Jump to content
thehut

Amp Recommendation for New Vinyl Setup

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I have spent most of my years working on a multichannel AV setup.  However, I'm now beginning to set up a mid-level vinyl, 2-channel system.  The goal will be to upgrade components over time, but for now I'm trying to decide on a mid-level price-point amplifier.  The current configuration is

 

Technics SL-1600 turntable (Shibata stylus)

Little Bear T10 tube phono preamp stage

**Yamaha RXV1065 AV amp

Q Audio 3050i speakers.

 

I would like to swap out the Yamaha stage.  My research has suggested two options, a Cayin Audio A-55T (if I'd like to stay full tube), or a Rega Elicit R.  Does anyone have thoughts on these amps, or any other suggestion for what might be a good starting point in such a setup?

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That Cayin ought to do a fine job even in triode mode owing to your speakers' relatively high sensitivity and apparently benign load. Given a choice of the two amps you've named it would be a "no-brainer" for me ...... but I'm a sucker for a vinyl/tubes combo.  9_9

Enjoy! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.  I was leaning that way for the same reason. But I have to admit that - even dealing with the little tube phono-preamp stage I have at the moment - delving into tubes is daunting.  Different terms, different world.  I like the sound, but as a guy who has spent years working with lossless digital multichannel stuff, learning how tubes "color" the music is a different skill set.  But growth is good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, thehut said:

Thanks.  I was leaning that way for the same reason. But I have to admit that - even dealing with the little tube phono-preamp stage I have at the moment - delving into tubes is daunting.  Different terms, different world.  I like the sound, but as a guy who has spent years working with lossless digital multichannel stuff, learning how tubes "color" the music is a different skill set.  But growth is good.

Besides the wonderful sound of a good tube setup is the ability to nudge the sound around with tube rolling. To me this is an invaluable asset to getting the best sound - the sound YOU want - out of your audio system. However, this is something I do not recommend doing right away - best to live with it for a while and get a good idea of which direction you may want to go, if any.

 I know it may appear daunting. I recall my first foray into "tube world" some twenty-something years back. Though now the added enjoyment tubes have brought to my music listening is something I would never want to be without. 

BTW: it may be better said that different tubes exhibit different "characters." 

Have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prima Luna - I don't think there's a better amp out there at 10 times the price, tubes or not. I've had and loved a Prologue 5 for about 10 years now and am more impressed with it every time I use it.  It's like a ballet dancer - strong, lithe, agile, graceful, and exciting.  The bass is amazingly deep and tight, it's dead silent, and the entire spectrum is reproduced with very little coloration of any kind.  Beautiful sound (courtesy of my Thorens TD125 / SME)  just oozes from my Focal 826s or my LS3/5as as the mood strikes me.  It's also made pretty well - PL products look, feel and sound like good solid stuff.

 

You can play with tubes to your heart's content - the PL auto-biasing system works extremely well. I prefer KT-88s for their deep, clean, tight bass and balanced mid-highs.  But I've swapped in many kinds of 6L6s and EL34s to see what they sounded like in the same amp.  The differences are easily heard - 6L6s seem cleaner and a bit more detailed from mid-bass to the top than EL34s.  The EL34s have a bit more flab in the bass, which has been the case in every amp I've ever had with them, eg Marantz 8b, Eico S70, Dyna Stereo 70.  But they're also really sweet ("lush") in the mids, which is a coloration that makes many mediocre recordings sound better.  Overall, I rank them KT88, 6L6GC, and EL34 in that order with a very clear preference for the KT88s.  I could live with 6L6s if I had to, but I've removed the EL34s within a few days every time I've tried them.

 

My amp came with PrimaLuna branded KT88s in it, but I don't know who made them. They no longer offer house branded KT88s on their website - they offer Gold Lions, Mullards, and Electro Harmonix.  I tried a set of JJ tubes a few years ago and was not happy with them - they were a little noisy and remained just a bit harsh even after hundreds of hours.  If you were to decide on a PL, I'd strongly suggest getting the higher end version of whichever model you pick.  You get the KT88s and higher quality components (caps, resistors etc) for a few hundred dollars more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really am allergic to tubes,, so I would always go for a solid state choice, but the Elicit-R is a bit overkill, and not that much of an improvement over the Brio. 

