Valve Amps - advice needed please - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 08-08-2012, 02:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I had a quick play with a Yarland FV34B valve amp today and fell in love with the rich warm sound that emulated from the speakers and also was quite surprised at the price which comes within my budget.

I know absolutely nothing about valve amps and need some direction please.

The speakers that I have are Image 411

SPECIFICATIONS
System type: 2.5-way, rear ported
HF driver: Morel 28mm soft dome
Bass/mid driver: Morel 14cm DPC cone
Bass driver: Morel 14cm DPC cone
Room response: 40Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 89dB/1 watt
Power rating: 140 watts
Impedance: 6 ohms nominal
Crossover: 280Hz and 2800Hz

Would valve amps drive these ok or would I be stressing the amp?

At 6 ohms - would you run the amp at 4 or 8 ohms?

Is this the best model of Yarland to use or should I consider others?

My music tastes vary from Pink Floyd, Cold Chisel, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore, Dire Straits, Eagles, Eric Clapton, smooth jazz, blues, rock etc etc.

I'm in the sussing out stage at the moment and will look at getting something closer to xmas.

Any advice appreciated.
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post #2 of 19 Old 08-08-2012, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaimaikid View Post

Would valve amps drive these ok or would I be stressing the amp?
At 6 ohms - would you run the amp at 4 or 8 ohms?

1st, trust only your own ears.

e.g. I remember being in a high-end hi-fi store in Santa Monica several decades ago. At that time the dealer had a low priced (or mid-priced?) pair of mono tube amps that was the next step up from the lowly Stereo 70. It was like I had to beg the sales guy in order to get him to turn them on so that I could give it a listen.

My reaction was: "Wow, listen to that!"

And the sales guy responded with: "What's so special about that?"

2nd, with regard to tube amps, they require a lot of futzing with, so don't overspend with your initial purchase. Meaning better safe than sorry.

3rd, tube amps are very forgiving when they are over-driven, so you'd need input from someone that knows what minimum power your speakers need.

Another factor is how loud you usually set the volume to.

4th, try the amp(s) at both their 4 ohm and 8 ohm setting and let your ears pick which one provides better sound.

If both settings sound the same, perhaps someone here will say which might be the better choice and why.

5th, while I currently have both tube pre and power amps, I usually listen via solid state.

The best is the enemy of the good. Voltaire (1694-1778)

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post #3 of 19 Old 08-09-2012, 03:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaimaikid View Post

I had a quick play with a Yarland FV34B valve amp today and fell in love with the rich warm sound that emulated from the speakers and also was quite surprised at the price which comes within my budget.
I know absolutely nothing about valve amps and need some direction please.
The speakers that I have are Image 411
SPECIFICATIONS
System type: 2.5-way, rear ported
HF driver: Morel 28mm soft dome
Bass/mid driver: Morel 14cm DPC cone
Bass driver: Morel 14cm DPC cone
Room response: 40Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 89dB/1 watt
Power rating: 140 watts
Impedance: 6 ohms nominal
Crossover: 280Hz and 2800Hz
Would valve amps drive these ok or would I be stressing the amp?
At 6 ohms - would you run the amp at 4 or 8 ohms?
Is this the best model of Yarland to use or should I consider others?
My music tastes vary from Pink Floyd, Cold Chisel, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore, Dire Straits, Eagles, Eric Clapton, smooth jazz, blues, rock etc etc.
I'm in the sussing out stage at the moment and will look at getting something closer to xmas.
Any advice appreciated.

For the most part, the audible differences between tubed amps result from their relatively high source impedances interacting with loudspeaker impedance curves.

While some tubed amps have enough nonlinear distortion that it could be actually audible, most do not particularly at the power levels they are typically used, A 10 watt tubed amp might get run hard enough to become audibly nonlinear.

So what comes down to for people who are looking for a pleasing sound is whether you want a more-or-less fixed sound that is cast in cement (subject to the certain effects of the tubes audibly degrading) or are actually seeking the sound you prefer. If you want the sound you prefer which of course is known only to you, then you don't get a tubed amp at all, but get a good clean SS amp and an equalizer.
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post #4 of 19 Old 08-09-2012, 11:43 AM
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Given the dynamics of the types of music you listen to, I don't think a vacuum-tube amplifier is going to satisfy you.

You would need a tube amplifier rated for a MINIMUM of 80 watts per channel, and no less! These are expensive.

Also, bass from tube amps tends to be "soft" and lack definition, even with the higher-power ones, and that is probably not what you want. That is better for classical music, not what you listen to. A high-quality solid-state amplifier should be much better for you.

I suggest that you consider either the Musical Fidelity M3i integrated amplifier or the Music Hall A70.2 amplifier, which are excellent-sounding amplifiers that will give you much better-quality bass and do a better job of driving your speakers than a tube amplifier.

