Getting tube sound in system that also needs to be a home theater

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Brian Gupton, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hey guys. Been awhile. I’m getting settled into Medellín (Colombia) and living it. Found a great place that we’ll be moving into later this month, so naturally I’m starting to think about putting in a new system.

    I’m going to stay away from vinyl since there’s nowhere to buy records here. The living room in this new spot is HUGE with maybe 20’ ceilings. I’m planning to put in a 100”+ screen for a home theater, but want a system that sounds great too. I’m addicted to that tube sweetness after owning a Shindo system, but not sure how to get that (or something similar) sound in a system that needs to do double duty as a home theater with surround sound.

    I’m going to set an initial budget of around $5-6k for the audio components including speakers.

    I’m currently thinking about getting 2 or 3 vintage Altec A7 Voice of the Theater speakers for the front three channels and then buying some super cheap speakers for the surround channels. I know I can tweak the components in the A7’s and turn hem into something special down the road.

    But I’m also thinking about something from the Klipsch Heritage line. I’ve owned several Klipsch speakers in the past and found them good for the money but quite fatiguing. But they were always paired with solid state A/V receivers (Yamaha and Denon).

    I’m open to speaker suggestions too. I’d be buying used almost for sure. I’ve found some expats here who know shippers who can get stuff here at decent prices.

    But I’m not really sure what to do on the amp/pre side. I want tube sound, but need something that will accept 4K picture and do at least 7.2 if not 11.2. Of course, I’ve never heard of an a/v receiver with tubes, so I may not be able to go that route. What I could do is start with a solid state receiver and then add a tube amp down the road and just hook the 2 front speakers to that when I’m listening to music. Not sure.

    Any suggestions as I’m thinking my approach through?
  2. Abbagold

    Abbagold Forum Resident

    Cornwalls should work nicely. If too ”ringy ”, you could tame them down with some plumbers putty. Also, room treatments will help a lot. Sound panels throughout your room will be a big benefit. Especially with the high ceilings.
    Chiliarches likes this.
  3. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Boston MA
    Hey Brian, Long time no see.:wave:
  4. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was actually thinking Cornwalls. Never heard them, but trying not to overthink this. I’m not gonna chase the sound too much (famous last words).

    I’m also thinking about just dumping most of the budget into an older pair of B&W 801’s or 802’s and then just adding the rest of the speakers over time.
  5. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah man. Spent 4 months on the beach. Got all tan and met an amazing Colombian chica who will probably make an honest man of me soon. She loves music too and is down with building up a system, but wants the home theater as a priority.
    Jtycho, lobo and Gavinyl like this.
  6. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    I'm not an AV guy, but would tube monoblocks work with an AV preamp? You could use SS for the other speakers/sub.
  7. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Ha. I’m not an a/v guy either. Hoping there are a few here who are!
  8. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Similar situation but I'm not interested in rear surrounds or subs--only a 3.0 system but here's what I'm likely doing and don't see why it couldn't work even if you wanted all 11 (?!?) channels firing--
    • Keeping my AVR to power essentially my center speaker only and do the video processing and switching between STB, Apple TV and PS3 for DVDs (rarely use).
    • Powering my L/R two channels with the best sounding integrated or separates I can find with either the integrated (or the processor in the unlikely event I go separates) having a home theater bypass.
    • I have RCA's from the L/R preamp out on the AVR going into the integrated/separates AVR in/master (this will depend on the unit)
    • Set up this way, if I want two channel audio (for me that's basically vinyl), I just turn on the integrated and I'm good. When I or the family want TV or movies, turn on the avr, turn on the integrated and select the AVR input (or bypass input as it's sometimes called). AVR controls volume now.
    You could do the same with an 11.2 new AVR of course since guessing you are looking for 2 channel audio from your description. Here's a list of products offering a HT bypass function--you will have to research the execution because it does vary: Amplifiers with HT-bypass - update 03. September 2017

    Or I'm not going to do any of that and just unplug by L/R speaker cables when I want to do serious vinyl sessions and plug them into an irrational, emotional decision in the form of something that just simply moved me that doesn't offer a bypass function :)
    CrazyCatz, mtrot and Brian Gupton like this.
  9. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    Good to see you around.

    I think the biggest issue to overcome is going to be availability. I have a friend who lives in Medellín, and while it doesn't seem to be Brazil-bad, it does seem it can be hard to import things, high tarrifs, etc. Are you seeing this, or am I off base? If you have access to just about anything a person in the US could mail order, you'll probably be fine.
  10. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    Living room =huge
    Huge in actual dimensions?

    Carpet, wood floors?
    Room Treatments, Drapes??
    More info needed. Shape of room etc.

    Unless the room is truly "huge", and you have heard VOT up close, possibly something more home oriented would work better.

