What we like:Compact design, Unique tubes, Resonant acoustic listening
Not so much:One input, Lack of punch in the lower frequencies
Watts RMS per Channel: 3.5w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – No, WiFi – No Inputs: 1x Line level RCA Outputs: 1x L/R Speaker terminal set
The fit-out of this tube stereo amplifier is simple yet sturdy. The connections for the tubes feel solid and the volume control knob is smooth with a little resistance without any wiggle. The tubes used in this amplifier are 2x 6AD10s which were originally used for TV tubes as both pre and power tubes.
The sound is wide and immersive with the pinpoint right to left stereo imaging creating an enveloping experience. While listening to live tracks, you can almost feel like you are at the concert as part of the crowd. Acoustic tracks played through this amplifier sound particularly resonant and allow for individual instrumentation to really shine.
If you have a penchant for heavier listening you will be pleasantly surprised by this vacuume amplifier as you may not be used to getting to hear the true separation between the instruments from other amplifiers. The processed sounds of dance track vocals or heavy metal guitar can come across a little too forward and the kick drum is missing a real punch but its hard to fault the APPJ PA1501A on anything else.
What we like:Tube protection, VU meter, Integrated Bluetooth
Not so much:Hybrid amplification
Watts RMS per Channel: 25w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 2x Line level RCA, 1x USB A Outputs: 1x L/R
You might look at the Rockville Blu Tube and think “How the heck does that amplifier get 25w per channel out of those tiny tubes?” Well, the answer is it used hybrid amplification which is a combination of tube and solid-state amplification.
You could view this as an abomination or as having the best of both worlds. Having solid-state amplification as part of the process will turn off the purists but the extra warmth and realism added by the tubes to the solid-state could appeal to others. The tubes are used as a preamp stage for this combo stereo amplifier to add more color to the processed sounds created when compressing digital media.
The Blu Tube does look cool though with the guards around the tubes and an included VU meter. The piano gloss black back and sides with silver faceplate look really sleek and sexy. It also has integrated Bluetooth and a USB input which makes it better for streaming music than our top pick.
What we like:Plenty of volume, Minimal noise, Great with acoustic songs
Not so much:Cheap control knob, loses detail with complicated tracks
Watts RMS per Channel: 6.8w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – No, WiFi – No Inputs: 1x Line level RCA Outputs: 1x L/R
If you listen to a lot of artists with intoxicating vocals and smooth soft instrumentation, the 6P1 could suit your listening tastes. The combination of tubes in this tube amplifier has a particular warmth and boost of the mid-range frequencies making vocals really soar but you could lose them amongst distorted instrumentation such as rock songs. The bass is responsive enough through correctly paired speakers to keep you engaged but is definitely less present that those lush mids.
Overall the build of P61 is pretty sturdy except for the volume knob which is a little wobbly. The meters on the front work perfectly and are a nice touch on a relatively cheap vacuume amplifier. As this amplifier only has one input you may want to have a separate input switcher but the 6P1 does do a good job at amplifying one source at enough volume to fill most rooms.
What we like:Unique look, Output for 8ohm and 4ohm speakers, Sounds great
Not so much:Source selection on the back instead of the front
Watts RMS per Channel: 6w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 2x line level RCA Outputs: 1x 4ohm L/R speaker terminal set, 1x 8ohm L/R
Most tube stereo amplifiers in the lower end of the price spectrum or only compatible with one impedance (ohms) for the speaker outputs but the Reisong A10 offers the choice of 4ohm or 8ohm. The inside has point to point wiring which is also rare in a low-cost amplifier. The exterior build is also great which has a stainless steel chassis and aluminum column corners. As this valve stereo amplifier only puts out 6w it is best paired with sensitive speakers rated around 99db.
The sound from this amplifier is extremely warm with a wide soundstage. You could be left wanting more resolution and detail but those factors are generally left behind when comparing tube amps to solid-state at the best of times. This amplifier is a great choice for someone who is curious about making a change from solid-state to tube amplification but doesn’t want to spend a fortune.
What we like:DAC and Bluetooth, Plenty of power, Hand-wired
Not so much:Easy to leave fingerprints on
Watts RMS per Channel: 13w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 2x Line level RCA, 1x USB A, 1x USB B Outputs: 1x L/R speaker terminal set, 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
The MP-5 comes equipped with an onboard DAC that comes from the well-trusted brand Onkyo and does not seem to suffer from any jitter issues although it is not compatible with and high fidelity streaming formats. This amp also has Bluetooth and more than one RCA input making it better at multitasking than some others in our top list. The build is sturdy with hand-wired components on the inside
Power is a bonus for this tube amplifier as you could pair it with less sensitive speakers if you already own some as this amp has more than four times the power of our top pick. The sound is non-fatiguing with warmth through the midrange lending a particular strength to female vocals. This amp is great for listening to jazz as it has decent separation and a deep soundstage.
