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Valve Amps

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
I love my Unison Research S8 Valve Amp. There. I’ve said it.

It runs very hot, weighs around 30Kg, probably guzzles leccy and needs it’s valves replacing every two years or so.

But I don’t care. It sounds incredible, looks amazing (an orgy of solid wood and metal only the Italians could put together with such visual acuity) and it’s build quality is superb.

The point of this is that I really don’t understand the lack of love for valves in these forums. Yes, the measured performance of valves is poor compared to many SS designs, but no worse than most speakers exhibit. And besides, despite poor measurements, most valve Amps simply sound fantastic.

I guess what I’m saying is: If you’ve never taken the opportunity to listen to a good Valve set-up, I would encourage you to do so.

You really don’t know what you might be missing.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
1
0
I only owned a valve amplifier once, an Audio Innovation design.

I had it for some time and was sad when I had to sell it due to personal circumstances. I remember that it instantly put a stop to the constant need to upgrade I went through at the time. It was suggested and supplied to me by my long suffering local dealer who was probably Fed with me trying every possible product.

I envy you and hope you hang on to it for a long time to come.

It's a bit like a nice mechanical Swiss watch. Nowhere near as accurate or practical as even the cheapest Chinese digital watch but pride of ownership and satisfaction is infinitively greater (until you miss the train).
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
527
242
19,270
Valve amps fall well short of a good solid state amps when it comes to accuracy, but they sound beautiful and alluring, (Plus all their distortions are even harmonics) so that you can sit back and enjoy, unless of cause you want accuracy, (Warts & All) when it has to be solid state, as they are the only ones that can give you the raw live sound you get in a live performance. (It’s purely individual as to which you prefer)

Bill
 

Gazzip

New member
Jan 15, 2011
88
0
0
I have to agree that valve amplification is wonderful. Valve pre and solid state power is my poison. All that valve fluidity in the mids and highs with the control of the lower frequencies that only solid state (or very expensive valves) can give you.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
It's a catch 22 problem.

People don't buy them, as not many dealers sell them...and not many dealers sell them, because not many people buy them.

Also, Valves are a yesteryear technology, which have downsides that don't seem to fit into the modern world.....more's the pity.
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,233
5
19,195
Infiniteloop said:
The point of this is that I really don’t understand the lack of love for valves in these forums.
You forgot the cost. A decent entry level machine (Prima Luna Prologue Classic, Quad VA-One, Simply Italy etc.) is going to cost around £1300 upwards.

It’s change down the back of the sofa for seasoned valve-heads and audiophiles but in real-life it can buy an entire system of near £500 components, or two - still quite respectable if chosen well - budget separates systems! (Notwithstanding the previously noted running and replacement costs.)

Nothing against them I should add. Just trying to offer a possible explanation of why readers, of a mainly mass-market magazine, might not be too interested.

Then there would be the aesthetics. My wife liked the only valve amp (actually hybrid) I ever owned but she is very unusual in that respect and I guess valve amp WAF is normally about zero in the majority of households. (And let’s not get into 1950s style “who wears the trousers” territory despite it’s contemporaneity with the technology :) )
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
Who cares what other people think?

Carry on enjoying your lovely valve amp.

In the all-important midrange my SET amps are more accurate than my high end solid state amps. In the bass, with most speakers the solid state are more accurate. With some speakers - high efficiency ones with reasonable mechanical damping of the bass cones - the bass from a good valve amp is good enough, making my SET's the overall winners for accuracy in every bake-off with valve friendly speakers I've done so far.

To me, the slightly synthetic, robotic, mechanical nature of the midrange of even the finest solid state amplifiers makes them "inaccurate". After all, it was a real person singing on the recording, not C-3PO.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,916
255
20,070
Don't think there is a lack of love for valve amps. The biggest problem as I see it how accessible valve amps are. There are more decent quality SS amps than you can throw a stick at, but valve amps tend to be a little more niche. So I just think it comes down what type of amp you have/the sound you are used to.

As Chebby alluded to: The price of a good quality valve amp will probably be beyond a lot of budgets.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
1
0
Would love to own one of the current Icon Audio integrateds with the front meter, copper coloured top plate and remote control.
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
CnoEvil said:
It's a catch 22 problem.

People don't buy them, as not many dealers sell them...and not many dealers sell them, because not many people buy them.

Also, Valves are a yesteryear technology, which have downsides that don't seem to fit into the modern world.....more's the pity.
You mean a bit like Vinyl?
 

Gazzip

New member
Jan 15, 2011
88
0
0
Infiniteloop said:
CnoEvil said:
It's a catch 22 problem.

