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pedro77
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Joined: May 13 2010 - 5:29pm
Entry level tube/valve amp advice

Hi

I'm interested in getting a tube amp and was hoping someone here may have listened to a couple of the amps I'm considering. I basically got interested when I read some rave reviews about the great value of the Miniwatt S1, which has since been superseded by the N3.

As 2 of these amps are shipped directly from manufacturers I haven't been able to audition them myself. I have gone to a local stereo store and compared a Prima Luna Prologue One and the Cayin A-55TP and to my ears the Prima Luna sounded amazingly rich and superior to the Cayin.

I'd like to set up one of these amps to listen to music on my front speakers (Orpheus Aurora 2.3 - Impedance: 4 ohms (benign load); Sensitivity: 90.5dB 2.83V) over an Airport Express streaming lossless music files. And for convenience possibly have the tube amp connected to the front pre-outs on my surround amp and have the tubes drive the fronts for all sources.

So my current list is out of three amps which span the entry level price point and all use different tube types. They are:

1. MiniWatt N3 ($480 AUD delivered) 2x3.5W 1x12AX7 2x EL84 Pros- Cheapest Cons- Perhaps underpowered although a couple of positive reviews say it's enough

2. Neuhaus Labs T-2 ($934 AUD delivered) 2x20W Tubes 4-6N7 2-6N1 2-6N3. Pros- Includes Optical and USB in and has remote control and headphone out Cons- Is the digital input just a gimmick and is the DAC in the Airport Express or Onkyo 705 sufficient?

3. Prima Luna Prologue One ($1500 AUD demo stock with scratch RRP $2500 AUD) 2x35W Tubes 4 x EL-34, 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 12AU7. Pros- I've listened to it. Saving $1000 for a scratch. Cons- Minimal features for price. Is this overkill for entry level?

So if anyone has any opinions I'd really appreciate your advice. Reviews on all of these has been positive, as are most reviews I've looked at on entry level tube amps. It's hard to find a good comparison guide. Look forward to your thoughts.

Cheers
Pete

RGibran
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Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: Entry level tube/valve amp advice


Quote:
And for convenience possibly have the tube amp connected to the front pre-outs on my surround amp and have the tubes drive the fronts for all sources.

This is a good way to integrate a home theater system with a higher quality 2 channel system for music. However, the integrated amp must have a bypass input for the pre outs from your receiver, as well as additional inputs for your two channel source components. Unfortunately, none of your above choices have a bypass input and your first choice only has one input! Prima Luna does make a model with this capability.

If you just want tubes on your front L+R speakers, you just need a pure tube power amp (not an integrated amp) connected to your receivers pre outs.

pedro77
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Joined: May 13 2010 - 5:29pm
Re: Entry level tube/valve amp advice

Hi RG

Thanks for the advice and info. Bit the bullet and went with the amp I first heard and liked immediately...the PrimaLuna Prologue One. It was more expensive than I had originally planned but it was nearly half its retail price and it's sounding awesome so far. A nice, rich and warm sound and a great soundstage that sounds like I have the centre speaker running as well.

Have it connected to the pre-outs from the surround primarily but it it has a few other inputs so I've got the CD hooked up directly to it and might think about a good DAC down the track.

Thanks again for the tips.

Cheers
Pete

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