First and last Integrated tube amp. not much $$$.

I'm about to purchase my first tube amp and my budget is very tight. These are the amplifiers I'm considering:

Cayin TA-30 $849.00-(all BizzyBee mods, plus 1 Year of service) Paul of BizzyBeeis a Cayin U.S. dealer. Preamp out is included.

Conrad Johnson CAV-50: roughly $1,300.00 used. Preamp out is

Dec Ware SE 34-I $1,600 new, plus $195.00. Preamp out is included. subwoofer.

I have enough money to purchase the Cayin now. My question is
whether I should go for the Cayin, or save, till I can afford the other amps mentioned? BTW it would take me some time to save enough money to buy the other amps mentioned. Other amp suggestions are welcomed.

My system:
Klipsch Heresy's (1977) $500 new and unfinished Mom's Warehouse/ Colonie, NY

Conrad Johnson Dv-2b Tubed CD player. $995.00 used on Audiogon.

Rega Planar 3/ RB 300/ Rega Elys. $500.00 used on Audiogon.

Lehman Black Cube/ standard power supply. $325.00 used on

Hsu VTF-2. $500.00 new.

Should I go for the Cayin, and, enjoy the magic of tubes, now? Or, should I begin saving enough money to step up to the other amps mentioned? How much of a step up would it be? Auto-biasing is a requirement because, I have Carpal Tunnel in both hands. I also
need 4 inputs, and, one preamp output ,for the Hsu subwoofer.

As you know, the Klipsch Heresy's lower end needs to be augmented with a sub. I'm pretty happy with the Hsu, although, this
is my first subwoofer.

In terms of power requirements: Cayin TA-30- 35 watts per channel in EL- 34 push pull pentode. 4 watts in S.E. mode

Conrad Johnson Cav-50- EL-34- 40 or 45 watts (not sure) push pull pentode.

Dec Ware SE -34I - EL-34 - 7 watts Zen triode and many different
sound signatures available.

Will I be missing another audio plateau by settling on a push pull amp?. My listening room is roughly 13 1/2 x 16.

Speakers are 4 feet apart.

Back wall distance is 1 1/2 feet.

Speaker to listening seat distance is 6 1/2 feet.

Speaker to side wall distance is 4 feet.

Ceiling height is 9 feet. Tin Ceiling and wood floors.

Listening position is at extreme of back wall.

I listen to Classical, Opera, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, World Music, and everything in between.

I want faithful music reproduction , and, enough power to rock out
without distortion.



I own a stock Cayin TA-30 and I have a fully upgraded unit arriving from Bizzy Bee on Wednesday. The stock unit is a great value and I'm hoping the upgraded unit is the answer to all of my audio dreams! If you want a review of the upgraded unit, send me an e-mail through AudiogoN in a few days. HOWEVER, the Cayin IS NOT self-biasing. The upgraded unit has EXTERNAL BIAS test points and pots, but you still need to be able to use a DVM and a small screwdriver.


Hello Reubent,

Thanks for the quick reply! Your absolutely correct about the external bias feature on the Cayin. It is not self-biasing! Never-the-less, I think that I can handle the small screw driver and DVM meter, since adjustments are made on the outside of the amplifier-
instead of the inside. I definitely can't go inside the amp because my dexterity is gone, due to the Carpal Tunnel.

Yes, I'll email you for a review on the modded Cayin TA-30. Enjoy!!!

Happy Listening,

I've had the modified TA-30 for about 6 months now. It was my first venture into tubes. Right out of the box its sonic qualities were impressive. Then, after about 30 hours, bass really opened up and tightened up -- I can no longer understand why some people claim that smaller tube amps can't do bass. To make a long story short, I can't imagine going back to solid state. This amp is easy to work with, and for under $1,000 new, with a warranty, I do not think its value can be touched. I know it's not supposed to work this way but ask yourself this: Can the Dec Ware unit sound twice as good as the Cayin? It costs twice as much. There's no way. The Cayin is a great value today, and I would stand it up sonically to anything I've heard in the $2,000 range. Finally, Paul at Bizzy Bee is a great retailer -- patient, knowledgeable, willing to work with you. (I have no connection to Paul or Bizzy Bee.) Good luck.
Hello Winegasman,

Thank you posting a response. It is greatly appreciated.

Would you be so kind to answer the following? I think more information about the dynamics of your audio system and listening space, would be most helpful to everyone reading this thread.

What type of music do you listen too, and, at what sound level?

What are the dimensions of your listening room?

What other amplifiers have you auditioned to use as a reference?

Could you list other associated equipment in your audio system?

Thanks again and happy listening!

