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  1. #1
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Upgrade time...maybe tube time?

    I'm thinking of swapping my Adcom GFP-750. This pre features passive as well as active operation, balanced inputs & outputs, and remote control. It is design from Nelson Pass, the famous designer, and got a rave reveiw in Stereophile, (Wes Phillips), back in 1999 ...
    http://stereophile.com/solidpreamps/133/

    So far so good, but undoubtedly the GFP-750 is a bit bright in active mode -- very detail, quite airy, but "silvery" too. Passive is extremely good but that mode cannot produce truly balanced output, (i.e. unless the input is also truly balanced). The problem is that my Monarchy SM-70 Pro amps work best only with truly balanced input. Since I really like the Monarchys, the Adcom could be on its way out.

    Perhaps it's time to give tubes a shot. So my specs are these:
    • Tube preamp
    • Remote control
    • True balanced outputs, at least one pair
    • Four or more inputs, preferably one pair balanced
    • Second pair of outputs, balanced or not
    • Price used, less than US$1200.
    That's it, AR buds: any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Here is one.
    It retails for $2195 so you might get lucky on Agon if you can up your budget towards $1500.

    http://www.powermodules.com/21a.html

  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Sonic Frontiers ... anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    I'm thinking of swapping my Adcom GFP-750....

    Perhaps it's time to give tubes a shot. So my specs are these:
    • Tube preamp
    • Remote control
    • True balanced outputs, at least one pair
    • Four or more inputs, preferably one pair balanced
    • Second pair of outputs, balanced or not
    • Price used, less than US$1200.
    That's it, AR buds: any suggestions?
    Possibliities I've thought of or had mentioned are:
    • BAT VK-3i
    • Sonic Frontiers Line 1 or Line 2
    • Audio Research LS16 or LS16 MkII
    • Belles 21A
    And sure, I'll admit I covet the McIntosh C220 or C2200, but that ain't going to happen.

    What's looking good at the moment are a couple of Sonic Frontier Line 1's, both under $1000. Of course, Sonic Frontiers has been out of business for a while, but I contacted Parts Connexion who say they can repair these units if need be. See Audiophilia reveiw ...
    http://www.audiophilia.com/hardware/line1.htm

  4. #4
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    If you want "true" balanced outputs I think BAT is your only choice. To my knowledge even the ARC XLR's are just circuit taps to make the unit more flexible. I had a SF power amp once to try out but it didn't work, I do not remember any balanced inputs on the unit. I haven't heard BAT but remmber BAT stands for Balanced Audio Technology.

  5. #5
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    http://www.worldtubeaudio.com/direct...ategorie_2.htm

    You have probably seen this site already, if not this should help you expand your option. AR may not be the place to be asking about non-HT related questions, I love it here though.

  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    You're right about BAT

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    If you want "true" balanced outputs I think BAT is your only choice. To my knowledge even the ARC XLR's are just circuit taps to make the unit more flexible. I had a SF power amp once to try out but it didn't work, I do not remember any balanced inputs on the unit. I haven't heard BAT but remmber BAT stands for Balanced Audio Technology.
    And no doubt you're right that not all XLR outputs are putting out truly balanced. However I believe SF is actually balanced too. Full balanced circuitry is more costly to built since a duplicate, complete set of components is needed for both the + and - signal paths.

    Ethically, if a maker advertises "balanced" output, that should be truly balanced, even if the entire circuitry isn't. That combination is most common I believe, e.g. my former Bel Canto. The Adcom is fully balanced throughout, but that only applies in active mode or with fully balanced inputs.

  7. #7
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    So VTL TL 5.5 isnt truly balanced?

    I didnt know that entry level BAT can be had for about $2500....maybe I'll start looking for a used tube pre-pro

  8. #8
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Nah! It doesn't

    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    So VTL TL 5.5 isnt truly balanced?

    I didnt know that entry level BAT can be had for about $2500....maybe I'll start looking for a used tube pre-pro
    You'll have to go to the 7.5 Series II Reference -- but that's what you really wanted anyway, right?1?
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Upgrade time...maybe tube time?-vtl_7.5.jpg  

  9. #9
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Done Deal!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    ...

    Perhaps it's time to give tubes a shot. So my specs are these:
    • Tube preamp
    • Remote control
    • True balanced outputs, at least one pair
    • Four or more inputs, preferably one pair balanced
    • Second pair of outputs, balanced or not
    • Price used, less than US$1200.
    That's it, AR buds: any suggestions?
    Well almost anyway. I bought the Sonic Frontiers Line 1 preamp on Audiogon.
    ...
    ?
    ...
    ?
    ...
    (Six 6922 tubes.)

