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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After reading up on tube gear, I am intrigued to try out tubes for the first time in my 2-channel system. As of right now, it is all solid state - I recently got hold of a Parasound JC2 preamp and A21 amp.


I'd like to incorporate something 'tubey' in there just to see for myself what the sound will be like. I am totally new to this, so I dont know where to begin. But I know that I only want to buy a single component for now, so...


Do you folks have an opinion on whether it would be 'better' in any way to use a tube preamp connected to the Parasound A21 amp vs a tube amp connected to the Parasound JC2 preamp? For those of you that love tubes, which method do you think would give you more of the 'tube sound'?


Another consideration - my JC2 is setup with an HT bypass, but since I am not using HT in this system yet, I am thinking it might be a neat option to find a tube preamp, send it through the JC2 bypass directly into the A21 amp. That way, there will be no needed movement of cables (connecting/disconnecting) in order to utilize both the solid state and tube components.


If those are both just bad or suboptimal choices, maybe I'll just look for an integrated tube amp? But again, I want to leave it at one component for now. Just want to start limiting my choices to one of the 3.
 

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Tube Pre, into a SS Power amp is a classic combination. I think of it as the best of both worlds; sweet, tube sound, into a ss amp to muscle it around some...lol.


That being said, the JC2 is supposed to be a very good Pre. You just want to try it? Try a Pre; I'd recommend a Cary, ARC, or C-J.


CD
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
CDLehner-

Thanks for the opinion. And I have no complaints about the JC2. Just intrigued about tubes lately and want to see how they sound in comparison.


diomania-

Thanks for the links and I'll try to check those out.


Also, what does anyone think of my idea of using the new tube preamp through the JC2's bypass. Any flaws in that idea?
 

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i am running the same combo. tube pre into SS amps. wonderful combo. i would suggest the manley preamp, as a GREAT way to really get a taste of tubes without loosing all the detail that im sure your getting at the moment.
 

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Try adding a tube stage between pre and amp. This would go inline.


Musical fidelity made one several years ago that you might find used.


Or you could check out grant fidelity. They have a product called the B-283. The ml 2 version is probably the one for your equipment.


I have the original and like it.


Warning: there are some zealots who will go on about all this does is add distortion and they sound very technical. Not worth the argument.


Mine made a positive change in a modest system.


Good luck
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by brubacca /forum/post/19596717


Try adding a tube stage between pre and amp. This would go inline.


Musical fidelity made one several years ago that you might find used.


Or you could check out grant fidelity. They have a product called the B-283. The ml 2 version is probably the one for your equipment.


I have the original and like it.


Warning: there are some zealots who will go on about all this does is add distortion and they sound very technical. Not worth the argument.


Mine made a positive change in a modest system.


Good luck

Brubacca, I actually disagree...and wouldn't suggest a tube buffer in this case. If you read the OPs post, he really wants to get a sense of what the tube "fuss" is all about; and it's been my experience that a buffer doesn't do that so much. A buffer, IMO, puts a little of the "good-sounding" fuzz on the sound, and warms and rounds things out nicely, for those who find it appealing.


But there's a big difference, between a buffer and a true, tube Pre-out stage. That's why I'd suggest he go the whole nine. Doesn't sound like he wants to wade-in, but long-term. I think he just wants to try it and see what it's all about. If he likes it, he'll want to keep his piece; if not, I suspect we'll all be checking AG for what he's moving...lol.


Nnck, might I suggest a Cary SLP98; and then you can sell it to me...like new...if you don't like it



CD
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner /forum/post/19597087


A buffer, IMO, puts a little of the "good-sounding" fuzz on the sound, and warms and rounds things out nicely, for those who find it appealing.


But there's a big difference, between a buffer and a true, tube Pre-out stage.

Actually tubes make more sense in power amplification stage. There you can notice major difference from solid state. Well designed tube preamp is as transparent as well designed solid state unit, and the only thing you can notice is slightly lower S/N ratio. In high signal circuits difference is much more pronounced, since tubes are more linear, but have much higher output impedance and lower transconductance. You cannot easily overcome them in design.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 /forum/post/19597160


Actually tubes make more sense in power amplification stage. There you can notice major difference from solid state. Well designed tube preamp is as transparent as well designed solid state unit, and the only thing you can notice is slightly lower S/N ratio. In high signal circuits difference is much more pronounced, since tubes are more linear, but have much higher output impedance and lower transconductance. You cannot easily overcome them in design.

