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Discussion Starter #1
So I was thinking of plopping down some money on a nice sound system. (for my home)

Listening to my friends Mcintosh Vacuum Tube amp blew me away.
I mean the thing only put out like 10 watts (apparently in hifi world, lower amplification is cleaner signal) but it sounded phenomenal.
Very eerie like there were people in the room with you......you can tell where the players were standing on the sound stage and even hear the guys footstep as he moved from one end of the instrument to the other!!

Anyways, anyone know much about Tube Amps and such?
(I have a feeling McC5's gonna know quite a bit about this :)

Specifically how to match amp/speaker to get good results (I know there are Tube friendly speakers and non-tube friendly speakers....something about linear impedance)

Also, I'd like to get some info about "relatively" cheap but good Tube Amps.....I can't afford them friggin McIntosh amps.....MAN they are expensive!
 

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I know what you're saying, McIntosh makes the finest audio equipment in the world. However, Marantz makes some great older tubed amps. Nothing sounds as good as a tubed amp I believe, but some people don't like the "warm" sound. However, a system only sounds as good as its weakest link. That means quality cables, quality speakers, and a quality pre-amp. If you're not careful, you can spend thousands; my roomate did. Ebay is gonna be your best bet if you really want a McIntosh or any type of tubed amp. Audiogon works too. Check the local paper, sometimes older gentlemen have equipment like this. And you're correct about a cleaner signal. If the signal is very clean, it will take less wattage to produce a better sound, not to mention often times older amps like McIntoshs are underated. Good luck. You've got the bug now, haha.

www.audiogon.com
www.ebay.com
 

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It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. The tube amps are ok, but I have heard that the life isn't too good on them. Bose, Infinity, JBL, Klipsch, Polk, and Yamaha are all very good amps and speakers. Give me $'s and I can give you equipment in that range. I had an amp that could push 500 watt speakers to their limit and rattle my whole house at half volume! I never did find out the brand, but it rivaled the sound you get from a wrestling event or a hockey game. I had to use ear plugs just to get close enough to turn it off.
 

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Welcome to the world of Hi-Fi in the home :)

I, personally specialize in vintage (70's) Solid State, so my tube knowladge isn't *that* good....

Mac makes amazing tube gear, in fact you could get some of their older tube amps (70's) for alot cheaper then you could new stuff.

10 watts per channel from a tube amp is not too bad... it isn't that lower watts mean better sound... but if you are going to pay, say $200 for a 100watt x 2 amp or $1,000 for a 10watt x 2 amp... which do you think will be better?

Also tube amps are rated different, a saying in to audio world is that tube watts are double that of SS watts.... for the most part it is true.

Also, that tube amp is 10watts x 2 RMS... that means it'll put out a steady 10watts into each channel, now in music there are peaks up to 10x the average output... This is where the big guys are seperated from the little boys :)

What you mention about being able to hear where the people are and such, that is called sound stage, the abaility for the speakers to work in unisom with each other, so if you close your eyes, you can't tell where the sound is coming from is called imaging, tubes or SS.... when you get into hi-fi, these 2 things come into play.

some speakers work much better with tubes then others...

but I will say one thing, tubes are kind of like vinyl LP vs CD.... they are much more work and require more care then SS gear, but if you know what you are doing, they are much more rewarding.

If you are handy with electronics, there are tube amp and pre amp kits that you can build yourself... to get very good tube quality sound for cheap.

If you are looking for a great sounding audio system in the house, I would honestly say to go with SS gear instead of tubes.... though if you are set on tubes, then go for it... but it seems to me, in your case SS would fit you better.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, I totally agree.

The problem is my friend just spent 12,000 bucks on some fancy speakers and offered to sell me his old set (10 months old) for pretty cheap (like less than a grand)

(he has an awesome system, including 2 McC tube amps)

So the problem is that if I buy these, then I am forced to buy a good amp, CD player, Cables etc... (his recomendation is a 25 watt tube amp around 5000$!! INsanely high for me)

So I am worried that this 'great buy' on the speakers might actually lead me down a slippery slope where I end up spending 10 times the 'savings' on the speakers on components.....is it a blessing or curse....
 

