plasticpenguin

Why a valve amp?

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Best advice I can give is that valves can sound from rich and warm through to hard and bright. A lot of people go to valves to get a rich warm midrange.  They are often considered to have a more "organic and tuneful bass". All of this is of course distortion introduced but in a good way. There are some types of distortion that our ears like. 

If you are going valve figure out the sound you want then read the reviews around the web as to the types of sound each valve gives off. If they are cheap enough and you don't need many you can try a few different ones and see what you like. Someone recommending Mullard as "the best" doesn't mean you'll like it. In my case adding a Mullard dulled the sound and made my system sound bloated. 

Tuning the sound is the real benefit of valves, it is also the downside as it can get addictive and cost a lot. Most valves are at their best when New Old Stock, which means made years ago and if considered as the best you can get, can mean a LOT of money. 

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Hmm a bit more info I can add. 

Some valve amps are considered "flea power" which are only suitable for horns or speakers that are very easy to drive. So you should consider the power of your amp versus your speakers. If I put 7 watt monoblocks on my current speakers I think they'd blow up. 

If you are on a very low budget buying super cheap valves is typically a bad idea. Some of the ultra cheap stuff doesn't sound very good at all so you won't get the best out of the amp. 

As a generalisation some valves have a characteristic sound, the 300B is considered one of the warmest valves but isn't very powerful in the bass. The 6550 is a brighter more punchy valve. In general chose the amp based on power, recommendations and the typical sound it has, then look at tuning it with the valves you can put in it. 

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1 minute ago, Tim F said:

Hmm a bit more info I can add. 

Some valve amps are considered "flea power" which are only suitable for horns or speakers that are very easy to drive. So you should consider the power of your amp versus your speakers. If I put 7 watt monoblocks on my current speakers I think they'd blow up. 

If you are on a very low budget buying super cheap valves is typically a bad idea. Some of the ultra cheap stuff doesn't sound very good at all so you won't get the best out of the amp. 

As a generalisation some valves have a characteristic sound, the 300B is considered one of the warmest valves but isn't very powerful in the bass. The 6550 is a brighter more punchy valve. In general chose the amp based on power, recommendations and the typical sound it has, then look at tuning it with the valves you can put in it. 

Agree as a rough rule of thumb, matching power output to your speakers requirements makes sense.

what didn’t make sense was the absolute grip and dynamics a 7W SJS valve amp had on my relatively inefficient Snells when a kindly Wammer brought it round recently.

As ever, home demo with all your kit is the only way to know.

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1 hour ago, chebby said:

Prima Luna Prologue Classic. £1700 and forgot it. Auto adaptive biasing.

It’s the one I will get if I can ever afford it.

https://www.analogueseduction.net/integrated-amplifiers/primaluna-prologue-classic-integrated-amplifier.html

I've been so tempted...£900 off...and Sainsburies offering an interest free credit card..

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Primaluna-Dialogue-Premium-Integrated-Black-Clearance-BNIB/264421828724?hash=item3d90c4e874:g:DwcAAOSw2bhdSUup

Edited by The Chronicals
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19 hours ago, plasticpenguin said:

what are the advantages over a good SS amp

I am not bored with my hifi, probably the main long term advantage....... I have been running, getting on for 10 years, a late 60's stereogram amp (de cost reduced a bit) into a pair of re foamed Wharefadale Dovedales 3s. They sound lovely. At the other end of my office some NS1000s and a Sony TA F730es, that's lovely as well, but in a more cerebral visceral way. The valves and Dovedale's get used a lot more, bit like some comfy slippers, but they do bass and dynamics on a slightly limited scale but loud enough for most normal listening, about 3 watts. The stereogram amp's bass is better than the Quad ii's curiously.

Edited by dave
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Good valve amps are - to my ears in my system, compared to my solid state amps, plus a few others at various bake-offs - the best amplifiers for sounding as if there is nothing there between the source and the speakers in the midrange. We are talking about the last bit, the cherry on the top, the icing on the cake of midrange transparency when compared to decent solid state amplifiers. It's not the sort of difference that I think is worth spending a lot of money over.

To my ears with my speakers, valve amps have never been able to get as transparent a bass as my best solid state amps (monster high end 1980's pro amp and minimalist 2010's direct from manufacturer power amp). Although with some speakers it's so close as to not be worth worrying about.

Not so good valve amps, sound too much like valve amps to my ears. Lush. Or pipe and slippers. Lacking the magical disappearing performance of the better valve amps.

