OK, suffice to say I'm starting to go off the deep end relative to tubes... I started to enjoy my "new" house and stereo configuration months ago. The sound quality was good but not perfect. Because the living room is so large and I'm only using monitors, it seemed like the amp wasn't powerful enough. Granted it is only a baby...
So I started looking for more power. Would've wanted to go with a Prima Luna but couldn't find one I could afford. Then I considered mono blocks. I started looking at the ASL Wave 8's but couldn't find any. Then when I did, they went for more than their original $99 each. I saw some go for more than $350, crazy! Then I found a great deal (for me) on a pair of Wave 25's. The bump from 8W to 25W was just what I needed. The VR1's didn't feel strained and were able to push out the music effortlessly. Rodrigo y Gabriela never sounded so good, even the iPod/MP3 version was great.
Interesting tube side note. A few months ago, a coworker went back home to Shanghai. I asked to him to look up Ming Da, Shanling and a few others to see if he could get better deals on site. Nope, prices hold strong (high). I've also noticed on places like Audiogon that many popular tube amps are going for original price or more. Seems like these types amps tend to hold their value. Wonder if that has to do more with the fact that you're not going to get a lot new technological advances in tube amps... It's not as if they need to use 45 nm technology like Intel CPUs.
Now that I was happy...I had to keep looking for something else to upgrade, so I started looking at tube CD players. I've always wanted the Tjoeb 4000 but could never bite the bullet. Found one last week for a good price. Set it up last nite, it requires a bit of assembly with the tubes and CD tray. The previous owner also changed the DACs from stock.
I'll start off by saying that wasn't sure if I'd really notice a difference. I hoped to, in order to justify the purchase. I was pretty sure that the change in tube amp would be a bigger delta, and in fact, it is. However, I noticed immediately the difference.
I started with a new CD I bought. It's the Jake Shimabukuro CD with My Guitar Gently Weeps. You may have seen his video on YouTube, amazing. This is also a very well recorded disc, almost dead quiet on my system, no hiss/background noise whatsoever. On my original Denon 2200, I was happy with it. Then I switched to the Tjoeb player. This player ROCKS on disc reading, 1 to 2 secs vs 8 to 10 on the Denon. I noticed that the music really opened up, much better soundstage. I listen late at nite, so my volumes are low. The soundstage improvement seemed very prevalent at these low volumes. The strings seemed to linger a bit longer, in a good way. There was a bit more warmth, though I can't tell if it's due mostly to the soundstage. Then I listed to Rodrigo y Gabriela on CD. Much more of the same. I also did an interesting A/B. I have 2 Rodrigo discs, 1 original and 1 burned from MP3s. I put each disc on each player and went back and forth. I put the original into the Tjoeb and the burned disc into the Denon. As I suspected, the Tjoeb sounded better, but I wasn't sure if that was due to the fact that it was an original disc. So I swapped discs. The Tjoeb still sounded better with the burned disc. BTW, the files were MP3's ripped at 219 kbps, 44.1 KHz with a LAME encoder.
I'm a happy camper. Hmm, do they make tube speakers?
ASL Wave 25's.
Tube output stage of Tjoeb. Seems this player is based on the Marantz CD4000.
"New" system (Sorry, forgetting to turn off close up mode = fuzzy pic)