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  1. #1

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    Default Tubes...where to begin??

    The deeper I get into the audio rabbit hole the more I start paying attention to the folks who talk about tubes and their importance in the chain.

    It was suggested in another thread that I might consider a tube pre. Considering the the speakers/amp/AVR are pulling double duty for music/movies I was wondering if the sound would benefit noticeably using a tube pre with HT bypass. Then I started reading up a little bit about tube buffers and read through the thread by inspiredsports and I'm beginning to think I should give tubes a try. The question is, will a tube buffer be a good upgrade? Or should I go with a tube pre with HT pass-through? I should state that I have no intention to start a dedicated 2 channel setup so whatever I get has to fit into a HT setup.
    TV: 70" LED Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D
    Fronts: Martin Logan Electromotions --- Center: Martin Logan Motion 8
    Front Heights: Polk RC65i --- Rears: Polk RC85i --- Sub: Power Sound Audio XS15
    Onkyo TX-NR818 --- Emotiva XPA-3 --- Oppo BDP-103 -- 2 Channel: Mapletree Line 2A tube preamp modified

  2. #2

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    IMO if you are not going to use it for 2 channel I would not go there. A Tube buffer in your case just add more circuits and not really improve your sound, change yes but not likely to improve.

    YMMV
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
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    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  3. #3

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    I would agree; from my perspectives the tube buffers exploit vacuum tubes for all of the wrong reasons.

    My insanely biased advice (FWIW):
    Get a nice little push-pull EL84 stereo integrated amplifier (vintage or modern, production or DIY) and pair it with appropriate loudspeakers (fairly sensitive speakers are required; push-pull EL84 is good for about 14 watts per channel)... or, alternatively, get a very good, straightforward stereo "linestage" (active line level preamplifier) and use it with whatever power amp and speakers you wish.

    Another alternative could be a vacuum tube headphone amplifier, if you have any serious interest in headphone listening.
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 05-23-2014 at 12:05 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  4. #4

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    If I'm reading correctly you say you don't want a DEDICATED 2 channel setup, which to me is saying you would like to have a 2 channel system within the confines of your current system and not a seperate, stand alone 2 channel system. If this is the case then I definitely recommend going with a tube pre with ht pass through. This will give you much better results than a tube buffer. I would find an Anthem Pre 2L and be done with it.

  5. #5

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    Another vote for a tube pre with HT Bypass. Most tube buffers are band aids and aren't of the same quality as a good tube pre.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  6. #6

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    that works for me... whatever a "HT bypass" is... ;-)
    all the best,
    mrh

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    that works for me... whatever a "HT bypass" is... ;-)
    Due to it being a HT/2 channel rig, a small valve amp wouldn't cut it. Besides that, he would need 5 channels. ;)
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  8. #8

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    Dawg, you are correct, I haven't the space for a dedicated 2ch rig. How exactly is a tube pre with HT bypass integrated into a HT setup?
    TV: 70" LED Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D
    Fronts: Martin Logan Electromotions --- Center: Martin Logan Motion 8
    Front Heights: Polk RC65i --- Rears: Polk RC85i --- Sub: Power Sound Audio XS15
    Onkyo TX-NR818 --- Emotiva XPA-3 --- Oppo BDP-103 -- 2 Channel: Mapletree Line 2A tube preamp modified

  9. #9

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    It's pretty straight forward actually. Connect the preouts from your front mains on your AVR to the ht bypass inputs on the two channel pre via rca cables. Run the output of the 2 channel pre to the front main inputs of your amp via RCAs. When in ht mode simply have the 2 channel pre set on ht bypass and the signal from the avr will go straight to the amp and to your front mains. Everything will operate with your ht exactly as it does now using the ht remote for volume etc. When you want to listen to two channel use the two channel pre to select your input (CD, SACD, phono, etc.). Of course you will have to connect a source to the 2 channel pre and the 2 channel pre will take over and control the signal going to your amp and front mains. Trust me on this listening to music through a 2 channel pre is night and day better than listening through an AVR, with or without a tube buffer. Adding a 2 channel tube pre to my system was the single best improvement I ever made for listening to music. It really gives you the best of both worlds without compromising your ht or 2 channel system.

    BTW I see your source is an Oppo universal player. Very nice (as is the new rest of your system). You can connect the Oppo to both the AVR and 2 channel pre via HDMI or other digital cable to your AVR and running RCAs from the front main analog outputs of the Oppo to one of the inputs on the 2 channel pre. This would give you a smoking ht and 2 channel setup.
    Last edited by Dawgfish; 05-24-2014 at 12:48 AM.

  10. #10

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    Thanks, Dawg. So that type of preamp actually acts like a source selector. Got it. I'm too lazy right now to read up on it but I have to think that the DAC inside the Oppo is better than the one in the Onk so it should work out perfectly. Only question now is...what tube pre to go with? I was offered a Mapletree Line 2A with upgraded caps by another member here. Perhaps that would be a good start.

    Edited to add: Upgdated my sig. No need for the bass shakers anymore now that I have the XS15.
    Last edited by ROHfan; 05-24-2014 at 10:17 AM.
    TV: 70" LED Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D
    Fronts: Martin Logan Electromotions --- Center: Martin Logan Motion 8
    Front Heights: Polk RC65i --- Rears: Polk RC85i --- Sub: Power Sound Audio XS15
    Onkyo TX-NR818 --- Emotiva XPA-3 --- Oppo BDP-103 -- 2 Channel: Mapletree Line 2A tube preamp modified

  11. #11

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    Have you considered simply adding something like the Grant Fidelity TubeDac-11? That might not be a bad avenue to start as there is only one tube in the unit to roll. You could also consider doing a Jolida CDP as another alternative to adding tubes in the mix.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  12. #12

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    An Anthem Pre 2L would be at the top of the list for a great sounding tube pre with ht bypass that is not going to break the bank (relatively speaking).

  13. #13

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    I thought all MartinLogan owners lusted after tube preamps and big 200watt SS amp? Lol! I know.....Its not good to generalize. However, I hear they come alive with a nice robust amp. If you have the means...Why not build a hybrid 2 ch/HT bypass system? Go for it!

    If it does not work out.....sell it!
    FAMILY ROOM
    TV - Mitsubishi WD-73734 73" DLP 1080P | AVR - Onkyo TX-NR3008 | Source - Sony PS3 Slim 320GB | Front - PolkAudio RT3000p | Center -PolkAudio CS400i | Surround - PolkAudio F/X1000 | Sub - DIY Stereo Integrity HT 15 | Sub Amp - Behringer EUROPOWER EP2500

    2 Ch Dreaming...hoping to purchase, build someday???
    OPPO 105 | Cary or Rogue Audio tube Preamp | Parasound HALO A21 amp | DIY Mini Statements towers

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