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. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    But you can't spend a quarter million, take twenty wrong turns, endure endless equipment issues and start endless internet threads like that. ;)
    Geoff, Robert C and Joe Spivey like this.
  2. Chiliarches

    Chiliarches Well-Known Member

    Chicago Suburbs
    I second Klipsch Cornwalls for the mains. I just got mine - and use them double duty for both music and movies, as you wish to - and I think they are very nice.

    For the rest of the setup, I think there are three basic approaches -
    1. Just use a stereo or a 2.1 setup, as Dennis0675 suggests - I can confirm that this is very easy and is satisfying. So long as you have preouts, you could easily use a tube amplifier and use a sub for movies when you want to.
    2. Do what Ski Bum is doing and a get preamp with an HT pass through.
    3. Get a speaker/amplifier switch and use it to switch amplifiers - use your stereo tube amplifier for music and your modern surround receiver for movies. Of course, this assumes that your music sources are difference than your movie sources....unless you introduce more switches into the mix.
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  3. Gavinyl

    Gavinyl Penthouse Forum Resident

    I heard the beaches in Medellin aren't that great...
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  4. klonk

    klonk Forum Resident

    I have actually never heard their products, but they offer Multi Channel Tube based amplification.
    Butler Audio
  5. beowulf

    beowulf Forum Resident

    Chula Vista, CA
    1. get a cheap pre/pro receiver like a Denon X3300,
    2. get a 2 channel stereo preamp with Home Theater Bypass (or you can use any stereo preamp with Tape Inputs),
    3. get a 2 channel tube amp,
    4. in the alternative to steps 2 and 3 you could get a 2 channel tube stereo integrated amp with HT Bypass or Tape Inputs,
    5. get 3 matching left, right and center speakers, and add 2 more for surround (the rear surrounds do not need to match your 3 front speakers) and up to 4 more in-ceiling speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X effects if wanted.
    • Use the Denon receiver to power your (a) center, (b) surrounds and (c) any additional effect speakers.
    • Use the 2 channel tube amp (or integrated) to power your left and right channels.
    • Run a set of RCAs from the Denon X3300 Pre Outs into the stereo preamp HT Bypass or Tape Input.
    • "If" your stereo preamp/integrated does not have HT Bypass, when watching movies ~ set the volume on the stereo preamp to about 75-85% **.
    • When listening to 2 channel music the Denon pre/pro does not need to be turned on, only when watching movies or listening to multi channel music.
    ** Note if using a preamp that does not have HT Bypass and using the Tape Inputs remember you will be juggling 2 volumes (1 on the receiver and 1 on the stereo preamp/integrated) ... be careful when switching back to listening to 2 channel music as the volume on the stereo preamp will be at 75% and you will scare the crap out of everyone :laugh:.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
    jupiterboy likes this.
  6. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    If your not worried about price in a space like that I'd do 3 VOTTs and 2 Model 14s or step down to 3 Cornwalls and 2 Heresy. Of course you could replace 2 of the Corwalls with Klipsch Horns and have backs built for them so you wouldn't need true corners. Then add two nice custom 15 inch, folded horn subs.
  7. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    I love these Frankenstein solutions but I dare say there is a lady in the picture that is going to want to watch tv. The number of power buttons is going to need to be considered.

    A nice sounding avr is fine for music. Get a McIntosh avr and be done with it. If you want to geek out with a little tube flavor, add a DAC with a tube.

    It’s really about the priority of use. More than 50% video, give up on the tube sound. 50% music, give up surround sound.
    superstar19 likes this.
  8. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    Brazilian chicas work quick...
  9. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    No all tube home theater. Integrated Circuits can't be avoided because of the decoding and processors. Amplifiers can be tube.
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  10. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    McIntosh does not make an AVR. And never has made an AVR. Want McIntosh and want surround, you have to buy their AV Tuner/Preamp or preamp with AV features and a power amplifier or power amplifiers. Does not exist otherwise.
  11. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    Alright, you've got me on a technicality. I'll change my comment to "Buy a McIntosh Home Theatre Processor and a separate five channel power amp, your music will sound just fine"
    McLover and Kyhl like this.
  12. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    If you listen to Eric Johnson, you have. That company makes the Tube Driver, a critical pedal which gives EJ a big chunk of his distorted lead guitar sound.
    klonk likes this.
  13. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The A7 VOTT’s are surprisingly affordable ($3400 for a completely restored pair). They are actually cheaper than a pair of Cornwall III’s new which run $4400, though I’m sure I could find them used for less. I haven’t heard either of these speakers, so I’d be buying based on reputation which makes it a little harder.

