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Cheap valve amp


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Sorry if this is a daft question, but are their any reasonably priced valve amps that are real (ie not a dodgy chinese rip off that just has a valve lighting up) so I could try tubes without having to fork out 1000s?

I'm happy to spend money, but don't know where to start, and not really keen on forking out a shit load of cash without being able to demo.

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A used prima luna integrated ,auto bias ,kt 88 valves ,sound good ,good build quality

With luck you could pick one up for less than a grand......easy to move on as well.

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Radford Revival, Icon Audio or s/h Quad. Leak Stereo-20s are getting a bit pricey and you might need to find some efficient speakers for one, but they are OK, I don't mind them.

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My first Valve Amplifier is an Audio Innovations Series 500. I paid £850 back in 2019.

I've been running Audrey for nearly two years now. 

Responds well to Tube Rolling too. 

Audrey came with 5881 Power Valves. From what I've been told, these Valves are more reliable than the EL34 Valves supplied originally. 

I've got an all Mullard Signal Valve set now. We'll worth it. 

I don't see myself going back to Solid State Amplification any time soon... 👍 👍 👍 😎 😎 😎 

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Preamp, power amp or integrated?

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Look for the Doge Audio integrated, the Doge 10 Mk 3. It’s been getting some good reviews. Costs like around £1.2k.

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I have yet to find a valve amp (having tried another 4) that rivals my 1960s Harmon Kardon A500. I would suggest a good amount of research on vintage gear which is well looked after.

I personally am happy with a Class A solid state sound even now, although it's not as loud as my A500 it's musical in a nice neutral way. I got a cheap chinese 1969 Hood clone class A amp for my second system.

edit: I did buy a Class A valve amp that was around 7 watts per channel single ended class A. That sounded AS good as my HK A500 but didn't have the volume for me.

Edited by Plesuvius
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From reading the specs of your speakers, you need at least 25w per channel. Valve amps tend to cost more per watt of power so powerful ones aren't cheap.

I've been using 2 pairs of EAR 509ii 100w valve monoblocs in my system (using an active x-over, one pair drives Quad ESL63's, the other pair drives matching Gradient Woofers) but I will be putting one pair up for sale once they've been returned from a service by EAR, as I've decided it's overkill to use them simply for bass. I don't know if the 509ii's would be in your budget, though. 

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Here's a pretty straightforward single ended EL34 amp for £399 located in the UK, or at least sold through the UK. Point to point wiring so could be tweaked at some point. The input 6N2 valves could be replaced by JJ 5751. 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HiFi-EL34-Valve-Tube-Amplifier-Class-A-Single-ended-Stereo-Desktop-Audio-Amp-24W/284150133105?epid=12034398174&hash=item4228aaf171:g:EHUAAOSwaPFf88ra

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3 hours ago, rabski said:

Preamp, power amp or integrated?

Integrated, mainly because its an experiment so dont want to start forking out for a new multi box solution if its not something I'm going to stick with.

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2 hours ago, Plesuvius said:

I have yet to find a valve amp (having tried another 4) that rivals my 1960s Harmon Kardon A500. I would suggest a good amount of research on vintage gear which is well looked after.

I personally am happy with a Class A solid state sound even now, although it's not as loud as my A500 it's musical in a nice neutral way. I got a cheap chinese 1969 Hood clone class A amp for my second system.

edit: I did buy a Class A valve amp that was around 7 watts per channel single ended class A. That sounded AS good as my HK A500 but didn't have the volume for me.

I have a sugden IA4 so happy with SS class A as well, but its lockdown and Im bored 🤣

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Get a Yaqin-preferably a 240v version but not too important as can be used with a bucking transformer. Around £300 secondhand and with a few hundred of mods sound stupidly good. Well built and reliable, apart from the voltage issue and sometimes the Chinese power valves

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I have a Yaqin phono amp, and changed internal resistors instead of using a bucking transformer, but I have used them on Ming Da amps, and a cheap nameless Chinese valve amp.  The bucking transformer normally only needs a power rating of around 10% of the main transformer, but that depends on how much voltage you want to buck.

Edited by awkwardbydesign
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