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Pre-Amp Shootout

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70chevelle

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:17 pm

Pre-Amp Shootout

I picked up my TFM-45 and HR732 last night from Tom at Pgh Vintage Hifi, thanks Tom! Excellent, fast work, very reasonable and the amp is quiet and working well, not to mention all the equipment to drool over.

I've been thinking of going to a Tubed preamp and was interested in the Dared (7xxx?) or Rogue Metis or ? After talking to Tom, I'm auditioning a Sunfire Classic Tube Pre Amp with my newly fixed TFM-45, NAD 525bee and Vandersteen 2c's. The other 2 pre-amps in the shootout are my CT6 (which has been in this system for a few years) and an Anthem TLP-1 I bought last year. (Which, incidently, was beat out by the CT6 in my main 2 channel system)

Background - I needed another pre-amp last year to finish the system in my office. My initial gameplan was to put the Anthem TLP-1 in my main system with the 45 and Vandy's and use the CT6 with my M500 in my office. When I got it home, I replaced the CT6 and listened for a few days. The Anthem, just didn't do it for me. The sound stage wasn't as wide or deep, the bass didn't go as deep nor did it draw me in. It was sort of dull. The midrange was as good if not better than the CT6, so I decided to leave the CT6 in the main system and connect the TLP to my M500 and vintage BA60 II's. The nice thing about it was that I could connect a sub to the TLP with the Boston Acoustic speakers. It sounded pretty good, but the bass was pretty bloated and out of control from the sub, but without the sub, the bass was just too thin. While my 45 was out of the system getting repaired, I decided that I was going to give the Anthem another try. Maybe the 45 had some issues that were keeping it from giving me it's best. So I reconnected the CT6 to the M500 (no sub) to listen to while the 45 was being repaired. Wow, what a difference. With the CT6, I didn't need the sub and the bass was clean and hard (my best description?). Again the soundstage was wider and deeper and it sounded pretty good and much better than the TLP. The description of the CT6 was without SH or the Loudness on along with both treble and bass at '0'. (more or less, bypass mode)

I got home with my newly repaired pieces and hooked up the 45 to the Sunfire to start the audition. I listed to a quick song or two and then waited for my wife to go to bed so I could turn off the lights, the projector and surround equipment and just listen. I put in Norah Jones and listed to 2 songs. I immediately noticed the incredible mid's with her voice. She's never sounded better. But.......again, the soundstage wasn't as big (deep or wide) and the bass didn't seem to extend as low as the CT6. I listened to the entire disk, and it's one of my 'test run' disks that I know very well. I had the system on for about 1.5 hours before I was critically listening also.

At lunch time today, I put the CT6 back in. Dead quiet (just like the other 2 pre's) and listened again to some Norah Jones. It was extremely involving and I can hear the notes, but I was very conscious of the bass and bass drums. I'm not sure of the audiophile term, but I can hear the beginning of the string/strike and the end and can feel the bass. Changed some cables and put the Sunfire in. Again, her voice is like liquid, but the rest of the music from the instruments wasn't as involving to me. The bass didn't seem to extend as much. I turned the contour on and dialed up the bass a bit and it seemed to help a little, but didn't seem as natural. I can hear the beginning of the string/strike, but I didn't feel it. I guess that presentation seemed a little reserved. I took out the Sunfire and put in the TLP. The mids in the TLP weren't as nice as the Sunfire, but weren't as grainy (audiophile term?) as the CT6 (marginally). But the bass was so thin? The beginning and the end of the notes weren't as apparant, and the music didn't envelope me. I could place the singer, but the rest of the instruments were tough, aside from left or right.

My initial impressions: I'm not sure if it's the psychology of knowing the CT6 and it's presentation so well, but it seems that it is doing it for me. It's very confusing, since I've read so many excellent posts on the other two preamps. Do you feel that it may be an impedance or other over my head electrical/resistance/matching issue between the 45 and the other 2 pre's? Or maybe the CT6 is 'coloring' more than the others? (ie: the Sunfire is more real?) Any ideas of how to get better bass extension and bigger soundstage out of the Sunfire? I will say that the mid's are incredible and could almost be enough to really consider leaving it in the system. Same question for the TLP.

