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!

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Don Sachs' amp, he's no longer making them, would cost at least $10K if not more. You can find them used for about $2500 I think, and it will smoke most amps under 20K. I use SS, with his DS2 preamp, but were I going to run tubes, it would be his KT88 amp. I believe it runs 55 or 65 watts, less in SE of course it is much lower. This man tricked out Citation and Macintosh gear for years before he began building his own. The transformers are a large part of the magic, no one I know of uses anything as neutral. You would do well to look into them before jumping on anything.

Unless you are planning on using easy to drive high efficiency speakers, which many like, I would not want to limit myself to a low watt amplifier.  If going the Black Ice route, I would opt for the F22 integrated at 50-60 watts per channel, only because the first two integrateds in their line are 10 and 18.5 watts.

Even my Dynaco ST-70 is 35 watts per channel.

Not to mention the Dynaco is the highest selling tube amp ever made (sorry, couldn’t resist).

@helomech The same candid salesman who turned me onto the Cayin brand (who didn’t sell Cayin at the time) once told me that Jolida (Black Ice) products don’t perform very well. Maybe the newer stuff is much better but his words were the Jolidas “are POS.” FWIW….


It’s not "worth" much at this point if a consumer is looking at new amps. With a little more research you’ll find a historical split away from the old Jolida brand, Black Ice Audio came into the picture as a new company, new designs by well regarded designers. If you look under the hood of a Black Ice Audio amp, it’s decent.

I’ve helped a few buddies on old Jolida’s still running great with upgrades, and a few other who bought the all new Black Ice Audio, they have been running them for past 3 years with no issues. Questions answered in the USA state of Maryland.

Some of these so called "candid salesmen" are not worth much either. I do not own any Black Ice Audio products by the way yet know several happy customers.


+1 for Cayin I have the CS 55A integrated with triode or ultalinear mode with tube upgrade upgrades to Gold Lion KT88's, PSvane 12AX7's and nos Mullard 12AU7's. I will play with the EL34 as well. It blows away my old Rogue Sphinx V1 hybrid. Most cheaper the amps will need to have the tubes upgraded. I started to get the Cayin A88T, but decided against because of the weight.