I have Revel Salon 2 speakers. Sensitivity is about 85 db. and 4 ohms. They are power hungry speakers. Currently, I am driving them with McIntosh 601's and a McIntosh solid state preamp. I was look looking at a pair of McIntosh MC2301. They are tube amps rated at 300 watts into 2 - 8 ohm loads. I listen to all types of music (sometimes at very high levels). I never run out of power with the 601's, but I am very intrigued with tubes. This may be a misconception, but I remember some friends who played guitar saying, tube watts were louder than solid state? Perhaps this is not really true or not true regarding home stereo. Perhaps the best idea is to keep the 601's and get a good tube preamp?                          Thanks, Dave 
2301 doesn’t seem to double power into more demanding loads.
For 85dB speakers, 300w would max out at 103dB. 600w would give you 106dB at around 10 feet from stereo pair.
I own the Carver Mono Blocks. Listed as 350 Watts per channel.
Each mono block has (6) KT-120 tubes + input tubes.

tube watts can sound louder than ss watts due to the overload distortion characteristics of tubes being more rounded and ear-friendly than transistors' hard clipping which sounds more ragged

either way you really don't want any amp, tube or ss, to regularly go into clipping if you want consistently good SQ
Tube watts are greater than SS watts, and no it has nothing to do with distortion or any of the other excuses SS people in love with measurements like to make. Your problem is nothing to do with the type of amp. You simply have chosen absolutely the wrong speaker for your taste in music- loud. The absolute minimum you should consider is 90dB and if you really do like it loud then I would strongly recommend 95dB or higher. This alone will solve all your problems as going from 85dB to 95dB drops your power requirement by TEN TIMES! You can go from using all 300 watts and wishing you had more to being happy as a clam with a 30 watt tube amp.

Before you spend money, I encourage you to read Roger Sanders white paper on tubes vs. Solid state.  Available on the Sanders sound systems website. Very helpful. 
Do not be so concerned with wattage, a  good hefty 50 lb tube amp will drive mosr mid sized low eff(89db/lower) speakers, 
@ 50 lbs, (push pull, not SET), you'll have good trans to push the Revels.So you will need a tube amp that delivers at least 35+ watts. <<True> 35 watts. Not <hyped> watts.

Look for the 6550/KT88 tube as my prefered musical tube.

recommend 95dB or higher. This alone will solve all your problems as going from 85dB to 95dB drops your power requirement by TEN TIMES! You can go from using all 300 watts and wishing you had more to being happy as a clam with a 30 watt tube amp.

You ideas are pretty much in line with my mine above

Exactly, he will need at least 35 watts to push a  85db speaker. Trans will have to be high performers =< Beefy>

Keep the 95 ravels', and find a 6550/kt88 which delivers 35+ <clean pure true > watts.

I think its good ss fans are finally waking up to the superior musicality of a tube amperage. 
Its suble, but its * The Real Deal*
ss wattage would fatigue my ears in 1 hour of less. 
My tech guy was working on my Defy and lent me his ss Yamaha, not sure which modle,, old unit,,,lol,, wowo, aftera  few seconds , i put it up,, and suffered w/o music a few more days.
<There is not a  ss amp in the world which could meet my musiacl preference /acceptance standards.>
~~could n't resist, I am the #1 basher of ss labs.~~ 

take any 70 watt ss amp vs my Jadis Defy 70 watter,, HA!, shootout at OK Coral,, ss pants shot down  before he even had a chance to make his draw.
Thanks guys. Great stuff to consider. My last speakers were jbl 250ti's. Accurate? no. Powerful? Oh good grief. The Salons have a beautiful tone and good detail. Not best for powerful rock music, although with clean power they never seem to strain. Perhaps not the best choice but still great speakers overall. Down the rabbit hole for me? Probably. I have 2 JL Audio Fathom 112's on the way. Dave
You could probably find someone to buy the Salons off you for more than enough to get a pair of Ulfberhts, or even Moabs with all Be tweeters, either of which would be at least a match for the Salons in tone and detail, and walk all over them when cranked up good and loud. Especially since they will allow you to run a high quality tube integrated that will walk all over your current Mac amps. Together you will have far better sound, able to play even higher volume, and with money left over in your pocket. Heck the money you are talking about spending on more McIntosh would get you into a new Raven Reflection that will cost less, sound better, and look way, way, way better.

