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Thread: Anyone use a tube amplifier or integrated tube amp ?

  1. #61
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    Post I choose valve amps, but I know I don't need to!

    I use valve amplifers - a Leben preamp and poweramp - and I am very happy with them. But really, I know that buying Harbeth P3ESR was the real 'headline moment' in my system. I had got tired of reading about amplifiers and which ones are best etc. I kind of stopped caring about this kind of question and have just bought what I liked the idea of owning. (shock, horror!)

    I like that the Lebens are hand-made with care (like my P3ESR) and are well-built and beautiful to behold. I like the idea of playing my favourite Sinatra LPs on an amplifier that seems to be from the same era as Frank himself.

    I love my system, especially the Harbeths and Lebens, but would never jump up and down shouting that everyone should save up and by the Lebens, because realistically, comparable sound quality can be bought for much, much less.

    My reasons for buying nice old valve amplifiers are not in opposition to the common-sense view expressed by AS - in fact I agree with him. My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps.

    As I said, I love my valve/Harbeth system - but I know the valves were not necessary for optimum musical enjoyment.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregD View Post
    I use valve amplifers - a Leben preamp and poweramp - and I am very happy with them. But really, I know that buying Harbeth P3ESR was the real 'headline moment' in my system. I had got tired of reading about amplifiers and which ones are best etc. I kind of stopped caring about this kind of question and have just bought what I liked the idea of owning. (shock, horror!)

    I like that the Lebens are hand-made with care (like my P3ESR) and are well-built and beautiful to behold. I like the idea of playing my favourite Sinatra LPs on an amplifier that seems to be from the same era as Frank himself.

    I love my system, especially the Harbeths and Lebens, but would never jump up and down shouting that everyone should save up and by the Lebens, because realistically, comparable sound quality can be bought for much, much less.

    My reasons for buying nice old valve amplifiers are not in opposition to the common-sense view expressed by AS - in fact I agree with him. My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps.

    As I said, I love my valve/Harbeth system - but I know the valves were not necessary for optimum musical enjoyment.
    I totally understand Greg - I think Leben amps are among the best-looking hifi anyone could buy. And after reading your post, I'm now giving some thought to pairing my P3ESRs with Lebens as well...

  3. #63
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    Post The key to enlightenment is the P3ESR

    Quote Originally Posted by singslingr View Post
    I totally understand Greg - I think Leben amps are among the best-looking hifi anyone could buy. And after reading your post, I'm now giving some thought to pairing my P3ESRs with Lebens as well...
    If it doesn't put you out financially and they appeal to you, then why not? But let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

    In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself, I still can't resist experimenting! My longer term goal, in fact, is to move to a bigger listening room and a larger Harbeth model with my Lebens and keep the P3ESR for a second system with a less bling amplifer. However, I find my new P3 totally satisfying - so substantial and rich yet delicate and smooth. Also, the finish and build is far, far better than my previous LS3/5A speakers.

    On the subject of the LS3/5A, I would now say that anyone still raving about that speaker needs to sit down with the P3ESR and experience the wake-up call of 30+ years of improvement and development achieved by Alan Shaw/Harbeth. There really is NO CONTEST, no ifs no buts. Just get out there and listen!

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregD View Post
    ... let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

    In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself!
    I am currently driving my P3ESRs with a Dayens Ampino, a nice little 25wpc integrated from Serbia that I think cost 250 Euros or so. I had a much larger, more powerful, more expensive integrated, but I just like the sound of the Ampino - it and the P3ESRs make beautiful music together.

    So no, you really don't need to spend a lot of cash.

  5. #65
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    Thanks for being candid Greg. My sentiments exactly about the Lebens. Yes they are absolutely beautiful spotting that vintage look but as you mentioned, comparable sound can be had for less money & that's the reason why i bought the LFD LE III when i was actually comtemplating the Leben 600 integrated. I bet the LE III or the current LE IV will also sound superb with the P3ESR. Whatever it is, the P3ESR is a fantastic little musical marvel. Enjoy them to the max Greg.

