3 channel tube amp for home theater?

Does anybody make a 3 channel TUBE amplifier for home theater? Left, right and center.

If not, does anybody run a two channel tube amp and use a single tube or solid state amp monobloc for the center channel.

Any recommendations? The goal is both good music for a tube lover and home theater (left, right, center and sub-woofer). Thanks, Jeff
I can only think of the McIntosh MC303 -- a 3 channel, 300 watt per channel, SS unit.
there's plenty of 3 ch amps out there. new and used.

there's no rule against using tube amps for HT either.

having a reciever as a processor, I tend to use at least one ch off the rec to drive a speaker. Right now I'm using the receiver to drive the sub, center and rears The sub is active though. I would like to add either a HT 3ch, or a nicer 2 ch SS amp, and move my current one to drive the rears instead of the fronts they run now.

Parasound, ATI, Odyssey, Bel Canto, Anthem, Proceed, PS Audio, and several others made or make 3 ch amps that are both popular and good to great.

Search the threads and listings... you'll find even more.

Good luck.
Get either 3 monoblocks or a pair of stereo amps an bridge the one for the center speaker (if bridgeable).
Um, the answer is NO. No one makes just a 3 channel tube amplifier, that I'm aware of anyway.
I'm quite certain if anyone does/did make a multi-channel tube amp for HT, it would be at least 6 channels, I think.
Check out the Butler Audio TDB-3150, 3-channel tube/MOSFET hybrid. These are EXCELLENT amps.

Despite Butler's affinity for adjectives, their three and five channel amps look very interesting.

If I used a five channel amp, does the Home Theater Receiver get replaced with something like a Home Theater Preamp/Processor? Does such a thing exist?

Mixing tube monoblocs and solid state:
Does anybody use a Home Theater Receiver to power the center, rear and subwoofer; and use tube monoblocs to power the front left and right channels? If so, how do you output the proper signal voltage to the monoblocs from the Home Theater Receiver if it too is an amplifier? In such a component, can you bypass the amplification stage and just make use of the preamplification stage for front left and right channels, thus getting the proper voltage to the tube monobloc inputs?

Thanks for your help. Good ideas so far. Jeff

ps. happy new year... daylight hours are now getting longer.
"If I used a five channel amp, does the Home Theater Receiver get replaced with something like a Home Theater Preamp/Processor?" Yes, many with more coming next week at CES.

" If so, how do you output the proper signal voltage to the monoblocs from the Home Theater Receiver if it too is an amplifier?" You use the line-level preamp outputs. If your AVR does not have them, then replace it with a pre/pro.

" In such a component, can you bypass the amplification stage and just make use of the preamplification stage for front left and right channels, thus getting the proper voltage to the tube monobloc inputs?" See above. All such devices have balance procedures and controls for this.

Consider finding a general information resource about HT as your questions indicate you could benefit from such. I believe that Audioholics has such.



Kr4 said it for you.

My take is similar.

I'm going to add in my mono block tube amps to my HT temporarily for use as the front main ch speakers, via the the preamp outputs on my HT receiver. it only costs one pair of ICs, and the tube amps aren't getting much if any playing time anyways.

RE Need a processor?
ultimately many do go that way as along the path they wind up adding amps to their system, and at that point the jump is a smaller one. Rather than going all in up front on all separates for HT.

Solid state is a choice as well… but with HT rigs, it FITS fine. HT, movies and TV, have enormous and swift changes in sound levels, and some really odd non musical events taking place all the time during viewing events. SS is quite adept at these odds and ends and it comes off more crisp sounding than what one might expect from the sound tubes supply, in general.

Albeit, either way it can merely wind up being one’s preffs… or simply using what one has on hand at the time. If one doesn’t mind sacrificing some of the snap, pople and crack you will lose with Tubes, by and large, then by all means… use tube amps for your HT system.



You may want to think about having two separate rigs. My joy is more from stereo than from video. Consequently, my 2ch system get’s more attention and $$$ thrown at it than does the video affair.

My recommendation would be for anyone to put together the rig they want most first, and go from there. If you can afford to do both at the same time, think about a
Preamp with HT bypass on it. That item and one added pair of ICs and you’re set…. Provided all else is in place. They do make tube preamps with HT bypass features so your 2ch can remain more segregated… except during movies or TV.

Good luck
Great explanations and help. Thank you.

I actually kind of like the idea of sweetening home theater sound with tubes. But, I just like tubes. I'm going to CES and I look forward to checking this out. I'll also check that other website for more education on home theater basics.

I'll probably keep my audio system separate from my home theater system. But, I have friends who like my tube audio sonics and my turntable and would like to go in that direcion. There is no way they want to have two separate systems.

If I could point them to a pair of reasonably priced efficient monitors with WAF factor and a tube amp plus the pre/pro processor and center channel; or tube amp plus a receiver that they could use to power rear speakers too; I think it might provide a tube lover with both good sonics for music (cd, turntable) and for home theater in one system. That is the concept anyway.
Either Cary or CJ had proposed a tube amp for HT a couple years ago. Not sure if it ever got off the ground or if they still make it.

Tube amps all around is going to be a priceier road for sure... a warmer one too in more ways than one. Make sure to stand real close to the amp (s) you want to try/buy first.

No kids or pets? glowing tubes are attractive and curious things they like to touch.... just a thought though.

good luck

Check out Conrad Johnson’s website. It appears they still do both a tube 5ch pre and a tube 5ch amp. Spirit Sound (they advertise here on A’gon) has or at least used to sell them at a pretty good discount. I’m using a CJ tube preamp in bypass with CJ tube monoblocks for HT duties in a 2ch/HT system. Rear channels are SS. Self powered sub. I don’t use a center. My main focus is 2ch but the tube monoblocks do a decent job for HT. Not quite the punch you get from SS but decent.
Thanks for the ongoing input. I used to own a CJ MV-60 and an LS-16 and I liked both, although for 2 channel I have migrated toward a tube system that is more neutral. I'll check out the 5 channel CJ home theater solution. I'm liking the idea of using my existing tube amp to power left and right channels and using a less expensive solid state amp for center and rear channels.

For 2 channel, I have a pair of kharma 3.2 fe speakers. I'm inclined to not run home theater through them fearing that the dynamic transients may wear on the drivers. Am I being to conservative in my use of the kharmas? I ask because I had a pair of guarneri homage and the retailer specifically warned me not to put home theater transients through them. Is this good advice or audio kookiness?

Thanks again for all the help. Jeff
Kharma 3.2?

Sheesh. Although I don't think anything is indestructable, and they might not be suited to the task at hand, if for that amount of money they couldn't stand up to sensible levels from HT content now and then, I would take them back, or not have them to begin with... no offense.

Kharma, Homage and others have been on my dream list from time to time for years. I've all but deleted any ongoing notions of acquiring that level of performance or indebtedness. it makes things simpler for me.

Perhaps though your dealers thoughts are overly cautious. I would think their build would equate to their performance too, and they would be quite the robust units. But then, I don't really know. Ask the maker for thier thoughts on the intended application, and see what they have to say.

Personally, as long as the power on tap is sufficient to prevent clipping issues, and you don't mind the possible trade offs from tube vs SS... I'd say you're AOK.

happy listening.
Hi Blindjim,
Checking with the maker of the Kharmas is a good idea. Why did I not think of that?

Clarification: The retailer's warning was about the foregoing Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage loudspeakers (a much older design) - not about the Kharmas.

Thanks again, Jeff