Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26

Thread: Ss surprises in my tube world

  1. #1
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    9,483

    Ss surprises in my tube world

    Sometimes good things come out of bad situations. The last time my Jadis Defy 7 MKII suffered a tube failure, I had to press my back-up SS amp into service while I was waiting for a new bank of 3 matched KT-88 tubes from Kevin Deal to arrive. The funny thing is, the back-up amp hasnít left my system for more than a night as the Jadis just canít come off the bench and stay in the starting line-up anymore. And if the Jadis was the better sounding amp, it would be back full-time in my system. I find all of this slightly embarrassing. Giving up my Jadis for an old SS amp is kind of like getting caught by your buddies out on the town on a date with a fat girl.


    And no one is more surprised than me, and Iím surprised on many different levels. I swore off SS amps back in the 1980s after I heard how much better the midrange was through an ST-70 vice the juiced up Hafler DH-220 I was using at the time. Since the ST-70, there has been a long list of tube amps that I have owned: ARC D-76, D-76A, D-70 MKII, D-79A, and the VT-100 MKII. I have owned the Quicksilver V4s and a pair of the Quicksilver MS-190s with triode boards. I still have my Jadis Defy 7 MKII. I am no stranger to tube amps.

    During the time that I have owned the above mentioned tube amps, I have had numerous SS amps grace my system and I was always happy to pack them back up and take them back to the guy who wanted me to hear them. There is one I would love to have back and take another listen to, and that is the Symphonic Line amp. I heard that amp in my system before I bought the Definitive Technology BP-7000SC speakers I now own. I had previously bought an older McIntosh SS amp to use as a backup for when my tube amp went down (and make no mistake, your tube amps will go down at some point). The few times I pressed the McIntosh into service, I couldnít stand it and the point of having it as a backup amp became pointless so I sold it.

    I have mentioned this before, but my backup SS amp is the *lowly* Phase Linear 400 Series 2. Not only is this a SS amp, itís an old SS amp. The original PL 400 was designed by Bob Carver. I believe the Series 2 was made after Carver left Phase Linear and the Series 2 incorporated some design changes that made it more stable and sound better. I think there was even a further design change when Pioneer bought Phase Linear and the last of the 400 Series 2 amps rolled off the production line. I donít know which version of the Series 2 that I have, I just know I have the *right* one.

    Now I know some of you have owned the PL-400 before and scoff at it (and do tell whether it was the original or Series 2). And I know there are plenty more of you that havenít heard it and will still scoff at it because itís old, cheap, and just canít be any good. I canít speak for what the original 400 sounded like; I can only talk about what my Series 2 sounds like. If you have owned or spent considerable time with a Series 2 and you want me to tell me itís a bad sounding amp, I will just smile.

    My system has never sounded better since I have been using the PL 400 Series 2 amp. This amp is a marriage made in heaven with my speakers. Even though my speakers have a high sensitivity and some weird impedance (*compatible* with 8 ohms says the specs. What the hell does that mean?) and should be a perfect match with a tube amp, this SS amp just crushes other tube amps with these speakers. My speakers love the power and current drive from this amp. My last SS amp I owned was the Pass Labs X-250 which never sounded worth a crap on my speakers and so I sold it. I think now the bad sound was caused by a mismatch between my tube preampís output impedance and the input impedance of the X-250. The X-250 weighs around 100 lbs and puts out 250 watts that sounded like 20 watts at my house. PL 400 Series 2 puts out almost as much power as the X-250 and weighs less than half.

    And none of the above would matter if the damn thing didnít sound so good. And it does. I think itís time I got off the amplifier merry-go-round because with my speakers, I have the right amplifier. All of my sources have never sounded better. I canít believe how much time I spend listening to digital music now. Great digital recordings donít sound like great digital recordings. They just sound like great recordings. And I didnít know I would ever say that. I never knew how good my digital rig was until I put this amp into my system. And I have to give some props to the E-MU 0404 DAC. This cheap DAC sounds incredible. When you factor in that you can buy one for around $200, itís crazy good.

    When I think about the fact that I can probably buy two PL 400 Series 2 amps on the used market for less than the cost of a new set of tubes for my Jadis Defy 7 MKII, it kind of puts things into perspective. I guess there is some irony that Iím driving the PL with a tube preamp that I have over $5k invested in.

    When I ask myself why everything suddenly sounds the best it ever has, there is only one answer. So now Iím happy that my Jadis blew an output tube. Otherwise, the PL would still be sitting on a shelf in my workshop room and I wouldnít know how good my system could really sound. And trust me, if all you heard was my Jadis, you would most probably think the system sounded very good.

  2. #2
    Addicted to Best! RogerD's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    BiggestLittleCity
    Posts
    3,122
    Hi Mark,

    I think that's a trend as the price of NOS tubes continues to escalate. I like the speed and dynamics of my SS amps.

    Have you tried running your Ampex 350's through your tape monitor switch on your preamp(if it has one)? I listened to mine through my Accuphase preamp with CD's and I get the best of both worlds.

    I have my Vac 140's and they sit as my SS amps have qualities that the VAC's don't.

    How's the RFI/EMI tweaks working? try adding a ferrite from leadertech on to your PC's. I think you will be surprised at the difference they make.

