Author Topic: Favorite Amps?  (Read 3672 times)

henry

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Favorite Amps?
« on: August 26, 2022, 04:50:04 AM »
I'm getting older and have accumulated quite a few amps over the years.  They all seem to be my favorites (I have issues).  I have various topologies of SS and tubes.  I enjoy them all.

Here are some of the ones I really love in no particular order and none are uber expensive:

- Eddie Vaughn's Carina (single-ended EL-84 done right)
- Nelson Pass's Amp Camp Amp (class A all the way)
- Frank van Alstine's AVA Ultravalve (ST-70 on steroids)
- B&O Ice Power AS 1200 (effortless power class D with manners)
- Antique Sound Labs Wave 8's (punchy and great fun)
- Gabe Velez's 300B (single-ended euphonic bliss)
- Chinese FU-32 board (thanks Ed)

There are a few I'm sure I'm missing, but those are the main ones that come to mind at the moment.

I've used them all with the Horns except for the Icepower amp because I'm not wanting to replace those pesky Fostex drivers.  :)

If I had to choose one of the above, I'd have to give a nod to the AVA Ultravalve with EL-34's  It can take 3 or 4 different output tubes to suit you system, room, etc.  It has gobs of tube power and makes the Horns dance.  Besides the Carina, it's the only one I haven't been temped to modify.  After six years I haven't even looked inside.  That says a lot.  ;)

I have to say that I have a few preamps as well and the Truth makes all those amps sound like gold.

So, what do y'all like?  I'm always interested in what others find to be excellent.

PS, I often look at the Upscale Audio site and the entertaining videos Kevin Deal creates to promote his line of products.  I can't afford that stuff, but wonder if there are gains to be made.  I'm pretty content these days, but I do wonder...

Capt. Z

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2022, 07:02:06 AM »
Haven't had that many amps in my life time, but I have a Conrad Johnson CAV 50 for 20 years now, which I really like.

At the 2011 Hornfest I heard a 45 amp, sorry can't remember the make, which  really liked and would love to have. However, back then I was just getting ready to work again in Europe. Now I am coming back to the States. Once I get settled and financially recuperated, I may try to find one some day.

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2022, 12:53:58 PM »
Hey Capt, that 45 may have been one that John made, but I'm not too sure.  I think Terry sent a low-power amp one year as well and it may have been his.  I forgot that I have a 45 PP amp made by Willie Rivers from St. Louis.  It's captivating, but unfortunately is broken.  I think the power transformer went bad (it's from 1935).  I really need to connect with him and see if I can send it back for repair.  What a great tube!

That's one reason I love the Horns, they can handle pretty much any amplifier and be happy.  I bet the CJ is great.  I've heard a few and have always been impressed.

I'm looking forward to your return.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2022, 12:56:07 PM by henry »

Capt. Z

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2022, 02:34:41 PM »
I think it was a Welborne 45 DRD amp. It was sold to one of the guys at the Hornfest for $ 1000

I didn't have the loose cash back then, and I believe it was a 120 Volt ONLY amp.

sonic

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2022, 04:37:53 PM »
PS, I often look at the Upscale Audio site and the entertaining videos Kevin Deal creates to promote his line of products.  I can't afford that stuff, but wonder if there are gains to be made.  I'm pretty content these days, but I do wonder...
There's no need to spend the numbers shown on that site for good sound reproduction.  You can spend something close to that on speakers because that's what actually produces sound waves you hear but the rest, no. 

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2022, 06:41:32 PM »
PS, I often look at the Upscale Audio site and the entertaining videos Kevin Deal creates to promote his line of products.  I can't afford that stuff, but wonder if there are gains to be made.  I'm pretty content these days, but I do wonder...
There's no need to spend the numbers shown on that site for good sound reproduction.  You can spend something close to that on speakers because that's what actually produces sound waves you hear but the rest, no.

Yep, if I purchase a less resolving set of speakers, what's upstream doesn't matter as much.  Been there and done it.  Ignorance is bliss every time... until you hear what can be had with better upstream components and highly efficient, low mass drivers. 

That doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing for those that choose the path of speakers first.  It actually makes life easier.  I can listen to multi-driver speakers all day and can be happy.  I'm have Bozak Concert Grands that cram 14 drivers in each cabinet and they are great fun.  When I die, I may be buried in one. But, they don't convey the emotion that can be obtained with simpler designs.

sonic, there are many ways to be happy, so be nice.

Capt. Z

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2022, 08:39:14 PM »
Yes, there are a lot of different flavor of ice cream, To each its own.

I remember the 2011 Hornfest. Ed had Transcendent Beast there. I remember the authority they had over the driver and music. I never heard that before with any other amp.

On the other hand, the Welborne Labs 45 amps sounded so liquid and smooth, the total opposite of the Beast.

Did one sound better then the other?
I would say, it's a matter of preference. If I had to choose I would have chosen the Welborne Labs 45, even they only have 1.5 Watts and can only be used for lower level listening.

sonic

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2022, 11:13:04 PM »
sonic, there are many ways to be happy, so be nice.
Just trying to do my part of "If you see something, say something."

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2022, 12:16:07 AM »
sonic, you're supposed to accept everything I say as truth.  ;D

But, I'm open to your preferences.  No kidding.  I respect your opinion.

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2022, 10:12:22 PM »
Man, can I kill a thread?   ;D

Capt. Z

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2022, 06:57:49 AM »
Let's revive it then.  :D

How does that little EL84 amp stack up that Ed was raving so much about about 15 years ago?

And what about the cheap Chinese amp AU or something something???
 
And what about the Dali Lama (??) amp?

Just for a starter?  ;D

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2022, 05:29:02 PM »
Let's revive it then.  :D

How does that little EL84 amp stack up that Ed was raving so much about about 15 years ago?...

I assume you are talking about the Carina. I used to correspond with Eddie Vaughn and he was always perplexed why the Decware folks wanted him to make make modifications to their little amps, but wouldn't embrace something that he built from the ground up.  IMO, his Carina was and is one of the best on the planet.  The only down side was the volume pot, but that can be easily bypassed or replaced with a modern stepped attenuator.  The jewel in that crown is to use Amperex EL-84 D-getters from '58-59.  They were commonly branded as Zenith and Hammond (yep from consoles and organs).  The input tubes and rectifiers matter as well.  RCA branded (Mullard) GZ-34 rectifiers boost performance greatly and aren't so painful to buy.  If you can find one, get one.


henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2022, 07:07:35 PM »
Oh, the massive Dali Lama amps... I can say that I've never heard anything better.  That guy is from another planet.  If I had deep pockets and a crew to move them, I'd be a player.  :)

Isn't it fun to talk about audio and music.

henry

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2022, 03:23:36 AM »
Please check out the AVA site.  Frank has over 40 years of making great music affordable by modifying and perfecting Dynaco amps and preamps.  The Ultravalve amp isn't available now, but may be soon.

https://avahifi.com/
« Last Edit: August 31, 2022, 03:26:36 AM by henry »

Capt. Z

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Re: Favorite Amps?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2022, 02:56:24 PM »
The little EL84 amp I remember at Ed's place was from APPJ