that's local to you: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Magnavox-Tube-Amp-/291944656816?hash=item43f941efb0:g:Q98AAOSw4GVYGIjJ
    The same seller has two listed for sale. Obviously, they will need to be rebuilt.

    Here's another that has already been rebuilt: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MAGNAVOX-88...37637cc&pid=100009&rk=1&rkt=1&sd=182353010449

    I have no connection with either of these, just throwing out a couple of examples.
     
  6. heath2832

    heath2832 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Some suggestions about Dynaco, magnovox amps, etc but he will still need to buy a preamp correct? If so that increases his cost.
     

     

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  7. hobbit

    hobbit Active Member

    Messages:
    282
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    I do find some of the firmly held beliefs re chinese amps a little silly.
    Having bought a fair amount of chinese built gear, including valve guitar amps that have been run flat out all night , thrown into vans and not allowed to cool properly I have NEVER had one of the buggers fail.
    Their current consumer hi fi range seems well made and reliable.
    Dont discount them.
     
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  8. Dswankey

    Dswankey Super Member

    Messages:
    3,464
    Agreed but a CD player with variable outputs would work too.
     
  9. FlaCharlie

    FlaCharlie Active Member

    Messages:
    493
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    With a CD as input I've had good results by just adding a stereo 100k pot. Perhaps a preamp would be better but a volume pot works fine.
     
  10. hobbit

    hobbit Active Member

    Messages:
    282
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    Little bear P5

    Nice little pre / buffer
     
  11. KKnight

    KKnight Active Member

    Messages:
    341
    You guys get off topic so easily LOL.. the last thing a first tube amp newbie needs to do is try to build or modify an ancient one until they do more research and get some experience,

    This is a SIMPLE cost-limited issue and as good as most of the Chinese invasion amps are they are best choice for the money brand new. Most of them are easily upgraded/modified too.
     
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  12. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,000
    Location:
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    Haha, yup. Aiqin = Oldchen. They're also available as rebrands by Gemtune and Nobsound although they seem to have worse quality control than the Aiqin/Oldchen branded units

    Quite right. All of my electronics are Chinese these days. I only look elsewhere for quality speakers and turntables as the Chinese have some great copies of older western circuits at great prices. It's the only way I can afford the sound quality I do. I've 8x bits of gear and never a hiccup. The valve gear all benefits from internal upgrades though they sound great without as well.

    Check out the Xiang Sheng DAC-01A as well. Flip some internal switches and it becomes a reasonable preamp as well, with 1x USB, 1x coax, 1x fibre and 2x RCA inputs. The easiest and cheapest upgrade on that is to replace the Chinese tube with a GE 5 star ;)

    I think the most pertinent question is which speakers does he want to drive. That will help determine the amp choice. ;)
     
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  13. hobbit

    hobbit Active Member

    Messages:
    282
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    Their QC has got better.
    The motorcycle in my profile pic has chinese brake discs and a chinese steering damper.
    No issues with it slowing me from 160mph to 50mph in a very short distance on track,.
    Its BS to suggest all chinese stuff is rubbish.
    The bodywork in the pic is also chinese......or it was until I crashed the bugger, but that was the fault of the pilot , not the chinese parts
     
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  14. Poultrygeist

    Poultrygeist Lunatic Member

    With high efficiency speakers and a $500 budget it would be difficult to do better than the already recommended Miniwatt/APPJ amp.

    With your speakers you don't need power you need resolution and nothing resolves detail like a SET amp. Unlike the push pull amps recommended in this thread SET amps do not employ negative feedback and run in class A.

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/miniwatt/miniwatt_2.html

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  15. airtime

    airtime Super Member

    Messages:
    2,107
    Location:
    Central Arizona
    The VTA ST-70 comes with a passive attenuator option for around $50 or so. I've tried it with my VTA and it works just fine. Since most of today's sources have an output of around 2v you really don't need a preamp anymore. Only if you have impedance issues and need multiple input selections.

    For the cost of the VTA that is not just a starter amp but a finisher amp. I built it and I would consider this the best tube amp I've heard now that I fitted it with Gold Lion KT-88 output tubes and EH 12BH7 driver tubes. I really can't see much else touching it. ESPECIALLY anything solid state and that's not just me being a tube snob.
     
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  16. juno

    juno Super Member

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    1,036
    Location:
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Anyone have the Elekit 6L6 amp?
     

     

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  17. DonC1965

    DonC1965 Member

    Messages:
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    If you have efficient speakers, check out the Musical Paradise MP301-MK3. I paid extra for Gold Lion KT77 and vintage RCA 6SJ7 tubes ($520 delivered). Sounds smooth and three dimensional. Auto bias gives you the ability to roll tubes and adjust the sound to your liking. Quality parts and robust construction, this shoebox sized amp weighs 22lbs. Go to their website and read the reviews.

    IMG_0147.JPG
     
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  18. Fattner

    Fattner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    809
    Location:
    Ca
    Jolida I have had good luck with entry level stuff ,go call Michael-Allen the owner and talk to him !! Very nice guy and pick his brain a little .
     
  19. primosounds

    primosounds SE KT120 w/ 6J5G drivers. LCLC ps + 2 x 5ar4 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,381
    Location:
    Terra, 21st century CE
    Before you go all googoo or gaga over the pretty and shiny chifi amps you should checkout the resale value of that and any of the newly made hifi equipment. The resale value is after a month or two is half the original price, or close to it.
    The resale or collector value of vintage, classic audio is and should be an important consideration if a piece you are considering to buy has been rebuilt properly and is nice cosmetically. In which case your purchase is more like a test drive as the resale value can mostly if not more than cover your original purchase cost.
     
  20. hobbit

    hobbit Active Member

    Messages:
    282
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    That may be fine in the USA where there was significantly more disposable income in the 60`s and 70`s and high end gear was in relative terms cheap.
    In the UK and Europe high end valve hi fi equipment was rare, so rare infact that I never actually saw any of it, and I grew up in the 70`s and 80`s.
    The reality is, I bought a single ended Class A amp, hand wired, for less than I spent last time retubing my son`s 100 watt head.
    There seems to be a perceived wisdom in the USA that everything chinese is crap.
    Sorry fellas , its not.
    Perhaps its the same notion that led to the demise of the US and UK car industries in the 70`s when nobody could believe those silly cheap little Japanese cars would be better than our home grown ones.

    The chinese are raising their game , and whilst there is admittedly an element of luck involved, companies like Yaqin are putting out equipment that kicks well known brands into the weeds.
    As to resale....I dont remember when I last sold any of my gear.
    It has all been repurposed , mainly with my kids.
    Resale may not be a major concern for most people
     
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