Slam!!! For Heresy III's with tubes? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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05-18-2006, 11:42 PM
Is there a way to get the visceral impact,slam factor, headroom and control you get with a great solid state in a tube amp? My Heresy III's (99db eff.) love the Mark Levinson in spite of the power overkill. Tube amps give all that tube glory, but in my experience with all tube types and configs, lack the power I need for my loud classic rock! Any suggestions at a reasonable price?


05-19-2006, 07:50 AM
The easy answer is to avoide tube companies that are seeking the "classic tube sound." Jolida for example has a softer mushy presentation which is great for correcting speakers owners think sound bright.

Go for a more straight up and faster sounding tube amplifier. Interestingly a SET might do the trick -- I have found their transient attack to be the best I've come across. But they;re not necessarily "reasonable" in prioce because numbers made are small so price goes up.

Ask the question at a forum where a lot of HE speaker owners and Klipsch owners hang out.

And there must be something about the Mark Levinson that troubles you or why would you even be considering a tube amp? Once you find out why you made the post -= that may aid you greatly at finding the improvement.

05-19-2006, 09:42 AM
Much thanks for the practical advice and wisdom. Your echoing my thoughts I had about the SET direction. The Levinson is a hard one. Your right, there must be something not happening. Like I said, no emotional connection. But the clarity and no detectable distortion when I push the ML with the Heresy's on demanding music is impressive and addictive. The ML is no chopped liver. I'm scared to throw the baby out with the bath water. Affordable SET's with ample power are very hard to find.

Oddly and to my surprise in the forums I've visited on Audioasylum, most Heresy owners I've talked to have solid state. Just FYI here: The Heresy III is are quite a different animal than the I and II.

Thanks again,


05-19-2006, 09:54 AM
Looking into switching amps from PS Audio, Bel Canto, Spectron, and Rowland. They combine the sweetness of tubes with the depth and slam of ss. Over 80% efficient, consume almost no energy in standby, load invariant, and run cold as ice. Try that with your Class A space heater. ;)

The BC's just switched over to ICEpower from TriPath topologies this year, so if you're buying used make sure you audition both to see which you prefer. In addition, PSA's GCA series is a tad more neutral than the sweeter HCA2, which is more musical IMO but doesn't have quite the iron-clad grip that the GCA exhibits. For the Heresy's, you may prefer the HCA2.

Hope this helps.

05-20-2006, 08:33 AM
Heywood --

My Wharfedale's are also horn loaded -- and I'm fairly familiar with a lot of Klispch speakers but not the Hereseys. It may be that the speaker has a funky impedence or that what is sought is volume capability. I am curious that there would be more SS owners using them -- but there is a cost association here. SS amps tend to be dirt cheap and if they were expensive will be dirt cheap at some point relatively soon. Tube amps generally are far more expensive to get into and that is changing thanks to the Chinese who are "very much into tubes." Antique Sound Labs etc offer fairly inexpensive tube amps that are reliable but they to me tend to have a leaner less organic sound. I would try Topspeed's advice -- I personally didn't like the three digital amps I have heard -- HCA2, PS Audio, and the Sonic Impact. The latter had the most "let's try to sound like a SET" sound but after about 5 minutes you could tell it was more about creating the Stereotypical sound rather than getting it right. But for the price I was impressed -- it made a 1k MF power amp sound like a tired deadbeat. The other amps had a sterile fatiguing quality which leans, for me, to a SS amp trying to sound like something else -- problem is after awhile it keeps reminding me that it isn't natural sounding -- very much like florescent lights. But only you can tell so definitely A/B them.

Though the space heater issue can be an issue against tube amps. Tubes need open space, they're heavey and bulky and need to have tube replacements every so often. My amp needs new tubes every ten years or so thus it will run me another $150.00 to replace them all. SETs don't need to be biased like Push Pull tubes so they tend to be less fussy. Sets need not be expensive. I intend to build an Audio Note Kit when I get back to Canada just to try them. The kit is like $1,300.00 US and supposedly easy to build so really why not.

Another less expensive alternative is something like the Sugden A21a which is a Single Ended Topology. The term SET is mistakingly referred to as "SIngle Ended Triode" when it is actually "SIngle Ended Topology" -- so technically the Sugden A21a is a SET amp. It was the first truly organic sounding amplifier I had heard that stood out from the other amps the dealer had. In fact I found it to be the best amp the dealer carried despite being up against Adcom, YBA, Classe, Rotel, Bryston separates. All those sounded powerful and had lower noise floors and some did certain things better -- but on voice and instrument the only one that really sounded "right" was the A21a. Probably why they have sold it since 1968 with a few upgrades here and there to accomodate for superior parts quality.

This amp would easily have the power to drive any Klispch and even has remote in the new one which is better than most tube SETs. The A21a would be my amp in the $2500.00 and under category.