Amplifier pairing for Altec Flamencos


I am considering adding a new amplifier to try out in my current system and could use some advice on choices to consider that would be an upgrade and complimentary to  my setup.  I have a pair of Altec Flamencos modified with the Werner Jagusch crossovers and play them with my Don Sachs preamp and a Tubes 4 HiFi  ST 120 push pull tube amp. Listening source is Bluesound node 2i with Schiit Modi Multibit Dac.   I have also been utilizing an SVS SB 1000 with them. I am not positive that my current amp is affording the old Altecs the level of dynamics and resolution that they are capable of achieving. My normal avg listening level is 75db with peaks hitting low 90s db.  Though, on occasion, I will go to 11.   What amp will resolve this question? My budget for the amp new or used is up to $3500.  

jplunkettj

@antigrunge2 is right, in my opinion.  I'm guessing them to be very efficient speakers.  I couldn't find an efficiency rating on line for them.  I have the VOTT's and drive with a SET at 6 watts/channel from Decware.  The sound/music flows out of the speakers without any effort, all frequencies.  We are all in search of our "perfect system" and this has me where I have always wanted to be.  That said, Decware can also very hard to get hands on.  Hardly ever on the secondary market and over a 1 year wait for new.  A nice SET with 300b's should really make them sing.  I tried a Dynaco ST-70 a Audio Research VS55 and a McIntosh MC7270.  While all brought their own sound to the stage, the Decware was hands down the best match.  Good luck.

Aric at Aric Audio builds tube based amplification that make those Altecs sing like never before. Check out his website and give him a call to see what he might recommend...he is a great guy to speak and work with!

 

I have also been utilizing an SVS SB 1000 with them. I am not positive that my current amp is affording the old Altecs the level of dynamics and resolution that they are capable of achieving.

@jplunkettj FWIW, the dynamics should come from the signal source, not the amplifier. Resolution is a different matter; that comes from low distortion. You're not going to get that from an SET; while they can be quite musical, they lack the resolution that you can get from a good push-pull amplifier (note the use of the word 'good').

Your Altecs are about 97dB; unless you are in a small room you'll find that 6 Watts isn't enough. My speakers are the same efficiency and my room is on the small side. I like to have at least 50 Watts available. You don't want to push any amplifier hard as the result is more distortion (and harsher sound due to increased higher ordered harmonics generated). If the amplifier is loafing (and you're using tubes) the tubes will last longer and the result will be more musical.

@atmasphere Thanks for your input.  Do you think your new class D mono blocks would be a good fit for the 16 ohm Altecs? Or should I stick with a tube amplifier for this speaker? I think my current tube amp falls within the parameters you outlined, but it is the only tube amp i have ever owned so i have no reference for judging its performance.  

@laaudionut Thanks for the Aric Audio suggestion. I will see what he recommends.

@hoosierinohio  I lost my opportunity a few years back to get a Decware product (owner had second thoughts) and now the waiting list is too long for me to wait. It's good to know your experience with the Decware as a good fit for Altecs. 

@hiend2  Thanks for the Atma-sphere suggestion, but i am not sure I can find any of his products -even used-that are in my budget.

I appreciate everyone's input since I have no experience with tube amps other than the one I have. I am reluctant to get a SET low wattage amp since I do rotate other less efficient speakers  to compare. Currently on rotation are Kef 105 s and Thiels.    

Thanks for your input.  Do you think your new class D mono blocks would be a good fit for the 16 ohm Altecs? Or should I stick with a tube amplifier for this speaker? I think my current tube amp falls within the parameters you outlined, but it is the only tube amp i have ever owned so i have no reference for judging its performance.  

@jplunkettj My speakers are also 16 Ohms and they work fine with the class Ds. A good tube amp will work fine too.

