The Primaluna Prologue Premium looks really interesting.
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What's the best EL34 amp besides 8b?Among amplifiers employing two EL34's per channel in push-pull, I suspect that a pair of Marantz 2 monoblocks in good condition would outperform an 8B. Although they rarely appear for sale, and when they do they usually sell for upwards of twice as much as an 8B.
I haven't heard an 8B, but about 20 years ago I owned a pair of 2's, and also a pair of the legendary 9's (four EL34's per channel). The 2's were magical, and handily outperformed the 9's, especially when used in triode mode. It's possible that the condition of the 9's was a factor in that comparison, however.
You'll find this thread to be of interest.
Line Magnetic 211IA ticks all the boxes, build quality, sound, looks, price.
Has driven any speaker I have thrown its way without breaking a sweat. And that is on Triode.
Dead quite, modern, built like a tank, hard wired, lovely sounding, switch on the fly between Triode and Ultra Linear.
There is nothing in it sound wise between Opera Consonance Cyber 800 Mono Blocks and an Audio Research SP16 pre which I also have on so called power hungry speaker like my Vandersteens.
In fact I am wondering why I spent so much, when the Line Magnetic stands up on equal terms.
Have used it daily for 18 months with a hic up.
Funny thing about the ST-70. Although it has a modest pedigree, it totally gave its competition a harsh run for the money- on paper it kept up with the Marantz 8B pretty easily. Its biggest weakness is actually its rectifier- it uses a single 5AR4 and should have had two.
There is an excellent thread about the amplifier on audiokarma:
If this amplifier is properly rebuilt it is a solid performer. New filter capacitors are available from Antique Radio Supply in Arizona.
The ugly old Altec 1568B 40 watt monoblock is an incredibly fine amplifier by virtue of it's Peerless output transformers which are considered among the finest ever put in an amplifier. The power supply is somewhat primitive and could use some simple upgrades but it will be as satisfying to listen to as any overpriced vintage Marantz. I modded a pair which I used for five years until I was seduced by a Citation II - again, those superb transformers!
Also consider the VTL ST85. Google. Many good reports all over the WWW.
Gianttube, in case you might still be reading this, another perspective.
I don't believe there is a "best" of anything. Any component is dependent on match up with the remainder of the system.
Now if this is of any interest, I recently bought EL-34 based amps. I began my audio hobby decades ago with a Dynakit ST-70. Later I owned the famed 8B, followed by a Music Reference RM-9. I considered each of those to be a step up and I always admired the musical mid-range of the EL-34. My recent purchase was a pair of Manley Snapper mono amps. The retain that mid-range charm but offer a more extended frequency response, particularly in the bass. However they have 4 outputs per channel and 100 watts which may exceed what you are looking for.
Much ST-70 improvement can be realized by dropping the power
supply's impedance, via added capacitance(within the
rectifier's current limits). Joe Curcio helped me extensively
work mine over. The tubby bass and peak compression, common
to the 70, were gone. That was noted and followed by a number
of upgrades on the driver board, input/output connectors and
power cord. All mods were accomplished without
modifying/cutting the chassis. A second/paralleled 5AR4 &
heater transformer, wouldn't have be hard to implement,
perhaps included in an outboard power supply. That was all
late 80's/early 90's. I got power hungry and went to Cary's
SLM-100's(now worked over too). I still miss the 70! It was
a ton of fun!
There was also the ST70 II manufactured by Sound Valves and sold by Pancor that used solid state rectification, bigger output transformers, and and a beefier power supply than the original. I think that it's a really good sounding amp, looks great, and was pretty reasonably priced (especially when closed out near the end of its run). I still have mine, tho I haven't fired it up in several years.