Getting the most "tubeiness" for your money
Mar 28, 2002 at 11:21 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 43

Tuberoller

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Having owned and listened to a few tubed CDPs and too many tube amps and preamps to mention,I have to say the path to true tube sound is easiest followed by use of a tubed preamp.I have found that a good tube staged pre can add tube smoothness to even the harshest sounding solid-state amps and cd players.I sometimes use a Van Alstine Pas 3i with an NAD amp and the sound is magical.I recently borrowed a Rogue Audio Sixty-Six preamp and tried it all my different amps.This is a sweet pre and makes EVERYTHING sound better.I tried it with a Hafler DH500 amp that I have always thought sounded awful(even when I assembled them daily) and It was so sweet sounding I couldn't believe it.Tube staged CD players have always struck me as being kind of "artificial".When I had an AH! 4000 I liked it but it just never really got me going in the way I had hoped.I just hated my Jolida tubed cdp and it never worked right anyway.I think the best tube preamps are capable of making even mediocre sources and amps sound good.That last bit of tubiness is to be found with a tube amp in addition to a tube pre, but again,I think the most tube sweetness is obtained in the preamp stage,just don't ruin things with a bad cable.
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 1:42 AM Post #2 of 43

CRESCENDOPOWER

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Tuberoller, Heck yes! You hit that right on the money. Some of the best systems I have ever heard used tubed pre-amps that were a lot more expensive than the solid-state power amps used with it.
If I was doing the speaker thing again, I would definitely have a tubed pre-amp with solid-state power, and a neutral source.
Haven't tried the tube pre-amp thing with headphones. Yet!
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 5:00 AM Post #3 of 43

MirandaX

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Tuberoller, my setup is very close to yours (Melos tube/hybrid preamp, NAD amp), and I definitely agree! The Melos is a very big upgrade in sound, compared to the preamp section of the NAD integrated.

Could you recommend your favorite low-cost (under $800) tubed or hybrid preamp?
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 11:58 AM Post #5 of 43

Tuberoller

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The Van Alstine Pas 3i is a nice tubed pre and sounds very good and has a tubed headphone amp built in.See it herehttp://www.avahifi.com/pas3isl.htmThe price is right as well at $749.00 and the folks at vanalstine are very nice about debugging your assembly mistakes(don't ask how I know).
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 3:30 PM Post #6 of 43

pigmode

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My LW-1 passive pre should arrive next week, and I'm hoping that it syncs well with the Quicksilver/ LS3/5a/ AH! 4000.

I'll eventually move to a tube Preamp after the cdp is upgraded. Can anyone characterize the sound of the Cary SLP-88 and SLP-98?
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 5:13 PM Post #7 of 43

Jim R

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"My LW-1 passive pre should arrive next week"


Congratulations on the LW-1. I bet you will find that you will love this passive preamp. In fact, before you invest in a tubed preamp make sure you compare it closely to the LW-1 before you make your final decision - you may very well not want to change from the LW-1.

I use a Placette passive (would have chosen the LW-1 but I wanted a remote) and I have found that you have to spend alot of money (probably at least 3-5 times the price of the LW-1) on a tubed preamp to beat the high quality passive.
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 8:48 PM Post #9 of 43

acidtripwow

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Hey Pigmode, how are those LS3/5as? I've read a lot about the different versions and always wanted to try some out for myself.

How about an old Audio Research tube preamp? I read a lot of good stuff about them.
 
Mar 29, 2002 at 9:08 PM Post #10 of 43

pigmode

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Quote:

Originally posted by acidtripwow
Hey Pigmode, how are those LS3/5as? I've read a lot about the different versions and always wanted to try some out for myself.



cid (just gotta love that name),

Mine are late production Rogers 11 ohm versions, and just about everything I've read about them (+/-) proved fairly accurate. It's midrange response is very prominent, and even though I am only in the eary stages of positioning and cable tuning, I find the midband richer and more pleasing than the AKG 501. Still, it retains an airy and detailed high end. They excell with acoustic instruments and vocals, so if you like Jacintha, Barber, Pidgeon et al...
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 5:51 AM Post #11 of 43

Tuberoller

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Quote:

Originally posted by acidtripwow
How about an old Audio Research tube preamp? I read a lot of good stuff about them.


Acid,did you see the one that was at Decibel when we were there?