    No mention of subs or not, but most of the speakers you mentioned are not truly full range, but cover a good range and are loud.
    The B+W 801's Depending on which version can sound great in a fairly large room, supplied with decent power.
    But they sound completely different than VOT's, Or Klipsch vintage models.
  11. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Zagreb, Croatia
    So you left USA to live in Medellin, Colombia and spent the last 4 months getting sun tan. We understand you. But what's with the false modesty, why not get Kondo to build a custom tubed home cinema for you? ;)
  12. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Guessing you are more interested in stereo I'd recommend going with a good stereo pre with AV pass through, a good stereo amp, and an HT receiver for movies. Not sure if you can get that done to your liking in your budget but it will give you great stereo to boot.
    This would be three boxes plus something to play your digital. The HT receiver would be helped by the fact that the mains would be run from your stereo amp, which could be tubes, relieving the HT receiver to only power the center and surrounds.
    IanL likes this.
  13. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Several expats have said that there are shipping companies in Florida who speacilize in skirting that stuff. I don’t know details on cost yet as I would need to know weight and size to get a quote. But my friend had some big items like tv’s shipped and the cost was only around $300. I’m assuming shipping two big speakers would be more like $1,200 but I’m just guessing at this point.
  14. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I didn’t get the actual dimensions, but the Wall they’d sit on is at least 24 feet. It’s actuall much bigger than that since the right side is open to a sitting area with fireplace and the stairs.

    The back wall is all glass, but the glass slides open to the huge patio. I’d listen with the windows open. The floors are all ceramic tile, but I’d put a rug down.
    Higlander likes this.
  15. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    And yes, I’d add subwoofers. If I go the Altec VOTT route, I would probably have some horn loaded subs built and use some REL’s or similar in the meantime.
    SandAndGlass and IanL like this.
  16. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

  17. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Have you looked into McIntosh at all? I feel like they have a lot of flexible preamps/power amps (tube and ss)that work for dual purpose systems.
    FashionBoy, beowulf and oregonalex like this.
  18. Abbagold

    Abbagold Forum Resident

    I’ve heard of people using both Cornwalls and heresy models for surround sound to pretty good results. Heresy doesn’t have much bass extension but paired with CW’s (which is what Paul Klipsch had in mind) should yield some impressive results.
    Brian Gupton and Rolltide like this.
  19. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Get an a/v preamp/processor and stereo and mono tube amps to drive your speakers. Something like a Bryston unit and whatever amps you like.
  20. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    I saw a
    SandAndGlass and Brian Gupton like this.
  21. Ski Bum

    Ski Bum Happy Audiophile

    Long Island, NY
    My media room is both a home theater and tubed two-channel listening room. Check out my equipment profile (it is above your budget, but you will see how it can be done).

    The secret is to get a pre-amp with a surround processor pass through feature. It is a fairly common feature that allows the output from a surround processor to pass through the pre-amp unaffected. For example, when working as a home theater, the audio source (in my case, an Oppo disc player, a cable box or a Roku Pro) sends its signal to a surround sound processor (in my case, a Datasat unit). The Datasat has seven audio outputs (two main fronts, one center, two surrounds and two subs). The two main front outputs go to the pre-amp (which is a tubed Audio Research 40th Anniversary), which is set to pass the signal through unaffected to the power amps for the two main front speakers; the other five audio outputs go from the Datasat to the power amps for the other five speakers. The video signals go directly to the projector (there is an HDMI selector switch in my setup). When playing two channel stereo from a digital source, the output from the DAC goes directly to the pre-amp, which amplifies the signal and sends it on to the power amps for the front main speakers. For vinyl, the output from the turntable goes to a tubed phono-preamp (an ARC Reference 2) and onto the pre-amp and then the front power amps. All of my power amps are solid state, but you could use tube units if you want (but you better have really good air conditioning).

    All equipment not in an operating signal path is turned off when operating as a home theater or two-channel stereo; the pre-amp must be on even when it is acting solely as a pass through.

    Good luck with your setup. It is definitely possible. Put your money into the components that are most important to you. The main front speakers are easily the most important in either mode of operation.
  22. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Austin, TX
  23. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 I’m here to help

    The best advice is to give up on surround sound processing. A video source sounds fine with two speakers.

    Seriously, I was at the same place trying to do two things at once and unless you get something with the ht bypass, it’s not going to happen.

    I have cornwalls and a fisher 400. I just run a DAC with multiple inputs and an out from a Blu-ray player, cable box or computer works just fine. It may not be the best way to get baked and watch star wars but life is full of comprises.
  24. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Yea I do two channel and sub. All I need.
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  25. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    best thing i've read all day...
    LarryP, Howard Lunt and Dennis0675 like this.

Share This Page