Lush and Romantic Tube Amps

Hi All -

I am on a quest for a lush, warm and romantic tube amp. Ideally, it should be 75 watts and upwards. I’m in a large room and my speakers are 87.5 sensitivity and 8 ohm. The room is large. 

The system:

LTA preamp 

Innuous Zenith music server 

Merason Dac 1 

Cardas Clear cables 


Suggestions are welcomed. 


You’re not going to like this answer, hifi is of course very personal. I like a tubey sound, -  not a sound that has tubes but wants to be closer to an integrated circuit profile. Which to me means using a low power amp, because the tubes that have that sound are the ones based on the historic ones from the film sound era. 300b’s or 2a3’s or to get a bit more extreme, 45’s or 50’s. For someone like me, tube sound is an exploration. So I started with el34’s then 6l6’s and then 300b’s, etc. This is over the course of many years. And as we all know, our systems are equations, so because a component sounds bad, it could just as easily be to your liking if some other element changed, (or if it’s new and gets broken in). So if you like your current system, keep it, and don’t try to get a tube sound working with components that really aren't going to get you a classic lush tube sound. I would suggest you just get an experimental system for tube exploration. You won’t have to spend that much money to do this. Just make sure your speakers are efficient. Get used and vintage equipment. Have a great time changing things in and out. You’ll usually be able to sell on used stuff for what you paid for it. And don’t ask people how to power inefficient speakers with a tube amp. You can of course easily do that, but that is not going to be a classic tube sound. You know Altec's in giant old movie theaters were powered by 8 watt amps. 

+1 on the ZMA. Great amp able to use a variety of power tubes to adjust the sound to your preference.

Find a preowned Cary, CAD 808R... not the easiest to find in the "R 12bz7" version. Fill with Genelex KT88 & EL84. The "Rocket 88R" is strong contender for the sound you seek. Checks all the boxes. Just my opinion. 


I have owned the VAC Renaissance 70/70 for 20 years, recently updated by VAC to their "signature" version 5 months ago. I don't consider it to lean towards a warm tuby sound. It is rather transparent, with a beautiful "realistic" midrange and very holographic soundstage. Maybe I am tainted, but it's not a thick syrupy sounding amp at all to me.