Speakers that are good with tubes

I have see several recommendations against tube amps powering certain speakers. But which speakers are known to really like time amps, especially high powered tube amps?


Any speakers with 95dB or higher sensitivity.

Have you already bought your "high power" tube amp?  IMHO, tube amps perform best at low power and the high power amps are a compromise to try to accomodate less sensitive speakers.  I know this is a very broad generalization and people will disagree, especially those owning higher powered tube amps.  

I listen at 1/4 to 1/2 watt per channel 98.44% of the time and most people listen below 1 watt when using sensitive speakers.  

I just piecked up an amp to play with that is less than 2 watts per channel.


@carlsbad 1+ . Efficiency and high impedance. Horn speakers rule here. Klipsch Cornwalls are a favorite.

Speakers' efficiency does not need to be as high as 95db. Tubes do not like big swings in impedance. I have run speakers with efficiencies as low as 88 db just fine with tubes (e.g. Fritz speakers). My Ascend towers are 92-93 db and they're great with tubes, because of the relative flatness of their impedance curves. If this fact is understood, the range of speakers opens up a lot. The hard part is finding measurements of the impedance curves. But they're out there, or you can inquire or look for a review in Stereophile.

Some good discussion, here: 




I listen at 1/4 to 1/2 watt per channel 98.44% of the time and most people listen below 1 watt when using sensitive speakers.

Good point , the wonderful and noteworthy aspect of easily driven tube friendly speakers. I agree with @hilde45 that the speaker impedance (Ohm load) and curve characteristics are equally if not more important than the sensitivity measurement in isolation.

Amplifiers work less hard driving higher load impedance speakers that demand much less current draw. The flatter the impedance curve, the easier it will be to drive.
My speakers are rated at 94 db sensitivity and 14 ohm nominal impedance (Minimum 10 ohm). My listening position is 10 feet away. At listening levels typically in the 70s db C-weighted I’m using less than 1/10 of a watt.


Relatively speaking high powered tube amps don't sound very good. If one is going to bother to search for efficient speakers with benign impedance curves I'd suggest looking at medium to low powered amps. Just my opinion of course,

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Sonus Faber



Most speakers. But the speaker needs to be matched to appropriately powerful amp. Not a 15 wpc amp with 82 db efficiency speakers. I doubt 300 wpc amp with 105 db speaker would be an ideal match either. 

All tube amp got issues to control bass driver , because output impedance much more higher co compare solid state amp. You hear bass less articulate and more fatty .I say only speakers with active bass is ideal for music reproduction ,using tube amplifier.  You can see some brands included horn speakers but not to many on the market (my brand included)

Coincident Technology, Verity Audio, Reference 3a, most horn speakers, I could go on.  Hell, even Joseph Audio speakers are potentially tube friendly given their easy phase angles and is why Jeff Joseph doesn’t readily disclose sensitivity specs because that’s not the only factor that makes a speaker “tube friendly” or not.  You gotta get into the details of what frequency impedance drops, phase angles, etc. before determining if a speaker is “tube friendly” or not.  The devil is in the details, and also in the tube amp itself. 

Spatial Audio Lab X5s and X3s. High efficient, open baffle speakers you can drive with 2 plus watt tube amps. 

I use Klipsch Cornwalls with a 45 SET amp............. about 1-1/2 watts.

Couldn't be happier!

Aacoustic Zen Crescendo Mark ll.  They hold steady at 6 ohms for almost every frequency.  Not sure of another speaker that comes so close to being the perfect speaker for a tube amp.  Huge power is not required.


Find speakers you like , then the tube amplifier! If you buy a 10 watt amp you are restricting your choice of speaker, massively. I tried for years finding high sensitivity speaker I liked, never found one. I use Audio Physic 89dB 4 ohms, with 40 watt amp, actually all listening done in better 22 watt configuration, more than enough power.

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DeVore O96’s are superb with low power tube amps. I would recommend them to anyone enthusiastically’

I ran a pair of PSB Stratus Gold i's with my Conrad Johnson LP260M-SE amps.  It sounded great.  The LP260's use 8 KT120's per amp.  I was then able to upgrade to Conrad Johnson ART300 amps and Egglestonworks Viginti speakers.  The ART300's use 4 kt150's per amp.   I am pretty sure this is my forever set-up, or at least until my kids are done with college.

I have seen a couple of people knock high powered tube amps.  That may be their experience.  My experience is that I have had great results with both CJ tube amps and both the PSB's and the Egglestonworks.

