Thank you but still in need of your help!


Bronze Member
Username: Beacons

L.A, CA U.S.A.

Post Number: 12
Registered: Feb-09
For the last couple of weeks, I've been all over the forum to get some basic questions answered.

With an overwhelming excitement of finally having a chance to own a great stereo system, I went overboard. My initial budget went from $1000 for AMP/CDP to over $3000 level (I used to be skeptical of buying a two hundreds dollars worth mini component system at bestbuy).

I was fortunate enough to inherit a great sounding tube amp, Quicksilver GLA (I love this amp) from my uncle, but my illiteracy on audio gears made me assume that this old out of date looking amp shouldn't be any good compare to most modern tube/SS amps.

I've spent hours after hours on different online forums to figure out what would be the best matching gears for my speaker (Celius ESW).

While I was quite satisfied with the sound from Celius/GLA combo (anything would've been better than Jensen mini boombox), I thought the sound would get "considerably" better if I spend more money on newer electronics. I didn't have any reference in terms of what kind of sound I was looking for except some vague ideas without an ability to put them into the context of audio dialogue.

As I spent more time reading online, I got more confused and frustrated with too many options. Here, I came back to the forum for more help!

Well, here's what I have done so far, and would love to get some advice on how to improve the sound quality.

_My current set-up_

Speaker: Triangle Celius ESW
Amp: Quicksilver GLA
Source: Apogee Duet w/ Flac over itune (Yes, it can play flac).
Speaker Cables: cheap speaker cable, no brand name here
IC: Custom-made DB15 to RCAs with Cardas 4X24 cables with Yarbo Connectors.
Placement: 12X10- Speakers are placed 51/2 fts away from each other/ 40inches from the back/side walls. I know it probaly needs more space, but this is the best I can do for now.

Initially, I was looking to add a CDP and a preamp. I was pretty much sold on Apollo, but I really liked Duet's sound over Apollo CDP. So, I ended up purchasing a Duet as a DAC.

For a preamp, I'm still looking for a deal on Adcom GFP750.

Ok, here's my problem. Few days ago, I had a chance to try out a cheap chinese-made integrated tube amp (EL34&12AX7). I've found out that this specific circuit design is being shared by many chinese companies with slight variations on exterior design, but they are all pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, It was a very pleasant experience, and the music presentation was quite different from GLA. It had more details and soundstage was noticeably wider than GLA. Compare to this chinese amp, GLA had more control and overall tighter sound. I suppose I can say GLA was more refined, but contained as well. Sort of congested compare to the chinese amp.

When I play rock music on GLA, it gives a headache and makes me uncomfortable, but this chinese amp really made me want to listen to rock music! It was more fun.

When I said "congested sound," that's because when I hear more complex music passages on GLA, I find myself want to lower the volume, or just skip the music.

I really like GLA's refined, clean, and tight sound with great bass control, but I would like to improve on its soundstage and put some space between the notes.

I would like to know if adding a preamp will give me any benefit in sonic quality in the direction that I want? Can I expect a more spacious sounding without losing GLA's strenghs?

I've tried some tube rolling, but it really didnt change much on soundstage and my rock music expereince. So far, my favorite combination is JJ EL34(drive tube)/ Amperex Orange small halo (input)/ Electro Harmonix Gold-pin (signal).

Should I make a purchase on a preamp? Or, just get an integrated amp all together?

If adding a preamp can make a considerably improvement on sound in my current set-up, I'd like to go with this route as I kinda dont want to give up this amp.

If I'm better off to buy an integrated amp for what I want in sound, here's what I've been looking at

Melody I2A3
Cairn 4810
Melody I300B
Pathos Classic One MK II, or III ( I'm still not sure what is the major diff btw these two).

Well, thanks for reading this lengthy post, and I would really appreciate any inputs!



p.s. Mids on GLA really kicks butt, when I listen to louis armstrong the speakers just disappear! It was quite amazing experince for me as a newbie. "What a wonderful world" indeed!

