Regarding a tube amp

Hi Guys, I recently acquired a PS audio direct stream DAC and I have a Schiit Ragnarok 1 integrated amp. I want to move to a tube amp and am considering Cary Audio SL 80 or SL 100. Does anyone else use these? Any inputs? Looks like they both dont have balanced inputs. Does PS audio DS Dac work well with any other tube amps?

Thanks in advance

In one of my configurations, I run the DS Dac into my Woo WA5-LE, an 8 Watt SET headphone amp. The combination is wonderful. Produces great music.

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I had Cary amps for years, but they were made before the new owners changed the locks and refused to give Dennis Had a key. They might still be good but there are so many choices. In fact I think there’s a BHK 250 in the marketplace thread for sale.
I would also look at Decware.

Tubed amp or tubed preamp? Budget?

Using a headphone amp as a tube buffer is an option as @watchdog507 mentioned. I do this with a Schiit Mjolnir 2 sometimes.

Ideally a tubed integrated amp. Was looking at the CARY SLI -80 or the SLI 100. I have a small studio apartment (420 sq ft) so don’t need huge power. Budget around 3200.

In a small space, it doesn’t even matter much the efficiency of your speakers. At around $1200. I would take a serious look at the basic Decware amp. It’s 2 watts of glory. I had one and with 97db speakers in a large room, I could get some serious (clean) volume; maybe 80db?
On the other hand, the BHK250 in the marketplace is right under your budget and it will work in any situation as your space and system grows.

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I wouldn’t discount separates. Take a look at Freya+ and Vidar or Aegir. Either combo is under ur budget.

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I had the Cary sli 80 and the 280 v12 .
I now have PrimaLuna, prologue 2 . In my living room which is now called the classic .
And my main system is the Dialogue series of preamp and amps. I personally found the prima Luna much more satisfying to me anyway, I would never go back to Cary .
I am not saying the Cary is bad by any means I just strongly prefer prima Luna .

Works great with a quicksilver audio AT7 preamp and Mid-Mono monoblocks using KT88’s

Another endorsement for Decware.

I would also check out the Conrad Johnson CAV45-S2 control amplifier

I always find Cary to be on the warm and dull side in comparison to other tube amps if that’s what you like. Audio Research and Conrad Johnson would be my choice for higher resolution and neutral sound.
Remember that the DS outputs both on RCA and XLR. I find that XLR sounds way better than RCA. My brother found that out also and is now getting a converter so he can output XLR to his Single ended only Conrad Johnson preamp. BTW the DS also sounds better with a really good preamp in the system. My brother and I both have preamps in our system after intensive listening with and without and there is no doubt that preamp is the way to go. But the quality of the preamp is very important.
Actually you don’t need a integrated amp. Just run the dac directly to a power amp. You lost a little in sound quality without a really good preamp, but still will be better than an integrated. Just use the volume control from the dac, which by the way is the best volume control I have ever found on a dac.

Here is a QuickSilver integrated. I have never heard it.

And yet another as I have (5) Decware amplifiers… well, (4) amps and (1) pre-amp.

@JeffofArabica (and others):

My office system is a work in progress.

Next step is to add a pre-amp and or amplifier with tube circuitry of some sort.

Right now I am driving a pair of Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada (MK I) speakers with a very inexpensive Fatman iTube integrated amplifier (13 wpc rating). It sounds wonderful at times but its overall sound (especially at lower and higher levels) reflects its relatively low power and price point.

The Strada’s manufacturer specs. are:

  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB/W/M
  • Power Handling: 10 – 150 Watts RMS

I run a REL Acoustics T/5i along with the Strada’s using the Hi-Level Speakon connection, and my office is not very big.

My question to you (and hopefully others) with regard to Decware (and other quality tube amplification) products:

What is the lowest wattage you would recommend for my set up. I would like to have some low-level resolution (this system is on during office hours mostly and volume is limited by necessity most of the day) and a bit of kick if desired (within reason given design constraints of course).

Thank you in advance for any comments or kit recommendations you care to make.


I will also say QuickSilverAudio

Checkem out

I have to recommend Decware–I have been using their pre- and amplification for over twenty years, and their current “Anniversary” editions are just jaw-droopingly good.

With 87 db speakers in a small office the Rachael or the Torii Jr. may be the best models to offer the big kick when needed . . . .

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I was considering this. Also a Rag 2.

Wow I see a lot of love for Decware. My speakers are Audiophysic tempo 4 with a sensitivity of 89db. I live in a 420 sq for studio apartment and my listening area is about 10x8. Do u think a Decware will do for my speakers? If yes what model/power should I get? I also see a used Cary audio SLI 80 for 2400 (older mode though). Good deal?

@waymanchen11 I thought about controlling the volume with PS audio, but read a lot of posts that ask to keep the volume on the DAC at 100 and use the attenuation button and control volume with preamp to get the best sound. That’s why I was looking for an integrated amp (with volume control)