First jump into tubes... need help in Hong Kong

Greetings everyone,

First off, I'm a long time lurker, first time poster here on the Gon. I recently moved overseas from the US to Hong Kong. I'll be living here for 2 or more years and am in the market for an audio system.

I've been looking at tube amps for their sound quality at lower volumes and size. I'm looking at the Audio Space / Duntonic line, either the Audio Space Galaxy Mini, which I can get bundled with some Audio Space ML-2 speakers for $5200 HKD (about $675 USD) or the Duntonic AS-3i with same speakers for (as I recall) about $6400 HKD (about $830 USD).

A few caveats here. Most places don't have true listening rooms so it's hard to make comparisons. The place selling the Audio Space integrateds I'm looking at does have a rather large treated listening room (foamed walls). My frustration is that the salesman insists that I listen on the ML-2 speakers rather than the more expensive speakers currently out of my budget. My main goal is to see what is holding the sound back, potentially crap speakers I've never heard of, or the amp.

Last bit. When I move back to North America in a few years, I plan to bring this with me and it would likely be mated with my Monitor Audio RS8's. While having fairly high sensitivity they also have 4 drivers which seems a bit much for a small tube amp.

Bottom line, what are your thoughts about the Audio Space / Duntonic lines, benefits of triode vs ultralinear modes and could you recommend some relatively cheap speakers for the time being. I'm looking to spend roughly $800-1000 USD. Other speaker alternatives include KEF iQ1 for $280 USD, KEF Cresto 10 for $200, AE Evo 1 for $300, Dali Concepts $300, and a random pair of DIY Davis Acoustics kit speakers using their kevlar drivers. Use: 80% music, 20% movies. Thanks for your help (and reading this)!

I have an Audio Space AS-3i in my second system. I am very satisfied indeed with it and do not feel that it will hold back any speakers at your price point; indeed you need not hesitate to go a good way higher with speakers if, eventually, you are so inclined.

My own speakers are Triangle Titus ES, quite sensitive speakers at 90 dB/w. They cost a bit more perhaps than you want to spend -- I have seen them here for around $400 used. They're an excellent match for the amp.

I don't know the other speakers you mention. I did at one time own a pair of AE Aegis Ones, and they might have done well with the AS-3i, perhaps with more limited dynamics than the Titus ES. I would avoid speakers with under 88 dB sensitivity.

Triode vs ultralinear is nice to have for the times you want to trade a little midrange sweetness for a bit more power. I have my amp set mostly for triode operation, but there are sometimes recordings which would benefit from a little more oomph... and there it is at the flick of a switch.

It sounds fine out of the box, but the AS-3i is also a good candidate for tweaking, in good time. You can profitably upgrade the power cord and the tubes if you so choose.

Overall, I think the Audio Space / Duntonic line is tremendous value.
Tobias, thanks for your recommendation of the AS-3i. I'll be heading to the shop tomorrow (well, today really) to take one last look and most likely place my order. I'm still a bit uncertain of the Audio Space ML-2 speakers that they're bundling (they don't say anything about specs and haven't answered my questions on them either). However, for the price they're charging (less than $200, it's probably a good bet for the time being.

To better focus this, are there any HK locals lurking that could give me a better idea of decently priced (quality) speaker lines in HK?