Rogue Pharoah Integrated no longer pleasing.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Helom, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I joined this forum because I've noticed a lot of Rogue Audio users here from reading other threads.

    I bought a used Rogue Audio Pharoah a couple months ago to replace my Sphinx V2. It's being used with Monitor Audio Silver 8s. At first, it seemed like a decent upgrade over the Sphinx, considering the price I paid. It has better channel separation and dynamics. I also rolled in some NOS Brimar CV4003 tubes into the Pharoah and perceived a notable improvement in most respects.

    I then swapped out the Pharoah for my old Yamaha AS-500, just for kicks.

    To my surprise, the Yamaha was much closer in performance to the Pharoah than I'd like to admit. Channel separation and dynamics were inferior to the Pharoah, but I have to give the nod to the Yammy for better noise floor and low end bass.

    Swapped the Pharoah back into my system and have been listening for the past few nights. I find that it's not very long before I start feeling the fatigue I usually associate with excessive brightness.

    I didn't experience this issue with the Yamaha.

    Has anyone else here been enamoured with the sound of their new gear, then one day, it no longer makes the cut? I wonder if this is possibly a case of tubes gone bad.

    I'm thinking maybe I should try an integrated with a more traditional Class AB topology.

    I'm looking at the Parasound Halo. Any suggestions? Thoughts?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. wownflutter

    wownflutter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kokomo Indiana
    When I was running a tube amp, it seemed that about once a year I'd get the fealing that it just wasn't cutting it anymore. I'd start considering upgrade paths and pricing new amps.
    Then I'd check the bias of my tubes. Sure enough, every time the bias had drifted.
    Once dialed back in, all was well again.
     
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  3. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    No bias on the Pharaoh to worry about. I brought a Pharaoh home for a demo once and it wasn't my favorite integrated, but I certainly did not find it to be bright. I wonder if the choice of tube has something to do with it. Di you try the original JJ's back in? I run a set of RCA cleartops in my RP5 and love them. So many options out there for the 12AU7 that I am sure whatever is causing fatigue could be tamed, but I have experienced some degree with some class D amps (especially my old Peachtree Decco65), but others, especially my D3020 have had no issues at all.

    I found the Pharaoh to be somewhat similar to the Sphinx. I found it to be a bit on the dark side, but I only had either of them for a short demo and didn't give either a very good audition. I really wanted to love the Pharaoh, but went with the RP5 and my ARC power amp instead.
     
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  4. mreeter

    mreeter Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Columbia, MO. USA
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  5. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    The tubes in a tube amp will make or break the sound. I had a H.H. Scott 299c that I inherited from my dad, who bought it in 1961. I happily ran it for over 30 years with the orginal Telefunken 12AX7's, but the power tubes and caps started to go, so I retired it after I upgraded my speakers to my power-sucking B&W's.

    I bought a first-generation Rogue Sphinx and hated it. Besides the cheezy build quality, the combination of tube pre and Class D power section brought out the worst in both.
    I tried rolling the driver tubes to NOS clear top RCA's, but they were microphonic. I ended up ditching it for a 300w NAD Class AB solid-state amp, and never looked back. OTOH, I heard a Rogue Cronus Magnum driving a pair of British ProAc Studio speakers at my audio dealer, and it sounded phenomenal.
     
  6. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    It might just be that the Yamaha is a better match for your speakers than the Rogue.

    I've got a Rogue Pharoah (Mullard CV4003 tubes from Upscale Audio) and it's a perfect match for my Maggie 1.7i.

    A friend bought one on my recommendation and loves it driving Dynaudios. A friend of ours wants one too, so if you want to sell, hit me with a PM.
     
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  7. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    I have heard this amp extensively and it sounds anything but bright. Your speakers have a very tipped up top end and recessed midrange. Monitor Audio Silver 8 loudspeaker Measurements »
    It isn't surprising that the system sounds fatiguing. The Mullard tubes were a step in the wrong direction because they further boost the bass and recess the midrange.
    You want some midrange- badly. I recommend trying the Amperex Bugle Boy holland made 12Au7. They will transform the Pharaoh in the right direction and allow it to sound as good as it possibly can. they will bring out the midrange in your system.
    That is the good thing about tubes- you never have to settle for the sound you hear.
    The merits of the Pharaoh are dynamics and grunt, and it delivers big time. Get the tonality adjusted and you'll have a winner.
     
