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. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    For an AV processor you really want to be current. That is why I recommended Bryston. State of the art audio processing and video switching. Plus will be great in stereo.
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  2. SquishySounds

    SquishySounds Yo mama so fat Thanos had to snap twice.

    New York
    Hear me out

    1. Get your tube amp and a pair of Klipsches

    2. Get a Bose Lifestyle and just set the L/R cubes on top of the Klipsches.

    Surround when the kids want to watch Supergirl, tubes when it’s time for stereo
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  3. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    A friend of mine, who is a musician and pro sound rep, had a large house in NY and he set up a a HT system using 5x VOTT's.

    While a lot of pro sound speakers do not sound good in smaller spaces, that does not apply to VOTT's.

    My listening room is about the size of a two car garage with some extra space in the front and the rear wall extends back 6' further at the south end than from the north end, i'm guessing about 450 Sq. Ft.

    One question I would ask is that it not just the size of the room but how far back will you be sitting in relation to your viewing screen?

    Are you planning a front projection set with a perforated viewing screen, so that you can position at least the center channel behind the screen?

    If you are going for Klipsch, I would go larger than the Cornwall's, which are decent size speakers, but might get lost in a room of that size.

    I would consider going with the Klipschorn's. Paul Klipsch designed them for large rooms like yours.

    While the -3dB point of the A7's is about 48-cycles, the K-horns can play with authority, down to 33-Hz (at -4dB's). The K-horns are also super efficient at 105db, as compaired to the very efficient A7's at 103dB's.

    Either way, you should check out Al Klapperberger's web site at ALK Engineering. Al is a microwave engineer by profession and he designs customer crossover's for legacy Klipsch speakers, which are upgrades to the ones that are used by Klipsch. I use his Klipsch modified crossover's for the A7's and it was my second best A7 move after using tube amplifier's with them.

    This is the same Gentle Slope 500-Cycle Crossover that I use on the Altec's.

    It is intended to be used with up to 50-Watts continuous, which is way more than enough to run with either the Klipsch or the Altec's.
    A series of modular woofer to squawker crossover networks has been designed to operate in the Klipschorn, La Scala or Belle Klipsch along with the ES5800 extreme-slope squawker / tweeter network to allow upgrades in easy steps. Five networks are available. Each has conventional 12 dB / octave slopes. These are generally based on the Klipsch AK-3 network woofer filter which is quite good but is missing the components that equalize the "reactance slope" required to provide a constant impedance resistive load to the amplifier. Each network provides the autoformer needed to adjust the level to the squawker. Each is compatible with the 3-wire cable used by the extreme-slope networks to connect the woofer / squawker network module to the squawker / tweeter crossover module making them directly interchangeable with the ES400T, ES500T, ES600T and ES700T extreme-slope networks. A removable strap will also allow 2-way operation. Bi-wiring capability will NOT be included so as to simplify the design keeping costs down.

    In a home, you really don't need the A7 "style" cabinet. You could just employ a local carpenter to build a simple bass reflex cabinet. You could build it tall and 20-24 inches wide. There is really no particular reason that I am aware of to have a bass loaded horn in a home audio situation. The A7, 828 style bass cabinet is 30" wide.

    Put two 15" Eminance drives, one mounted above the other with a bass port and place the 511B horn and driver on top. Another alternative would be to use one 15" bass driver and one 18" bass driver.

    On the A7 cabinet, the bass horn is effective from 500-cycles down to maybe 125-cycles, after that, the bass reflex cabinet brings them down to their lower -3dB point, about 48-Hz.

    By building a large bass reflex cabinet, you will have far greater bass (far less expense) and you could get the frequency response down to within the 30-cycle range.

    You will save a bunch of money with my previous recommendation.

    My main pair of A7's have Emmenance Kappa Pro woofers, which were about $175, at the time.

    I have another custom pair that was a Florida eBay purchase where the previous owned had cut a foot from the bottom and built up the sides so that he had one single large cabinet, with the 511-B horns on the top of the bass bins. He had the sides and top covered with a walnut veneer and had custom grills made. He had some Base speakers from Europe, possible Germany, these speakers were about $350/ea.

