Can I augment current system with tubes on a budget?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ceddy10165, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Location:
    Avon, CT
    i want more natural analog warmth, soundstage, transparency from my current setup. http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/members/ceddy10165.3471/

    Is there a budget way for me to introduce tubes in to my chain that will accomplish my goal?

    Thanks for your feedback. Not sure I can do what I’m thinking without replacing gear, which I don’t want to have to do. I’m pretty happy with what I have, just looking for what I think is “tubey goodness.”
     
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You could buy what is referred to as a Tube Buffer but I personally wouldn't bother and would suggest you take the money you'd spend on such a device on upgrading one of your current devices. The sound quality gain will most likely be higher.
     
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  3. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Something about tubes in audio - the designs themselves tend to be fairly simple, which is to be expected from 1940's technology I suppose. What makes a good tube product vs. what is sold on ebay for pennies is the quality of the parts. So its hard to cheat and do it cheaply. If you were to implement tubes to your current system, I'd look to your sources - phono stage and DAC. But I'm not sure that's where the biggest benefits to investing more in your system would pay off.
     
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  4. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    I think that your simplest approach would be to get a tube based integrated amp. Don't know what your budget is, but I'm really not sure that you can find something decent that is cheap. Sure, you might be able to find something in the used or "vintage" category, but then reliability becomes a factor.
     
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  5. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    A but fer stage is an inexpensive way to try out tubes on a budget. It can be placed between a CD player and an amp, or between an amp and preamp.
     
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  6. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex UK
    I would concentrate on making your front-end sound as you want.It should be achievable with a decent turntable set-up.Then play that through a transparent amp and speakers.I would only go down the tube route if you mainly listen to acoustic and light classical material.Otherwise i have found the trade-off of speed, bass power and accuracy is not a price worth paying to achieve that lovely tube midrange.
     
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  7. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    No disrespect, but I don't buy this at all. My system is all tube and drives a set of Alon 4 speakers with 12" woofers. It sounds awesome. Huge soundstage, great imaging. All the usual audiophile blah, blah.

    Modern tube designs don't have the perceived limitations you speak of, and my amp wasn't expensive at all. I listen to electronica, jazz, hip hop and whatever else I'm in the mood for and it makes it all sound good.

    I gotta say, your statement sounds like the usual canned answer when it comes to tubes, when in actuality you have no way of knowing without hearing every possible combination of component synergy. Maybe you didn't find the right synergy if your above statement is your personal experience. I'd never go back to a SS system.

    But that's just my experience. YMMV...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  8. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex UK
    Nice set-up..My advice was with regard to adding tubes into a system on a 'budget'..I wasn't necessarily talking about an expensive tube amp running large expensive (highly sensitive) speakers.
     
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  9. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    My integrated retailed for $1,800. I picked it up used for a grand and promptly spent more than I spent on the piece on NOS tubes. I had researched it, and knew it had good parts.
     
  10. krisjay

    krisjay Psychedelic Wanderer

    Location:
    Maine
    A bit more info on what "budget" really means, 300 dollars, 1500 dollars. It all depends on how much is in the budget. You can get a ST120 in kit form for under 1K, I myself am looking into something in this price range at some point this year.
     
    G E likes this.
  11. Sugar Man

    Sugar Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hermosa Beach
    Way back in the day I had a nice SS system that sounded really good. Built a $99 Bottlehead Foreplay preamp for sh*ts and giggles and plugged it into the system. Was blown away by the difference in sound. More open and real sounding. They have a battery-operated pre called the Quickie for about $100. Easy to build and you won't electrocute yourself since it's low voltage. If DIY is not your thing, do a little research on the Parks Budgie tube phono preamp for $399 delivered. My 2 cents...
     
  12. basie-fan

    basie-fan Forum Resident

    Can anyone comment on the ifi iTube2? It can be used as a tube buffer or a pre-amp, and it's not expensive.
     
  13. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    It depends on what you call a "budget". My entire system probably cost less than $5000. That's pretty much budget in the audio world. Most of it is used.

    The amp is the most expensive component, which cost about $1000 new and was modded by the guy who designed it at Cary Audio. The back story is that Cary Audio wanted to market a line a good sounding but fairly inexpensive tube gear, but they found that people really had a burning desire to spend thousands on stuff, so they stopped building them.
     