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  8. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    I should say that any comparisons between the Sphinx and Pharaoh are only somewhat familial. The Pharaoh is a considerably superior piece, from build quality, to preamp stage, to the Phono stage, to the headphone amp. None of the corners cut for the Sphinx are cut on the Pharaoh.
     
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  9. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    another thing is that class D amps take time to warm up (believe it or not) . my dealer told me it keeps sounding better the longer it's powered up. i definitely noticed this as well- leave it on the whole day if not longer. small signal tubes should last.
     
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  10. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    The Pharaoh has two power switches. The one on the back panel controls the Class D modules, and is designed to be left on unless changing tubes or configuring the phono stage. The front panel switch controls the preamp section.

    Your dealer is right, it did sound markedly better after the Class D sections had been powered for a day or so. This wasn't break in either as I bought mine preowned in mint condition and saved a bundle over new. One thing on these- and I'm not sure why people are selling them, but they are not holding resale well at all. It doesn't really matter to me because someone else took a big hit, and mine isn't for sale, nor will it be.
     
  11. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Thanks for all the replies. I just realized that this forum doesn't notify me through email that I have replies.

    I did have the Sphinx V2 for a short time and liked it well. It also sounded a bit bright and bass shy until I swapped the JJ tubes for the Brimar CV4003 I got from Upscale Audio.

    My intuition was that my speakers were capable of more, and spoke with Rogue about the differences between the Pharoah and Sphinx. I bought the Pharoah and immediately swapped the JJ tubes for the Brimars.

    I was very pleased with the sound at first. The channel separation of the Pharoah is definitely superior. After listening to my Yamaha for a while, I've been disappointed with the Pharoah. Its lower mid bass seems barely audible and it only produces decent low end bass on bass heavy electronic music. With the Yamaha, my system doesn't really need a sub, with the Pharoah, it definitely needs the sub.

    The other night, I swapped the original JJ tubes back into the Pharoah, and I didn't notice much difference. Swapped the Brimars back into the amp and the only difference was some minor microphonics.

    My current experience with the Pharoah is that it produces an "in your face" midrange with my speakers, it's somewhat bright and very bass shy, especially in the 50 to 100 hz range.

    Maybe it's just a bad combo with my speakers and I didn't realize it until swapping gear. I had not listened to my system for about 6 weeks back in July before I moved into my new place and bought the Sphinx before it was set up again. That's probably why I didn't notice the shy bass as much with the Sphinx.

    More background: I also have some Epos Epic 2 stand mounters. I absolutely loved the sound of those with my Yamaha. When I upgraded to the MA Silver 8s, it seemed like the midrange was slightly more recessed but stronger bass and a very similar treble. One reason I bought the MA Silvers was because they seemed to have a smooth treble but remain detailed. It didn't sound like other metal domes.

    I have a feeling that swapping tubes will only put another dent in my bank account. Has anyone compared the Pharoah to the Parasound Halo or something like the Marantz PM14 S1?
     
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Also thought I should mention that I've only been in this hobby for about 4 years. The Rogue hybrid amps are my only experience with tubes. I typically listen to my music at night and usually at no more than 75 db. Maybe I should be looking at quality instead of quantity when it comes to the power? I want to be able to crank it up once in a while, but I don't foresee myself ever breaking 90 db.
     
  13. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    Why should swapping the tubes put a serious dent in the bank account. You don't have to jump for the ones that are the big dollar favorites to get great results. The RCA tubes listed in this thread are amazing and very reasonable.

    Rogue Sphinx owners »

    I had an A23 and while it was capable, I didn't find it terribly inspiring. You could probably trade your Pharaoh for a P5 and A21 pretty squarely.
     
  14. cadeallaw

    cadeallaw Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Buy some vintage Russian tubes
     
  15. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I've heard various opinions on buying cheap tubes or ebay tubes vs getting them somewhere like Upscale, where anything NOS is expensive. I already made one $130 mistake with the Brimars.

