I'm thinking about a low watt tube amplifier?

I was looking at a small Class A Tube Amp, Finale Audio's F6 Hommage tube amplifier. It runs at 4 watts per channel, which dosn't seem like much but was curious after talking with a friend how amazingly happy he was with the sound of small, low wattage tube amps. My only concern are my Wilson Benesch speakers, which are only 97 db sensitive. I do have a pair or REL's to handle the low end.  I am currently trying out a 20 watt triode Cayin Amp. (CS-55) which has proven to be more than capable of driving my speakers at low to medium volume with alot of room left. I also have a Luxman Mq-3600 triode tube amp which runs at 30 watts, no problem driving the speakers to extreme volume levels. I was thinking of talking with the stereo shop and seeing what his thoughts were, and if he is open to letting me try it out at home? My listening is low-medium volume, condo-living so big volume is restricted to headphones only, classic rock, folk, jazz-but these days the volume is low, even with the headphones, to keep my hearing in tact. I am sensitive to sharp highs and avoid these at all costs.

Anyone have any experience with these tube amps and what are your thoughts, generally, would it be worth the bother.

I don't have any plans on new speakers, but you never know! I have owned horn speakers, and I am not a fan, hearing sensitivity. I am also limited for space so small floor standing speakers or bookshelf considered (down the road).

What small watt tube amp would you recommend? The Pass Labs small amp sounds very good but out of my budget. Budget is $3,000.00 Max. What speakers are you using with your low watt tube amp.?, and what speaker sensitivity are they?


@pooch2 Your current speakers will be a disappointment with an amplifier of only 4-5 Watts.

My speakers at home are 98dB and I like more than just 4-5 Watts on them as well, although most of the time that sort of power would be fine.

If you do change out your speakers in favor of something 10dB more efficient (which will mean that your amp need have 1/10th the power to make the same sound pressure), keep in mind that with SETs whatever power they are rated for is not their ’usable’ power. With SETs you really need to not push them past about 20-25% of full power if you want to hear what they are really about. At power levels above that they will start to sound ’dynamic’ due to the excess distortion they will make at those power levels. All that you’ve read about how ’dynamic’ SETs are is the result of people doing exactly that.

Dynamic contrast comes from the signal, not the amp!

After 30 years of studying SETs I remain unconvinced that they offer anything if musical reproduction is your goal. A push-pull amplifier of the same power stands a very good chance of sounding better in every way. There aren’t that many 5 Watt PP amps out there; I built one several years ago just to verify this fact. The additional bandwidth, lower distortion and greater percentage of usable power in a good PP amplifier makes for smoother sound, greater detail and overall more impact.

For your existing speakers I would recommend something with at least 100 Watts in most rooms. The problem here is that tube amplifier power is expensive and 100 Watts is close to the limit where the power bandwidth of the amplifier can be considered high fidelity. As you increase the tube amplifier power, the output transformer imposes bandwidth limitations (this is particularly true of SETs where above 8 Watts is challenging to be considered ’hifi’). With PP amps this limit is around 100 Watts.

There are tube amps that don’t use output transformers and so bandwidth is not limited by how much power they make. These amps are called OTLs (Output TransformerLess). There are also class D amplifiers made now that sound for all the world like a really good tube amplifier. So you do have some options. Low power is fun, but unless your speakers are really efficient or you’re only playing the system in a bedroom or the like, you’ll run into power limitations.

I really appreciate everyone's input, lots of food for thought. After researching some of the excellent comments, I may come up with some different options on which way to ultimately go. I'm sure I will make a few changes once I have had a chance to sample some of the options discussed. Fortunately its the ride for me, so how and when dosn't really matter. Holding back on pulling the trigger sometimes is difficult but required. Thanks to all. 

I have a First Watt F5 and an SE 6V6 tube amp.  I built both.  The tube amp sounds considerably better into my Klipsch Forte 1's which are 98db.  OP's 87 db speakers will need more power than a 2 or 3 watt tube amp in my experience.  They will sound too dull and lifeless.  

I would like to think a small 

amp driving a high sensitivity high impedance speaker is a threat combination.  Small amps are easy to find . Not so with matching speakers.  I do not like horns and big speakers.   I would appreciate suggestions  of a matching combo