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  14. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    I have a Budgie in my system in the study and it is truly a nice sounding piece of kit. It would be cheap at twice the price.

    The real trick to audio on a budget, is to find the stuff that sounds great and doesn't cost a lot. Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how much trouble people have with the concept...
     
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  15. Sugar Man

    Sugar Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hermosa Beach
    Have you tried the Budgie in your main system?
     
    Jelloalien likes this.
  16. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Location:
    Avon, CT
    Based in my system I linked in my profile, $300 was what I considered budget. Think I’m gonna have to spend a bit more for real tube action and not hybrid or buffer. I appreciate all the replies!
    Turntable:
    Project Debut 1.2, Bang & Olfusen
    Cartridge:
    Ortofon OM 5E, Bang & Olfusen MC 2
    Tuner:
    Pioneer SX-750
    Digital Front End:
    Apple iMAc, Audio Engine D1, Little Dot I
    CD Recorder:
    Stand Alone and Computer with Presonus Firebox via FireWire
    Analog Front End:
    Pioneer SX-750, JVC KD A-55 cassette deck
    Amplification:
    Audio Engine D1, Pioneer SX-750
    Headphone System:
    Little Dot I, Mad Dog, Sennheiser HD 598, HiFi Man Re-400
    Speaker System:
    Klipsch KG4, Boston Acoustic A60, Swans N-200
     
  17. Edgard Varese

    Edgard Varese Royale with Cheese

    Location:
    Te Wai Pounamu
    H8SLKC and drgn95 like this.
  18. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    Sure, what the heck. Your receiver has a tape loop. Just find yourself a used tube buffer for a hundred bucks or less and put it in the loop (I am betting a wanted to buy ad in the classified here will get you something). You can try some different tubes in the buffer and switch it in and out of the path of any signal your receiver is amplifying so you can do comparisons. It's not "audiophile" approved but you will have some fun on the cheap, while learning a little about the sonic effect of tubes. After that you could decide to get a tube integrated or something.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    H8SLKC and ceddy10165 like this.
  19. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    After the iPhono 2 fiasco, I can't strongly enough advise you against buying any of their products.
     
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  20. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I just added a Little Bear T11 tube preamp to my main set-up; Marantz TT-15, Pioneer mid-line AVR and Focal 726s. My desire was exactly what you mentioned, to check out tube goodness without spending much money. It has been something of a revelation to me, only two days in now. Quiet, no hum, open soundstage, really "musical" sounding, or maybe it's all entirely in my mind. What isn't in my mind is the cool glow of those damned tubes! I see the appeal of tubes, big time, if for no other reason than the neatness/retro aspect of having them do their thing.
     
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  21. moops

    moops Forum Resident

    Location:
    Geebung, Australia
    Love it ...... I've had two, the original and now the iTube2
    Remember SHTV isn't the centre of the musical universe, so while being bashed here for one particular product some have experienced,
    plenty of people seem to be buying ifi products without issue and they continue to review very well.
    Plenty elsewhere online to check out.

    :wave:
     
    basie-fan likes this.
  22. basie-fan

    basie-fan Forum Resident

    Do you use as a pre-amp or just a buffer? What do you like about it?
    I've read on-line reviews ranging from neutral to positive on the tube aspect.
     
  23. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Even a modern SS amp will sound more tube-like than that old Pioneer receiver. I had one like it. It was the worst sounding piece of equipment I ever owned. The Sherwood it replaced was so much better.
     
  24. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Damn, when will they learn they need a preamp out!!
     
  25. moops

    moops Forum Resident

    Location:
    Geebung, Australia
    I just use it as a buffer after my DAC and before my amp. I'm still experimenting with the different settings really, but each offers subtle differences. Three amp modes are provided at the flick of a switch, the intention being to offer a taste of the "sound signatures" of a SET or Push-Pull power amp, a third setting "produces a sound parallel to classic low distortion tube-based studio equipment." So far I actually seem to be favouring the third setting. Inside is one military grade NOS GE5670 tube.
    No doubt this probably isn't going to compare to a proper tube amp, but it's a fun, versatile little unit with a few extra features on top of the tube stuff.
     
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