Review: Antique Sound Labs MG SPM8 Tube amp

Category: Amplifiers

I've been using solid state amps forever and I wanted to give tubes a try to hear the difference. I didn't want to pay a lot of money and these seemed like the perfect introduction.

And they are. I would definitely say that I have not heard anything comparable in solid state at this price point. I have heard much better amps in both tube and solid state costing a lot more, but not for $500.

The soundstage is very wide and I found the separation of the instruments to be quite clear. However, the front-to-back soundstage was completely flat. I couldn't hear any depth whatsoever on any recording.

The bass was surprisingly detailed, although the highs do seem a bit garbled. I haven't completely broken them in yet, though, so I'm remaining optimistic.

Since the amps have volume control, I go direct from my Rega Planet to the amps to the speakers. The only annoying bit is having to get up to change the volume, but if you listen to entire albums, this is a minor distraction.

Associated gear
Audio Physic Tempo EX speakers
Analysis Plus 12' Speaker wire
Zu Cable Julian Interconnects

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If you found a fault in these amps, time to start tweaking. Try some better quality tubes! It will make a lot of difference. Try some telefunken or mullard in place of the stock tubes-even some very low noise svetlana or tesla.
I have a pair of the little brother to this amp, the MG SPM6, driving Omega Super 3v2 single-driver speakers augmented with Tannoy ST1 super-tweeters. The soundstage is as wide as required by the recording but quite deep; the bass I get is also amazingly good, especially given the limitations of the Omega's 4" drivers. Highs are delicious, sweet & airy and the midrange is simply delightful. Tubes are NOS RCA EL34s & GE 5 Star 5751s. The amps are dead quiet, except for some very occasional tube roar that lasts maybe 30 seconds once in a while. The only problem I've had is with preamp matching: the only "preamp" I've been able to get to work in the system is a pair of Luminous Audio Axiom Signature mono passives, despite having tried several tube preamps. All of the tube units caused a huge amount of hum, which I'm at a loss to explain.