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  1. #1
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    thinking of getting a VAC CLA-1

    I was about to pull the trigger on a audio research L something tube preamp for $1600 for my VTL st85 tube amp, then found this VAC. I guess they were involved with the marantz 7 and some other super high end tube stuff and I can pick the Vac up for $445. I think that the blue book was alot higher on the VAC, and it's really supposed to be nice. I'll be running the VTL st85 tube amp with a jolida tube 100 cd player in the rare black for $600 and what ever tube preamp I pick up. I would appreciate some help from the tube experts here! IF THE VAC is all that, I will pick that up and save a considerable amount of change to get some good interconnects, etc... please let me know what you think. Thanks!!!!
    Also selling all my really nice SS gear: mcintosh mc250 with a MX113 preamp/tuner, all the marantz stuff below, a primo pioneer SX-1250 and a like new in box SX-980, 2 top of the line pioneer quads and about 20 other receivers and speakers, most everything below. I live in Tucson, az.
    But first and foremost, need the preamp info. Thanks,
    Father Time.
    If I get the VAC I will need to know the best tubes to get ! thanks
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Oh Father Time you are back from the future, or is it the past this time?

    Preamps huh? I am curious what your long term goals are for sources, just a CDP or would you be adding vinyl at all. Also, what's your total budget for this purchase?

    Keep in mind that an ARC pre amp is a lifetime purchase. The type of piece you never get rid of, because you'll never need to. I am unfamiliar with the VAC, but will look into it. I have to wonder, would the VAC hold your interest for good?

    The only thing I don't like about you getting the ARC, is that it's alot of cash if you haven't auditioned it. While it's unlikely you won't like it, imagine how you would feel if you didn't.

    The VAC has that ring of protection around it, if you don't like it, you can prbably get your cash back out. Have you listened to any ARC gear?

  3. #3
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    actually wasn't looking at an arc...
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  4. #4
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Time
    actually wasn't looking at an arc...
    Sorry, ARC is short for Audio Research Corporation. You said this...


    I was about to pull the trigger on a audio research L something tube preamp for $1600

  5. #5
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Vac

    Yes, I have read about VAC briefly. I recall now. They only make a couple of different pieces. i would say they are well regarded by deal seeking audiophiles. I think the VAC with a set of top shelf NOS tubes would do you fine. Indeed the money saved could be spent on esoteric cables, or even better, some music.

    The other consideration I was asking you about is whther or not you want a phono stage. VAC make a full feature pre amp with phono, or a basic without. you would need to add an external pre amp if you wanted vinyl with your CLA.

    If you are indeed budgeted for an ARC pre amp, i would suggest auditioning one. They are pre amp royalty, and would be suited for your wonderful MC 250, another legend. I would imagine the difference in build and sonics between the Vac and ARC would be sizable, but only a listen would prove this.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
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    I have the VAC CLA1 MKII. It was $6500 when new and considered a Reference Pre Amp by many including Stereophile and other HE magazines. If it is the same as mine, it has a 20lb outboard power supply, a Passive-Normal-High Gain switch. It uses 2 12AU7s and 2 12AX7s. For a couple hundred bucks ($300-$500) you could send the unit to RHB Sound Dezign and have it brought back to original or better condition. I plan to do it at some time but the one I got worked fine when I got it after new tubes were used. Keep in mind, the unit is basically dual mono with 2 volume knobs. Also, if you plan to to use a sub from your pre, you will have to use only one single cable to the sub unless you go speaker level as no matter how you attempt to use a Y-splitter, it will short the pre to mono only, even after a AV switchbox. That being said, because of the VAC design, there is the needed LF from eithr channel. As far as the best tubes question goes, that is always subjective as to what someone prefers. Out of budget constraints, I was suggested to run the JJ Tesla tubes which sound fine. I rolled a few older Sovtek tubes with good results also.

    What color faceplate? Mine is the Gold faced. See this link post 85-
    Listening Space update

  7. #7
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    The preamp I was looking at was the audio research LS15 and he wanted $1600 for it. Can Anyone get get the bluebook for me? My amp that I will be using with the preamp is the VTL Pure Tube ST85. But I came across the VAC CLA-1 (don't use phono) for only $445. There are lots of positive articles about this preamp! Also will be using the Jolida JD100 tube cd. I have heard the audio research and the jolida and the VTL demoed for me through some martin logan's and they sounded unbelievable! But if the VAC is that good,
    I can save some serious $ and get some other stuff I need. Help me out here as I'm ready to make a move tomorrow. Thanks guys!
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  8. #8
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I trust what HyFi has added here. What are you asking. Is the ARC as good as the VAC? Or... Which is the better deal?

    I don't think the VAC would be as good as the ARC, but who knows, maybe synergy with your exact components would prove otherwise.

    As I already stated, the VAC is a great value for a good pre. You can get your money back out should you decide to upgrade. Put in a nice set of NOS Amperex or Mullard tubes and you're ready to rock.

    You may as well try out the VAC at this point. You can always sell and go back to the ARC.

    Let us know...

