I like the Qinpu A-1.0X
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I recently got a Sophia EL34 for my work office but I like it so much it's still at home. Push-pull and 28 wpc. They list for 1500 and 120 for the upgraded coupling caps. I have not heard the stock one. It was highly recommended to go with the upgraded caps as it transforms the amp. I'm happy. Good luck.
TAD-60 Signature... This is a great amp with many user-friendly adustments and features that allow you to tailor the sound to your power requirements and taste. It can use EL-34s, 6550s, or KT-88s and can be switched for triode or ultra-linear operation. And the amount of feedback is continuously variable and can easily be dialed in to taste. I'm presently using mine with the stock EL-34s in triode mode with minimal feedback. It sounds quite impressive powering the new Silverline Prelude speakers.
Also, it's built like a tank, uses over-spec heavy duty parts; and it's internally point-to-point wired with quality silver wire. And it looks quite nice as well.
Tvad, yes, (I guess I was thinking of the TAD-150 Signature preamp). The upgrade with the Auricaps and the filter caps is the model I was referring to. I don't think there is a TAD-60 "Signature," just this upgraded version. And I would definitely recommend going for the upgrade as I'm getting pretty impressive, tight, and controlled bass out of this unit.
Another thing to ask for (even if it costs a little extra) is Paul's heavy-duty gray power cord. It made a nice improvement in sound over some much more expensive cords I tried.
I have great response from a Jadis Orch Refer driving a pretty difficult speaker for a small tube amp.
Its a MTM speaker design and the little Jadis does wonders. However its difficult to find used at $1500, might have to go up to $1800.
Just as good would be one of the bigger Cayin's. Not their low end stuff.
The Cayin model I think compares with the Jadis is the one with the 4 KT 88's. Those are quite often found used here.
If I had a choice today I'd go with the Cayin for half the price as the Jadis.
Plato is right about the TAD-60. I'm using it with Gallo 3.1 and (although I've only had it for a few days) it really sounds musical and detailed. Even with cds that aren't recorded well, I can get drawn into the music in a way that I've never been able to do as well. However, it's not strictly speaking an integrated amp. It's a power amp with volume control. It's only limitation as an integrated is that you have one input with the TAD-60.
Onix SP-3. Just an exceptional value, at all levels. It is musical, detailed and extended (at both ends) plus wide open in the middle. With the extra money that you save with this amp, you can buy some candy ("audio" candy, that is). You could shower yourself with new sets of Cables, golden Toes or perhaps a clear box of Rocks dripping in Snake Oil.
Clinically Insane does not begin to cover the extent of our Audiophile madness sometimes.
The price (of the SP-3) crosses some borders (seems to be the "norm" now). From 5/600.00 Used to 1K.00 or so w/mods (Hexies, silver, etc.).
The amps responds (very) well to tube rolling and cable changes. It leans toward the "musical" side of "nuetral", with an excellent low end (for SS or tube). It has a "hint" of Single ended-ness" and a beautiful voice range.
It "can" be bettered in "individual" catagories, but as a "whole", it is damn hard to beat for under 1500.00.
The Halo Audio (oasisaudio.com) SPM-25 MonoBlocks. ... Nice "single ended" bliss with medium size balls. Fast, transparent and nuetral. VERY well built. Actually they are Mod'd versions of the ASL spm-25's. They drove everything that I could throw at them (when I owned a pair) and were a very detailed and excieting amp to have in my system.... About a 1000.00 new, and good luck used.
Those are two amps to add to your hunt. Which of them is better (?).... wellll. The jury is still out (for me, a least) on the Onix. I have only had it for a short while. A few things are certain. I do (very much) like the way with which the SP-3 sets up a large and musical soundstage. I like it's grunt and the delicacy as well. Not much "not" to like actually.
Good luck hunting,
I've had a TAD 60 for a couple of months now. Mine has the upgrades. I run it mostly in triode mode with feedback off. This is one sweet amp! Bass is very good, better than any tube amp I have personally heard. Mids and treble are smooooth. Detail is excellent. I can't think of anything else in this price range that would be any better. Looks really great, too. I'm using mine driving a pair of Hawthorne Audio Siver Iris coaxial speakers (with modded crossovers) in open baffles. These amps are impressive!
I agree that the ''heavier'' Cayin amps like the A 88-T are simply amazing and offer $5K build quality and sound for not a lot of money. My previous amps were the Jadis Orchestra, a very nice amplifier, but unfortunately too old-sounding and tubey (you know, the kind without enough resolution). If you are a romantic, it's a good choice - but I just couldn't get used to it. The other integrated I owned was the Sim Audio I-5 LE. Not bad but ultimately much too dark and dry for my taste. Nice build quality and looks, but for me, outrageous prices should provide outrageous sound. Kept that one a whole 3 months.
Then I visited a friend who had this nice-looking Cayin A 88-T. He gladly let me try it in my system. It was a much more organic and lively sound than my Moon I-5 ever could produce - so I bought a Cayin. Never looked back and this will be a keeper for sure. If you can audition one, do it, if not, buy one unheard, if you don't like it, you will be able to sell it fast as this kind of quality ( point to point, ultalinear/triode, plus metal remote) and refined sounds is hard to come by at even twice the price. If you do get a Cayin A 88-T, throw out the stock cord and get an upgraded power cord (not necessarily an expensive one - try the new Venom at $ 100.00) PLUS a new quad set of Svetlana KT 88's to replace the stock tubes. I swear this is the best you can do this side of $4, maybe 5K, for a LOT less money. Check it out and good luck!
I've owned the PrimaLuna's, the Cayin's, and far and away the best integrated going for my money is the Yaqin MS300B integrated. Breathtaking 300B tube performance at a cost that doesn't break the bank, and it will even drive an electrostat to more than satisfying levels in a moderate sized room with 9 watts. Trust me, I'd not have believed it possible either until I sampled it on my former CLS's. Very nice integrated and a giant killer for sure.