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. 


Russbutton, agreed you can save a good chunk of money building the VTA amps yourself....and definitely learn a lot about tube amps in the process.

Rodman and papafrog, for me tube rolling has been the best part of owning a tube amp. I've tried and own 6 or 7 rectifier tubes, and several versions of output tubes until I settled on my current pairing. Unfortunately I have WAY too many signal tubes as I got obsessed with 12AU7 style tubes. I think I have 40 or 50 pairs of tubes, and have rolled half of them through my amp......the subtle (or not subtle) changes are a blast to fine tune a tube amps sound. What I learned along the way is that NOS rectifier and driver tubes are vastly superior to current production versions.

@papafrgog ​​​& @vthokie83-

      While I totally agree with your assessments, regarding rolling amp valves; I'll bet the OP could save a passel of $$ (not to mention: possible sensitivity/efficiency matching headaches), were he to roll some warmer ones into his LTA preamp.

       Especially: if he's satisfied with the SPLs and performance of his existing amp and speaker combo, aside from that longing for a cozier presentation.

                                          Happy listening!


What I learned along the way is that NOS rectifier and driver tubes are vastly superior to current production versions.


Like some have suggested, I highly suspect that the warm sound the OP is looking for is only available in lower powered tube amps.  This will require an efficient speaker.

In addition to my 89db neutral speaker running on a 300wpc neutral ss amp, I have a 100db speaker dedicated to flea watt tube amps starting with the 300b.  Bummer it’s not efficient enough for 45 2wpc tube SET amps some say sounds like the best SET tube - I’ll need a much larger speaker (which won’t fit my rooms) to increase efficiency.

Surprisingly, the setups I've heard so far that could be described as lush, warm, and romantic utilized SS amps. One used a Vitus integrated and another an Esoteric Class A power amp. 

My experience with higher powered tube amps is that they give highly realistic sound with plenty of excitement. I am using one, a Lab12 Integre 4 MKII and I definitely won't describe it as warm and romantic. 

Jadis are known for the type of lush sound you are looking for.  Very expensive new, however, more reasonable on the used market and very well constructed.

FWIW.. For lush sound,  the type of tubes you are using plays an important role here.  As for brand of amplifier,  I have always found Quicksilver Audio's amplifiers to produce this type of sound.  Have had my Quicksilver Mini Mite monoblocks for nearly 17 years now and have yet to tire of them.

I found the lush, warmth and detail in an unexpected place.  The Absolare integrated beat my former MBL rig.  Sold everything to get it.

Are you still around bluethinker?  In one of my previous comments above i mentioned lusting after your speakers.  Well as the old saying goes ask and you shall receive. Last night I was able to find a brand new in the box pair of QLN Prestige One at a very attractive price here on A'gon.  They're for a 2nd system small listening room so monitors will work perfectly.  Now I too will be hunting for a new amp :-).  I have an Atma-Sphere S30 that I may use to start which should power them fine in my small room.  They presently power another pair of monitors that are rated almost identical to the QLN's.  Ultimately I do want a new amp, which I also want to be solid state because I leave this system turned on 24/7.  Not looking for "warm and fuzzy " though.  So I guess we're both on the same but opposite hunt.  You want something with tubes that's lush and warm for a large room and I'm looking for something less powerful and more transparent in solid state for a small room.  Although the Absolare mentioned above looks to be very interesting.  Much too heavy though.  If anyone has suggestions please let me know.  Budget $5k - $10k, new or used.  Good luck on your hunt and apologies for hijacking your thread. 



Hi Everyone - 

I really appreciate all the valuable feedback. Lots of food for thought. Would respond as replies come in, but during the week I'm preoccupied with my work duties. 

As I've followed the thread, it has actually dawned on me that what I might actually be looking for isn't necessarily "warmth" but air, bloom, and decay. The combination of my current 100 watt tube power amp (Qualiton) and the LTA delivers an almost supernatural sense of ethereal magic. My wife, who generally tells me to turn music down, enjoys listening to this combo due to it's lack of stridency. There are tons of details, but zero harshness. There is a softness that make it easy to listen to music for hours on end. I'm eager to replicate that magic, but ideally with an American-based tube amp where care and maintenance is a little easier. I am realizing, however, the wonderful qualities of the Audio Hungary power amp. It truly  delivers on the qualities associated with a high quality tube amp.

@marco1 - Congrats on the QLN speakers! In my main room, I couldn't be happier with the QLN prestige 3 speakers. They are incredibly balanced and just fill a room with music. I prefer them to the initial pair I purchased (Dynaudio Heritage Speakers which I'll be looking to sell shortly). 

@vgmbpty - I'm not familiar with the brand. Please share more details on the sound you achieve with the integrated. I'm sure many on this thread would be curiuos. 

@jimmyblues1959 - I've been intrigued with the Jadis amps. Have you heard them? How would you describe them from first hand listening? Also, do you have a asense on how hard or easy it is to get them serviced? Are there a lot of tube amp repair guys in the USA? Or do they have repair center in the USA to your knowledge? 

I'll try to respond to all other postings over the next few days! I have read them all and appreciate all the insights. I really enjoy this board for the education from folks who know way more than me and can help guide my decision-making. 