I got a good combo system idea
frown.gif
I haven't tried it yet so let me know what you guys think).

Amps: Antique Soundlabs WAV 8 monoblocs

Preamp:Bottle Head Foreplay W/full mods and Pentode Pete's phono stage mod(actually just a stepped up line stage)

Source 1:Cambridge Audio D500se CDP

Source 2:Musichall MMF 2.1 turntable

Loudspeakers:Wharfedale Diamond 8.2

Cables:Modern Audio Design Silver

Speaker wires:Home depot sourced 8 gage Belden w/Monster lug ends

I know I'm a sick bastard,but I actually have all this stuff(except for the cambridge,I loaned it out) lying around right now.I'm gonna put this system together just to see what can be done with such low priced stuff.I might substitute the cdp($479.00) with something cheaper since it is the most expensive component.The Bottlehead Foreplay was put together and modded by Pete(the tech at Decibel Audio)for $400.00 total cost.The Wharfedale speakers were bought off ebay for $180.00 and sound too awesome to be true.I think we are all pretty familiar with the WAV amps($238.00) and Musichall turntables($299.00) by now, right.The Modern Audio Design cables($75.00 a meter) were also obtained on ebay and sound very nice with all my tube stuff.The speaker wire is the best cheap stuff( $0.75 a foot)I have seen and sells out almost instantly.I'm out to prove that tube audio needn't be expensive($1,800.00 retail at this point)I hope I don't make an ass of myself.I'll post some pics and impressions if this system is worthwhile.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 3:13 PM Post #12 of 43

Jim R

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"How much is the Placette? I also need a remote. Can you describe your system, and what the Placette did for it?"

Placette has a web site at
http://www.placetteaudio.com"

Placette passive are not cheap - the 1 input version is about $1000. I have the 3 input version (I paid $1000 before he raised the price). They are really a high end product though. When I was preamp shopping, I found that I would have to spend $2-4k on an active preamp to do better (something like the upper end Conrad Johnsons, etc.).

The LW-1 is also very nice though if you can live without a remote.

The best way to describe a good passive is that it just gets out of the way and you hear the quality of your CDP and amp, cables, etc..

Here is a link to my system.

http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/MUG/pix/jim/
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 5:04 PM Post #14 of 43

pigmode

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Well, after three hours on my new Cardas N-ref speaker cables, the LW-1 was connected in place. I regret not being able to evaluate each upgrade individually for a month, but I'm not going to be anal about it. I've been listening to my audition tracks and CDs day in and day out for a couple of months now, so I'm fairly confident in saying the Cardas cables have had a great positive influence on the system as a whole. On top of that, the LW-1 seems to have brought into focus the tube qualities of my amps. There's lots and lots of detail but nary a trace of harshness.

I feel obligated to eventually place a good tubed preamp in this system (Cary, or C-J) to explore the possibilties of increased dynamics over that of the LW-1 passive pre, but I think I can live with the present configuration for a while.

Quicksilver Mini Mono
LW-1 passive
AH! 4000
LS 3/5a
Cardas N-Ref speaker cables
Silver Audio 4.0 IC (amp/preamp)
Belden 89259 IC (cdp/preamp)
 
Mar 31, 2002 at 8:43 AM Post #15 of 43

kelly

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Warning: I'm going to show off my newbieness here again.

Does this sort of thing irritate anyone besides me? I mean... I have this logical side of me arguing constantly with the emotional side. The logical side can somehow justify tube amps by saying, "Well, there's just some things we haven't quite figured out how to measure yet" and just barely skate by.

Then comes pre-amps. Purposefully introducing into the path of my signal what could only be called distortion. And not even controlled distortion like with a DSP or equalizer but a totally unknown kind of random thing stuck right smack in the signal path. With a cost of its own plus the cost of another set of interconnects, and introducing whatever other distortions occur at the additional connector points and circuits themselves.

And then there's the emotional side of my bran that just wants to backhanded bitchslap the logical side and say, "If it sounds good, why do you need to reason it at all?"

One thing to be sure about the actual topic of this thread... not only is it a better price performance package to do the tube stage in the pre amp, but it limits the amount of temperamental components. Maybe this is just bias and stereotyping, but I tend to associate reliability with solid state components and limiting the tubes to just one component seems like a better idea if you can get everything else you need out of the solid states.
 

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