Author Topic: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit  (Read 3548 times)

Offline scorpio333

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Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« on: July 23, 2014, 11:10:16 AM »
I've browsed around the forum for awhile just trying learn new things. I think now is the time that I pick a new habit to try and destroy any chance of economic stability. A year or so it started with me pulling a mid 70's Dual out of the attic. I've gone through a few tables and receivers since then mixing and matching and like what I have setup. It's very modest and there's room to expand.

Should I dive in the deep end and explore tubes? I don't have the funds for new amps or preamps. I'd rather go the other way and tear open something old and forgotten and give the tubes a new life. Plus, I'd get to learn what makes it work which I know nothing about but would like to know. Are old consoles worth the hassle? Is a kit a better idea? Something used? If you had to do it all over again, where would you start?

Anyone got recommendations to either stop me in my tracks or help for what types of tools and reading I should be gathering? Sorry for all the questions and thanks for any help!

Offline StephenWVU

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 12:00:44 PM »
I've played with a fair amount of solid state and tube equipment. My preference has been with tube.  I also know a bit more about how tube amps/preamps work so for me they are easier to work on.  If you get a point to point wired amplifier or preamp you should be able to keep it running for ever by replacing caps when needed, resistors if they ever die, and tubes when they go.  That being said, if I were to go back and give myself advice for the beginning of the hobby rather than learn it 3 years down the road, I would buy broken point to point, not surface mount or chipboard equipment, learn to read a schematic, and repair the equipment.  Alternatively you can take out a loan, buy a huge lot of equipment, and sell what you don't want.  If it is broken equipment that is easily repaired you will make out VERY well with this typically.
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Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 12:02:01 PM »
My entire tube experience is with old consoles.   I've had a blast and learned a lot on very little money.   Of course, I've also been extraordinarily lucky.

SunnyDaze

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 01:26:42 PM »
Keep in mind that asking five audio enthusiasts a question of this nature is like going to five doctors for a diagnosis; you'll get five different answers and no one who will admit that they are wrong.  >:D

Before you "dive in" and start splurging on gear, you should do as much research and listening as you can. The tube world and the solid state world generally rely on very different design philosophies.

Big beefy solid state amps allow for a much greater variety of loudspeakers to be used, typically have a relatively flat frequency response over the audible range, and play loud and clear up to clipping. They also generally have very low THD ratings over their frequency range, especially when compared to their tube cousins. You can find good solid state amps made by Japanese companies who sought to produce higher end gear in the 70's / 80's for reasonable prices.

Output transformers on tube amps are mostly wired for loudspeakers of a specific nominal impedance. Mismatching the impedance between an OT and a loudspeaker can cause the transformers or tubes to have to "work harder" depending on the mismatch. Also, this scenario creates a situation that is not optimal to the output stage of the amplifier and can effect the overall tonal characteristics of the amplifier. Some folks use this to play to their taste; for example it's a common practice to wire up 8 Ohm Klipsch Forte I's to amplifiers with 4 Ohm output transformers; some people prefer the sound of resulting "mismatch".

The cost of a tube watt is generally much pricier than a solid state watt. As a consequence, most tube amps produce moderate to low power. Depending on design and build, a tube amp may not have a flat frequency response (this can be desirable with certain loudspeaker / amplifier combinations) and may generate audible amounts of harmonic distortion. Some fans of tube gear seek specific tube types and circuit designs that distort with even harmonics as they are said to generate a "pleasant" tone.

That being said, high quality tube amps can be easy and inexpensive to acquire. Find yourself a pre-transistorized console made by the likes of Magnavox, RCA, Philco, Grundig, etc.. and do a "console pull". Typically with slight modifications the tube amps removed from stereo consoles sound fantastic.

Solid state gear with PCB internals are generally more difficult to diagnose and repair when they have issues. Modifications on solid state stuff generally requires more patience and experience as well. Tube gear with point to point wiring is the opposite. With a basic knowledge of electronics and some good schematics, tube amps take a few minutes to learn (but a lifetime to master).  O0

Also keep speakers in mind. It's generally not a good idea to mate a set of speakers with an efficiency rating of 85 dB with an 11 watt tube amp. Conversely, a set of 101 dB efficient horns can blast you out of a room quite abrasively with a 200W RMS solid state amplifier.