Being tube watts it would probably be better than your other choices even if you keep the unsuitably inefficient Revels.

Just sayin.
Hi tobor007

I think the most important decision you need to make is between quality or quantity. 

“Tube watts were louder than solid state watts”, general statements like that scare me and can be misleading. There are too many other factors and variables that also need to be taken into consideration before making a blanket statement like that. 

Like everything else, there are positive and negative aspects for everything in audio that have to be considered. Some of the negative attributes that tubes have is warmup time. From the time you turn on the piece, it will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours or maybe more until that piece sounds it’s best. You also don’t want to leave a tube product on 24/7 like you can with a solid state piece. Then you are going to probably want to change the factory tubes to some vintage nos (new old stock) tubes from the 1950’s or 60’s as these can transform a piece of gear tremendously. The nos tubes that are the really good ones like the Telefunkens, Mullard, Amperex, Siemens, Tungsol ect are very expensive and getting harder and harder to find. As the supply diminishes, the cost will continue to rise. The benefits of tubes, to mention just a few, would be accuracy of timbre and tonal beauty, more air and three dimensionallity around the instruments and better soundstage (sometimes).

Your comment on the amps never running out of power tells me you may want to try a good tube preamp and keep your solid state amps. You may find that this gives you the best of both worlds. That’s what I do and I love it. If you decide to give that a try I would need to know your budget and whether you prefer brand new or used before I could make any recommendations (assuming you would want me to). 

Your speakers are are very power hungry as a friend of mine has a high end stereo store and used to sell that speaker so I’ve heard them many times and I’m very familiar with them. I used to have a Mac C52 solid state preamp which was good (not great) and when I replaced it with a PS Audio BHK Signature preamp, which sold for $1000.00 less and put some nos Telefunkens from the early 60’s in it’s place was so much more musical it wasn’t even funny. The tonality was gorgeous and the accuracy of timbre was much better. For a retail price of $5995.00 it’s a pretty good value compared to the prices of some of this other stuff out there. Those nos tubes made all the difference in the world. Best of luck.

Yes and for much less than $5995 you could have a Raven Osprey with even more tubey magic and being integrated save even more. But for the range the OP is in it would be a shame not to go for the Reflection. Check out willgolf who has owned one and compared with much of the world's finest and see what he has to say.  

Mozart is right, there is no comparison, the choice is which do you value most. If its numbers then SS. If its music then tubes. It really is that simple.
This is just so typical of some posters here on the 'gon.  The OP comes on looking for some reasonable advice about power amp or possibly preamp, and immediately he's told he make a big mistake and needs to get rid of his speakers.  My recommendation is to sift carefully through the information you've been given so far.  You can definitely go the beefy tube power amp route, but a lot of people find happiness with the tube preamp + SS power amp combo.  There are some sweet tube preamps out there, particularly the ones with the 6SN7 tube.  Check out some of the recent threads on the topic.
+2 twoleftears,

Lower sensitivity speakers just have to be matched.
Second HIGH sensitivity can lead to a high floor noise if your not careful, just depends on what your willing to listen to, and put up with.

A valve preamp, with those 601s will surprise you. There are a LOT of great sounding SS amps.  A LOT. There are a lot of great sounding valve amps, too. Dollar for dollar. GREAT amps on either side can cost a few bucks..

A pure class a  SS 30-60 watt amp will match, any 30-60 watt class a valve amp. WATT for WATT. The difference is when we turn it UP, I mean all the way up...

