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Thread: New tube amp

  1. #1

    New tube amp

    Rather than "goop up" the other thread about tube amps, I decided to start this thread to talk about my new tube amp. I have been thinking about getting another tube amp for quite a while. I really wanted a Luxman MQ-88uC but they are 6 months or so away from delivery. I only need about 15wpc, so there are quite a few choices available. I decided to try a Carver Black Magic 25 mostly based on the return policy and it uses EL34's. Well, the Carver is still in the system and I don't see any reason to take it out. How the heck a little 20lb tube amp is doing what it is doing is almost laughable. The XA25 is a very respected amp and gets rave reviews but can you say "system dependent?" In my system I like the Carver much more and it's not even close.

  2. #2
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    Re: New tube amp



    and your last sentence sums it up perfectly !
    Cheers ! …. Dave

  3. #3
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    Re: New tube amp

    And that is really what matters... what works best for you. What makes you happy!
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  4. #4

    Re: New tube amp

    Thanks for the kind words. I fully expected this amp to have a wonderful midrange, floppy bass and a so so top end. However, the pace and drive this tiny amp can do defies logic. The midrange is 100% EL34, smooth, flowing and with a huge 3d sound stage. The highs are extended and detailed but smooth as heck. Sometimes cymbals can sound like they are made of steel, they can have that steely sound. These cymbals sound like copper (like they should), with a decay that I really didn't notice before . It's just musical. Now I know why the speaker builder recommends EL34 amps. Sorry for sounding like fruit cake but this thing is crazy good and it shouldn't be.

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    Re: New tube amp

    Cool. Just curious if your Carver is one of his where the tubes remain cool? I heard one of the Carver larger amps, it did sound good but I was amazed when the guy could reach down and put his hand around an output tube.
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    Re: New tube amp

    The Carver amps are particularly good but don’t get the respect they deserve. Thank you for posting.
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  7. #7

    Re: New tube amp

    I don't know if this amp is one of the cool running ones or not. After the storms pass I will fire it back up and check. It has a 5 year warranty on the tubes so I believe they are running them real easy. The bias is around 100ma total which, I think, is 25ma per tube. EL34 data says 35ma is "cold" while around 55ma is considered "hot." This amp is one of the biggest hi-fi surprises I have ever had.

  8. #8

    Re: New tube amp

    The tubes are very hot so it's not one of the designs that you can hold your hand on them.

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    Re: New tube amp

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    The Carver amps are particularly good but don’t get the respect they deserve. Thank you for posting.
    I'm not so sure. See the ASR review of the Carver Crimson 275. It may or may not sound good but it is not "good".

    Now there is also the ASR review of the Carver Raven 350. Why anyone would pay that kind of money for this kind of crap is beyond me, except that they really like noise and distortortion.
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  10. #10

    Re: New tube amp

    Yes, the ASR review of the Carver Crimson 275 and Raven 250 are horrible. As memory serves me they claim the 275 (75wpc amp) only made somewhere around 8 watts or something at the frequency extremes and the output transformers were tiny and only rated for 15wpc. I read these reviews the night after I ordered my amp and I called Carver the next day. They explained that their amps are designed to be run into a speaker load and not a resister load. They told me I could cancel my order if I wanted to, right there on the spot. Or try it and have 30 days to send it back. The little Black Magic 25 has great dynamics, great bass slam and works great with my Volti's. My XA25 will be for sale soon. So, the question remains......trust your ears or measurements?

  11. #11
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    Re: New tube amp

    Quote Originally Posted by stereogeek View Post
    Yes, the ASR review of the Carver Crimson 275 and Raven 250 are horrible. As memory serves me they claim the 275 (75wpc amp) only made somewhere around 8 watts or something at the frequency extremes and the output transformers were tiny and only rated for 15wpc. I read these reviews the night after I ordered my amp and I called Carver the next day. They explained that their amps are designed to be run into a speaker load and not a resister load. They told me I could cancel my order if I wanted to, right there on the spot. Or try it and have 30 days to send it back. The little Black Magic 25 has great dynamics, great bass slam and works great with my Volti's. My XA25 will be for sale soon. So, the question remains......trust your ears or measurements?
    If you are happy with your amplifier/speaker combination then congratulations. You have won the audiophile lottery. Enjoy the music and ignore the noise (negative comments).
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  12. #12
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    Re: New tube amp

    Congratulations on the amp!
    Nothing like discovering a gem that works in your setup.

