First Tube amp suggestions

I am thinking of buying my first tube amplifier and really have no idea where to start.  Years ago I listened to a Sophia Electric  el34 amp (SET) driving a pair of Joseph Audio rm7si bookshelf speakers in a very well set up room and could not believe how sweet they sounded together for the price. (It really felt like James Taylor was in the room).  I regret that I never pulled the trigger on that system and do not know what a good entry level system would be nowadays.  I listen  mainly to male and female folk rock and an occasional classical or jazz album (Cd's and streaming from Tidal)  My current speakers are Triangle Borea BR03's  -90 db but am open to swapping them out. and the listening room is 14' x 20'.  There is a lot of internet chatter about low cost tube amps like the Reisong A12 and the mid priced Williston R8.  Are these amps worth buying or where should I start?  Thanks in advance!


It's more of a short-cut to decide if you are keeping or replacing your current Triangle speakers before you go down the tube amp path. 

Also highly recommend going to YouTube and looking for videos of techs tearing some of the low cost amps apart, and seeing what they test and replace to help eliminate noise and such. 

Another vote for Black Ice. I have their 3502S Integrated (when the were called Jolida) with NOS tubs - it’s amazing across whole spectrum of music styles.

loved it so much I added their tube DAC which improved all digital sources. And then replaced phono with their F159 

Just tried the cheap and ok Bouyrang Reisong A50 Mark III Set 300B for $800USD. It was ok but couldn’t really push my 98dB sensitive horn speakers because of the twin 12” woofers. I’m not into soldering so I sold the amp to someone who might if they choose to upgrade. He was matching with Tannoy Gold 15” with 92dB sensitivity.

Overall ok, nothing super special just not enough power.
The best tube amp I owned was a KT88 integrated from Singapore 🇸🇬. Powerful bass and clean mids. I’ve also had Line Magnetic 518ia 845 tubes that was disappointing again not enough power to drive the PMC Twenty26 speakers of 86dB. And the Finale 805 tube amp was quite uneventful too. And the Primaluna Dialogue Premium was good but not masterful. I miss that KT88. But none had the impact and control that the PassLabs XA25 has/had. Synergy is critical with speaker matching a very important factor in getting the most out of your interest in tubes.

Congratulations on considering your first tube amplifier! Tube amps have a unique and warm sound that many audiophiles appreciate, especially for genres like folk rock, classical, and jazz. Given your musical preferences and room size, let's explore some entry-level tube amplifiers that could suit your needs.

1. Reisong A12:

The Reisong A12 is an affordable and popular option among budget-conscious audiophiles. This integrated tube amplifier features EL34 tubes and provides a power output of around 12 watts per channel. While it may not be as powerful as higher-end tube amps, it can still deliver a pleasant, smooth sound signature that complements folk rock and classical music well. It's a decent starting point for those new to tube amplifiers and can be paired nicely with your Triangle Borea BR03 speakers.

2. Williston Audio Labs R8:

The Williston R8 is a step up from entry-level options and offers a power output of around 20 watts per channel. This extra power can provide improved dynamics and control over your speakers, resulting in a more engaging listening experience. The R8 is known for its balanced sound, making it suitable for various music genres, including folk rock and jazz. With its build quality and features, it could be a great match for your musical preferences and room size.

3. PrimaLuna EVO Series:

If you're willing to invest a bit more for a higher-quality tube amp, the PrimaLuna EVO series is worth considering. These amplifiers come with different power output options, and the EL34-based models, in particular, are known for their musicality and rich soundstage. The PrimaLuna EVO series has garnered praise for its versatility and ability to handle various genres with finesse. While they might be on the higher end of the entry-level spectrum, they offer an upgrade in performance and build quality.

4. Vincent Audio SV-200:

The Vincent Audio SV-200 is another solid option worth exploring. This hybrid tube amp combines tubes in the preamp stage with a solid-state power amp. It provides a clean, powerful sound that can cater well to your musical preferences. With its versatile nature, it can handle folk rock's intimacy, classical's intricacies, and jazz's dynamic range. The SV-200's hybrid design might appeal to those seeking a balance between the smoothness of tubes and the control of solid-state amps.

Before making a decision, I recommend auditioning these amplifiers with your Triangle Borea BR03 speakers if possible. Visit a local audio store or explore online forums where audiophiles share their experiences. Additionally, pay attention to the power output of the amplifier and ensure it is sufficient to drive your speakers effectively in your room size.

Remember that personal preference plays a significant role in audio equipment choices, so trust your ears and go with the combination that brings you the most joy and satisfaction when listening to your favorite music. Happy listening and enjoy your journey into the world of tube amplifiers!