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  1. #1
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    Question What speakers to use with vacuum tube amplifier?

    I am interested in buying the Cayin A-50T integrated vacuum tube amplifier, after I have listened to one combined with a set of B&W's 705 speakers, at a store recently. The sound was really awesome, though the set-up in the store was not perfect to get the best sound distribution. I need some further advice on other sets of speakers and output requirements that will also combine well with the Cayin A-50T. Amplifier's power output: 2 x 35W (8Ω, ultralinear), 2 x 16W (8Ω, triode).
    Music preference: classical music, instrumentals and folk. Price range: Up to $2,500.
    Last edited by Stereo Fanatic; 08-18-2007 at 04:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereo Fanatic
    I am interested in buying the Cayin A-50T integrated vacuum tube amplifier, after I have listened to one combined with a set of B&W's 705 speakers, at a store recently. The sound was really awesome, though the set-up in the store was not perfect to get the best sound distribution. I need some further advice on other sets of speakers and output requirements that will also combine well with the Cayin A-50T. Amplifier's power output: 2 x 35W (8Ω, ultralinear), 2 x 16W (8Ω, triode).
    Music preference: classical music, instrumentals and folk. Price range: Up to $2,500.
    Speakers are totally subjective, but I am wondering, what is wrong with the b&ws?
    You know, that great sound might have been the b&w loudspeakers, not the amp.
    I dislike tube amps, I make no bones about it, I dont listen to them and I dont ride a horse to work.
    But if you do get it get efficent speakers, My first receiver was a two channel 35 watt yamaha, 35 watts is not bad really, but a lot of larger speakers will need more
    in order to keep from clipping.
    I listened to some Vienna speakers once, they sounded quite musical, just be sure to losten for a long time as you will have these speakers for a long time (my current set of B&w speakers are five to seven years old, and I have had speakers for two DECADES
    or more)
    LG 42", integra 6.9, B&W 602s2, CC6 center, dm305rears, b&w
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  3. #3
    RGA
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    For $600.00US try and find an Audio Note AX Two loudspeaker. Directly compare it to the B&W 705 -- not much of a horserace. Don't let the price fool you. A lot of marketing money and advert space and colour brochures you need to pay for. (I'm an ex B&W owner). There are other loudspeakers of course but the AX Two is my favorite under $1k and I intend to buy 3 sets of them in the future. They are hand built in Denmark and shipped all the way here so do try to do a side by side comparison -- the looks are plain jane but if you look past that you really will wonder why the prices are not reversed!

    If you are going tubes you need to buy speakers designed for tubes and it really is that simple. So it boils down to do you like the sound of the B&W or the sound of the tube amp? The B&W's can be helped greatly by tube amps but they do not get an automatic free pass as automatically being superior just because they have tubes. I like some SS amps over Tube amps and certainly some speakers really do work better with SS.

    I personally dislike what B&W has become over the last several years.

  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Warning!!

    RGA is an Audio Note shill, but still, if you're located anywhere near an AN dealer their models would be worth a listen.

    More conventional, bookshelf alternatives =< $2500 would include:
    • B&W 705
    • Paradigm Signature S2
    • PSB Platinum M2
    These all fall in the 89-91 dB sensitivity range which should be just fine in a small-medium room with a 35 wpc tube amp listening to accoustic music.

  5. #5
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    I would give Reynaud a listen...

    ...betcha forget about the B&Ws in a New York minute!

    I have their least-expensive offering (Twins Signatures - $1295), but these have positively renewed my love for listening to pre-recorded music. Do they have the deepest bass I have ever heard? No. Do they have a vast soundstage like the best of Logans I've heard? No... err, uhh... no speaker will be able to do that in my small/medium living room :*) Are they the best at doing explosions on T2? Nope. BUT - if you want a piano to sound like a actual-sized piano (with weight), the proper attack/decay of cymbals, and just a general "correctness", I would consider.

    In your price range, you would be up to the Arpeggione (floor-standing model of mine) and the Cantibile on a budget stretch. haven't heard either of those, but I trust Bob Neill at Amherstaudio.com.

    Then again, DON'T stretch yer budget... the stock market just lost 1000 due to credit woes. Stick with the Twins and keep my retirement going ;^)

    Whoomp! There it is...

  6. #6
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    You may want to consider seeking out a used pair of Sonus Faber Grand Piano Homes (they go for about $2200/pr. used). These sound fantastic with the music genres you are interested in, and they are tube freindly IMO.

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  7. #7
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    Amherst is also an Audio Note dealer

    Good suggestions. If you are getting that amp, you should go with a speaker over 90dB sensitivity.

    Martin Logan's would be a chore for the Cayin, but they are my favorite speakers with tube amps. I wish I had the room for a pair. ML's with tubes give the ultimate presence, it's scary.

  8. #8
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    RGA is an Audio Note shill, but still, if you're located anywhere near an AN dealer their models would be worth a listen.

    More conventional, bookshelf alternatives =< $2500 would include:
    • B&W 705
    • Paradigm Signature S2
    • PSB Platinum M2
    These all fall in the 89-91 dB sensitivity range which should be just fine in a small-medium room with a 35 wpc tube amp listening to accoustic music.
    I would second those choices and maybe throw in something from Totem Acoustics...whatever you do...don't take pixelthis's advice as more than a grain of salt.

  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Welcome to AR forum.

    One of the thing I would consider or look into would speakers from Raw Acoustics. DIY kit can be had for cheap. I think it would be more than worth a look.

    I enjoyed a pair by Triangles, and love the midrange on them. But the way they present lower frequencies may not be for you. I certainly wasnt for me.
    Also, has anyone mentioned speakers by Silverline?

    Best Wishes,

    JRA

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Totem

    Quote Originally Posted by PeruvianSkies
    I would second those choices and maybe throw in something from Totem Acoustics...whatever you do...don't take pixelthis's advice as more than a grain of salt.
    The issue with Totem is that they have significantly lower sensitivity, e.g. 85 dB, so might not be suitable with 35 wpc amps. From what I understand and my own, brief audition they do have appealing sound.

  11. #11
    superdougiefreshness
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    I think you should buy........????

    BOSE...............LOL......
    .....and welcome to the forum ?..... I think

    You should go and call up 1-800-buy-junk and order that wonderful plastic housed, boom box styled, mid range drivers missing, York inspired fake wood grained speakers for your highly acclaimed tube gear....LOL

    Oh... be sure to us Sears or J.C. Penny or even better Tandy ........ lets say a good year is 1959-63 for your interconnects.............ok a huge laugh....and well deserved at that.

    I am laughing as I type this ...............please forgive my obscene humor........I just simply could not resist........LOL

    Sometimes true irony is the best & greatest medicine.
    & no I have not been drinking.....

    I would consider Audio Note speakers......if the sensitivity is a good match......

    Also, be sure and ask the dealer who sold you your tubes what the maker suggest is a good pairing for your gear.........????

    if you ask they will tell you.

    Later

  12. #12
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    RGA is an Audio Note shill, but still, if you're located anywhere near an AN dealer their models would be worth a listen.

    More conventional, bookshelf alternatives =< $2500 would include:
    • B&W 705
    • Paradigm Signature S2
    • PSB Platinum M2
    These all fall in the 89-91 dB sensitivity range which should be just fine in a small-medium room with a 35 wpc tube amp listening to accoustic music.
    This from Mr. Bel Canto.

  13. #13
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Bel Canto???

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    This from Mr. Bel Canto.
    Bel Canto is in my past, RGA. (You're out of touch.) Nowadays I shill Monarchy. And in that regard I say when you've got S/S like this, who needs tubes? Well, my latest preamp does have tubes, so ... maybe they do have some application
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What speakers to use with vacuum tube amplifier?-monarchysm70pro-700.jpg  

  14. #14
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    The 703's, when tested by TAS, weren't real happy with tube amps, especially OTL's. Considering the 705's use the same motor structures, it's very likely they won't be enjoy a tube front end as well, especially something as petit as the A-50. Whether you like the sound of the B&W's or not, this does not look like a synergistic match.

    You need something with high sensitivity and easy driveability. Nothing with wild impedence swings or 85dB ratings. AN would make a good choice, so would Von Schwiekert VR2's (hey, if RGA can shill AN and Feanor can shill Monarchy, I can shill VSA!).

    Why are you married to the A-50? Romanced by the tubes or do you really like the sound of it? Remember, the speakers will have a far greater affect on perceived sound than the amp will. This is why it's better, IMO, to choose speakers first and then find a suitable amp to drive them with. It's easier, too .

  15. #15
    RGA
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    Feaner - I guess my one notedness is different in that in 5 years I have nto changed gear like some change underwear.

    Topspeed.

    There is two approaches - buy the speakers first is one and be forced to live with whatever amps have enough power. But that limits your selection of amplifiers. There are thousands of speakers out there - it would make more sense to purchase loudspeakers of HE so that your amplifier choice is huge. Especially if you believe the SET sounds the best -- then HE makes even more sense. I can run 5 watts or 1000 watt amps. Why would I want a speaker that I am forced to dump all SETs most tubes and some of the best SS amps like Sugden as well as most all Digital amps. Those kinds of speakers are terribly limiting and they usually never offer sound quality that is better or even as good.

  16. #16
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stereo Fanatic
    I need some further advice on other sets of speakers and output requirements that will also combine well with the Cayin A-50T. Amplifier's power output: 2 x 35W (8Ω, ultralinear), 2 x 16W (8Ω, triode).
    Hmmm. From my experience, you're approaching the question from the wrong direction. I have always found it better to start with the speaker and then determine what's required to drive it. I use tube and solid state alike, although the most realistic I've heard is clearly tube. Unfortunately, not all speakers work optimally with their high source impedance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereo Fanatic
    Music preference: classical music, instrumentals and folk. Price range: Up to $2,500.
    Have you considered planars like the Magnepan 1.6 or even the MMG (has a 60 day in home trial)? Given that you prefer acoustic music (as do I), you might find them to your liking. That has been the case with me since I first heard Magneplanar Tympanis back in the 70s. I find that large bipolars are capable of creating a realistically sized and well defined acoustic space. Unfortunately, those Maggies really need more power than the Cayin's output. Down sides are they also need some room to breathe because of their bipolar radiation. They need a couple of feet minimum from the back wall in order to do their stuff. Also, their bass response is limited to about 40 hz. The result, however, can be wonderful IMHO. Both of the baby Maggies are simply killer buys for the money.

    rw

  17. #17
    RGA
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    Estat

    I agree with if you were talking about the Quad 989 but the Maggie 1.6 and MMG really are not even in the ballpark. Have you actually heard them or going by reviews. I gather you are an electrostat owner and I like a lot of the 1.6 but IMO they have some serious problems that need to be recognized. The 1.6 has a treble brightness factor - two dimensional sound, has weak bass, does not sound visceral in any credible way, and can't play very loud.

    I don't no but the 989 convinced me as to why people like panels the 1.6 convinced me that it does some things quite well for a $2k Cad speaker but I doubt I could live with it for any music long term. Just personal opinion but I'd sooner by a used Stat. And even the Maggie diehards I met a few years ago in person and on forums like these have left them.

    No knock just a cautionary note that if one listens to a wide array of music the 1.6 probably isn't going to do it and the MMG certainly isn't.

    How much would a used 989 go for? It may actually be the better approach if panels are the preference.

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Ok

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I agree with if you were talking about the Quad 989 but the Maggie 1.6 and MMG really are not even in the ballpark.
    Hardly a fair comparison between a $9000 speaker and that of $1800 or $600 ones. For that investment, I'd prefer Sound Lab M-3s anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Have you actually heard them or going by reviews.
    I've listened to quite a range of Magneplanar products since the mid 70s - from Tympani 1-Us, Tympani IIIs, MG-IIs (owned a pair), MG-IIIs, SMGs, 1.6s, 3.6s, and 20.1s. I've heard 1.6s along with 3.6s and 20.1s at Seacliff in HP's Super Maggie system. Not everyone will drive them with $50k of front end gear, but they are worthy. Almost bought a pair of 20.1s myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I gather you are an electrostat owner...
    I have used full range electrostats for thirty years. Currently, I run Sound Lab U-1s (although not with the latest PX cores).

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    ... but IMO they have some serious problems that need to be recognized. The 1.6 has a treble brightness factor - two dimensional sound, has weak bass, does not sound visceral in any credible way, and can't play very loud.
    My experience is quite different from yours, likely based upon different front ends and rooms. Brightness is usually indicative of either or both an unbroken in pair or improper room setup / treatment. If you still find them bright, they are supplied with resistors to attenuate the tweeter - unlike most modern speakers that have no such standard provision. Two dimensional? That is a function of system and setup. As for bass, I'll take the uniform mid-bass accuracy of them any day over a box given my listening priorities. As I acknowledged earlier, they are only good down to about 40 hz.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    And even the Maggie diehards I met a few years ago in person and on forums like these have left them.
    Visit MUG over at AA and you will find a quite a few enthusiasts.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    No knock just a cautionary note that if one listens to a wide array of music the 1.6 probably isn't going to do it and the MMG certainly isn't.
    Perhaps you should reread the section regarding the poster's musical tastes. If he were an acid rock freak seeking 100+ db output, I would readily agree

    rw

  19. #19
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Well said, E-Stat

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Hardly a fair comparison between a $9000 speaker and that of $1800 or $600 ones. For that investment, I'd prefer Sound Lab M-3s anyway.

    I've listened to quite a range of Magneplanar products since the mid 70s - from Tympani 1-Us, Tympani IIIs, MG-IIs (owned a pair), MG-IIIs, SMGs, 1.6s, 3.6s, and 20.1s. I've heard 1.6s along with 3.6s and 20.1s at Seacliff in HP's Super Maggie system. Not everyone will drive them with $50k of front end gear, but they are worthy. Almost bought a pair of 20.1s myself.
    ...

    My experience is quite different from yours, likely based upon different front ends and rooms. Brightness is usually indicative of either or both an unbroken in pair or improper room setup / treatment. If you still find them bright, they are supplied with resistors to attenuate the tweeter - unlike most modern speakers that have no such standard provision. Two dimensional? That is a function of system and setup. As for bass, I'll take the uniform mid-bass accuracy of them any day over a box given my listening priorities. As I acknowledged earlier, they are only good down to about 40 hz.
    ...
    Perhaps you should reread the section regarding the poster's musical tastes. If he were an acid rock freak seeking 100+ db output, I would readily agree

    rw
    To put is succinctly, RGA's MG 1.6 apparisal is so conditioned by the obviously suboptimal conditions in which he auditioned them and by his own music & sound preferences, that it is essentially useless.

    RGA rarely qualifies his endorsements of Audio Note with mention of his personal tastes. However, having read read his input for years, a couple of observations are fair, IMO:
    • RGA's music preferences run to amplified music predominently; (I didn't say exclusively). He once stated the Trance was a favorite of his. (Trance !??! )
    • Not surprisingly he puts a high value on "PRaT" and strong, loud bass output.
    Of course, my opinion is corrupted by the fact that I am Maggie 1.6 owner. Neverthless I shall say that I can't think of a better speaker for US$1900 for accoustic music.

  20. #20
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    E-Stat....

    I didn't know that you liked Electrostats....I just thought your name came because you liked statistics...lol!!!!!!!! J/k. (see: sarcasm)

    Anyhoo....

    Is the original poster concerned about space or WAF factors? What is the room size, etc etc. We need more information before pointing the right direction.

  21. #21
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    I heard a set of Focal Profile 908's with tube gear and they sounded wonderful.Focal speakers and tubes usually make a good combo.

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  22. #22
    nightflier
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    Monarchy Audio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Bel Canto is in my past, RGA. (You're out of touch.) Nowadays I shill Monarchy. And in that regard I say when you've got S/S like this, who needs tubes? Well, my latest preamp does have tubes, so ... maybe they do have some application
    ...
    And these don't even have 12v triggers! LOL.

    Regarding panel speakers, granted, my experience has only been with the MMG, but the very things that I noticed about them were pretty much in line with what RGA was mentioning. Now I've only heard the smallest ones, but I did given them at least 50 hours to burn in, and never heard them improve much, if at all. I would love to hear the bigger speakers, but I would never have room for them in my house, which also brings up the room that the original poster has for speakers, and any WAF concerns.

    For the Cayin amp, I was actually going to suggest something entirely different: Klipsch Heresy III, sold at Acoustic Sounds for $1500, or if he wants something a little up the range, how about a pair of used Cornwalls or La Scalas? Personally I've been turned off by Klipsch's lower end speakers because of how bright they sound, but I've been told that the bigger speakers do sound very good.

    The irony of all this is that an ideal match for a tube amp is a horned speaker, both of which are sort of outdated now a days. Funny thing is they certainly are not priced as if they were outdated! I would love to hear a pair of Avantguarde horns in my home someday, but aside from the space issues, the price is the biggest hurdle.

  23. #23
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    There is two approaches - buy the speakers first is one and be forced to live with whatever amps have enough power. But that limits your selection of amplifiers. There are thousands of speakers out there - it would make more sense to purchase loudspeakers of HE so that your amplifier choice is huge. Especially if you believe the SET sounds the best -- then HE makes even more sense. I can run 5 watts or 1000 watt amps. Why would I want a speaker that I am forced to dump all SETs most tubes and some of the best SS amps like Sugden as well as most all Digital amps. Those kinds of speakers are terribly limiting and they usually never offer sound quality that is better or even as good.
    First off, welcome back RGA. Hope Korea treated you well.

    Now then, my contention is simple: Different speakers will show more disparity in sound than different amps, regardless of topology. Do all amps sound alike? Of course not. However, the percentage of variance is far less than between a pair of Maggie 1.6qr's and Von Schweikert VR2's, both of which are around $2K yet sound dramatically different. Therefore, it is more important to find the right speaker before your find the right amp. If your speaker happens to be HE, good on ya! If not, no biggie...just find the correct amp to push the load.

    Oh btw, most switching amps are load invariant and love difficult loads such as the 989.

    This is all moot anyways, guys. The OP appears to be a Hit n' Run.

  24. #24
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    The brutal truth is that very few speakers sound their best with tube amps.Find the right combination of tubes and speakers though and the result can be hard to beat.
    I can understand RGAs enthusiasm for this type of system and frustration at people not grasping the subtleties of tube amp matching.

    People who say they do not like tube amps have probably never heard them with the right speakers.
    A great starter speaker for anybody entering into the tube amp world is the old Klipsch KG4.These are cheap second hand but can sound superb with tube amps.I used to run mine with Leak Stereo 20 and Lux KMQ7 but with a modern SET they would be superb.
    They MUST be stand mounted though by removing the timber skirts on the speaker base.On the floor they sound pretty crap.

  25. #25
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    My Stat experience has only been Maggie and Martin Logan. Even one of the large pairs of Maggies driven by Levinson didn't come close to the excellence of ML. What is your opinion of ML, E-stat? Maggies aren't my cup of tea but they would not be bad for acoustic and Classical for the money with the amp to drive them.

    I would seldom recommend Klipsch for anything but especially not for Classical. Their sound stage is horrible. I have not heard Klipsch's classec monster's, the Horns or Cornwall but I've heard several pair and have yet to meet a pair that I could tolerate.

    RGA, If AN is a great sounding high sensitivity speaker, it would be the only one I'd be aware of in an affordable range. There are a host of excellent speakers to choose from that are below 88dB. That has always been a barrier for me to even consider SET. It doesn't make sense to buy a great sounding low power amp to only have limited speaker choice at best.

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