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 13358
Registered: May-04

My advice is as follows; 1) with only one source playing one type of music that is troublesome it's difficult to point to the amp as the major problem here and, 2) you are hitting the concesssion wall face first.

Systems are about synergy and how each component melds with the other components. My advice has always been to find components that play to the strengths of the others and that downplay the weaknesses of the others. Do not place BandAids on a system, using "warm" amplifiers, speakers, tubes, etc. with "cool" CD players, amplifiers, speakers, etc. only gets you lukewarm results.

Here I would say the addition of the Adcom to the Quicksilver is mixing two very dissimilar personalities and the results probably will be less than either of the individual piece's strengths alone. Obviously, what you are hoping for is a system where the whole exceeds the individual components. Synergy gets you there, all other approaches lead to disappointment.

On the same note, your amplifier might be a good choice to calm the rather toppy high end of the Triangles but you hit the wall when you introduce more aggressive music. Here experience counts for quite a bit. Speaker set up, system set up, cables and most importantly room treatments can alter the personality of a basically well put together system and morph an aggressive sound into a more comfortable one.

Be careful with each of these steps as they can introduce other issues. For example room treatments can solve a problem by absorbing troublesome reflections but can also be too broadband in their absorption and they will remove valuable bits of the music and the "life" of the room. You need to know what you are doing to successfully treat a room. One retailer/manufacturer of room treatments turns your listening space into a crypt filled with refrigerator doors because that is how he sees "accuracy". Another places small devices which are less obstrusive but unable to solve dramatic room problems. Jumping into either will only create more problems.

In this respect you are a typical newcomer in that your first thought is for new equipment to solve a problem. Getting beyond the "I need something new" stage is one of the first revelations you'll have in home audio. Buying something doesn't always solve a problem. Buying something you really haven't heard is very dangerous. Both approaches stand a good chance of making the problem worse or introducing new problems. When this happens you must have the ability to recognize something different as being not the same as something better. This requires a fair amount of experience and a high degree of knowing what it is you are after.

Knowing what you find invaluable is the first step. Tranparency is a high and worthy goal and doesn't come just with the addition of another component. In this case, if you are running into the amp without a pre amp, there's a good chance adding a pre amp will lower the transparency of the system by adding more circuitry to the signal path. On the other hand, a pre amp that compliments the system might bring out what you are searching for by introducing qualities you like while only slightly lowering transparency overall. You would have to decide if you were willing to make the swap.

No system is everything to everyone, you must learn where you can make your compromises and where you cannot. This comes down to accepting compromise as a basic part of system building. You will always find another system or another component that will do "this or that" that you find attractive. You can buy a new car and see something else you like as you're pulling out of the dealer's lot.

You are in the position of figuring out your compromises and then searching for the components, set ups and approaches to system building that satisfy the broadest amount of those "can't do without" qualities while diminishing the "can live without" qualities.

At this point I would advise you not to rush into a purchase and not to assume a hammer is the right tool for every job. You have alternatives, explore them to get the best from what you now own before you begin changing things without completely thinking this through.


Bronze Member
Username: Beacons

L.A, CA U.S.A.

Post Number: 13
Registered: Feb-09
Jan- I concur! Thanks for your great advice!

I've been playing with different drive tubes and speaker placement in a step by step manner, recording the difference each alteration makes to the sound with the songs that I'm most familiar with.

So far, I'm getting very interesting results, and realized that there are some decisions to make.

Reading other people's reviews and actually fooling around yourself and experience the difference is quite different, and I find it to be a lot of fun.

I'm happy that I can alter the sound by simply playing around with what I already have, but I'm still not convinced that cables would make any difference. That would be my next experiment right after trying out some KT88s instead of EL34s.

Once again, thanks for letting me what I was missing out

This audio stuff can be really fun!

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