Watts RMS per Channel: 25w triode, 45w ultra-linear Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 4 Line level RCA, Outputs: 1x 2ohm L/R speaker terminal set, 1x 4ohm L/R, 1x 8ohm L/R
This vacuume stereo amp can run in two different modes which create a different sound for the listener. They are known as the ultra-linear working state and triode working state. This is achieved by putting more output through the different tubes and less through others. It is important to note that when purchasing the amplifier you may want to purchase extra tubes as part of the package as by default they will come with KT88 and EL34 tubes but others are available with others depending on your sound preferences.
It has plenty of power to drive a range of speakers and will rarely have to be turned up beyond 50% volume unless you really need to blare over a house party or to hear your music through your entire house. You can get the typically awesome string instrument warmth through the KT88 tubes and have to option to switch to the EL34 tubes for listening to other music.
What we like: 5 inputs, Triode and Ultra-linear, Remote control
Not so much:Loses bass response at low volumes
Watts RMS per Channel: 25w Triode, 45w ultra-linear Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 5x line level RCA, Outputs: 1x 2ohm L/R speaker terminal set, 1x 4ohm L/R, 1x 8ohm L/R, 1x 1/4” Headphone jack
This tube amp is high powered and capable of 2 working modes like the Willsenton R8. This means you can adjust this amplifier to your listening needs and can be switched between the KT88 and EL34 tubes.
The build of this amplifier is sturdy and heavy. It weighs around 22kg so you might want to leave it where you first set it up. There is no physical shielding for the tubes so it should also be set up in a safe spot.
You can expect a very rich tone with a soundstage that is both deep and rich. This amplifier is less picky with pairing than many other tube amplifiers. The bass on the X7 is deep and bouncy but lacks a certain punch to it. The mids are abundant and warm with great detail being enlisted by the X7.
What we like: Sleek look, Choice of 4 output valves, Balanced inputs
Not so much:Unprotected tubes
Watts RMS per Channel: 50w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 3x Line level RCA, 1x Phono RCA 1x Balanced XLR, Outputs: 1x 2ohm L/R, 1x 4ohm L/R speaker terminal set, 1x 8ohm L/R, 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
This stereo vacuume amplifier is a good allrounder with a more precise sound than many other tube amplifiers. This is due to Dared introducing a local feedback circuit. This helps the amplifier to control the speakers more easily but loses a bit of the tube amplifier warmth. The sound is presented is a very lifelike way with a forward-leaning presentation accompanied by a brilliantly wide and deep soundstage.
The build looks great with brushed black metal casing and a copper plate that matches the glow from the tubes when they are running. There is no grate or pole protecting the tubes so keep this amplifier in a safe place. A nice touch is having a balanced XLR input which many other amplifiers in this price range are lacking so this could be the choice for you if you have a device that uses XLR output.
What is tube stereo amp?
Most modern amplifiers you see are what is known as solid-state amplifiers and use capacitors instead of tubes. Tubes are an older technology that were used in many things in the past from TVs to guitar amplifiers. Tubes are still used when building amplifiers now as many people believe they provide a purer sound. There is a definite warmth from using a tube amplifier that is not present in solid-state amplification. This can often come at the cost of some precision and detail especially when comparing solid-state and tube amplifiers on the budget end of the price scale.
When comparing watts per channel between solid-state and tube amplifiers it is important to remember that lower output from a tube amp will generally be louder than a similar output from a solid-state amplifier. Tube amplifiers are more suited to sensitive speakers for this reason.
Given that tube amplifiers are associated with analog amplification, there will often be a lack of digital inputs such as optical, coaxial, and Bluetooth. There are still some tube amplifiers that include these but they are rare when comparing to solid-state amps. With this in mind, you should be aware you may have to buy a standalone DAC for your digital music needs.
Tube amplifiers will need to be “run in” after purchase. This means that you will need to run the amplifier for a set amount of time before you get the best sound out of that amplifier. Think of it as breaking in the tubes on your amplifier. The tubes in the amplifier can also be changed out alter the sound of your amplifier or to replace blown or old tubes.
Last update on 2021-10-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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