#1
I'm looking to get a Tube power amp for my setup, what are the options out there?

I know:
Marshall 9100 / 9200
Peavey Classic 50/50 stereo tube power amp
Peavey Classic Series 120 Tube Power Amplifier
mesa boogie 50/50 stereo tube power amp

What are the other options there? I'm looking for "used" so the more I know, the more choice I get!
#6
I've got a Carvin TS-100 50W/50W. $549 new.
Mine's been around a while, having originally been used with my Mesa Triaxis and a Carvin Quad-X (both tube preamps).

Current models come with EL34s, but you can also use it with 6L6s if you prefer. In fact, if you're not using it in bridged/mono mode, you can populate one channel with 6L6S and the other with EL34s if you wish. Solid as a rock, very low distortion up to rated power (compared to a 100W guitar amplifier), these can be used as high-end audiophile tube amps as well.
#8
The Peavey 50/50 is hard to beat especially for what you can get them now. Carvin is also a good choice

If you don't mind spending a little more
Engl makes some nice ones
#9
Since you asked for "other options", I'll point out that I pulled the Carvin TS-100 from the rack (it weighs 25 pounds) and replaced it with a 1500W Carvin solid state power amp (it weighs 9 lbs). Price differential: $549 for the tube power amp, $299 for an HD1500 solid state power amp.

The Carvin tube power amp doesn't color the sound; it's very neutral (which is part of the reason I love it). Same is true for the HD1500.

Retubing the Carvin (or most any of these power amps) will run about $160 (if you buy a used one of anything, include a complete set of tubes in your budget). With any tube amp, you should have a set of spares, because tubes can go out nearly any time, so add some spares to the retubing cost while you're at it. This was ONE of the reasons I decided to leave the TS-100 at home; a set of new tubes plus a complete set of spares cost more than the whole solid state amp. At the time I was using it with the Quad-X, which has an additional nine 12 AX7s (at $11-15 each these days).


So while a tube power amp *sounds* like a good idea, my experience suggests that you might want to consider solid state if you're playing out much...
#10
Quote by Robbgnarly
The Peavey 50/50 is hard to beat especially for what you can get them now. Carvin is also a good choice

If you don't mind spending a little more
Engl makes some nice ones


The Peavey's sort of a crap power amp -- it allows itself some pretty high levels of THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), where most of the others tighten things up. About the best you can say about it is that it provides 100W of power.

Engl offers absolutely nothing in the way of improved specs or durability. But like most Engl gear, it's triple the price (about $1600 for a 50W/50W tube power amp).

If you're not gigging with this setup, you might consider finding a pair of Dynaco Mark III power amps and setting them up as a stereo pair. SUNN used Dynaco parts in its first series of amps back when, and they're still audiophile darlings (and killer quality). A good pair of them would be cheaper than most of the other amps you're considering. They're not in any kind of rack format; you'd have to mount them in a cabinet if you were going to gig them.
#11
But, man, I suppose it comes down to whether or not you want the power amp to colour the sound or not. Not everybody is a techno mouse you know? Some people want to match things up from start to finish with each element adding its own influence. Not everybody wants to do everythng with computerised gizmos.
#12
Well, the goal is indeed to have the "valve warm" overall, if I would need something completely transparent, I think I'd be beter with a solid state.

I'm not "closed" to the idea of a solid state, but I'm more prone to reach for a Tube setup.

And yes, I intend to gig with it.
I've seen a Peavey 50-50 and I was kinda pleased with what I heard. Yeah, the thing is heavy, but so is my cab, and so is much of a band's setup. So I don't "mind" that much.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll keep an eye on thoses!
#13
The 50-50 has a nice sound to it. Dspellman is right, they aren't dead dry but that sounds like it might a good thing for you.
#14
I think Bogner also had one. I did go for a JCM900 through the fx return over my Peavey 50:50, better tube saturation.
#15
What's needed is an RM100 power amp as a stand alone unit. Now that would be sweet.
#16
Quote by Cathbard
What's needed is an RM100 power amp as a stand alone unit. Now that would be sweet.


I think it exists and is called rt2/50. At least it is randalls recommended power amp for the Rm4, and at first glance it seems to offer the same flexibility in terms of different tubes, easy bias and midi.
#17


Winner - if you can find one. Clever Randall. They come with 6L6's on one side, EL34 (probably E34L like the RM100) on the other. And of course just about whatever the **** you feel like putting in them yourself.
I hadn't seen that before. Cheers for that..
Last edited by Cathbard at Nov 9, 2014,
#18
Quote by ~Luke~
I think it exists and is called rt2/50. At least it is randalls recommended power amp for the Rm4, and at first glance it seems to offer the same flexibility in terms of different tubes, easy bias and midi.


Power amps in my hands tend to gather dust -- I don't frequently mess with different tubes (though the Carvin handles them as well) once I've settled on something I like and I doubt I'd be doing channel switching with MIDI. They're required to work, provide power, and that's pretty much it.

If you're gigging with one, you'll likely want to put it in a shock-resistant rack, and two accessories are suggested.

I used a Carvin AC120, a power distribution system that showed me the line voltage and that turned on each item plugged into it sequentially (avoided surges). Solid state power amps aren't particularly finicky about incoming voltage (if they turn on they've got enough, if not, then not), but you may find that it matters to tube amps and affects the sound and/or power output. On "iffy" gigs (old wiring, on the same circuit as the bar's ice machine, back of a flatbed with a generator providing power) I carry a BIG old UPS with a car-size lead/acid battery. It's designed to maintain a steady voltage no matter what the wall/generator puts out, and it cleans things up considerably. My Kronos-X keyboard plugs into that as well; it doesn't like power outages, however brief, and it takes a while to reboot.

The second item is a decent fan setup. A tube power amp will generate far more heat than a solid state setup will, and it's a good idea to have a fan unit pulling heat from the top of the unit and pushing it out the rear of the rack. The fan unit should be above the power amp and below anything else in the rack. Don't make the mistake of pulling tube power amp heat through all the other components before it hits the fans and is directed out.

Make sure that you have your load plugged in (speaker cabs) before you power up the rack. It's like any other tube amp in that regard. An oops by a roadie here can ruin your day.

Have a backup and a bunch of extra tubes. Tube amps are far more delicate than solid state. Traveling stresses them, as does extreme cold, vibration, shock. Tube power amps normally have their tubes sideways, rather than vertical. Recheck that they're tight in their sockets now and again. Our "down" days were usually pretty busy with preventative maintenance; repairing cables, checking racks, checking that speakers hadn't come loose, making sure that ALL the speakers in a cabinet were actually putting out sound, etc.
#19
The MIDI switching isn't the main deal. I mean really, you could just change the L/R balance in your preamp if you have a stereo preamp. The thing about the Randall is the easily adjustable biasing on every power tube. No more need for matched sets, hell even the same type. You just chuck in whatever comes to hand and bias it up. A monkey could do it.
The MIDI switching could be handy though. EL34 on one patch, 6L6 on the other. Sounds pretty cool to me.
Good solid MIA amp too.