Is there such a thing as a decent (new) affordable valve amp with a decent amount of grunt, say 50W for less than £500 or so ?
No there isn't as far as I know.
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New, Not that I know of. The only new amp I have had thats around that sort of price is the Puresound A10, which is PP EL84 and around 10wpc. Its about £650 new IIRC.
The Icon Audio Stereo 20 is about the same price and around 20wpc and about £600. There is the Ming Da 18wpc SET around £1k which is VERY good IME.
You really have to be using PP EL34 or KT88 for 30wpc+ and you wont get that under £1k new.
What speakers have you got that need the 50w+? With most valve amps its the impedance matching rather than lack of voltage thats the issue when matching with speakers.
Michell Gyrodec SE / RB300 / 2M Blue | Sony DVP-S9000ES
Croft Micro 25 Basic | Decware Zen
Goodmans Axiom 201 / Rega Alya / Keesonic Kolt
speakers are Quad 22L 6ohm and 89db sensitivity.....
This is probably as close as you'll get (if you can figure out their page!) - http://www.affordablevalvecompany.com/products.htm
I've no idea of their current trading status, service etc so can't endorse that - but at some point around seven or eight years back they sent us their £1000 80 Watt amp. Since digging it out last year I now use it in one of our dem rooms and it's probably the best amp I've heard at that price, it has character rather than pure neutrality but everyone who's heard it likes it. They've got links on their page to Mr Everard's review in Gramophone of the £500 40 Watt version. Worth a look maybe.
Brand Manager, Acoustic Energy Ltd.
It looks like they are fine with anything thats comfortable with a 4ohm load, although might need as suggested something with a pretty decent power supply.
S/H would give you a much better choice of amps that are likely to work than new.
Cheap valve amps are more often than not worth avoiding, a cheap valve amp outputting 50wpc I doubt exists and if it did I’d be asking a lot of questions.
Presumably you’ve asked this because you feel your speakers need 50wpc (although consider current output too), you like the valve sound and have a £500 budget?
A couple of suggestions, first have you tried any class A amps? They may get you closer to the sound you are looking for. Another alternative would be to get a valve pre-amp and pair it with a solid state power amp. Something like a Croft 25 Basic will set you back £400, if you don’t mind buying on the used market you could then pair with a SS power amp in the £100-200 region from the likes of Rotel.
I used a Croft 25 (one up from the basic) with a Quad 909 and am very pleased with the results, a lovely tone introduced by the pre with the SS power my 909 offers. The iron fist in a velvet glove.
I used to assume the Fatman amps were novelty items but I have been told they’re not too bad, although I believe the are hybrid designs. I’m not even sure what they cost but they seem to be marketed at a younger audience so I’m assuming not too much, might be worth investigating. No way they’ll be 50wpc though.
Thanks for all the replies guys all good points and time to consider options (the main one being if I can sell my house and raise funds!!)
I have looked at the Affordable Valve Co website and its a nightmare, I think I could do a better job!!
So the pre-amp gives the warm valve sound and the power amp just makes it louder so a valve pre-amp would be more imp than a valve power amp??
PS a quick word for AEjim I had a pair of AE209 years ago which, when I went all AV, sold to a friend, along with an MF X1 amp, and they are still going strong he loves the sound :)
Get a used Jolida amp, using EL 84 outputs ( look to pay around £250) Fantasic looking and great build quality amp.
Great mid range and plenty of drive.
‘So the pre-amp gives the warm valve sound and the power amp just makes it louder so a valve pre-amp would be more imp than a valve power amp??’
It just depends really, some people go SS pre amp in to tube power amp and enjoy the results, the route I’ve gone seems to be more popular though. For me my way makes more sense, I think pre-amps have more influence on the sound than power amps, a poor one can really hold back a system but a good one (in this case with tubes) can inject a tone (colouration if you will) which won’t be for everyone but I find pleasing, it adds a sense of drive and realisms that my power amp didn’t have without it. So for me I have a pre-amp I love the sound of with a SS state amp which is fairly neutral but plenty powerful to drive most speakers.
Good to hear about the 209's Tommo! A few in our old R&D team rated them as one of our best speakers but I think the mags found them a little too analytical sounding, meaning they never quite got the rave reviews some other models did.
The one thing I liked about the Affordable Valve Company route is the 30 day trial thing, I guess we're about 1500 days or so into ours but we couldn't get hold of our original contact when we tried to talk to them last year! I'm not even sure why one was sent to us in the first place but I guess it was with the intention we might rebrand it etc. The sample we have has been 100% reliable and while the styling isn't anything special it does sound very good indeed.
I came across this the other day that may be of interest :
It doesn't seem to be available anywhere in the UK and I'm unable to find any reviews in English and don't know how easy it is to purchase via Amazon in Germany.
Briefly the spec is 40 watts per channel (not sure if this is RMS) and cost 349 Euros (about £300) and has 5 five star reviews on Amazons German site.
Unfortunately without any UK suppliers it's not possible to hear how it sounds before purchase. Maybe somebody else knows a bit more about it.
Magnat also make other valve amps and also speakers too.
The Magnat amp is a hybrid, it has a valve preamp stage. There were a couple of valve amps at Manchester a couple years ago: http://www.whathifi.com/news/manchester-show-2011-mistral-valve-amplifiers-shine , i've heard the little hybrid, a mat eof mine had a loan of it when his Fatman needed mending.
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