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Tube Preamp for Benchmark AHB2 or Class D/SS Poweramp?

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Chris-E

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Right -- @fpitas and I suggested, flippantly, but I'll opine only partially so, that the AHB2 power amp is a superb performer and merits a superb front end.
If one wants tube sound -- the AHB2 should probably get out of the way.
I don't intend to speak for @fpitas, though, despite the fact that I sometimes wonder if we were separated at birth or something*. ;)

You could (in seriousness) try a "passive preamp" -- in other words, a high quality attenuator** and a source selector (if needed) -- if your "use case" doesn't require additional drive for the power amplifier's line-level input.

In full disclosure, I do sometimes use the above-pictured SE 2A3 amplifier with a passive "front end", also with good results, but the additional drive capability of the Yamaha adds some oompf to the proceedings and has become my de facto standard in the past few years.



____________
* He, however, was seemingly raised by a solid-state tribe, while the tribe that reared me subsisted on tubers. ;)
** I like transformer or autoformer volume controls, but there are very fine ladder-type resistance attenuators, as well.
Amazing! Thanks for that! I'll start building a reading list to dig deeper into all this once the thread cools down a bit...
 
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Chris-E

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umm, yeah, no. actually to both comments ;) -- but the "Muzishare X7" is junk. Sorry. :(
Oh? How about the power amps from those guys? They seem to be well respected too? http://www.tubes4hifi.com/home.html
Alternatively feel free to throw me a couple of brands and models of power amps I can look into... Much appreciated! <3
 

Blumlein 88

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Take a low powered tube power amp. Load the output with a power resistor. Tap it to attenuate the gain close to unity with some metal film resistors. Feed that over an interconnect to the Benchmark amp. You get tube amp sound, and Benchmark power for your speakers. I've done this and it works just fine.
 
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Chris-E

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All good. You made it clear that you don’t want accurate reproduction for your experiments. Enjoy.

Will be fun to play with a DAW. At least I enjoy it too occasionally.
No offence taken, and no intention to get rid of the accurate chain either.
Just looking to play. Not in a competitive sports way. Rather in a fooling around way...
 
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Chris-E

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I don't mean to criticize any of the posters in this thread, but man, what a peculiar discussion.
How so, if I may ask? Always curious to learn about other perspectives....
 

Anton D

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If you like, maybe a tube buffer as a toy to see what you think...

You can put these in a tape loop or between a source and preamp or between preamp to amp.

This is a toy, not the life and death audio struggle some people are compelled to comment on.



Musical Fidelity X10D on Google.

Have some fun, tube roll, see what you think.

(Sorry if this duplicated anything between your OP and this reply, I figured I'd skip all the usual admonishing and critiques.)
 
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Chris-E

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Schitt Freya Noval (or Freya Plus) does exactly that. I have done this with my JBL 708P and Meyer Sound Amie and I think it's great. The passive attenuator is as good as the APx555 and at least when used for attenuation rather than amplification, the level of distortion in tube mode is not so high to be bad, but high enough to offer some effect to the music. I know someone that uses a Vinnie Rossi 300B pre-amp with their ATC active speaker setup!

If you're based in the US, I'm probably going to sell my Freya Noval if you're interested. Currently I use a Yamaha AVP instead of the Freya Noval since it has one-box simplicity. Just PM me. Just saw that you're in the UK.

The Noval is the same as the Freya+, right? The F+ is definitely on my shortlist...
 

MaxBuck

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How so, if I may ask? Always curious to learn about other perspectives....
The whole concept of high fidelity is to be faithful to the source material. The Benchmark equipment is engineered for the highest possible fidelity. Fooling around with ways to distort sound in ways one finds pleasing might be fun for some people, and I don't berate those who engage in it, but incorporating Benchmark gear in the effort is just ... odd.
 