  9. #9
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Father Time PM sent.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

  10. #10
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    Thanks poppachubby! Already heard the audio research. LS 15 and it sounds ridiculously good! The VAC has the gold face is not as attractive as the arc. I'm hoping I can save some $for other stuff and that vac is as a good a preamp the arc is? I will audition the VAC in the morning and let you know. Wish me luck!
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  11. #11
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    As a long time ARC preamp user I'm putting in my plug for their preamps. I've used three preamps in the last 25+ years. All three of them have been from ARC. If and when I replace my SP-9 it will be with another ARC.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  12. #12
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    As a long time ARC preamp user I'm putting in my plug for their preamps. I've used three preamps in the last 25+ years. All three of them have been from ARC. If and when I replace my SP-9 it will be with another ARC.
    "If and when I sell Chubbs my SP9..."

  13. #13
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    It's your's when the time comes.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  14. #14
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    C'mon...$4 bills, seriously? That's a "no-brainer"...grab the VAC. I think VAC has been unfairly characterized as sort of a second-rate dealio. While certainly not of ARC stature VAC is pretty solid stuff...certainly worth the price of a decent dinner at an upscale brasserie...plus, as has been said, you can always recoup though I'd be surprised if you felt it necessary.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  15. #15
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    C'mon...$4 bills, seriously? That's a "no-brainer"...grab the VAC. I think VAC has been unfairly characterized as sort of a second-rate dealio. While certainly not of ARC stature VAC is pretty solid stuff...certainly worth the price of a decent dinner at an upscale brasserie...plus, as has been said, you can always recoup though I'd be surprised if you felt it necessary.
    While I hate spending a guy's hard earned cash also, let's not stop him from indulging either.

    When you made the move to high end Mac/Martin Logan, what were the naysayers telling you then? I'm sure you made the jump knowing it would most likely be the last move you would need to make.

    I feel like if he is budgeted for an ARC or something of similar stature, he should make the move if it proves to be the best move to make. Indeed, I'm sure he could find something ARC, more reasonably priced at Agon.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=Hyfi]I have the VAC CLA1 MKII. It was $6500 when new and considered a Reference Pre Amp by many including Stereophile and other HE magazines. If it is the same as mine, it has a 20lb outboard power supply, a Passive-Normal-High Gain switch. It uses 2 12AU7s and 2 12AX7s. For a couple hundred bucks ($300-$500) you could send the unit to RHB Sound Dezign and have it brought back to original or better condition. I plan to do it at some time but the one I got worked fine when I got it after new tubes were used. Keep in mind, the unit is basically dual mono with 2 volume knobs. Also, if you plan to to use a sub from your pre, you will have to use only one single cable to the sub unless you go speaker level as no matter how you attempt to use a Y-splitter, it will short the pre to mono only, even after a AV switchbox. That being said, because of the VAC design, there is the needed LF from eithr channel. As far as the best tubes question goes, that is always subjective as to what someone prefers. Out of budget constraints, I was suggested to run the JJ Tesla tubes which sound fine. I rolled a few older Sovtek tubes with good results also.




    Thanks for the info... I did pull the trigger on the VAC CLA-1 MK2 (in mint condition} after I auditioned it because it sounded really good, maybe not as good as the arc ls15, but $1100 cheaper! and very clean! Wilson's sales person was even impressed as they only have solid state. Then I went and listened to the arc ls15 and it was awesome, but passed for now, and picked up the Jolida 100a tube cd which sounded awesome also! and got that for $600 with the original tubes and upgraded tubes and in mint condition. I just couldn't afford the $1500 for the arc right now. Maybe in a few weeks... I have always wanted tubes but could never afford it, now I have a nice set up. Just have to get some killer speakers! I have about 10 pairs so will have to check them out.
    will post some photos later!
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  17. #17
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Great! You made the right move, considering the ARC was out of your reach financially. The gear sounds great. Please post some pics and opinions once you're up and running.

  18. #18
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    yeah bobsticks

    It was a no brainer! it was mint, had the killer power supply with the the high end cord and sounded sweet. I will hook it all together and figure out what speakers that will sound the best. i guess that I will need really efficient speakers to get the best sound? I've got all the way to 96 decibels.Now got to sell all my ss gear. got all the legends. Any input would be appreciated! Or anyone want to trade some classic ss receivers for some speakers?
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  19. #19
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    When combining speakers with tube gear, it's more than just sensitivity to consider. There are impedance specs at play also.

    To give you an example, my Sound Dynamics are 102db sensitive. However, they sound like dog crap with my Golden Tube. It's just not a good fit.

    I'm not sure how many wpc your amp puts out, but you'd be surprised with the right combo, how low you can get the sensitivity spec.

    Presently my speakers are 91db, however my amp puts out 40 wpc and is powerful for a tube amp.

