Who makes the highest quality tube gear?

One scale of 1-10, 10 being best designed and constructed technically, personal sound preferences aside, who are the 8s, 9s, and 10s?

VAC, ARC, Atmasphere would seem like likely candidates I can think of. Are they ?

Where does Decware rank? Rogue? How about others?

SOme technical facts to help support any claims is appreciated please.

Durability and reliability matters to me here as much as anything. I would want my tube gear to continue to work as reliably as designed years down the road as well as up front.


4b9c724a 509c 4bb1 a384 a61b6782a9d0mapman
Didnt someone recently post this question?
Who makes the highest quality tube gear?

I do, of course. It is the best in the universe.
"Didnt someone recently post this question?"

I made some edits to it prior to it getting posted and the Agon system posted multiple copies rather than just the final version.

Oh well, special bonus for me I suppose.
If the A'gon monitors see this, this thread can be deleted. It got posted multiple times as I was editing it initially.

Thanks and cheers!
Mapman,I was just having a little fun! I was going to make some changes on my system(way overdue!) but think ill wait till some of the bugs get worked out.Ray
Mapman's first post specified Amplifiers.
This post is open to other tube equipment.
I vote for Doshi Preamps. And how about those tube driven ICs??
For what it's worth, I used an Audio Note M1 pre-amp and P2SE amp for 15 and 16 years respectively with absolutely no problems regarding reliability. I never had an issue with either one. I no longer have them, but the new owners haven't reported any problems with either one to me.
...Chalice Audio ..maker of the 'Grail' SET monoblocks...are certainly in a handful of SET's that can be called...if there is such a thing...the best..i have heard the Audio Note...Lamm refs..and most of the other great SETs and the Grails do everything better then any of the others to my ears.
For a combination of sonics, reliability, and customer service, also tube life is extremely long. BAT has worked for me for years. On sonics alone (I've heard but not owned) I really like the VAC products too.
Try Herron Audio. Great quality, Great sound.
Emotive Audio should be on any short list.
Having owned a few, Viva, CJ, I think Ayon is hard to beat for price, sound and reliabilty, at the moment. No complaint about CJ and Viva, by the way.
In absolute terms Jim Nicholls amps are tough to beat for the money
BAT would have to be near the top of this list in my view.
I would give 10/10 to only two (both Japanese) companies, Air Tight and Kondo/Audio Note Japan. High praise indeed.

Atma Sphere, Jadis, and VAC merit the 8/10 and 9/10 in my book. Still, a lofty lot. I might include BAT as well, but I might not.

Take a step or two down from there for the likes of ARC, Ayon, Cary, CJ, Manley, VTL, with Quicksilver and Rogue slotting behind them.
My vote for the new ARC Ref series tube gear. Quite impressed.
Octave is the best I've personally heard and the build quality is spectacular.
Worth noting that some manufacturers make tube gear at a really wide range of price points. Rogue comes to mind as a good example. In these cases, it doesn't make sense to talk about a brand across the board, since sacrifices have to be made to reach certain price points.
best designed and constructed technically, personal sound preferences aside

What I get from this is something like, 'tube stuff that is of sound design, built well, meant to last and sounds good at the same time'.

I can think of a few that sound good but the construction is terrible (IMO of course). I can also think of a few that are built rather well, but don't bring home the bacon in the sound department.

I've always been the kind to want to know what the innards look like. I worked as a service technician during college and for years afterwards and what it looked like inside/how serviceable it is has always been a huge part of why I buy something.

I've seen stuff assembled with hot melt glue that would turn into a fire hazard if UPS dropped it in shipping. The crazy thing about that is the builder was probably trying to save a buck but actual terminal strips to hold things in place are a lot cheaper than shipping the unit back for repair! OTOH I've seen stuff were it was obvious that the designer had built the entire thing by hand, doing a custom layout to accommodate surplus parts.

I am of the opinion that well-laid out circuits also sound better. This may well be because its easier to see mistakes, but if you look at the better classic gear from 50 years ago, it will be seen that construction quality and appearance on the inside was a big deal, and IMO it still is today. But FWIW doing it right in that regard costs money, because you have to pay someone that cares to do it.
I have had audio research ,cj and now use what I think is the best built gear(Shindo). They only use point to point wiring and the sound is amazing.I truly have had no issues along with a few friends that have there amps and pre amps. I believe he has been in business for around 30 years or more.