    I'm leaning toward trying a Parasound Halo integrated and comparing them back to back.
     
  16. james

    james Forum Resident

    Location:
    Annapolis
    Sounds like you really like the Yamaha. They make great amps. If you're itching for an upgrade, maybe try moving up the chain there? The Parasound integrated does look nice.

    I'd be interested in trying a Rega Elicit-R too, if I were you.
     
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  17. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    And your experience with the Rogue sounds exactly the opposite of what I hear here. I've got killer bass. My mids if anything are a tad recessed, only noticeable on certain recordings. On others it sounds really even bottom to top.
     
  18. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Definitely something wrong with your pharaoh. it should not have a prominent midrange and weak bass, it should have bass by the truck load!
    I do really like the Parasound Halo Integrated- nice smooth sound but it isn't very transparent or detailed.
    The Rogue Cronus Magnum II sounds more transparent and has a huge soundstage. I personally like the CMII better than the Pharaoh.
     
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  19. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    Comparing a tube amp to a Parasound is almost like apple and oranges, as amps do sound very different. Don't commit to anything without demo'ing it in your system, if you can. Before I bought my $1,300 NAD power amp, I demo'ed a $2,000 Rotel and hated it. Very strident and un-musical sounding, although it had a very high damping factor, which made for tight bass.
    I currently have an old Yamaha AX-592 integrated which may outlive me, and two NAD's ;>), a C 316BEE which I just use for TV audio, and the C 275BEE 300w power amp, since my NAD M51 DAC is also a digital preamp. I also have a Parasound DAC/headphone amp (zDac). Some people disparage Parasound, but I think they make very good products for the money.

    Tubes are a crap shoot, regardless of where you get them. When I bought the aforementioned pair of NOS RCA cleartops for the Rogue Sphinx, I got them from a guitar amp repair shop in NJ that works on Springsteen's and Bon Jovi's amps, among many other pros. It didn't matter - they were microphonic and NFG. However, if you are willing to take the plunge with tubes, I agree that you should at least hear the Cronus Magnum II.
     
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  20. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    This.

    Are you positive you have not wired the speakers out of phase?
     
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  21. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yes, speakers are in correct phase.

    Unfortunately there's only one place about 1.5 hours from me to demo stuff and that's Acoustic Sounds, where I don't think they typically set components up for demo unless one is spending big $$$$.

    I have read that the Cronus eats tubes quickly.

    I just pulled the trigger on the Halo and should get it in a few days. Dealer said I can return it without hassle if I don't like it.
     
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  22. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC

    Cronus units (both V1 and V2) do not eat tubes (just as an FYI). Good luck with the Halo....hope it works out for you.
     
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  23. KT120 tubes in my Cronus Magnum v1 lasted around 2 1/2 years of pretty heavy use @ least an average of 4 hrs per day) and a few days when they inadvertently were left powered overnight. Also never heard of any Rogue Audio product with "cheesy" build quality.
     
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  24. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I agree with wwaldfalman that the Sphinx has a few cost cutting parts such as the binding posts and feet. I'm also not a big fan of the paint finish that Rogue uses, but I can live with it. I realize it's the trade off for American made gear that outperforms many higher priced rivals.

    I think I've figured out my issue with the Pharoah. I often listen to music at around 50 to 60 db, not because I worry about neighbors, but because it's just my preferred volume level most of the time.

    When I turn the volume up a few db, and approach a 65 db average (going by phone app), the Pharoah becomes a whole different animal. Studdenly the bass comes into balance with the rest.

    Metallica's Hero of the Day track makes this phenomenon most evident, but it's evident on many types of music.

    So low listening volumes seem to be the issue, unfortunately I don't want to crank the volume just to get some balanced bass. My Yamaha amp doesn't have this issue, and I don't use the Yamaha's loudness compensation either.

    I hope I'm not coming off as a Rogue basher. For the most part I still like the amp, especially its phono stage.
     
  25. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    The brightness I heard earlier with the Pharoah seems to be tamed some now that it's been on stand-by continuously for a couple days.
     
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