Even at average listening levels of one watt, peaks in the music will require 100 watts to avoid clipping, and those amplifiers can deliver it.
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post #5 of 19 Old 08-17-2012, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for replies - gives me a bit to think about...
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post #6 of 19 Old 08-17-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Given the dynamics of the types of music you listen to, I don't think a vacuum-tube amplifier is going to satisfy you.
You would need a tube amplifier rated for a MINIMUM of 80 watts per channel, and no less! These are expensive.
Also, bass from tube amps tends to be "soft" and lack definition, even with the higher-power ones, and that is probably not what you want. That is better for classical music, not what you listen to. A high-quality solid-state amplifier should be much better for you.
I suggest that you consider either the Musical Fidelity M3i integrated amplifier or the Music Hall A70.2 amplifier, which are excellent-sounding amplifiers that will give you much better-quality bass and do a better job of driving your speakers than a tube amplifier.
Even at average listening levels of one watt, peaks in the music will require 100 watts to avoid clipping, and those amplifiers can deliver it.

This all tends to be outdated information. While I am not familiar in the least with the speakers in question, I can say that tube power does not need to lack definition in bass. My Maggies are notorious for not being good on the bottom end, and not only do I get visceral amounts of bass from them with my tube amps, they are tight, punchy, clean and very accurate down low. There are many more modern tube designs that are easily as good as sand amps. Tube amps also tend to be very high current designs. Don't touch one that hasn't had time for the power caps to discharge! eek.gif Speakers are damaged, not when the amp runs out of watts, but rather when they run out of current. Because tube amps dissipate current more slowly, they also enter clipping in a much softer, barely perceptible way. Therefore watts in this case are less relevant. I have experienced 20 watt tube amps that can drive two ohm loads to levels that would cause some to leave the room.

Finnicky??? Any amp can be that, but what I think is being referred to is that tubes do have different sonic characteristics and can be very expensive to replace. My amps have almost 500.00 in tubes. Getting the right mix of front end and power tubes to deliver can be a major pain, but once you have it right, it is very rewarding. Tubes do sound better that sand IMHO. Take a look to Rogue Audio. They have several amps of varied power output that are superb. You can even ger a set of M120/150 monoblocks on the used scene for about 1500 or less.
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post #7 of 19 Old 08-18-2012, 03:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Can you damage tube amps by running them too high in the volume?

I was told that you shouldn't go over about two thirds on the volume control which is about where I would listen to some music
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-18-2012, 07:21 AM
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No, you will not damage the amplifier.



Quote:
Originally Posted by kaimaikid View Post

Can you damage tube amps by running them too high in the volume?
I was told that you shouldn't go over about two thirds on the volume control which is about where I would listen to some music
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-18-2012, 10:02 AM
 
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Quote:
1st, trust only your own ears.
You sure didn't use your ears only in this e.g.:
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

e.g. I remember being in a high-end hi-fi store in Santa Monica several decades ago. At that time the dealer had a low priced (or mid-priced?) pair of mono tube amps that was the next step up from the lowly Stereo 70. It was like I had to beg the sales guy in order to get him to turn them on so that I could give it a listen.
My reaction was: "Wow, listen to that!"

Quote:
2nd, with regard to tube amps, they require a lot of futzing with,
That's not true. There are many tube amps in consumer market that are just plug and play.
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-18-2012, 10:46 AM
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Also companies like Primaluna have auto bias features that make tube rolling a snap.smile.gif
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post #11 of 19 Old 08-18-2012, 08:30 PM
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I have several tube amps like the Bob Latino ST-70, a Transcendent Sound T-16 OTL, a pair of Bottlehead Paramount 300Bs and a pair of the Audio Note Kit "Legend" Parallel SE 300B monoblocks. The ST-70 might get checked every two months to see if the bias has drifted (it hasn't) and the T-16 will get checked every now and then and it has yet to drift anywhere. The rest are self biasing and stable.

The ST-70 is fitted with Genalex KT-88 power tubes (Russian) and just might hit 33 to 35 Watts per side. The T-16 has 16 6C19Pi triodes (Russian) and is maybe 15 Watts per side. I have used them both with an old pair of DCM Timewindows which still sound good and can absorb up to 150 Watts and are not overly sensitive. I think they measure out at 87dB. These tube amps can drive them quite well to ear splitting levels and still sound good.

I take exception to the statement that tube amps can lack bass definition. The Audio Note 300B SETs have possibly the best bass definition I have ever heard from any amp, solid state or tubed. Deep, well controlled and defined. Every note is crisp and clear and it all sounds like you are in a club sitting in front and the sound goes down to your toes. Think Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick playing with Peter Gabriel. This is due in no small part to the quality of the output transformers that Audio Note has. In many of the modern amps being made, the parts are far superior to what was available even 30 years ago. Resistors, capacitors, transformers and chokes are made to much higher and tighter tolerances than was possible way back when.

The other thing I might take issue with is the presentation of sound. In my bad old solid state days I would have a tendency to crank it in order to hear the little sounds like the soft brushing of the drum skins or the intake of a singers breath. With tubed gear, that is not necessary. It appears to be all there so I don't have to crank it up to hear it. I'm finding that my listening levels are lower now since all the musical information is being presented instead of being veiled over.

