Character of EL-84 amps

I did a lot of auditioning of ProAc speakers at Arizona Hifi...super excellent guys. I listened for the first two visits to a Leben EL-84 integrated, with around 20 wpc. It sounded lovely. Maybe the nicest amp I have ever heard. On the third visit I switched mid visit to the big Leben and pre, with 6550s. A much different sound. But, I keep thinking back, and think that I really liked the EL-84 sound. It seemed lighter, airier, less thick and heavy. More pleasant and easier to listen to. At the time I thought it possibly a bit thin. Now I think maybe I want that sound.

I have not heard other EL-84 amps. There is the RM-10. Manley makes one with 4 EL-84s per side. I have a Scott integrated I never liked, but maybe I can mod it.

Is it generally true of EL-84 amps that they are lighter and airier, more delicate, in sound than EL-34/6550/6L6 etc amps? Or should I not assume what is true with Leben is true with all EL-84 amps?

Srajan at 6moons thinks very highly of EL-84 tubed amps. He feels they are underrated and/or overlooked for the more powerful types.

There is the Luxman LN-Q10, which is now made in China for Luxman and is $1K cheaper than its predecessor, the LN-Q100, which was made in Japan. I'm thinking of getting that myself. 12 watts/channel and a great headphone amp as well.

Also, later this year Glow Audio is coming out with their version of a low power EL-84 as well. Transformatic makes one as well but it's not cheap.

If you're interested in the Luxman, you can get a home trial from The Cable Company. They had a nice set up at the Newport Audio Show and were really nice to talk to. They had some Audeze headphones and they sounded so much better than any of the solid state gear that was there. Not quite as nice as the Eddie Current models but those are in another price bracket (3X the cost) which is beyond what I can afford.
All the best,
I've been told by a dealer that the 6p1t quartet in my Sophia Baby are a variation of EL84s. I can't verify the info, but the descriptions of the EL84 sound is consistent with what I hear.
I like HH Scott vintage integrated amp. For bellow $1k you get fully-fully restored full function amp. It may outlive and outperform MONSTERS for 10x the price coz the built quality is 2nd to none.
The Jolida FX10 integrated is EL-84 based, 10 watts/channel and a real bargain. Difficult for me to compare the sound to my EL-34/KT-88 amp because everything about them and their systems is so different but the Jolida does have an openness that works extremely well with the kinds of music I listen to most of the time.

The Russian 6P14P-EV tube is a drop-in replacement for the EL-84, sounds excellent and has been more reliable than some of the vintage EL-84s I've bought.
Mt10425 -- I don't have any experience with the sound of the 6p1t tube and can't comment on that but just a caution that it's not interchangeable with the EL-84 tube.

This from the tnt-audio review of the Sophia Baby, "The quad of output tubes are Russian military 6P1T pentodes, treated by Sophia for low noise. While the 6P1T is similar in dimensions and outward appearance to the EL84 family of tubes, they are not interchangeable due to significant electrical differences."
There is the Music Reference RM-10 II
This amp is one of the best we have heard in the last 20 years and made in USA
It is also a modern circuit not a copy of someone else s
and you will like the extra power with the Proacs.
Yes I am a dealer but this amp is Bad ass with peaks of 40 watts per ch.
Cheers JohnnyR
I would not buy into the theory that the EL-84 is lighter, airier, and more delicate in sound than those other tubes you mentioned. I have owned both a Music Reference RM-9 and RM-10 and while the RM-10 has about a third of the power of it's EL-84 big brother, it has balls. Then again where most designers are hard pressed to squeeze 15 watts out of an EL-84 design, Roger Modjeski gets 35 watts. The extra power gives this little amp a bid sound versus some of the lower powered EL-84's I have heard. There is a 6moons review of this amp worth checking out.
I think the Manley Snapper is EL 84 based also. Another nice thing about the EL84 is that great vintage tubes are generally a heck of a lot cheaper than bigger vintage power tubes like the 6550, KT88 and EL34s which can be several hundred dollars each.
I use EL84's daily. Love my vintage Fisher amps. Had Cary with KT88's...sold. Adcom 565's...sold. This tube can have a special character. Light, airy, but not lean. Fast, stop on a dime speed when needed, but also able to linger long enough to show full and realistic tone. Colorful, but not colored. Bass may have limitations at the absolute extreme compared to higher watt tubes, but it's tunefull tightness makes up for it. Some systems/rooms do better with this level of bass performance. Every brand sounds different and you can literally tailor the sound you want by choosing accordingly. The current Gold Lion EL84 is a great sounding tube for not alot of money compared to NOS stuff. They aren't lasting as long for me though. But, for $120,00 a quad, you can retube every year.
Sfar, I didn't mean to infer that they were interchangble. By variation, I meant characteristics in sound, nothing more.
I like the EL84 and have quite a few amps that take the tube, as well as its stouter brother the 7189.

