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LocoMoco
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Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

I'm entertaining the idea of a tube integrated amp at a target price of $500 or less, but may go higher. I've seen many Jolida products, some say it's great and some say it has muddy bass. Are Japanese products superior in built and sound quality, than the Chinese?

Are there any good source material that will explain technology like push/pull design, triode, and such.

Elk
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

Jolida is a nice choice. PrimaLuna are excellent for the money.

As always, it is important to match the amp with the speakers you have or are planning to get.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

$500 doesn't buy much in new tube amplifiers. My own experience is that I know of no one who bought a $500 tube integrated who didn't end up with a different amp within a year. And they usually had little to show for their investment because sub $500 tube amps just aren't very reliable as a rule. Or the low power available for less the $500 didn't match well with the speakers they already owned. I would suggest saving a bit more and keeping your eye on the used market.

Otherwise, make your mind up to buying higher quality at substantially lower output power.

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1191696034

Or, go the vintage route, but still lower power is typical here too;

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1191725445

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1191640182

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1191595182

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1191593475

Make sure you get a vintage unit that is worth having and has been rebuilt properly and you'll have a piece of equipment to use for a few years and still get most of your investment back on resale.

As a rule, avoid amps with Chinese tubes or lower quality tubes. You'll be disappointed in "tube sound" and you'll be spending more money for new (or NOS) tubes in a very short time. Another advantage to vintage is the amps usually are sold with decent tubes.

Monty
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

There are quite a few valve amp manufacturers making some decent stuff these days...from all over the place. I think it's more a question of being able to have the unit serviced should you need to at this price. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dumping on them or scoffing at the price. I'm just saying that the competition for entry level tube amps has gone through the roof. Everybody is making one or twelve.

Make sure whatever you get has the number of inputs that you need (many have only 1 or 2) and is either auto-biasing or has easy to access bias adjustments. I would also consider it a big plus if any warranty or service work was available in your home country.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

Keep in mind the Chinese market is bursting with cheap tube amps right now. Sooner or later the US Dollar to yuan situation will have to settle down and more than a good share of these companies are going to dry up. Service will be impossible to find on a circuit that has never published a schematic. The amp's value will be minimal at that point. I would agree that service in your own country is worthwhile. But what do you do if your amp is in service when the company goes belly up? Budget tube amps usually are good examples of getting what you pay for. Vintage is usually safe. There's a good chance that if it's lasted for the first thirty years ... Don't jump at the cheapest deal.

LocoMoco
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

Thank you for all your valuable input. I've been looking at Audiogon, but just couldn't make heads or tails on which brand. It may be in my favor to research for any repair shops in Hawaii, as that may help in my decision making.

I visited a local Cary dealer and were so taken by the sound quality of tubes, but his amps are new and sell for $x000's. They were more than my wallet, actually wife, would allow me to spend. I'll be happy with a quality used amp with quality tubes. Mahalo!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

Book 'em, Danno!

LocoMoco
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

What is the difference between SET and Push-Pull amps? How would this affect my choice of speaker by sensitivity?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Affordable Tube Integrated Amp

SET = single ended triode. A triode is a type of tube, the earliest from of amplification is a triode. Most power output triodes date back to the first quarter of the 20th century in their design. Single ended means the tube does not switch off as the signal's sinewave passes from a positive to a negative waveform. A SET is always operating in class A and the amplifiers are relatively to extremely inefficient. SET's are typically low powered and are not for the first time tube owner. They require careful matching to the appropirate speakers or you will be very disappointed with the sound quality.

Push-pull is an operational technique where two output devices are used to share the task of stepping up the voltage of the signal. The devices can be tubes or transistors. Push-pull was developed to overcome many of the limitations of single ended operation. Push-pull can produce more power than single ended amplifiers and will normally make system matching easier. A push-pull amp is what you want when first venturing into tube amplifiers. Unless stated so, you can expect most tube amplifiers to not be SET's. Push-pull is the most common way to build an amplifier today.

Put any of these terms into a search engine to get more information. Just know you do not want a SET for your first tube power amplifier.

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