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  1. #1

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    Default AMC CVT2030S Hybrid Tube Amp

    I have been running my RTA-15TLs on an Adcom GFA-555 for a while now.
    Definitely no lack of power and a very good sound.
    But my intentions all along had been to find something else to power my 2 channel system and repurpose all 3 of my GFA-555s to HT duty with my LSis.

    I was looking at a lot of pretty high end names...Audio Research, McIntosh, Krell(pipe dream really but the wife didn't roll her eyes lol), PS Audio...
    All products I had heard in person either in friends' systems or at my buddy's shop.
    The pair of MC30 McIntosh monos I played with were exactly the kind of sound I was looking for but I wasn't willing to spend the $3200 they were asking for them. Not when they had recently sold a pair of MC60s minus tubes for just over half that.

    So I shifted to tube options. I quickly found out that my ambitions were rapidly outrunning my budget. I was also aiming WAY too high in power.
    The more I thought about it and the more I talked back and forth with Endershadow (thanks for the advice man) the more I realized that I didn't need oodles of raw power. The room is small. Arguably too small for 15s. But I love them and even moreso since the tweeter and crossover upgrades.
    200 watts per channel from the Adcom never saw me going above 1/8th volume on my pre.

    I was recently offered a deal on a brand I had no knowledge of. The local "tube guy" had a hybrid tube/mosfet amp from AMC that had been modified less than 2 years ago to change from soldered in tubes to sockets. There was also some update work done in the form of updated caps in key locations. The bias pots had also been updated.

    The price was sub $300. It boasted specs that matched or exceeded tube and hybrid tube options. And my buddy who has my favorite local shop said the guy had brought it in to audition several pairs of high end speakers over the last couple of years.
    So I invited him over to audition the amp.
    AMC CVT2030S (The S variant isn't stock nomenclature but a name he gave it to signify the socket mod.)
    He was very adamant that the mods were professionally done and even brought the original purchase order along with the work order for the mods from the shop he had do the mods and updates.
    So we got her all hooked up and turned it on to let it warm up while we talked a bit about random minutiae.

    The very first thing I noticed about this amp that is *only* rated at 30wpc is how unbelievably heavy it is.
    The spec sheet says 31lbs but this thing is easily 40+lbs.
    Everything fits together nice and tight and it has a very clean unassuming black case.
    The tubes (4xEL34s...currently Svetlanas) are mounted sideways and there is a cover over them so they don't stick up/out for curious kitty cats to lick. Yeah...my dumbass cat thinks the best way to investigate new things is to lick them.

    We are all warmed up and ready to go. First up, my Miles Davis compilation on the Pioneer Elite DV-47a.
    I had left the pre at the same volume as I had the Adcom at but stood by waiting for the music to start since I figured with that much power difference, I would have to turn it up to get back to my preferred listening level.
    Boy howdy...I was wrong. It was actually audibly louder at the same volume level. In fact, I chose to turn it down a bit. Not that it sounded bad...just that it was louder.
    Everything seems much more *live* for lack of a better term. The instruments felt more defined from each other.
    Granted, I am comparing to pretty good amp to begin with but the whole sound just opened up.
    The soundstage felt like it moved wider and farther back. Sort of like going from sitting at the edge of the stage to sitting back about 15 feet from the edge of the stage.
    There was more definition as to where the presumed position of the instrument was playing from.

    I move on to a compilation of classic rock that I made and start things out with a live version Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child. This song has always had a feel of a live concert on the Adcom but again, things just seemed to open up. The stage got bigger...more life sized.
    The next song up was Superstition by Stevie Wonder.
    This song is one of my favorites. The horn section has always had a bit of an edge that I found sort of harsh with the Adcom. Not so with the AMC. And the best part is, even with the "edge" softened, there was no loss of detail in the horns.

    I could go on all night about audition songs I heard audible differences in but I will cut to the chase.
    I asked the gentleman what he was asking for the amp and he gave me a price that was lower than the mods/upgrades that had been done 2 years ago.
    I went downstairs to talk with my wife who's only question was, "Are you absolutely sure this is the amp you want and it won't end up on CL or eBay next month?". So I head back upstairs to let him know I will take it.
    I was sort of worried as he had it all boxed up and was looking like he was going to head out.