  6. #66
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    Default Using both tube and solid state amps

    Hi all,
    I have 3 Luxman integrated amps - two tube amps SQ-N100 and SQ-38u (10W and 25W respectively into 8ohm), plus a SS, the L-507u (110w). At first I experimented a lot with changing the amps for my SHL5 but after a while, although there may be perceived differences I just do not bother any more as they can all drive the SHL5 beautifully (or the SHL5 delivers the music from any of the amps capably).
    ck chan

  7. #67
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    Rega have a new 'budget' integrated amp, the Brio-r. I heard it yesterday and it is seriously good. It is priced at £480 and has an internal MM phono stage, 50 wpc. It will be available in a few weeks.

    It will stir things up a bit !!!

  8. #68
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    I was using a Jadis Orchestra Ref with KT 88 - rather nice. Went to a Lux 550A II for my 5's: I like it much more.

  9. #69
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    Default Valve amps and transients?

    Quote Originally Posted by C K Chan View Post
    Hi all,
    I have 3 Luxman integrated amps - two tube amps SQ-N100 and SQ-38u (10W and 25W respectively into 8ohm)...
    Hi C K Chan,

    Forgive my asking - this has reminded me of a question I have been trying to find an answer to. I used to use a couple of valve amps, 10W and 35W respectively. Neither could reproduce the transient response required to reproduce a piano recording accurately. I have been trying to nail the cause but have very limited experience.

    Can I ask whether your amps provide a convincing transient response? If they do, then at least it will rule out my amps being valve amps per se as the cause. Thanks.
    Ben from UK. Harbeth P3ESR owner.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregD View Post
    If it doesn't put you out financially and they appeal to you, then why not? But let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

    In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself, I still can't resist experimenting! My longer term goal, in fact, is to move to a bigger listening room and a larger Harbeth model with my Lebens and keep the P3ESR for a second system with a less bling amplifer. However, I find my new P3 totally satisfying - so substantial and rich yet delicate and smooth. Also, the finish and build is far, far better than my previous LS3/5A speakers.

    On the subject of the LS3/5A, I would now say that anyone still raving about that speaker needs to sit down with the P3ESR and experience the wake-up call of 30+ years of improvement and development achieved by Alan Shaw/Harbeth. There really is NO CONTEST, no ifs no buts. Just get out there and listen!
    If you're looking for a less bling (and expensive) amp to partner the PSESRs, may I recommend the NAD C356BEE. Its 80W is more than enough for the Harbeths and I found the pairing to be quite impressive.

    And I agree with you about preferring the PSESRs over the LS3/5As.

    Cheers!

  11. #71
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    Default Refreshingly honest consumer statement ....

    Quote Originally Posted by GregD View Post
    .... My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps....
    Now, speaking as a marketing-aware person, that is the sort of self-awareness that I respect. There is, as I've said before, nothing whatsoever wrong with the thrill of the chase and the final conquest. That is after all an evolutionary given. What is refreshing is that the consumer candidly admitted that there was no underlying sonic reason for making the purchase of an old amp - he just liked the look of it.

    I assume that the same logic applies when we see another human that we find attractive - there is no need to justify the feeling; no need to sell that reasoning to others, and no need to play down the imperfections. I applaud the candour - it's all we ask for here. Everyone should be free to pick-out whatever they fancy without others imposing their justification on it. That's why we Moderate posts making what we consider ludicrous justifications of cables and the like. If you fancy a flutter on a cable, please do so. Your dealer will welcome you! But don't try and sell your dream to the rest of us. Some prefer blondes. Some brunettes. Neither is better. They're just different.

    BTW, this relates to my post about Influencing Others. Here:

    http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...g-other-people
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  12. #72
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    Post Praise, Opinion and Their Influence on Others

    BTW, this relates to my post about Influencing Others.
    One of the problems with the Internet is that everyone's opinion appears on a level playing field. I was on another forum once and innocently expressed praise and a preference for a particular headphone. To my astonishment, I quickly gathered a small number of followers who would ask for my opinion and advice about all sorts of hi-fi issues, as if I were some kind of Guru. I had to disappoint them!