    I also have an all original pair of Altec's (A7's), that I bought from my friend, when he moved out of the NY house.

    You could also have an 800-cycle crossover speaker built, using a couple of 12" bass drivers and the 811B horn and driver. You would be able to have a more compact system that way.

    I have an external processor to decode the surround sound, an older model Emotiva UMC-1, and it works perfectly well for 5-channel HT with DVD's or Blu-ray's.

    Currently, they are offering the MC-700, which is a 4K processor, the price is only $599.

    (There is a lot of white space in the photo)

    I run everything that I have into a Peachtree iNova, so that I can utilize the internal ESS Saber DAC, and so I can have a central point of control. It features a class-A preamp also. I don't use their internal amp, I split the signal off the iNova, three ways, with ordinary "Y" splitter RCS cables. One goes to the power amp for the mains, another goes back into an unused channel of the processor, so when I am in stereo mode, it carries the full stereo signal information, but it is only used to send the bass and sub bass information out the LFE's channel.

    I have a wireless sub, A big Polk at the rear of the room. The rear of the HT, is actually the inside front wall of the motel office.

    But I have added a large commercial subwoofer, a bass loaded horn sub, that sits next to one of the A7's cabinet's. It is a Yorkville UCS-1, made in Canada. It has a single 15" bass driver, It can handle 1,200-Watts of program music and can maintain 133dB continuous.

    They integrate well into both the HT and stereo. When sub bass is not needed, they don't exist, when they are called upon, they perform what they are needed to preform.

    It is powered by a Crown XTi-2000 power amp, which is in a small audio rack, behind the TV. The processor's LFE's channel feeds into it for both stereo and HT applications. It runs in bridge mono mode and can put out 1,600 watts to the UCS-1. Since the Crown does not have a remote control, I control the sound level of the commercial sub woofer, with the remote on the processor.

    You can pick up a pre-loved Peachtree iNova for about $600 on eBay, new they sold for $1,800, back in 2011, it still no slouch today.

    It has both digital and analog inputs. one thing I like about these original units, the little blue LED's that are around the input selection buttons, twinkle to simulate rotation, when a digital input is not synced to the source, once it is synced, the display becomes stationary. This has helped me tremendously, when trouble shooting digital issues.

    [​IMG] Also available in black or rosewood.
    And, if you notice the little window, to the left of the volume knob, it is a tube buffer, that you can take in or out of the circuit, with a button on the remote.

    Currently, I have the buffer engaged, because I run Pandora One all day on the office. With the Peachtree, it sounds excellent. I have a "guest" connection with a 3.5mm miniature phone jack so that guests can plug the players into the iNova, via an analog input. It is surprising how good this sounds with the better players that we have today and the higher sampling rates we are using, even with compressed digital files.

    After the DAC, this thing is pure analog, no DSP, the volume knob operates by a motor, when you use the remote. Mine sits on a shelf behind my second sofa, so I can rest my arm on the back of the sofa and adjust the volume level. It has a HT bypass on one of the two analog inputs.

    While I do have an analog connection run from the processor to the iNova, I also have a digital connection and I let the processor also connect with the iNova, through one of the digital inputs. The Oppo BDP-93, outputs to the Processor via HDMI and I also have it connected directly connected to one of the digital inputs on the Peachtree.

    Since the Saber DAC, seems to be able to better decode digital sound. I prefer to use both the processor and the Oppo as "transports" and decode everything digital inside of the Peachtree and it sounds really good doing it that way.

    Because the noise level is lower than the analog inputs for the HT bypass and the digital inputs just sound better, I usually don't bother with the HT bypass. Despite all of the hype, I find it completely unnecessary.

    I have a 250-Watt Emotiva mono amplifier, that I use to run my center channel speaker. I simply adjust the center channel volume through the processor remote and then control the overall volume with the Peachtree and the processor remote.

    An extra step, but I don't find it to be an inconvenience, and it sounds significantly better this way.

