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NickRivers

Recommendations: Tube amp for Martin Logan Ethos?

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Hi there,

 

Newbie here: I am the proud owner of a pair of (used) Martin Logan Ethos hybrid electrostats. I am now looking for a matching amplifier and was thinking tube amp (SET?). budget would be somewhere between $2-4K. 

 

https://www.martinlogan.com/en/product/ethos

 

Any recommendations what to look at? Also maybe for a HiFi store in Melbourne that specialises on tube amps?

 

Thanks a lot in advance - Jan

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Hi Jan 

 

I owned ethos’s a few years ago. Notoriously hard to drive.  I actually found SS amps did a great job.  I ended up driving them with a Luxman 507U which do have a tube like sound.    Was a match made in heaven actually 

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Was blown away by the Audio Research VSI60 with the Ethos and Theos. Can be found in your budget. 

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You 'could' consider a valve preamp + SS power amp to broaden your range of options?

 

My own experience of driving electrostats generally means that I would use plenty of current from a well-rated SS amp. Using valve power amps can be quite an expensive option, both in procuring a decent driving one, and then in the re-tubing.

 

Just my 2c worth

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These are in your budget. The design is very low/zero output impedance which makes them effective for speakers like the ML.

 

A reasonable amount of info on the web and you can always give Mick@Supratek a call to discuss.

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Posted (edited)

Some good advice and solid experience from stat owners.

Agreed on the Luxman, ARC and Supratech gear, a great sound indeed.

 

At the end of the day it all depends on what "you- Jan" want to hear. The type of music you listen to most, listening levels, listening times- early arvo or late nights..., listening habits- is it active listening or passive listening, ultimate goal from your favorite recordings, are you seeking the best out of your gear, the last amount of detail and do you want to be fully immersed in the presentation with emotion and movement or just sound...

 

If it's any of the above, I and do hope some of the above are on your list because afterall now you're a ML stat owner, I sincerely believe that transparency, inner detail and a superb sense of balance and realism plus soundstage depth is probably what you're after...?

 

I'm using only one type of brand for all my amplification and it creates absolute magic with ML stats, regardless of whether they're hybrids or full range, none other than Conrad Johnson amplifiers.

 

Let me if you're keen / serious, I'll introduce you to our Aus importer.

 

Btw when I had the Ethos I was driving them first with the CJ CAV45 and later on the Classic 60se partnered with an ACT2 preamp. Thereafter, I modded a special edition of a CT5, which you can see in the pic but the power amps are different now, since I required larger amplifiers rated in Class A driving the CLX's full range. The CAV45 was probably the most musical sounding and most enjoyable amplifier I've used with the Ethos, just superb!

Best, RJ

20200419_031621.jpg

Edited by Big Dog RJ

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Otoh, if you prefer SS, Pass Labs is the other one I would very highly recommend. I've tried their INT60 which is an integrated amp delivering around 30w Class A, although it can put out 60w with no sweat, it Class A operation of 30w will grab with Ethos stats with superb control having plenty of current to grip the impedence swing...

 

SET amps will struggle unless they're top tier monoblocks, such as Cary Audio, Lamm Audio, Kondo Audio Note, Aries Ceret and similar. I know the pricing of this range is over the top but these are the only recommendations I can suggest for a fine superb presentation, nothing less.

 

The choice is your!

Cheers,RJ 

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Oh! One other note well worth mentioning; please upgrade the power cords for the Ethos. Use the highest grade you can afford, it makes a significant improvement!

 

The built-in amplifiers for the bass drivers in the Ethos need quality power cords and you will hear the difference in bass energy and smoothness straight away, no doubt!

 

I didn't go overboard in that area, rather sourced mine from our local chap Gary Crosby, (hope I got the spelling right...) he used some good 10awg pure copper conductors and terminated with Furutech plugs. They weren't too cheap but far more affordable than the high grade Nordost power cords I'm using on all gear.

 

These power cords custom made to length by Gary are mighty fine indeed! Great stuff mate.

