Looking for 50-100 watts of Tube Power (give or take) for my JBL 4349s

I’ve been looking at new and used 50-100 wpc power amps in the $5000 range to drive my JBL 4349s. I don’t have any experience in this price or power bracket when it comes to tubes, and could use some reccomendations.

Here are the amps I’ve been researching (the usual suspects I assume):

Rogue Stereo 100

Cary CAD-120s Mk2

Audio Research Reference 150SE

Audio Research VT80SE

Carver Crimson 275

Various vintage Corad Johnson amps

I’d love to hear why people would choose one of the amps from this list, or what else I should consider that isn’t on the list. I don’t have a preamp yet but will probably try a Benchmark la4 first.

For context, my main amp right now is a Torii Jr, but I also use the 4349s with a Muzishare X7 and a Denon PMA-1700NE. I love the Torii Jr and will continue to use it, but would occasionally like more power. The Muzishare is fine, but I want something of better quality.

My musical tastes are all over the place: rock, pop, jazz, world, electronic, classical. I listen to a lot of symphonic/orchestral music and would like more power to handle the dynamics, but prefer the soundstaging of tubes.

Thanks in advance for the recommendations!




Check out these Quicksilver mono amps!!

The new KT Mono amp retains the high damping factor and low distortion of the Horn Mono but with enough power to handle inefficient and difficult to drive speakers. The amplifier accepts KT66, KT77, KT88, KT90, KT99, KT120, KT150, and KT170 power tubes and when ordered with KT150s will produce 100 watts. It also has low distortion all the way up to full power but at reduced power gives the efficiency, finesse and delicacy of a low powered amplifier.

Price $3995/pair Price with KT150s $4675/pair
Price for 230 volt/50hz add $100/pair

Download Instruction Manual

Power Output 80 watts into 4 or 8 ohms
Power Bandwidth 14 Hz to 70 KHz
Damping Factor 20
Input Sensitivity 1.2 volts
Input Impedance 100 Kohm
I.M. Distortion: less than 0.5% at 80 watts
Tube Complement two KT88, 1-12AX7, 1-12BH7
Power Consumption 100 watts at idle 240 watts at full power
Chassis Black chassis


Chrome transformer covers

Dimensions 6″H, 14.5″L, 9.25″W
Weight 40 lbs. each
U.S. Warranty 3 years parts and labor & 90 days for tubes
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@rischa   Have you considered SS amp with a tube pre?  

For anyone to comment to the OP, would that give a similar tube sound, but with better speaker control / dynamics?  Or does the sound change when comparing tube amp with SS pre verses SS amp with tube pre?   


I've been extremely pleased with the sound of the VTA mods on my Dyna 70s.  They offer a few other models including monoblocks rated at 125 wpc.  From $2100 in kit form (+ S/H and tubes)  or $3k assembled (+ S/H and tubes).



@yogiboy, those look great! I will take a closer look.

@12many, I’m open to the idea, but I use to run a Decware CSP2+ in front of an Odyssey Khartago, and I don’t remember this combo having the soundstaging of a good tube amp. It was only one experience though, so I’m sure there are better examples to be heard.

FWIW - my Vac Renaissance 70/70 Signature will be listed on TMR (The Music Room) for around $5500. I am shipping it to them tomorrow so it will take 2 weeks before they inspect and list it. This is a $22,000 amp that is factory fresh from VAC and has new tubes with about 100 hours on them. It has been updated to everything they know to do to it at this time, I just picked it up from VAC 1 week ago. I has 65 WPC of 300 B bliss. It would make those JBL’s sing. I have made the switch to SS after 25 years! 

@fthompson251, wow, 65watts of 300b power! I didn't know such a thing existed. What preamp did you use with this amp?

Check out the custom high power SETs by Apollo Audio Systems.  Small shop with the amps hand made by the designer.  Excellent stuff. He has a 20wpc 811a amp that would be perfect for a 91dB speaker unless you're trying to fill a basketball arena.


@rischa    I used the matching VAC preamp which is also going up for sale at TMR with the amp. It's a fully restored VAC Cla1 Mk III tube linestage with Telefunken NOS tubes in it. It has 6 RCA inputs and 2 RCA outputs plus a set of XLR outputs. I am shipping it all to them tomorrow. 

Don Sachs Kootenay is a great amp. 65wpc KT88-6550 goodness. This is a modified VTA 120 which has the best of parts and dual regulated power supplies. Don is partnering now and making an expensive 300B amp now. Heres one listed but its been up for 3-4 months. So it may be sold by now. Surprised if it isn't

Don Sachs Kootenay 120 For Sale - US Audio Mart

I am an Audio Research fan. I would be looking for a VT or REF. I helped a friend put together a system recently and he purchased the VT80s. Outstanding amp. If you can find a used one I highly recommend stretching if required. I have a Ref 160s. They are powerful, carefully tuned to be natural and musical and communicate music naturally.so the bass is full and nuanced. Conrad Johnson is also a great choice.

