Main: SqueezeBox Classic>AVI ADM40
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I agree with Cnoevil. A good valve amp will do things in the midrange that solid state amps can't. This is based on the valve amps that I've compared against the solid state amps. A good valve amp will have a naturalness to the midrange that makes solid state sound synthetic. A bit robotic. This is most apparent on vocals and acoustic instruments such as violins. In the midrange a good valve amp is better at creating the illusion that there is nothing there between the source and the speakers. That it is acting as a "wire with gain." Good solid state amps have bass grip that valve amps can't match.
The original poster mentioned that his small room is well furnished with a lot of books. I like well furnished rooms for listening to hi-fi as they reduce bass echoes leading to a cleaner bass. The downside of this is that lean speakers that rely on room reinforcement to achieve a neutral tonal balance can sound too lean in such a room.
Live violins are stringent sounding instruments. But there's a difference between stringent and shrill.
I'm looking forward to hearing something from Icon Audio at the Audio World show at Manchester Airport in March. I've often wondered what their gear is like as it is comparatively affordable for valve amplification.
I think excellent results are possible with SS gear but the best system I've heard with classical music had valve amplification at its heart.
After reading some of the comments in this thread I made a point of listening to some chamber music last night. I played the Schidlof Quartet's recording of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet on Linn Records, Itzhak Perlman's Decca recording of the Franck Violin Sonata and the Takacs Quartet's recording of Bartok Quartet No.3. I also played Heifetz's recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto to test the limits of the system with an older recording of solo violin plus orchestra. On none of these recordings did I have problems with bright upper strings. Everything sounded realistic and 3 dimensional with a lovely sense of the tonal qualities of the instruments.
Sources: Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Roksan Kandy K2 CDS Phono Stage Cambridge Audio 540P
Amplification: Exposure 1010
Speakers: Dynaudio DM2/6
Listening to MUSIC!
You have nicely sidestepped my question.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
After reading some of the comments in this thread I made a point of listening to some chamber music last night. I played the Schidlof Quartet's recording of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet on Linn Records, Itzhak Perlman's Decca recording of the Franck Violin Sonata and the Takacs Quartet's recording of Bartok Quartet No.3. I also played Heifetz's recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto. On none of these recordings did I have problems with bright upper strings. Everything sounded realistic and 3 dimensional with a lovely sense of the tonal qualities of the instruments.
I suspect you are well on your way to becoming absurd, whereas myself and Lindsay are already there.
FWIW. I am not saying all recordings on all SS amps sound shrill; what I'm saying is that it plays to the strength of valves.
I look forward to your thoughts from the show.....for your taste in music, I would certainly have a valve amp on my radar, which I believe would bring a new dimension of emotion to the music (just ask CJ).
Hi matthewpiano -
I'm on a learning curve here and know little about hi-fi separates or about the jargon used to describe their various qualities. I'm just looking for an amp at a price I can afford (around £350) which will do justice to the kind of music I like to listen to, and which will combine happily with my Marantz CD player and Dynaudio speakers; I assume the Arcam 85 will do that reasonably well, or you would not have suggested it. If I narrow it down to two or three, I can then think about auditioning, and where to buy something that's no longer made.
I began to think, with something like dismay, that I was asking the impossible. But now I'm also finding out about valve amps, which I'd not really considered as I thought they'd be out of my price range, though it appears that Chinese-made ones are affordable.
I'm not really interested in listening to a load of valve amps because my understanding (limited, I admit) of the engineering side of things strongly suggests they would be, at best, no different from SS and, at worst more distorted, perhaps much more.
I.e. I don't see the point really.
Absolutely. Some classical recordings ain't that hot but in general, pop music is far more variable such as being too bright or suffering from severe amplitude distortion caused by too much compression. I do question the desire for wanting a "warm" sound as being anything other than wanting colouration though.
I think people forget that there is no "right and wrong" in hifi, as they are convinced that they are right, and everyone who takes a different view, is wrong.......I am talking very generally here.
I come from an era when the goal of a HiFi system was to get as close to the original sound as possible. It now appears that anything goes. We now collectively advise people by asking them what sort of music they listen to. I personally find this question absurd. I listen to all sorts of music rather than exclusively rock, pop, classical or jazz. I suspect I'm not alone in my broad tastes, in fact, I'd suggest most people listen to more than a single genre with opposing challenges to many speakers & some amps.
I don't have a problem with valve amps (anymore than I do with active systems apart from people turning their ownership into a religion) but one thing I'm no longer interested in ia any system that concentrates on a single "cause" such as breath-taking midrange, awesome bass or sweet treble. it's question of balance.
I used to work with a guy who listened exclusively to reggae. He complained that most HiFi systems couldn't handle the bass when the wick was turned up. I suggested he went with a PA system.
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."
James Branch Cabell
MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen
ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.
My point would then be, that if you have not heard the difference in the way that these two amp designs handle violins, you cannot say with any certainty, whether I'm being absurd (maybe I am?).
If hifi and the interpretation of music could be distilled down to "one sound fits all". how simple and boring it would be. Absurd as it may be, people like different presentations, and different brands sound different.....which one is right.....all?......none?
The reality that exists, is that it is vital to find out what a person likes before making a recommendation, otherwise he will be back on complaining that the sound is too bright / dull / smooth / boomy. There isn't a week that goes by that there isn't complaints of this nature.
There is no point in recommending Cyrus to a person who would prefer Valves and vica versa. I think your "science brain" wants to rationalize this in a logical way....but this has to be viewed with the much harder to fathom "art brain", which is about personal taste and not necessarily cold logic.
I don't think you can ever role out one's own taste as a blueprint for everyone else......frustrating as this may be.
I knew you were going to say that but I don't think it's valid.
For me it's a question of probabilities. Is it more likely that engineering and science is correct or someone (not just you Cno) on the Internet who freely admits he only cares what his ears tell him (when we know from science that these are fallible)?
I have no problem with your approach, but it doesn't mean mine is daft.
For me, probablities are not a good enough reason for not experimenting with what else is available.
We'll have to agree to differ there!
I'm talking very high probabilities.
Another issue is that I don't want to waste time and money "experimenting", I want to get to the best solution in the most efficient manner.
Thanks altruistic.lemon - just the sort of thing I could easily get wrong.
I'll probably opt for an Arcam A85
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