And then there's the speaker matching. I have some very SET valve amp friendly speakers, as I love huge high efficiency old school speakers (regardless of the amplifier they are used with). I wouldn't be confident that my best sounding valve amps would win any bake-offs with sub 89db efficient speakers...

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22 minutes ago, lindsayt said:

Good valve amps are - to my ears in my system, compared to my solid state amps, plus a few others at various bake-offs - the best amplifiers for sounding as if there is nothing there between the source and the speakers in the midrange. We are talking about the last bit, the cherry on the top, the icing on the cake of midrange transparency when compared to decent solid state amplifiers. It's not the sort of difference that I think is worth spending a lot of money over.

To my ears with my speakers, valve amps have never been able to get as transparent a bass as my best solid state amps (monster high end 1980's pro amp and minimalist 2010's direct from manufacturer power amp). Although with some speakers it's so close as to not be worth worrying about.

Not so good valve amps, sound too much like valve amps to my ears. Lush. Or pipe and slippers. Lacking the magical disappearing performance of the better valve amps.

And then there's the speaker matching. I have some very SET valve amp friendly speakers, as I love huge high efficiency old school speakers (regardless of the amplifier they are used with). I wouldn't be confident that my best sounding valve amps would win any bake-offs with sub 89db efficient speakers...

That's interesting. The word transparency is key with the Leema, especially the higher midrange and treble. Nearly all the amps I've demoed over the years have been sub-2k, and in terms of taut bass and transparency, the Leema is hard to beat. Not saying for one moment it's perfect, because it isn't. The things I don't like is perhaps the midrange could be slightly smoother. That said, if it was little too smooth it could take away the good aspects... I'm just guessing, I don't know for sure.

I will investigate Croft amps a little further as they (aesthetically) appeal more than traditional valve amp.

Cheers. 

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@plasticpenguin  PP,

When I heard the Line Magnetic LM 518 just about a year ago, I was, to put it mildly, blown away.  The emotion and energy conveyed was something I had never heard before, and in one session, thru the ProAc D30rs, I understood what all the fuss was about valves.  I was tempted right then and there to buy it, but with a little boy floating around risk vs reward was too high (and as Cno likes to say, the leader of the opposition was having none of THAT in the house).  Hearing that amp was the main reason I sought out the hybrid I currently own which has some slight "tubey" flavour.  (I wish it had more)

Interestingly, when I returned the ProAcs he let me borrow for home demo three days later, the LM was gone.  He sold it to the first guy after me who heard it.

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Super Wammer
15 hours ago, rabski said:

211s and 845s were designed for radio transmitters originally

Just on this, I think the 845 being designed for radio transmitters is an old wives tale.

edit, having done a bit of looking up I might have to eat my words or even my hat on that. It does seen that the 845 was used in transmitters but also for audio in the 1930s. I wonder whether its original use was audio (cinemas?) or transmitters?

Edited by Fourlegs

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2 hours ago, Fourlegs said:

Just on this, I think the 845 being designed for radio transmitters is an old wives tale.

edit, having done a bit of looking up I might have to eat my words or even my hat on that. It does seen that the 845 was used in transmitters but also for audio in the 1930s. I wonder whether its original use was audio (cinemas?) or transmitters?

The original RCA and Amperex datasheets describe it as a modulator or AF power amplifier, though Amperex describe it as a 'transmitting tube'.

My money would be on transmitters. Cinemas (movie theaters I suppose would be more accurate!) used seriously efficient horns and images suggest fairly standard PP amps. I can find a few images of transmitting stuff that uses big triodes as drivers for transmitting tubes, which looks logical.

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15 minutes ago, toprepairman said:

Hi Pengy.

I'm in KT22 so very close to you. 

you can always pop round for a chat.

Henry.

Is KT22 the type of valves used or a postcode? :^

  • Haha 3

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7 hours ago, ChemMan said:

@plasticpenguin  PP,

When I heard the Line Magnetic LM 518 just about a year ago, I was, to put it mildly, blown away.  The emotion and energy conveyed was something I had never heard before, and in one session, thru the ProAc D30rs, I understood what all the fuss was about valves.  I was tempted right then and there to buy it, but with a little boy floating around risk vs reward was too high (and as Cno likes to say, the leader of the opposition was having none of THAT in the house).  Hearing that amp was the main reason I sought out the hybrid I currently own which has some slight "tubey" flavour.  (I wish it had more)

Interestingly, when I returned the ProAcs he let me borrow for home demo three days later, the LM was gone.  He sold it to the first guy after me who heard it.

Cheers. Yeah I don't doubt the quality of some valve amps but the Line Magnetic amps look fugly.

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