If you are looking for the bass to quickly slap your chest instantly in single quick wave… then you are probably not looking for tubes. That is a solid state thing.



4349s are sensitive speakers. 30+ watts of push pull tube goodness should be more than sufficient to drive your speakers to terrifying volume with room still to spare. 

Since you don’t have a preamp, just go for integrated. The good ones in this price range are all integrated IMO.

I am running two setups of Baltic Evolution of 90db sensitivity. One pair is driven with AudioNote Cobra (with Genalex KT77 upgrade) and the other with Lab12 Integre4 MKII. Both are incredibly enjoyable, realistic, and versatile. The Cobra gives a more muscular and more romanticized sound whereas the Lab12 gives an incredibly detailed and natural sound. Both are just priced at $6000 and you don’t need to think of another preamp. 

The 6SN7 hybrid amp we build  ask John Rutan about it at Audio Connection.  For an inexpensive integrated Line Magnetics 22 wpc amp sounds great.



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Nothing is better than Quicksilver M60.

They have reputable reliability and superb design.

I have the Conrad Johnson Classic 120 with EL34 tubes. I bought it used for around $6k. It’s a truly wonderful amp with 125 watts into 8 ohms. 

Conrad Johnson also makes a Classic 60, which will be half the power and cheaper. 

Big Conrad Johnson fan here. 

Beautiful gear, @fthompson251.

Thanks for rhe rec @artemus_5 -- I will check it out.

@ghdprentice, I'm very drawn to Audio Research. I think the 150SE is overkill, but the VT80SE might be perfect to start with. There is actually one for sale local to me for $4300.

No decisions until after Axpona!

@auroravengeance, the Torii is only 20wpc and the 4349s measure more like 89db sensitive. That said, even the 20 watts from the Torri Jr sound incredible through the 4349s -- no complaints at all. But I do know the 50 watts from the Muzishare and the 90 watts from the Denon bring something to the music I like a lot, especially with large-scale symphonic music. It’s not necessarily better than the Torri Jr, but different in a way that I like having it as an option.

I’m open to integrateds, but I’m surprised you think a $5000 amp paired with a $3000 preamp isn’t as good as integrateds in this price range? I’ll have to give that some thought.

All I can add is my mark levinson amp was markedly better than a VAC 160 amp with my 4367s. It was actually far better than any other amp I tried. 

@bluethinker, thanks for this! I’ve been looking at a lot of the 90s and early 2000s era CJ amps. I like that they have some high-power el34 based amps. It would allow me to justify expensive el34 quads since I’d be able to use them with both amps.


I’m probably leaning more toward the Audio Reseach sound, however.

A used Rogers High Fidelity integrated might show up close to your price range.  Class A, 112 watts.  

Many ways to go. Are you committed to separates? 

Better places to spend your HiFi $ than that.

The AR 50 INT should do the job. You mention

reliability to be important. Tubes do not equal reliability.

I use a Pass INT 25, rated to 65wpc, which sadly I must sell due to new speakers.

I use a ANK 4.1x DAC which has tubes.  

My Pass can be had for $4k. Not a scratch on it, more reliable than

anything on your list and only 4 years old. 


Truth be told, I have not heard a tube power amplifier. All the tube setups I have heard in showrooms, audio shows, and friends’ are all integrated. With the exception of lab12 pre1 and suara that I auditioned alongside Lab12 Integre4. The Suara is excellent power amplifier btw and do consider auditioning it if possible. Looking through audiogon earlier there is currently a BAT V56SE for sale. I’ve heard BAT’s higher end stuff and they were certainly impressive.

I would not assume more watts automatically mean bigger sound. My Cobra produces less than half the power of my Lab12, yet it throws bigger more expansive sound. 

Ayon  spirit 3 ,best build quality by far for the money ,uses all Lundahl  transformers and chokes which is the heart of any tube amplifier ,Mundorf capacitors , a machined aluminum case,not sheet metal 

allGold Copper tube sockets, not cheap brass like most ,and microprocessor controlled , it automatically adjusts each kt150 tube , if a tube goes bad a led light comes on you just replace that one tube ,then hit a button , it then recalibrates all the tubes  made in Austria .and very powerful and detailed.

