Review: Tube Audio Design TAD-60 Tube amp

Category: Amplifiers

I'll start by saying that I've been into higher-end audio for a few decades now, and quite a lot of equipment has been through my hands to this point (half the fun of this hobby). Somewhere around 12 years ago, I'd come to realize that I preferred tube amplification over solid state in terms of an overall involving presentation of the music, and ever since then have owned tube stuff (brief flirtations with various solid state devices only helped to enforce this notion).

Which brings me to the discovery of Tube Audio Design, the provider of components conceived by Paul Grzybek (of Bizzy Bee Audio fame), built to his specifications by a very reputable Chinese manufacturer, and then hand-finished by Paul in his shop located in Wheaton, IL. (His offerings are available exclusively online; detailed product info is found at

The TAD-60 amplifier is built like the proverbial tank; overall appearance and heft (not to mention its specifications) in my experience indeed belie the modest asking price. With its stainless steel chassis and almost 1/2"-thick black anodized face, the relatively compact package portrays a masculine but elegant stance (also included is a lift-off stainless steel tube cage). All function controls are easily accessible from the chassis top, as are the tube bias test-points and adjustment pots (a digital voltmeter is included too).

EL34-based, the TAD-60 is rated at 60wpc in UL-mode, and 30wpc in switchable-on-the-fly triode-mode. Other standard features include adjustable input sensitivity and adjustable global feedback, adding flexibility to a host of possible preamp and speaker combinations (the input sensitivity control may also be used as a volume pot in a single-source direct input configuration).

Listening to the TAD-60 after the recommended 30 hour break-in period and beyond, the music really began to open up, and along with the TAD-150 preamp, I was experiencing just about every CD I spun in a whole new manner - I'm particular to small-ensemble jazz and female vocals - there was an in-the-room conveyence of the music that I found startling at times - present is deep, tight bass, a glorious midrange, detail, depth, and an overall natural presentation that allows hour after hour of enjoyable listening. I've found that the feedback adjustment permits a fine-tuning of balance between dynamics and warmth, and was able to "lock in" the amp to my speakers for what sounds to be a perfect sonic match (just a tad of feedback along with the triode-mode setting seems to be the magic spot in my case).

Without attempting to describe every sonic attribute I'm hearing (though I'm happy to answer any particular inquiries), suffice it to say that the TAD-60/TAD-150 combination strikes a synergy and glow that is especially musical, and is among the finest I've had the pleasure of owning. The TAD-150 has already been highly praised in at least a few user and online reviews, and I bet the TAD-60 will soon be recognized as a similar standout. If you happen to be in the market for high quality, reasonably priced, excellent-sounding gear, just take a listen for yourself, and you will hear what these components can do for music. (Paul also offers a 15-day in-home trail period.)

Note: I have no financial interest or business relationship with Paul Grzybek or Tube Audio Design.

Associated gear
Magnepan 1.6QR, California Audio Labs CL-10, Music Hall MMF-5/Goldring G1012

Similar products
Conrad Johnson MV55
Sonic Frontiers SFS-40
VTL 50/50
Golden Tube SE-40
ASL AQ-1004
Sound Quest SQ-88
Thanks for the review. Just curious if you ever compared the Golden Tube SE-40 to the TAD-60. BTW, Your speakers would seeem to be a rather tough load for all the above mentioned amps. Which amp has driven them the best?
Jig, I no longer own the two SE-40 amps I'd used with the 1.6QR's (each in mono configuration produced 80 watts into 4 ohms), so no opportunity for a direct comparision, but I can say that the TAD-60's resolution and low end response is superior in my setup (at the time I had the SE-40's I was also using the TAD-150 preamp). There are 4-ohm taps on the TAD-60, so the 4-ohm load of the 1.6QR's is not a problem. I listen at low-to-medium volumes, so available power hasn't ever been an issue, but still it's tough to answer which amp does best with driving the Magnepans - all did fine, my favorite at this point being the TAD-60. -gg
How do you compare the performance (detail, tone, dynamics, noise level, etc.) of TAD combo with the similarly priced Sound Quest SQ-88 that you listed.

Which of the mentioned amps is your favorite?I have always wondered if I'd like the Sonic Frontiers SF 40.I have had some tube gear like Mesa wish I wish I had tried the tube mod to EL34/KT88since I didn't like the 6L6.MY Conrad Johnson MV50 was the warmest amp I have had but like my EAR intergrated since it is less noisy.It's to bad Sonic Frontiers went down the tubes (a definite pun in english!)but it is nice that they still service or do modest upgrades.I like that the pre-amps had a phase reverse.But again which of those amps was best?
Saisunil: I still own the SQ-88, which is indeed a very musical and engaging integrated amp, but prefer the TAD combo in my main system due to a higher overall level of resolution and dynamics, plus a more solid low end response.

Chazzbo: Each of these amps through my MG 1.6QR speakers has certainly yielded pleasing results, but I can say with some level of confidence that the TAD-150/TAD-60 setup has been my favorite thus far in terms of how effectively it conveys the soul of the musical experience.