Got 500 dollars for a tube amp

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by frankb, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. Dentdog

    Dentdog Active Member

    Macintosh MC240
    62caddy and enfield like this.
  2. Rob9874

    Rob9874 Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    I'm sorry to be quoting this so late. I've been reading this thread since day one, but have to say this is the best reply I've seen all year. And I sympathize with the OP, as I'm a budget audiophile myself, but that was funny.
  3. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Tracy, CA, USA
    Yep, sure can. Looks like it comes with 'PSVANE' KT-88s, can't tell what the other tubes are (seems to be a tube rectifier in the middle). Might do just fine with the stock tubes for a long time. Hard to say if the speakers are a great match, but likely within power limits (assuming you don't need jet-engine level sound in a large room) it should do just fine.

    Take care in setup/placement and I bet this combo sounds excellent ... if you've never heard a good stereo you're in for a treat, and likely will spend long late nights after getting things set up. Happy listening!
  4. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    I have the same Monster power center, and it does a great job of quieting the background noise on my vintage Fisher, and it also noticeably woke up the "speed" too! Other benefit is by keeping the Fisher in the "on" position and using the switched outlet to actually power it on and off, I can preserve its power knob, which is a known weak spot on Fishers.

    Great looking system and space, BTW!
    ScottInDallas likes this.
  5. ScottInDallas

    ScottInDallas Forum Resident

    I'm beginning to get a very faint buzz from my power center. I like it for all of the reasons you mentioned as well and hope to keep this one in service for a bit.
  6. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    you guys are great, thanks
  7. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    ok, gemtune tech support is Chinese. help me make sense of this. I have two 8 ohm speakers

    "There're 2 sets of Output Terminals in the middle on the back. Either of them has 3 terminals marked with the amount of resistance. And please connect the terminals of “0”and “8”if you are using 8Ω speakers."
  8. whaiyun

    whaiyun Forum Resident

    0 is ground (black). If your speakers is 8 ohms load connect the red wire to the 8 ohm tap.
  9. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Tracy, CA, USA
    I'd recommend trying both 4 and 8 ohm outputs (keep - speaker connection on ground, try + speaker connection on 8 for a while, then move to 4). Speakers termed "8 ohm" usually have impedance (resistance at a particular frequency) that dips below 8 usually in the bass, where music has a lot of power (demands on amp). I don't see a review with graphs for your speakers, but most have this characteristic. Very few "8 ohm" speakers stay above 8 over the whole "20Hz - 20kHz" range.

    Keep volume below jet engine levels, no harm will be done to the amp. Possibly one or the other will sound better. Personally, I'd hook it up to the 4 ohm output and leave it there, but maybe the 8 will sound better.
    Cerealplayer likes this.
  10. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    I bought banana plugs for the speaker wires
  11. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    I totally agree with action pact. The vintage Fischer receivers thread got me thinking about them. But, it was because of this same conversation with action pact, that motivated me to look at some vintage integrated amplifier's as opposed to receivers.

    I came across a vintage Scott 222C, which is a Scott integrated amplifier. It was in good shape, when you consider the age. In addition, it had been restored by the previous owner, I had bought it from an estate sale.

    Even then, I was having some issues with one channel cutting off and I do need to have it completely gone through again.

    I have large tube amplifiers, that run KT88's, EL34's, KT-120's. I like them all, when I want plenty of slam, these amps give me all that I need and more.

    But, since I have very efficient horn driven speakers, vintage (but updated) Altec Lansing A7 voice of the theater speakers (103-dB), I can reach moderately loud volumes with as little as a watt or two.

    Here is the kicker, the more efficient your speakers, the smaller power amp, you can use. In most cases, smaller amps, not only sound better, but they can be far less expensive.

    What I am finding, is that my favorite sounding tubes in a class AB amplifier are the EL84's, or their variants, which is what the Scott has a tube called the 7189, which is in the EL84 family, but it can take a higher plate current than the standard EL84, so if you don't push them, they will have a long and happy life.

    As for that sweet, natural sounding tube amp, the Scott 222c integrated has the most natural sound, with beautiful midrange, of any of the larger, more powerful tube amplifiers that I own.

    Efficient speakers are generally speakers that tend to be horn loaded by design and usually sound their best when driven by tube amplification. Even modern day tower speakers, which, due to having large cabinets, generally tend to fall into around the 90-dB efficiency range, which I consider to be fairly efficient. But, since the vast majority of them were voiced to run off of solid state amplification, I run all of my tower speakers off of solid state amplification.

