To Tube or not to Tube, that is the question

I've been building a collection of hifi equipment with an ear to sampling the major families of tech and their characteristic sounds. One thing I don't have is a tube amp, unless you count my Rogue Sphinx. I like DIY if the final product is of good quality and design. I'm not averse to used either. Budget range is $1000-2000.

Can anyone suggest a tube amp, either power or integrated that would bring a nice sound flavor to my sandbox and not break the bank. OR do you think the Sphinx and the Pass amps pretty well serve up most of what is to be had in terms of tubey goodness and maybe this is not a worthwhile venture?

Here is what I have got in the way of speakers to play with:


Tangent RS4

Klipsch RP-160

DIY Lii F6/Caintuck

DIY Lii F15 (under construction)

AR 2ax


And here is the current line up of amps:
Rogue Sphinx     
ClassD Audio Mini Gan 5    
DIY Firstwatt F6    
DIY Pass ACA (2)    
Onkyo TX-6000 Receiver    

Thanks in advance for your opinion.


Ag insider logo xs@2xbruce19

One point to consider is tube amps/integrated won’t have a lot of power so work best with efficient speakers. Uses tube equipment may be your best bet. Of course Rogue makes tube integrateds. Black Ice Audio (formerly Jolida) is a good value. I’m a fan as I own Jolida components. 

My experience is that it takes quite a bit of $$$ before the tube amps really show the magic they're capable of. If you want to stay under $2K, then the best price-to-performance value probably is coming from China nowadays. The offerings from the likes of Willsenton, Muzishare, Cayin, Doge, etc. offer tremendous value for under $2K. 

I have owned Raven Audio Blackhawk MK3, Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II, Rogers v65-2, VTL IT-85, and a few others. I recently bought a Willsenton R8 for $1500 and was shocked to see that it is better both in terms of SQ and build/finish. You do need to spend an extra $500-700 for better tubes since the stock ones are rubbish. The Willsenton gives you the classic tube sound, and although it lacks the refinement of amps that are, say, over $5k, it is not embarrassed by more highly priced offerings from other vendors.

I bought the Willsenton R8 from Amazon to see what the hype was all about. I was fully expecting to return it within 30 days but that sucker turned out to be too good for the price and I ended up keeping it.

If you love music and sound definitely experience a true tube amplifier.  A lightly used rogue audio cronus magnum ii should easily be in your range.  

the sound will surpass any current amp you have, the cm sound amazing and have plenty of power, dynamics and authority for your speakers.

you will hear an open, clear dynamic sound.  the sound stage will be large in all directions.  it will be an atmospheric sound, pure in tone and tambre and highly refined and smooth.  vocals and instruments will sound natural and catch your interest, they will seem to float in space.  you need to hear it.  good luck!