Cheers, RJ

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6 minutes ago, Big Dog RJ said:

Oh! One other note well worth mentioning; please upgrade the power cords for the Ethos. Use the highest grade you can afford, it makes a significant improvement!

 

The built-in amplifiers for the bass drivers in the Ethos need quality power cords and you will hear the difference in bass energy and smoothness straight away, no doubt!

 

I didn't go overboard in that area, rather sourced mine from our local chap Gary Crosby, (hope I got the spelling right...) he used some good 10awg pure copper conductors and terminated with Furutech plugs. They weren't too cheap but far more affordable than the high grade Nordost power cords I'm using on all gear.

 

These power cords custom made to length by Gary are mighty fine indeed! Great stuff mate.

Cheers, RJ

Hahaha do you mean Gary Cawsey?

 

I used Audio Note Isis power cables on the Ethos' and they worked a treat.

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Bit of a skip from 2-4k to 10-15k +

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Thanks for all your advice so far - definitely something to ponder on. I had the VSi60 on my mind already, and the Luxman is definitely worth a thought. As a kid growing up in the 70s the design definitely triggers memories ;) And will definitely take a look at SupratTech and PassLabs. 

 

With regards to listening habits and musical preferences: targeted listening only, no background noise. As a full-time working dad of two nearly teenage girls listening time is special and precious. My style of music: Classic (solo piano, string quartets, less symphonic bombast, though some selected opera/choral works), Jazz (loving sax and brass/big band; David Sanborn, Tower of Power}, Acid Jazz, Psychedelic Rock (Pink Floyd please), Funk (Maceo Parker, Trombone Shorty), Van Morrison, some Americana. I love to hear the depth and breadth of the soundstage, position of the musicians - a new experience with the MLs, even with my shitty little Sony amp. Listening levels: moderate. not crazy boost. Though no neighbours around that would be shouting in case I get into the mood...

 

 

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Yes Gary Cawsey, knew I had it wrong... his cables and power cords are outstanding.

 

Oh! Looks like I merely passed on the budget requirements... sorry about that. I just saw it was within the range of 3 -4 grand, for some darn reason I kept thinking 30 - 40 grand! No wonder...

 

In that case, you can still find outstanding CJ gear in mint condition but much older gear. They still work extremely well if they're well looked after.

 

The Sony gear is not all that bad actually. Sony has their own high-end version referred to as the ES series, stands for Elevated series, and they make some fine speakers that go for around 30grand a pair. AR something model... was also featured in TAS and Stereophile few years ago. So just like Yamaha, they do have their own high-end versions if you prefer this brand and type of sound. 

 

I have not used any gear in this price range for amplification, merely because I've always preferred separate pre-power setups to drive full range stats or ribbon panels, such as Maggies, Apogee's and the like. The only time I did use a full tube integrated with the Ethos was the CJ CAV45, it was marvelous!

 

I've heard other gear with several hybrids, such as the Ethos, Montis and Summits. Some of them were used amplifiers such as CJ's CA200 and CA150, both superb!

The others were, ARC, Manley Labs and VTL, all vintage gear but worked very well with stats.

 

You could seek others for nearly brand new at real bargain prices but I'm not sure if you would prefer the sound  you'll have to audition extensively before deciding but they're not that bad. I've used two of these brands of amplifiers with great results on previous Quad ESL's that I owned, such the 989 and 2905's; these two brands are Cayin and Prima Luna, both quite capable of handling panels. In fact I used a Cayin integrated with a pair of older Maggies MGIIIA. The Cayin was rated at 100w /ch fitted with KT88 tubes, it was a glorious sound. One that kept me listening for endless hours but like I said you'll have to try it out to make sure if it's to your liking.

 

Both these brands, Cayin and Prima Luna, offer gear in the price range you're looking for. They're both well built and use quality parts, the only issue is change the output tubes to a reputed reliable brand, don't use the supplied Chinese tubes. They're ok but not that great. For example from the Chinese made stock tubes, the sound was passable on EL34's. Then I switched all output tubes to genuine EL34 Mullards, British made, and wow! What a beautiful thing!

 

Cheers Jan, hope it goes well for you.

Best, RJ

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