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I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like

68.231.156.10

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 08:29:25
airtime
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For decades I was going back and forth between solid state and tube amps. Always going back to tubes because solid state just did not have that feel, texture and tone of being "real" music - to me so please no flame throwers.

Several months ago I had a circa 1973 Marantz 250M totally rebuilt. New caps, relays, the works. Also in that rebuild all the transistors and diodes were replace with more durable upgraded versions. As well as a few minor upgrade mods to tweak up the original circuit.

I'm not going to go into the pointless descriptive's. However! with tubes I always sensed more "feel and texture". More of like yes this IS a trumpet or a violin playing and not just a really good sound reproduction of it.

The solid state amps I tried were really good in the usual descriptive ways (some not so good). But they never really attained that indescribable sense or feeling I got with tubes.

Enter the Marantz 250M. A trumpet sounds like a trumpet and a violin sounds like a violin. The feel, texture and soul of great audio. Its presentation of tone and detail was a bit different than my tubes but still wonderful and engaging. Now I understand what good SS sound is and why the debate of tubes vs SS continues to invoke a heated debate.

 

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RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on February 28, 2017 at 09:13:16
The Dill
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I know exactly what you mean airtime. I have been going back and forth for years until I acquired a Pass Labs Aleph 3 & Aleph P. Loved the sound, however had to downsize, so I found a great solution. I bought a Pathos Classic MKIII integrated hybrid amp and love it. To me, it is the best of both worlds.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on February 28, 2017 at 10:25:53
bouncy ball
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My system is basically all tube, to be specific, it is a triode power amp with high efficient speaker, tube pre with hybrid tube phono.
I recently have the chance to insert a very good YBA pre in my system. it sounded amazing, it did many thing better than my tube pre, as much as I like it, both I and my wife feel music with the SS pre is lacking something, it is something hard to quantify.

I guess at the end, it is just a matter of taste, all depends on how one put the system together, there is no right sound or wrong sound.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on February 28, 2017 at 11:37:19
Quint
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I've been mostly SS for much of my audiophile life, even though I did like what a few tube preamps did in my various systems over the years. The thought of going to a tube amp dogged me for a long time. Until I got my Coda S12.5, that is. Its sense of texture and liquidity is pretty impressive, not just for the price and not just for SS, but period. It's quite the little amp, IMO. I've owned DarTZeel, BAT, Goldmund, and numerous other heavy hitters, but this thing gets along with my speakers in a way I've rarely heard in my different rooms and systems.

Congrats on finding a great SS match for your rig. In the final equation, no matter the topology or number of digits in its price tag, the component must blend seamlessly into one's system. If it doesn't, regardless of whether it's tube or SS, you'll hear it.
This is a public service announcement . . . WITH GUITARS!!!

 

I would like to make this clear, posted on February 28, 2017 at 11:50:05
airtime
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I plan on keeping and using my Latino ST-70 for as long as I live.

Originally I got the Marantz 250M because it held a soft spot in my heart. It was made the year I graduated high school and it was something I DROOLED over when I was young. Being an old Marantz fan - I wanted at least one vintage Marantz piece to possibly use or, at the very least, just to look at.

I honestly never expected it to sound anywhere as good as it does. So bonus points there.

Now I can enjoy using my tube amp in the winter and my Marantz in the dead of summer. I use my Sherwood S-5000 (a smallish tube integrated amp) in the in between seasons.

 

RE: I would like to make this clear, posted on February 28, 2017 at 15:47:57
petercapo
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How would you characterize and rate the sonics of your Sherwood S-5000 vs. other amps?

 

RE: One man's 'texture' is another man's 'grain'.*, posted on February 28, 2017 at 16:00:13
b.l.zeebub
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*

 

One man's 'grain' is another man's whiskey. , posted on February 28, 2017 at 17:15:18
DrChaos
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nt

 

RE: I would like to make this clear, posted on February 28, 2017 at 17:59:07
airtime
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The Sherwood falls into a different situation of stereo. It's a real vintage piece. So that will come into play.

But how would I rate it purely on sound and listening. It's perhaps one of the nicest sweetest stereos I've ever heard. It has that glorious vintage tube sound yet still maintains a sense of detail. Every time I put it back into the system I'm amazed at how good that little unassuming stereo is.

 

RE: I would like to make this clear, posted on February 28, 2017 at 18:55:43
petercapo
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Focus? Is it at all blurry? What about top end, is it rolled off? Are tubes still available for it?

I might have a chance to pick one up. We'll see.

 

RE: I would like to make this clear, posted on February 28, 2017 at 20:01:48
airtime
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I would highly recommend it. I had it rebuilt by Mike Samra and he did an amazing job upgrading it.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on February 28, 2017 at 21:16:23
AudioSoul
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What preamp are you using with the Marantz?