    Plus, if you have an old iPod laying around with AFLAC music, you can plug it directly into the iPod dock on the top on the iNova and play your lossless files seamlessly. Peachtree licensed a chip made by Apple and it sits underneath the docking station. This chip will take the AFLAC files directly from the iPod as digital files and allow the internal Saber DAC to convert them to analog, inside of the iNova.

    I originally used this with the KT-88 based Rogue M-120 monoblocks, which were purchased used from eBay. I later upgraded them to KT-88, based M-150's.

    I have eight tube amplifier's (monoblocks count as one) at present, both current models and vintage. They range anywhere from 3.9-Watts to 150-Watts. Some have a couple nice sounding ones, a modern Rogue Stereo 90 and a vintage, early 60's Scott 222C, have too much hum to be used with the A7's. Which is really too bad, because I really like the little EL34-based Scott, it has the sweetest, nicest sound of any of the tube amps. At 20-22 Watts, it can sufficiently power the A7's.

    The best tube amp overall, that I have when all things are considered, including price, no hum, power, versitality, and operational costs, is a small PrimaLuna power amplifier that I have acquired.

    I realize that you have been "away" for a bit, but I know that you like your PrimaLuna (and Apple products).

    PrimaLuna has discontinued to of their power amplifier's, the EL-34 based Prologue Four and the KT-88 based Prologue Five. They are being sold off at clearance sale prices by Upscale Audio at clearance prices. The 35-Watt EL34 based amp is being offered for $899 and the 36-Watt KT-88 based amp is being offered for $1,099.

    At 36-WPC, the Five is the 4th most powerful tube amp that I presently have.

    It will provide you with the tube sound that you are seeking (along with the tube buffer in the iNova), and at an unbeatable price.

    It will handle 24/192 into the SPDIF input or up to 24/196 into the optical input.

    It will allow the A7's (or Klipsch legacy speakers) to be run at levels, louder than your ears will appreciate.

    Two most important things, get the ALK crossovers, for what ever you do, they are incredible and make the difference as I imagine your Shindo's crossover's did, with ordinary Altec speakers, studio speakers.

    Number two, always use tube power amplifiers as your final power amp stage. Your ears will thank you for this!

    When you are running efficient horn loaded speakers, having a tube power amplification section is more important than running a hybrid system, with a tube preamp and a SS power amp.

    And, before you make any purchasing decisions, I was going to give a friend of mine, one of the three sets of A7's that are in the speaker inventory, but he checked and the country he is moving too wanted to assess a $12,000 duty. And this was on 40-50 year old commercial speakers, in plywood cabinet's.

    This is the reason, that I recommended, that you might want to source, the individual component's and have the cabinets locally built.

    There are all kinds of people all over the globe, that have custom made speakers, based on the A7 design, but are not actual A7's. Many of these are in S. America, where there are are plenty of people that are experienced in wood. You could have someone build wooden horns if you like and there are a lot of different driver's on the market.

    There is an excellent S. American web site that has hundreds of system photos of A7 inspired speaker designs, it is called Hi-Fi Chile, check out the high end speaker systems in your neck of the woods.

    There are currently a couple of sales on Polk's RTi line at 40% off retail and their flagship LSiM line, of which the 707's are Polk's flagship speakers, are being offered at 50% off, through November 18th.

    They do have to be purchased in the US, and have them sent to your freight forwarder. You will not see the sale prices, if you are out of the country.

    I have two different front main speakers that I use for both HT and stereo. They are the LSim-707's and the Zu Omen Definitions, which are both powered by an Emotiva 250-Watt SS Amplifier, which weighs 72-lbs. There is a speaker A/B switch, which allows me to switch back and forth between these two front pairs.

    Note: While I have VOTT's, ironically enough, I don't really use them for movies (I don't watch commercial TV) the front mains and the rear klipsch WF-35 towers (purchased at NewEgg at close out of $600, which is $900 less than their original price), are perfectly fine with SS amplification.

    I only really use the A7's for stereo, now driven by a tube pre-amplifier, into one of the tube power amps. The SS amps coupled with the modern day tower speakers, are fine for HT and stereo. And the A7's are set up at a 90-degree angle to the HT/Stereo set up.

