tube amp dilemma with electrostats

I am just getting into tubes as i have a dedicated home theatre system but want to get away from that solidstate sound for 2 channel.I currently use the anthem p5 for the 5.1 sound. I want to use my modified shanling cdt100 cd player directly into the tube amp of choice to power my martin logan ascents.This is where the dilemma begins:a friend borrowed me his dynaco 70 to try out and i fell in love with tube sound but the dynaco is a little under powered [35wpc]i think for the logans .He thought that if he brought over his original mcintosh 275 and we tried it out that we would be in awe.Well we both couldn't believe that the dynaco sounder richer and warmer than the mac.We tried changing the tubes from kt88's to the 6550's and that made it a bit better but still not like the dynaco.the sound from the mac paired up with the logans was bright sounding, too close to solidstate.So i am looking for anyone that has had the experiance of a recommendation of a tube amp with the logans. I do not want to buy a number of tube amps before i find one that is a good match.For starting out i would like to spend up to 1500.00 for a used amp.Please give me some recommendations.
Thanks Les
You might want to check out the Martin Logan site.

I am currently using a ARC VT-100 with my ascents. This combination really is amazing and plenty of power,too.
could be you like the sound of EL34s I know I do, I have 2 nicely restored dynaco st 70s and they are great. You may want to try VTL MB125s very nice amps and they use EL 34s.
Well, Les, what you're hearing in the Stereo 70 is its nonflat frequency response and other euphonic colorations. It's far from accurate but very NICE sounding. The Mac sounds more like a SS amp because it's more accurate and neutral than the S.70. If you really love its soft, rich sound, buy 2 of them for 70 Watts per amp. If the 275 was powerful enough, the 2 70s will be too.
Thanks very much for your responses so far guys.The fellow that has the amps said that the dynaco sounds black on his system compared to the mac.I'm guessing because he is running them through a less superior quality cd player and a set of 1200.00 paradigms, not nearly as revealing as the logans.Jeff now this leads me to my next question? What kind of dollars do i have to spend and do you have any recommendations of what will give me the best of both worlds.Is there such a thing out there or do i have to sacrifice accuracy for warmth and body?
Hmm...I'm not much for 'warm', because that turns into 'thick' VERY quickly for me, but I do prefer a little warmth to absolute tonal neutrality. I suggest a used conrad-johnson Premier Eleven-A. It's rated at 70 Watts per channel into 2, 4, 8, or 16 Ohms. Again, if the Mac 275 had enough power, the Eleven, too, will. Elevens are available for c. $1500 here. I just sold my 2nd or you could buy mine for $1450.

If the Eleven doesn't have quite enough power, you could buy a pair of Twelves ('the same' amp but single channel for 140 Watts into 2, 4, 8, or 16) or merely buy another Eleven and run both in mono. The Twelves show up here occasionally; the Elevens often.

If you have more money than I to spend on this stuff, buy a new Premier 140, which is a current-generation 140WPC stereo amp that EVERYONE loves.

WOW there's one right here-- . If $4700 is a little much, and BOY do I wish I had it, there's also a pair of Twelves here now-- , for a few-hundred$ less. Personally, I'd buy the Twelves because I LOVE monoamps, but if you have no unnatural attraction to single-channel amps, the 140 is the better buy, IMO of course.
I forgot to say earlier that I'm driving a pair of Quad 989s with New Generation-brand 100-Watt tubed monoamps, switched to triode--see my System here. They have maybe 40 Watts in triode, and that's plenty for my fairly large room and my listening preferences.

Good luck in your quest.
Well here's a thought for you. When you listen to an amp you are listening to a lot more than the power tube. An amp with 6550's can sound bright, dull, or quite nice and a lot depends on the driver tubes.

Years ago I got a Sonic Frontiers SFS80 and I didn't care for the sound of it with 5 different brands of 6550's including Svets - I was using Siemans and 6h23EB drivers. Just to much high frequency energy. I found it sounded quite plesant with Svetlana EL34's but I gave up half of its power. Page 2...

I got a pair of SFM Mono's (160wt's) they came with Svet 6550's and some Sovteks - didn't care for the sound, but this time I changed out the 6922's and replaced them with some EI's. Great result from such a minor change. All off the highs are still there but now they are clear as the proverbial bell, no undue emphasis or energy anylonger in the upper mids/highs. Page 3.....

I went back to the SFS 80, put in Svet 6550's and EI 6DJ8 tubes and I now have a great back up to the 160's. The SFS 80 is only a tad warmer.

Moral of the story, if you haven't got it by now - those small tubes make a huge difference. IMHO, as much or more than the power tubes everyone talks about. So experiment with them before you reach any conclusions about what an amp (can) sounds like. It ain't about how big it is, its what you do with it that counts. :-)

FWIW I've driven my Quad 63's with both of these amps. The results of my rolling these tubes is as apparent (and appealing) on these as on my dynamic speakers.

