Since im new to tube amps

 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4710
Registered: Jun-04
I was wondering what would some good brand names and models in tube amps that I could buy used to get a feel for wether tube amps are for me?
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 2749
Registered: Feb-05
McIntosh.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7503
Registered: May-04


Put something like "vacuum tube amplifiers vintage audio" into a search engine and read about some amplfiiers. There are some sleepers out there for not much money and there are classics which fetch a high price but return a high price if you decide you don't like that particular amplifier.


 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4711
Registered: Jun-04
Im suprised to read this about the mc 240 considering the clout I heard they had

http://www.audioshopper.com/mc240.htm


Music appreciation time

Hearing music rendered by the MC-240 is an experience. It has the classic melody of a refined tube amp. One is quickly caught by the spacious soundstage, full-bodied rendition of musical notes, and the thereness quality of the human voice. It makes one wonder why listeners then would opt to replace their tube amps with transistors. The truth of the matter is: (1) speakers and upstream components during that time were not as revealing then as they are now, and (2) most consumers place a higher priority on convenience.

Listening to Amanda McBroom sing Only With You in West of Oz (Sheffield CD-15) was magical. Her delicate and trembling voice was captivating. Joni Mitchell was such a joy in her Blue album (Reprise 2038-2). Bonnie Rait's sometimes gravelly voice was vividly portrayed in Luck of the Draw (Capitol CDP 596111). I kept on repeating Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight song in his Slowhand album (Polydor 823 276-2).

Weaknesses

Upon close scrutiny, the MC-240's age becomes evident. Its weaknesses are one of omission. High frequency extension and bass solidity are missing. Sure there is bass, but it can sound flabby at times, especially with ported speakers. It does not have the authority and competent control that one would experience with the Classe' DR-9. It lacks the delicacy and high frequency extension exhibited by a VTL 120/50. The highs are rolled off and leading edges are masked. Lastly, listening can become a trifle bland and uninvolving. The pace is slower. It does not have the dynamism--that get up and go--and agility that one finds in a truly magnificent amp.
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4712
Registered: Jun-04
would anyone agree with these ratings

http://stereos.about.com/od/amplifierreviews/tp/classic_tubes.htm

 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4713
Registered: Jun-04
Would this be a good buy

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem%26item%3D5817933186&category=39783
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4717
Registered: Jun-04
This is a tube amp correct? Also does it look ok?Upload
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4718
Registered: Jun-04
Upload
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7504
Registered: May-04


Yes, that's a tube based receiver. What type, I don't know and whether it's "OK" is impossible to tell from a picture.


The "Marantz 8b" is not a Marantz 8b. It is a clone that "simulates" the circuitry and sound of a Marantz 8b. Purchase at your own risk. Real Marantz 8b's go for several thousand dollars. Clones do not. Clones do not have the same parts and they certainly do not have the same transformers. Clones also do not resell quickly.


All the tube amps in the linked article would be considered classics. You'll notice the McIntosh MC225 on that list. It was the smallest of the Mac amplifier series that included the MC225, MC240 and the MC275. The Mac tube amps are classics. McIntosh and Marantz competed with each other for the "best amplifier" title during the later 1950's and through the late 1960's when Joe Marantz sold his company to Superscope in Japan. McIntosh ceased production of their tube amplifiers in the mid 1970's (the 225,240 & 275 were the last series of tube amps in Mac's line at that point) and did not return to that technology until the late 1990's.


Regarding the review of the MC240, there isn't much to say. He is reviewing a forty year old amplifier in unstated condition. Depending on the condition of the amplifier and whether the person had any idea what he was doing, a MC240 can sound poor to absolutely terrific. As I said, the MC225 in the article was the lower priced sibling of the MC240 and the MC275 was the higher priced. All Mac amplifiers of any vintage sound essentially the same. I've owned all three amplifiers in that series, so I know what they sound like. The MC275 has been reintroduced with what is essentially the same circuit that was designed in the early 1960's. It is currently a Class A amplifier on Stereophile's Recommended Components list and just recieved a stellar review in The Absolute Sound. When the reviewer in the linked article says the MC240 doesn't sound like a Classe or a VTL, he is comparing an amplifier with current production "audiophile" components to an amplifier he doesn't seem interested in knowing about. After forty years some people might only see the wear and tear on a 1966 Corvette if it hasn't been treated well. Don't believe everything you read. Including stuff on forums.



