Bob Carver tube amps

Hello, looking for Carver amp info the read out there is a little sketchy. Is that place still in business? And who is actually making the amps? Do the have a factory in the Pacific Northwest….I live in the Pacific Northwest so I could drive there if I had a problem.

I need a tube amp for my Klipsch speakers, you tube heads out there is this the brand I should buy or is there a better option?

I can still remember in the 70s when my father in law went to the factory and grabbed me a Phase Linear amp and preamp off the factory floor..I had more problems with that thing, once and a while it made a super load pop when you turned it on..





I have followed Bob Carver over his career. Sometimes there are guys that think outside of the box and try different approaches to things. That is Bob. But I would never buy a Carver product… short attention span and poor at execution. Flamboyant and innovative. I want rock solid engineering and execution. I would look at Conrad Johnson, VAC, Audio Research for high quality tube gear.

Bob is very solid guy. In my re-sell arsenal as well as in my personal system I use his products and pretty much I’d say I’m impressed by performance. I started diving on to his stuff when I decided to swap my Bryston 4bst amp for Sunfire SRA amp with absolutely same power, but SRA performance was way superior to Bryston that was nearly 3x more expensive.

Today downside of Carver equipment is service availability. After his retirement not many feel qualified to service these sophisticated pieces and they are not simple to examine and repair in case anything goes down south. I swap my carver amps in order to keep them running from time to time and see no issue with 40+ years old Carver equipment. It's indeed entirely underrated by Audiophile community

I just read two recent reviews in Audio Science was horrible with two amps.. he even found a loose screw in the box

I haven’t found anything bad with Quicksilver, boy there’s a lot of research involved, \

My Black Magic arrived earlier this month. Put it on my kef blade 2. These are not easy to drive (properly). Dug it so much I listed & sold my Sanders Magtech to pay for a 2nd amp. Which arrived 2 days ago. Zero regrets. 

Ergo: Black Magic running mono. See my system page. 

Ergo: ask ACTUAL OWNERS like me what they're like, their service, and oh yeah: they sound killer. happy to chat @silverfoxvtx1800 



I have followed Bob Carver over his career. Sometimes there are guys that think outside of the box and try different approaches to things. That is Bob. But I would never buy a Carver product… short attention span and poor at execution.

I think that's a very fair summation, @ghdprentice. Bob has been around a long time and designed some interesting products, but the lifespan of his companies and products in remarkably short. It's hard to take anything he might be selling now seriously.

Post removed 

Between Malitz and Clark, it's obvious this situation is a mess and that someone isn't telling the truth.

I have had a GREAT experience with Carver and Sunfire products (and I still own them).

The Theater Grand 3 sounds great in both two channel and multichannel. Bob added his sonic holography circuit and also a feature called side axis (wide) channels and it has 4 subwoofer connections. This was way ahead of his time. You are just starting to see processors with 4 sub outs and once you get used to wide channels you can’t go back. Studies done by Tomlinson Holman (of THX fame) found wides to be more significant than height or rear channels. I also own a Carver A series amp (AV505) that was on TAS list of the 10 most significant amps of all time. Look how many reviewers at TAS have his products on their individual top 10 list. Genius is an understatement:


I’m not sure how you can find what you found online and still consider Carver. He’s been a gimmick salesman for decades. If nothing else, look at the claimed power output to weight ratio of his recent tube amp lines, and compare to other brands. That speaks volumes (way-undersized transformers). There are other options, even in USA: Rogue, Quicksilver, ARC, Raven, VTA / Bob Latino. Maybe also look at English Acoustics. Audio Classics has a nice-looking VAC-made 9B. I’m sure I’m missing some great options. There are lots of great sounding vintage tube amps out there which are gems with a bit of TLC. Even those 60 year old tube amps won’t disgrace their tubes by using an under-sized transformer.

15 years ago I tried a Sunfire Signature 600 that was possibly the worst sounding hifi amp I’ve ever used. Not that it sounded outright wrong or awful - just that everything else I’ve tried in this hobby has sounded better.

Over on Audioasylum there is thread about the Carver Crimson 275. The amp is rated as 75 watts/channel. When someone pulled the covers off the output transformers, they found an Edcor transformer rated at 15 watts.  When tested by Audiosciencereview, the amp only produced 17 watts a channel with 1% distortion, and the fuse blew at 29 watts.