I would go with the Brio, or a mid level NAD receiver myself. 

 

The MM Phono Stage on the Brio or Elicit-R is probably going to be much better than the Little Bear, which is astonishingly good to be honest. 

 

If you really just gotta have tubes, I would look at the iFi Retro. Sweet sounding little thing, great phono stage.

 

 

 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Paul R said:

I really am allergic to tubes,, so I would always go for a solid state choice, but the Elicit-R is a bit overkill, and not that much of an improvement over the Brio. 

I would go with the Brio, or a mid level NAD receiver myself. 

 

The MM Phono Stage on the Brio or Elicit-R is probably going to be much better than the Little Bear, which is astonishingly good to be honest. 

 

If you really just gotta have tubes, I would look at the iFi Retro. Sweet sounding little thing, great phono stage.

 

 

 

So what does "allergic to tubes" actually mean Dr. Paul?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Doak said:

So what does "allergic to tubes" actually mean Dr. Paul?

 

 

Oh, it just means that the finicky little bastards get in the way or me listening to music. I like the sound, but I hate replacing the things, remembering to turn off gear to extend tube life, and so on. Tube rolling is not something I particularly enjoy. 

 

Because of that, I tend to prefer the sound from a really well designed SS amp, and I really like a well done Class D. It is purely personal preference, no reason in the world to argue tubes except to have a bit of fun doing so. 

 

Have not quite earned a doctorate yet, but that is one of my near future goals.  

 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Paul R said:

 

Oh, it just means that the finicky little bastards get in the way or me listening to music. I like the sound, but I hate replacing the things, remembering to turn off gear to extend tube life, and so on. Tube rolling is not something I particularly enjoy. 

 

That right there is why you should get a Primaluna amp.  You will replace tubes maybe once a decade. One goes bad, you know immediately which one it is. Have a replacement handy, pop it in, the thing auto-bias's and you're listening to music again in minutes.

 

put it in standby, or don't, it doesn't care... I am having a really hard time getting rid of mine.


“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

That right there is why you should get a Primaluna amp.  You will replace tubes maybe once a decade. One goes bad, you know immediately which one it is. Have a replacement handy, pop it in, the thing auto-bias's and you're listening to music again in minutes.

 

put it in standby, or don't, it doesn't care... I am having a really hard time getting rid of mine.

 

(grin) You are not old enough to remember having to take a tube to the drugstore, plug it into the tester, then hope they had a replacement tube available. :)

That tends to sour one's view of the little vacuum filled hot cathode thermionic electron emitting buggers... 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't mean that as snarky as it sounded Jason - apologies. I guess I am in a little bit of a bad mood and it shows. (*sigh*)

 

-Paul

 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, bluesman said:

nIt’s not your father’s Stromberg Carlson any more, Paul 🍾  The tubes in my PL right now are the original ones that came with it.  None is microphonic and none is even marginal in power or quality.

 

Tubes can be trouble for sure. My band played a very nice club in Avalon, NJ seven nights a week through the summer of ‘64, starting the night after my high school graduation.  M guitar amp was 6L6 powered, and I left it at the club because I lived in Margate & had an hour drive each way every night.  In mid-July, one tube failed in the middle of the gig - bright blue, serious glowing, a little internal sparking, then nothing).  I was too young, cheap & dumb to carry spares. It was 11:30 PM and we played ‘til 1.

 

Who ya’ gonna call?  The phone company!  It occurred to me that they had to have tubes - all their equipment was still on the vacuum standard. So I called the repair line (511?) and asked if they could help. About ten minutes later, a Bell repair truck pulls up, the driver runs in and hands me a pair of 6L6s. I said I only needed one and he replied that both were the same age, so I should replace the pair.

 

i asked what I owed him, and he said “The phone company always provides repair service for our customers”.......and the show went on.

 

I still use tubes in both musical instrument amplification and home audio. I have SS equipment too. But for serious listening, give me my hot cathode thermionic emitters!

 

That is one of the coolest stories ever. The world lost a treasure when Judge Green broke up Bell.  The new AT&T is nothing at all like the original. 