Might want to give the PrimaLuna Evo series a look as well. Very well made in China using above average components with excellent performance and top notch build quality. They can use a wide range of power tubes allowing you to get the output and sound you prefer. New ones fit in your price range. Upscale Audio is the US distributor and also the repair point. I also highly  recommend Vincent Audio if you are interested in hybrid designs with tubes in the pre section. Also made in China to the strict standards of their German designers. My SV-237MK is the piece of gear that never gets sold because It's my fallback between purchases. Every time I put it back in my system, I wonder why I switched because it sounds so good, but then the next shiny new thing catches my eye! They offer hybrid preamps, amps, and integrated amps. Available through Upscale and Audio Advisor. 

@OP The pre amp is more important than the power amp in terms of sound quality, so you might be better to get that sorted first. It's better to proceed in the direction of the signal when choosing components.

Audio GD HE-1 XLR......The best sounding Pre- amp that the Part Time Audiophile has EVER heard .....It’s only 4 K...I have one, it’s sound is way above it’s cost...10 tubes and a regenerative power supply of it’s own. Pair it with a great SS Amp and you’ve got musical Bliss with your JBL’s. I have JBL’s and they mate very nicely....Good Luck to you.


Although I have lusted after both the Audio Research and the PrimaLuna, the price point on a used Rogue ST100 was too good to pass up and I am very impressed with the amp. When purchasing a used tube amp an important consideration is the included tube package (i.e. stock current production vs. NOS vintage tubes), as at some point you may consider rolling in something different to tweak your system. Although I don’t have any experience with the Carver, there have been suggests that the weak link in those units are the under-powered transformers.

Get the vac this us an extraordinary amplifier that can drive jbls plus many other loudspeakers 

Thanks to everyone for the additional reccomendations -- I will look into them all.

@auroravengeance, I was checking out the Lab 12 gear the other day -- looks really nice. I'm hoping to check them out at Axpona next month. I know they were there in previous years.

@yoyoyaya, ideally I would have the preamp sorted first, but I've been using integrateds for the last 12 or so years and don't have a power amp on hand to test preamps. I'll have to get pre and power sorted together this time, unless I decide to stick with an integrated.

There is a used LTA Z40+ integrated available local to me. I haven’t heard these in person but have read they’re great amps.

Any thoughts on a Benchmark la4 with Audio Research VT80SE vs the LTA Z40+?

I’m open to the idea, but I use to run a Decware CSP2+ in front of an Odyssey Khartago, and I don’t remember this combo having the soundstaging of a good tube amp.

@rischa There are now some solid state amps (class D even) that cast a sound stage every bit as good as the best tube amps, while also being relaxed in the mids and highs, ceding no advantages to tube amps at all.

So if you want, you don't have to give up any sound quality while also not having to worry about finding good replacement power tubes.

The impedance and phase angles of this speaker allow it to be an easy load for most amps other than the need for power. You will need some power though; IMO 100-150 Watts should be good in most rooms; the measured sensitivity is a bit lower than what is stated on JBL's website.



@rischa Thanks for your reply. If you specifically want tubes in your system, the pre might be a better place to locate them, particularly from a reliability perspective. As for integrated's - not sure how Copland are availability in the US, but the CTA 407 is a fine tubed integrated amplifier - and extremely well built and reliable.

I have Altec 19’s... so somewhat similar to your JBL’s.

Of the suggestions above, I’ve owned the Quicksilver KT Mono’s and the VAC 70/70 Signature.

The VAC 70/70 Signature is one of the best amps I’ve owned with regards to sound quality and overall appeal. It’s outstanding with jazz, classical and vocals... but probably not hard rock. It is an older amp and repairs would typically require shipment to VAC, which is expensive and time consuming (typically 6-8 weeks in my experience).

The Quicksilver KT Mono’s with Gold Lion KT88’s or. Tung Sol  KT 120's are a solid all around choice. They are very dependable and focus more on quality construction than aesthetics. Sound quality is very good, but not elite (like the VAC 70/70 Sig that retails near $20K), which should not be expected from amps in the < $5K range. They are an excellent value new or used and often get overlooked due to their utilitarian aesthetics.

I’ve also auditioned a new Line Magnetic 845ia. The sound quality was excellent and I really wanted to buy it.. but the transformers hummed and buzzed significantly, so I had to pass on the purchase.  In addition to the transformer issues I experienced, I don't think these would have enough juice for your speakers or musical tastes

While some scoff at the idea of McIntosh, I’ve owned the MC275 MKV and currently own MC-30 mono blocks. The MC-30's are wonderful from a sound quality perspective, but might be underpowered for your speakers.  The MC275 is very enjoyable and would pair nicely with your speakers and varied musical tastes.  As good or better than the MC275 are vintage MC-60 monoblocks... or MC-75's.   

