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!


If you were a friend and asked me I would tell you that you should NOT go down the tube path yet. You have so much more to explore with hi-end solid state components that you haven't even approached great solid state sound. Solid state gets better and better at delivering outstanding sound even rivaling tubes. A great SS system will definitely put the musician in your room and can even give you that organic natural live stage presence you are looking for. I'm afraid to get where you want to go will take more than your budget allows. But if you take your time and buy quality pre-owned you can get there. Also, current tube shortages/high tube prices make it a terrible time to go into tube components for the first time.

P.S. I know I will get flamed by the tube cultists. But I am willing to take the flames for you. I currently own a CARY V12R and CARY 805AE mono amps but rarely listen to them anymore preferring to listen to my Plinius SA100 amp.

I just want to say after being an audiophile for over fifty years. The thing that increased my enjoyment of audio more than anything was moving to tube amplification. The enjoyment level is simply so much higher it is incredible. I no longer sit analyzing how deeply into the soundstage I can hear, if I can hear the bassist move his foot… but get lost in the musical experience. Go tubes.


One of the most amazing experiences I have had was with a set of Sound Labs Millennial speakers with a Viva set amp (flee power… a few watts). Typically, you want hundreds of watts and massive current. The emotional connection was incredible. While I would not put these together… it showed one end of the spectrum… all emotion / musicality… and showed how highly detailed ss systems can strip the music and emotion from the recordings.


Go tubes.

Silver Luna by Fezz Audio 35 Watts w/ El 34 tubes . Very nice and reliable Get on for 2500 bucks .The Chinese can"t beat that .

@1extreme P.S. I know I will get flamed by the tube cultists. But I am willing to take the flames for you. I currently own a CARY V12R and CARY 805AE mono amps but rarely listen to them anymore preferring to listen to my Plinius SA100 amp.


As a former Cary V12R owner, and Pass/Forte’ true Class-A solid state owner, with the tube amps, after upgrades, replacing the old stock AudioOne caps, adding hexfreds, and better input tubes for my V12R - it became a different amplifier at a different level. Sold it to buy mono tube amps to try. Since then, Cary Audio offers these upgrades for the new Cary 805RS amplifiers. The Mundorf upgrades provide nice transparency, beautiful tone, texture, and soundstage improvements.

I use these upgrades in my current amps and it does make a nice difference.

While many Class A solid state amps are nice, more 2-dimensional sounding. After good warmup, my upgraded tube amps are 3-dimenional, and layered sounding. Each time I switch back to my tube amps, I reflect on why they hold primary position.



When tubophiles wax on about how tubes completely changed their lives, brought them to a state of inner narvana and even made them better looking, you really need to dig into what systems they had prior or what they are comparing the tube component to. Tubes really sprang into popularity when most systems were mid-fi, at best in the 60’s to 90’s unless those audiophiles invested a fortune in one of the handful of manufactures making really powerful SS amps. So when comparing mid-fi to tubes it was definitely an improvement. You also would hear an improvement if you compared your current NAD integrated amp. My point is just that you should try some higher-end SS amps before you move to tubes because there are many more options today and many good SS preowned options.

PS. That impedance graph previously posted for your speakers is a deal killer. Don’t even bother putting tubes on those speakers. Tubes just don't do well on speakers that have an impedance graph that looks like that. They do best with fairly level impedance curves. Put a good SS amp with strong current on your speakers and you will notice a big improvement. Do you have a local audiophile club in your area? That is a good way to listen to higher end system.