Low powered Tube Amps

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by thaiav, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. thaiav

    thaiav
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    I'm casting my eye over the new Roth Audio MC4 as an overall ipod doc and integrated amp. However, its power output is only 13 watts per channel. As I've never played with tubed electronics before, what type of hifi speaker would I need. I thinking of putting some quad 12L with them rated at a min of 30 watts but I've seen some hifi tube amps such as the EAR/Yoshino only at 20 or 25 watts driving some serious speakers, will 13 watts be enough to drive the quads or will I fry the tube amps?
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    A few things worth saying....firstly most tube amps clip a lot more gently than their S/s counterparts,and may allow you to drive them a little harder without sounding too rough as they approach clipping.

    Secondly,used with fairly efficient speakers in a reasonable to small room,the SPLs can be more than adequate.

    If you look at speakers with an efficiency of 90dB/W or more,then even with 10W/channel,you'll get SPLs of 100dB at 1metre.

    Now...a few more practicalities....there are a vast number of chinese sourced valve amps available currently,and some are quite reasonably priced and with power outputs of 30-50W/channel....prices usually from a few hundred pounds up.

    The build quality is generally pretty good,but you should look for UK versions,with a UK warranty as opposed to a return-to-base warranty.

    Of the lower powered amps,many are either based on 2A3 or 300B tubes,and can sound superb,especially some of the UK made(for which read expensive) designs such as Border Patrol.
    For really low powered designs,you would need to look at things like horn-loaded speakers,but these would generally apply to single ended 300B or 2A3 designs with between 3-8W/channel,which would not generally be usable with anything else.
    Most current commercial designs are either parallel single ended(i.e.multiple tubes for the output) or push-pull designs(where single or multiple tubes handle the +ve and _ve sides of the signal).....some useful information regarding the designs may be found here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valve_audio_amplifiers

    Sort of an overview but not a bad one.

    FWIW....my listening room/lounge is about 6m x 3m and a pair of 300B monoblocs giving about 25W/channel via Quad ESLs can produce a more than adequate level....the ESLs are pretty inefficient.
     
  3. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Some very sound comments Alex.
    Just to add to that. As I have a pair of fairly efficient speakers, I've spent some of my time during the last year investigating valves somewhat more, and it really isn't as straightforward as it seems.
    My previous experiences were pretty positive and based upon comments on the net, I'd pretty much got the impression that anything with a valve in it must be good. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    I really have heard a lot of very BAD valve amps or at best mediocre. So don't assume that all is rosy on the other side of the garden. My advice is pretty much as per any piece of kit, i.e. audition carefully.
    For example, I've heard a number of the "better" Chinese valve amps, and really was underwhelmed by most, particularly the cheaper ones.

    If you can afford it, do go have a look at kit like Border Patrol. These chaps get to command a price for a good reason, some of the best gear I've heard.
    At the cheaper end of the market, I'd suggest you check out our own World Design kits (some of which you can buy pre-built). These can be had with a variey of valves, and I have to say that I've been very impressed with their 6550 systems, which have awesome dynamics and attack.
     

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