If nothing else, the company's published specs are very misleading under normal set of standards.

Almost forgot, I also have a Sunfire TSEQ10 subwoofer, two 10 inch drivers (1 active and 1 passive) with a 2700 watt amp. I don't think there is another sub out there that has this much power and at the same time only about 12 inches square in size. You can see the sub in the lower left corner of the front view pic of my system profile.

+3 On Quicksilver Amps. The Silver 60 Mono Amps or Horn Mono Amps are great. 😎


I too have read all the negative press about the recent Carver offerings. If that’s all I had to go on, I’d probably shy away also.

But my experience with the Crimson 275 says something different. A few years ago I bought a pair of Spatial Audio X3s. The amp I had at the time was a Decware Torii II. As much as I loved that amp, and I did love it, it would not drive the X3s sufficiently. Enter the 275. It did a wonderful job driving those speakers effortlessly. I had zero complaints with the performance of that amp.

Speakers and amp are long gone, but I wanted to share  what I heard. I would constantly shake my head at how that tiny little light fly weight amp could sound as good as it did.



I just read two recent reviews in Audio Science was horrible with two amps.. he even found a loose screw in the box

And worse. They documented that the actual power output of the 275 was a small fraction of the published "spec."

As for the OP's choices, he might consider a Pass power amp and a tube preamp.

@silverfoxvtx1800 -- an additional note -- you didn't say which Carver amp you were looking at, nor what your budget or power needs are. However, this summper I bought an LSA VT-70 for $1,300 and it is an excellent amp.  EL34 output tubes and 35 watts per channel. You say you have Klipsch speakers (but didn't indicate which model) but I suspect the VT-70 might be more than enough for your needs. I've posted a short review elsewhere in the amps-preamps section of this forum.  I think LSA is out of stock for this item right now but expecting another shipment here in the near future.

Obviously, disregard my post if you are headed in a different direction.

The speakers are Klipsch Forte IVs, looking at Horn Mono Quicksilver amplifier. Don’t remember the exact Carver amp I was looking at probably the one putting out the least watts.I just tried to go to the Carver online site, it keep telling me it doesn’t exist. 

Never heard or sold one of his tube amps. Did sell his early PL 400 and PL 700 amps. They were capable of playing very LOUDly, but most of them failed for various reasons. Typically, the owner would crank them up "all of a sudden" and that would cause them to fail. Other times, the source would send a "spike" (not a technical term!) to the amp and whatever protection circuits it had would not function correctly and it would fail. My customers loved them when they worked, but much like Crown amps back in the day (solid state ones), they tended to fail rather regularly.

I heard that some live bands used the PL 700’s on stage, but I don’t personally know of any. I would have cautioned them to have some in reserve...


I have nothing to offer on Carver tube products, but I do have an old M-200t poweramp whose duty has been just to run the midrange on the analog setup in my living room. It’s been hooked directly to a pair of Altec 511 horns w/Peavey drivers for the past 30 years. It is silent at idle, never pops on turnon or turnoff (both important with that load) and produces crystal clear sound. It won’t handle a capacitive load (goes into oscillation), but I don’t use one.

It is one of the famous or infamous ’magnetic field’ amps that tended to burn power supply resistors. I have a Carver receiver of somewhat later vintage that does just that if you don’t put a fan on top, but this one has never had a heating problem.

I own the Black Raven 350-watt mono blocks and I am still really impressed. Way better than my previous amps. The Atmasphere M-60 Mk3 mono blocks and the Pass Labs 350.5.



Avoid Bob Carver amps The Crimpson 275 that is rated at 75 watts per channel has 15 watt audio transformers under the big transformer cans. It only made 15 watts per channel.

Hello silverfoxvtx1800. It is easy to knock a product you have never heard or never owned. Carver is so controversial folks love him or they hate him. He pioneered open baffel speakers with lots of woofers and long flat panel tweeters, itsy bitsy box speakers with passive radiators, tube amps you can put your hands on (the tubes!) when running full blast, and a very slim (almost a pole) tall speaker (uses a sub) that will out "reality" any speaker put next to it. That speaker, driven by Bob's big tube amp, put to shame a famous company's flagship speaker in a A/B comparison at a well known LA area dealer on the edge of a canyon a few years ago. The LAOC Audio Society was there. I have been a fan (obviously) for a very long time, owned the "Mag AMp M400," tuners, tape decks, speakers, and sold them in a retail setting. My 50 year old tuner failed recently, but I don't blame Bob. His gear was always reasonably priced.

