My first tube integrated: which one to get?

Hello Audiogoners. I have had only Solid State equipment for my entire life. Recently, I have been considering a purchase of an integrated tube unit. My budget is around $4.000 USD. I have been looking at two units in particular: Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III and the Cary Audio SLI-100. I’m having trouble deciding on which one to purchase. I was hoping the Audiogon community could advise me as to which one to get.

My current system consist of a pair of Emotiva XPA-100 mono blocks, Parasound P6 and a Music Hall 9.3 TT with an Goldring Erotica LX cart. My speakers are Focal Aria 926. I have a smallish room, 11’7” (3.56m) x 15’7” (4.78m). I should also note that I’m planning on getting a DAC after my integrated amp purchase.

Both tube units I’m considering provide 100 watts/channel in Ultralinear but the Rogue Audio is switchable to triode mode at 60watts/channel. The Rogue unit is of a KT120 configuration whereas the Cary unit is a KT150 design. The Rogue has an onboard MM/MC phono stage albeit solid state. The Cary has no phone stage therefore I’ll need to get some sort of step-up phono stage from my MC cart. The Cary unit, normally a $6,000 plus system is on sale for $3700. The Rogue unit is $3400. I listen to manly rock from the 60s to current and some classical. However, I have been enjoying my friends jazz collection he gave me, inspiring my to seek out more contemporary jazz recordings.

My question are:

Should I even consider this purchase?

Will I experience the upgraded tube-quality sound I’m hoping for?

Should I consider instead a tube-based preamp to go with my 250watts into 8 ohms mono blocks?

If you recommend the pre-amp path, what sorts of things should I be paying attention to?

How important is it to have the ability to switch to triode mode? I understand that acoustic jazz sounds much better in triode mode?

Is there anything else that I should be considering with this possible purchase?

I should also say that I don’t mind used if I can achieve a bigger bang for my buck. Buying either the Rogue or the Cary new provides me with a generous 3-year warranty.

There you have it. I look forward to your input. Thank you all in advance for your help.


Hello armstrod, thank you for your repsonse. I'm curious, did you purchase your Willsenton R8 through Amazon or did you buy it direct from China?

Hello carlsbad, thank you for your response. I didn't mention it in my original post because I wanted to keep it short, but I'm also considering a speaker change as well. My Focal 926s are a bit too much speaker for my small room. If I were to make the change, and given the size of my room, which speakers would be a good fit for a tube INT? I need a speaker that extends in the high frequencies. My aged ears need all the help they can get. I was thinking of a ribbon tweeter stand mount or maybe a pair of Scansonic 2.5 MB1?

Given your response to carlsbad, I would consider the change to speakers and a tube integrated. 

I would lookup Fritz Speakers. Give him a call and discuss your situation and sonic preferences. His speakers are easy to drive and are very tube amp friendly, No need for a high powered tube amplifier. 


I owned the Cronus Magnum II for several years and absolutely loved the sound.  The CM III is an absolute no brainer for you, your room and speakers.  Expect dynamic punchy bass, clear refined midrange and a large atmospheric sound stage.  The KT120 power tubes are tough to beat.  

A good tube preamp is a good first step, but if you really want to experience all of what tubes can do, it’s best to go with a full tube amp as well. Within reason, the number watts is less critical to me than the quality. Triode is the way to go IMHO.

One of the benefits of tubes is that you can roll tubes to fine tune the sound to your tastes and system.

FWIW, I’m running a pair of KT66 outputs on a pair of Dyna/VTA 70s running as monoblocks. It’s only 10-12 watts per side in triode, but sounds pretty amazing. Also, FWIW the Convergent Audio amps are the absolute best I know of, and use KT120s.