Looking to get into tubes?

I am sure this has been covered before but I would like to get very current opinions. After being in this hobby since the early 60's am finally thinking seriously about trying tubes for the first time. An integrated is what I am thinking of. Very cheap or used. Models that have caught my attention:
Onix, Dared, Many good looking offerings on that big auction site, Tec.On....?
I would like something easy to use, set up etc., since this will be my first one. What are all of your suggestions? Thanks P.S. I have efficent speakers
What are your speakers?

How much do you want to spend?

I think the Audio Note Soro SE is the best deal I ever got in audio. 18 extremely robust watts with world class sound. around $1400 w/o phono (if you can find one for sale)
rogue cronus
I have a very limited budget. I am thinking $900-$1000 tops so I'm also thinking used probably. For a 15 X 15 bedroom with a very low 6' 10" ceiling. I'm planning on driving Triangle Titus , Tekton Fostex or a set of Fritzspeaker single driver monitors at pretty low listening levels. Choices are confusing for the tube new comer with so many different types of tubes, SET or push pull design, bias setting and so many brands and things to consider. I would like some opinions on the brands and models I mentioned in the original post as well as any other viable contenders. You guys know everything.
EL34 based Cayin, Jolida or Primaluna. Excellent build quality, easy to setup and good resale (should you choose to go in another direction). All can be found used in your price range.

Good luck!
forget about it,you dont need the aggravation at your age trust me Im 60 too.Theres great SS like Mac,Ayre...
if you've made it this far without switching, you're probably in a good place anyway. what is your current ss amp?
I recently made the switch to tubes as well. It is a little bit more than you want to spend but if you can swing it - I have the Ming Da MC34AB. Lots of power, very VERY quiet. I'm driving a pair of Fritz's full-range single driver speakers, the ones with the Merrill driver. It is really a great combination!

Good luck!
The Primaluna Prologue 2 is a nice place to start . It is self/auto biasing and can use a myriad of tubes so that you can experiment to see what you like best . It is well made , quiet and easy to sell when it's time to move on . In stock form it will sound like a nice SS amp . You can warm it up , to varying amounts , with combinations of input and output tubes . The importer , Upscale Audio , is quite knowledgable in this respect . Call them , tell them what changes that you want to make to the sound and they will give a recommendation for a tube change . They also will sell you the tubes .

It doesn't get much easier than this !

While it may not be the end-all/be-all amp for you , it will allow you to learn what type of tube sound that you prefer .

Good luck .
Well to answer JayBo I am currently using vintage electronics. I have a Dynaco Stereo 416 modified by Van Alstine and matching pre as well as a vintage stock Yamaha CA1010 integrated and a heavily modified and upgraded Kenwood 9100 integrated. I know tubes have their downside.... power consumption, HEAT,finicky tubes,HUM etc. but thought I might take a chance if the right amp presented itself on the used market. So, I hope you guys can give lots more suggestions, direction and advice. I see some guys out there are imploring me to stick with solid state. We will see?
Spindrifter You have been at this since the early 60's.
If your ears survived Solid State from then till now I would hesitate to change.While I love tubes it's going to be difficult to do it on your given budget.SS has taken GIANT leaps forward over the years and although I cant make any recommendations for your new Amp I do tend to agree with some of the other posters to stay with Solid State.
Best of luck
Look for a resale unit in the Cayin or VAS line. Great sound, initial value and resale value, not to mention great service if you need it.
IF its in your head and wont go away I feel it too.I was wanting a CJ MV 60,maybe MV55 for reliability,customer service and quality EL34 tubes are available everywhere.I was thinking around 1200$ or so.Wasnt going to spend only 6-700$ at this point[aggravations mon].Good luck.Summers coming,ever buy a motorcycle?
I have to disagree with some of the above posts. I too had been listening to SS since the 60's. A couple of years ago I switched to tubes and couldn't be happier. Go for it!!!
I'm 58, started with tubes at age 16, went SS later but was never really happy. Now I have tubes again and I love them. I think the Rogue Cronus is a good suggestion and so is the Audio Space AS-3i. Both unfortunately near the top end of your budget if you can find them used.

Another good brand which was marketed for a while here in Canada is Passion Audio. The i-11 model is a bit better-sounding than the i-10 and should still be close to the low end of your budget. These amps were produced by Antique Sound Labs and voilĂ , that's another brand you might consider and a little easier to find.

