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All:


Lastnight I made a number of startling revelations, and my system went from amazing, to sort of scary in one move.


It all started when I was goofing on ebay, and accidentally bought a tube amp. It's a Dynaco ST-70 with new Sovtek tubes. I really didn't want to win it, but you know how that goes. Plus, I am just tired of not having an amp to listen to. So, I picked it up yesterday from the seller. I liked not having to ship it, and it wasn't a long drive to get it.


Lastnight, I got home, and really didn't know what to do with it, so I just hooked it in and turned it on. I knew that tubes would take a while to warm up, so I didn't listen until maybe an hour later. I was running this amp from the pre-outs of my Arcam AVR-100 which is clamped, and somewhat tuned, and sounds great on its own!


I sat down to listen, and started off with some Pink Floyd, Keb' Mo', and on to some string music. I really wasn't impressed. It was different, but it wasn't that much different, and I couldn't really say it was better. I kept listening for something to tell me that it was better. I had mixed feelings about it, but overall, mnot much difference.


Then I tried something which I had not tried before. I ran the CDP output directly into this tube amp. I was absolutely startled at this! It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard in any system! Plenty loud enough, and sometimes too loud. Many of the guys that are tuning their systems run like this, but I had never tried it. The reason I didn't is because the Arcam sounded as good as anything I had ever heard, so I had no reason to believe it would have such a DRAMATIC impact on sound quality going into a different amp.


Now I am really in for it though. I threw in the Dorian recording of Pictures at an Exhibition. This is one of my favorites, but I wasn't really in the mood for it. I just wanted to push the amp and see what it would do. After all 18 tracks, I realized that I was really in trouble! I threw in some Pizza Tapes and checked that out. Again, after 20 tracks, I realized this was more than just a demo of what the amp would do. Next, I hit The Final Cut, and I know that all you Pink Floyd fans don't like this disc, but it remains my favorite Floyd disc anyway. . . :p It was the most profound I have heard it, and I don't think this is a disc I could listen to in a fully tunable room. heh. . .It's a little too intense.


Anyhow, now comes my dilemma. What do I do with my home theater receiver!? I could sell it and get a decent HT pre-amp, and some amps. But if I do that, will I run into the same degredation of sound quality from not runing discretely into the amp? I could just get a second set of speaker cables and hook them to the speakers only when I want to watch movies. I could leave them hooked up all the time, but only have power to the amp OR the receiver, and NOT both at the same time. But then again, do I want to leave tubes on at all times? This is my first tube experience, and I have no idea how to care for and feed them. . . I don't really know what I am going to do, but I am NOT going back now knowing how massive the sound quality difference is. Until I get two rooms, I cannot have two different systems.


I can't wait for my MA-700's to get fixed. I want to try them this way too b/c most tunees still use these, and say they are better than anything. I just wish I could test that theory myself. I won't whine about it though. I think I just got some bad amps. . .


Well, I wanted to share, and get you guys' ideas on this, so get this board going again, and start posting!


L8r,


B
 

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Hey Brandon,

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Anyhow, now comes my dilemma. What do I do with my home theater receiver!? I could sell it and get a decent HT pre-amp, and some amps. But if I do that, will I run into the same degredation of sound quality from not runing discretely into the amp?
Your predicament is, as you say, a dilemma. But it's a nice dilemma to have :). As your (and anyone else's) system moves more and more towards being totally tunable, you will be faced with dilemmas like you describe. When I decided to go fully "tunable", I was fortunate that I had two separate systems -- one for audio and one for home theater. So, my biggest dilemma in my audio system was what preamp to use with my audio system because I have always had 3 sources -- CD, FM tuner and turntable. Fortunately, at the time, Michael had the time and a good engineer who was able to get me a preamp which has worked very well. As a matter of fact, it works so well it is almost indistinguishable from having no preamp between the CDP and my amps. But, it did take the preamp almost a year to fully come around in terms of performance and it really is highly "sensitive" to any tuning done to it. This is where patience always comes in with a tunable system, but patience is always worth it in the long run.


If you do not have the space right now for separate systems (home theater and audio), then you must decide what is most important to you. The one choice you do not want to make is a "hybrid" setup where you are unhooking and swapping cables between components. Also, as far as the marketplace goes today, there are probably few preamp components which are highly responsive to tuning, especially in the AV world. One which is highly recommended because of its tunability and outstanding dynamics is the AV-600 processor by Marantz. The mere presence of a preamp in the chain usually will result in some form of degradation of performance due to the addition of additional circuit paths and circuit components introduced into the audio signal chain. The degradation may be very subtle and may only be heard in systems/rooms which are not over damped. The more "open" your system/room, the more apparent this degradation will be. So, you really want to plan for the future more than anything else -- for the day when you have more space and what your eventual equipment/system/room goals will be at that time.


In my home theater, I went from all separates, ever since I got into home theater in the 80s, to now using just a receiver. I wanted "simpler" as a system/space goal. But, I have been fortunate to also have performance steadily improve over the years going this route.


So, my goals have been to go "simpler", but it's an individual decision based on many factors -- software sources, space, family and system goals. Define your overall goals and things will take care of themselves. Feel comfort in knowing that you are asking the right questions, but only you can answer them based on some thought to the future of you and your family.
 
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