Tube Power Amp Reviews

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Jonathan Scull Posted: Mar 17, 2002 0 comments
The VK-150SE stands tall at the top of Balanced Audio Technology's range. It and its smaller brother, the identical-looking VK-75SE stereo amplifier (or, sans the Special Edition mods, the plain VK-75, footnote 1), are related to BAT's first amplifier design, the VK-60. The company's partners, Victor Khomenko and Steve Bednarski, eventually realized that they'd made enough upgrades to the VK-60 to warrant a new model designation, and in 2000 they discontinued the VK-60. Bednarski explained that while the VK-60 accepted the upgrades with good results, the BATboys felt that, in order to fully realize the full potential of the 6H30 SuperTube, a new platform would be required. Enter the VK-75SE and VK-150SE.
Sam Tellig Posted: Jan 29, 2002 0 comments
It's always good to tear into a good steak with Tor Sivertsen, Conrad-Johnson's main marketing man.
Robert Deutsch Posted: May 20, 2001 0 comments
"I'm a fan of tubes—I don't like designing with them, but I do like listening to them."—Paul McGowan, Stereophile interview, May 2000
Sam Tellig Posted: May 14, 2001 0 comments
"Larry—if I'd told you 10 years ago that McIntosh would be heavily into tubes in the 21st century, what would you have said?"
Jonathan Scull Posted: May 20, 2000 0 comments
The last Lamm product I had my hands on was a pair of M1.1 monoblocks (see Vol.18 No.4, Vol.22 No.7). I liked those hybrid tube/solid-state amps quite a lot.
Jonathan Scull Posted: Mar 29, 2000 0 comments
I wasn't raised a McIntosh lad. My dad used Fisher, Bogen, Leak, and Ampex tubed electronics—and, at one time, even home-built speakers—to keep the house filled with a steady, enriching flow of Mozart. He never owned a Mac component, and, when going upmarket, reached for B&O, alas. So while I knew that many audiophiles hold tubed McIntosh gear—especially the early designs—in very high regard, I was somehow never bitten or smitten. But let's face it—for lo these many years, McIntosh has been for many the name in quality American audio. Take my friend Dan, to whom I've referred several times in the pages of Stereophile. He runs a tubed Conrad-Johnson 9 preamplifier, but wouldn't dream of giving up his 270Wpc solid-state McIntosh MC7270. He's goldurn proud of it!
Jonathan Scull Posted: Apr 08, 1999 0 comments
Nagra's VPA amplification system consists of two slim, handsome monoblock amplifiers intended for vertical placement. They look good adjacent to the speakers. However, two 845 tubes put out a lot of heat, so the amplifier should be at least a foot away from your speakers...unless you're looking for a nice crackle finish.
Lonnie Brownell Posted: Feb 26, 1999 0 comments
"More power!!!"
Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 01, 1999 0 comments
Conrad-Johnson is one of audio's "marquee" companies, and charges accordingly. The Premier Twelve tube monoblock power amplifier, rated at 140W, sells for a rather steep $3495 each, meaning that unless you listen in mono, be prepared to lay out almost $7000 just for the amplification link in your audio chain. Apparently, many audiophiles feel the money is well spent: according to Conrad-Johnson, the Twelve has been a consistently strong seller during its approximately five-year production history.
Brian Damkroger Posted: Dec 03, 1997 0 comments
How much power do you really need? What does it do for you, anyway? Even before the single-ended renaissance, the prevailing wisdom was that you really didn't need that much power. When I had a pair of Met 7 speakers, even the "1 watt" indicator LED was hardly ever lit. Ditto for my time with a Threshold Stasis Two—all those cool power-indicator LEDs just sat there dark. Besides, everyone knows that power can be had only at tremendous cost, both monetary and in terms of other performance attributes.
Wes Phillips Posted: Mar 03, 1996 0 comments
I love the sound of glowing glass,
especially when I'm lonely.
I love the nuances of emotion.
It's nothing new, nothing new,
The sound of glowing glass...
(with apologies to Nick Lowe)
Martin Colloms Posted: Dec 26, 1995 Published: Dec 26, 1987 0 comments
JGH opens
Robert Deutsch Posted: Dec 02, 1995 0 comments
How important is the use of balanced circuit typology in the design of preamplifiers and power amplifiers? Ask the top audio designers (I didn't, but just play along, okay?) and you'll get a wide variety of opinions. Some reject the balanced approach outright, arguing that it represents a needless duplication of circuit components, and that better results can be achieved if the same attention and resources are devoted to perfecting a single-ended circuit. In his provocatively titled article "Balance: Benefit or Bluff?" (Stereophile, November 1994, p.77), Martin Colloms questioned the advantages of balanced designs, suggesting that while the results may be better in certain respects (eg, noise level), the reproduced sound may suffer in other, perhaps more important ways (eg, rhythm and dynamics).
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Oct 20, 1995 Published: Oct 20, 1988 0 comments
Not only does the venerable vacuum tube refuse to lie down and die, as everyone predicted when audio went solid-state; it continues to deliver better performance than anyone had imagined it could. Only a few years ago, we could characterize "the tube sound" as being sweet but soft at the high end, rich but loose in the midbass, deficient in deep bass, and bright and forward, usually with excellent reproduction of depth. Since then, we've seen the introduction of what might almost be called a new generation of tube amplifiers, which rival solid-state units in those areas where tubes used to have weaknesses, but have given up little of the tube's sonic strengths.
Wes Phillips Posted: Oct 02, 1995 Published: Oct 02, 1994 0 comments
I love being seduced. I'm shocked to learn that not everyone does. The very qualities in live music that excite and intoxicate me are denigrated by many audiophiles as "colorations." It would seem they prefer the lean, chilly sound that they've dubbed "accurate." While I concede that almost all of their preferred audio components have ever-more-extended high frequencies, I'm not certain that that's the same thing as having greater accuracy. It sounds to me—to use Stravinsky's description of electronic music—"spayed for overtone removal." The overtones that I miss are those stripped from the middle ranges—the ones the clinical crowd (footnote 1) disparagingly refers to as the "warmth" region.

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