While I normally dislike making amp recommendations for specific speakers I haven't owned, I would say that I've seen both of the SF amps I mentioned selling for 1000 to 1500 respectively on A-Gon. FWIW
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I have driven the Acents with an ARC D-115 and they had all the qualities you are looking for. My guess is that any of the ARC tubed amps would do a great job.
You might contact member douglikesaudio because
he is addressing the same issues with his Martin Logan's.
He's come up with some satisfying options.
Hope that helps,
Just a few technical details on this setup(I'm the guy that owns the Mac & ST-70). First, the amps are stock. The tubes in the Mac are (in sequence)Mullard, Siemans, Amperex, Telefunken, Gold Lion. We did swap out to Philips\ECG 6550's. The St-70 has Westinghouse 7199's,orig dynaco EL34's(Matsushita I beleive)and Mullard GZ34. We also swapped out to a ss rectifier in the ST70, found it got a bit bright as well. Maybe we're looking at compression from the tube rectifier and interpreting this as "warm"??? on the Ascents? I too was quite surprised to hear how bright the Mac and Ascents sounded together.
Thanks very much again for your responses guys. It appears the same kind of recommendations are coming up on amp type.It will be hard for me to demo an amp before buying one so thats why i'm looking for a good place to start but i see that it is probably going to take some buying and selling of amps along with some tube rolling before i get to where i want to be.Iknow i'm getting stupid now but if i'm going to a tube amp , i kind of want to have one that is also appealing to the eye , with the arc the tubes are not exposed are they not.Thanks Boa2 for the info on douglikes audio , i will get in touch with him and see what he has come up with.
Also question for jeffery,why do you not like warm and thick is that not i should be looking for in tube gear.Currently with my ascents being driven by the anthem p5 the sound is incredible but in 2 channel the music is so razor sharp it is almost sterile.
Glad you joined us in the topic Mike as you know all the technical stuff in your equipment that i would not be able to answer.
Hi Les, looks like you and I are on a similar quest. In my case, I've had my SL3 for nearly 5 years, and I'm currently running the most satisfying setup to date. Before I go over the gory details, I think it's fair to say that the recs above of the VT100 and various CJ amps are very wise. The benefit of going with one of those larger amps is that you will probably only need one. My current solution is a bit different.

I am biamping with a SF power 1 running the bass drivers and an Audio Note SET 300B based amp on the panels. The amp only works with the panel since I've inserted the Zero autoformers from Paul Speltz. The Zeros raise the impedence of the panel by two fold and with the SET amp they make some sweet music.

I'm not quite there yet, and I may never get all the way there with this setup. For one thing, I think getting rid of the passive xover and using an active one could help. Also, using a Push Pull amp on the bass and single ended on the panels may be causing an audible temporal issue. In my room -- kinda difficult -- a small timing error in the bass may not be noticable. But, these are things I plan on tackling before ditching this basic setup.

Not sure if this is what you're looking for in terms of simplicity--or lack of it! But one thing is for sure, I have never before had the resolution and texture that I have now. Is it a matter of single ended operation? Triode? A seriously modded/tubed amp? Maybe, but it works! My quest is not over, but at least now I can relax and listen while I consider my next move.

Hope this helps. Write me for more details if you'd like.
Douglikesaudio, were there any negatives experienced when you added the autoformers? I'm especially interested in your insights because you've got electrostats. I've read that they may smooth out some of the detail, resulting in a more euphonic but less revealing sound...your thoughts?
Thanks for your input i am new to the tube addiction and very uninformed about the possibilities out there to bring out the best in the ascents.It appears that the help i have gotten from the recommendations gives me a good place to start.I know that i am going to start off putting one foot into the water but eventually [ like my home theatre system ]i will be buried neck deep.Thanks for all your comments and recomendations.
Calanctus, can't say that I hear a smoothing of detail. In fact, the recovery of detail is now a strong point and the greater inner resolution has made listening something that holds my attention. I had a concern that there would be a loss of detail or that some of the magic of SETs would go away, but that hasn't happened. In my system, the sound isn't euphonic--which I'd guess is related to 2nd harmonics--until it's really pushed. Actually, kind of amazing how loud the panels will play with just 8 watts. The biggest negative I've found with the autoformers set at the appropriate taps is that they are showing the poor integration of the bass with the panel. I know this is only made worse by the use of a PP amp on the bass and SET on the panel.

Les, I am happy for you--finding your way into the tube world! It's as crazy or sane as you want it to be. Your idea of dipping your toe in with a single, good quality amp seems like a great way to start. After you get it, let us know how it sounds! Enjoy.
Hey guys i'm starting to hear talk about the Primaluna Prologue 2 integrated amp. Any of you guys have any experiance with it, supposed to be great with electrostats. Can anyone elaborate ??
I have a PrimaLuna with my Magneplanar 1.6 and it is wonderful. I used to own Matin Logans years ago and I know this: You want to make sure the amp you get has great "air" or the top end is brttle (ymmv)

The Prologue Two is incredible. I am so happy with it, and it is built better than stuff I paid a lot more for.