 

You once had talked about considering a Pass Labs amp, posted on March 1, 2017 at 06:00:08
E-Stat
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I'm convinced that would redefine your point of reference vs. the newly revived 70s "muscle car" in terms of refinement and the illusion of a live performance.

You like to experiment-make a vertical move. :)

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 1, 2017 at 06:50:18
DrN
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In the past I have gone back and forth too.

I have to agree with you on your Pathos Classic one, I have MKII for the last 4 years and it just does everything right here. Very musical revealing amp especially on 4 Ohm speakers. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!

But, I have a Redgum RGi120ENR too completely different presentation and not any less satisfying. Remarkably musical and slam. Also recommended.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 1, 2017 at 06:59:49
SpotcheckBilly12345
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I once owned (about 1972) a Marantz 240 power amp, which AFAIK is identical to the 250M except it doesn't have the power meters. Through an odd set of circumstances I also owned a McIntosh 2105 at the same time. Although I never considered the 2105 as the last word in power amplification I was surprised to find that the Marantz 240 sounded better (at least to my ears) than the 2105 no matter what other equipment I ran with it or which music I played through it.

A couple of years later I bought a GAS Son of Ampzilla, which I thought sounded better that both of the above.

For the past several years I've stuck strictly with tubes, but I'd like to try one of those First Watt power amps that have received rave reviews.


Cheers,
SB

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 1, 2017 at 07:45:25
AbeCollins
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What speakers are you running? I can't decipher "the clue" in your profile. Are they fairly efficient and easy to drive? Thanks.




 

By Jove, posted on March 1, 2017 at 08:00:30
G Squared
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I think I've got it.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 1, 2017 at 08:38:25
A.Wayne
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What pre-amp are you using , a good SS amp will exude such a quality when paired with a good toob pre.



Regards ...

 

Ah, that explains it, posted on March 1, 2017 at 09:35:46
AbeCollins
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Thanks for the link.

They don't appear to be especially efficient.

The reason I was curious about his speakers was his comment about the Pass Aleph 3. I had one and even with my somewhat easy to drive (91dB 6 Ohm) Tannoys I thought the Aleph 3 sounded a little veiled and compressed as in lacking dynamics. I thought perhaps he had much more efficient speakers than mine but that is not the case. I heard more transparency, dynamics, and frequency extension up and down with the class AB Pass X150 and X150.5 vs the Aleph 3.




 

St70 !?, posted on March 1, 2017 at 17:11:21
bare
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Asin some dorky Variant of a Dyna St 70?
In which case .. IMO your expectations are surprisingly low.
Dyna St 70's in 'whatever' guise are simply mediocre amps..and that's only for the Very best variants.

 

RE: Ah, that explains it, posted on March 1, 2017 at 18:21:32
The Dill
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When I had the Pass Aleph gear Abe, my setup and room were quite different. The speakers where Silverline Sonatinas (original Avalon style) and are very easy to drive. Because of a remodel, I sadly had to downsize my system or I would still have it. I do have the clues setup just right and they sound excellent in my smaller room. My wife called the Aleph 3 "the sea urchin".



 

RE: Ah, that explains it, posted on March 1, 2017 at 19:03:13
AbeCollins
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That makes more sense to me now. Those Silverline Sonatinas are even more sensitive and 'easier' than my Tannoys. Although relatively easy to drive, my Tannoys seem to come alive with a bit more power.



 

Was that really nessecary , posted on March 2, 2017 at 07:38:58
airtime
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Out of 22 replies your's was the only negative, and honestly a little ignorant, response.

Everyone on this posting group has the right to enjoy their own tastes in music and sound. So on that note I'm sure I wouldn't care for your stereo either.

 

Vandy's, posted on March 2, 2017 at 07:46:44
ctsooner
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Within the last few years I've finally gotten away from tubes. I was Quicksilver, Aesthetix and Jadis. I now have only the Rhea phono that I'm about to put up for sale as I just don't want tube gear anymore for personal reasons. I do feel that many of them sounds OUTSTANDING.

I got into Ayre a few years ago with the small AX7e integrated and then upgraded to the AX5. Loved it, but when they upgraded to the Twenty series it took things to a new level. It was the first time I felt that I was listening to the best of tubes as well as the best from SS. As with any zero feedback design the bass won't always be quite as hammering as some other designers, but the control is much better to my ears. I like the Pass gear, but personally have a problem with the company. That's just me and doesn't take away from the nice products they sell. There are some really great SS companies and some not so great ones, just like anything else. In all price ranges you can get musical gear I feel.

