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 Post subject: tube preamp/tube buffer?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:40 am 
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Just curious what I could expect by adding either the Jolida JD5NT or the Grant Fidelity b283 MkII to my current set-up: Totem Hawk, Musical Fidelity M6i, Benchmark DAC 1 USB, 16/44.1 wav/flac files. I've tried a couple of different tubes using a GF TubeDac11 but noticed only subtle differences. I still prefer the detail of the Benchmark. Will the Jolida or GF have a greater effect vs differences I noticed with the TubeDac?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:02 am 
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I had the Yaqin tube buffer with upgraded tubes. VERY subtle difference ( all SS components ). When you add in the extra interconnect and power cord I'm not sure that you are more complicating things rather than improving them.

Given your experiences and priorities, I don't see any advantages.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:25 am 
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I too once had the GF b283 MkII. But I quickly came to the realization that adding a tube buffer into my chain was a hokey way getting to that analog sound.

It did prompt me to eventually go to an all-tube system for awhile (DAC, Pre, CDP, and amp). I discovered that there is such a thing as too much 'tubeyness'.

Now, the only tubes in my chain are my phono stage (Croft RIAA) and preamp (Doge 8 ). This gives me enough of the 'tubey' analog sound I like.

I wouldn't recommend adding a tube buffer, but YMMV.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:27 am 
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PERRLA;

I don't have personal experience with a Grant Fidelity TubeDac11 but I do with the Grant Fidelity B283 MKII. When using the B283 MKII with 6SN7 tubes all SS I loved the sound. 6SN7 tubes are well regarded and I would recommend you try a Grant Fidelity B283 MKII equipped with NOS 6SN7 tubes.

You won’t be disappointed.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:02 pm 
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Tube buffers (cathode follower stage) are typically employed to rectify an impedance mismatch by creating a high input impedance and low output impedance interface between two audio components.

Mismatched impedance components will yield rolled-off high frequencies, muddy bass and poor dynamics. The improvement in sound quality is typically associated with a proper impedance match.

If you don't have an impedance mismatch, you will not hear an improvement.

The best solution is to avoid the mismatch in the first place.

IMHO, tube buffers are band aids.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:20 pm 
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Thanks for the opinions. I'd like to clarify that I'm not trying to fix anything but was just more curious about how the sound may change. Honestly, the mismatched impedance thing is currently way above my knowledge as I haven't really done any research on the topic at this point.

I don't know what the "tube sound" is and don't have time to go to a dealer to audition any amps. I was wondering if the buffer would give me a realistic impression of what to expect with a tube amp. To those who have used the GF b283 can you give me your impressions/comparison to the SS set-up.

Is there a tube amp under $500 that would be sufficient to power the Hawks?

Can anyone comment on the Jolida jd5t preamp instead of the "buffer" or do they perform in the same manner (the MF has a direct amp in connection)?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:12 pm 
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Location: Mannville, AB, CA
If I remember correctly there is thread that Old Rusty started on this same component.

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=15714&hilit=yaqin

Have a look through this.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:26 pm 
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In summary, my experience has been that a preamp has accomplished the same function that the tube buffer did for me with greater versatility (source switching, remote control) and overall better sound. The buffer was a tactical choice at the time before I had a preamp while trying to discover what I ultimately wanted. It did take some of the edge off the SS amp but I still preferred my tube amp. No idea what is best for your situation. Just explaining my own trial by ear (error!) experience. As stated by another, it was a bandaid that worked until the proper solution came around.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:39 pm 
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I run my Yaqin between the pre and power amp in one of my systems. I don't see any tangible improvement....but will keep trying.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:59 pm 
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I picked up a GF B283 MK11 just yesterday and placed it into my set up. I have a loop option through my integrated that was provided for such a buffer and allows me engage it or not on the fly. I can't say that it was a eureka moment at this point but I want to try out some different tubes and give it a proper evaluation. I figured for what it cost it was worth the try.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:18 pm 
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brf wrote:
Tube buffers (cathode follower stage) are typically employed to rectify an impedance mismatch by creating a high input impedance and low output impedance interface between two audio components.

Mismatched impedance components will yield rolled-off high frequencies, muddy bass and poor dynamics. The improvement in sound quality is typically associated with a proper impedance match.

If you don't have an impedance mismatch, you will not hear an improvement.


Ok, so how do I go about determining if there is an impedance mismatch? What values am I looking for and do I just look at the figures stated in the manuals? How do you determine the best location for the buffer using the impedance values? Although with my set up there is really only one spot in the chain to put it (PC-->DAC-->buffer-->integrated amp), correct?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:19 am 
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PERRLA wrote:
brf wrote:
Tube buffers (cathode follower stage) are typically employed to rectify an impedance mismatch by creating a high input impedance and low output impedance interface between two audio components.

Mismatched impedance components will yield rolled-off high frequencies, muddy bass and poor dynamics. The improvement in sound quality is typically associated with a proper impedance match.

If you don't have an impedance mismatch, you will not hear an improvement.


Ok, so how do I go about determining if there is an impedance mismatch? What values am I looking for and do I just look at the figures stated in the manuals? How do you determine the best location for the buffer using the impedance values? Although with my set up there is really only one spot in the chain to put it (PC-->DAC-->buffer-->integrated amp), correct?



A general rule of thumb is for the load (integrated amp) input impedance to be at least 10 times higher than the source (dac) output impedance to provide a suitably flat frequency response. Many prefer using a minimum ratio closer to 20 to 1.

You should be able to find these values expressed in ohms in you manual.

-- 12 Jan 2017 08:26 --

mpublicover wrote:
I picked up a GF B283 MK11 just yesterday and placed it into my set up. I have a loop option through my integrated that was provided for such a buffer and allows me engage it or not on the fly. I can't say that it was a eureka moment at this point but I want to try out some different tubes and give it a proper evaluation. I figured for what it cost it was worth the try.


IME, "tube rolling" in a unity gain tube buffer will not change the sound quality. People often confuse "tubes" as being responsible for the improved sound of a tube buffer when in fact the improved sound is a product of eliminating the impedance mismatch.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:54 am 
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PERRLA;

The spot in the chain to put it (PC-->DAC-->buffer-->integrated amp) would be correct.

Why not try. Hear for yourself if it makes a difference in your system. You be the judge. From my own experience it was a cheap option to try and worked very well for me.

Audiois1st

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:10 am 
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brf wrote:
IME, "tube rolling" in a unity gain tube buffer will not change the sound quality. People often confuse "tubes" as being responsible for the improved sound of a tube buffer when in fact the improved sound is a product of eliminating the impedance mismatch.


Not in my (single product) experience. Replacing the stock Chinese tubes with another type enhanced clarity of the improvements made by the unit itself regardless of tube.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:33 am 
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brf wrote:

A general rule of thumb is for the load (integrated amp) input impedance to be at least 10 times higher than the source (dac) output impedance to provide a suitably flat frequency response. Many prefer using a minimum ratio closer to 20 to 1.

You should be able to find these values expressed in ohms in you manual.



The manuals state M6i input 38k Ohms, DAC output impedance 30ohms(unbalanced)/60ohms (balanced) which would give ratios of

1267:1(unbalanced)/663:1(balanced)

These ratios far exceed the 20:1 recommended ratio or did I do something wrong with my math? So what does this extemely high ratio mean?


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