    May I ask what speakers you have with the Carver?



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  13. #13

    Re: New tube amp

    I have a pair of the original Volti Razz. Which don't test very well but sound like music, they are very dynamic. Thanks to you guys for the positive posts.

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    Re: New tube amp

    Quote Originally Posted by stereogeek View Post
    I have a pair of the original Volti Razz. Which don't test very well but sound like music, they are very dynamic. Thanks to you guys for the positive posts.
    Very positive reviews in general on the Razz. Really like this kind of speaker!
    Greg Roberts does mention in the Stereophile review's comment section that he voiced them to sound more musical.



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  15. #15
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    Re: New tube amp

    Quote Originally Posted by stereogeek View Post
    Yes, the ASR review of the Carver Crimson 275 and Raven 250 are horrible. As memory serves me they claim the 275 (75wpc amp) only made somewhere around 8 watts or something at the frequency extremes and the output transformers were tiny and only rated for 15wpc. I read these reviews the night after I ordered my amp and I called Carver the next day. They explained that their amps are designed to be run into a speaker load and not a resister load. They told me I could cancel my order if I wanted to, right there on the spot. Or try it and have 30 days to send it back. The little Black Magic 25 has great dynamics, great bass slam and works great with my Volti's. My XA25 will be for sale soon. So, the question remains......trust your ears or measurements?
    Of course audiophilia is about enjoyment, so if it pleases you go for it and never mind measurements.

    Still, there is the question as to whether there is some correlation between measurements and what we hear. My guess is that there is some if you understand what to look for. I believe that many amps sound pleasant because, not despite, that they have (measurable) distortion of certain types.

    The other question re. the Carver amps is whether there are better built and/or sounding tube amps for significantly less money.
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  16. #16

    Re: New tube amp

    All good points. Kevin from VAC posted on another thread regarding measurements and what we hear (or do not hear). BTW, most speakers have much more distortion than any amp I have seen and the frequency response curves are way worse so I dont worry much about an amplifiers distortion numbers. Plus, amp to speaker matching is most important. I think that's where I kind of screwed up, I expected the XA25 to match well and it was a pretty good match but pretty good wasn't good enough. The Carver is still in the system and it's not coming out unless it's for a more expensive/better lower powered tube amp. Are there better built and cheaper amps than the Carver out there? I don't know, I didn't look much. I saw it and I bought it.

  17. #17

    Re: New tube amp

    I was all ready to trade in my XA25 for a Luxman MQ-88cU amp to Mike. A very fair offer was made but once I listened to my system again last night I now have cold feet. I am still in some kind of shock/denial that this little Carver amp can do what it is doing. It's a friggen Carver, it's nothing but mid fi stuff, is what my buddy says. It goes back to system matching 101, I failed the 1st time around but passed this time. It was a little lean in the bass at first so I changed the resistors to one step higher on the tweeter and midrange horn to get the balance right. Now that the amp is breaking in (and/or the listener) it has a bit more bass so I might have to change them back. It makes you wonder why every speaker manufacturer doesnt have this feature. I am rambling so time to go, Cheers!

  18. #18

    Re: New tube amp

    My buddy came over yesterday, bought the XA25 and listened to my new amp. He can't believe this little 20lb amp completely controls the bass on my speakers and sounds so darn near perfect everywhere else. It will play to extremely high volumes without the soundstage collapsing, the bass getting floppy or the vocals falling apart. We talked about me buying a "better" (more expensive) amp just to see, but we both agreed, why? Cheers to all and wonders never cease.

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New tube amp

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