Remember the output transformer is the key to sound quality in a tube amp. I recommend the Audio Space and Passion units for that reason. I have heard the Cronus briefly at a show and liked it but I didn't get to ask about it.
tube gear is cool, but you're stuff...as you already know..is totally classic ss hifi. a dynaco 70 is a nice alternative to ss, and in many ways, as sweet as many more expensive esoteric pieces. a blue collar marantz b if you will. i have had an mc275 for years, but it never displaces my revox gear for long. not because it doesn't sound a bit better, but because its so minimal, its meaningless (at least to me).
What makes tubes sound good are not the tubes, but rather the circuit. How many times have you heard that tubes sound sweeter, mellow, less bright, blooming, natural sound decay, etc.? What does that is the pure class A circuit for which tubes are known. You don't have to have tubes for pure a class A circuit. There are solid state amps that have that same sound and you don't have to put up with the high maintainance problems with tubes. Check out Pass Labs, and Esoteric. There might be other solid state brands that have pure class A circuits as well. Perhaps others can contribute more solid state amps brands with this tube sounding circuitry.
So, this is turning into an interesting debate. Talking about tubes, it goes from set, push-pull choices back to solid state and class A solid state. My vintage Yamaha has a class A circuit which does sound a bit better but runs much hotter(but is stock and way old). Ok let's discuss the pros and cons of Class A solid state... Monarchy, etc, etc...? You tube guys, don't be shy about anything you might want to say either. Not only are these forums informative but someone always puts a smile on my face. Thanks guys, please keep posting your ideas.
To me there's no point arguing about the relative sonic merits of tube and solid state. Class A solid state is an interesting option to me, I have heard ones I liked, but I have not heard any that I would willingly give up my tubes for. Which brings me to my point. The only way to decide the SS vs. tube question for yourself is to listen to them, and of course that's been said many many times.

I think there _will_ be a pertinent debate appearing more and more strongly in the future, and that's low power designs vs. the classics, whether tube or SS.
Soulbrass, nailed it in your price range. The Cayin A-50T (with EL 34 tubes) is, imo, a very nice sounding integrated amplifier that sells new for $1400 and you should be able to find a used unit within your price range. These are well built and reliable. For your room, speakers and application, this amp will have sufficient power.
I have to agree with Tobias.I started around the same age and am close to his age.I have run the gamut from all ss to all tube to a mix and just have found over the years I need some kind of tubes in the mix.

Best of luck,
This is food for thought. In this month's issue (192) of Absolute Sound magazine in the review of a Pass amp and preamp, Anthony Cordesman said "I have never been a believer in choosing one type of amplifier- tube or solid state, or Class A verus class AB. The best and most neutral amplifiers still don't sound the same, but the way in which an individual design is executed now tends to be as important as category. I could live very easily with the best examples in each category. I also find that the sonic differences between tube or solid state, and class A and class AB are becoming smaller over time."

It will be a sad day for Audiogon when all amplifiers of all types and categories sound the same. This section of the forum might as well be shut down. Wishful thinking.
The PrimaLuna & Cayin look like very interesting units. Any more companies and models that you guys prefer? It is always preferable to have a good selection of models from which to choose. Thanks for all of your feedback and any more to come as well.
The Prima Luna is the best choice for this reason: Where are you going to send the Cayin for repairs? China? I don't know of any repair centers in the US that take care of Cayin equipment. But I could be wrong.
Given your small room, speaker choices and low volume listening, I'd take a chance on the "6BQ5 Custom Integrated Amp w Bugle Boys" posted for sale on 4/8.

I've no connection whatsoever with the seller.

The pictures show a meticulous build.

The price is right.

I've found the 5687/6SN7 tube input stage designs very faithful sonically. TDK makes a nice volume pot.

The seller emphasizes the quietness of this amp - if assumed to be accurate, a huge bonus for low volume listening.

Just my 2 cents...


OK, please tell me about tube cost, availability,resources, how long do they last, tube matching, tube rolling-compatability, break-in? These things are still unknown to me and I feel are important since Solid State is just essentially plug in & play.
Thanks for all of your opinions. I am still undecided weather or not to take the plunge though. I think that all the fussing and tube Hi-Fi minutia might make me crazier than my present state. We ARE all crazy here anyway, aren't we?

A set of driver ( small-signal ) tubes might last you a year if you left your amp on all the time ( I don't ). Turning off and on will reduce tube life somewhat but if, like me, you have the amp on about 4 hours a day, four days a week, the tubes will last a lot longer than a year.

Output tubes ( power tubes--the big ones ) generally last about a third of the lifetime of the smaller driver tubes.

A new output tube might cost from $15 to $25. A new driver tube might cost about the same. NOS tubes ( new old stock -- tubes made thirty to seventy years ago and stored since that time -- some of us use them ) will cost you whatever you are willing to pay.

Whether matching is necessary depends on the amplifier design. Output tubes often need to be matched, and the new tube sellers sell matched sets if you need them. Driver tube matching becomes important if you are buying used tubes for use in pairs, quads, etc. Otherwise you can just buy a pair or a quad of new ones.

Resources... do you mean where to buy tubes, or where to find out more? New tubes are easy to find.

Breaking in a new tube might take ten or twenty hours of use.

Tube gear does need a little more care than the other kind. Mostly you need to keep it well-ventilated so that overheating never becomes a problem.