Rogue Audio makes some decent ones in your price range. Manley Labs is another candidate. They are both fairly popular and often come up for sale used because this is exactly the type of component that lead enthusiasts really into the hobby, and then they get upgrade fever. With common small signal tubes(e.g. 12ax7, 6922/6DJ8, etc. you can roll tube brands to tweak the warmth & other aspects to your taste.Cheers,
Primaluna is all the way in the big league sound wise, while remaining close to the minor league price wise.
a VTL if you can find one at your price point...
Quicksilver,Aric Audio,Decware are all worth investigating.All are excellent products plus excellent customer support.
Thanks for the recommendations so far. My initial thoughts:
-I had a Rogue Cronus Magnum a couple of years ago, and really didn't like the KT120s, so Rogue is probably not for me.
- I wasn't aware that Quicksilver had an integrated - I've heard great things about their gear, so I'll check that out.
-Aric doesn't appear to have an integrated amp
-Will look into Decware, Line Magnetic, and VTL. Don't know much about them
Keep the recommendations coming! Thanks, Scott
Take a look at the Unison Unico integrated hybrid. The mix of tube preamp and ss amp is really nice. Best of both worlds and great sound.
There is VAC Avatar here for $2200 or less. Zero feedback seller, though.
Jolida, or Black Ice or whatever they call themselves, make lots of tube stuff that's great sounding and reliable, maybe half the cost of Primaluna.
Based on what you described, you should listen to some Primaluna gear, it has that warm "tubey" sound. We have a local music club that meets at the local hifi shop and we've listened to one of the Primaluna integrateds a few times.
The Primaluna sound is really engaging and the imaging and soundstage were excellent, but I couldn't help feeling that it was a little too "syrupy" (for me) and wasn't sure I would be happy with that type of sound over the long term.
I have a Audio Research VSI55 integrated. It has some of that warmness, but is more neutral. I picked mine up used for under $2K. There are newer iterations of the ARC integrateds, I think the VSI75 is the latest. I have the VSI55 in my office system, but could be happy with it if it was my only system.
I'm also a fan of Rogue Audio and Modwright - my main system consists of Rogue Audio M180 monoblocks and a Modwright LS100 preamp. Again, these are more neutral sounding pieces, close to solid state but with just enough of that tube goodness (for me).
Thanks again for all the recommendations. I didn't take any of them :). I spent a little more than I had planned, but I just ordered the Still Audio EL34 integrated amp (stillaudio.com). 10wpc, 4/8/16 ohm taps, great reviews. Just couldn't resist. Will write a review after I get it...
Happy New Year!
When I was looking around for a tube amp years ago I called Jolida and wound up talking to the owner Michael Allen and others, and Jerrod explained that the amp I was interested in (502P) wasn't voiced for a "tubey" sound, but really more like modern clarity, whatever that means. In any case, I bought that amp and it was great sounding without any particularly "euphonic" or greasy tube-esque tonal shading...a GREAT amp that was eventually replaced with a much lower powered SE amp from Dennis Had.
@wolf_garcia I have liked the Jolida gear that I've heard. They seem to make solid, good sounding stuff.
Would love to hear what you think of the Still Audio amp.
cool !!!!!! let us know how it sounds..
My first album on it would be...
Crooked Still - Shaken By a Low Sound...
I would suggest any good quality 300b set amp if your speakers are 92 /16. You will get the tubes magic you are referring to.
Excellent choice with the Still Audio EL84 integrated. While I have not heard that particular amplifier, I have long been a fan of its distant cousins. I have owned a number of EL84 integrateds through the years and they are, for the most part, almost always overachievers. The EL84 tube will surprise you and be far more dynamic and snappy than you imagined prior. I’ve had Scott integrateds, have owned the Leben CS300x and xs several times and you will throughly enjoy this journey.
Your Still Audio amp is fronted with 12au7’s and tube rectified by a 5ar4. This will give you a ton of options for tube rolling in the future. While obviously different, in the EL84 based amps, I presently own a Leben CS300xs (4 x EL84, 2 x 12ax7) and a Kinko Ka-101 (4 x EL84, 2 x 12au7, 1 x 12ax7 and 1 x 5ar4 rectifier). If you decide to step into the NOS tube waters start with your rectifier and then your 12au7’s. A NOS Mullard 5ar4 and Mullard/Brimar 12au7’s will introduce more warmth. A GE rectifier and Telefunken/Cifte/Amperex 12au7’s will introduce more sparkle/sheen depending on your desires. Power tubes: Telefunkens, Mullards, Amperex or even EI will each take the circuit to new heights.
Your amp is beautiful and you will enjoy it, congrats. For others reading this thread, the Kingko is an amazing value for those whose budgets don’t reach into Still Audio, Leben or Audio Note territory. I’ve grt over $1,000 of NOS Telefunkens in every tube spot with a NOS Westinghouse rectifier and it firmly belongs in the high end conversation. Best wishes with your new setup.
@ghasley Thanks for the message. Yes, I'm absolutely thrilled with the Still Audio amp so far. The build quality is fantastic, and the sound has been very impressive. It's relaxing and engaging at the same time. I haven't done any tube rolling yet, but I will certainly dive into those waters soon. I appreciate the recommendations on tubes.
My speaker hunt continues. The Contrast Audio speakers didn't really come to life with 10wpc. For now, I'm using a basic pair of Klispch monitors (RP-160M) as a stopgap, and the sound is really good with these entry level speakers. I'll write a more lengthy review of the amp after I've had it for a few more weeks and found some speakers that work well with it.