The best sound ever in my system
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Tuberoller

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A few weeks ago myself and fellow Chicago Head-fi member Acidtripwow visited a few audio dealers to audition amps and speakers.I visted one dealer earlier in the week to have some amps set up before we arrived on saturday.One of those amps was the Antique Sound labs Tulip.This is a 3.5 watt SET featuring the fantastic 2A3 tube.I thought it sounded great in the first set-up I heard,when Acid and I heard it later I thought it sounded even better.I decided I had to hear this amp in my main system.I borrowed it over last weekend and auditioned it over a three day period.This amp is so incredible.I think Acid described it as "effortless",that desciption is most accurate.I have never heard sound so sweet and wonderful in my home.this amp defies all previous notion about tube amp sonics.It is not slow or inaccurate and it does not have flabby bass.this amp is so sure-footed and focused I hesitate to harp on the the standard tube amp virtues of sweet midrange and fantastic vocals.Most tube amps get the midrange right and most listeners will forgive all the other things because of the perfection of the midrange sonics.The Tulip requires no such concession to sonic imperfection.It does everything so well.The bass is tight,accurate and very well defined.the treble is crisp and detailed without any sign of harshness and retains the typical tube sweetness without any loss of focus.The Tulip does vocals and mono like no other amp I have had in my system.Everything is right where it supposed to be.Each instrument is placed in it's proper place on a deep soundstage surrounded by a dead-silent backround.I am still amazed at what this $999.00 amp is doing to my music,it has simply never sounded better.I purchased this amp today and I will never part with it.It has found a home in my system(at least until next year).

My system in it's current configuration is as follows and will stay this way for at least the remainder of the year while I focus more on musical enjoyment:


Sources:VPI Scout Turntable w/Dynavector 10X4 Gold cartridge.Marantz SA-14 SACD player and Musical Fidelity 324 DAC.

Preamp:Van Alstine Pas3i.Grado PH-1 Phono stage

Amp:Tulip

Loudspeakers: PSB Image 7PT

Cables:a Mixed but carefully matched bag of Harmonic Tech Truthlink,Acoustic Zen,and Alpha Core.Canare Digital and new Monster power cords.

Headphones:Senn HD600 w/equinox,Grado RS-1

Headamps:Headroom Max.Wheatfield HA2

Excuse me while I go listen to some music.
 
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CRESCENDOPOWER

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dave-the-rave

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Great ears think alike: There was an extremely positive review of the self-same ASL Tulip amp in the next-to-last (I believe it would be July/August 2002) issue of 'Listener.' Worth reading if you're interested in this amp. Too bad no headphone out.
 
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elnero

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Tuberoller,

Have you tried any other SET amps in your system? I've never had the opportunity to audition the ASL gear but I have been fortunate enough to have been exposed to quite a few others in my time at an audio shop and when I worked with Swans Speakers.

There really is a certain magic that happens with alot of SET amps in the right situation. It just draws you in and envelopes you in a way that few other none SET amps can. They definately don't have to have slow, flabby bass or rolled off highs, though some of them do. The Cary stuff is really nice, I had a chance to audition Dennis Hads own 5 watt SET amp before and at a show in Philadelphia a few years back and it was amazing. I've spent alot of time with the 300 SEI as well, while it's really nice, with stock tubes it can have a bit of the loose bass syndrome. Caztech had some really nice stuff when they were around as well. I can't remember the name of the man (I'm absolutely horrible with names I'm sorry) but he's largely considered responsible for the whole SET resurgence. I had the opportunity to hear one of his amps at this same show and was completely floored, it was in a league of it's own. But at $15,000 it was one of the most expensive there and well should be. Balanced Audio Technology is another company that has some great amps as well. This is but a few that I can remember off the top of my head. It's been a few years since I've really been involved in the audio business, this whole headphone thing has kind of drawn me back in, so I'm not sure exactly what's out there anymore.

Anyhow if you or anyone else here is new to SET amps I strongly recommend getting a feel for what's out there, but be aware that speaker choice plays a much larger role than usual in the performance of these little gems. As a general rule you want to find something that is not only sensitive but has a relatively stable impedance curve. ( The impedance can play a large role and I feel this is why some not so sensitive speakers work well with SET amps.)

Now if only I could afford something to mate with my Swans seeing as I've decided to keep them.


Phil
 
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Neruda

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those tubes must be shy: they're hiding behind transformers.
 
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acidtripwow

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Hey Tuberoller, that Tulip was a great sounding amp. I loved the sound it made and "effortless" was a great description when compared to other amps. It sounded better than the $1600 Unison Research amp we also auditioned. I may purchase one too but not right away. I want to audition some more speakers before I decide what I want to buy and also look into getting a nice rack(no not that kind of rack you perv).
 
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Hirsch

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Tuberoller,

I'm using the Dynavector 10x Gold L into an Electrocompaniet Pre I (old preamp, but fantastic dedicated moving coil section). I was curious how your Dynavector sounded with the Grado PH-1. Is your Dynavector high or low output?

Hirsch
 
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pigmode

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Tuberoller,
Have you compare the Marantz SA-14 to the Sony 777 or the Phillips SACD 1000? What do you think about the SA-14?
 
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Kieran Comito

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I'm in the market for a new amp for my system. I just bought new front main speakers from NewForm Research, the N645 series (Outstanding Speakers!) . On Newform Research website they advise not buying new amps becuase the industry is about to be turned on its head with the rise of digital amps, which . Right now, digital amps are pricey, but the price is comming down by the month. I do not know a whole lot about the industry, but if you visit the Newform Research website, and go to the idustry overview section, it has some great information. By the way Tuberoller, do you like listening to your main system or your headphone system better? For those of you that are curious about Newform Research speakers, they have rave reviews on audioreview.com as one of their top picks. I would highley advise visiting thier website. There is some good information on it.
 
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blueocp

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can someone explain to me what a SET amp is? How do they differ from normal tube amps?
 
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