    Mix and match, but don't be afraid to try all of you pairs out. Unless the result is atrocious, try to spend a day or 2 with each.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Time




    Thanks for the info... I did pull the trigger on the VAC CLA-1 MK2 (in mint condition} after I auditioned it because it sounded really good, maybe not as good as the arc ls15, but $1100 cheaper! and very clean! Wilson's sales person was even impressed as they only have solid state. Then I went and listened to the arc ls15 and it was awesome, but passed for now, and picked up the Jolida 100a tube cd which sounded awesome also! and got that for $600 with the original tubes and upgraded tubes and in mint condition. I just couldn't afford the $1500 for the arc right now. Maybe in a few weeks... I have always wanted tubes but could never afford it, now I have a nice set up. Just have to get some killer speakers! I have about 10 pairs so will have to check them out.
    will post some photos later!
    Good deal, you won't be disappointed. Try some speakers that excel in midrange.

  21. #21
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    When you made the move to high end Mac/Martin Logan, what were the naysayers telling you then? I'm sure you made the jump knowing it would most likely be the last move you would need to make...
    Actually, virtually everyone was telling me not to do it...instead to opt for their specific flavor of the month. I went with my ears instead and found things that would integrate into my room and system with greatest ease.

    Quote Originally Posted by Father Time
    It was a no brainer! it was mint, had the killer power supply with the the high end cord and sounded sweet. I will hook it all together and figure out what speakers that will sound the best. i guess that I will need really efficient speakers to get the best sound? I've got all the way to 96 decibels.Now got to sell all my ss gear. got all the legends. Any input would be appreciated! Or anyone want to trade some classic ss receivers for some speakers?
    Well, any input that I could give would simply be in suggestion form...what maybe to run for a test drive. Clearly you've been around the block a few times and are capable of coming to your own conclusions.

    What kind of music do you prefer? What qualities in playback do you value? Neutrality? Lush mids? PRaT? How big is your room? What's your budget?
    Last edited by bobsticks; 08-17-2010 at 06:52 AM.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  22. #22
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    Hi Bobsticks,
    Just setting up the system right now,,,, Speakers will be a big deal for me. I have some Infinity 5000 at 4 ohms, which will be 85 watts rms through my VTL st 85, some infinity CS 3008, jbl's,sansui's cerwin vega most of the kickass stuff we couldn't afford because we were kids!
    Sound really good with the infinity cs 3008, on everything I've tried yet. Nothing like the martin logans I auditoned some stuff through... wow! I guess I'll be looking to upgrade... anyone having something that would be of help, let me know. Listen to rock, blues, jazz etc... little of everything...
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  23. #23
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    Cool

    Poppachubby, What speakers must I have... I'm very anal as I played guitar for 46 years. I trust your judgement as you have one on already. Help me out man, I need the best quality sound,,, yet I"m not rich, I could spend a thousand on craigslist.GIve me a clue, poppachubby Thanks...... Or trade some primo solid state! or both
    VTL Pure Tube ST 85
    Audio Research model LS15
    VAC Model CLA-1 MK2
    McIntosh MC 250
    Mctintosh MX113
    Marantz 2245
    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2216
    Pioneer SX-1250
    Klipsch KG4
    Klipsch RB-5
    B&W DM2000
    B&W DM580
    B&W ASW1000
    Infinity crescendo 3008
    4 Advent Heritage towers
    etc...

  24. #24
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Hahahaha. Well Father Time, in all honesty I am NOT a speaker guru. I am however a musician also, I play bass guitar. However, you say up to $1000 which is an excellent budget on the used market.

    Before I can make a suggestion, what kind of speakers do you really enjoy? Do you prefer a brighter sound? Neutral?

    You could go with a classic horn loaded speaker, like the Klipsch Heresy. Very well suited to tubes. Not the best for low end but super sweet mids and dynamic highs. Klipsch also have other classic models such as the KG series which would be sub 1000 used.

    http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ull&1287282021



    The speakers I usually suggest for people seeking value, AND quality would be Tekton. These are American made, hand crafted and simply wonderful sounding. Single driver design with SET amps in mind. Check out his open baffle design.

    Right now he has the model 8.1T on sale for $650. Great deal. You should email him and chat him up, very personable guy who will give you some insight in your search.

    http://www.tektondesign.com/model81t.htm





    Another popular route for tube loving audiophiles, is the DIY kit. Madisound sell some really well regarded stuff. For this kit the cost is under $1000, but the sound would be competitive up to double that. By all means browse the other kits. The Fostex are well regarded and also the SEAS and Scanspeak.

    https://www.madisound.com/store/prod...oducts_id=1325




    Maybe you would like to try out something truly unique, like a planar. The Magnepan MMG sells directly from Magnepan for under $1000. They have an excellent return policy. Again, with your specific amp, it may be good or maybe not. Alot of tube fans swear by these.

    http://www.magnepan.com/model_MMG









    OK Father Time, that's a start for you. Do some research and try to audition as much as you can locally. There's alot of speakers made with tube amps in mind. It's a real synergistic endeavour. I would also suggest using the search option in the speaker thread, it's your friend. This is not a new topic.

  25. #25
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    With your new(to you) VAC, be prepared to hear some detail you may have been missing.

    Enjoy and report back. I hope getting up to manually change the volume all the time is not too much bother. I don't mind since other than my HT, I have never had a remote pre.

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