It's totally different than what it's was years ago. With newer technology and components that use solid silver leads, companies can just modify great circuits or even come up with newer stuff like Ayre has as have some others. Depends on what you want to pay like anything else. Heck, I lived with a small NAD integrated running Proac towers for about 10 years and loved the sound for the TV room.

 

I looked to the future:.. , posted on March 2, 2017 at 08:22:19
tketcham
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Hi, airtime,

Nice amplifier.

I recently upgraded the amplification section of my stereo and after reading about all the great components of the past in Volume Two of TAS's "Illustrated History of High-End Audio", I seriously considered a rebuilt classic amp, like your Marantz. But I unexpectedly ended up with something completely in the other direction, a modern switch mode amp.

Still, some day I'd like to own one of the classics. They're just so cool. '-)

Regards,
Tom

 

The Dyna St-70, posted on March 2, 2017 at 08:53:22
M3 lover
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Ya, that was so mediocre they only sold a hundred-thousand of them, possibly the best selling amplifier of all time. And the design/sonics were so basically flawed that there was no chance for a cottage industry to spring up to make restorations or a few mods to them. Of course interest just disappeared years ago because they were put to such shame by all the later solid-state amplifiers, even the inexpensive ones, which might be considered price competitive. ;^)

"The piano ain't got no wrong notes." Thelonious Monk

 

RE: St70 !?, posted on March 2, 2017 at 09:21:28
Michael Samra
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The Latino ST70 is in no way a Dyna ST-70 other than the chassis it sits on. The iron is completely different,the power transformer is much beefier as are the output transformers,the driver circuity can be configured to several dual triodes and you have 4 separate bias pots and a pair of AC balance pots.
The circuit board is a glass epoxy type and the traces don't lift when you desolder parts.

The original Dynaco ST70 sold almost 200k units because it was run for almost 20 years.I will agree that there were much better and beefier amps for the same money or less such as the Eico HF87 and HF89,the Knight KB-85,and the HK Citation 5 to name a few.

If you are talking about the original Dynaco ST-70,I agree it is mediocre by comparison to other amps however, just because an amp is built on a Dynaco ST-70 chassis doesn't make it a Dynaco amp.If it uses the Dynaco output trafos which were decent,I suppose you could say it has some Dynaco underpinnings.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong" H. L. Mencken

 

and it was fuzzy, posted on March 2, 2017 at 09:24:00
bare
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Frankly.. imo, the Marantz would have pleased your ears More.
Switchmodes are not nearly as good as claimed.
Been there.

 

RE: and it was fuzzy, posted on March 2, 2017 at 09:51:27
tketcham
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Hi, bare,

Well, the power amp is paired with a tubed preamp so I'm caught between two worlds. '-)

I actually got to listen to the power amp with other tubed and solid state preamps and I was impressed with the relative transparency of the amp, it let the sonic characteristics (both strengths and weaknesses) of the preamp shine through. I also like the way it's able to easily drive my speakers, which are rated at 86 dB sensitivity at 4 Ohms nominal impedance. The control of bass frequencies is especially notable.

As I mentioned to airtime, I'm still considering one of the classics; just because.

Regards,
Tom

 

RE: and it was fuzzy, posted on March 2, 2017 at 10:59:57
Tom B.
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I checked out your sound system and it's totally insane....in a very good way! I really couldn't even begin to understand most of it. Damn, I wish I knew more.

Tom B.

 

After reading his profile, I wondered if, posted on March 2, 2017 at 12:03:25
E-Stat
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time runs backwards in the forest. :)

 

RE: and it was fuzzy, posted on March 2, 2017 at 16:09:54
DrChaos
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I also have the NAD M22 with my maggie 3.6's.

 

RE: After reading his profile, I wondered if, posted on March 2, 2017 at 19:21:35
tketcham
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Hi, E-stat,

I do that so people hopefully first notice the specs, rather than the brand and model. And, gnilleps sdorw sdrawkcab si doog esicrexe rof eht niarb. :-)

Regards,
Tom

PS: Time doesn't run backwards in the woods but it does seem to slow way down. I guess it's because trees aren't in any hurry. '-)

 

RE: and it was fuzzy, posted on March 2, 2017 at 19:37:09
tketcham
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Hi, Tom,

Why else would they call this place the Asylum? '-)

Regards,
Tom

PS: Those speakers you have in your system are beautiful.

 

RE: After reading his profile, I wondered if, posted on March 3, 2017 at 07:30:14
E-Stat
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And, gnilleps sdorw sdrawkcab si doog esicrexe rof eht niarb. :-)

Agree!

Time doesn't run backwards in the woods but it does seem to slow way down.

