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New to Tube amps for home theater systems

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
So I recently came across some old speakers that could be used for home audio, I am going to try and restore them. My question is what do I need in terms of amps? The speakers will be rated at 8ohms. Do I need both a pre amp and a power amp to run these speakers. I am looking to use a tube amp as I think that is what the speakers were meant for.

post #2 of 5
There's nothing special about old 8 ohm speakers that would require a tube amp. Any modern solid-state audio-video receiver will work fine with them. Just because all they had were tube amps when those speakers were designed doesn't mean that you have to use tube amps today.

Using tube-based electronics electronics these days is a life-style choice. They're much more finicky than solid-state electronics, but many people like them despite their higher operating cost. (Tubes have to be replaced regularly, for example.)

With old speakers, though, there are some mechanical and electrical things you need to worry about. The capacitors in their crossover networks may have failed, for example, Also the "surround" material which connects the speaker drivers to the enclosure as well as the cones of the drivers themselves may be dying, too. Check for cracks in the material.

You should consult with people in the speaker forum for more information about the kinds of refurbishing that might be needed.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
If I were going to use Tube amps, would I need both a Pre amp and a Power amp?
post #4 of 5
Tube-based integrated amplifiers are readily available. They combine a preamplifier and an amplifier in a single chassis. The ones I'm aware of are two-channel designs, though, not multi-channel home theater systems. A Web search should locate some of the companies involved in this market. You also can get more information about them in the two-channel audio forum: http://www.avsforum.com/f/173/2-channel-audio

Of course, using separate preamp and amplifiers is more flexible. You can upgrade either without changing the other. Separates do tend to be more expensive than integrated amps.

Personally I don't have any tube electronics any more (not for the past 30 years or so wink.gif ) so I can't make any specific recommendations. My impression from recent articles and advertisements I've read is that modern tube designs are rather expensive, primarily because the market is so small, so they don't have the advantages of the cost reductions possible with large production lines. Finding the right tubes for use in older devices can be a challenge, too.

Don't forget that, among other sophisticated features, modern solid-state home-theater receivers include room equalization software, which can compensate for infelicities in speakers and room acoustics. Tube amps can't do that at all. Treble and bass adjustments are about the limit for them. Of course, they can't decode any of the modern digital audio soundtracks either. Decoding digital audio into analog signals for use with tube electronics has to be done in the player. Disc players with quality analog outputs are rather expensive, too. They start at about $250 (Panasonic) and go up. Way up. Oppo players are about $500 or $1000 depending on the model.

I hope these comments help a little.
post #5 of 5
Tube amplifiers have always intrigued me.. although I have never owned them except that when I was a kid, my uncle used to own a tube radio and I liked the sound of it and the visual delight of seeing a tube. Recently this particular unit caught my attention.. but its rather expensive and its not an amplifier.. although it has samsung allshare as well as airplay.. which can pair up nicely with my Galaxy S3 and iPad.
There are also pre-amp kits being sold in both amazon and ebay, which is supposed to add that supposed distortion to the audio signal, which audio enthusiast crave for. Its something like instagram for audio. Some year back these used to be a bare bone kit from AOne IIRC, that had a tube amplifier built within the barebone kit for HTPC needs.
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