    I do utilize them when there are excellent SFX's in movies, just to crank things up a few notches, volume wise. But the commercial sub is active for any stereo source and HT, without having to specifically engage the Altec's.


    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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  4. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    I think there is a lot of wisdom here. I have a friend who currently has an AVR and Bose setup and have advised him to just run a stereo rig in parallel and set the cubes on top vs. trying to have one system accomplish both.

    It's certainly an idea worth considering in the OP's case to consider a relatively modest home theater setup with smaller speakers augmented by sub(s) and just have it set up next to the stereo gear.
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  5. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    I had a similar setup in the early 2000’s, I think it was a bose lifestyle 28. I actually had it Frankensteined in a way I could play it with a 2ch system. It was terrible. The bose was god awful on its own and in combination.

    I mean it was better than the speakers in a tv but it wouldn’t take much volume to make them sound very ugly.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  6. Brian Gupton

    Brian Gupton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for all the details!
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  7. This is very much what I have. Bose surround cubes hooked up to the TV/AVR, and a separate, independent 2ch setup in the same rack/entertainment area with the Stereo gear and Martin Logans. Only reason I didn't recommend this is that it isn't too friendly with respect to OP's stated budget.
  8. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    I certainly understand the logic of this, but can't agree with the suggestion.

    Partly because the OP's GF seems to have some understanding and appreciation of good sound. Yes, movie sound is the ugly stepchild and profoundly unimportant to many 'philes here, but others appreciate rich immersive movie sound.

    Even if it's Supergirl.

    But more importantly, those Lifestyle speakers stink out loud in a big room. And no, not because they're Bose. It's because they're microscopic little tinker toys. I've heard 'em in near-field setups (passable, okey-dokey for tiny rooms). And absolutely putrid in a large showroom. Sounded like mice squeaking from inside 5 disparate tin cans. Their "sub" didn't help matters much. And they're clearly overpriced.

    From the OP's description, the home theatre isn't an afterthought here. Even if the SHF Official Position declares it is.
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  9. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    Agreed. To go from “I want tube sound” to three inch bose speakers in a huge room is about as far as you can go in the opposite direction.

    I have been there, I have done it and the day I put it in the trash felt great
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  10. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Klipsch just recently released Forte 3 speakers. Haven’t heard them (they look great), but they may be something that is easy to place. The original Forte’s rocked. I imagine 4 in a surround system with a center and sub would sound great.
  11. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    If I were you I'd build your system around a great tube preamp which contains a home theatre bypass. Then have it driving a high-end amp from your stereo pair. Then plug a the stereo output from a good AV-peamp into the tube audio-preamp's HT bypass, and plug the other outputs into the SS amps of your choice to drive all of the other speakers.

    That way you can in theory get the best of both worlds.
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  12. Guildx500

    Guildx500 Forum Resident

    It would be challenging at the stated budget of 5-6k to get tube 2 channel with pass through, + home theater, + all the speakers. A compromise will have to be made somewhere. If music is most important I think the advice to focus on quality two channel components and one pair of speakers is the way to go. I used to have a surround setup and I haven’t missed it at all with the two channel system I have. Certainly you could start there and see how it is and add the surround receiver and speakers later. If you have your heart set on surround then get the best AVR and speakers you can afford.
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  13. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Wow! Interesting
  14. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    Nice to hear you are doing well Brian. Yes with 20' ceilings you are going to need tall and very sensitive speakers to be able to use a tube amp successfully. Is there anyone in Colombia who can build custom speakers for you? That might be cheaper than importing big expensive speakers. Just a thought.
  15. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Your Welcome!

    I have a lifetime worth of experience with A7's and have been around certain aspects of pro-audio since my early years, from sixteen plus.
    Bose had those 901's that I first heard when I was sixteen, at a local Hi-Fi shop. Off to one part of the showroom there was another room that had a wide pass through from the main room. At the back wall, opposite from the room entrance, they had built a platform about a foot off of the floor. It was covered in carpet and they had several larger pairs of speakers sitting on it to demo.