I'll post more after my session tonite.
Main: TFM-45, Sunfire Tube CCC, Maverick DAC, NAD525Bee, Vandy 2C, Laptop
Office: M-500, CT-6, SDA360, Paradigm Studio 20, HRT MSII, PC
HT: Acurus 200x3, HK AVR247, Paradigm Mini Monitors, CC290, Micros, Velodyne DSL3750
Wght Rm: HR732, Paradigm Micros, Pure20
House: Denon AVR1400, Niles spkr box, SpeakerCraft Ceilings, BA A60II's, BA T930's, PC
Bedroom: Yamaha AVR, Panasonic DVD/CD chgr, Paradigm CC50/Micros, Yam sub.
Headphones: AKG Q701's, Sennheiser HD238's
Patio: Yamaha AVR, KLH In/Out Speakers
Misc: HK 330i
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Toy Maker

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:53 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Do a blind test on yourself... Get someone else to swap cables for you, and A-B-C them blind.
See what you come up with. You'll be surprised what the results, I'm sure.
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SHUT UP AND ENJOY THE MUSIC!
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Snoop65

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:25 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Try some nos tubes. Amperex bugle boys work pretty good.
CARVER LIGHTSTAR REFERENCE+SUNFIRE CLASSIC TUBE PREAMPLIFIER+JBL XPL200+MUSIC HALL MMF-9.1+GRADO REFERENCE MASTER 1+CARVER SD/A 390t=WOW!!!!!!
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BrianT

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

70chevelle

I have a Sunfire Tube Pre with the phone stage, I also have a C-19

Or maybe the CT6 is 'coloring' more than the others? (ie: the Sunfire is more real?)

I beleive that you have hit the nail on the head, the CT-6 is adding more coloring. The Sunfire adds, or takes away nothing.

I was very conscious of the bass and bass drums. I'm not sure of the audiophile term, but I can hear the beginning of the string/strike and the end and can feel the bass.

I get bass that you feel, from your toes to your head. (flat settings)

the soundstage was wider and deeper

I do find that the C-19 has a little better soundstage with CD, but on Vinyl the Sunfire win's hands down.

I also was playing Norah Jones - Not to late

Tubes do make a big diffeance in how the Sunfire works. I have 9 Amperex 6299 )branded Westinghouse) and for me
they do not work, as they cause a ringing effect to every thing, after I isolate the Sunfire better, I will try them again.

Brian
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Chauss

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:57 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

BrianT wrote:
Tubes do make a big diffeance in how the Sunfire works. I have 9 Amperex 6299 )branded Westinghouse) and for me
they do not work, as they cause a ringing effect to every thing, after I isolate the Sunfire better, I will try them again.

Brian


Brian- try some tube dampers (look like fat rubber bands or o-rings) you can find them cheap on flea bay-
Since you have so many of those tubes......it is certainly worth a try!
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Snoop65

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:08 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

I forgot ask are the tubes in your Sunfire old? That would explain a lot. Brian is right tubes can make a huge difference in the Sunfire.
CARVER LIGHTSTAR REFERENCE+SUNFIRE CLASSIC TUBE PREAMPLIFIER+JBL XPL200+MUSIC HALL MMF-9.1+GRADO REFERENCE MASTER 1+CARVER SD/A 390t=WOW!!!!!!
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Snoop65

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:12 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Good call Chauss. I don't have microphonic issues but I do use tube dampers on the phono stage tubes in my Sunfire.
CARVER LIGHTSTAR REFERENCE+SUNFIRE CLASSIC TUBE PREAMPLIFIER+JBL XPL200+MUSIC HALL MMF-9.1+GRADO REFERENCE MASTER 1+CARVER SD/A 390t=WOW!!!!!!
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stereo_buff

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:02 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Snoop65 wrote:I forgot ask are the tubes in your Sunfire old? That would explain a lot. Brian is right tubes can make a huge difference in the Sunfire.