There is a big difference in distortion, I had Pass, Mark Livingston, Summo, and First Watt. They all preformed quite well with any valve amp I put them against. On the other hand, that was not the case when I reversed it. The valve amps, could not do the job when it came to bass performance. The distortion was through the roof...10-30% at the driver.
I've messed with 450-1200 watt of valve power, VTLs Wotons and SigII 450-750, both.  They did a good job. with a 40,000.00 price tag. AND still couldn't outperform a GOOD SS in the bass region, or above 18-19Khz.
Dollar for dollar, no way 1/4 the cost 1/10 the distortion.

Now that's something to consider. From 100 hz to 19-20 khz. I'm a valve Guy all the way, But again in the summer months, just like now. Class Ds all the way...2 months or cool night, out comes the Mac and Carys, again.


Sounds like you like your speakers, are adding subs and like your amp. I'm with a couple of other posters and suggest trying a tube preamp to see if it gets you what you are seeking.  I also agree with twoleftears, a 6SN7 tube preamp , but there are other choices.
I love, love love the information guys. My JL's are on the way and starting today I'm going to start checking out tube preamps. When I get the system together I will post a couple of pics and comment on the sound. Dave
Tube watts are not greater than S.S. watts to say so is simply stupid. If you think you hear more volume with a tube amp it is simply distortion or clipping. 

S.S. and tube amp designs each have a series of advantages. Much of which amp will be appropriate is determined by the specifications of your speaker. Efficiency is only 1 pertinent specification. 

Regarding Roger Sanders and his opinions about anything audio related will be completely skewed by his devotion to ESPs. 

I agree with leftears, some of the posters on this forum give the worst advice and seem to take every opportunity to complicate what should be relatively simple issues. 

My advice is to avoid those posters who tell you to sell a product that you like and then give you a specific manufacturer whose product you should buy. 

I see no disadvantages to gear that uses small signal tubes like DACs, preamps, etc. There are numerous reasons why S.S. amps deserve serious consideration in certain circumstances.
@audition__audio   +1

It is ridiculously stupid to suggest that tube watts are greater than SS watts.  Tube amps sound "better" however to me and it's excatly about the even order harmonics, soft clipping,  and the fact tubes have more linear transfer functions than transistors, so tube amplifiers usually need and use much less negative feedback.

Who makes this stuff up about tube watts being greater than SS watts???  lol  Maybe it's how we define euphonics.
Glass watts versus sand watts?
About as different in weight as a ton of feathers and a ton of iron.
I don’t know how ridiculous or stupid it is. But a WATT is WATT.
I guess the topic would be are all WATTs created equal?

I don’t know, are they? I (ME) think they are...

A Watt is a Watt! I Recon...

Crap, I confused myself, It's not fair. I'm still under the mind control of my buddy Sam.
That dog gone embedded message he keep sending, keeps me coming back for more
crazy talk. Maybe outer space WATTS are different... Just sayin'  :-)

hopefully the op can sort through another typical a-gon thread, lots of pretty good advice, some heavy handedness in how it is delivered, some getting caught up with semantics and missing the point

i suggest op take away the following:

1 - you have definitely chosen pretty inefficient, relatively hard to drive speakers - if you like them and will run with them, you will need to match your amplifier carefully, most likely a beefy solid state unit to deliver alot of power/current to do the job well esp. if you like to play pretty loud

2 - most tube amps will struggle with driving your speakers, in absolute volume and in bass control -- tube amps just can’t match ss equivalents in bass control and slam, you need to go to megabuck tube amps to get very good bass with your speakers

3 - tube pre feeding ss power amp likely the best solution if you want some tube dimensionality and sweetness to the sound, that is IF you value that

4 - tube watts vs ss watts and the semantics associated with that line of discussion is pretty much irrelevant
@ tobor007, Keep the revel's, buy the mc-2301 amps.  You will love the sound..
That’s a pretty good synopsis of the advice received. Can’t help noticing the heavy emphasis the OP places on high SPL with no mention of SQ though. Why consider tubes in the first place? Presumably which watts are louder and hitting high SPLs is not the only concern, so info on what is desired is incomplete.

