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rping's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 8 2006 - 5:00pm
Tube amp to get started

Hi guys,

I've been thinking about getting into tube amplifiers for a little while now. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on one that I can get started with. I don't want to spend that much money in the beginning (i.e. less than $500). This means that I am looking at a used amp.

Do you have any recommendations for a decent used amp that would be in this price range? I want something I can tweak and experiment with.

Any help and suggestions you can give would be quite helpful.


rmilewsk's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: May 27 2006 - 7:10pm
Re: Tube amp to get started

On that same note I would love to seem an article in Stereophile on the following topics. How much more work does it take to keep a tube amp in good working order than a solid state amp? What type of maintenance would I need to undertake? How often would I need to complete this maintenance? What type of tubes are available and what are the main sonic characteristics?

mmole's picture
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 31 2005 - 7:29pm
Re: Tube amp to get started

Hey Rich and rmilewsk: I hope you get a high volume response to these posts. I can share my experience and respond to both of you. I've used and loved a Sonic Frontiers SFS-80 since I bought it new in 1994. The bias adjustment is manual and takes about 5 minutes every few months. I've re-tubed it once. And that's it for maintenance. My understanding is that they are available used for about $500 but I am no expert on that market. But please gather more input on used recommendations and maintenance experience. You're on the right track; tubes are the way to go.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Tube amp to get started

Everyone and anyone interested in trying out a tube amplifier should begin with a Dynaco Stereo 70. They are still available for a modest price and have remained the most successful amplifier in consumer audio history for a very good reason. They basically get it right. For the last almost fifty years, the modifiers have had their way with the ST-70 and you will have numerous possibilites to consider. Most of the modifications retain the budget approach the Dynaco line was built upon. And, unless you really manage to screw it up, you can sell a ST-70 for about the same money you paid or possibly even make some money on the venture.

You will learn more about tube amps by working with a ST-70 than any other amplifier I can think of. The UltraLinear outputs are the basis for the vast majority of tube amplifiers which have come along since Dynaco introduced the concept of melding triode and pentode sound to gain the best of both types. If you prefer, the ST-70 can easily be wired in triode operation for a taste of what the expensive single ended amps are doing. Just place "Dynaco ST-70" into a search engine for a host of information regarding this amplifier.

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