Happy New Year.  Enjoy the music.


jond this just is not true thre are a ton of great high powered tube amplifiers


zesto arc cj vtl and manly all make great high powered tube amplifiers


the zesto monoblocks are amazing sounding powerful tube amplifiers


Dave and Troy

Audio intellect Nj


Dave and Yrou

Audio intellect Nj

zesto dealer



Open baffle speakers are generally very efficient, mate well with tubes (especially 300B's IMO), and kill everything else at equivalent prices.

I've got the GR Research NX-Otica open baffles mated with a 9 watt per channel Elekit integrated amp and, IMO, it outperforms friends' systems that cost 3 to 5 Porsche 911's.

I have to disagree with some of the comments above.  There are plenty of great tube amps available.  Depending on the design is how they will handle bass, dynamic swings, and difficult speakers loads.  The Class A tube mono blocks we build have out performed many SS power amps rated at much more WPC.  Current is one determining factor.  At 40wpc they will power most anything even the YG Acoustic Carmel speakers better than the 300wpc class D amps at $16K the person had driving them.  So making general statements means very little unless you have the experience and knowledge in the specific area.

Happy Listening.  

I recently read an article that discusses this very topic. It is very enlightening because it dispels the myth of sensitivity ratings and explains why that is not what you want to consider. When I get home and in front of my computer I will post it.


So making general statements means very little unless you have the experience and knowledge in the specific area

So who’s doing this ? People have rightly posted that speaker impedance and phase angle characteristics are factors that require awareness and consideration. This is true as they greatly influence how successfully a tube amplifier will pair with them.

No one has disputed that there are tube amplifiers capable of managing difficult/challenging speaker loads. However, the question of the OP was what makes a given speaker “tube friendly “. People have responded in kind.




Tubes do not like big swings in impedance

What @hilde45 said, sensitivity yes it is important but the speakers with tubes (in general) won't shine if there is either an impedance difference or in general impedance under 8 ohm.

I do have a pair of Klipsch P37F, nominal impedance 4 ohms, only my Atmasphere MA-1's were capable (@120W output) to get them to sound decent. Other tube amps couldn't do it well. The day I put a solid state amp with those speakers there was no turning back, these speakers are made to match a SS.

Note that I love tubes, I'm not comparing tubes to SS

Try whenever possible to look for speakers that are at 8 ohms and over.

James Romeyn / Duke LeJeune / Hans Looman were involved with a recent design presented at CAF of a phenomenal speaker which if I'm not mistaken will be very friendly to tubes but you would have to look more into the details.



Tubes and horns are lovely together.

Do buy the Speakers first so you are 

not painted into a corner.

Many of the pitfalls users are describing that torpedo  tube amp performance are just poor speaker design.  So I'll add to my suggestions:  Buy a well designed speaker.

It does not have so be 8 ohms or above.  My speakers are 4 ohm, but they are very, very flat and very well designed.  I bought them to use with an ss amp.  The first time I heard them with a tube amp, I promptly sold the ss amp.


It does not have so be 8 ohms or above. My speakers are 4 ohm, but they are very, very flat and very well designed. I bought them to use with an ss amp. The first time I heard them with a tube amp, I promptly sold the ss amp.

The boldened words are correct, of course. 

Using 4 ohm speakers is all good if your tube amp has a 4 ohm tap.

Otherwise not recommended if tube amp has a nominal 8 ohm tap which is probably OK for speakers rated between 6 and 10 ohms.

@noske You can have a 4 ohm nominal speaker sound just fine running the 8 ohm tap on a tube amp.  My experience has been you just have to try and see what sounds best.  Even the manufacturer will say this.

Tubes, typically at least, give a warm sound that had absolutely nothing to do with efficiency of the speakers themselves. Current of your tbe amp would be more important than power. But assuming a typical audiophile 100-200w tube amp you can drive any speaker. For tubes I'd always recommend Magnepans, and which would depend on room size. They will sound great with a tube's warmth (and let's not forget different tubes have different sounds on different amps). And I don't think you specified, I am assuming a tube power amplifier or integrated. If it's pre like my CJ, it would further depend on if you have tube power or SS. 

In my humble opinion, I can't ever picture myself pushing Klipsch speakers with anything OTHER than tube amplification -- to me that combination is just a match made in heaven.  I am not that familiar with a wide variety of horn speakers, but music lovers I've spoken with over the years always seem to pair tubes with horns.

I understand the value and intrinsic benefits of smaller tube per amps.  In my case, I opted for power and have a pair of McIntosh  MC3500 Mk2 power amps being driven by a McIntosh C2700. I am running Focal Scala Evos which sound great, but what are other speaker options?

You can have a 4 ohm nominal speaker sound just fine running the 8 ohm tap on a tube amp. 