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JC316 said:
It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. The tube amps are ok, but I have heard that the life isn't too good on them. Bose, Infinity, JBL, Klipsch, Polk, and Yamaha are all very good amps and speakers. Give me $'s and I can give you equipment in that range. I had an amp that could push 500 watt speakers to their limit and rattle my whole house at half volume! I never did find out the brand, but it rivaled the sound you get from a wrestling event or a hockey game. I had to use ear plugs just to get close enough to turn it off.
omg...not Bose... Bose is complete and utter JUNK, do not waste any money on their stuff... while the other brands you mentioned are entry-level (for the most part) Bose shoudln't even be compared to them...ugh...

I know what you're saying, McIntosh makes the finest audio equipment in the world. However, Marantz makes some great older tubed amps. Nothing sounds as good as a tubed amp I believe, but some people don't like the "warm" sound. However, a system only sounds as good as its weakest link. That means quality cables, quality speakers, and a quality pre-amp. If you're not careful, you can spend thousands; my roomate did. Ebay is gonna be your best bet if you really want a McIntosh or any type of tubed amp. Audiogon works too. Check the local paper, sometimes older gentlemen have equipment like this. And you're correct about a cleaner signal. If the signal is very clean, it will take less wattage to produce a better sound, not to mention often times older amps like McIntoshs are underated. Good luck. You've got the bug now, haha.
Eh, I wouldn't say they make *THE* finest gear in the world... that is a pretty broad statement, but I will say they make some of the best you can buy for lots of money. Marantz is good as well, Rotel is another... I have been out of the hi-fi world for a couple years now, and even then I wasn't into the modern stuff, so my memory is fuzzy with that. The system is only as good as the weakest link, but the one part that will completly make or break a system is the speakers, followed by the amp. While it is arguable if cables will make a difference or not, I woudln't waste money on them... I am not saying use the POS patch cables that come with a $40 DVD player, but something in the $50 range is good, definitly don't need to spend $100+ on cables... it won't make a difference. Also while Monster is *ok* for cables, they are one of the only mass market brands at Best Buy and Circuit city, so don't think they are the best you can get... yu can get better cables for cheaper, but Monster isn't *too* bad, I have a couple of their cables.

Audiogon is pretty good, I bought my JBL's there a few years back... guy was trying to part them out but I snagged them before he sold any parts... I got them at a good price but they were rough, so I refurbished them.... look nice now, tho not perfect, I am happy with them :)

BTW if you would like to get into vintage gear, then I can tell you a whole bunch :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, bose and such are gimmicky plebian stuff....the speakers I am considering are Quads. (I used to run B&W's but when I heard these I was shocked, for the same money they were amazing)
You mentioned rotel, I was going to go that way for the amp and cd player but then its getting soooo expensive already.

Cables.....jeezus....this guy runs cables that cost $8000 ON SALE!!! I could not believe it! (I think they are listed for $12Gs) Its just copper wire and an insulator for petes sake!

Buy like you said, it has to be a balanced system or your weakest link will waste the rest of the system......thats my conundrum (all or nothing)
 

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Have you tried Boston Acoustics? They make some great equipment, almost a bargain compared to Bose.

I enjoy a quality sound system, and a couple years when I was buying a new home speaker system, a friend suggested I try Boston Acoustics. My system is in-wall since I don't like bulky equipment lying around the house. They do however make some great amps for a relatively small amount for what you get.

Here's what I bought:

(6) VRi553 In-Wall (2 for the bedroom, 2 for the kitchen, and 2 for the master bath)
(2) VRi593 In-Wall (for the living room)
(2) VRi585 In-Ceiling (for the living room)
(2) Voyager 6 Outdoor equipment

I thought the cost was out-of-line when I first had them, but after a few months I couldn't live without this sound.

Try the A7200 amplifier. This will no doubt fill in the need for a quality sound amp. http://www.bostonacoustics.com/home_product.aspx?category_id=60&product_id=335
 

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And just think, in a nuclear strike your tube system will still work while everyone else's solid state systems will be dead from the EMP! :highfive:
 

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powerglide said:
Yeah, I totally agree.