    But he reassured me that if I did indeed want it then he wanted to take it in and have his shop give it the full once over to make sure everything was 100%. He said not to worry about the cost that he would be taking care of it as part of the deal.

    This was on last Thursday evening.
    Today he stopped by and dropped her off with a set of Audioquest Evergreen ICs still in the box (I found out that he had stopped by my buddy's shop on the way over and bought me another set to throw in on the deal since he knew I already had a full contingent of Evergreens).

    I have been listening since after dinner non stop and still am grinning from ear to ear.

    Most people seem to be going the opposite direction. They are going to bigger and bigger amps (I am pointing at you there Darque! ) while I am going from 200wpc to 30wpc.
    Granted, my HT system has gone from 125wpc to 325wpc and LSis...but then I also watch movies at a much higher volume and love it when the neighbors think that the plane crash I just watched happened in their front yard.

    Anyway, I am ecstatic with my purchase. Once I get things sorted and rearranged and get my TT moved upstairs, I will post up pics.
    Until then, enjoy some stock ones...



    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    I may have an addiction... RTA-15TL, SDA 2, LSi25, LSi15, LSi9, LSi7, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LS/FX, RT/FX, DSW MP2000...and that's just the Polks...

  2. #2

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    I own an AMC 2100as (the 70 watt version of the amp that uses KT88/6550's. It is a solid amp for sure. Never heard the 2030s, but I am sure it's nice sounding (assuming it is similar to the 2100as). Glad you are enjoying the amp. Let us know your further impressions of it as you listen more and more.
    Taken from a recent Audioholics reply regarding "Club Polk" and Polk speakers:

    "I'm yet to hear a Polk speaker that merits more than a sentence and 60 seconds discussion."

    "Green leaves reveal the heart spoken Khatru"- Jon Anderson

    "Have A Little Faith! And Everything You'll Face, Will Jump From Out Right On Into Place! Yeah! Take A Little Time! And Everything You'll Find, Will Move From Gloom Right On Into Shine!"- Arthur Lee

  3. #3

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    Congrats man, you just discovered all watts are not created equal. That tube sound is addicting isn't it ?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZLTFUL View Post
    The more I thought about it and the more I talked back and forth with Endershadow (thanks for the advice man) the more I realized that I didn't need oodles of raw power.
    No problem man, glad I was able to save you a couple bucks. I too was impressed by just how little watts matter when it comes to tubes.

    I cant even get my volume up above 1/8 with my 20 wpc Fisher amp without driving myself out of the room, so I understand entirely.

    Now the fun part comes in rolling in different tubes to see what "flavor" you like . I am not surprised about the "harsh" sound going away, Adcom's are somewhat known for doing that to some extent.

    Also your LSi v. the RTA's are a whole different monster in regards to power.

    I am glad you found your sonic bliss for now. Now get that HT setup right, upgrade your LSi 15 woofers and enjoy some movies and tunes
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  5. #5

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    Yeah the woofer upgrades are set for the next few months. Gotta let the dust settle a bit from my latest spending spree.
    Along with the amp, I also replaced the HT speaker wires with 14/4 Audioquest Flex that I set up for bi-wire for all the LSis (all of them lol) with dual posts.
    No current plans to upgrade the crossovers on the LSis. I may eventually but I will most likely outsource that task to Trey. The 2 channel system is for my tinkering but the HT is the one my wife expects to always be available. Hehe.

    The 2100 is identical in a lot of respects. But obviouslt has much larger tubes and output transformers. But they do share the same chassis.

    I have already selected quad matched sets of Mullard EL34s, Electro Harmonix EL34s and JJ/Tesla EL34s to try out.

    I knew that tube watts =/= SS watts. What I didn't realize was the fact that 30 watts of tube power sounds every bit as good as 200 watts of SS power without the higher volums harshness with no loss of detail. The whole warmer sound with no detail loss is the part that I found most surprising and enjoyable.
    I forgot which track it was but one of the Miles Davis songs, there is a drummer in the background playing a hi hat with brushes. On the Adcom it always sounded like background static for the most part with hints at what it actually was. With the AMC, it actually sounds like brushes on a hi hat.

    The other thing I am pleasantly surprised about is that there seems to be absolutely zero noise floor. As in there doesn't seem to be any noise at all from the speakers with everything powered on but with no music playing.