Best of luck.

Offline StephenWVU

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 03:17:20 PM »
8-watt gave some super information there!
Speakers: Nearfield Acoustics Pipedreams Reference 18
Amplifier:
Crown XLS2000 on subs
VAC Renaissance 30/70 (towers)
Preamplifier/DAC: Phison PD2
Server: Antipodes DX (everyone should investigate this brand)
CD: SONY DVP 9000ES
Turntable: I will have one again... Looking at Hanss T60 or VPI Aries

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 03:57:18 PM »
Yes, except when 8W mentioned brands of consoles, he should have mentioned Stromberg-Carlson.   Great stuff that many solid state guys may be unfamiliar with.   Likewise, Fisher tube gear is first rate but may be seen as inferior by people who only know their later tuff.

Offline MacGeek

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 04:34:59 PM »
For what it's worth, I never got too deep into the repair side.  A fair amount of older gear just needs a good cleaning to get it to operate correctly (tubes may be an exception, but I don't really know).  For me, the challenge has been to maximize the performance of the equipment in my room(s).  Signal to noise, frequency response, distortion, etc are maximized (or minimized as the case may be).  Room nodes are tempered via EQ or room treatments and gear is swapped to trade up in pursuit of these objectives. 

The fun part of this hobby is that it does not need to cost a lot, although it easily can, you get to listen to good tunes and can focus on what you enjoy most.  I have also met some great people willing to help me along the way.

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, a visit to Vintage HiFi is a great place to start.
MAC C-46 pre, MQ 108 eq, MC 352 amps (2), MR 78 tuner, MCD 500 CD, MPI-4 scope, LS 352 speakers, Sony HDR-F1HD AM/FM/HD tuner, Denon DRS 810 cassette, Denon CDR-W1500 CD recorder, Music Hall MMF-9 w/B&O MMC2, Revox A-77 R to R.

Offline bearjew

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 05:36:41 PM »
a meth addiction is most likely cheaper...  but there are few pleasure better than a good stereo... and we all know what those pleasures are... >:D

tubes don't have to be expensive.  i have a magnavox 8604 that came out of an old console, and it sounds incredible, and i paid a little over 100 for it i think.  just look around for good deals, and be patient.
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SunnyDaze

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 06:00:42 PM »
Yes, except when 8W mentioned brands of consoles, he should have mentioned Stromberg-Carlson. 

 >:(

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 06:26:46 PM »
Sorry 8W, in re-reading my post, it does seem a bit critical.   It wasn't intended that way, just as additional info.

We cool? O0

Offline schwarcw

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 06:58:34 PM »
A good sounding system doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  I've heard some expensive systems that were just so so.

How big is your room?  What are your listening habits?  Do you want something that will blend into the room decor?  Are you interested in monitor or floor standing speaker?

Personally, I like floor standing speakers.  Big speakers generally will require some power unless you get some high efficiency speakers like 8WoF noted.  I tend to go with tube preamplifiers and a solid state amp.

If you have a small listening space and listen to music at low to moderate levels an integrated tube amplifier may be the way to go.  Depending on the speakers, the console integrated tube amplifiers may not give you all that you want.  You may need to consider some of the bigger tube amps, which begin to go to a new budget level.

Tell us more about the questions I asked at the beginning of my post.

Good luck!
Carl

Offline ataudio

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 10:34:09 PM »
Maybe consider a tube amp kit.   This company has been around for many years.  Seems to get good reviews.
Give it some thought...a kit of some sort. 
https://tubedepot.com/products/stereo-tube-amplifier-kit

The tubes don't appear to be the typical el34, el84, kt88's etc so tube rolling may be out of the question but they sure
do look like fun. 