They have a pre-amp and amps coming out If it is anything like what I got with my PrimaLuna integrated I'm in! Best deal I have ever gotten in this hobby.

Since you like the tube sound, you could abandon the idea of running the player directly into the amps.

Get a nice, full-sounding SS amp (Pass, Clayton, Rowland, Plinius) and mate it with a Conrad-Johnson preamp.

That way you get control of the bass and a more liquid sound.
Jvn is on to something there, Les. That's how I started, and I must admit that approach has alot going for it. For starters, you get the sonic advantages Jvn lists, plus maintenance is lower with a sand amp. Also, you then have a possible upgrade path by adding a tube amp to the tube pre at a later date.

The prologue 2 is similar to my sonic frontiers power 1 in tube complement and power rating. I'd bet that it would mate quite well with your MLs, with only the deep bass control being less good than with a solid state amp. The gains through the rest of the frequencies will be so great that I'd wager you won't mind or miss what you don't get from the bass department. If you do eventually get the itch to improve your bottom end, there's always biamping...

Let us know what you find!
Thanks alot guys for your responses again.I do not want to get rid of my anthem p5 for another amp because my 5.1 is now where i want it to be, the p5 has power to burn and when those explosions or gunshots happen , it is the ultimate.However the idea with the primaluna for starters and possibly biamping later really appeals to me.Kevin from upscale called me today to discuss the possibilites of useing it with my ascents and he feels that it would generate enough power at moderate listening levels and maybe falling short at the upper volume range.the prima being an integrated also solves the possible impedance match problem at the same time.I think that i will start there and see what happens.Thanks
I add my vote for ARC. I drive Acoustats with Ref 300's with NOS tubes, and I'm a happy camper.
I originally drove Martin Logan CLS's with Dynaco Mk3's
which were 60 watt mono amps.That combination was simply magical,until my Dynaco's bit the farm that is.But from
my experience you can get very close to the sound you liked with the ARC Classic 60 Tube Amp,Good Luck
I use to run the Cayin TA-30 with my ML Aerius i speakers. That is really similar to the PrimaLuna. It sounded really smooth, great soundstage and had that tube, warm sound that I fell in love with. The only negitives, was that it could not be driven to loud levels. It sounded great at moderate levels, but when I wanted to push them, it wasn't pretty. Depending on your listening habits, the PrimaLuna might be a very good amp for your ML.

I have since invested in 100 watt mono block tube amps. It has what the Cayin lacked, namely volume. It also has a wider soundstage. I now have the TAD-1000 mono block amps and the TAD-150 tube preamp. The pair ran just about $2,500.

Jeff Aguilar

Just ran upon your post and thought (even if it's late) I'd throw in my two cents.

After going thru many different amps (both ss and tube), I wound up purchasing an Audio Research VT100 MkII. Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Full, rich, big-bodied sound, with a huge soundstage. It's just a wonerfully musical sounding amplifier. Forget all the audiophile mumbo-jumbo about this or that, and go for the music first!!

It'll wind up costing you a bit more than the $1500 that you were looking to spend (I paid $2400 for mine here on A'gon, but it was in premo condition, with relatively new tubes). I usually see them going for around $2100.

First, I tried a VT100 MkI, which I really liked. The MkII version of the VT100 doubled it's power supply (which tightens the sound, and gives it more punch than the MkI), added an IEC connector to allow you to use your own choice of power cable, added a really silent fan for tube cooling and added some rings on the driver tubes to help with tube microphonics.

I also listened to the MkIII version, but I prefer the earlier MKII and MkI versions (the MkIII uses FET's in place of 6922 driver tubes, and as such I felt it lost some of the rich, big bodied sound that I liked so much with the MkI and MkII versions). I'm sure there will be others who would disagree with me regarding the MkIII. This is just what I hear, both in my system and others.

My only reservations on the VT100 MkII is a slight softness with the transients in the bass, and somewhat of a closed-in top-end (which may be a synergistic match with you electrostatic panels). Right now, I am addressing these slight problems with power cords, feet, and interconnects, with great results.

Let me close by saying that even with the above problems, I simply love the sound of this amplifier. If you look-up "musicality" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of the VT100 right next to it. It's truly an amp worthy of your consideration. I really don't think you'd be disappointed.

I hope this helps.

I had much experience with several electrostatic speakers and tube amplifiers. When I had Infinity SS1s, I had modified Dyna Stereo 70s for a while. The ARC 75As and 76s proved superior. With Martin Logans, I used ss amps. With Quad ESLs I originally used old Quad IIs and then Luxman 304s with my double Quads.

All that I can really say is that I doubt if there is straight truth about which tube amp would work with any electrostatic. I love SETs but many cannot handle the low impedance at various points of electrostatics. I think that $1500 will not buy you the amp you seek, but good luck.