    While I was speaking with my salesman, while standing in the entrance to this other room, another salesman was demoing different sets of speakers. They has a few pairs of home Altec speakers, like the Valencia's. At one point the other salesman switched to another pair of speakers and I was looking at these fairly large, powerful speakers on the stage and trying to figure out which of them that the sound was coming from, and I could not.

    So, I asked the salesman, and he pointed to the pair of 901's that I had not really noticed before, that were sitting on those chrome looking Bose stands.

    These were playing at a fairly loud volume level and I replied to the salesman, all that sound is coming out of those?

    Because I had the large A7's, I never had any interest in normal home speakers. But I remember being impressed about the amount of sound that was coming out of those little boxes.

    Several years back is was in the latest big box store. This was back when the industry decided to sell TV sets that were a wide screen ratio, instead of the usual 4x3 ratio. This is when most consumers were purchasing those heavy particle board rear projection TV's. I thought that it was odd taking regular 4x3 ratio TV broadcasts and projecting them onto a wide screen TV, everybody had added a lot of girth! It looked like crap!

    But they had a dedicated Bose lifestyle viewing and listening room set up. The thing that I was impressed with, was that the TV sound was did sound a lot louder and better than the sound that came out of most TV sets. And that was from those little dual cube driver's that were so tiny.

    One thing that I will give them credit for, was that they threw out a large sound stage, with a WIDE sweet spot.

    Really, for the average home owner or someone who wanted to do a modest HT set up in an apartment or town home, they did everything that they needed to do.

    That, having been said. There was really no point in my life where I personally considered to purchase anything with the name of Bose on it.

    But I did get some excellent ideas about developing an enveloping sound environment, which is the listening style that I have a preference for.
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  16. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    I think the 901’s and other offerings are legit and somewhat impressive for what they are.

    I bought into it based on a demo at a Best Buy. They had a set up where the rears were suspended in the air from these metal arches. Standing inside of the demo in a space that was about a five ft circle, it was impressive. I think I paid close to 3k for the lifestyle 28. There was also a lady involved and far be it from me to squelch any enthusiasm she had for buying audio equipment

    The problem came when I set those 3 inch speakers up in a good sized living room and wanted to listen to my music above 80db. It was painful and begged to be turned down.

    It was also very poorly made. The cd tray gave up after four years and it’s life ended when somthing fried in the control center.

    I’m really not a hater but if you ask it to do more than run a bedroom tv or play background music, the fun comes to an end.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  17. Bose gets a bad rap - which it deserves for applications where the stuff isn't very effective - but it comes at the expense of them getting credit for what works well. We have a challenging living room and for TV and 5.1, the little cubes (coupled with components and a separate AVR, not one of the all-in-one deals Bose makes) do an impressive job of creating respectable sound. For 2 or 2.1 channel music, they're not so great. So we don't use them for that, but I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater when they work just fine for what they are.
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  18. contium

    contium Forum Resident

    I basically have two systems in my living room except for 1 pair of main speakers. When I want to listen to the 2 channel, vinyl and tubes, I just swap the cables on the speakers. It takes like 5 seconds if you use bananas. Easy peasy and simple.
  19. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    How about the Pathos Acoustics Cinema X Integrated Amplifier? Five channel tube/solid state hybrid beast. There are some good deals on Pathos stuff right now.
  20. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    ^ :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Because that beast alone is well over the OP's complete-system budget.
  21. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    Hmm... There's a new unit available from a dealer in Canada on Canuck Audio for $4100 CDN or just a bit over half the OPs budget when exchange is accounted for. They are being cleared out. Probably good deals everywhere.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    A couple of follow up comments.

    I do prefer a center channel speaker for use with HT (and only HT). A couple of ideas about that, first, you could simply use a A7 as a center, problem solved.

    But, getting back to those basic speaker box ideas, you could use an 800-cycle Altec 811B sectoral horns, which are smaller than the 511B's, which means that you could still use a horn, for clear vocals and use a couple of 10" (or 8") full range speakers, from Emminance (sold by Parts Express).

    You could also approach Zu Audio and see if you could purchase a couple of their new 10" full range speakers.

