Entry level tube/valve amp advice

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Autor
Beitrag
murrydigga
Neuling
#1 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 01:39
Hi

I'm interested in getting a tube amp and was hoping someone here may have listened to a couple of the amps I'm considering. I basically got interested when I read some rave reviews about the great value of the Miniwatt S1, which has since been superseded by the N3.

As 2 of these amps are shipped directly from manufacturers I haven't been able to audition them myself. I have gone to a local stereo store and compared a Prima Luna Prologue One and the Cayin A-55TP and to my ears the Prima Luna sounded amazingly rich and superior to the Cayin.

I'd like to set up one of these amps to listen to music on my front speakers (Orpheus Aurora 2.3) over an Airport Express streaming lossless music files. And for convenience possibly have the tube amp connected to the front pre-outs on my surround amp and have the tubes drive the fronts for all sources.

So my current list is out of three amps which span the entry level price point and all use different tube types. They are:

1. MiniWatt N3 ($480 AUD delivered) 2x3.5W 1x12AX7 2x EL84 Pros- Cheapest Cons- Perhaps underpowered although a couple of positive reviews say it's enough

2. Neuhaus Labs T-2 ($934 AUD delivered) 2x20W Tubes 4-6N7 2-6N1 2-6N3. Pros- Includes Optical and USB in and has remote control and headphone out Cons- Is the digital input just a gimmick and is the DAC in the Airport Express or Onkyo 705 sufficient?

3. Prima Luna Prologue One ($1500 AUD demo stock with scratch RRP $2500 AUD) 2x35W Tubes 4 x EL-34, 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 12AU7. Pros- I've listened to it. Saving $1000 for a scratch. Cons- Minimal features for price. Is this overkill for entry level?

So if anyone has any opinions I'd really appreciate your advice. Reviews on all of these has been positive, as are most reviews I've looked at on entry level tube amps. It's hard to find a good comparison guide. Look forward to your thoughts.

Cheers
Pete
Manek
Inventar
#2 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 03:07
I would recommend you also consider the prima luna prolugue two.
The kt88's can pack a punch

Haven't hear the other amps but I recommend the prima luna


Manek
Arj
Inventar
#3 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 04:37
Pete,
Between the Cayin and the Prima Luna, the Prima Luna is definitely a better option and if you can you should always buy the best amp..your speakers are not really "entry level" and need a good amp.

From a power point of view are you sure the Miniwatt would be able to drive it ? the Orpheus is a 90dB 4 ohm speaker.. and i am pretty sure the miniwatt will not handle it.(a 2.5KG amp will just not have the quality of transformers required for good audio)

Regarding a DAC a most the the Chinese dacs li Zhao Lu etc should be better than the internal AE or Onkyo DAC. but you can keep that as a Phase 2 upgrade later down the line as the amp will give you far better upgrade for the time being.
(have u tried the COEM audio website at AU ?
i had bought a trends UD10 from them when i was in brisbane a couple of years back..seemed like a good deal)


[Beitrag von Arj am 14. Mai 2010, 04:43 bearbeitet]
murrydigga
Neuling
#4 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 05:40
Thanks for the info Manek. I'd like to have a listen to that Prologue Two. It's had some awesome reviews as well. I can't actually find a price for one in Australia but there's about a $400USD difference so I imagine that equates to around a grand in Oz but not sure I could even get my hands on one here anyway.

Hey Arj. Yeah, I came across that site just the other day when I was looking around the net about amps. Those DACs look pretty serious.

Yeah I think that's my major concern regarding getting one of the cheap Miniwatt amps, that they won't have the power or at least enough to drive the speakers properly and with ease. The Neuhaus looks like it has everything I want but I wonder how it sounds and if these extras like the DAC on it might not be that great anyway and I'd be getting a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. None of these devices are super cheap so if I'm stepping into this valve realm just to stick to the dedicated products...


[Beitrag von murrydigga am 14. Mai 2010, 08:21 bearbeitet]
Manek
Inventar
#5 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 08:01
Pete

If I remember correctly the prologue 1 can use kt88 as well. The prologue two can use el34's to. If a dealer has a prologue 1 and has kt88 tubes you could try it out.

The difference in both prologues is that the prologue two is optimised for kt88 with solen caps. But many have used the prologue two with other tubes like el34.

Manek
jai1611
Neuling
#6 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 08:44
I have a Miniwatt S1 and would not recommend it for 4 ohm speakers. Actually, I wouldnt recommend it at all unless you have very high sensitivity speakers - the T-Amp options seem to have better real world performance. I had a pair of single driver bookshelves using Fostex drivers that I tried both on and even with such easy-to-drive speakers, the lack of dynamics in the miniwatt was palpable in a 150 sq ft room. The cheap (Rs.2500) T-Amp with a laptop charger style power supply was clearly better. I haven't tried the miniwatt with 94db+ speakers but suspect it might to better with these.
murrydigga
Neuling
#7 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 08:49
Hey Manek

I think because of the auto-biasing feature it is pretty adaptable about what tubes it takes and apparently they don't need to be matched (or even the same type, but you wouldn't do that).

Don't think it takes the KT88 though. I found the manual which says for replacement tubes:
•12AX7: ECC83, ECC803S, E83CC, 7025, CV4004. You can also use a 5751, but please note that the 5751 is a lower gain tube than a 12AX7 and the sound will be altered.
•12AU7: ECC82, ECC802S, E82CC, 5814, 6189, CV4003 •EL-34: 6CA7, E34LS, E34L. You may also use 6L6GC, 7581A and KT66 though power will drop
slightly.

Definitely leaning to the primaluna now
square_wave
Inventar
#8 erstellt: 14. Mai 2010, 09:11
Here's a brand that comes highly recomended.

http://www.sacthailand.com/
Amp_Nut
Inventar
#9 erstellt: 17. Mai 2010, 10:06
Hello Pete,

I used the Prima Luna Prologue 2 for a couple of years and still have VERY Fond memories of this amp...

I had auditioned the 1 & 2 before buying.

To my ears, the US $ 400 extra for the Prologue 2 is WELL Worth it... Not only more power, but some Audiophile caps too thrown in...

What sort of music do you listen to ?

If you like yr music with Balls, and a wallop, and listen to Rock & Pop, the PL-2 is the Amp.

The PL-1 is OK for Classical and Jazz... Its a touch more easy & placid, and lacks the Bite of the PL-2.

Just my 2 cents...


[Beitrag von Amp_Nut am 17. Mai 2010, 10:08 bearbeitet]
murrydigga
Neuling
#10 erstellt: 19. Mai 2010, 00:38
Hi All

Thanks for all the advice and info. Bit the bullet and went with the amp I first heard and liked immediately...the PrimaLuna Prologue One. It was more expensive than I had originally planned but it was nearly half its retail price and it's sounding awesome so far. A nice, rich and warm sound and a great soundstage that sounds like I have the centre speaker running as well.

Thanks again for the helpful thoughts and tips.

Cheers
Pete
Manek
Inventar
#11 erstellt: 19. Mai 2010, 03:30
Enjoy :-)
ani
Stammgast
#12 erstellt: 03. Jun 2010, 06:57
Hi Pete,
Congrats!

I am sure that your new toy will give you many hours of happy music. I have use PL1 for some time and used to like it very much. They were good at driving Monitor Audio GR20, the synergy was there.

BTW which speakers are you using ? PL1 are bit sensitive to speakers, can be unpredictive at times.

Regards
Anil
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