Oh Yeah. The original tubes in the Sunfire, excluding the sonic tendencies when at their best, definitely have a lifespan issue. Get rid of them and try some of the tubes the others here have suggested or try your own. At any rate, don't discount the Sunfire until you do. I LOVE my Sunfire Vacuum Tube Preamp!
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70chevelle

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:59 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions. I'm about finished up for tonite. More Norah, some queen, and now the eagles. Still loving the mids and wanting a little more bass. Not as much as yesterday though. I'm not sure of the tubes or their age, so that may be a consideration along with research. Listening at comfortable levels, the gain knob is between 12-2. Seems like a lot, is this normal? I think I'm finding a bit of a different presentation that isn't taking a long time to get used to or enjoy. The biggest enjoyment are vocals and strings. Very detailed and a lot less grain. Now to research which tubes will extend the bass and open the sound stage a bit. More to come. Any other thoughts welcome

And, Queens another one bites the dust. What a different presentation between the ct6 and sunfire. With the ct6, the "laser" part goes from speaker to speaker (right to left). The ct6 got a little overwhelmed/confused with some parts. With the sunfire it was more subdued and didn't present as going right to left. The vocals were awesome and I felt the bass. And it never got overwhelmed with the music.
Main: TFM-45, Sunfire Tube CCC, Maverick DAC, NAD525Bee, Vandy 2C, Laptop
Office: M-500, CT-6, SDA360, Paradigm Studio 20, HRT MSII, PC
HT: Acurus 200x3, HK AVR247, Paradigm Mini Monitors, CC290, Micros, Velodyne DSL3750
Wght Rm: HR732, Paradigm Micros, Pure20
House: Denon AVR1400, Niles spkr box, SpeakerCraft Ceilings, BA A60II's, BA T930's, PC
Bedroom: Yamaha AVR, Panasonic DVD/CD chgr, Paradigm CC50/Micros, Yam sub.
Headphones: AKG Q701's, Sennheiser HD238's
Patio: Yamaha AVR, KLH In/Out Speakers
Misc: HK 330i
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Chauss

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:55 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

70Chevelle- if you live anywhere near Tom's Vintage HiFi- take some of your CD's or LP's you have been listening to into his shop and listen to them on the Cherry 305's setup he has and then you will know what is true uncolored sound vs what you are hearing as differences between the 2 pre amps. WARNING! You may WANT those amps too!!! :D
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Good sound—like good music, good wine and good fellowship—is meant to be shared.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits" Albert Einstein
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70chevelle

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Post Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:37 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Chauss - heard'em =D>. Not sure what the enormous speakers were, but it all sounded fantastic. I also got to hear a new set of polks playing thru one of the CF amps. I couldn't listen to either system too long, or I'd hate mine. :-$. Not a bad idea.
Main: TFM-45, Sunfire Tube CCC, Maverick DAC, NAD525Bee, Vandy 2C, Laptop
Office: M-500, CT-6, SDA360, Paradigm Studio 20, HRT MSII, PC
HT: Acurus 200x3, HK AVR247, Paradigm Mini Monitors, CC290, Micros, Velodyne DSL3750
Wght Rm: HR732, Paradigm Micros, Pure20
House: Denon AVR1400, Niles spkr box, SpeakerCraft Ceilings, BA A60II's, BA T930's, PC
Bedroom: Yamaha AVR, Panasonic DVD/CD chgr, Paradigm CC50/Micros, Yam sub.
Headphones: AKG Q701's, Sennheiser HD238's
Patio: Yamaha AVR, KLH In/Out Speakers
Misc: HK 330i
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skip

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Post Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:52 am

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

Definantly try some new tubes in the Sunfire. If they are the stock 6DJ8's, a better tube is the 6922 and even better are the 7018CC gold pins. I'm using the 7018's in my C-19 and the difference was very noticable.
Sasquatch
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Chauss

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Post Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:16 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

70Chevelle- here is another thread on tube rolling with the Sunfire tube pre-

Subject: Tube rolling in Sunfire preamps.

Have fun!

Cheers!~
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Good sound—like good music, good wine and good fellowship—is meant to be shared.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits" Albert Einstein
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beemers417

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Post Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:52 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

I run Telefunkens in mine.
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Chauss

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Post Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:37 pm

Re: Pre-Amp Shootout

beemers417 wrote:I run Telefunkens in mine.


That's because you cheated! You KNOW what good sound is!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Good sound—like good music, good wine and good fellowship—is meant to be shared.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits" Albert Einstein
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