Chivas

Valve amp suggestions for Harbeth 40.1

Recommended Posts

This.
You're going to struggle to replicate what the 845s do so well. Possibly a really good 300B PP design, but that's likely to go well out of budget and the ones within budget are likely to sound like a step back. Very little else in the price range here has the sound that a well-designed 845 circuit can manage.
If (and it's a very big if) you can find one, a Mastersound 845, but one that's been sorted. The filament supply board can be an issue. An even bigger 'if you can find' is the originally mentioned Puresound 845s. They use an interstage design rather than capacitor coupling, which drives the 845s much better. I've only ever heard a pair once, but they made mincemeat of most of the competition.


Thanks for the reply Richard. As above, the Puresound 845 is in the same price league as the Icon mk2, provided you can find a pair like you mentioned. Do you think they will be an improvement on the Icons and more importantly, be able to drive the Harbeth 40.1’s with grip? The interstage design will be a massive plus as I’ve had my issues with the capacitor coupling as you know




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to have the Mastersound 845's and they really are superb.  I sold them to fund the purchase of my Conrad Johnson 350.  It was an itch I had to scratch but I would be more than happy if I still had the Mastersounds.

Personally I found the combination of them with the matching preamp a bit too cosy for my tastes but partnered with a CJ pre (which is a bit leaner) they were fantastic.

The 300b monos are meant to be pretty special too.

Euan

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Lurch said:

The one amp I would like to get here for a listen is the MasterSound 845 Reference integrated (mk1). I heard one at Scalford in 2017 and it was sublime, a really liquid mellifluous sound, great detail and tone. 

Their monos are supposed to be pretty good too, I know their preamps are good as I'm running a PHL5 with my IAs. 

Hi John,

Guess what i'm listening to right now :D, and for exactly the same reason (and same room, at the same time) as you. would bring it down to you, but it's sooo bloody heavy...

On this thread note, i heard some 845 mono blocks built by Mark at Malvern Audio research - very, very good with his DHT preamp & horns

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Super Wammer
1 hour ago, joolz said:

Hi John,

Guess what i'm listening to right now :D, and for exactly the same reason (and same room, at the same time) as you. would bring it down to you, but it's sooo bloody heavy...

On this thread note, i heard some 845 mono blocks built by Mark at Malvern Audio research - very, very good with his DHT preamp & horns

Does that mean it won't be appearing at one of my BOs anywhen soon? Think I will have to get the Southcoast posse to adjust your thinking. :whistle:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator
2 hours ago, Chivas said:


Thanks for the reply Richard. As above, the Puresound 845 is in the same price league as the Icon mk2, provided you can find a pair like you mentioned. Do you think they will be an improvement on the Icons and more importantly, be able to drive the Harbeth 40.1’s with grip? The interstage design will be a massive plus as I’ve had my issues with the capacitor coupling as you know




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Simple answer is that I can't guarantee, as I've not had any serious experience with the 40.1s. However, if your current Icons manage, then I would take an educated guess that the Puresound would do better. Probably notably so. Looking only at specs, I think the Puresound simply delivers more output power. The transformer coupling is better not because it eliminates capacitors per se, but because the design makes it easier to drive the 845 grids cleanly to greater voltages.

Smaller Harbs work stunningly well with lower-output valve amps, but I'd be wary of the combination with the 40.21s, as the bass drivers look as though they'll be much happier with higher current delivery.

This is definitely a case where listening is near vital, but that of course becomes an issue as it depends on finding amps to borrow, which is not going to be that easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless your definitely buying used, the way forward is to have a shortlist of what you want to try. Find dealers that are happy to let you borrow kit and play. I have two dealers (not local) that would be happy to do that for me. Thing is, can’t afford anything atm lol. 

Having just got the little Sugden a21a again and back on the Harbeths, I struggle to know what would be better at the price point. I prefer the baby sug over the bigger boys although one of my dealers who knows me is quite happy to loan me an ANV-50 just to see what all the fuss is about and is not expecting me to buy one lol. That’s a good dealer 👍🏻

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Super Wammer
Posted (edited)

I sold my Icon Audio 845 mk2 a couple of years ago to get Pass Labs XA30.8 which in truth I found did just about everything that valves do with music plus a bit more so maybe add pass labs to your list but I personally didn’t get on with the .5 series. 