Bob is easily bored and starts a new company every 10 years. Perhaps some of the folks involved in some of those companies were not A+ material, but it's not Bob's fault. Whatever you purchase, be sure you can listen to it in your home with the rest of your gear and return it if you don't like it in a week or so. Listen to it first, let your ears tell you if it's any good. Nobody else's opinion matters. I trust Mr. Carver. Happy Listening!

I am off the Carver amp, any recommendations out there, I listen to rock, and electronic music

Try LIne Magnetic LM-5081A  48 watt single ended amp. About $2500. Change preamp tubes to Tung Sol 6SU7 from 6SL7 and Sylvania ^SN7GTA for best sound.

Post removed 

I didn’t mean any harm just want the best I can get in the 100s of amps out there, I will never come back here…

@fisher_400  the transformers in question are the output transformers not the power transformers.

In the Bob Carver I stated output transformers, but all traqnsformers are in question The power transformer is rated at 180ma and 265 volts into a voltage doubler so less than 90ma is available per calculations on a power supply simulator. And the rated filament 6.3 volts current is rated 6.4 amps with an 8.45 amp load. Do you understand it now?

Always wanted a carver amp.

own the 600 Sunfire, no matter the speakers used, powers on effortlessly 

great amp!

wanted those crimson 350’s, a bit too much $ for us.

there are a couple very well populated recent threads re the carver crimson 275... search and you will find, lots lots of info posted

no need to rehash here


Looking at the Bob Carver website it looks like the 350 mono blocks are now considered "special order".


The redesigned Dynaco 35W amps would be worth looking into.  Vacuum Tube Audio or Will Vincent come to mind.  You will see.Dennis Had amps on ebay highly regarded.  These are all reasonable cost.  I would add a couple subs.  Then you will really see improvement.  Happy listening!

I agree with the suggestion of the Line Magnetic tube amps with efficient speakers. Or the Willsenton R300 or R8.

See the reviews on YouTube.   

Great products, great sound, and great values - especially with efficient speakers!


With all the available alternatives, why trust a brand that is questionable at best???

Take a look at Denis Had (of Cary fame) new inspire amps.  He makes them himself one at a time point to point wiring.  The new Inspire 300B PSE (parallel single ended) sounds outstanding at 12 W/Chan can drive most anything.


I am driving Klipschorns with Bob Carver 350 Monoblocks.  The Khorns have Volti upgrades, so they are a bit more sensitive than stock...somewhere between 106-109 db.  The Carvers are dead quiet and sound great, to my ears, and the sound is pleasurable through all volume levels.   

The Audio Science Review has the Carver amp rated near the bottom of the SINAD performance chart, but they are the only tube amps on the chart as far as I can tell, so that's not really surprising:

I would like ASR to do some reviews of similarly priced/powered tube amps and see how they fall out C/W Carver.

Based on the ASR chart, the Benchmark AHB2 is the cleanest, most accurate amp they've tested so far, so I have been planning to purchase one to C/W the Raven monoblocks on my system to see if there is an audible difference between the best and the worst measuring amps on the ASR list.  Should be quite interesting.



@volumizer , that sounds like a great combo you have. What are the pics you posted?


My name is Jim Clark. Bob Carver started a company of his own early this year and ask me to run it for him. I accepted and went to work. We turned the place upside down and started over fresh.

There is no-one remaining here, that is associated with a past. Its Bob Carver, myself and a team of aerospace engineers, building some great products.

Bob is enjoying his time designing circuits and spending time with his wonderful wife.

Bob’s recent tube amps have came under scrutiny for being too lightweight and having smaller output transformers relative to the power rating. This is nothing new. You older fellows remember the controversy surrounding the 9 lb. 200WPC M-400 back 35-40 years ago. Much is the same as today.

Bob designs for music, running the widely varying impedance curve of actual loudspeakers, with high voltage tube amplifiers that raise voltage in response to the actual loudspeaker load impedance. Near resonant frequencies, a speaker impedance can rise to 30 ohms or more. The load is dynamic. Bob measurers the interactions between the amplifiers and various types of speaker loads, while making music.