The problem is my friend just spent 12,000 bucks on some fancy speakers and offered to sell me his old set (10 months old) for pretty cheap (like less than a grand)

(he has an awesome system, including 2 McC tube amps)

So the problem is that if I buy these, then I am forced to buy a good amp, CD player, Cables etc... (his recomendation is a 25 watt tube amp around 5000$!! INsanely high for me)

So I am worried that this 'great buy' on the speakers might actually lead me down a slippery slope where I end up spending 10 times the 'savings' on the speakers on components.....is it a blessing or curse....
What kind of speakers? get the make and model, and how much he will sell them to you for, we can go form there.

Also, building up a sound system isn't a one shot deal... thats the fun of it, think about it as a classic muscle car that you are driving as you restore it... if you get quality speakers, you do not need to buy everything all at once. The first thing you will want to do is get a quality amp, so that is where I would put most the money (after the speakers), for the time being, use a cd player you already have or even a DVD player... then get a decent soruce (CD player) again, you don't need new, my CD player was made in 1991, but I would have to spend literally at least $600+ to get a player better then what I have. Like I said, do not waste money on expensive cables, atleast not right now.

Also as I mentioned before, I wouldn't get a tube amp.... $5,000 is quite a bit for someone just starting out with audio (to spend on an amp)

honestly, I would get a vintage SS receiver or integrated amp... for under $1,000 you could get an amzing amp that would really amaze you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah actually Boston Acoustics made good stuff (and some crap...like these computer speakers I've got on my desk here...) I have used them in the car but not at home. For the most part though, names like Boston, Bose, Yamaha etc that most of us recognize are really not audiophile components.......most audiophile stuff have wierd names you never heard of like Quad, Rotel, Almaro, Grado, Tanoy.....all pretty new to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Night Wolf said:
What kind of speakers? get the make and model, and how much he will sell them to you for, we can go form there.
Also, building up a sound system isn't a one shot deal... thats the fun of it, think about it as a classic muscle car that you are driving as you restore it... if you get quality speakers, you do not need to buy everything all at once. The first thing you will want to do is get a quality amp, so that is where I would put most the money (after the speakers), for the time being, use a cd player you already have or even a DVD player... then get a decent soruce (CD player) again, you don't need new, my CD player was made in 1991, but I would have to spend literally at least $600+ to get a player better then what I have. Like I said, do not waste money on expensive cables, atleast not right now.
Also as I mentioned before, I wouldn't get a tube amp.... $5,000 is quite a bit for someone just starting out with audio (to spend on an amp)
honestly, I would get a vintage SS receiver or integrated amp... for under $1,000 you could get an amzing amp that would really amaze you.

for sure! No way I am gonna blow that kinda dough on home audio when I'm drivin a 8 year old car :)

the speakers are Quad L series....forgot the model number. 1 25 mm tweeter and 1 6.5 inch kevlar mid/bass in a floor standing unit. The reviews are phenomenal, I think they cost about $1300 new and supposed to be as good as most $5000 units......from my listening experience I believe it. (It sounds better than my B&Ws for sure) I think he wants about 700 bucks.
 

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Honestly, Boston Acoustics is nothing special... yeah, its better then most of the stuff you'll find at Best Buy, but it is entry-level for the most part.

Anyway, you mention the speakers are Quads? do you know the model or anything?

$8,000 on cables? While I believe it, and back when I was in the hobby, I saw much more.... but really, $8,000 cables are not going to make or break a system, at that point it is more of "look what I have" or makes the person feel better inside.... or the fact that they are using $8k cables on their $20k sound system... ya know? really, $50 will buy you as decent of a cable you'll need.

Honestly, to start off, I would get a Sansui AU-919. Its an amazing integrated amp, then just add a tuner and a cd player. If you don't need as much power, you could get the 717, or 517, they are all in the same family, but the AU-919 is a beast of an amp, built like a tank and surpurb quality, the 717 is the same, just slightly less power, but you can get it cheaper.

http://cgi.ebay.com/SANSUI-AU-717-Integrated-Amplifier-With-Rack-Handles_W0QQitemZ5826379842QQcategoryZ67785QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
 

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Honestly, Boston Acoustics is nothing special... yeah, its better then most of the stuff you'll find at Best Buy, but it is entry-level for the most part.
Have you even heard Boston Acoustics sound? This is no $20,000 speaker system, but it sounds close to one. Some of their lower-end speakers don't do the name justice, but once you spend a little extra, you get some great sound. I'd at least suggest to try it before you rule it out, you'll probably change your mind quickly.
 