Mmaudio, I'll give it a shot. I listen to a wide variety of music -- chamber music (especially clarinet & piano), jazz (Miles, Tatum, Peterson, Rollins, Ella, Shearing, etc.), world music (Klezmer) and "folk rock" (the stuff with more "roll" than "rock," including Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Beatles, Taj Mahal, etc.). I've just been listening to Bruce Cockburn and before that Weber's Grand Duo Concertante. I listen at all levels except extremely loud (although my wife routinely claims that the music's too loud!), but mostly modest levels. Did have Cockburn cranking for "Rocket Launcher" though. These days I listen mostly to vinyl, having gotten back into it about 8 months ago after a 12 year hiatus. I have an early 80's Thorens TD-320 with new Ortofon Super OM20 cartridge as my analog source. I also listen to CDs, but not when I'm actually listening as my primary activity -- then I'd rather hear vinyl. I'm using a "fully modded" Cayin TA-30 (with the focus control and the external bias features), and I'm using a pair of no name boutique speakers manufactured and distributed up here in NH -- Arant A-80s. They're a fairly efficient (90db), 2-way, with 8-inch woofers and 1-inch tweeters, with front porting. I've tested them against many other speakers lately and for $330/pair they sound better than anything I've heard for under $700. While auditioning the Cayin, I also listened to many other tube and solid state integrated amps. The ones I can remember were the Arcam A-65 (I think that's the model #), a few fully restored and modded Fisher and Scott vintage tube amps (Scott 299 and 222; Fisher I forget), Adcom separates, and 2 Jolida models. I've also listened to un-restored vintage Macs and a Conrad Johnson, but the model escapes me, since I knew it was out of my price range from the get-go. My listening room is 12.5W x 15L x 7.5H. Incidentally, I've been alternating between using the Cayin in push-pull and single-end modes and, not surprisingly, I find that the unit has a bit more "balls" in push-pull, but is somewhat more transparent in single-end. And even in single-end I haven't yet been able to crank the volume past "noon," because by "10am" it's loud and clear! Anything more would be over the top, although the amp and speakers can handle the volume cleanly. Hope that helps.

I received the upgaded Cayin yesterday. It sounds great right out of the box and even smoothed out a bit during the first 3 hour listening session. I'm pretty sure the upgrade is a good value over the stock unit.

My listening room is 249 sq ft, but only 7ft ceilings (basement). In p-p mode, the amp is WAY loud at 9:30-10:00 and in SE mode it is WAY loud at about 11:00. I think it will have plenty of volume for your application.

BTW, "tin ceilings and wood floors"? Do you live in an old home? I live in an 1880 Victorian myself. Beautiful wood floors throughout and tin ceiling in the kithcen. Love the solid marble Italian fireplaces!!! Will be building a new home next year. I'll miss the details of the current home. But, no way can I afford to buy new Solid Italian marble fireplaces!!!

Oh, misical preference is everything, but I don't listen to much large scale classical. Mostly jazz, Americana, singer/songwriter, chamber. I did rock out last night with the Cayin! It was very good!!!


Thanks Ruebent and Winegasman for your input. Much appreciated!

Yes, I do live in a 1800's three family home. My wife, my three step
children, two dogs ( 9 year old female Rottweiler/Black Lab mix and 2 1/2 year old male full-bred American Pitbull) and our 4 year old female domestic cat, occupy all three floors.

My listening room is on the third floor. Away, from most of the madness of our chosen chaos. We do have wood floors ( which we
had sanded and finished) and tin ceilings in a large portion of each apartment. However, we do not have marble fireplaces!
All of the walls are made of plaster and are in need of repair.
Alot of work, but, tons of character. Were very happy here!

Back to the Cayin TA-30!

I'm glad that you were considering solid state, as well as, tube amplifiers, in your auditioning tests. I've had several fellow Audiogoners (former tube lover's) strongly suggest specific
solid state amplifiers as an alternative to tubes. Tube maintenance,
tube cost, and tube noise, were some of the reasons given. Of course, power and a weak bottom end, were also factors to consider.

Specific amplifiers mentioned were 47 Labs Shigaraki, 47 Labs Gaincard, and Audio Zones Gaincard clone. Unfortunately, all of these amplifiers exceed my very limited budget. The amplifiers mentioned start at $ 1,700 +. Top of the line offerings from Creek,
Cairn, Musical Fidelity, and Arcam (to name a few) were also suggested.

In a perfect world, I wish that the Unison Unico (in mod form) ,or the Pathos Classic One, were within my budget. Unfortunately,
they are not.

Luckily, there are audio companies (like Cayin, Antique Sound Labs, Jolida, Consonance ect...) that are trying to reach an audience with a limited budget, but, whom are critical listeners none-the-less. It seems like the Cayin TA-30 has reached that goal
in spades. Point to point hand wiring, high quality parts used throughout, and a very well built and attractive chassis, make this
amplifier stand out from the crowd. Not to mention, the fully modded unit ($849.00) competes with amplifiers costing up to $2,000. It is the audio deal of the century!

I've held onto my Klipsch Heresy's because they are a perfect match for tube amplifiers. Now, I finally can afford a tube amplifier
which, is hand made, and with little comprimise. I'm going to buy a modded Cayin TA-30 from Paul (of BzzyBee) very soon. BTW, now
I'll start upgrading all of my cables as funds permit. Does it ever end?

Happy listening to my fellow Audiogoner's!

What about Cayin's A-88T, or 743D ? Can anyone
provide a comparison of these units to the TA-30?
The A-88T and 743D cost twice as much, but there
arent many reviews of them. Can anyone help?

Give Paul of Bzzy Bee Tube Audio Design a call. I'm sure he can
answer your question. BTW, I just received my fully modified Cayin
TA-30. Just like everyone else is reporting, this amplifier is a visual
and sonic gem. I have five hours of listening time thus far, and I'm
pleasantly amazed.

Here's Paul's info: and