What'cha trying to do, sean?



 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4719
Registered: Jun-04
"What'cha trying to do, sean?"

Jan im not sure if you were joking or if you were asking what im looking for in reguards to tube amplifiers so ill answer that as well. I have never heard a tube aplifier before and I havent the slightest on where I could go to hear one locally but Ive read so much good about tube amps and find that they seem to fit what im looking for clean natural and open yet not excessive in the high frequencies. As ive stated before I dont need lots of power I just want something I can listen to and relax not get worn out something I can set and forget.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1233
Registered: Dec-04
Sean, I have been following your threads with Jan and just learning.
Very good communiucation going on, Jan seems to like where your'e headed.
A fine, free audio education, I figgur.

Thanks, Jan.
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4720
Registered: Jun-04
Thank you Nuck I am far from an audio expert but eager to learn. You all will have to forgive me because im not aware of most of the terms used by alot of you but I listen intently to what I hear musically and its actually fun to really analyze and pay attention to the subtlties of the music and its reproduction. Since ive been approaching things this way ive really started to ask myself what I want my music experience to be like.

Thanks,

Sean
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7505
Registered: May-04


I sympathize with your problems in hearing a tube amplifier in any situation that doesn't require a plane ticket. But, at the present, your approach to hearing a tube amplifier seems the equivalent of a lawyer firing a shotgun in the forest and hoping to hit a vice president. The desired results would seem to be highly unlikely.


On this forum, it is impossible to tell you what you should buy in the way of a tube amp. The example of the tube based reciever indicates there is a wide variety of tube based amplifiers you can find and the condition of any one example of even a classic amplifier such as a McIntosh or Marantz can be suspect unless you know the history of the unit. Add to that the logical conclusion that not all tube based amplifiers will be "magical". You wouldn't purchase a 1966 Ford Falcon sedan, six cylinder automatic and expect it to give you the feel of what a 1966 Jaguar XKE; would you?

The point is there were a lot of crappy tube amplifiers made in the past 50 years. It is far simpler to make a crummy tube amplifier than it is a solid state amplifier. Plunging in with both feet and little knowledge is a sure way to stumble across a terrific example of a less than ideal introduction to tube amplifiers. Unless you have money to burn, I would suggest slowing your quest to a stroll rather than a sprint.


Have you read the "Tube Talk" thread that exists on this page? What have you thought would be your plan for hearing what tubes can bring to music?


As I said, the amplifiers on the one article would all be considered classic examples of tube technology from forty years ago. All of them are also what would be considered "old school" tube sound. (At least they would be old school when the stock internal components are still in place.) The "new school" tube sound is quite different than what is represented in that column of amplifiers. My feeling is you should know what you are after in the way of new or old school thinking and sound before you just plunge into spending money. If you want to hear old school design, I have no problem with that. I believe everyone interested in tubes should hear old school design so they know what the last forty years have brought to the table. But don't expect the simple existence of tubes to bring new thrills into your home. Equally, not all new school tube sound is good either. Simply buying tubes will not ensure you will like what you hear. Many tube designers actually go out of their way to get a more solid state sound from their amplifiers. The sound of a half dozen tube amplifiers from the various high end manufacturers will all have their own personality. You might like some and find the others less than what you would want to own. At the lower and of the price scale, the chances of success become even more problematic. Some designers just have little technical skill and have designed bad amplifiers trying to cash in on someone inquisitive about the tube magic they keep reading about.


Further, tubes wear out. If you were to purchase a tube amplifier with bad tubes, you would be in for a disappointment and an expensive lesson in what worn out, or just bad sounding new tubes vs. top notch, new tubes will do. Then you will be asking for advice on which tubes you should buy to replace the old ones. It becomes a viscious circle unless you take your time to learn on your own.


You seem to be in a rush to find something you've read about. My suggestion would be you stop and read the stories of Icarus and Sisyphus. You purchased the T amp on a suggestion. You seem to be ready to dismiss it and move on. My suspicion is you will do the same to a tube amplifier should it not be the unit that suits your needs. If you have the money to spend, this is one way to learn a lesson.

