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jffryhrrsn
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First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

Greetings. I'm interested in assembling a system that I will use only for listening to music (mostly jazz). I would like to have either an integrated tube amp or separate tube pre-amp and tube amp, and a turntable. I have a budget of approximately $3,000 - $4,000, and I already have speakers picked out (which will not come out of my $3,000 budget). So, I have $3,000 - $4,000 to spend on amplification and a turntable.

I would appreciate any recommendations you may have for makes and models that might be suitable for my situation.

Jan Vigne
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

Well, if you already have speakers picked out, you would want to buy an amplifier that drove them satisfactorily and without incident. But we don't know what the speakers are that you've picked out so we can't make any insightful suggestions at this time. It's possible you've picked out speakers that are not suitable for use with a tube power amplifier. If that were the case, what would you do?

jffryhrrsn
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

Thanks for your reply. As you can see I am completely new to this topic, so forgive me if I omit important information.

The speakers I am contemplating buying are the Aperion Audio Intimus 632-LR, along with an 8" subwoofer.

My listening room is approximately 13 x 15.

If you have any suggestions for better speakers for a similar cost (~$1,000 total), I would be happy to hear about that too.

Jan Vigne
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

Now that you've identified the speakers, you should find some information regarding their suitability with tube amplifiers. Look for measurements which indicate the low impedance point(s) of the speaker's total impedance curve. Any information regarding the electrical phase angle of the speaker would be beneficial. Reviews which suggest the speaker will be either a simple or a difficult load for the amplifier would be helpful. If you cannot find this sort of information in print, call the dealer or manufacturer and ask for the specifics of the speaker's load and its compatibility with tube amplifiers.

http://www.symphonysound.com/articles/tubefriendly.html

http://www.decware.com/newsite/mainmenu.htm?/zenspeakers.htm&intro

Otherwise, your question is quite broad and difficult to answer. Are you moving from other components to this system? If so, what components are you familiar with? What have you considered in the way of equipment and what are your reasons for choosing these components? Why tubes? What are your hestitations toward purchasing these components? Are you working with a good dealer at this time?

jffryhrrsn
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

I've done some research and concluded that my initial speaker selection might not be very tube-friendly. I am now leaning toward the LS3/5A V2. I have read a *lot* of reviews - mostly glowing - about the predecessor to the V2, and have also read what reviews I can find of the V2, all of which likewise seem to be very positive.

The only arguable downside to the LS3/5A appears to be a lack of bass, and there is a pretty big difference of opinion as to whether one can compensate by use of a subwoofer.

Does anyone own a set of the V2s and, if so, what do you think? Also, I would be happy to hear suggestions for alternatives to the V2s.

I would also appreciate suggestions for tube amps that would mate well with the LS3/5a. Thanks!

Jan Vigne
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

I own a pair of the original 15 Ohm 3/5a's. The attempt in creating the V2 - and a very successful attempt from all accounts, I've not heard it - was to recreate the original speaker in every way other than specific drive units. The new speaker sounds and measures very much like the old unit and presents some of the same problems when mating with a subwoofer.

There really are two problems to deal with when choosing a subwoofer to partner with the 3/5a's. The first is the midbass bump of the 3/5a which gives the speaker far more appparent bass extension than the little 4" "woofer" can manage in such a diminuitive enclosure. However, for many listeners the midbass bump centered between 80-120Hz gives a feel of bass response that satisfies their needs. Since few instruments extend their range beneath 40Hz and with far higher energy typical at the first harmonic of 40Hz than at the fundamental itself most people, with a broad range of material, will hear the sound of bass without the lowest octave being high in level. Additionally, the sealed enclosure of the 3/5a permits a very gradual bass roll off that combined with a bit of in room boost provides extension far beneath what the specifications would suggest. In room my speakers respond to a 28Hz signal with an audible level though this is significantly beneath the response potential at 80Hz.

The second problem with the 3/5a and subwoofers is the apparent speed and tone of the 4" woofer. While speed is not dictated by driver diameter or material, most contemporary subs meant for home theater use are meant more for grunt than music. The overall "tone" of the 3/5a has been one of its strong suits since its introduction and most subs don't qualify as mates for this reason either. Badly mated subs all too often simply draw attention to the fact you're trying to add something that just isn't there in the rest of the speaker.

Every room is different and every listener hears various aspects of the reproduced sound differently than the next, so it is important to place a speaker such as the 3/5a in your room and listen before making any decisions about subs. How the 3/5a sounds in your room will determine which direction to go with a subwoofer. Several listeners have insisted I have a sub hidden away somewhere in the room when listening to my naked 3/5a's.

The first thing I would advise is to find a sub with a fourth order (-24dB) crossover filter on the low pass side. Set the crossover as low as possible, I have mine set for 35Hz, and experiment from there. The steep filter action will allow the sub to act as an adjunct to the main speaker rather than compete with it over a broad frequency range. I find a continuously variable phase adjustment beneficial also since my room has peculiarities when it comes to deep bass and the sub is placed away from the main speakers. Both of these items can be found on the Hsu subwoofers which I have paired with my speakers with great success. The Hsu subs use a B.A.S.H. plate amplifier which can be purchased separately on line from various sources. While I very much liked the Hsu sub with my speakers I finally opted for a DIY sub with two smaller low frequency drivers in a quarter wave enclosure for a touch more transparency, especially when mating to small low frequency drivers in the satellites.

You can also consider the Spendor and Harbeth clones of the 3/5a. Both have been reviewed extensively, both come from the BBC heritage that originated the LS3/5a and both offer new thoughts on a classic speaker design. If I were looking for a speaker to replace my 3/5a's while still providing a similar balance of virtues, I would go for the Harbeth it being a touch smoother, more extended and capable of greater bass extension by a smidgen. All three speakers share a common DNA while each presents its own case for how the original LS3/5a would have evolved.

jffryhrrsn
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Re: First Tube Amp/Phono System - Please Help

Thanks once again for your informative reply. I am checking out the Harbeths and Spendors now, and so far based simply on reviews alone the Harbeths generally seem to be perceived to be slightly better than the Spendors and the LS3/As. Of course it would be difficult to impossible for me to audition the three models side by side, so I will be forced more or less to make my initial purchasing decision without the most important piece of information of all: how I think they sound in my listening room.

I should add that I have purchased a Rega P1. This will be the first turntable I've owned, so I wanted to go very "entry level", but I am optimistic based on everything I've read that it will sound great if I choose its mates wisely.

That brings up the third piece of the puzzle: amplification. After auditioning some amps (all out of my price range), both tube and solid state, I have decided that I really like the qualities of the sound that came from the tube amps I heard. Owning a tube amp would be another first for me, as I currently have a Denon 3803 powering our home theater system. The Denon is excellent for that purpose, but as I stated in my original post I want to assemble a system with music as the focus. Do you have any suggestion for a tube amp that would mate well with the LS3/5A, Harbeths or Spendors? Since these speakers are all fairly similar, I assume that an amp that would work with one of them would also be likely to work with the others, but I may be wrong about that.

As far as price goes, it would be great if I could keep it to around $1,500 or so.

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