I'm taking a trip to my favorite forest in a couple of weeks - Olympic National where wifey and I will be enjoying the relativity shift. :)

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 3, 2017 at 12:28:30
SgreenP@MSN.com
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you should hear a really good s/s amp

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 3, 2017 at 13:06:48
fantja
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Pass Labs is the best solid-state currently.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 3, 2017 at 14:12:35
SgreenP@MSN.com
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Pass Labs is very good.....I'm an Ayre man myself

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 3, 2017 at 15:13:16
fantja
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Ayre gear is very good, only problem, Charlie Hansen (a flake most of the time).

 

rephrase: I'm beginning to understand what (I WANT IN) a good solid state amp, posted on March 3, 2017 at 16:50:33
3+4=5
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I think your header is misleading. It would read better, and fit more with what you are saying if the header was: "I'm beginning to understand what (I WANT IN) a good solid state amp"
Since clearly you have a specific 'sound' you like and want to get as close to as possible.
Nothing wrong with that.
(and it has been amazing no one made a big stink about it all. LOL)

Like I know what I want above all else.. I want clarity and treble perfection, with all else secondary.
Even though I want the rest to be near perfect.. The treble perfection is my number one thing.
Knowing oneself and what one wants is the first step to finding the right system.

 

RE: St70 !?, posted on March 4, 2017 at 08:31:39
petercapo
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bare, I don't know exactly what experiences lead you to your conclusions, but have you seen this recent landmark study of the original Dynaco Stereo 70? It's really worth reading for its objectivity alone: Gillespie Study of original Stereo 70

As far as the "variants," or "modded" versions of the Stereo 70, they have had a pretty well established following, and people seem to like them a lot. I personally have not heard them, but the evidence suggests they sound good and represent a good value, like the original Dynacos did.

As far as the original Dynaco Stereo 70, I built a new Stereo 70 to the original circuit and added some of the same kinds of performance enhancements that the modded versions use. For example: individual bias adjust, increased power supply (B+ and filament) capacitance using low ESR electrolytics with polypropylene bypasses, a zero recovery diode for the bias supply, stainless steel chassis, larger power transformer, closely matched resistors and polypropylene coupling capacitors all of which I think bring out the potential of the original Dynaco circuit. While not a "world beater," I find the results to be remarkably good, even excellent.

I have a Cary SLI-80 Signature, a Parasound Halo A21 and a McIntosh MC275 MkIV, and I think my Stereo 70 does a very good job of keeping up with their sound quality, while taking into account that they are different kinds of amps. Given a fair chance on a level playing field, the original Dynaco circuit can sonically achieve what I think of as "the high end vibe."

Regards,
Peter

 

(I WANT IN) a good solid state amp - almost true, posted on March 4, 2017 at 09:22:17
airtime
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In the end we all have "our" idea of a perfect stereo. I think I'm a little peculiar in that I like a slightly different sound between my stereos. This is why I have and use tube amps, Solid state amps, vintage amps and new amps. I like to change it up occasionally. So I'm not really "fixed" into one type of sound.

However! I do expect good detail, clarity, balance, imaging, etc... from any stereo I eventually keep. Regardless of it's heritage. It's only criteria is I have to listen to it and "hear a great stereo" and be moved by it.

I've had some of the "hot ones" with "hot numbers" and true be told I didn't care for a number of them. Many of them came and went. What I am finding in my later years is money doesn't necessarily equal good audio. Matching and synergy does. And also at some point money isn't actually going into the sound just the hype.

 

Thanks guys , posted on March 4, 2017 at 18:01:26
airtime
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Thank you for sticking up for the guy with the humble ST-70. Maybe if we can just add another zero in the price tag we can make people believe this is a good stereo.

 

Silverline Sonata, posted on March 7, 2017 at 03:02:50
Inmate51
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What I'm wondering is:

Where is he getting the Dynaudio drivers?

:)

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 10, 2017 at 18:55:13
mitch2
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There are probably many very good solid state amplifiers, especially when you don't limit yourself to the name brands everyone knows about. A lot of it still depends on the flavor you personally like but considering clarity, frequency extension, dimensionality and tone, I can personally support Clayton's class A efforts, upgraded McCormacks, Lamm hybrids-M1.2 or M2.2, and to some extent the Ncore NC1200 stuff. Karan, Boulder, Solution, Jones, and others are said to sound very good as well.

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 11, 2017 at 11:16:54
A.Wayne
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Thats a Thunderous Leap ... :)

 

RE: I'm beginning to understand what a good solid state amp sounds like, posted on March 14, 2017 at 12:22:28
Balle Clorin
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Peak power 15Watt class A



Distortion vs Power



Inside



I moved from tubes to this class A transitor amp. Very happy


 

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