    Because the X-100 and the Scott 222c, are integrated amplifiers, they are of a simpler design than a flagship 500c receiver (which has 19-tubes and weighs close to forty pounds). It is one complicated piece of hand wired equipment. Any vintage amp that has not been restored, needs a complete restoration. If it has already been restored, it still may require and additional, "tough-up" restoration.

    One of our members, @Otlset, happened to come across one, that looked brand new, like it had been in a museum all of these years (the Scott 222c was manufactured between 1961 and 1963). Even then, he had some issues that required him to send it in for a touch-up restoration. All is working good now.

    You can purchase both vintage Scott and Fischer integrated amps for under $1,000. If unrestored and in operable and good aesthetic condition for around $500. Where you could expect to pay another $300 -$400 in restoration. And even requiring some additional servicing in the not to distant future.

    However, with either the Scott or the Fischer, you will be able to achieve a SQ, close to the highly reviered and highly sought after, Macintosh MC30's, which not only, cost way more, but it is difficult to find a pair in good, original condition, that haven't been messed with over the years.

    The small size power tubes not only sound better than many of the larger tubes, but they last much longer and are less expensive to replace.

    The nice things about the amps mentioned above is that, unlike many of the flea powered SET's having between 2-8 watts, these integrated amps and the Fischer receivers, put out between 20-30 watts. This gives you enough power to drive most loudspeakers to a room filling volume.

    It is unlikely that these vintage amplifiers will loose much, if any of their current value, unlike purchasing a new amp.

    I really do not recommend, buying bargain new tube amplifiers, not a good idea. Buying a good used tube amplifier, is a much better option.

    BTW... Someone just listed a Fischer 500c over at AGone, for an asking price of $975, with a wood case. I feel that this is a fair price.

    Fisher 500C Excellent Condition


    Stereophile did a review of a vintage 500c back in 2005, here is a link.

    Good luck in your quest!

    bluemooze and Chupacabra like this.
  12. whaiyun

    whaiyun Forum Resident

    Too bad it's twice the budget of the OP! (and mine) I wish I could find a decent vintage tube receiver for $500
  13. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    You can, but something that is a half century old, is likely to require some restoration. The Fischer 500c is a complicated, point to point, handwired receiver with nineteen tubes! It takes a lot of labor to restore one of these to the condition that it should be.

    Consider, that if you don't need to receive AM or FM radio signals, then maybe, you don't really need a receiver. Maybe just an vintage, integrated amplifier, would serve the purpose?

    1) It would cost less money than a receiver.

    2) It would be easier and less expensive to restore.

    Tube amps require a lot more attention, as compared to SS amps. Vintage gear, even more so.

    If we waived our magic wand and got you an old but still working vintage Fischer receiver from between 1958 and 1966, what would you do if it started not to operate correctly? The most common problems, would be the tubes and the caps.

    And, believe me, something will fail. Would you know how to test the 19-tubes that the 500c has in it? (I know, I can't)

    Would you know, it the problems were originating from an old cap?

    A lot of the older stuff does not utilize electrolytic (polarized) capacitors, which almost always, wear out with age. So, it is not always a case of a capacitor going bad. Older, non-polarized capacitors are quite often still preforming with acceptable limits and don't always need to be automatically be replaced.

    And, if they are replaced with a less expensive, modern capacitor, it could change the sound signature enough to negate the benefits of having a vintage amplifier, in the first place.

    When you start replacing vintage caps, a high audio quality cap should be used. interpret that to mean, that you could buy an ordinary cap for $3.50, but a superior sounding cap, might cost you $20 or more.

    Unfortunately, it is difficult to expect to spend $500 and get a quality (and properly working), tube amp, vintage or otherwise.

    I do say, difficult, but not impossible. One of the receiverless, integrated amps would be my suggestion, because, you can still get one for around $500, in reasonably good condition. The small power tubes, will provide you with a longer operating life and they will be less expensive to replace, than the larger KT88 and KT120 power tubes, that power the larger amplifier's.

    If you get away from receiver's, than you can buy a better sounding vintage amp, for less money and have modest more operating costs.

    Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. Vintage equipment is great, I have vintage amps and vintage speakers, but I do have to keep on top of things to assure that everything is correctly functioning.

    What our members are advising both you and the OP is, don't expect to spend $500 and get an exceptional tube amplifier.

