Tube Amps for Home Audio

Maridis – Cold Summer Rain

Questions and Answers

Integrated tube amps… How can i pick a winner?

Im looking at a two channel setup with a turntable and an integrated amp. I dont know how to choose the right integrated amp. Solid state sound easy and potentially cheaper. I hear tube sounds better but degrades over time and needs to have tubes replaced. Im looking at around 500-700 for the amp almost definitly from audiogon.com as their really isnt much other choice for vintage gear. Can anyone clear this up for me?

Posted by Andrew B
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I would personally stay away from vintage gear, unless you're willing to pay extra to have it gone over by someone when you get it and periodically after… And can actually find someone who will do it and do it well. People who claim gear has been "restored" are often full of it. While these old electronics were built much better than anything is today, they don't last forever and usually require some work to get them sounding good and performing to spec and their rated power output.

Jolida makes some really nice sounding tube gear you can buy brand new in that price-range (no built-in phono stages though). That's probably where I'd start looking. The build quality is very decent too, good quality capacitors (not "audiophile", but longer lasting than the types generally used in consumer electronics), ceramic tube sockets, etc… Finding something that presents sound in a way that appeals to you personally is the most important thing. I would definitely try to listen to any audio gear before purchasing.

Http://www.uptownaudio.com/jolida/Jolida…

Small preamp tubes last quite awhile. Power tubes, maybe a few years. There are many low-cost current production tubes available I think sound very nice. Tube cost shouldn't be a problem.

Something like a Harman Kardon stereo receiver probably wouldn't be a bad way to go either. They're powerful, warm sounding and have a phono input. Almost as good as tubes or anything labled "budget audiophile" for much less money. I've been seeing refurbs going for good prices on eBAY direct from Harman Audio with warranty. I'm not crazy about their home theater receivers because their video switching is notoriously "buggy". But, many agree they do sound excellent as do their stereo receivers.

Http://shop.ebay.com/harmanaudio/m.html?…

Looks like they've changed their strategy a bit and they're now listing some very high "buy it now or best offer" prices. An offer of less than half the "buy it now" price would probably score you one of these.

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Questions and Answers

Home music studio equiptment?

I am trying to surprise my husband for his birthday with a in home music studio. He and his partner already have one studio but its really really far from where we are now located. His partner told me he already has the computer with all the necessary programs. From what i understand i need to get KEYBOARD,MICROPHONE. I don't really know what else. I know his other studio had sound mixer boards, an insulated booth and other things i don't really know what they are called. If anyone can help me out. Just let me know the basic things i would need. They do not use drums or guitars. Basiccally make beats and record their songs. I have until June to get this studio together.

Please help

** also whats the cheapest place to find all the things i would need
Money is not really an option… So please do not tell me you think im in way over my head. Thanks again.

Posted by Nycole P
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I'd have to agree with the other answerer on this – this is a very specific question, and one that different people will have different needs and preferences on. I mean, I can tell you what I use, and that might help you get in the ballpark, but if he's used to a mixing board, then you're looking at a few thousand just for a decent mixing board alone, y'know?

My personal setup right now is very minimal, and is based around my laptop. I have a USB audio interface (a relatively cheap but decent quality Lexington Alpha), a small Behringer 4-track mixer for when I need it, a handful of different mics, a couple different amps and stompbox pedals and rackmount processing units, and a lot of samples, plugins, and misc software that I've downloaded to help me create what I want to create… And mix, and master, etc. Oh yeah, can't forget a couple of pairs of headphones. Gotta get good, flat response, high quality studio headphones.

Now, I have access to better equipment when I need it, so I haven't invested in decent monitors, I do my rough mixes over the headphones, which is okay for a rough mix but not adequate for a full-blown master mix – you gotta hear it in stereo to take it all in correctly.

Is he using synthesizers? Samplers? What level of keyboard is he using – something relatively simple with a few dozen different sounds, something more fully featured with onboard memory and banks of different samples, or a full digital workstation that can record/mix/master/burn all in one? There's at least one digit of difference in price here, so that's an important distinction.

Look, it's one thing for you to say "money is not an option", but you also said "whats the cheapest place to find this stuff"…. So obviously it's something of a concern!

The suggestion of asking this other guy is a good one, a solid one. See, if you get the wrong equipment, he'll have to take it back anyways – you would ideally want to get equipment that he's already using, equipment that is compatible with what he's already recorded and what he's familiar with.

You can go to Guitar Center/Sam Ash or any real music store and talk to them about what your options are, and you can go to places like musiciansfriend.com for some decent deals, but if you don't know *exactly* what he needs, then you're basically wasting your time. We musicians tend to have very exact needs, and even the wrong brand can upset us or throw a monkey wrench into our whole process.

For a fully featured home studio, with mixing boards, DAW, a handful of good microphones, a decent Korg (etc) keyboard, some preamps and other rackmount equipment as necessary (compressors, EQ, etc), I could easily see dropping 10 grand… If not a lot more! And that's assuming that the computer is good quality, all the programs have already been purchased, doesn't count acoustic treatments, oh yeah, let's not forget power conditioners, need those for serious studio work, and definitely doesn't count any guitar, drum, bass guitar, etc equipment, amps, or instruments.

So here are my suggestions:

1) get him a nice tube condenser microphone and preamp. This can set you back at least a grand or two, and a good vocal mic is worth its weight in gold as far as recording goes. When recording vocals, assuming that the rest of the recording chain doesn't suck, this is the single biggest improvement you can make to get a better sound.

2) get one of every Shure microphone Guitar Center (or equivalent store) carries, at least every one of them that are over 100$. This will also set you back a good chunk of change, and isn't as cool as one superb mic, but sometimes having a variety of mics is a good thing, especially if he ever does record instruments – the Shure SM57 is the classic mic for recording electric guitar, but can also record vocals, bass, etc as well, for instance. Cheap mic, relatively speaking, but excellent quality.

3) Get him a gift certificate for as much as you want to swing. A grand is a good place to start, that's where most serious pro-level equipment begins. If you don't know what he needs, then this is what you want to do. It'll give him the excitement of purchasing something of his very own – for musicians, shopping for new gear is like Christmas – you don't necessarily know what you're going to get, but you know its going to be da#n cool!

The only reason I think you're in over your head is that you're operating from a position of ignorance. The best of intentions, no doubt, but not knowing what specific gear a musician uses is such a huge hole in your plan, y'know?

I wish you the best of luck, I'm sure you'll blow him away!

Saul.

123 Low Profile Castable Umbrella

Questions and Answers

Class D mono vs. A-B dual channel bridged for sub?

What kind of quality difference would be noticed when running a sub on either a class d mono amp or a dual channel class a-b amp with the channels bridged? I've noticed that class d's are more expensive, is this because they are more power efficient or do they also produce better quality signals for subs?

Posted by Casual Catastrophe
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A-b are cheaper? Not uh. I dont think so. A-b amps arnt very efficient and are made for sound quality for component sets or home audio (you want even more expensive/sq/less efficient check out vacuum tube amps) d class amps are made for subs because there very efficient like 70-80% and the more quality the brand usually the less of a strain on your electrical it is

id like to know what a-b amps are cheaper then d class tho!

Hope it helps.

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