The heavy handed advice does hit on the conflict in terms of the concern expressed in the post and the speaker OP owns, though it's easy to see how this might be overlooked due to the rather obnoxious style in which said advice is habitually delivered.
No way antigrunge.
SETs will be crippled trying to run these Revels.
I smell smoke.
Don't go there.

I recall Audio Research has built tube amps with 600w.  I see them used at £7,000-£8,000.  Lots of valves though.

Dull to see millercarbon still peddling the same old stuff.
If you are going to try tube power, I would be looking for a VTL amp if you are trying to drive the Salons and get any SPL out of them.

VTL MB-450 monoblocks do 450 watts RMS per channel, or go for the VTL Siegfrieds if you want 650 RMS watts per channel. They will drive just about anything.

The 4th order xover on the salons, is in some ways like the cross over on the Snell A3s; they both suck up tons of power and need 300+ watts per channel to really come to life.
Exactly Dave. Keep the amps and get a tube preamp or phono stage.
Tube amps just do not have the same speaker control as a good SS amp.
They do not delineate kick drum or tympani as well. You can get the same warmth out of a tube preamp without sacrificing bass control. I do it with a tube phono stage.  
Today, basically SAYING (or posting) that something is TRUE simply makes it true.  We don't need no SCIENCE or measurements or "experts" with 50 years' experience.  Popping off at the top of your lungs and continuing to scream whatever it is makes something "TRUE" today.

Conspiracy theories, politics, diseases, tubes vs SS, speaker materials, wires--it DOES NOT MATTER.

If someone THINKS something someone else has said is true, IT IS.  Back when I was coming up (there you go), people had a saying:  CONSIDER THE SOURCE.

That is, who benefits from believing whatever is being shouted?

So, go to your REPUTABLE dealer and take home and try as many items as you need to find the sound YOU are happy with. And, remember, and this IS true: Your room is the most important variable in any sound system. If you don’t believe that one, move your stuff to another room and see for yourself.


I am partial to tube amplifiers and particularly SET amplifiers (With suitable speakers).
However I have to agree with clearthinker and say that a SET even utilizing a high power output tube such as the 833 wouldn't be the best direction to take with this type of speaker.

Very high power push pull tube amps may be a viable alternate but keep in mind these amps have 'multiple' numbers of tubes to deal with. All things considered I believe using  a tube preamp is a very reasonable approach with the current speakers and SS amplifier (Both of which the OP likes).  A tube preamp using the 6SN7 is a good recommendation in my opinion.


9 posts
08-24-2020 9:18pm

The heavy handed advice does hit on the conflict in terms of the concern expressed in the post and the speaker OP owns, though it's easy to see how this might be overlooked due to the rather obnoxious style in which said advice is habitually delivered.

My oh my... aren't we in a bit of a tiff. You ain't seen nothin' yet.. Hang around.. If this is bothering you, you're not gonna make it. Mr. Obnoxious really hasn't visited this form yet.. HE's been on vacation, for a while.. 
Now you've stirred the pot and I bet he shows up. IT'S on you...

That's a freebie, the rest I'll let you learn on your own..
Wait to when the REAL pricks show up, and I'm being nice, and serious too. They pile on, all at once, like DOGS.. Give me and daj a break, OK.

It's being a little obnoxious callin' folks obnoxious, isn't it?

Sick um!!


I'm in complete agreement with @charles1dad.  With the OP's speakers the tube pre and SS amp makes the most sense and is the path of least resistance to a nice sound.  