I essentially have the same speaker, which is the Altec 846A. I also use the Werner Jagusch (Mass Mutter on eBay...?) Crossover. The Altec’s with the Werner XO have a very high performance ceiling. I use a Shindo Parallel SET 300B, which is 18 watts. I would like to hear a 40-50 watt PP tube amp, but I can’t say my amp is lacking on power. It may not have the grunt of a KT 88, but there’s always a trade off. There are so many interesting choices that you could consider. I would start with the type of sound you are looking for. I know this may cause a mini uproar, but the type of music you listen to should come in to play. If you’re a newbie jazz guy that has always listened to rock like Steely Dan, The Police, CSN, and singer songwriter stuff, I love the 300B. Perhaps the 211/845 tube should also be considered. I may throw on Zeppellin or Sabbath on every 5th listening session, and for that I would love to have a KT 77, 88, or even an 845 amp in my arsenal. But I still enjoy the harder rock on my Shindo. As for amps suggestions, perhaps the above mentioned OTL is a nice. option. For Push Pull, maybe a used Audio Hungary or Lab 12. A used Shindo Montille may also come in within your budget.

I have experience with Aletec 604E that has similar sensitivity to Altec 846A.

In the mid size rooms that I had 200-300 sq feet, 300B SET has enough power. I used McIntosh MC30 monoblocks (30+ watt), Marantz 8B in triode mode (20 watt), and 300B SET (6-7 watt). I also heard 2a3 Boothed monoblocks with my speakers and they were good enough in terms of power. 

The 30 watt McIntosh MC30 sounded great with my Spendor 2/3 speakers but with super sensitive Altecs it sounded rough and not as natural and refined as a 300B amplifier. 
What is really important is that for a 300B amplifier it has to have a powerful driver tube like 6f6, 6v6 but not popular but weak 6sn7.
The strong power supply with a big and good quality capacitor.
If your room is not huge, I suggest you try Coincident Frankenstein 300b monoblocks or Aric Audio Super 300B SET. Both these amplifiers have powerful driver tubes, interstage transformers and good power supply.

Here are my two cents about Werner Jagusch crossovers.
I used my Altec 604E with the original n1500 corosvers. Then I bought Werner Jagusch crossovers. First impression was very good, but then I realised that the sound is too coloured. I bought a measuring microphone, Minidsp umik-1 and measured speakers. I saw the issues of this crossovers:
1. No frequency correction of the HF compression driver caused significant frequency drop above 4KHz.
2. First order HF compression driver crossover led to not suppressed inverted phase output of derived below crossover frequency that caused significant frequency response dip.
I decided to build a crossover based on n1500 schematics but with modern good quality parts. I got a much flatter frequency response and more importantly a much better sound.

@fjn04  Thanks for recounting your experiences and impressions and most importantly suggestions on amps to look for.

@alexberger Thank you for your very detailed account of your experience and suggestions.  This is invaluable information! I still have the original crossovers mounted on the original backs.  I may have to  reinstall them to see how they compare to the Werner Jagusch. Who did you use/ who would you suggest that I contact to build  upgraded crossovers for Flamencos? Great Plains Audio? 

@alexberger  Thanks for the Jeff Day page.  I am going to search for a new tube amp based on everyone's input and see what i can come up with.  I will try and update the post once the upgrade is made.

Art Dudley really like his Shindo amp with his Flamencos, but I don't know if one can be had for $3500. What $3500 (actually far less) can buy is a Music Reference RM-10 Mk.2, a 35 watt per channel little beauty of a push/pull class A/B (class A up to about 15 watts) tube amp. There's one on USAM right now.

I really like the Flamencos with my Allnic M2500 px25 tube monoblocks but I also enjoyed them through my Ear890 tube amps. Werner Jagusch crossovers improve the overall sound balance and they also enable mixing of 16ohm woofers with 8ohm compression drivers for the horns thanks to their autoformers.

also highly recommend upgrading the compression drivers to the Great Plains 902 -completely ended my endless search for upgrading my speakers as I’m so enthralled with the musicality of my Flamencos with these two key upgrades.

@kuribon Thanks for your input. I sold the speakers back to their former owner who I think regretted ever parting with them. I have rotated in some Heresy IV speakers that fit more comfortably in my space. I don’t think the Heresy’s are by any measure an upgrade in the room. Not sure what my next speaker flavor will be as I continue the journey.