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Thread: Dipping my toes into the World of Valves

  1. #1
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Manningtree, Essex

    Posts: 433
    I'm Tony.

    Default Dipping my toes into the World of Valves

    Have decided to trade in the AA Puccini and have ordered an Icon Audio Stereo 20PP.

    I figure the power won't be an issue as I never listen at volume in the flat and the MS 700 are reasonably easy to drive.

    At this point in time I'm happy to compromise on the top and bottom ends in order to experience a bit of midrange heaven.

    Now looking forward to listening to this interesting mix of decades.... 2017 (Allo BOSS DAC), 50's amp design foundation (20PP) and 70's speakers (MS 700)

    Tony
    A mainly digital setup with a musical amplifier and endearing 1970's speakers. A CD player that hardly ever gets used and a turntable that is good enough to remind my how enjoyable my old vinyl is. Some cables and things.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,813
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    Have you listened to the amp you're buying?

  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Manningtree, Essex

    Posts: 433
    I'm Tony.

    Default

    Not on my speakers in my room as there's no practical way of me doing that but did listen when getting my amp serviced recently (there were a few IA amp models in the audition room). The Little Dot Mk II has also been showing me some of what I've been missing too.
    A mainly digital setup with a musical amplifier and endearing 1970's speakers. A CD player that hardly ever gets used and a turntable that is good enough to remind my how enjoyable my old vinyl is. Some cables and things.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,813
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    Not wishing to be negative, the amp may sound fine with your MS speakers, but I had one briefly and it did not work happily with my Tannoys.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Manningtree, Essex

    Posts: 433
    I'm Tony.

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    I guess it's always going to be a risk if you can't audition in your own environment but I've tried to mitigate the risks by going for a reputable (and UK based) brand, that will be easy to shift if it doesn't work out. What were the issues for you Geoff?
    A mainly digital setup with a musical amplifier and endearing 1970's speakers. A CD player that hardly ever gets used and a turntable that is good enough to remind my how enjoyable my old vinyl is. Some cables and things.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,813
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    There was nothing wrong with the frequency balance, but I found the sound a bit flat and two dimensional. The "midrange heaven", as you describe it, was not there for me, which is most unusual for an EL84 amp. The Tannoys are very revealing and are easy to drive. They display amp characteristics very well.

    Hopefully it will be fine in your system, but as you say, it's an amp that would be easy to sell on.

    Icon Audio amps are made by MingDa (Meixing) in China to Icon's spec. Some are direct derivatives of MingDa models. MingDa amps are some of the best to come from China. There are a few members using them happily. I own a MingDa TVC pre-amp and that's not going anywhere.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Manningtree, Essex

    Posts: 433
    I'm Tony.

    Default

    Ah ok. Will just have to wait and see if it meets expectation then. I was looking at the MingDa Piccolo option but thought it a little bit easier (from an affordability point of view) to try out the Icon as a starter. "Two dimensional" is definitely not part of the heaven I'm looking for either, so I'm hoping it'll work out ok.
    A mainly digital setup with a musical amplifier and endearing 1970's speakers. A CD player that hardly ever gets used and a turntable that is good enough to remind my how enjoyable my old vinyl is. Some cables and things.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Lincolnshire, Home by the Sea

    Posts: 3,994
    I'm Shaun.

    Default

    Back in 2012 Sue and I owned a Stereo 20 PP that we ran into KEF Q500's and it sounded just fine at that time. The best thing we did with it was to change the driver valves to Genalex Gold Lions with gold pins and the whole sound was transformed. We then changed the EL84's for Gold Lions and were disappointed. It is a fine sounding amplifier as low output valve types go but if you are expecting Leak sound quality be ready to be highly disappointed. This amplifier has its own sound.

    At the time we bought ours it was a 500 quid amplifier but now I think it is way too expensive when compared to others.
    CAMBRIDGE AUDIO CXC CD TRANSPORT INTO AUDIOLAB M-DAC - PRIMA LUNA PROLOGUE THREE PREAMP - PRIMA LUNA DIALOGUE PREMIUM POWER AMP - SPENDOR S3/5R2 LOUDSPEAKERS - ATLAS HYPER INTERCONNECTS - TELLURIUM Q BLUE LOUDSPEAKER CABLES - ATACAMA STANDS - PRO-JECT SUPPORT PLINTH

  9. #9
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Manningtree, Essex

    Posts: 433
    I'm Tony.

    Default

    Thanks Sean,
    It's on a 90 day no quibble refund/exchange as well, so if I can't live with the sound, it will be going back. I don't really have any comparable valve-based expectations to be honest as my experience is really entry-level. It's a foot in the door really. If it's not a hopeless case from day one then I'll look at upgrading the driver valves. :-)
    A mainly digital setup with a musical amplifier and endearing 1970's speakers. A CD player that hardly ever gets used and a turntable that is good enough to remind my how enjoyable my old vinyl is. Some cables and things.

  10. #10
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Lincolnshire, Home by the Sea

    Posts: 3,994
    I'm Shaun.

    Default

    Personally I don't think that anything that is the best part of a grand is entry level. Entry level for valves quite possibly unless you import some dodgy Chinese box of components. The Stereo 20 PP is a damn fine valve amplifier but we found that it only really suited simple acoustic music. Bach's cello suites played by Yo Yo Ma sounded sublime as did acoustic guitar along the lines of Paco De Lucia but really serious prog or anything heavily confused it did not like. I think to be honest it needed loudspeakers beyond the abilities of our KEF's. Maybe standmounts slightly bright and breezy would have been so much better.
    CAMBRIDGE AUDIO CXC CD TRANSPORT INTO AUDIOLAB M-DAC - PRIMA LUNA PROLOGUE THREE PREAMP - PRIMA LUNA DIALOGUE PREMIUM POWER AMP - SPENDOR S3/5R2 LOUDSPEAKERS - ATLAS HYPER INTERCONNECTS - TELLURIUM Q BLUE LOUDSPEAKER CABLES - ATACAMA STANDS - PRO-JECT SUPPORT PLINTH

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