YMMV

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post #12 of 19 Old 08-24-2012, 02:02 PM
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I think sometimes when people say tubes lack bass definition or are fuzzy-warm sounding, they are repeating a stereotype born 20 years ago when a lot of people using tube gear wanted that very sound. It was nostalgic for those recalling of the 1950's. You'll still run into some old timers who really prefer it that way occasionally. The reality is, though, that MOST modern tube amps are not that way.

They are also far less high maintenance than they used to be. There are numerous brands on the market that auto-bias so you never really have to do anything but hook it up and turn it on. NOS tubes can be ridiculously expensive, but new production is getting better and better lately with the renewed interest in tube gear, and you can get reasonably priced amps that sound great right out of the box. If you choose well (an amp that doesn't run the tubes too hard and uses types that have long life) you can have an amp that will be trouble free for years before you even need to think about replacement tubes. (I don't know anything about Yarland, though, so I can't comment specifically to that)

Tim Evans
East Street Audio
Onix, Melody, & ACA
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post #13 of 19 Old 08-24-2012, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

1st, trust only your own ears.

^Here is the best advice anyone can give you.

If you like the sound of tubes, then get a tube amp. Don't listen to the solid state naysayers. You aren't going to get tube sound out of solid state. You can come close, but it costs a fortune.

The other thing you need to do is audition the amplifier with YOUR speakers, not the ones at the shop. Most tube amps have higher output impedance than most solid state amps, and there is more interaction between the speakers and amplifier.

The tubes in a properly designed amplifier will last a very long time. I have a tube amp with tubes that are, get this, 50 years old. I've tried replacing them with newer tubes, and the old ones sound better.

Also don't forget to put your tube amp in a place where you can enjoy the warm glow of tubes. Enjoy your new tube amp, and the music it puts out.

Michael
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post #14 of 19 Old 08-26-2012, 03:45 AM
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^Here is the best advice anyone can give you.
If you like the sound of tubes, then get a tube amp. Don't listen to the solid state naysayers. You aren't going to get tube sound out of solid state. You can come close, but it costs a fortune.
The other thing you need to do is audition the amplifier with YOUR speakers, not the ones at the shop. Most tube amps have higher output impedance than most solid state amps, and there is more interaction between the speakers and amplifier.
The tubes in a properly designed amplifier will last a very long time. I have a tube amp with tubes that are, get this, 50 years old. I've tried replacing them with newer tubes, and the old ones sound better.
Also don't forget to put your tube amp in a place where you can enjoy the warm glow of tubes. Enjoy your new tube amp, and the music it puts out.

The technical counterpoint to the above is that the major SQ difference between good tubed power amps and good SS amps is the source impedance that they provide to the speakers that they drive. One can find this opinion expressed over the years by technical experts as diverse as Bob Carver (a well-known American SS guru) and Martin Collums (a well known British tubes guru),

If you watch the above expert's hands and not the distractions that they use to obfuscate their purported magic, you find plain old wire wound resistors sized a few ohms and a few watts as the magic conversion factor tom SS amplifier to tubed sound. The primary effect of the higher source impedance is characteristic changes in the frequency response of the speakers they drive. A little bass lift around the speaker's fundamental bass resonance, perhaps a little loss in the midrange and a tad of emphasis at the top end where the tweeter starts becoming like an inductive load.

As far as the warm glow goes, it does seem to have its effects, especially on the fairer sex. I've always used fireplaces to that end, but compared to tubed amps fireplaces are kind of high maintenance. ;-)
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post #15 of 19 Old 08-26-2012, 09:36 PM
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Carver made more types of SS amps than most, he is a living legend for a lot of SS fans.
But just ask him what he prefers......he'll answer tubes every time.
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post #16 of 19 Old 09-07-2012, 01:58 PM
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Try to listen Cayin A 100 T, a monster with 8x KT88 in output stage and you will forget all what Carver has ever made
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post #17 of 19 Old 09-07-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FineArts View Post

Try to listen Cayin A 100 T, a monster with 8x KT88 in output stage and you will forget all what Carver has ever made
It's only two pair per channel - big deal. I'd trust Carver more than most to design an output transformer well.
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post #18 of 19 Old 09-07-2012, 03:01 PM
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On some of his designs, he uses a few more.......smile.gif
Of course you'd need two of these for stereo.
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post #19 of 19 Old 09-07-2012, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post


As far as the warm glow goes, it does seem to have its effects, especially on the fairer sex. I've always used fireplaces to that end, but compared to tubed amps fireplaces are kind of high maintenance. ;-)

 

This is absolutely accurate Arny! wink.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Class A View Post

Also companies like Primaluna have auto bias features that make tube rolling a snap.smile.gif

 

Agreed. I own both PrimaLuna pre and power amplifiers with autobias function. No need to adjust bias anymore. They are fairly priced if compared to other brands with supposedly "better pedigree". 

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