    For right now, I am pretty happy with what I have in the spaces that I have available.
    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    I may have an addiction... RTA-15TL, SDA 2, LSi25, LSi15, LSi9, LSi7, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LS/FX, RT/FX, DSW MP2000...and that's just the Polks...

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZLTFUL View Post
    Yeah the woofer upgrades are set for the next few months.
    My only concern is availibility of the db woofers. Crutchfield only has open box for the single voice coil woofers and I believe the entire db line was replaced by the dxi line, so you may have some trouble finding *new* woofers from a authorized vendor if you wait too long....

    Just something to keep in mind. If nothing else get the ones for the front 2 and wait on the rears....

    I forget are you running the 15's all as full range or are you crossing them over?


    Quote Originally Posted by ZLTFUL View Post
    Along with the amp, I also replaced the HT speaker wires with 14/4 Audioquest Flex that I set up for bi-wire for all the LSis (all of them lol) with dual posts.
    Are you EndersShadow from the past lol? That is the exact same wire I used for the longest time with my LSi's and I liked it quite a bit. What banana plugs did you use? If your me from the past you used GLS Locking banana's or Monster quick connects... lol....

    Quote Originally Posted by ZLTFUL View Post
    No current plans to upgrade the crossovers on the LSis. I may eventually but I will most likely outsource that task to Trey. The 2 channel system is for my tinkering but the HT is the one my wife expects to always be available. Hehe.
    Thats kinda where I am at, although I am debating doing the center only. I still have the box with inserts so shipping would be a breeze and I have read that the LSiC mod makes a pretty big difference, but I have other items to check off my list before I go there....

    Quote Originally Posted by ZLTFUL View Post
    I have already selected quad matched sets of Mullard EL34s, Electro Harmonix EL34s and JJ/Tesla EL34s to try out.

    I knew that tube watts =/= SS watts. What I didn't realize was the fact that 30 watts of tube power sounds every bit as good as 200 watts of SS power without the higher volums harshness with no loss of detail. The whole warmer sound with no detail loss is the part that I found most surprising and enjoyable.
    I forgot which track it was but one of the Miles Davis songs, there is a drummer in the background playing a hi hat with brushes. On the Adcom it always sounded like background static for the most part with hints at what it actually was. With the AMC, it actually sounds like brushes on a hi hat.

    The other thing I am pleasantly surprised about is that there seems to be absolutely zero noise floor. As in there doesn't seem to be any noise at all from the speakers with everything powered on but with no music playing.

    For right now, I am pretty happy with what I have in the spaces that I have available.
    Yup, tubes are life changing provided you have the right core around them and it sounds like you do
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    My only concern is availibility of the db woofers. Crutchfield only has open box for the single voice coil woofers and I believe the entire db line was replaced by the dxi line, so you may have some trouble finding *new* woofers from a authorized vendor if you wait too long....

    Just something to keep in mind. If nothing else get the ones for the front 2 and wait on the rears....

    I have a local source with them. I doubt they will run out but if they do, I have no qualms about a couple eBay sources I have dealt with in the past that carry them.

    I forget are you running the 15's all as full range or are you crossing them over?

    Crossed over at 40hz. The subs have basically been relegated to tactile duty.


    Are you EndersShadow from the past lol? That is the exact same wire I used for the longest time with my LSi's and I liked it quite a bit. What banana plugs did you use? If your me from the past you used GLS Locking banana's or Monster quick connects... lol....

    LeGrand gold bananas from Lowes. I like the all metal construction and the knurling.

    Thats kinda where I am at, although I am debating doing the center only. I still have the box with inserts so shipping would be a breeze and I have read that the LSiC mod makes a pretty big difference, but I have other items to check off my list before I go there....

    Was sort of pondering the same thing. Would still like to track down a set of LSiFXs for side duty though and that may be first.

    Yup, tubes are life changing provided you have the right core around them and it sounds like you do

    The only thing left in my 2 channel system that really needs an upgrade is my DAC. I like the Peachtree DACiT I am using now but feel I could do better and since most of my audio is in digital format...
    But then I need to focus on bikes for a bit. New bike needs an oil change. I also have an auxillary light kit and headlight upgrades to complete. Not to mention getting the other bikes ready for the season as well. Hehe.
    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    I may have an addiction... RTA-15TL, SDA 2, LSi25, LSi15, LSi9, LSi7, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LS/FX, RT/FX, DSW MP2000...and that's just the Polks...

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