    Sonic Frontiers is no longer in business; the company was bought some years ago by Paradigm, but the latter discontinued the Sonic Frontiers lineup while keeping the Anthem line. However expert service for Sonic Frontiers is available from Parts Connexion whose president, Chris Johnson, was president of Sonic Frontiers.

    The Line 1 is a highly impressive piece of machinery; here's hoping it works upon arrival.
    http://www.anthemav.com/OldSitev1/pages/line.html#line1

  10. #10
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Damn Frizzy, that was fast. That's one cool looking remote. I can't wait to hear your experience with the new toy. Let the tube rollin' begin. Plenty of 6DJ8 for you out there if you ever choose to play.

    Congrats,

    -J

  11. #11
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Those thoughts are stirring!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Damn Frizzy, that was fast. That's one cool looking remote. I can't wait to hear your experience with the new toy. Let the tube rollin' begin. Plenty of 6DJ8 for you out there if you ever choose to play.

    Congrats,

    -J
    It'll probably be 2-3 weeks before it arrives. But yes. You called it!! I'm already thinking about rolling tubes.

    Hummm ... 6 x 6922/6DJ8 could be pricey for a matched and balanced set. I've heard though that you can get good improvement just changing the gain tubes, (which are, apparently, the middle set).

  12. #12
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Very very nice!!!!!
    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

  13. #13
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    TT and tubes in your system? We dont....

    relate

    I hope it'll work out for you th way you expect it to and more.

    6922s are fairly cheap, but I guess you are right. Since it's for your preamp, the last thing you want is microphonic and noisy tubes. My JJ Telsa E88CCs are alright, but not great for my setup. Maybe it'll work our for you. I prefer the sound of stock chinese tubes. AA is filled with tube freaks so that'll be the best place to get some idea if you havent already.

    I think it's about time AR starts a valve forum, but not sure how active it'll be.
    I would love to hear your TRollin' experience once you get it crackin'
    Most places are out of The CryoValve Mullard CV2492($329 a pair)....

    -j

    btw, are you going to keep your Adcom until you decide which you prefer?

  14. #14
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Hey Feonor,

    Sharp looking new gears, my man. Never laid ears on Sonic Frontiers myself but like everyone I've heard the tales. I hope it lives up to all expectations.

    I understand the apprehension on any auction acquisition. Right now i got a little somethin-somethin in the works myself so we'll cross our fingers together...


    Cheers to good karma

  15. #15
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    Let me jump in with another congrads. It's very interesting how many of us on AR now have tube gear.

  16. #16
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Let me jump in with another congrads. It's very interesting how many of us on AR now have tube gear.

    hmmm, I seem to be getting behind...

    maybe in a few years...
    (I hope)

    let's first see how the upcoming amp will improve my system... (this summer)

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
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    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
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    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
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    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  17. #17
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    Look out for more options. There sure are lots of other great deals that will give you the power amp you need.

    ______________
    McIntosh MA6900 Integrated Amplifier - Download the MA6900 Integrated Amplifier Catalog by McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.

  18. #18
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    I just saw an ad for the Cayin 100t which is a 100x2 unltralinear and 50x2 triode that uses KT-88's. The cost $2,995.00. The sound is said to be patterned after the renouned Marantz 9.

  19. #19
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I just saw an ad for the Cayin 100t which is a 100x2 unltralinear and 50x2 triode that uses KT-88's. The cost $2,995.00. The sound is said to be patterned after the renouned Marantz 9.
    Looks sweet, ay?

    Cary SLI-80 or Cayin 100T. I would trust more on Cary amps, but Cayin shouldnt be too bad. They both look delicious to me.

  20. #20
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    damn, i feel so left out.... i'll have to buy some tube stuff next time 'round...
    _________________________________________________
    Jeeze... people still use sigs?!

  21. #21
    nightflier
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    Sorry to go off on a tangent, but could someone elaborate on "truly balanced output," especially as it related to the Adcom pre? I didn't know there were different levels of balanced inputs/outputs.

    I'm more in the SS camp (using a Plinius CD-LAD with balanced outs right now), so I don't even know if this applies to non-tube gear. I'm also using a single balanced input, two unbalanced inputs, and a single balanced output to the amps. I presume that the unbalanced inputs do not benefit from the balanced output.