Designing amplifiers to reproduce sine waves into a static resistive load as commonly tested (aka drainage) is not the same application. This adds cost and weight. Many heavy, expensive amplifiers that reproduce sine waves well, while running static resistive loads, suffer terribly when reproducing music and dynamic loads.

Bob, being a physicist, designs for the actual application of designing a musical amplifier. These high voltage, high headroom designs are some of the most musical you will find. The average tube amp uses 450v of B+ voltage, while Bobs designs run at 685v B+, more than 50% higher.

In Bobs words, "they make a nice wide voltage swing with lots of headroom."

"The high voltage supply cost less to produce and sounds better driving speakers."

"The smaller transformers sound great with this high voltage design."

Don’t take our word for it, have a 30 day risk -free trial in your system with no re-stocking fee. Hearing is believing.

Bobs lightweight, high voltage, high headroom designs, outsold other brands in more than 500 dealers across the USA for many years, during actual listening test, head to head with other more expensive, heavier amplifiers. Today, you can have the demo in your home for 30 days and you be the judge. That’s the real test of a musical audio products value to the customer.

Bob is back and we are doing well. Customers are taking the Carver Amplifier Challenge and enjoying the musical performance. We continue to earn our place in customers systems. No hype. Head to head competition.

The customers aways win in these challenges . They are the priority.









Bob Carver Amplifier Design Philosophy — What Sounds Good?


Since the early days, after earning my physics degrees, my approach to audio design has created controversy.


My unconventional approach has brought both criticism, accolades and world-wide recognition for achieving musical excellence from my wonderful fans. World-wide recognition for offering a more affordable product, compared to most other brands of comparable products. It’s a great pursuit. Myriad technological advances have emerged from someone doing things differently.


My amplifiers have often been smaller, lighter, and less costly than others —while remaining powerful, musical, and accurate. These designs and their musical performance are quite successful. I do indeed make comparisons between my design practices and those of other designers. This is done not to foster a “Carver against the world” attitude but rather to highlight significant creative differences. Most other designers have chosen a heavily-trodden path; I simply take a fresh route.


What makes an amplifier sound good?


Dynamic power, low distortion, and wide frequency response. My tube amplifiers have high voltage (B+); the power supplies are able to “bounce” and increase voltage, closely tracking the musical load with very little distortion. This is an important key to musical performance that cannot be revealed by hooking an amp up to a resistor.


Do you design amplifiers using load resistors or speakers?


Both. On my bench I start out with resistors, then I use different speakers with a scope and voltmeter connected, while playing music and measuring the amp and speakers reacting together. The back EMF that is present makes speakers slightly easier to drive. Power response, by design, tapers below 80Hz, yet frequency response goes below 20Hz.


My designs will drive difficult loudspeaker loads, playing music far better than the specifications listed, without clipping, and with lots of headroom available.


These long held design targets have served Carver well. The designs have delivered excellent performing, highly musical products that more people could afford, without sacrificing the powerful and musical performance desired when powering loudspeakers.



Stay tuned for more of my very latest designs and the on-line store coming soon.

Mr. Bob carver made some okay stuff and made some decent audio equipment. I remember the little m-400 power amp. Very clean and efficient that little square box push my jbl 4345 Very nicely. I sold it some years later but wish I kept it. Never own any carver tubes equipment but I damn sure heard them performed. Very sweet and musical. I’ve own stuff from fisher tube equipment parasound audio research mcintosh threshold nakamichi. The point I’m trying to make is not all audio gear is pleasing to all. Pick what sounds good to you and jammed on



I am a Carver fan. I have owned his Crimson 350 tube amps for four years. They are remarkable because they have the finesse to sound great very sensitive speakers like my Klipsch Cornwall IIIs, but yet have plenty of power to get the most from my lower sensitivity Ohm 4900s. I believe that they sound better than the vintage and modern McIntosh amps I own.

Carver vintage gear, when brought back to spec, challenges the performance of modern products at many multiples of the Carver vintage prices. Some of my favorite vintage Carver gear is his C-1 preamp, the C-4000 preamp (they are stone silent with many great features including MC/MM; take or leave the Sonic Holography), and the M-400a Cube Amp.

Bob is an easy target for ridicule. He is an outspoken marketing genius who turns off many purists. Most of those purists haven’t spent much or any time with his gear. Too bad for them - it’s their loss.

My only regret about Carver gear is that I didn’t buy the Silver Seven amp when I had the chance. Seven hundred tube watts per channel is just enough!