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In Reply to: RE: Name a SS Amplifier for $750 or Less That Sounds as Good as This Tube Amp posted by jaydacus on March 13, 2017 at 19:03:03
1. Audire Forte
2. Aragon 4004 mk2
3. PS Audio 200CX
4. Threshold T50
5. Threshold 150
To name a few
I am not disputing that some or all of these sound better than my tube amp, but they are 2-3 times the price, some are vintage and may not be available, and none are integrated which means I still have to buy a preamp to equal what I got for $750
And how many people in this thread have actually specifically auditioned the Yaqin MC-13S? And did they compare it to whatever amp they tout as being better.
I took your post to mean new items not comparing used items correct? I mean it says a lot about the "sound quality" of SS amplifiers when people are posting second hand amps that are now $700 that used to be $3000+. If they are so desirable and of such supreme sound quality why is the value practically worthless. Back in 2003 I bought a nice EL84 amplifier that I can sell today for at least 20% more than I paid. My alternate at the time were several BIG name SS amps for the same price. You can buy a second hand one of any of those brands for 1/5 the original price.
I have not heard your amp - but EL34 runs a wide gambit from the very good to the very bad. There are a number of SS amps that I might like better than the very bad examples of EL34 based tube amplifiers. There isn't a SS that I have heard that beat a good EL34 based tube amp.
Solid State amps that have the best chance IMO/IME of beating a good Push Pull tube amp will be Single Ended class A amplifiers such as the Sugden A21a (which is a SET (Single Ended Topology). But it's $3,500US I believe and stiffer competition from tube amps today for that price and lower are abound.
And don't forget about taste - when we say better it's better to us. For instance some people prefer a tube amp to be a little darker and thicker and perhaps more the Stereotypical tube type of sound. While others want a leaner and seemingly more neutral kind of tube amplifier. As one dealer in HK notes - do you want it more beautiful or more truthful and I auditioned two integrated tube amplifiers from the same manufacturer for about the same price and you can hear exactly this point. Both amplifiers have been selling for over 20 years - but there is a pretty good chance that if you like one you probably won't much like the other one.
A company called Spark makes an awful lot of tube amps for other brands. Usually they are quite good. I think they make the amps for Yaqin so if this is the case (can't remember) then this should be quite a good amplifier at quite a nice price.
I am currently reviewing an $800ish tube amp that actually excites me - it's been a long time where I have been truly excited about products at the affordable end of the price spectrum. Sometimes stuff isn't taken seriously enough unless it meets a certain price threshold. Which is kind of a shame as this industry is often about "showing off wealth" than purely about quality.
So yes I was talking about something one could buy online right now in SS that would compare to this well built Chi Fi tube amp for around the same price.
Tubes do not automatically make for a good sounding amp. I've actually owned a few stinkers and read about many others. I have haven't heard great things about Music Angel for instance.
Had a great sounding KT88 amp, but I was disappointed that it didn't really sound like a tube amp. Switching to KT120 tubes gave it a little more of a "fuzzy" sound, but I am really more drawn to the EL34 with its midrange bloom with good to great highs and lows depending on the type of EL34 being used.
I know about Spark. My first "real" tube amp was the Cayin TA-30. I can't say for sure, but I don't think Yaqin is a Spark product given how committed they are to using point to point wiring which the Yaqins do not. Interesting side note. I had a tube tech tell me that PCB amps have the potential to sound better than point to point amps because the PCB is easier to design for signal isolation. I have heard great and terrible examples of both architectures.
Just out of curiosity, which amp are you reviewing?
My next amps will probably be the new RC Yaqin which also uses a new circuit design on the input stage.
The amp I am reviewing is from an engineer/dealer/repair fellow who has been selling gear for 15 years (ATC/Line Magnetic/Rogue Audio/Melody Valve Audio) etc.
He has spent a few years to come up with his basically ONE amplifier which is a bigger version of those Headphone amplifiers you see from several makers like the Line Magnetic 218mini and Audio Space headphone amps and Antique Sound Labs MG Head (that I own).
But his blows all of those away IMO and for the same price. But unlike all those amps it is also a 12 watt integrated amplifier (EL84) and valve rectified (unlike all of those) and autobias and will work both in North America and Canada and Asia at the flip of a switch. He has thought it through exceptionally well. He's even managed to put two meters on the thing.
The EL84 is such a beautiful sounding tube it just always lacks power so 12 watts is positively beastly for it.
He's basically a two man operation with him and his co designer and built in China.
So obviously there is no name brand appeal and basically he sells this and a CD player under his own name.
It's called the KingKo KA101. His name is King Ip. I hope he succeeds - this is a brutal industry get into and develop any kind of foothold against the big boys. But finding something that is inexpensive and sounds really very good is difficult.
PS I agree with you that in general I have found EL34 push pull amps have sounded better than KT88 or 120 etc. The exception was again a Hong Kong company called Sound Master that was using Grey bottle KT88s and driving Avalon speakers - that was hugely impressive - but they only sell to the Hong Kong market but the place is always packed. Pricey tubes though I believe.
Anyway here is King's website - he's just started up and just began the English website and I believe sells via an e-bay account. That's the other thing about these start ups - you can be a great engineer with a great product - but you have to know a lot about marketing and making sure you actually make profit on stuff you do sell.
Anyway - hopefully something to keep an eye out down the road. I think the valve Rectification is what makes it a trump card in the field. But still early days - has not broken in yet.
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