Go back to the beginning of "Tube Talk" and read the entries. There is some good information disseminated in those posts. The links are very helpful. You will not become a tube expert by reading that thread. But you will have a better understanding of how to approach a purchase than you currently possess.




 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7506
Registered: May-04


"Since ive been approaching things this way ive really started to ask myself what I want my music experience to be like."


I don't think you've ever mentioned whether you listen to live music. Do you ever hear an instrument that is not amplified?



 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4721
Registered: Jun-04
Jan do you know anyone that would have a decent tube amp for sale that you would recomend to me new or used?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7508
Registered: May-04


Also, where do you live? Are there any high end shops in your area?
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4722
Registered: Jun-04
"I don't think you've ever mentioned whether you listen to live music. Do you ever hear an instrument that is not amplified?"

yes but I not in any kind of quality setting. I do think im going to listen to ocassional live recordings. I just wanted to mention that as a side note.

I live in York Pennsylvania. As far as high end shops I think the closest we have is tweeter haha. Hardly high end.
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4723
Registered: Jun-04
"I sympathize with your problems in hearing a tube amplifier in any situation that doesn't require a plane ticket. But, at the present, your approach to hearing a tube amplifier seems the equivalent of a lawyer firing a shotgun in the forest and hoping to hit a vice president. The desired results would seem to be highly unlikely."

I think we agree in reguards to JFK LOL. Dont get me started.

I like your honesty and straight forward approach Jan. You have definatley given me some things to think about and I think used is out of the question now. Ill see what I can do to find a shop near enough to me to take a listen to a tube amp. The only way I would buy used would probably be through this trusted circle of people like you and others you know.
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4724
Registered: Jun-04
opps I miss read what you said above you werent talking about JKF guess it just reminded me of him and I jumped the gun haha.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1240
Registered: Dec-04
And you thought Cheney was mean before, just give him a bird gun!
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4725
Registered: Jun-04
haha
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7511
Registered: May-04


" I miss read what you said above you werent talking about JKF guess it just reminded me of him and I jumped the gun haha."


Jumped the gun?!


Those of us in Dallas have uneasy feelings about |i{jumping the gun.}


 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7515
Registered: May-04


Sean - Here's what I would suggest. Go listen to whatever you can find in the way of new tubes at a store close to you. Read "Tube Talk" thoroughly. Then return to your T amp. If it provides enough gain for you to get the volume you require, buy a tube pre amp to pair with the T amp. Old school or new school, used or new, you decide. There are some very good pre amp kits available or you can take an old school unit and listen for several weeks to get an idea what it is doing. If you want to learn about tubes, a pre amp is a cheap introduction and you can learn much more by constructing a kit or modding a unit than you can buy just randomly making a purchase. This will give you a taste of tubes at a low cost and, if you choose wisely, you can resell the unit if you want to move on.


 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7516
Registered: May-04


sean - When you read "Tube Talk" you will find Kegger had lots of input on that thread. He got started in tubes after many discussions he and I had on another thread and he did much the same as you seem to want. He went overboard with how many tube units of all sorts and varieties he could find. He ended up with some junk along the way and a few good items also. He eventually began a small business rebuilding and selling stuff. Contact him through a personal message (click on his user name) and see if he has anything to offer you in the way of a tube pre amp.


 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1252
Registered: Dec-04
Kegger has been absent of late, but presumably he will answe the e mail.

For real time music, yumight try Eagles 'hell freezes over' or James Taylor'Live a the beacon"
 

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 4726
Registered: Jun-04
Ok thanks Jan and Nuck I will consider all you have said but i am going to take some time because I did some research today and the closest im told would be an hour or so away. I used to work at a local car audio shop and I know the owner was into high dollar home audio as well and he's up there in years so I know he's seasoned and will know the places to look for tube amps if anyone does so ill see what he has to say as well.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1286
Registered: Dec-04
old guys and tubes..nice fit, Sean
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1287
Registered: Dec-04
Take your time, for sure Sean, you have been given the best of 101 from Jan, slow and steady sails the ship.

As opposed to my buy on instinct school of thought, you will do very well here.
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