    But you’re thinking is pretty much in line with what I’m considering.

    I’m friendly with Jefferey Jackson who is the brains behind WheelFi and some other super high end custom horn speakers. He had some stuff lying around that he thinks he could package into something really great in my budget. May go that route.
    IanL likes this.
  14. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    Your knowledge of post-1977 McIntosh is rather sketchy I'm afraid.

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  15. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    It's more like a McIntosh AV Integrated amplifier and processor. Not quite a true AVR but more AV Integrated Amplifier in the sense. So not quite a AV Receiver. That takes a tuner section. But I get your point on this. It does have amplifier and preamp/processor in one box.
  16. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    I really do like where your head is at with the horns and tubes. I just don't see that has being the best choice with 100" screen and "she wants home theatre to be the priority". To me this means that simplicity needs to be a priority, that means one power button and a remote that says "TV" when she wants to watch TV. And while I do love tubes and horns, dialog isn't great coming through a horn loaded design. I mean you can certainly live with it if you are mostly listening to music but if you are looking to binge some Netflix, it can be a bit much.
    gd0 likes this.
  17. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not disagreeing with you, but aren’t the VOTT speaker what actual movie theaters use for dialogue?

    That said, I could always add a regular center channel in a system like this.

    My gal is actually pretty technically adept and she liked the looks of the big speakers. She doesn’t necessarily need the level of hand-holding some do here, but simplicity is a virtue on its own either way.
  18. RPM

    RPM Well-Known Member

    Easter Island
    Get an AVR with a tape loop and insert ifi itube2 in it.
  19. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    The VOTTs take up huge amount of real estate and are not all that pretty to look at and how 'tubey' do they really sound w/ss amps running them?

    My vote is for Goldenear as they are voiced to be mellow but with detail and are about the most reasonably priced speakers and remind me of my AR speakers from the 60s. The 1 and 2 have built in subs too.
  20. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    Nice. That's a pretty decent price. Having heard both and for a big room I'd go for the VOTT. Bigger sound with a smoother mid-range.

    The VOTT are. If you put them behind the 100 inch screen you'd be rocking it real old school.
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  21. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    I don't really know about VOTT but I know guys that have had a hard time running the ALTEC voice of the theater in a living room. No matter how big your living room is, it's not a theatre. Also...I don't think theatres are still choosing to use horn loaded speakers.

    Don't let me talk you out of it, I'd love to see what you come up with. It just seems like a lot of amps, a lot of tubes and a complicated way to set up a HT. There are a lot of HT systems out there and there may be good reason none of them run tubes.
  22. mtrot

    mtrot Forum Resident

    Tyler, TX
    Thanks for that list! I'm in much the same situation as the OP, in that I'd like to get an upgrade on the two channel quality I get via my Denon AVR. I have been looking at some of the McIntosh integrated amps and pre-amps that have what they call Home Theater PassThru. But it's nice to know about all these other options.
  23. DPM

    DPM Forum Resident

    Nevada, USA
    Conrad Johnson used to make a tube-based multichannel preamplifier called the MET1. If you found one of those on the used market you could then have your blu-ray player do all of the digital decoding and send an analog signal to the pre.
  24. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    I sure don't; wotta colossal kludge. But enthusiasts have been chasing them down for years.

    Yah, navigating The Maze can get old quick. Heck, at some point even you will want a simple switching protocol. Unless you're even more OCD than I am. :laugh:

    Do that regardless. That's where the movie dialogue is. I tried to ditch the center for some years because I couldn't find a voice-matched center on the cheap. When I finally unclinched and bought matching L-C-R, I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Especially for 5.1 music discs.

    I'd suggest the best of both worlds would be a loaded AVR (Marantz or the somewhat more boutique-y Anthem) and an outboard tube power amp for the fronts.

    This will get blowback on this forum, but modern AVRs are mature technology that play music very well for all but the most fussy audiophiles – I mean, discerning listeners. :help: And though it's an additional layer of processing, the built-in modern room correction software can work wonders. Often, that desirable pure short signal path won't do you much good if you've got a difficult room.

    Which may need treatment$ anyway.

    And I can't even speak to your budget. Assembling all these conflicting interests on a firm stated dollar amount is a fool's errand. Be ready and willing to ravage the wallet.

    Happy hunting.
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  25. Seems to me that a really nice AVR with A/B front speakers would do the trick nicely - make the "music" speakers your "B" fronts and then set up a balanced midpriced surround system on "A" for the HT setup. To make it nice and tubey, feed your 2ch sources through tube DAC/preamp/etc.

    It might not be what you had in mind, but it will work and will tick the boxes that keep you both where you want to be AV and sound wise...
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