And all things equal I have no idea why folks who love tube amps wouldn't want to create a system based around SET tube amp of reasonable power (~22 watts and higher ) paired with easy to drive speakers.  I fear that all the fist pounding exerted by @millercarbon to bully people into buying some KT88 Raven amp are going to distract some from missing the magic of a large bottle SET circuit with carefully selected speakers.  The experience just can't be replicated from some push-pull design IMO and is worthy of experiencing.  
It all comes down to what sounds best to the listener (buyer). I had a Constellation amp/preamp and switched to tubes after hearing a setup at RMAF in 2016. I ended up buying the Voxativ 9.87 speakers and their integrated 211 tube amp, rated at 24 watts. The speaker drivers are very efficient, I believe 98db, and play at very loud levels. They also have 2 dedicated woofers that each have 250 watt A/B amplifiers. I get plenty of tight bass and the magic of a single driver with no crossovers. I know somebody said don’t trust anyone that mentions a specific brand but I have no affiliation. I just listened to everything I could find at RMAF for 3 days and nothing sounded better in my opinion. Point of my comment is to suggest a somewhat unique solution that has satisfied all my needs. I like listening to all types of music from Madeline Peyroux to Tool and find my setup very satisfying.
+1 MC, wrong loudspeakers. As I went up the efficiency ladder,  I went from clipping high powered SS amps on Mirage M1’s to barely cracking 5 watts on OB’s at 96 dB, 1watt, savoring the colors and hues over the wind blowing in my face. 


Wow! Switching from the constellations to the 211 tube integrated is quite a leap across the amplification spectrum. I suspect your current system sounds marvelous.


I understand your point regarding the advantages of higher efficiency/sensitive speakers (My preference as well). However the OP (Dave) is happy with his Revels. So I believe most suggestions to him are provided with that in mind (Keeping the current speakers),



’life is short, make sure spend as much time as possible arguing with strangers on the internet’

just trying to reward good behavior here, discourage bad

but do i really care? no, not really - just would be nice to have folks be nice while helping other nice folks

with covid, fires, horrible state of the nation, we hang out here more than we should, so it’d be nice if we could have a nice place here
A few thoughts.

1. +3 or +4 on a nice tube preamp with a quality high power SS amp. Those speakers are almost certainly designed to be driven by a SS amp. Arguing with a designer and using equipment out of its intended use case is a tough road... 

2. You don't state what is wrong with your current system. If you do feel like something is missing, a report of what that is *might* improve the quality of the comments.

3. If you do want to change amps, have you contacted the speaker manufacturer to give them your budget and ask for a recommendation? No one knows more about what will work well than them. Maybe once you get a few options from them you can bring those back and try to get some additional feedback from other users.

4. I also love SET amplification and high efficiency speaker designs, but was able to find happiness with a SS amp and 6sn7 based pre when I discovered that my current speakers were not as efficient as advertised (Coincident PREs). There are many paths to beautiful music reproduction.

Appreciate the warning. I'm quite familiar with the narcissistic personality type.
People is what they is for the most part, not likely to change.

"Never Wrestle with a Pig. You Both Get Dirty and the Pig Likes It"
I used to think that SETs had a magical quality with the right speakers. 8 hour listening sessions over a few days comparing SETs (300B single and parallel single ended), KT88 push pull and OTLs was a real learning experience. Speakers used were the DeVore O/96s and all I will say is that the SETs, while having a great midrange, came in dead last. The push pull amps sounded a bit fuzzy but were more linear and powerful. The only amp that had no drawbacks and won in every category were the OTLs. Because I cant find a high efficiency speaker that I like, lower powered tube amps are not an option. I am also having trouble finding a high impedance speaker that I like so OTLs are not yet an option. 
I'm with Ozzy Carver Crimson 350s.  350/w/ch into 8ohms and 400w/ch into 4ohms
Chuck Miller will tell you what to buy but he never gives a good or technical reason. He pushes his favorites without regard to anyone else’s budget, hearing, room layout or other technical factors. But he knows all about nothing.
I would say: Jadis, Ear, Wavac, Metronome technologies,..tubes 35w-100w.( . I don’tunderstand, why do you prefer over 120w. in tubes? You want to play in “Pure”class A?  A (good) tube-amp. gives a very good “low”. Do you have a big room, how is the accoustic in that room? A lot of questions you have to ask. It’s my opinion. Enjoy your music! And don’t let tinitis destroy your life.
Yeah, beside tinnitus you are doing irreparable damage to your ears if you listen for very long at 90 dB. The "normal" listening level is 78 dB. I like it loud too, but I keep it below 85 dB. You may want to re-evaluate your listening and system requirements before you buy anything else