Your argument makes all the sense in the world. I have to admit, I'm not a tube-head...but like the OP, was curious. I tried a Cary Pre in my rig. My feeling, was the tubes brought a "big", "full", "warm"...all those words, the engineer types hate when describing gear, lol...presentation to the soundstage. I never thought of it as less "transparent"; I still felt like I heard as much detail...just more "air" and "bloom" around the instruments (the most-hated adjectives in the audiophile's vocabulary...but hey, I'm just trying to convey my listening experience in the only way that comes to mind for me).


I wouldn't have said that the Cary wasn't well made, and it sounded different to me than the SS Preamps I was used to. But you're probably right; if you want real tube flavor, the power amp is probably the way to go (although I hear from tube-heads that whole "sweet and warm, but soft" label is pretty old-school...that, as you say, well-made, modern tube gear isn't nearly so "fuzzy").


I was this close to trying a tube power amp (I hear good bang-for-the-buck things about Jolida, and was going to pull the trigger on the new JD-502P), but am always afraid they can't slap my Dyns around the way they like to be treated...lol. And then I discovered Belles, and may just have become a "lifer". FWIW, I settled with a tube in the Pre stage, and am very happy with the Tube/SS combo.


CD
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner /forum/post/0


That's why I'd suggest he go the whole nine. Doesn't sound like he wants to wade-in, but long-term. I think he just wants to try it and see what it's all about. If he likes it, he'll want to keep his piece; if not, I suspect we'll all be checking AG for what he's moving...lol.

CDLehner- That pretty much sums up where I am coming from. I want something so that I can experience the 'tube' sound in a real and meaningful way - so that I can determine for myself what I am pleased/displeased or indifferent about. As you say, if I like it, I hope to keep it and use it long term. Iif not, I'd most likely sell it.


But I'd also really like to be able to use whatever tube equipment I choose in my current system in a reasonably simple manner. Hence my idea of using it though my JC2's bypass - it would seem that this way there would be no cable changes needed, and I'd simply have to click a few button on my remote to switch to the tube preamp. No one else yet seems to have an opinion on this idea, but there doesnt seem to be anything wrong with it from a logical standpoint (I realize this question is a bit specific, but has anyone heard of using a home theater bypass on a preamp to add a different 2-channel preamp instead of an AVR or Pre/Pro?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 /forum/post/0


Actually tubes make more sense in power amplification stage. There you can notice major difference from solid state. Well designed tube preamp is as transparent as well designed solid state unit, and the only thing you can notice is slightly lower S/N ratio.

ap1- This is what i am worried about, and if it is true I may have to go about things differently than I describe above using my current preamp's bypass. That would seem to be the simplest method of getting tubes in there, but I wouldnt want to spend the money if it wont give me the real tube 'effect'.

If I need tubes in the amplification circuitry, I am not sure if there is any easy way of incorporating it simply in my current setup. My JC2 preamp does have 2 outputs, though (one balanced, one unbalanced). I could send the balanced outputs out to one amp and the unbalanced out to another. It seems in this case, I would have just have to flick a toggle switch on the back of the JC2 and then plug-unplug the speaker inputs out of one amp and into the other. The integrated tube amp route might require all cables being moved around, so this might be the most complex scenario to incorporate. But I definitely need more opinions about this, because I am not sure about all the options for hooking these all up together.


Also appreciate everyone's specific equipment recommendations. I enjoy looking these all up and reading about them. Keep 'em coming.


CDLehner- Also curious about your high recommendations for the Cary SLP98, but in the end it sounds like you went with Belles. I am unfamiliar Belles, but can you explain why?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nnck /forum/post/19598069


But I'd also really like to be able to use whatever tube equipment I choose in my current system in a reasonably simple manner. Hence my idea of using it though my JC2's bypass - it would seem that this way there would be no cable changes needed, and I'd simply have to click a few button on my remote to switch to the tube preamp. No one else yet seems to have an opinion on this idea, but there doesnt seem to be anything wrong with it from a logical standpoint (I realize this question is a bit specific, but has anyone heard of using a home theater bypass on a preamp to add a different 2-channel preamp instead of an AVR or Pre/Pro?)