    I use the CS28B1500 as they fit my NBS PC's perfectly. I order them from Mouser electronics and ship 1st class mail. The best 22 bucks I have spent in a while.

    http://leadertechinc.com/PDFs/ferrites/CS28B1642.pdf
    Speakers: ParAcas Satellites ParAcas Dual 16 subwoofer Velodyne FSR18 Fulton Little Maestros Mission speakers
    Electronics: Agtron Platinum Mono Blocks Accuphase C200 preamp Accuphase P300 amplifer Parasound amplifier ParAcas Sierra electronic crossover
    Digital: Monarchy NM24 DAC Sony DVD Transport
    Tuner: McIntosh MR78
    Cables: NBS Statement,Pro,Master Cables, Nirvana Digital SPDIF Cable
    Turntable: Linn LP12 Technics 1200
    RTR: Ampex 350,351,440BC,MR70
    Studer C37 60hz,Crown 2-844,824

  3. #3
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    9,483
    Roger-The output of my 350s are feeding one of the line inputs on my preamp so I don't see how I could do what you suggested.

  4. #4
    Addicted to Best! RogerD's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    BiggestLittleCity
    Posts
    3,122
    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Roger-The output of my 350s are feeding one of the line inputs on my preamp so I don't see how I could do what you suggested.
    That's fine.

    With my Accuphase I have the 350's connected to a pair of tape outputs and inputs. I have my source set at my DAC and then switch the Tape in. The DAC signal will then route through the Ampex record side and through the preamp tape section. I have the Ampex record level matched to my preamp level so I can switch back and forth and compare the Accuphase preamp to the Ampex signal.

    Anyway maybe the Accuphase is unique in this regard.

    You have a tube preamp so it's not the same as I have, the Accuphase is SS so it's just a way for me to get a tube circuit into the loop.
    Speakers: ParAcas Satellites ParAcas Dual 16 subwoofer Velodyne FSR18 Fulton Little Maestros Mission speakers
    Electronics: Agtron Platinum Mono Blocks Accuphase C200 preamp Accuphase P300 amplifer Parasound amplifier ParAcas Sierra electronic crossover
    Digital: Monarchy NM24 DAC Sony DVD Transport
    Tuner: McIntosh MR78
    Cables: NBS Statement,Pro,Master Cables, Nirvana Digital SPDIF Cable
    Turntable: Linn LP12 Technics 1200
    RTR: Ampex 350,351,440BC,MR70
    Studer C37 60hz,Crown 2-844,824

  5. #5
    [WBF Founding Member]
    Pro Audio Production
    Member Sponsor[VIP/Donor]
    [Technical Expert] Bruce B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    6,539
    I've had numerous tube units. The best pre was the CAT Ultimate and the best amp was an ARC VT-130. I had sworn off SS until I heard the Pass Labs XA series. I wouldn't use any other now.
    Bruce A. Brown
    Puget Sound Studios
    Stereomojo reviewer
    Seattle, WA


    Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while!

  6. #6
    Congratulations, Mark. If it sounds better, that's all that matters. Are you not using the Yamaha preamp anymore?

    Great digital recordings don’t sound like great digital recordings. They just sound like great recordings.
    That's the way they sound to me. As a computer source user, it's an interesting exercise to put the entire collection on shuffle and listen to the radical differences between recordings. The big differences are not between digital and analog, but between good and bad. Good digital and the best analog recordings sound very similar. But a leap from either to a poorly mastered modern pop recording, a bad transfer to digital of an old analog, or simply a bad recording can be jarring.

    Tim
    In high-end audio, you can't even fight an opinion with the facts.

  7. #7
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    9,483
    Tim-I'm using my Counterpoint SA-5.1 at this time and it sounds so good, I haven't had the nagging itch to put the C2a back in. The dust hasn't settled on that battle yet and the Yamaha will get another chance.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Tim-I'm using my Counterpoint SA-5.1 at this time and it sounds so good, I haven't had the nagging itch to put the C2a back in. The dust hasn't settled on that battle yet and the Yamaha will get another chance.

    Mark
    Well, good to have options. I sure wouldn't let that Yamaha go. It's a great little preamp.


    Tim
    In high-end audio, you can't even fight an opinion with the facts.

  9. #9
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    9,483
    Tim-The guy that sold it to me begged me to sell it back to him. He was willing to pay me what I paid plus the shipping both ways. I refused. This preamp isn't going anywhere. Even if I come to the final conclusion that the 5.1 is much the better (which is yet to be determined), I'm keeping the C2a because it sure is nice to have something that good waiting in reserve.

    Mark

  10. #10
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Portugal
    Posts
    13,802
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
    I've had numerous tube units. The best pre was the CAT Ultimate and the best amp was an ARC VT-130. I had sworn off SS until I heard the Pass Labs XA series. I wouldn't use any other now.
    Both great equipment. But you could not connect one to the other as the VT130 was only XLR.

    I owned the VT130 larger cousins - the VT150's - and I still think that coupled to Quad ESL63s they made the best reproduction of a soprano voice I have ever listened to.

    Did you try the CAT Ultimate driving the Pass Labs XA's?

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. World Music Reboot
    By JackD201 in forum World Music Forum
    Replies: 111
    Last Post: 08-26-2018, 02:46 PM
  2. Tube Power Supply Mechanical Hum - Tube Recommendations?
    By LL21 in forum Power Amplifiers and Preamplifiers Forum
    Replies: 45
    Last Post: 09-10-2011, 08:13 AM
  3. Itís an analog world, or is it?
    By DonH50 in forum Audio, Video And Computer Technology Expert Forum
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-12-2010, 12:44 PM
  4. Hello, World!
    By vinylphilemag in forum Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-09-2010, 11:28 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •