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#71758 - 12/13/04 03:26 AM Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
rebel Offline
hobbyist

Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 27
I've been enjoying Axioms (M22, VP150, M2 & 25-31 PC+) for over a year now, basically 50:50 HT & music. I'm now considering "scaling into" tubes for music. A friend suggested I get tube pre-amp and tap the amp section of my Marantz SR-7300 as the most cost effective route. The set-up essentially entails hooking the CD player outs into the pre-amp's line-in and the pre-amp line-out into the CD input of the Marantz. I tried this with a borrowed tube pre-amp and noticed the sound subtly openned up. Any comments on this set-up?

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#71759 - 12/13/04 09:09 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
Ajax Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 6252
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
We have, at least, two tube fans here among the regulars, 2x6 speeds and Haoleb. Haoleb is in Hawaii, and I believe 2x6 is on the West coast, so they don't get here until late. Be patient, they'll be coming by eventually.
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#71760 - 12/13/04 11:01 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
DJ_Stunna Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/09/03
Posts: 604
Loc: Baltimore. MD. USA (but born a...
In reply to:

I tried this with a borrowed tube pre-amp and noticed the sound subtly openned up.


I think you pretty mcuh answered your own question. If you tried it, and you liked it, go ahead and do it for yourself! I have a friend who uses a tube-based preamp and a DAC with a tube-based output section. He hooks the DAC up to the digital output from his transport and the pre-amp's outputs are fed to some beefy NAD power amp. With his Von Schweikert Audio speakers, he certainly does not have a system to laugh at. That being said, I DO prefer my NEC transport + Pioneer 1014 (rebadged elite 52Tx minus RS-232C, attractive front bezel, and 12V trigger input) + M60s combination to his system overall.

Because I am a purist, I prefer all solid-state gear (well for loudspeakers at least; with headphones, I wouldn't mind a nice tube amp), but I do have to admit that tube equipment has a very nice and gentle characteristic sound that can be attractive to many. I rather have a sound closer to the original source, even if it DOES mean that it isn't as "appealing," but then again, I am a purist when it comes to audio.
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#71761 - 12/13/04 11:13 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
mwc Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 958
Loc: Texas(DFW)..that country to th...
With tubes, the old adage "be careful what you wish for" applies. I have just recently "scaled" away from an all tube 2 channel system which included a Cal Audio tube DAC, Anthem Pre 2Lse pre-amp and Quicksilver tubed mono amps.

The first tube piece I bought was an Anthem tubed Pre-amp(replaced a B&K PT3). This was a wonderful pre and very versatile but the difference between SS was as you say "subtle" at best and (to my suprise) really didn't sound very "tubey".

With each tubed component that I added to the system, I noticed what I percieved to be a very subtle decline in bass quality but not so much so that I was dissapointed. Up until this point, I didn't feel like there were any great overwhelming differences one way or the other, only very subtle differences.

When I added the tube amps is when I knew I had gone too far. The mid to high range of frequencies sounded very good and was very easy to listen to but the music now sounded too "sweet/polite" for my taste and seemed to lack some of the realistic characteristics that come from a live performance. Music such as blues, rock and jazz sounded "polite" even if it wasn't meant to be by the artist and sound engineers. With the addition of the tube amps, bass took a nose dive becoming loose and flabby and very unrealistic sounding. I must say that with the tube system I never got "listener fatigue" even from bright recordings.

I consider my experience with tube components to be a positive one because:

1. It was just damn fun (the hobby thing)

2. It helped me realize my preference for:

A.The transparency of solid state components.

B. The grip/control they maintain on bass.

C. The way they can more convincingly convey (IMO) a wider array of characteristics (raw, gritty, subtle etc.) which are often found in live music.

I have no regrets with my tube experience. I bought used components (except for the amps) and got every bit of my money back (and then some) when I sold them.

It is not my intent to argue the "Tube vs. SS" debate. It is not my intent to influence anyone one way or the other. These are just my opinions from what I've experienced in my room on my speakers. Your MMV and there is only one way to find out.

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#71762 - 12/13/04 11:26 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
DJ_Stunna Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/09/03
Posts: 604
Loc: Baltimore. MD. USA (but born a...
I agree with mwc whole-heartedly. He, unlike the majority of people on the 'net, is able to see both sides of the debate and approach them impartially.

I think the best lines that basically sum up the feelings he got with the tube equipment are: "Music such as blues, rock and jazz sounded "polite" even if it wasn't meant to be by the artist and sound engineers." and "I must say that with the tube system I never got 'listener fatigue' even from bright recordings."
From what I have heard using both types of equipment, I couldn't agree more!

Now that being said, ultimately audio is about your own personal preferences. Who are you trying to please when you buy and listen to your audio components? I hope it is not some person who lives a few cities or states away from you and has no influence over the enjoyment of your system, but rather yourself. If you are able to audition the components that you want to purchase, it would be very wise to do so before buying. You definitely DO NOT want buyer's remorse. Also, make sure you listen to many types of music, as some may be more 'compatible' with the 'tube sound' than others.

That said, HAVE FUN with the hobby!
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#71763 - 12/13/04 11:31 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17789
Loc: NoVA
Wonderful post! It's nice to hear descriptions of the tube sound without the usual "warm, smooth" adjectives used. Now I have a better understanding of the sound. Someday I'll have to try it out.
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#71764 - 12/13/04 11:39 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
mwc Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 958
Loc: Texas(DFW)..that country to th...
Yes indeed DJ, it's all very subjective and there is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to personal taste in music playback systems.

One of the best things about my experience with tube gear was that it helped me to better understand/realize what I wanted out of a music playback system.
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#71765 - 12/13/04 11:53 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
mwc Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 958
Loc: Texas(DFW)..that country to th...
Thanks Ken!

In reply to:

Someday I'll have to try it out.




Won't hurt to try it out. It can only enhance ones appreciation of audio playback systems and can help one have a deeper understanding of ones own preferences and tastes. The trick is to not let it pull you down financially .
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#71766 - 12/13/04 11:55 AM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17789
Loc: NoVA
That... would be the problem. I'd probably have to go the opposite route; ie use a tube amp as opposed to a tube preamp, since I don't have a separate SS amp. Someday...
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I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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#71767 - 12/13/04 12:05 PM Re: Adding a pre-amp to an AVR
DJ_Stunna Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/09/03
Posts: 604
Loc: Baltimore. MD. USA (but born a...
Why not just do something similar to what rebel is doing and hook a tube pre-amp up to your existing SS receiver and enable direct stereo if offered by the receiver?
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