As far as pre-amps are concerned, I would immediately snag either of the deHavilland’s currently listed on US Audiomart. I own the deHavilland Ultraverve 3 and it’s the best preamp I’ve owned in 30 + years in this hobby. Don’t let the low price fool you... these preamps sound fantastic and respond well to tube rolling, which allows you to tailor the sound to your liking.

Also... in my experience, power ratings have to be taken with a grain of salt. A vintage push pull amp with 30 wpc can sound as powerful than a new Chinese amp rated at 100 wpc.  Focus on quality construction, before looking at power ratings.



I have JBL studio speakers and my Conrad Johnson CAV45 S2 tube amp pairs REALLY well with them and sounds delightful.

The Audio Research 150 SE would be a nice choice, but I've always been under the impression that AR amps sound best paired with AR preamps in balanced mode.

Take a look at offerings from Aric Audio. I’ve owned the Transcend Push Pull for 14 months and it is excellent. With KT150 tubes, you get a stiff 65w of Class A in UL mode. It also takes KT120, KT88, and EL34 with respectively diminishing power. And you can run all in triode if you wish. VAC also makes excellent gear. I owned a Phi 300.1a for five years and still use a Phi Beta preamp, which is stellar. While I never had the chance to compare the 300.1a directly to the Aric, my aural memory, suspect though it may be, tells me I prefer the Aric. Sold the VAC but have no plans to sell the Aric. And it's a bargain.


ARC VT80 would be a great choice over the older but more powerful REF 150. It has auto biasing and more updated control on the tubes. 

@pdreher i don’t recall if you mentioned this before, but have you swapped out the stock capacitors for something a few notches up in quality/design in your QS amps? The changes in mine and a few other members (8+) who’ve followed along have also reported surprising results back to me as well. Also, changing out the stock input/driver tubes to something much better also helped after changing out the caps first. All the sudden IC cable changes became more noticeable too. Results were the same with KT150s and KT120s in my amps at least.  

I ended up using the same Mundorf Evo Silver-Gold (non oilers) in mine, same as I had in my former Cary Audio amplifiers, now in my Quicksilver Mono 120s for two years, and quite pleased. Mike Sanders is quite content with the stock caps in some of these latest amps, and they may mate with the horns he uses, not so much in my electrostatic AMT series speakers i use for whatever reasons. The Mundorfs opened up nicely, better tone, better texture, better layering, and sound coming from just behind both of my shoulders once they formed and fully settled in, fwiw. Was just curious, Best of Luck.


@decooney While I didn't attempt to replace caps on the QS's, I did swap out the smaller tubes with ANOS Mullard CV4004's and CBS 12BH7 black plates... both of which yielded improvements over the stock tubes.  I also preferred Gold Lion KT88's to the KT150's.  I have no regrets replacing the QS's with McIntosh MC-30's, with the caveat that the 60+ year old Mac's will need more regular maintenance than the new QS's.   The QS's are rock solid dependable performers and I don't doubt they will improve with mods... but the vintage MC-30's have great synergy with my Altec's and I appreciate the nostalgia of amps that were built before I was born.

@pdreher sounds like fun. My buddy had a pair of the MC-30s refreshed and ran them for many years.  Pretty neat amps.  In my larger QS amps, I found the KT150s need the right amount of plate voltage, bias,  and transformers to run their best. Going back and forth I found I actually prefer the KT120s in my QS mono amps,, and with the right input tubes and [higher-end] caps, and proper biasing - they truly sound like different amplifiers.

I'm an old EL34 fan from my Cary days, and similar amps.  From the get-go I was trying to get the QS to sound closer to those amps and this combination has me much closer to more of a hybrid golden era sound, yet there seems to be no loss of detail as long as I'm running my Cary SLP-98 tube preamp with the right 6SN7 tubes in it.  This combo of preamp and amps really sounds good, super happy with it.  Good luck with yours, enjoy!  :)  

@decooney Couldn't agree more with running 6SN7 based preamps from Cary, deHavilland and Supratek.  

@atmasphere, thanks, I will take a look closer at Class D options. I heard your monoblocks at Axpona last year and thought they sounded great.

@rischa As a US distributor of solid state amps, we have a CANOR "Virtus I2" KT88 Class-A demo available that may interest you.

40w/ch Ultralinear

20w/ch Triode

Shipped direct from Canor July,2023 and we’ll include NOS tube upgrades

More info here: https://www.tmhaudio.com/DEMOS.html

New UK "HiFiNews" review w/stock Russian EH tubes: