Entry level tube integrated to replace T-Amp?


I'm currently using a T-amp with a NOS Dac (Derek Shek's) with a pair of original Snell K. I'm very happy with the set-up and amazed at how good things can sound at budget level. However while the Snells are tight, swinging, very open and aery, and delivers great soundstage and image with the T-Amp, they are also somewhat "bleached" in sound (as I've seen them described by someone). The T-Amp is a bit "thin" overall and creates a certain listening fatigue. The Snells are last on my list of updates, and I am therefore considering replacing the T-Amp with an entry level tube integrated to compensate for the Snell's somewhat "bleach" sound and the T-Amps somewhat "thin" sound, as well as to make the listening less fatiguing. I'm aware of at least three well reviewed tube integrateds: the Almarro 205, the Sophia Baby, and the Decware Zen. Is there anyone who has heard and compared those three amps and could give me some advice? PRaT (as the English say) is very important to me and I would vey much like to keep the T-Amp's good soundstage, image and detail.

Feel free to comment!
the original snells, unlike the newer versions from audio note, like a bit of power. an integrated from from creek would have the right amount of power and warmth to do the job in an outstanding way. a great combination.
Two possibilities I've liked which, of course, are not on your list are the Onix SP-3, a 38 watt tubed integrated with two inputs and my present amp, the Red Wine Audio Signature 30.
The Onix delivers what your looking for from a tube amp but the RWA takes the T-amp to a whole new level. I would urge you to check that out before you do anything else. I was using the RWA Clari-T prior to the Sig 30 and by comparison it was a bit thin and bleached. 6moons.com has a review of the Sig 30 which you might find very interesting.
I second the opinion of Macrojack. The Signature 30 is a whole other creature, and switching between it and my tube amps means little, if ANY, tube withdrawal. Plus, it has, to use Srajan's phrase, "lead-filled brass balls." It sounds waay too like a very very good Single Ended tube amp with lightning in there, in the form of high current battery based delivery of power to your speakers. I really love mine.

Hmm, interesting ... I suppose you mean that more power wouldn't only translate into higher levels of volume but also a fuller sound. Tricky ... Will think it over.

I would need to add the Onix to the list now. Looked at the article on 6moons and am intrigued (and it's 38W, Jaybo).

A couple of days ago I also read about the RWA Signature 30 and thought that this is probably exactly what I'm looking for... Still, new it is a bit above my budget and it will probably not be easy to find used. But when I have the possibility I will definitely get one (even without listening to it first :o)).

Thanks for your feed-back!
I would suggest looking at KT88,EL34,6551 tubed units. These seem to have more punch than the 300b, 2a3, 6l6, and 5881, Units.

I have not had a chance to listen to a good set of 845s but I have heard that they also give a more dynamic sound, however these units seem to be expensive.

I just purchased a cary rocket 88 (kt88) and really enjoy the sound, very black background with a dynamic sound from low listening to medium listening volumes. On this amp I have a tendency to use Triode only, it just sounds better to me.

Perhaps the TAD products might be a good starting point, very inexpensive, good reviews, and EL34s that can be interchanged by changing bias, and he offers in home demos.
PrimaLuna Prologue 1/2 35W/40W.
jolojl....exactly...plus the extremely neutral respnse of the snell, will let a bit of that warm creek(read british)midrange in at low as well as high volumes.


This new RWA Sig. 30 really seems to be on everybody's lips. I really think it's what I'm looking for so maybe I'll keep to the T-Amp until I can get a Signature. Would have been fun to try tubes though...

Looked at the Cary Rocket 88 review in Positive-Feedback and it gets a great one. Couldn't find anything on TAD though. Really a problem with this "hobby": you can never audition enough before buying. You have in many ways to trust other's opinions. Maybe one should become a reviewer oneself :o)

Had a look on Stereophile review of no 1. Looks interesting. But same problem as above.


Thanks for feedback!
Have you tried any mods to the Sonic Impact, specifically the larger caps to improve the bass response? That might address some of your problem with it.
Hi Lvw!

Actually I don't have the knowledge, skill or desire at the moment to modify the T-Amp by myself. Maybe it would be possible to make something like the Red Wine Audio Sig. 30 if one took the time. I've seen the modded T-Amp by Best Audio Mods (http://bestaudiomods.com/information.html): maybe that's one way to go?

It's not really the bass response that bothers me though with the T-Amp (but it could of course be better). It's rather a more full-bodied tone all over the frequency range I'm after. But maybe a change of caps would address such an issue as well?

