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Amp upgrade?

911 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Kothoga
Looking for feedback/advice on upgrading my amp. Currently running a pair of La Scala IIs with a Parasound A23+ and am wondering if I'm leaving a bit of warmth off the table from running a SS as opposed to a tube amplifier. I've read that SS amps paired with these speakers can cause a sharp or harsh sound. If I can benefit from moving to a tube, I'll do so and pick up another A23+ and move the pair to the theater to power the RF7s.
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I've owned at least 3 pairs of these over the years, including the djk ported version, and the idea that tubes are warmer than SS, and therefore better, is largely a myth. I've used both types, and the LS are quite clean compared to DRs that all the tubes do is add back distortion. Enjoy the cleaner sound, especially the lower IMD and FMD.

Want to really improve them? Go active with a DSP and get all of the horns into physical alignment.
Not all tube amps are warm sonically. The past few decades have seen many brands and models provide a neutral sound quality. Like solid-state amps it depends on a designer's preference. Unlike too many solid-state power amps, though, tube units typically retain the warmth inherent in an instrument (such as strings) or voices in a fine recording, providing the natural richness that might otherwise have been lost. I own both tube and solid-state amplifiers, but prefer tubes overall because a great unit with the right tubes installed sounds incredibly clear and real.

Note that with a tube amp the user can alter the voicing to a degree (ranging from minimally to significantly) by using different tubes.

As for tube component brands that might offer the sonics you seek (based on my experience), look at Cary, Conrad-Johnson, and McIntosh. Based on reputation, also check out PrimaLuna and Quicksilver. My auditions say to probably avoid Audio Research. Rogue falls somewhere in between.

You also have the option of trying different SS amps that better suit your ears. With occasional exceptions, consider Cary, McIntosh, Conrad-Johnson, Quad, Ayre, and Pass. By reputation, also Anthem.

To complicate your decision-making process even more, many audiophiles like to use a tube preamp with their SS power amp to avoid or reduce a sterile or clinical presentation.

If there is a Klipsch forum somewhere that is visited by other La Scala II owners, I would ask for their experience.
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I wouldn't look to a power amp to be a tone control in your system. Your current JC designed amp should offer as transparent a sound as you'll find in a power amp. If you really want to affect a change in the sound of you La Scala's, I would look to a preamp with tone controls or better still a modern DSP room correction system.
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I think you A23 is plenty plenty good. I studied the circuit of A23, it's one of the amp I recommend REGARDLESS of price. Work on other area eg. speakers placement, room acoustic etc.
My dealer sells the entire Klipsch Heritage line. Primaluna is an excellent match w/the La Scala. I would go w/a all tube integrated the EVO 300. You'll have a choice of power tubes from EL34's to KT150's. The Evo 300 also has a sub out if you require it. If you don't need a sub out save some money and go w/a Evo 200.:)
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The generally higher output impedance of tube amps has a huge difference in the resulting frequency response of high efficiency speakers like many of the Klipsch series. Take a look at Stereophile's measurements of the new Klipschorn:


Look at figure 2, which shows a whopping 10dB difference in the treble between a solid state and tube amp. The tube amp certainly adds warmth to those speakers, which are likely similar to the La Scalas.

Is a tube amp the only way to get a warm sound? As others have mentioned, you could achieve it with the proper tone controls, which would also avoid that 5dB reduction in the bass frequencies. A Schiit Loki would be able to produce a very similar high frequency response to the Stereophile Figure 2.
The only way to know for sure is to audition the amp with your speakers. Prima Luna is a quality brand. Cary amps tend to provide more low end but can be boomy. Tube amps in general lack in bass vs solid state. Last, it’s a good thing your speakers are efficient as tube amps don’t give as much power for the money.
Many prefer tube in the pre amp or amp input stage and have solid state do the heavy lifting. Keeping a lot of the tube sound while having real power without going bankrupt.
I've read that SS amps paired with these speakers can cause a sharp or harsh sound.
Is this what you are actually hearing at present or only what you have read? If the former, is it with your phono source only or with other sources as well, such as CD or streaming? I ask because Ortofon moving-magnet phono cartridges are not typically known for warm sonics and can be bright and analytical in the upper midrange and treble, which some listeners desire and some dislike. An Ortofon 2M Red, for example, a cartridge two steps below your 2M Bronze, was much too bright and harsh in my system.
What would be your budget? I really like my Rouge Cronus Magnum II.
Completely forgot I made this post. One too many drams that afternoon while screwing around with speaker placement.

Thanks for the feedback, seems evenly split. Still in the early stages here, adding the Devastators to the mix as the Scalas are rather lacking midbass. If I like them there, they'll stay, otherwise I might add them to the theater and try a full folded horn instead.
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