Nnck, should work and be transparent, in theory. I guess the only reason I might look to avoid it, is I believe the simplest, straightest path is best...and the bypass adds another link in the chain (although, again...should be transparent)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nnck /forum/post/19598069


CDLehner- Also curious about your high recommendations for the Cary SLP98, but in the end it sounds like you went with Belles. I am unfamiliar Belles, but can you explain why?

Sorry Nnck, I realize that's a little confusing. I tried the Cary Pre (not the SLP98), and liked the sound very much...but ultimately sold it because it lacked a remote (wished I hadn't, actually). When I was considering a tube power amp (the Jolida), that is when I came across my first Belles and I was in love with the sound (although it's SS). So my Belles is the power; not that David isn't reputed to also make very good Preamps. Like I said, I might just be a "lifer" (if you want to know more details about what I like about the sound, PM me...here's DBs website http://www.powermodules.com/power_modules/Home.html )


If you're going for a Pre to try...to get that really tube-y sound; again, Cary is well-regarded, and I loved how it sounded in my system (and the SLP98 is the linestage I would try now, if I were trying one...but if your means allow, go ahead and knock yourself out with an SLP05
). Other contenders I would say would be ARC (Audio Research), C-J (Conrad-Johnson)...someone mentioned Manley (the 300B looks killer, and it has a remote!).


Good luck; never a chore trying new gear



CD
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner /forum/post/19598393


If you're going for a Pre to try...to get that really tube-y sound; again, Cary is well-regarded, and I loved how it sounded in my system (and the SLP98 is the linestage I would try now, if I were trying one...but if your means allow, go ahead and knock yourself out with an SLP05
). Other contenders I would say would be ARC (Audio Research), C-J (Conrad-Johnson)...someone mentioned Manley (the 300B looks killer, and it has a remote!).

A lot of equipment to look up and a lot to think about still. Thanks.

Quote:
Nnck, should work and be transparent, in theory. I guess the only reason I might look to avoid it, is I believe the simplest, straightest path is best...and the bypass adds another link in the chain (although, again...should be transparent)

That's pretty much what I have been thinking too. It seems like such a simple way of incorporating tubes, I just may try it. My only worry is still what ap1 has said about his preference for tubes in the amplification stage. I'd like more opinions, but if this is the common opinion, then I dont want to get less 'tube' sound for the sake of simplicity in my setup.


Another idea I have been thinking about are integrated amps like these Cayin A100T or A88T. It looks like these can be used as either an integrated or switched over to bypass their preamp circuitry, so that you can use just the tubes in the amplification stage. This again gives me more options. As I mentioned earlier, maybe I could send the balanced outputs of my JC2 to the SS amp and the unbalanced to something like these Cayin units for the tube amplification. Of course this would still require me to switch speaker connections between the 2 amps when I am ready to use them, but I dont know of any other way to go about it more easily.


Some info about these integrateds are here:

http://www.cayin.de/english/voll_a100t.htm


Seems like they are highly regarded. Are there maybe some others like this?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nnck /forum/post/19600457


Some info about these integrateds are here:

http://www.cayin.de/english/voll_a100t.htm


Seems like they are highly regarded. Are there maybe some others like this?

If it's in your budget, I'd look at the ARC VSi60 (or the 55 from one generation ago, used).


CD
 

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A Chinese tube integrated would be a good way to get a taste for the other side, without sinking so much cash into it that you're locked in. The Cayin stuff is great value, also check out what Pacific Valve has to offer.


What speakers are you using btw?
 

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i have listened to the model cayin that is in the picture on the link you provided.


it sounds wonderful and i seriously considered picking one up for myself.

it sound clean and refined, and detailed. most of the other cheaper tube gear is too warm (kills the top end detail) and muddy sounding for my tastes.

cayin (i listened to at least 4 different models of their integrated) integrateds are great bang for the buck


i would highly reccomend it
 

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I just recently bought my first tube amp and injected into my SS system with positive results. It's an Ideal Innovations Elite 80. I have a YBA cd player/YBA pre or Wadia dock with a Benchmark DAC1 hooked up to the amp and it sounds rather nice. I have Emotiva XPA-1 monos that I switch back and forth with. I'm happy I've experimented with the tube route.
 
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