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Valve amps

Balderdash

New member
Oct 17, 2010
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Maybe a daft question having not inspected one close up, but why are valve amps so expensive and secondly sometimes very heavy? I like the idea of a cheaper Chinese import if anyone can recommend a starting point.

regards.
 

oldric_naubhoff

New member
Mar 11, 2011
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expensive - mainly because they can't be mass produced. some point-to-point soldering will always be required and that requires labor which will always be more expensive than surface mounting techniques.

heavy - they usually use substantial mains transformers and then two output transformers. big transformers means a lot of weight.
 

Rethep

Well-known member
May 2, 2011
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18,520
Save yourself the effort of a cheap Chinese import. There are even cheap valve-amps that sound very very good, like mine. It is a Chinese brand but a very good one, and no import. Less cheap then "Yarland" or other really cheap brands. The same can be said of "Prima Luna" which is a Dutch design but build in China.

I would not even try mine against the very cheapo things. It would be no serious competittion, i think. Beside this i have read stories of bad or difficult warranty or even bad amps. Better stay away from them!
 

Al ears

Moderator
+1 for oldric's descriptions.

Regarding Chinese amps both the Yarland make and PrimaLuna are excellent for the money, it all depends on how much you consider to be 'expensive'.

I would disagree that if they are cheap they must be rubbish as others here seem to imply. Some are cheap because they started selling direct thus cutting out middleman mark-ups.

I might suggest Icon Audio of Leicester that do a good 'starter' amp in the form of the ST20PP, but these are not cheap.
 

hoopsontoast

New member
Oct 1, 2011
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I would avoid any import Chinese amps, they dont usually have the power supply up to spec (~220V).

Regarding price and weight. They usually are expensive as any decent tube amp (Integrated/Power) will have large output transformers which are A- Heavy and B-Expensive.

A lot of cheap valve amps have a 'warm' sound with crap bass, this is mainly down to really cheap, light transformers.

Even my little Decware that I had @1.5wpc weighed 8Kg in a tiny chassis, mainly down to the one big output transformer.

The other reason mentioned, is a lot of valve amps are hard wired rather than PCB which upps the cost.

There a plenty of options, second hand can get you a pretty decent one for not much.

Look out for the original Audio Innovations 300 and 500 series, any Consonance, Icon Audio, Decware to name a few.

Audion, Ming Da or even some of the old WAD (World Audio Design) kits that seem to pop up now and again.
 

Rethep

Well-known member
May 2, 2011
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hoopsontoast said:
There a plenty of options, second hand can get you a pretty decent one for not much.

Look out for the original Audio Innovations 300 and 500 series, any Consonance, Icon Audio, Decware to name a few.
If you start with your 1st valve-amp, the Audio Innovations 300, 500, or 700, 800 are not bad, but i heard the difference with mine. And that's night and day, with mine being day!
 

Macspur

Well-known member
May 3, 2010
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18,540
Another very good little known valve amp is J Wood... a one man band, made to order and not overly expensive.

Mac
 

Zeitgeist

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Apr 12, 2012
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Alears said:
Zeitgeist said:
I have vague recollections of my father's croft super micro A pre-amp: weighed hardly anything...
That is probably because it was only a pre-amp. :)
That would explain that, then.. Amplification of said system was provided by Quad 405-2 which weighed a ton ...
 

Balderdash

New member
Oct 17, 2010
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Thanks all. My local dealer offers Icon audio products- my issue is the price of a basic amp would be equal to a pretty serious transistor amp if bought wisely, maybe second hand etc. I would be up the creek if I decided that the valve amp was either nothing special or limited in driving capability for future speaker upgrades.
 

floyd droid

New member
Sep 5, 2008
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Balderdash said:
I would be up the creek if I decided that the valve amp was either nothing special or limited in driving capability for future speaker upgrades.
Surely you wouldnt have bought it in the first place if it was 'nothing special'. :?

You could always upgrade speakers to suit the amp ,or am i being silly here ?.

Nice user name btw ;).
 

Al ears

Moderator
floyd droid said:
Balderdash said:
I would be up the creek if I decided that the valve amp was either nothing special or limited in driving capability for future speaker upgrades.
Surely you wouldnt have bought it in the first place if it was 'nothing special'. :?

You could always upgrade speakers to suit the amp ,or am i being silly here ?.

Nice user name btw ;).
'zactly. And no not silly.
 

daytona600

Well-known member
Oct 5, 2012
251
127
19,070
generally like all audio equipment the heavier the better

valve amps need good output transfomers , these are heavy

most chinese very poor build quality not to british/european standard eg ROHS . CE or 220v 50hz Not 240/230volts

also no service/warranty , if it breaks sending 15kilos by dhl to china costs a fortune

buy from a uk dealer with warranty dared & mingda great value from £250 , primaluna & icon from £750

then sky is the limit - audio note , shindo , silbatone from $100,000

something about a good single end or push push amp just cant touch

http://www.dared.com.hk/

www.iconaudio.co.uk

www.mingda.com
 

Balderdash

New member
Oct 17, 2010
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Thank you all. Useful info and a few brands to look at that I wasn't aware of.

Floyd Droid, I was thinking in terms of how 8-30 wpc might sound once back home and the initial excitement has lessened, once a few tracks had been played. For me, valves are a big step away from SS and I'm still understanding the different technologies. If valve amps started from say £400, i would be happy to take a punt but £800 plus opens a lot of solid state opportunities - a Primaire i30 went for just over £800 last week. Before you say it, yes i know I can home demo!!

I'm enjoying the forum exchanges.

Regards.
 

floyd droid

New member
Sep 5, 2008
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Balderdash said:
Floyd Droid, I was thinking in terms of how 8-30 wpc might sound once back home and the initial excitement has lessened, once a few tracks had been played.
Dont let flea power put you off. If you can home dem then you owe it to yourself to try some out.

I see that you have Wilmslow kit speakers. Do you have any idea of their sensitivity and nominal impedance ?. That will be quite useful in giving you a few options to have a play around with.

For example my speakers are 90db 8ohm nominal. One of my valve amps is a single ended flea power 10 watter, drives em easy peasy, anything past 12 o'clock is far too loud for me and ive got a big room.

Match well and prepare to be gobsmacked.

Of course only you will know what sound reproduction appeals to your lugs, there are many ways to skin a cat in the valve amp dept.
 

audioaddict

New member
Nov 1, 2011
114
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hiya if someone hsnt already have you checked out the ariand fv34b mk1v another major hifi mag gave it editors choice and listed it in their ultimate hifi guide its around 700 and looks lush
 

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