tube preamp or tube amp? -- Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:58

I'd like to explore tube sound, but can't decide which of my components to replace to get the most from the tubes: preamp or amp?  I'm very happy with the sound I get from my Marsh A400S amp and my Musical Fidelity A3-CR preamp into my Dali Helicon 400s, so I'm a little hesitant to replace one of them.  But I'm curious.  So, I'd like some suggestions as to which component -- tube preamp or tube amp -- would give me the best tube sound experience. 
Thanks, Bob

Keladrin -- Fri, 05/04/2012 - 09:32

'which component -- tube preamp or tube amp -- would give me the best tube sound experience.'
What kind of experience are you referring to? If you mean the unusually high degree of harmonic distortion that vintage vaccum tubes designs can give then you will have alot more fun with a DSP (and can try a large number of interesting sound effects). Another way of achieving this is to use an old vaccum tube amp and simply overload it (not difficult at all).
On the other hand if you are aming for accurate sound reproduction then stick to your solid state amp but perhaps upgrade the speakers. Personally I would spend the money on music, rather than downgrading the equipment.

NoFeedback -- Fri, 05/04/2012 - 16:45

Try the preamp first.  I did that with an ARC LS-7 and was very happy with the results.  After that, every pile of sand I ditched improved the sound.
I'm not familiar with your speakers so you may need to get some advice on the match-up when you consider moving to tube power amps.

rossop -- Fri, 05/04/2012 - 22:13

Pre amp IMO. I had an MF A308-CR pre. It was a very good unit and way better than the Vincent LS-1 I had before. I updated to a Herron VTSP-3 which is a hybrid design. It sounds better again than the MF. It has tubes but is designed to be left on all the time. I was sceptical at first but about five years on I only turn it off in thunder storms and it has never missed a beat. Keep the solid state power amp(s) as they will probably have better control and bass response.

charles1 -- Sun, 05/06/2012 - 08:53

I  don`t blame you for wanting explore tube electronics,. If selected correctly they can provide superb realism and natural sound.I switched from SS to tubes quite a while ago  and am very unlikely to go back. I find tube power amplifiers to provide more influence to a system than the tube preamp. The obvious key is matching the amp to your speakers(critical).What are your current speakers?

earwaxxxer -- Wed, 05/16/2012 - 11:10

Hey Bob - I totally understand your itch! I was pure SS for decades. I could not shake the yen for dabbling in some tubes, but where to start? For me, I went with a $99 Bottlehead kit in the form of the Quickie. I first built one with the stock parts to make sure I could get it to work! Very doable kit. It not only will give you a good taste for tube preamp sound, but also expose you to the simplicity and majic of tube amp construction. I then quickly built a second preamp with botique parts of my choice. I love it! I dont have any experience with high end preamps, so I cant compare. All I can say is I love the sound of my system. Personally I would go with tubes in the preamp, stick with SS poweramp. It sounds like you have some very good kit already.

Maggie MMG's (modded), Squeezbox Transporter, Emotiva XPA-2, HSU Research sub, Sub amp - Crown, MSB Link DAC lll, Bottlehead Quickie preamp (modded), JPS Labs Digital powercord, MIT Z-cord, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 interconnect and speaker wire -- Fri, 06/01/2012 - 13:56

 Thanks, all, for the comments. I appreciate it.  Bob

All content, design, and layout are Copyright © 1999 - 2011 NextScreen. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without specific written permission is prohibited.