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Valve Amp

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by Imran_UK, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. Imran_UK

    Imran_UK
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    What are people's view's on stereo valve amps? Do they provide better quality? For some reason the ones I have seen are rated at 40w but say they sound as loud as higher rated electronic amps?
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Hi Imran....as with everything else,a lot depends on the quality of the amp concerned,and there are as many awful valve amps as there are awaful solid state,relatively speaking.
    Some of the very best sounding amps(and also some of the most expensive)are tubed,such as the AudioNote and Wavac amps,and there are plenty of other examples around.

    The sound quality of a properly designed and executed valve amp can be superb,but a lot of emphasis is placed on not only good power supply design,but also transformer design,and the latter can make the difference between a good,and a superb amp.....these components are both heavy and expensive.

    The reason that a lot of the lower end valve manufacturers say that they sound "louder/better" etc is often down to the nature of valve and solid state amps when driven towards clipping.....valve amps predominantly clip quite gently,giving rise to gentle compression of the sound,and even order harmonics,whereas solid state amps(generally again)tend to clip more abruptly,with odd order(nasty sounding and harsh)harmonics.
    This often gives rise to the impression that a 40W valve amp will play louder than a 40W solid state amp.

    I've owned a fair number of valved(Lumley,Tube Technology etc)and solid state(Krell etc) amps,and would say that generally,solid state amps have much better bass control as you'd expect,but often lose out in midrange and treble imaging.

    Valve amps are generally very reliable now,and none of mine gave any problems other than needing revalving at intervals of up to 10000 hrs running(gives you a LOT of time),and I'm in the middle of building a set of 300B triode monoblocs now,as I love the sound quality of good valve amps.

    My only warnings about them would be to avoid thrashed or cheap gear,and I can give you a few to avoid if you wish.....good makes such as Audio Research,Copland,Graaf,VAC,Manley and those above should be fine to look at.
    Anything else,please ask.
     
  3. grafzep

    grafzep
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    it must be 10 years since, in a moment of madness, I sold my Audio Research valve amp. I still miss it. For voices especially tubes can kill.

    alexs2, are you building the WAD designs? can you let us know how you get on? I need someone to tell me that 5 x 300Bs for a 5.1 setup is not madness...
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I am building those.....the help from WAD is excellent,as has been the overall service so far(in terms of how much time they're willing to spend just talking even before any mention of me buying a set was made to them),and looking through the kits,the overall quality of what's included is generally good,although if you want to upgrade to Black Gates and AudioNote resistors,it would be an easy,if expensive,upgrade.

    I chose them over ready built ones such as the Audion on build quality,and obviously cost enters the equation with Border Patrol and the higher level AudioNote products.

    I think that having run both older,and in some cases considerably higher powered valve amps in my 2 channel systems,I personally would have no problems with a 5x300B setup(cost of 300B's aside...you do know that can add up to at least £1k worth of tubes even at the budget end....I've gone for TJ meshplate 300B's at £120 each,and NOS driver/phase splitters).
     
  5. grafzep

    grafzep
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    so are you considering a valve 5 ch setup for yourself? I doubt I'd get round to it any time soon, though mrs grafzep also enjoys the valve sound and quite liked the idea. Funnily enough finding the space is probably the biggest problem, and the heat of course!

    Its not so much movies, but I've been listening to sacd and dvda and feel its crying out for valves. maybe I sould just get a smoother/better sacd player. I know these thing cost - I remember dropping over a grand at Absolute for a "service" on the AR.

    Quite like the idea of watching a movie in the dark with lots of glowing glass! Do let us know what the WADs sound like
     
  6. SKA.face

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  7. Imran_UK

    Imran_UK
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    Thanks for you detailed replies guys, most appreaciated. Is it possible to find a decent 2 channel valve amp for around £300 - £400?

    I got a pair of Kef Q3 + QED silver cable terminated with QED airlock banana plugs, would I just need to add a CD player and valve amp to get good stereo sound going?
     
  8. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Some of the Audio Innovations and Croft models may be available secondhand for that sort of price,although you need to be careful with your choices.
    You can find Quad II's at around £400-600 if you just want a pair of power amps which will also appreciate in value,but beware of modified ones.
     
  9. Londondecca

    Londondecca
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    You could buy some of the cheaper WAD stuff for £3-400. I always thought the Quads were ok but failed to see (hear) what makes them so special in the minds of so many. However, the idea of running a valve AV setup gives me a warm glow (no pun intended)
     
  10. alexs2

    alexs2
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    The cheaper WAD kits do fall into that price range,but like all kits,do require a measure of experience and determination!.....having said that,the support is excellent,and there is also a build service available AFAIK.

    As to the Quads....I think for many,it's the compactness,the clever little tricks with resistors etc inside it,and also the smooth,warm sound.
    I have a nice old pair which I use a lot,but it does have to be said that they are in general a bit on the soft side,soundwise,and definitely limited in power....but collectible.
     

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