    Even in this thread, I expressed my preference for Leben valves and someone has already thought about joining me as a Leben owner. Nothing wrong in that, but I certainly did not intend to influence anyone, just to be clear about my views on the matter of amplifiers and the reasons for choosing them. I feel a lot freer these days after admitting to myself what is really important to me as an individual consumer.

    We really do need to be careful about what we post on the HUG and the internet in general, in this way I support the Moderation policy.

  13. #73
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    Default Humans crave social acceptance

    Quote Originally Posted by GregD View Post
    ....I quickly gathered a small number of followers who would ask for my opinion and advice about all sorts of hi-fi issues, as if I were some kind of Guru. I had to disappoint them!
    Keeping with the evolutionary theme, I suspect there are at least two other things at play:

    1. Human beings crave social acceptance, and seek consensus on all kinds of things including the "best" hi fi to get.

    2. Human beings seek to defer to authority as it provides a sense of security and stability to think that someone else has The Answer.

    I think it's not hard to see that these tendencies predate the Internet but, as with so many things, they have become more manifest because of the incredibly greater ease of communication now compared to previously.

  14. #74
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    The internet looks like it may have created mass “projections” of information, without creating a bridge to access and evaluate “it”. We’re seeing the low level confusion, some of which is tossed into the misinformation pot to appeal to our insecurities eg. “if it’s more expensive it can only be better” etc.

    It must be risky and expensive to put an electronic product to market, and think most reputable manufacturers just can’t get it wrong. Personally think this logic does show. Even for something so complex as a digital tv, its hard to pick any major shortcomings (even with the different calibrations) from a tv to the extent that I couldn’t live with. The only nasty ones ive seen are the unknown brand cheap as chips examples.

    So fear not, venture forth and buy that branded mainstream amp. It cannot be bad but only very good, and best with Harbeths!

  15. #75
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    Default Reality of tube amps

    Quote Originally Posted by BAS-H View Post
    Hi C K Chan,

    .... Neither could reproduce the transient response required to reproduce a piano recording accurately. I have been trying to nail the cause but have very limited experience.

    ...
    Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged.

    I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  16. #76
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    Default Thanks for Tube Amp Info

    Many thanks Alan, appreciated. The explanation certainly fits the observations.
    Ben from UK. Harbeth P3ESR owner.

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged. I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.
    It is in the Transformer... Thanks Alan Shaw. Another 'nail in the coffin' post.

    Happy Good Friday!

  18. #78
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged.

    I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.
    Hi Alan
    I have tried many amplifiers over the years valve & the best solid state, I have built 4 Valve Single Ended Triode mono block amplifiers & 2 valve transformer output preamplifiers to learn about the different directly heated triodes (45,2A3,300B & GM-70).
    As you say the transformers are the governing factor to the quality of the sound produced by valve amplifiers.
    How ever I would have to say when you have a valve amplifier that uses excellent built & designed transformers for the output or even interstage driver transformers then this is a different matter for the sonic results entirely.
    I am not saying that you need to use valve amplifiers to get excellent sound quality with Harbeth loudspeakers because you do not, I have had excellent sound with the LFD, Pass Labs & Lamm solid state amplifiers, I like both amplification devices when well designed.
    Thanks Jason.

  19. #79
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    Like I expressed in the past on the HUG, I experimented many amplifiers with my SHL5. Both of solid state or tubes amplifiers have their strenght and weakness.

    To state about Alan's earlier post, for me it's clear the solid state are the "brunette" one and tubes are the "blonde" one.

    Enjoy your sound!

    Sebastien

  20. #80
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    A few months ago I bought a Prima Luna Prologue 2 valve amplifier to use with my SHL5's, it's my first valve amp in 45 years of listening to hi fi and I love it. I recently changed the stock KT88 valves for Svetlana winged C EL34 valves and in my humble opinion the sound quality is now ever better.

    Geoff.

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