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Adding Tubes In Line


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I listen to my 1.5 TB music collection over a wireless music network.

 

I have constructed my system piece by piece over the past 8 years. When digital music became relevant to me I purchased the Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 inline tube stage for my system. My system works as described:

 

Mac Mini & 4TB Drobo (All Files Apple Lossless Encoded)

Music routed over ethernet cable to Apple TV

Apple TV to Musical Fidelity A3 24 192K Upsampling DAC

MF DAC to Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 inline tube stage

Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 to Musical Fidelity A3.2 Preamp

MF A3.2 to Krell KAV-2250 power amp

Krell KAV-2250 to DynAudio Audience 72-SE Floor Standing Tower Loud Speakers

 

Connected with Tara Labs RSC Air cables and other lower tier Tara Labs Cables.

 

I bought the tube stage in order to buffer some of the perceived "glare" of digital music. I have found it very satisfactory. Has anyone else added tubes or else bought tubed amps specifically because of listening primarily to digital music?

 

What solution or using using?

 

 

 

 

Malahki Thorn[br]Founder / Lead Editor[br]Heathen Harvest Magazine[br]www.heathenharvest.com

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Tubes Rule!, esp when you use Vintage tubes. Why bother with just a tube buffer, go with tube components.

 

Powerbook G4 15 inch Aluminum, \"Fidela,\" M2tech EVO (BNC)with RF attenuator,dedicated PSU, Stereovox XV Ultra (BNC) Audio Note Dac Kit 2.1 Level B Signature Upgraded to 12AU7 tubes, ARC SP-16L Tube preamp , VAC PA100/100 Tube Amp), Vintage Tubes, Furutech ETP-80, (Alon 2 Mk2, (upgraded tweeters, Usher Woofers), Pangea Power cords, Omega Micro Active Planar PC. Signal Cable Silver Resolution ICs.

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I had little guidance while initially assembling my system so I went with what I knew at the time. The inline tubes came after I starting using a music server.

 

In the future I am contemplating a hybrid system. Though it would seem that some people think that tubed components rob the bass from a system and I have heard others claim that tubes need replaced as early as every three years. Also it would seem that many tubed power amps have much lower power ratings. Are these valid concerns?

 

 

 

 

Malahki Thorn[br]Founder / Lead Editor[br]Heathen Harvest Magazine[br]www.heathenharvest.com

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Hi ironwood - I am a fan of solid state as well as tubes. The stuff you mentioned is overly general and is not indicative of all tube performance. Solid state and tubes can both suffer the same shortcomings when designed to a certain price point or aesthetic look, or by specific companies. A good Audio Research amp will not rob any bass from the system. you are correct about tube replacement. Only have a certain amount of hours in them and must be replaced when their time is up.

 

Be very careful about power ratings. They can be very misleading in terms of performance.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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May I ask if you have experience with pairing a tubed pre-amp with a solid state power amp. I'm quite happy with my Krell preamp but one of my next planned upgrades is removing the integrated pre-amp my system began with for another preamp.

 

I have considered a tubed premamp but I am inexperienced as to how a hybrid system performs. Audio Research is one of the companies I would consider purchasing from.

 

Can you inform me of any guidelines or pitfalls concerning pairing a solid state amp with a tubed pre-amp?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malahki Thorn[br]Founder / Lead Editor[br]Heathen Harvest Magazine[br]www.heathenharvest.com

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Yes, I use one of these http://www.juicymusicaudio.com/spec1.html.

 

Mostly I only use that when I play vinyl. I've run it into both SS and tube amps and both sound fine. I like the LOMC option for my cartridge.

 

That said, your question probably has no answer the world will agree on. When I'm lazy I run all SS. I like the sound of the tubes tho. Tube preamp into tube amps sounds best with my horn style speakers, to me. Digital has many advantages in ease of operations and quick switching. Tubes take more maintenance (replace tubes, tweak settings, hum avoidance).

 

If I was to start over, I'd look hard at all SS via Parasound I think. In fact, if I set up a home theater I'd go SS, but keep a tube vinyl rig right beside it. I just like the choice of both.

 

All I can really say is that I can a/b between SS and tubes and I always like the tubes more, but I listen to the SS more (in and out of the house / wife listening / digital feeds / etc.

 

I know that's not a great help, but there's a lot of ways to skin the cat. Based on some of the descriptive ways people describe systems, for example take any Stereophile article, I'm probably a rather unsophisticated listener. I have decent not over the top gear and it works for us. I'd have to line something up right next to it to compare, (which might be your best solution if you can test something from a local store). I'd say hybrid for the sake of hybrid, just like all tube or all SS is just one way to get there and you just need to find what you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi. Chris asked me to chip in my two cents worth. Hopefully you won't ask for change... I have a fair amount of experience doing a mix and match sort of thing and I think it is perfectly valid. As Chris alluded, the very best of both are approaching the goal of sounding more like music than either of the technologies, but short of that I personally feel that I can sometimes approach the best of both worlds by combining the two. My personal best sounding system ever used a tube output CD player, now replaced by a tube USB DAC, a world class tube preamp and a great pair of monoblock SS amps.

 

You can make a strong case for a tube pre and SS power amp. The higher output impedance of a tube power amp interacts with the load of the speaker, meaning your speaker choice will affect the delivered frequency response of the amp. On a more practical note, you don't have to worry about rebiasing the preamp tubes and you normally do on the output tubes of the power amp. The preamp tubes will normally last much longer than the output tubes of a power amp.

 

I respect Krell amplifiers but for my personal tastes, depending upon model, they can lack a little of the organic feel that I like. I think they are a great candidate for mixing with a good tube pre. Do keep in mind that you need to be slightly concerned about the output and input impedances being a good match. I recommend this in all cases, but a good dealer who can advise you and hopefully loan you a piece to try in your system would be especially important here.

 

Good luck in your quest and happy listening. I am prejudiced but an ARC or a Mac would be a good place to start.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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