Thanks for feed-back!
since I'm not quite clear on the power requirements. I'll offer several different options. If you're not stuck on batteries.. you do have several T amp options. One being a mixture of T amp and Tubes like the Tube T-Amp 2020.
If more power is needed maybe the Class T-Amp 100.

And last but not least Michael Mardis's creation the Octopus amp. From my communication with him , adding the Obbligato film/foil as input caps should give you what you're looking for.

All of these amplifiers are right at or under $600 USD.
You may want to look over his DIY site to learn more about the T amps.

Michael has been a great help too me and will share his knowledge with you. All you have to do is ask.

Good listening!!
Hi Gmood1!

Great feedback! For volume levels I don't need much power, depending on recording level I rarely run the T-Amp above 9 o'clock. Maybe more power would affect other parameters as definition, bass, texture, I don't know.

I regularly read the TNT-Audio site where the Sonic Impact T-AMP, the Autocostruire 2020, the DiyParadise "Charlize", and the 41Hz AMP (why the name "41 Hz", by the way?) were reviewed (http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/tripath_amps_e.html). I have been very tempted by the Charlize and am still wondering how it sounds.

I knew about the DIY site by Michael Mardis but since I'm not really into DIY I haven't visited it regularly. The Octopus however really look like an interesting alternative to the Charlize! Have you heard it?

And what about the Maestro T-Amp. How does that look to you? (http://www.bestaudiomods.com/)

Thanks again for feedback!
Sorry! Last link should be http://www.bestaudiomods.com/.
Well I've never heard the Charlize. But I do have a friend that owns one and he's heard my ClariT. Which is basically the same as the Maestro T amp. Both use the same Tripath boards and most likely sound the same. He says the Charlize is a much better sounding unit over the ClariT. The ClariT used the original Sonic impact board..so no surprises there.

I'm not sure why Jan uses 41Hz in his web name? Both the 41Hz and Charlize T amps have boards that are not of the Sonic Impact board. They were designed to out perform the basic mass market SI boards.

If Michael Mardis picked these boards over the basic SI. You can bet he did it for a reason. If I had to choose between the four of them. I would buy the Charlize or the Octupus amplifier. The Octupus seems more of a complete unit from what I can tell. I've never read where a person picked the basic SI over the other two T amps. With a 16 day money back guarantee you don't have much to lose with the Octupus. Also having two extra wpc can't hurt.

The input caps seem to be the key at getting more of a balanced sound from the T amps.

If you haven't tried one. You may also want to look at a Gain Clone. So far it is still my choice over the T amps in balanced sound and refinement. Maybe that will change once my 41Hz unit is finished? I'll know soon enough.;-)

Good listening!!
hi. i have a modded SI with auricaps etc. its good, but in retrospect i would save my money now instead of modding it. 41hz is bringing out an amp 4 kit at some point using the same chip as the signature 30. it will probably be far cheaper, though the sig 30 really does appeal. i'd love to hear it after the 6moons review
Hi Gilbodavid,

If I'm not mistaken the chip used in the Sig30 and TEAC are discontinued. There's now a different Tripath chip to take its place with similar output. I wonder if Jan will get the newer chip or buy the discontinued model at a discount?
Hi Gmood1 and Gilbodavid!

So it all comes down to two (or rather three) ways to go if one want's a T-Amp variant but can't get the RWA Sig. 30 right off (which I would if I could).

Not worth going with the Maestro, Clari-T or self-modded variants in same direction. Next step would be either a Charlize or an Octopus towards a Sig. 30. And last would be to wait for a 41Hz DIY amp similar to Sig. 30 but at lesser cost.

I really appreciate your help and will probably take the second step, Charlize or Octopus, if I don't decide for a tube integrated (and one does not exclude the other). I am quite tempted to try tubes at the moment and think it has come down to trying either an Almarro or a Decware Taboo, but as I said, one does not exclude the other and when I've tried a tube/Charlize/Octopus it might be possible to get a Sig. 30 used, who knows?

Again, thanks for your valuable feedback!
almarro 205 is a nice amp ir runs in pentode...puts out 4.5 watts great for jazz,small scale classical and some rock, the decware is better then the almarro even though its only a 2 watter...couse it has prat in spades...also everytime you change the rectifier for another brand ..its like you have a new amp again, this is a amp for tube rolling...you cant go wrong with this amp...! the baby sophia i cant comment on....