Daverz

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Adding tubes in the chain would be the least controlled and probably least effective way to deal with an "unforgivingly revealing" system. To me that doesn't describe a frequency response that is neutral in room. So I'm going to repeat the usual ASR mantra: get yourself a Umik-1 and get a handle on what is going on at the listening position. You already have some tools for EQ in your DAC (and in Moode?)
 
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Chris-E

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If you like, maybe a tube buffer as a toy to see what you think...

You can put these in a tape loop or between a source and preamp or between preamp to amp.

This is a toy, not the life and death audio struggle some people are compelled to comment on.



Musical Fidelity X10D on Google.

Have some fun, tube roll, see what you think.

(Sorry if this duplicated anything between your OP and this reply, I figured I skip all the admonishing and critiques.)
Thanks for the helpful suggestions!
And for not perceiving me as a sadist who takes pleasure in feeding his precious AHB2 with... DISTORTION!

Humour doesn't always travel well online. So if in doubt whether to chuckle or frown: All easy. No fighting, No Fighting! Shakira, Shakira!
 

mhardy6647

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Oh? How about the power amps from those guys? They seem to be well respected too? http://www.tubes4hifi.com/home.html
Alternatively feel free to throw me a couple of brands and models of power amps I can look into... Much appreciated! <3
I spent some time with their 6SN7 preamp. I thought it was pretty dandy, actually.
No experience with their power amps.
There are currently several opportunities to purchase clones (true clones) and updated variants of the venerable Dynaco power amps of yore. They're worthy of consideration. There's also a cottage industry of improvements to the original designs' rougher edges. Not sure I have a specific recommendation.

The problem is that I like to ask the loudspeakers to do most of the work, not the amplifiers. That approach has been unfashionable since at least the late 1950s. ;)

Perhaps it's worth invoking the name of @SIY in the context of a request for recommendations.
I am not sure that he can be summoned like Beetlejuice -- but it's worth a go! :)
 

GXAlan

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The Noval is the same as the Freya+, right? The F+ is definitely on my shortlist...
Yes, they use different sized tubes (octal vs noval) but are otherwise the same. I think the F+ was more expensive since the octal tubes are generally more expensive.
 
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Chris-E

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The whole concept of high fidelity is to be faithful to the source material. The Benchmark equipment is engineered for the highest possible fidelity. Fooling around with ways to distort sound in ways one finds pleasing might be fun for some people, and I don't berate those who engage in it, but incorporating Benchmark gear in the effort is just ... odd.
Thank you for taking the time to elaborate. I think I understand where you're coming from. I kind of anticipated that this may be a controversial topic. Hence the lengthy contextualisation in my original post. May have underestimated the magnitude of controversy I was foolishly tapping into...
I do appreciate the ideal of being "faithful to the source material ... for the highest possible fidelity". I think I speak to this in my post as well. But I personally don't subscribe to a line of reasoning that considers the maxim of faithful reproduction as the one single acceptable and "right" way how music "ought" to be appreciated. In my understanding this conflates positivist and normative arguments and in consequence leads to an appeal to nature fallacy...
 
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Chris-E

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Adding tubes in the chain would be the least controlled and probably least effective way to deal with an "unforgivingly revealing" system. To me that doesn't describe a frequency response that is neutral in room. So I'm going to repeat the usual ASR mantra: get yourself a Umik-1 and get a handle on what is going on at the listening position. You already have some tools for EQ in your DAC (and in Moode?)
Amazing, thank you! Will do! Acoustic treatment is on top of my to-do list! We don't always have the means to create 'optimal' conditions in a domestic listening setting (unless you have the luxury of a dedicated listening room ofc). But yes, first improvements are always the lowest hanging fruit! On my list!
 
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Chris-E

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I spent some time with their 6SN7 preamp. I thought it was pretty dandy, actually.
No experience with their power amps.
There are currently several opportunities to purchase clones (true clones) and updated variants of the venerable Dynaco power amps of yore. They're worthy of consideration. There's also a cottage industry of improvements to the original designs' rougher edges. Not sure I have a specific recommendation.