    Apologies for all the questions, but this is new territory for me....

  22. #22
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    The bottomline is that few manufacturers use true balanced circuitry, they tap off the regular circuit to an XLR out for connectivity convenience, or quasi deception. I'm not able to fully explain what all the circuit is about with regard to what goes to what pin etc. Balanced circuits also have a mirror left & right channel circuits totally separate from each other. I know Krell and BAT for sure do true solid state balanced circuits. It's still debated as to if it offers a huge difference sonically over RCA. I am not sure if any tube manufacturers have true balance. Some one said ARC did on some gear but I've also heard it was not. I'm sure if some one cared enough they could find out from and email or phone call to them or any other manufacturer.

  23. #23
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Your insight, Mr P

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    The bottomline is that few manufacturers use true balanced circuitry, they tap off the regular circuit to an XLR out for connectivity convenience, or quasi deception. I'm not able to fully explain what all the circuit is about with regard to what goes to what pin etc. Balanced circuits also have a mirror left & right channel circuits totally separate from each other. I know Krell and BAT for sure do true solid state balanced circuits. It's still debated as to if it offers a huge difference sonically over RCA. I am not sure if any tube manufacturers have true balance. Some one said ARC did on some gear but I've also heard it was not. I'm sure if some one cared enough they could find out from and email or phone call to them or any other manufacturer.
    Thanks for these comments and perhaps your right, although some BAT models provide only balanced inputs as well as outputs which might be indicative of something.

    In the case of the Sonic Frontiers mode I bought, SL asserts, "all balanced design from input to output". See their specs ...
    http://www.anthemav.com/OldSitev1/pages/line.html#line1

    In my case what I wanted was full balanced outputs from my preamp to my Monarchy SM-70 Pros; the latter strongly favor fully balanced input for reasons I don't fully understand given my scant technical knowledge. Hence in actuality I don't give a rat's ass whether my pre is fully balanced front to back so long as the back provides balanced outputs.
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Upgrade time...maybe tube time?-sonicfrontiersline1-700.jpg  

  24. #24
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    As for the Adcom GFP-750

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Sorry to go off on a tangent, but could someone elaborate on "truly balanced output," especially as it related to the Adcom pre? I didn't know there were different levels of balanced inputs/outputs.

    I'm more in the SS camp (using a Plinius CD-LAD with balanced outs right now), so I don't even know if this applies to non-tube gear. I'm also using a single balanced input, two unbalanced inputs, and a single balanced output to the amps. I presume that the unbalanced inputs do not benefit from the balanced output.

    Apologies for all the questions, but this is new territory for me....
    It is likely that single-end inputs on your Plinius do benefit from the balanced output. That is, the balanced outputs are truly balanced though the inputs aren't.

    In the case of the Adcom GFP-760, I got this info directly from an Adcom rep. As we know, the GFP-750 has two amplification modes: passive and active. In active mode, the "balanced" XLR outputs are truly balanced regardless of whether the input is balanced or not; however in passive mode, the XLR outputs are truly balanced only if the inputs are truly balanced. I wanted a preamp that has true balanced outputs, however I find the GFP-750 to be distinctly bright in active mode, so I was looking for another preamp.

  25. #25
    nightflier
    Guest

    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    The bottomline is that few manufacturers use true balanced circuitry, they tap off the regular circuit to an XLR out for connectivity convenience, or quasi deception. I'm not able to fully explain what all the circuit is about with regard to what goes to what pin etc. Balanced circuits also have a mirror left & right channel circuits totally separate from each other. I know Krell and BAT for sure do true solid state balanced circuits. It's still debated as to if it offers a huge difference sonically over RCA. I am not sure if any tube manufacturers have true balance. Some one said ARC did on some gear but I've also heard it was not. I'm sure if some one cared enough they could find out from and email or phone call to them or any other manufacturer.
    I can tell you that there is an audible difference when using the balanced outputs to the amp vs. using RCA. However, I can not hear any difference (believe me I've tried all the combinations) between using balanced and RCA inputs. From that I'm going to guess that my Plinius CD-LAD has truly balanced outputs but semi/fake(?) balanced inputs. I was not able to find the documentation for my pre (although I'm sure I'll find it after this discussion is over). Anyhow, am I correct in my assertion?

    By the way, I still would like to hear the Adcom preamp in my own setup someday. I tend to prefer a warmer richer sound, but it's always helpful to have a component on the other end of the spectrum, just to make sure I'm not going deaf (which I suspect often enough).

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