New to Integrated stereo tube amps
After decades of listening to and owning solid state amps I recently decided (March, 2021) to jump into the tube amp experience. Owned are SS units made in the 70s and 80s, and examples include the Sony STR V-15, 45 and 55 units as well as a Pioneer SX-D7000 and Kenwood KR-9600 receivers. They are very much in play in different areas of the house and are enjoyed routinely, except for the Sony V45 where the FM tuner crashed... last year!. They're all original and a testament to build quality and audio engineering design of that era. Since these are old school (by anyone's standard) it was way past time to modernize/upgrade just a bit. Note that the 40 year old speakers with some of these look and play as fine today as when brand new. Love the classic gear.
So, 40 years later...yes, I've been out of the market for that long and deciding what to go with was not as simple as I first thought it would be, long gone are the subscriptions to Stereo Review and Audio mags, and online reviews can be challenging to cipher on. I thought adding one more opinion to the mix might be a good thing.
What I discovered were all new names to me; companies like Willsenton, Muzishare, Reisong, Prima Luna, PS Audio, Schiit Audio, etc. and some of the offerings were hybrid SS/Tube design. What I settled on was Raven Audio and their Blackhawk 3.1 20 watt offering. What I like about them is their USA designed and fabbed product, their quality controlled mfg. environment, the principals answered the phones when I called, they returned calls and offered insight that I expect might be available to me in overseas products. Who in China is going to speak with me when I have a question or an issue to resolve? Not so with the Texans.
My experience has been very positive and I have really upped the game when it comes to component and sound definition (I purchased the CeLest Speaker set as well). The Blackhawk is my go to, it's such a simple amp, has no EQ to fuss with and fills a 32 x 18 x 8 room with very satisfying bass, mids and highs where I find new details in music that I've never heard before. In fact this system is so good it stopped my 18 yo kid in his tracks one day. The soundstage is wide, there is depth and there is detail. I call it 3D sound and still can't believe this is from a tube amp with 2 speakers.
Yes it was quite the investment and I believe it was a very good decision. I would make the same call if I had to do it over again. I'm a tube amp convert and a Raven fan, and I hope my 2 cents provides just a bit of insight.
I'm new to the forum here, wish I had found the site earlier this year. Lots of valuable info here...if you have any questions about my experience just shout.