-Paul

 

Edited by Paul R
Stupid, but funny typo. Judge Green, not Judge Greed.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, firedog said:

Overall we are much better off today

...except if you're a 17 year old guitar player on stage on a hot summer night with a room full of drinking, paying customers who want to dance, a miserable wench for a club owner, and a dead amplifier!

 

 smiley_playing_guitar.gif.b4bf95a22a696810b4f817af0427f9e7.gif

 

PS:  That episode taught me a lesson I never forgot.  And as a result,  I'm still using up my stock of '60s tubes - that's why I have so many EL34s and 6L6s with which to play. Unfortunately, almost all good guitar amps use some combination of 12A-7s, 6L6s, 6V6s, EL34s, and/or EL84s. And the preferred output tubes for most guitar players are the worst choices for audio, because they sound fat and distort early.

 

Groove Tubes today, as an example, are graded from 1 to 10. The 1-3 tubes are for  "...early distortion, wide range, softer attack good for Rock and Blues solos".  4-7 are for "...normal performance, great dynamic range/attack and best all around rating type for all styles of playing".  And 8-10 feature "...[the widest] dynamic range, most clean power/less break-up for power players, Jazz and bass amps".   Back in the '60s, there was no such thing as tube grading for sound quality - we bought the best we could get, which was usually RCA, TungSol, GE, Mullard, Sylvania etc.   

 

KT88s & 6550s were not popular in guitar amps because they were only used in large, expensive, high power rigs and were too "clinical" for the top rock bands for whom those huge amps were created.  There have been and still are a few very nice (and very serious) guitar and bass amps with KT88s in the output stage.  But almost no jazz, blues, or commercial player needs or wants a rig like that when you can get the same tight power from a SS amp that costs and weighs a quarter as much with virtually no maintenance costs or requirements. And blues players tend to use smaller tube amps because they break up beautifully at lower volume levels.  Who would've dreamed that rock 'n roll would keep the tube industry alive?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, bluesman said:

And the preferred output tubes for most guitar players are the worst choices for audio, because they sound fat and distort early.

 

Let's be perfectly clear here - it's the TUBES that are fat and distort early, not most guitar players 😜

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, bluesman said:

 

Let's be perfectly clear here - it's the TUBES that are fat and distort early, not most guitar players 😜

 

To be even clearer, there are cases where both are true. :)


"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- quoted by Albert Einstein

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Allan F said:

 

To be even clearer, there are cases where both are true. :)

Then there's the classic description of auto racing when I was a boy - it was a time when the tires were skinny and the drivers were fat!

 

Of course, now our audio equipment is skinny and our cables are fat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, bluesman said:

Then there's the classic description of auto racing when I was a boy - it was a time when the tires were skinny and the drivers were fat!

 

You really shouldn't describe A.J. Foyt that way. :)


"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- quoted by Albert Einstein

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Paul R said:

I didn't mean that as snarky as it sounded Jason - apologies. I guess I am in a little bit of a bad mood and it shows. (*sigh*)

 

-Paul

 

 

13 hours ago, Paul R said:

 

(grin) You are not old enough to remember having to take a tube to the drugstore, plug it into the tester, then hope they had a replacement tube available. :)

That tends to sour one's view of the little vacuum filled hot cathode thermionic electron emitting buggers... 

 

 

Oh Paul, I didn't take any offense but these are problems that are easily solved...

 

http://tctubes.com

 

These guys are right here in St Paul, they send you a tube or 10 that has already been tested...

 

Or just admit you don't want a tube amp no matter what.


“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

 

 

Oh Paul, I didn't take any offense but these are problems that are easily solved...

 

http://tctubes.com

 

These guys are right here in St Paul, they send you a tube or 10 that has already been tested...

 

Or just admit you don't want a tube amp no matter what.

 

:) 

 

Well, that site certainly makes me feel bad about giving away that box full of tubes a few weeks ago. Might have been able to pay off the Jeep! (grin) 

 

I just sold my last hunk of tubed gear, a DAC from Audio by Van Alstine. It sounded great, but was only 16/44.1, or I might have kept it. One of these days I will spring for a big Wavelength Dac, especially for them thar tubes. 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...