@tubeguy76 With full knowledge that the tube amp will have to produce twice the power that it was designed for.  This is not a risk I would consider to be prudent.

Are you prepared to name the manufacturers who said it is safe?  How about running a 2 ohm speaker from an 8 ohm tap?  That may sound just fine, too, until smoke appears.

There is a Boutique company out there called Audio Note. I heard they make some pretty good speakers that perform well with Tube equipment. 

I’ve heard from amp builders and others how important transformer size and quality are for delivering speaker performance. No one’s mentioned it yet, and I am not finding a definitive source on the web, but these two are both decent.



My QS mono blocks have great transformers; they control the bass on my speakers extremely well, and I have compared them with some very good solid state.

What this discussion seems to indicate, then, is that there are a number of commensurately important factors necessary to creating good sound. Finding "synergy" between speakers and amps is not magic; it comes down to understanding the various factors on amplifier and speaker sides, and matching them. Then, listening.

Devore Fidelity 

Wolf von Langa WVL 12639 SON Won product of the year from absolute sound and I heard them at capital audio fest. Start saving buy them!


@hilde45 Yes, transformers are key to tube amp performance but now you are getting into tube amp selection.  The original question was about speaker selection.  BTW, the transformers for my new custom tube amp are hand wound in Bulgaria.  Most expensive component in the mix.

Yes, transformers are key to tube amp performance but now you are getting into tube amp selection.  The original question was about speaker selection



Hi lewl28,

I’m the happy combo owner Atma-Sphere MA-1/ Soundlab U-545.

From symphonic to female voices, from bass to cymbals, the best I ever had.

Total satisfaction every time I turn it on, as Sinatra said: “You do something to me, Vudu”

Very important, Diffusion! It helps to deliver the best inside electronics.

@carlsbad @charles1dad

It does seem like transformers are a bit far away from the OP’s question.

I went there because there was an assumption that a fairly narrow range of speakers are tube-amp friendly.

What I think has been established is that there is

(a) a wider range of speakers friendly to tubes than assumed.
(b) a need to understand what a specific speaker’s performance is regarding impedance
(c) a need to understand the capability of a given tube amps' performance.

My  comment about transformers relates to (c) which bears on (a).
In other words, if the OP had found a speaker with reasonable impedance performance, then the question would become how well can a given amp perform? Part of answering that question would depend on (c).

Of course, the OP may be perfectly happy or stuck with their amp, in which case they could assess the quality of the transformer on it in order to see how variable their speaker choices are.

@hide45  Good summary.  Hopefully the OP hasn't bougth or at least married to a tube amp yet.   To me they should be bought as a pair, however, there is a lot of wiggle room in choosing both.  For example, I recommend an SET.  However, my current primary amp is not an SET, it just sounds like one (Decware ZMA).   A lot of people like horns, I've never found them to suit my preference.  I am currently listening to a very well designed pair of 4 way speakers with a high sensitivity, very flat frequency response, and excellent phase performance.  Midrange to die for. 

But in general my suggestion is less than 10 watts in an SET, and the best deisnged high sensitivity speakers you can find.



To be clear, I agree with you on the importance of capable high quality output transformers. Equally important is the amplifier power supply robustness and quality. The OP is a bit vague and general. I believe posters are just trying to abide and explain what parameters determine speaker “friendly to tube amplifiers “.


Not sure what amp you have, but if it is a good quality amp and you want to hear the music as it was recorded, Magneplaners are the only choice.

If you don't really care about that, pretty much any quality box will do.


@carlsbad I have some buddies here in Denver area with that low-watt, high efficiency approach. It’s pretty magical, and I’m tempted, myself. But that’s a much more difficult path for me at the moment, as it would require getting rid of all my amps and speakers and starting over. I’m moving incrementally, and am currently pretty happy with my non-SET amps (Mono 60’s are great with the KT77s, and the Pass XA25 is really nice, too).

@charles1dad Agreed. Sometimes these threads are like rivers which develop tributaries. Perhaps that’s where I floated!

@richopp Would you say Magneplanars are the only choice -- above and beyond GR Research, Spatial, and others of a similar ilk? Curious as to how you arrived at this very exclusive conclusion.

@richopp We got it. You're a magnaplaner man, through and through.  But I will mention that I was pursuing an electrostatic speaker system when I fell down the tube rabbit hole.  My second system is still Martin Logan CLS.  It wasn't until I found tubes that I was able to exceed the clarity and definition that the electrostatic speaker gives you.  Not bashing your speakers but pointing out that there are other options.  BTW, this is not a magnaplaner thread.