Depending on your musical taste, (even cheap) valve-amps give you qualities an (even expensive, whatever class) ss-amp can only dream of! Only the bass is a different story. Even cheap ss-amps give you stronger bass than expensive valve-amps. So, if your main interest is loud and/or rythmic popmusic, look elsewhere. Otherwise, depending on the importance of your energy-bill, a valve-amp will be the best choice imo.
I many ways you are right Rethep, however, wearing my Foundation Audio hat . . . I worked for almost 10 years with all sorts of speakers and with various manufacturers, specialising in stand mounted designs.
Cheap valve amps can be a bit thick at the bottom end, however, support the speaker right and you will be surprised just how capable both speaker and amp are. Move on to 'proper' valve designs which dont have to cost a kings ransom, taking the same speaker/stand technology and there is as much capability as SS . . . The problem here is perceived volume??? Does one want loud, distorted and clipped, or, is it musical power one prefers? Just to put a spanner in the works, the hybrid 'valve/mosfet' rout offers the best of both worlds . . .
Foundation designs and fillings were unique, copied but never equalled . . . as far as I can see even now, modern stands/filling generally fall short? By cleaning up the base, allowing the base driver to dig deep, opening a clear window in to the mid and high frequencies, putting reality in to the soundstage in the process, all done with valve amps.
Sadly a by-gone era . . . a personal and biosed view some would say . . . I have re created it and listen to the musicality of a modest hybrid valve system today?
PS WRT Adele the recording of "21" is to my mind (ears) very harsh and metallic (I suspect it has been compressed to make it sound good on cheap equipment) and I would never judge a hifi on the basis of how it sounded. In some ways it sounds better on my car's CD player than on my hifi!
What other female voices does it struggle with?
TBH, it doesn't struggle with any voices. Even poor quality recordings vocals sound beautifully clear, but certain albums like Adele 18, Dido, Joss Stone's 'Mind, Body & Soul' lacks a bit of depth or realism. On the flipside Kate Bush sounds wonderful and believable, likewise Nora Jones and Sheryl Crow.
The answer is certainly speaker related. I have a very good idea which ones I'd finally audition, not straight away.
Amp: Leema Pulse; Source: Naim CD5i-2, Denon 260MKII, Pro-ject XP I; Speakers: PMC TB2i
Formerly known as plastic penguin
Many people say that class A amps sound warmer than other type of amps but this has not been my experience , it might just be a psychological effect because class A amps are warm or hot to the touch
Also I think people mistake the effects of class B crossover distortion as brightness or a cold sound so when they hear a class A or high bias class AB amplifier and it sounds smooth and detailed without any harsh grainy distortion the sound appears warmer or more ear friendly for want of a better description .
Changing speakers for others with a rolled off top or recessed mid can lessen some of the bad effects of class B crossover distortion but never eliminate it and only leads to frustration and disappointment in the long term IMO .
The only way to get that class A crossover distortion free sound is with a well designed class A or high bias class AB amplifier , this is why people like myself and CNO are constantly recommending these types of amplifier .
....again, I agree!
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
So if valve amps aren't warmer than SS why choose them? What makes them stand out from the SS crowd?
Warm, what is warm??? thick, woolly, warm and detailed??? No PP valves are musical with potential control and authority that just does not come over on a lots of SS. Some valves are warm(er) but then one could say SS is cold and analytical . . . descriptions that are personal, any more than trying to describe an acoustic in an auditorium, there are all sorts?
I like the 'Croft' hybrid amps, they have a valve pre side doing all the good things that valves do to delicate input signals, then a meaty Mosfet power side, giving controlled welly!!! if you want welly that is. I partner my Croft with PMC speakers, some dont like that?
Foundation designs and fillings were unique, copied but never equalled . . . as far as I can see even now, modern stands/filling generally fall short? Foundation cleaned up the base harmonics, allowing the base driver to dig deep, opening a clear window in to the mid and high frequencies, putting reality in to the soundstage in the process, all done with valve amps.
Okay, not heard a valve amp for aover 20 years. You say good valve amps are 'musical' and the 'potential' for control.
My view has always been that any amp worth its sort will be musical, regardless of whether they are valve, SS or steam powered.
I've always had SS amps, not because of any perceived advantages but more accessible, certainly to a teenager.
I've got 2 SS amps, one is pure class A amp and the other is a class AB amp. Adele's voice sounds OK on both amps...husky without making you cringe (a good test album IMO).
I agree with electro's description, but I don't think class AB crossover distortion is all that significant until other aspects of your system are really well sorted.
....because (imo), a good valve amp often preserves the emotion of the music, by having a mid-range that is more natural than the greater majority of SS amps (especially the non Class A ones).
The difference that you are hearing in the music, between albums, is going to be down to the recording/mastering. They are the only variables. Changing equipment will affect the sound across the board, but recording weaknesses/differences, will still be evident regardless of equipment used.
A speaker change will have the greatest effect on overall sound, but I wouldn't know where to start with advice on the speakers to select.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
The vocals on mine have emotion and texture, but with the aforementioned artists/albums there just seems to be something missing, not sure what though.
I do. I have a very firm shortlist. It may surprise you but there's no PMC, MA or Focal involved.
....liquid mid-range magic.
I don't have all the same music as you but on mine Adele 18 is good (21 metallic as I said before), DIDO No Angel is excellent both voice and accompliment, Nora Jones very strong. So what speakers are you thinking of?
Totem Model-1 Signature (possibly), ProAc Response D1 or D2, Sonus Faber. That's the starting point, and see how it goes from there.
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