Offline scorpio333

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 11:56:02 PM »
Thanks guys, good stuff for me to mull over. Didn't quote anything…

I am in Pittsburgh, I found out about Vintage HiFi when I bought a NAD 7120 and the guy told me it was checked out at the shop and he gave me the number in case anything went wrong. It IS a NAD after all. That little 20w NAD was bought for an inlaw that didn't work out, so it came back to me and is my current phono amp in the basement and I like it. The speakers are Polk 60 Series II floor standers. I've heard better, recently I had a set of Wharfdale 10.2's to try out and to be honest they didn't blow the Polks away. Down the road they'll get upgraded, but they also do double duty in the HT setup. I conjured a little selector box to switch them between receivers (they do NOT connect to two receivers at the same time). 

As for listening, it's all vinyl off a Dual 1249 down there. Rock, classic rock, some jazz, a classical record when I'm in the mood to feel horrible about my system. The NAD has never been above half volume, it's typically run about 1/4. The room is long and not deep, 25 x 14. The speakers sit about 10' apart and I sit about 6' away. This is where I'd like to try the tubes. It is a finished basement, the decor includes a guitar hanging on the wall, concert posters and about 500 records in a bookshelf, etc…tubes ain't gonna wreck no prim n properness down there. Doesn't need to be too loud down there. Upstairs, with a open living/dining/kitchen and an 16' vaulted ceiling that needs bigger speakers/amp. An old Kenwood KR6600 caked with mud (literally) runs a set of Boston A150s with a Hitachi HT500 TT.  I've mixed and matched every combo in the house and that's what sounds best for each room. Again, this stuff ain't gonna win any awards, but I'm making the most of it without pawning my daughter's toys. I prefer a warm, mellow sound with good staging. Bright gives me a headache.

I've also got a mid to late 60's Magnavox console that's been barely used since new. It belonged to a great aunt. It's basically just a piece a furniture now. It powers on, but needs an overhaul to get the 'scratchies' out. That's a someday down the road thing to play xmas albums on when the old folks are around. Unfortunately no tubes in that one. I keep an eye on CL for them here n there. The WAF may nosedive if I bring another home, but I'm willing to risk that. For now, unless something good pops up I'll keep reading up.

Offline scorpio333

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2014, 04:07:14 PM »
A few weeks later a bit of an update. I spent a good few days reading and googling and generally thinking, "all this time I spend on the net while I should be listening to records". Summertime isn't the greatest time to be cruising CL for stereo stuff and half of you guys likely beat me to the punch of snagging up the good stuff. My initial plan was to find an old console and make the amp work. I saw a few here n there, but the info on those consoles was incredibly slim. Add in the WAF on bringing home something that was going to take up space and I gave up on that route...for now.

More browsing and reading and I got to the point of instant gratification winning out. I came across a few different 'entry' level amps and decided on the Jolida FX10. Let the speaker shuffle and pre amp shuffle begin. I don't own, er didn't own, a dedicated standalone phono preamp. One Saturday night my buddy came down and we had everything all over the room. The next morning I woke up with a NAD 7120 doing the phono pre amp and a set of BA A150's for speakers. That was what sounded best. The A150's came from the upstairs system where they sound great and rarely get a critical listening. Listen to this more and more and it's good, sometimes ok, sometimes crap. To get real loud the amp has to go up to about 4 o'clock on the knob. Decent listening level is about halfway, maybe a little past.

I've got more chinese stuff on the way, a Yaqin MS12B pre amp. I don't care for Chinese stuff, but unfortunately when it's new or close to new, it's pretty much all the hobby money I can afford. I look at it as mostly temporary stuff, a first learning step until I can afford better or get the stones to build a kit. The kits scare me a bit, I'm not too confident in soldering and would hate to spend umpteen hours on a block of junk. 

And then I saw the Frazier speaker ad, I rarely look up in that box…this is like waking up next to the toilet…I'll never look at stereo stuff on the web again.

Offline Dicky

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Re: Ignorant new user looking for a new habit
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2014, 05:09:10 PM »
As far as soldering, get a good iron and it becomes real easy real quick.  Fear lasted me about 15 minutes
Emotiva XSP-1 pre
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Technics SL-1200mk2 turntable
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Bose 601 speakers
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Columbia Masterwork 944 Console

 

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