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SpeedyArizona said:
Have you even heard Boston Acoustics sound? This is no $20,000 speaker system, but it sounds close to one. Some of their lower-end speakers don't do the name justice, but once you spend a little extra, you get some great sound. I'd at least suggest to try it before you rule it out, you'll probably change your mind quickly.
lol, quite simply....yes, I have heard them :)

Sound close to a $20,000 speaker? that must be some highly gloried BA :)

Yeah, they sound great if you compare it to the stuff at Best Buy.... but once you get out of all the mass market stuff, BA is nothing special.

Klipsch got into mass market by creating a line *lower* then their Reference line (used to be their entry level) so yeah, more profits for them, but sadly it brings down the name... just like JBL, their mass market stuff is nothing to write home about (although their older Studio sereis was pretty nice) but its a shame because people now don't think much of JBL, despite alot of quality gear they make.

Yamaha makes some nice home theatre receivers, thats about it. Sony, eh, only their ES gear is decent, stay away from their speakers! Polk and Infinity (JBL... its all Harmon) are pretty much the same, all turned mass market now. While they have better lines, they are covered up by their mass market lower lines.
 

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Well, it's pretty much like the old adage, "how fast can you afford to go?" How good do you want your system to sound? If you ask me, nothing sounds like a tubed amp. However, I spend a decent amount of time listening with my roomate to different styles and sounds of music. McIntosh is definately in a league of its own. I mean, yeah, there's other quality amps out there, but when you walk into a guy's living room and see the blue analog guages lighting up and a pair of Nautilus or Martin Logan speakers, you know you're in for a good time. Right now in our college apartment, we have an Adcom amp and pre-amp, 2 B&W 3-way speakers, and a Velodyne subwoofer. It's amazing the difference in the sound you get from a $1500 amp and $600 speakers versus the crap I bought at Best Buy 5 years ago.
 

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It's amazing the difference in the sound you get from a $1500 amp and $600 speakers versus the crap I bought at Best Buy 5 years ago.
I think we can all agree on that. Whenever you go from cheap, mass-market equipment to more high end stereo equipment, you can easily tell the difference. Some people think that it's crazy to spend a few thousand bucks on audio equipment, but it's always evident that they've never listened to music on real equipment.
 

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I've gone a few times to some of the high-end luxury sound shoppes and listened to the premium equipment. I can't afford it, but it's really enjoyable to bring a CD in and ask to listen to it. The way it sounds makes you realize just how pathetic the crap most of us buy for our homes or the stock audio setup in a vehicle really is. But it does the job. Problem is it's hard to forget just how good it sounded!
 

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yes, it starts out that you spend a little to get alot.... then you start spending alot to get a little.

when building a sound system from the start, this is how I would spend my money:

50% - speakers
25% - amp/pre amp, integrated amp, receiver etc...
15% - soruce... tuner, cd player, turn table etc...
10% - misc. cables, speaker stands etc...

That is perhaps the best route you can go with any price point... other people will say otherwise, but thats how I feel is right.

So if you have a budget of $1,000

$500 would buy you a decent set of speakers... I would get a pair of used JBL S38 from ebay for about $250, then go to www.partsexpress.com and buy their basic DIY 10" 100 watt (somehwere aorund there) sub for $100.... by the time shipping is done with each, it'll be close to $500.

then $250 for the amp, for that price I would buy a Sansui AU-717 from ebay

$150 would get me a quality, vintage tuner... figure $40, a quality vintage turn table with cart, say another $40, that leaves $70 for a really good, but used cd player

then $100 for the needed RCA cables and speaker wires, the S38's would need stands, but I would put them on the entertainment center thing or something for now.

and that, is how you build a stereo system :)

BTW the tuners and turn tables you'll always find at thrift stores, good stuff too... sometimes you'll even score really good things too, so those prices are pretty accurate.
 

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I've gone a few times to some of the high-end luxury sound shoppes and listened to the premium equipment. I can't afford it, but it's really enjoyable to bring a CD in and ask to listen to it. The way it sounds makes you realize just how pathetic the crap most of us buy for our homes or the stock audio setup in a vehicle really is. But it does the job. Problem is it's hard to forget just how good it sounded!
Sometimes you just need to splurge, remember YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU :D!
 
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