@Bluethinker: I’ve never heard a piece of Jadis gear. Read many a review on the company over the years though and each characterized the sound of Jadis components as being very warm and lush sounding.

Jadis equipment is quite expensive new, and even used has a high resale value.

This also means that over the time that you own the gear it should maintain its value better than that of many other audio companies.

For the money I am still sold on Quicksilver Audio. Their components are reasonably priced and IMO great sounding and very reliable.

Your post regarding your gear sounds so positive that you may have already gotten as close to the Holy Grail of audio as anyone can get. Beats going down that rabbit hole any further. lol

Best of luck!




@marco1 Two recent SS amps that I really like at your price range are Perreaux 300ix and HifiRose RA180. IMO the only SS amp I consider to be better than the 300ix is Aavik I-280.

Soulnote A2, Luxman L-509x, Hegel H390, Accuphase E380 are other popular recommendations at this price point. I've heard the Soulnote paired with Vivid speakers but they sounded rather fuzzy, but could be just the speakers. Karl Fink loves it to death though and demoed his new Epos speaker almost exclusively. 

I have NYAL Futterman OTL3s. I don't know that I would characterize them as lush and romantic: they are fast, accurate, deeply transparent with a deep and actively present soundstage.

Well, Anthony Cordesman in a  Aug 7, 2018 reprint of a Sep 1, 1986 review in Stereophile said of the OTL3:

The OTL-1 is probably the best amp available for the tube fanatic seeking the maximum possible emotional impact from recorded music. ... use of the term "romantic" is the only fair way to express this design's unique character. In fact, the Futterman OTL-1 qualifies for all the best buzz words used by reviewers in characterizing the romantic tube sound: "sweet," "warm," "transparent," "dynamic," and "musical" (in the best sense of the term).

So I stand corrected.

There are probably no NYAL OTL1 amps available. OTL3s can be found, and they are the same design as the 1, just not as powerful.

​​​​​​​I think that the Atma-Sphere S-30 Mk 3.3 might be the easiest and best for you.

@ bluethinker   Dynaudio Heritage was on my shortlist.  Never got to hear them though, which is just as well.  I know i'll enjoy the QLN a lot more.

Thanks auroravengeance.  All interesting suggestions.  Not looking for an integrated though.

Hi All - 

I’ve been slammed with work and have not had the time to reply to everyone. I did want to provide an update. After doing an in-house audition of a Rogue hybrid amp (tube and class d), and then a pass labs xa30.8 in my home for a week, I finally pulled the trigger on a Conrad Johnson classic 120 with EL 34 tubes. 

I’ll report back once it arrives and I’ve had a chance to let it play for a few days.   


Congrats on the new amp. It should pair very nicely with your speakers.I ran Conrad Johnson for years and like they say “it just sounds right”. I actually still have one of their SS amps that I tried with my QLN’s and it sounded very nice. I just pulled the trigger on Atma-Sphere Class D amps for my QLN’s and they’re breaking in now. I need to give them a lot more time but the Class D is a different sound even though it’s said they sound just like the OTL’s A-S makes. Definitely not lush and romantic. Who knows I might be thinking about Conrad Johnson tube amps again in the future 🤔

@marco1 - I look forward to your thoughts on those class d amps. I thought about the same model from Ralph/Atmasphere along right the AGD amps too. The feedback on the boards has been very positive. 

When I went to demo a rogue amp, the local dealer told me they recommend the rogue hybrid (tube and class d), but my wife ended up not liking it. Then I went through a phase where I thought “do I really want to deal with more tubes?” and was able to audition the pass labs amp, which is just ridiculously too heavy. I liked it  for certain types of music, but felt it didn’t give me the same emotional and immersive experience as my Audio Hungary amp. 

I think I might be addicted to second order harmonics? 

BTW - how are you enjoying the QLN speakers? 

I like the QLN speakers very much. Absolutely perfect for my small room and were definitely the right choice. They only go down a little lower than the monitors they replaced but I can’t believe how good the bass response is.  Absolutely no need for a subwoofer.  They are opening up now that I have a couple of hundred hours on them but still have a ways to go.  So I’m kind of in the same situation as you trying to find the “perfect” electronics to go with them.  The Class D amps have less time than the speakers so I don’t want to prejudge them.  I’ve been at this game for a very long time so I already know what a lot of this stuff sounds like BUT until it’s in your room paired with your other equipment you never know for sure.  What helped my decision with the A-S Class D was that they are suppose to sound like the OTL amps which I also own and like very much. I also don’t want to dispute the experts but so far I don’t find that to be exactly the case.  But like I said they still need time to break in.  I know too well what you mean about Pass. It’s great equipment but my god does it really have to weigh that much.  It took every last bit of strength I had packing up my Int60 when I sold it. And that’s one of their lighter pieces. I just passed the 3/4 century mark so number one rule now for anything I buy is it can’t weigh more than 50 lbs and that’s even pushing it.  That was one of the very appealing aspects of Class D, they don’t weigh much, not to mention no heat.  Big change from OTL’s.  Any how, now I just have to be patient while things break in.  Can’t really afford to buy anything else anyway.  But, I’m already formulating in my mind what a new CJ tube amp will sound like and have the feeling it will sound just right :-).