People don't buy them, as not many dealers sell them...and not many dealers sell them, because not many people buy them.

Also, Valves are a yesteryear technology, which have downsides that don't seem to fit into the modern world.....more's the pity.
You mean a bit like Vinyl?
*mosking*
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Infiniteloop said:
CnoEvil said:
It's a catch 22 problem.

People don't buy them, as not many dealers sell them...and not many dealers sell them, because not many people buy them.

Also, Valves are a yesteryear technology, which have downsides that don't seem to fit into the modern world.....more's the pity.
You mean a bit like Vinyl?
Only a bit.

- Vinyl was the main source, in its day

- Most dealers sell TTs...but how this Vinyl revival came about, I'm not quite sure (now there's a question).
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
CnoEvil said:
Infiniteloop said:
CnoEvil said:
It's a catch 22 problem.

People don't buy them, as not many dealers sell them...and not many dealers sell them, because not many people buy them.

Also, Valves are a yesteryear technology, which have downsides that don't seem to fit into the modern world.....more's the pity.
You mean a bit like Vinyl?
Only a bit.

- Vinyl was the main source, in its day

- Most dealers sell TTs...but how this Vinyl revival came about, I'm not quite sure (now there's a question).
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
lindsayt said:
Who cares what other people think?

Carry on enjoying your lovely valve amp.

In the all-important midrange my SET amps are more accurate than my high end solid state amps. In the bass, with most speakers the solid state are more accurate. With some speakers - high efficiency ones with reasonable mechanical damping of the bass cones - the bass from a good valve amp is good enough, making my SET's the overall winners for accuracy in every bake-off with valve friendly speakers I've done so far.

To me, the slightly synthetic, robotic, mechanical nature of the midrange of even the finest solid state amplifiers makes them "inaccurate". After all, it was a real person singing on the recording, not C-3PO.
*drinks*
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
drummerman said:
I only owned a valve amplifier once, an Audio Innovation design.

I had it for some time and was sad when I had to sell it due to personal circumstances. I remember that it instantly put a stop to the constant need to upgrade I went through at the time. It was suggested and supplied to me by my long suffering local dealer who was probably Fed with me trying every possible product.

I envy you and hope you hang on to it for a long time to come.

It's a bit like a nice mechanical Swiss watch. Nowhere near as accurate or practical as even the cheapest Chinese digital watch but pride of ownership and satisfaction is infinitively greater (until you miss the train).
Couldnt agree more. The S8 is built like a tank, should be easy to fix if it ever goes wrong (it’s never so much as hiccuped in all the time I’ve had it and it wasn’t new when I acquired it) and will probably see me out...
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Infiniteloop said:
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
How many on here are old enough to remember that. *biggrin*
 
CnoEvil said:
Infiniteloop said:
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
How many on here are old enough to remember that. *biggrin*
Possibly a few. Like vinyl valve amps have been there for a very long time and have improved a great deal. They were always in the background due to cost of purchasing and owning but still have many devotees as the number of firms still manufacturing and selling them proves.
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
CnoEvil said:
Infiniteloop said:
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
How many on here are old enough to remember that. *biggrin*
Poignantly, it was my birthday yesterday.....
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Infiniteloop said:
CnoEvil said:
Infiniteloop said:
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
How many on here are old enough to remember that. *biggrin*
Poignantly, it was my birthday yesterday.....
Many Happy Returns of Yesterday. *preved*
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Al ears said:
CnoEvil said:
Infiniteloop said:
Valves were the only source of amplification in their day...... Not sure what point I’m making except that valves and vinyl can be an excellent match.
How many on here are old enough to remember that. *biggrin*
Possibly a few. Like vinyl valve amps have been there for a very long time and have improved a great deal. They were always in the background due to cost of purchasing and owning but still have many devotees as the number of firms still manufacturing and selling them proves.
I agree...but in order to go back to the age where they were the norm, you'd need to have been old enough (and wealthy enough) to have been buying hifi, in the 50s/early 60s.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
4
0
If I am going to buy a valve amp in the future it's going to be a custom order from an individual amp builder, not a commercially produced unit. Main problem for me is finding suitable speakers, I'm extremely picky. That may also have to be a unique build, likely a bin and horn system.
 

Gazzip

New member
Jan 15, 2011
88
0
0
Vladimir said:
If I am going to buy a valve amp in the future it's going to be a custom order from an individual amp builder, not a commercially produced unit. Main problem for me is finding suitable speakers, I'm extremely picky. That may also have to be a unique build, likely a bin and horn system.
Like this?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sVkqrTEspmM
 

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