The problem is that I like to ask the loudspeakers to do most of the work, not the amplifiers. That approach has been unfashionable since at least the late 1950s. ;)

Perhaps it's worth invoking the name of @SIY in the context of a request for recommendations.
I am not sure that he can be summoned like Beetlejuice -- but it's worth a go! :)
Thank you so much! I really underestimated the resonance (and distortion) this thread would trigger! Much appreciated!
 

mhardy6647

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If you like, maybe a tube buffer as a toy to see what you think...

These links are offered mostly for entertainment purposes only. :cool:

https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/fx-audio-6j1-tube-preamp-a-31-wonder.848535/ (all 234 pages of it :facepalm:)

and
or

I'll note that a well designed buffer stage should have very low distortion and wide bandwidth. The gizmos sold as buffers (and as preamps and/or headphone amps) are often (generally, I'd opine) deliberately meant to be "effects boxes", i.e., distortion generators -- which, IMO, makes them rather worse than toys. :(

I suppose it depends on perspective, and how much $30, or $50, or $100 is worth to one. ;)

1701302102363.png
 

Blumlein 88

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These links are offered mostly for entertainment purposes only. :cool:

https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/fx-audio-6j1-tube-preamp-a-31-wonder.848535/ (all 234 pages of it :facepalm:)

and
or

I'll note that a well designed buffer stage should have very low distortion and wide bandwidth. The gizmos sold as buffers (and as preamps and/or headphone amps) are often (generally, I'd opine) deliberately meant to be "effects boxes", i.e., distortion generators -- which, IMO, makes them rather worse than toys. :(

I suppose it depends on perspective, and how much $30, or $50, or $100 is worth to one. ;)

View attachment 330462
Do these operate at lower voltage in a starved plate configuration? Those don't seem like a good idea to me.
 
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Chris-E

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These links are offered mostly for entertainment purposes only. :cool:

https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/fx-audio-6j1-tube-preamp-a-31-wonder.848535/ (all 234 pages of it :facepalm:)

and
or

I'll note that a well designed buffer stage should have very low distortion and wide bandwidth. The gizmos sold as buffers (and as preamps and/or headphone amps) are often (generally, I'd opine) deliberately meant to be "effects boxes", i.e., distortion generators -- which, IMO, makes them rather worse than toys. :(

I suppose it depends on perspective, and how much $30, or $50, or $100 is worth to one. ;)

View attachment 330462

Well, entertainment purposes is exactly down my alley. This is supposed to be a fun project and nothing to be taken too seriously... A bit like applying pineapple to pizza... ;-)
 

Blumlein 88

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I'm surprised by some responses here. I've said my philosophy is put together the best most transparent system you can and flavor to taste if you wish. I don't see the originator of this thread doing anything else. There is no sacrilege of using a Benchmark and having fun with it by some tasteful coloration. How is that different than listening to old recordings made with the old tube gear and the various deficiencies inherent to them?
 

GXAlan

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The whole concept of high fidelity is to be faithful to the source material. The Benchmark equipment is engineered for the highest possible fidelity. Fooling around with ways to distort sound in ways one finds pleasing might be fun for some people, and I don't berate those who engage in it, but incorporating Benchmark gear in the effort is just ... odd.

Just because you appreciate fine dining doesn't mean that you can't also appreciate In-N-Out burger sometimes. Even if 99% of the time, high-fidelity with something like the Benchmark AHB2 and true faithfulness to the source material is the way to go, if the OP occasionally likes fast food, even though people like to say the DSP works -- it's much easier to plop in something like a Schiit Freya+/Freya N into the chain.

Incorporating Benchmark gear is actually the best way to discover if you like the occasional alteration or distortion because you have a true reference. Or better stated, it helps you identify the scenarios where distortion surprisingly enhances the experience.
 
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