    There is another option, concerning a 5.1 channel tube system.

    You can add a tube amplifier, past your processor. Decware makes such an amp.


    Here is a link to the Decware, Audiophile Home Theater amplifier.

    The HT tube amp is called the Zen Ultra.

    But this is going to be an unnecessarily expensive solution for your immediate needs (but nice, none the less)

    If you obtain one of the used Peachtree iNova's or just their regular Nova (without the iPod dock), eBay, about $400, give or take $50. And run everything into it for your DAC and master volume control, you can take the preamp outs and run one of the closeout Prima Luna, Prologue Five's for $1,099 to run the left and right mains.

    Put a center channel speaker together as previously suggested and buy an inexpensive Emotiva three channel SS amp, to power your center channel and your two rear channel's off of the processor. You could get the Altec crossover for the center channel, from a parted out Altec Model 19's or 14's.

    But, better to buy one of Emotiva's 5-channel amplifier's. You have the three that you need, plus two extra's. If any of the three channels, or any two channel's goes out, you have two emergency channels.

    Or, say your tube amp, goes out. It may be only a single channel, and you could use one of the extra two channels to supplement the single tube channel that went out.

    But, since your S. American system, is maybe, a little less expensive, than S.D., you would not need tube monoblock's, just a small tube stereo power amplifier. So if one channel goes out, you have two channels down, when it is in for repair.

    So, if you buy Emotiva's five channel BasX, amplifier, the A-500 for $499, and you have yourself basic coverage. In places like the US, you can source almost anything, quickly, and usually, for not too much money.

    Down there, different rules apply. different scheduling, power grid problem's! My major problem is stuff breaking down and since my system is fairly complex and depends on all the components operating properly, I have as many back up's as I can, and... I am in the US. But our electric, on the beach area really sucks.

    Here is a look at the five channel Emotiva amplifier.

    Just like any power amplifier, usually, not too much to look at, but they do the job that you hired them for.

    BTW... My center channel does not appear to be working, although everything looks normal from the front. So, that is next on my list to troubleshoot.

    I did have a cap in my center channel fail once before and I returned it to Emotiva and they replaced the cap and made the repairs under their warranty and returned the amplifier to me post paid.

    I have one of the Emotiva 5-channel power amps (bought from another forum member) as a back up myself.

    This would provide you with yet another option. Since you would be using three of the five channels for the rears and the center. You could get a RCA input switch selector and then you could switch between tubes and SS. The power amp is rated at 110-WPC into 8-Ohms and 190-WPC into a 4-Ohm load.

    This way, you could keep the SS amp on all the time and just switch over to the tubes for more critical listening.

    Decware, also makes a quality tube buffer, they have one with a volume control and one without. You could use this in front of the SS amp that is powering your mains, to smooth out digital signals. Decware also has RCA input selector boxes. Steve Deckert, will build you almost anything you want, in

    If you had the extra SS power, you could get a small EL84 family powered tube amp, even a classic Fisher or Scott integrated, that has been restored. Most of the EL84 family amps will give you between 12 and 22 watts.

    These smaller tube amps sound better on the A7's than the larger power tubes. The power tubes run 2-3 times longer that the larger EL34's or KT88's and they are much less expensive to replace. I can run the A7's to a solid room filling volume with the little Decware Mini Torii, which is 3.9-WPC.

    Smaller and amps that have a lighter weight, will be easier to ship, if you ever require service.


    @Richard Austen was mentioning an inexpensive amp that he is reviewing.

    Here is part of his post in the Point to Point vs PCB's thread.

    Sorry I don't want to disparage push pull but there are a lot of very average sounding push pull - to me the Prima Lunas are very average sounding - perhaps all the additive circuitry they put in to autobias in the "complex way" gets between the sound and me. But frankly the Line Magnetic 211IA at $1500 walks all over the Prima Luna - and I am currently reviewing an $800 integrated that I think walks all over the 211IA. This amp (the only amp) from Kingko Audio is also - drum roll... a 12 watt EL84 valve rectified amp. It's the first time in a long time I've been excited about a budget amplifier. And when Mr. King put in a mere $60 rectifier replacement tube it improved even more dramatically. It's one of the best push pull amplifiers I've heard. Shocking really for what he's charging and it's also autobias push pull, and has a switch for both US and Asia voltage - and it has a very good true tube output to the headphone output making it worth the $800 alone as a headphone amp - AND it has meter display - the front plate can be changed as well if you want a different colour. Needless to say I am buying one. Oh and it can be used as a power amp with direct in!