The RM10 is an excellent amp if you are buying new. Very fast and direct sounding with nice power delivery.

The Eico HF-81 integrated is just what everyone says, a magic amp.

Now, if I could have only one EL84 amp it would be the Acrosound Stereo 20-20. In designing the amp Keroes went back to the Loftin-White direct coupled circuit for the 2A3 amp and adaped it to EL84s, so unlike any other commerical EL84 amp, it is direct coupled, without any coupling capacitors in the signal path, and it sounds that way. Super fast, facile, balanced, immediate and powerful. The legendary Acrosound output transformers don't hurt, but these amps are worth every penny that one pays for them.
Marty (Viridian), do you have any experience with or comments on the Pilot SA-232?

I have one that I use occasionally in a third system, in my basement. It functions well, but I've never taken the time to work it over thoroughly (replacing caps, rolling tubes, etc.), or to assess it in my main system.

I know it is generally well regarded. I'd be interested in any comments you might have on it.

-- Al
Viridian, I think you told me about the Acrosound once before when I posted a question about neutral (non-fat) tube amps. I'll keep an eye out.

I have been leaning toward an RM-9 but maybe the RM-10 is worth considering too.

Clio99 have you heard any other EL84 amps?
The Snapper is out of my budget but it also uses more ouput tubes than the others... I do push my 8B to the limit with my ProAc One SCs in my small room. Bad ears I guess but I always listened to music very loud.

Good to know about the Gold Lions HifiHarv. Yes that's not why I am thinking about the tubes but the prices are attractive.

Have any of you head the smaller Leben integrated ($3500) with EL84s? It sounded shimmering and delicate, with so much more going on with the cymbals and space, than the larger integrated ($7k) or the 6550 amp and preamp ($17k).

Thanks everyone.
JohnnyR, if you are a Music Reference dealer, I would like to talk to you offline, if that's allowed. jkk251
at gmail
dot com
guess I'll find out. shame we can't pm.

Al, I had a friend, many moons ago, that had the Pilot 232. I am not comfortable commenting except to say that it drove his Valencias with authority and clarity. Unlike the Dyna ST-35 or the little Heaths, it was one of the great EL84 amps. I would love to have one in house to really have a proper listen, or even to restore.

River, my taste runs to the RM-10 over the RM-9, though YMMV! And, of course, the RM-9 is the more universal amp based solely on output power.
I believe Dennis Had, formally of Cary, is rebuilding old EL 84s such as Pilot and Magnavox and selling them on EBay. They look great and reviews seem extremely positive. Ever since I got my RM10 many years ago from JohnnyR I've Ben smitten by the EL 84. The Leben has wonderful tone. When one pops up used I'll be in the hunt. Second Viridian, the 7189 tube is fabulous.
Mikirob, I have seen those and emailed with Dennis a little. He had a 6L6 SE but I was worried about the low watts. I'm sure his Magnavox EL84 rebuilds are great.

Viridian the RM-10 puts out the same power as the 8B so I'd be OK unless I get a bigger house. It's the only one that does that with 4 EL84s I know of.


In addition to the RM-10 I have heard the Snapper and Leben. The Leben was quite nice, the Snapper okay, but something about the RM-10 just clicked for me. Not to mention a used RM-10 MkII at around $1000 is a lot of amp for the money IMO.

The 6moons review includes some interesting comments from Roger Modjeski on the design. Also, I think you can go to the Music Reference site and read the manual and design philosophy. The manual is one of the best audio reads there is IMO.
Thanks Clio09. I would love try one, but it's hard to find one to audition.

Where do you live. I may be able to assist.
Las Cruces, NM...pretty much the maximum distance from everywhere.