    Consider that you may not even need an integrated amplifier (with tone controls), most all modern day sources, output 2-volts, which is referred to as a line level input, which is enough power to drive a power amplifier directly. There is not really any need for a preamp or an integrated amplifier or any preamp at all.

    In today's world, we are dealing with digital music sources, so, if digital music enters into the equation, then you will need an outboard DAC, to convert the signal to analog.

    Everyone has a budget and that is fine, but for $500, I feel that SS is a better route to take. More bang for your buck.

    The cost of ownership for tube equipment is higher than with SS.

    You can get some nice older models of Peachtree integrated amplifier's in the $300 - $600 price range, that include a DAC, and will deal with both analog and today's digital sound processing requirements.
    62caddy likes this.
  14. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

  15. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    Ok, So the Gemtune GS-02 and other tube amps are generally looking for line level input?
  16. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    I just bought a reel to reel also, Its from the mid 60's Class A tube preamps unopened, brand new from the past.

    The preamps are very respected. Its gorgeous. Oh, it's the Akai M-8. So I have two tube machines.
  17. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    Oops, already did. Got a Gemtune Gs-02
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  18. rl1856

    rl1856 Forum Resident

    Used Jolida/Cayin/Spark. Used Sofia Electric Baby. New direct from China (Yaqin and similar). Woo Audio (I think they are available in the US from Audio Advisor).

    $500 is a tough price point. Looking vintage, my suggestion is to look for a restored Dynaco SCA35. About 12 wpc, you can run a digital source directly in, and the Phono stage is better than you think. You may get lucky an find a restored 6bq5 amp from Scott, Fisher or Sherwood. Anything with more power will cost more than $500.
    wellers73 likes this.
  19. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, PA
    I have an Onix Melody SP3 Integrated Amplifier which puts out 35 watts of really nice tube power. Used I purchased for $500 and it went for $1,000 new. I am not sure they are still available any longer even used but if you find one I highly recommend it. Wonderful sound and the 35 watts it puts out is a very strong 35 watts and drives my Thiel CS1.5's nicely.
  20. Mike34260

    Mike34260 Forum Resident

    Toledo, Ohio
    I recently bought an Aiqin El34 amplifier which isn't too far off from the Gemtune. I've had it for almost 2 weeks and for being my first experience with tubes I'm extremely happy! The build quality of this amp is solid, weighs 25 lbs and keeps it simple with point to point wiring. The sound signature is not overly warm, almost similar to my solid state gear but with some added midrange magic. It's rated at only 12 WPC but I have more than enough volume. For 226$ shipped I'd say it was a steal! :righton: Here is a link to a Reddit post I recently made with pictures of my setup.

    My first foray into tubes, descriptions on each picture
  21. Larry Fisher

    Larry Fisher New Member

    Port Townsend, WA
    Pardon me if someone else has already suggested this: DIYTube Dynaco ST35 Tube DIY Amp Kit - NEW REV. E! Great for iPod
    I built it 13 years ago when it was just a board and a parts list sold by the designer on eBay. It was easy, and this kit makes it much easier. It sounds great, and I've owned many tube amps, both the classics and modern. I'm still using it daily in my office system. If you don't know how to solder, get someone to show you, and buy or borrow a multi-meter to make the bias adjustments.
  22. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    OK OK, Op update. I have Not opened the gemtune package. I could return it easily with amazon. Reviews on amazon. You never know who they are. Anyway, Should I return it and replace it with something you guys can put in a short sentence that boils this thread down to it's carbon crushed diamond of truth? The gemtune was $600.
  23. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    I sent this email to the Ampex mailing list. They can be vicious on there.

    I have bought a Gemtune gs-02 amp and I also bought BIC America PL-980. They are efficient speakers capable of a 10-300 watts per channel. The gemtune probably isnt a good match as they want 13 watts. Im a bit of a noob. Not an expert in tube amps. Well, This the only reel to reel forum Ive ben following. Im sorry if I'm out of line discussing a brand that isnt ampex. Why ask here? I just acquired an Akai m-8 tube reel to reel. Mint condition, never opened. Two tube Class A pre-amps that are highly regarded. Can I pair the reel to reel to the speakers and use it as a stereo amplifier? Id rather return the Gemtune and go that way if possible. Help

    thank you"
  24. ScottInDallas

    ScottInDallas Forum Resident

    I would recommend you unpack and hook up that tube amp. I think you have 30ish days to return to Amazon. Give it a try and see what you think.
  25. frankb

    frankb New Member Thread Starter

    yeah, i hear its dangerous to mod the r2r to work like an amplifier

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