Edited by Fourlegs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if you need to contact guy he advertises here 

https://www.pinkfishmedia.net/forum/threads/sme-3009-s2.227100/

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

we recently used a big 70 watt high end with some shl5plus which was ok but wayy..... better with the msb . better control and beautiful sound 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A toughie.
AN power amps would probably end up being 300Bs as their 211s are very expensive. The Quests and Conquests are very refined 300Bs and would make a good sound with your M3s. I worry about how loud they would go and still keep the bass under control on your big Harbeths. They certainly work well with the SHL5s but the 40.1 is a bigger job. Do you have a big room or like LOUD music? Their sensitivities are very similar but that 12" bass unit ??
The Unison Research amplifiers can generate more power (S6 35w/channel of Class A) so may be able to keep the 40.1s under better control. There are other amps in their range that give the same type of sound but provide a more detailed and refined sound. Worth a listen as their aesthetics are a lot better than those of Audionote. In fact, being Italian they look lovely.
You could try Audio Research and their VS110/5 can be inexpensive used, have the more modern KT120 sound and produce a very neutral sound. Of course, the Ref 75/150 is a lot more refined and take the better KT150 valves. But they have a more modern sound. It is not bright and dry like a lot of SS but they do not have the warm pleasant sound of the AN and UR amplifiers.
The Icon Audio 845s certainly have the grunt, dynamics and power needed for the big Harbs. The other amps will probably sound more refined and detailed and for the AN and UR a better 3D soundstage.
My best advice is get thee to some bake-offs and hear what the differences are or e-mail a few ultra generous wammers who own said amps.
A quick tip, they are all suckers for cakes.    


Hi George

Many thanks for your insightful comments as always. I will add the UR and AR amps to the list to consider. Do you know why the AN 211 amps are so expensive? I would’ve loved to try AN amps in my system, but unfortunately the more affordable amps are all flea powered and seem to be only suitable for AN speakers or other HE designs, so probably won’t be seen in most real world systems.

I will not completely discount switching out to all AN amps and speakers to complete an all AN signal chain from cart to speakers, but it will have to be cost effective, which is probably an oxymoron when used in the same breath as AN. To do the rest of my system justice, I will have to be looking at level 3 I guess

C


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator

The problem with 845 and more so the 211 amplifiers is the size and quality of components needed.  So if you go for 211s they operate at a much higher voltage (1250V)  to 300Bs and that requires much larger and better-specified components. The main PSU transformer needs to be even bigger than 300B ones.

Some companies make 211/845 amps for much less, Icon Audio and the Chinese Consance I heard here sounded very good and they are great value. But a quick inspection showed that nearly all of the components inside could be replaced with much better variants and the quality improved. Of course, up goes the price. I agree with you on costs as the all copper 211 Jinro is close to £20K.

If you are interested in a good AN amp then call them. They occasionally get customers wanting to upgrade and may have the odd amplifier for sale. Obviously, their dealers have a few used amps for sale and as they are supported it takes a bit of the risk away from buying used.  

Go slowly and carefully with lots of listening as the Icon Audio is a well designed and built product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The transformer coupling is better not because it eliminates capacitors per se, but because the design makes it easier to drive the 845 grids cleanly to greater voltages.



Would it be possible for a competent tech to modify a circuit from capacitor coupling to interstage transformer. I presume it is not as simple as replacing the cap with an appropriate transformer?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But a quick inspection showed that nearly all of the components inside could be replaced with much better variants and the quality improved. Of course, up goes the price....Go slowly and carefully with lots of listening as the Icon Audio is a well designed and built product.

Ahhh man, what have you done? Now I am becoming curious to see how the Icons can be improved with some DIY and selective component upgrades!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator
7 minutes ago, Chivas said:


Ahhh man, what have you done? Now I am becoming curious to see how the Icons can be improved with some DIY and selective component upgrades!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I suspect our Rabski will be able to better help. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator
Posted (edited)

You rang?

Simple answers: possible? Yes. Sensible and cost effective? No.

Basically, the component cost that matters with serious valve power amps is primarily transformers, and they cost. Changing from capacitor coupling to interstage would be a serious undertaking and obviously would need suitable transformers. You could get them hand-wound (Dave Slagle in the US among others), but that takes time and many beer tokens. Various companies produce suitable iron, but for an example, a pair of suitable Tango (now ISO) or Hashimotos will be about 1000 euros. Then, you'd need to look at the circuit. The driver stage will need to be revised to drive the tubes properly, not to mention that a pair of interstage transformers are very unlikely to fit in the existing chassis.

Fot output and mains transformers, the problem of size may be less of an issue, but the problem of cost won't be. To better what you already have, you're probably looking at around 1500 euros for output transformers. Sowter will custom wind mains transformers, but that doesn't come cheap either. Go mad off the Audio Note price list and you could quite easily spend upwards of £25000 on a pair of output and interstage transformers. Or at least, you could have, but you can't at the moment because they've stopped supplying parts to concentrate on their own builds.

Of course, you can get lucky. For my (yes, I know how long it's taken) 300B PP build, I managed to score a pair of new Hashimoto output transformers from the US distributor at half list, as a cancelled order. I also got (very) lucky with the exchange rate and timing, and got a pair of Slagle interstages hand wound that ended up around £450 landed here, but add the £1200 or so that I spent with Sowter and the iron alone still comes to a serious lump of cash.

Basically, if you're building from scratch, it makes sense. However, economies of scale mean that this is a case where trading up is going to be much better value. Especially as seriously modified equipment will not show a good return come resale time.

For 'sensible' upgrades, change capacitors and valves for better types. Otherwise, sell up and buy something better. Or keep what you have and buy more music  :cool:

Edited by rabski

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.