    You don't have to spend gobs of money and no it doesn't have to be from Audio Note or Shindo or Cary or other big names. There are some good products out there from good designers who simply don't have the financial might to be able to really get into the market. King is an engineer and has been repairing LM, Rogue, ATC Melody and other brands for 15 years and he notes where the others go wrong because he can see it in the design - "they should use X in this stage" etc.

    I think anyone starting out with tube amps should consider the EL84 output tube (with some form of autobias) because it's about as plug and play as it gets. And like SandandGlass said - it'generally cheaper, better sounding, and more reliable than some of the other outputs.

    Here is the amp.


    I like it! Richard says that it can be ordered directly from the KingKo web site. One A-gon member reported that he received his, 9-days after he ordered it.

    Emotiva also makes a RCA switch box with three regular RCA inputs and one phono input, as it also has a phono preamp built into the switch box, on input #4

    In your case, you would reverse the box. You would take the preamp output from a Nova or iNova into the output of the switch box, and use the input selector buttons to route to the tube amp and the SS amp. The box is $299, there are less expensive switch boxes out there, and the unneeded phono input does add cost to the box, but the switch box does come with an included wireless remote. Emotiva sells this same phono pre by itself for $179, and it will do MM and MC.

    The switch box is an Emotiva SP-1.

    This is a really nice looking box. It is made of heavy gauge metal. The phono power supply is located inside of the box.

    One thing that I would urge you to do, if you plan on A7's or some variation, is to put in your order for the ALK crossover network's. Al, collects a few orders, he then orders the parts and and then builds the units to order, in the order that they are received. This process can take a couple of months to complete.

    For the rears, you could use just about anything, maybe some used Klipsch or Polk towers. it is not that important.

    Or you could get some 10" full range speakers from Emminance or Zu, and have basic tower boxes built. You can by a tweeter from Parts Express, Seas, or Zu. Zu only uses a single capacitor on the tweeter that blocks the LF from reaching the tweeter.

    The Omen Definiton's that I have are 12"x12"x47" just a basic box, with bottom ports, but the Mark II's start at $4,500. You might be able to save some money, if you buy some used drivers from Zu, as they accept trade-in's on their new driver's.

    This is a picture of the new model, the Omen Definition's MKII.
    They look exactly like the MK1's that I have.

    Another idea. I plan on upgrading to the MKII version (it's actually called the Omen Def Mk.I-B upgrade). Keeping the same cabinet and swapping out the 10" driver's with Zu, for their newer ones. The upgrade for the 10" drivers, two pairs, is $1,200. They send you the new drivers, you replace them and put the used drivers back in the box and return them back to Zu. When they receive their drivers back, they credit you back $400.

    So I will have 4-used 10" full range drivers, if you think that this is something that you might be interested in, please let me know, you can have them for $400, plus shipping. They will already come in good boxes, that were designed to withstand shipping.

    I will also be doing the tweeter upgrade, which is $299, with a $100 credit for return of their old tweeters. Again, if you want them, they're $100 to you.

    Have some plywood cabinets built for $500 (or less) and you will have a pair of Omen Definition's for around $1k (I paid $2,500 for my pair, on eBay).

    The Omen Definitions are the "value meal" versions of the real Definition's, which are now at $16,900.

    The Omen Definition's are the top of the Omen line and have a sensitivity of around 100-dB, which places them close to the A7's efficiency of 103-dB.

    I play my Omen Definition's along with the A7's. They are very forward sounding speakers, which will mate well with the A7's.

    If you set things up with the Emotiva Processor and a Peachtree integrated amplifier, you will easily be able to switch back and forth between HT and stereo, using all the same common components.

    Just some extra thoughts...


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