Tube amps under $7500

Ready to experiment with combinations never before (or not recently) tried. Step one requires a tube amp. Now looking at Prima Luna EVO 400 which sells for 5K. Any other tube amps I should consider in this price/feature range? Must come in silver with balanced input. For pairing experimentally with various tube and SS preamps. Efficient 4 ohm Legacy speakers (and the room/setup) are the constants.



What sound characteristics are you looking for, which model Legacy do you have, and are you looking for new or used?

@soix, I love the romantic, tube-y sound, with realistic deep bass. Always relied on preamps with class A-A/B amps before, but that could be just habit or bias or maybe I forgot why. Legacies are Signature SE, best bass presentation anywhere near the price; would consider upgrade to Focus if justified; can go no higher given my room constraints.
@ ditusa I found Rogue tube preamps (5 & 7; heard same about 9) rather sterile, so never explored the amps and forgot they were out there. Have you heard Prima Luna also?  

Audio Research, Conrad Johnson or Macintosh or go home . You can always resell them at a decent price . Good luck selling that Prima Luna with a huge lost . 

If you are looking at integrated amps, take a look at the Synthesis A40. Sounds fantastic and the integrated DAC is amazing. 

My experiences with Tube Amp's both Pre and Power is that they are bettered in their  End Sound when seated upon a Isolated Plinth.

After numerous trials with materials as a Base Board and Footers, the one which to date has made the biggest impression at Tidying up the Sonic being produced, is a Phenolic Resin Impregnated Densified Wood Board, with Audio Technica AT 616 Footers.

A board ss the one suggested is not too difficult to acquire. I am also confident Footers can be found to be equivalent in performance to the 616.

I strongly suggest a support for the Tube Amp is given consideration.  



@audphile1  Rogue now definitely on the list. Had forgotten about them but I do know a dealer pretty well.
@biglou13 , If this means I am wasting my time shopping under $15k, well, so much for the experiment. You did notice I am talking amps, not preamps?
@hilde45  Know nothing about Quicksilver; will research & explore before making any decision.

@curtisvill I am not thinking integrateds at this point as I like the flexibility of separates. Maybe when I enter downsizing mode in a few years.

@hickamore look on a used market. The ST-100 is around $2,000. 
Audio Research would be another recommendation. 
In any case, consider a matching preamp for synergy if possible. 

@audphile1 Just learned that user must re-bias ST-100 tubes every 4 months. Hmmm, yeah -- one of several reasons I have avoided tube amps. Current Prima Luna 400 has autobiasing. Not sure how well it works, but if it does .  .  .

I did it several times on the ST-100 when I had it and it’s super easy to do. Bias meter is built into the amp. Screwdriver is inside the amp as well. Flip the switch on each tube to “bias”, use screwdriver to turn the pot and look at the meter to align the needle on the proper value. 
It takes under 15min to bias those tubes including removing and replacing the cover.

Depending upon the amp tube biasing can take all of a couple of minutes so maybe consider that




You are correct on your assessment of Rogue. I would look at used Audio Research like the Ref 75SE. Or actually a used VT80… even better. It has auto biasing. I do not tube roll with ARC, they are designed for a very specific natural, musical sound… carefully matching real music.

+1 to VAC and Conrad Johnson. These all are higher end solutions.

Biasing: thing is, power amps are huge and heavy and live in a dark spot down by the floor where I would need to crawl like a reptile with a flashlight more often than I find comfortable for normal maintenance jobs.

Biggest reason to avoid tube amps, at least in my case…

1. relatively short life of power tubes (around 2000hrs)

2. cost of maintenance

3. tube rolling - too many choices, aggravates OCD

4. every noise the system makes - tubes are first to get blamed

5. every listening session that results in less than satisfactory experience - tubes are the first in line of usual suspects

With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the ST-100. It’s a great sounding amp. Very quiet, resolving and dynamic. However I am done with tubes for time being. 

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@hickamore - I recommend the Audio Hungary Qualiton P200. You can use KT 120 or KT 150 tubes with it. Fantastic sounding amp. I use it with a Linear Tube Audio Microzotl preamp. For my taste, it’s a sublime combination.


Audio Hungary also makes some integrated amps, but I think going for separates makes more sense.

The Audio Hungary P200 amp is incredible. 


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I agree with @ghdprentice ARC and VAC are higher end solutions than the Rogue. That’s 100%. Primaluna and Rogue don’t play in the same league with the big boys
Whatever you plan on getting - price the replacement tubes and make sure you are committed to it. The ARC Ref 160s is an amazing amplifier. Definitely on my radar when I get back into tubes(if ever). It has 8 KT150 power tubes though that go for about $150 each at Upscale and most likely more if you buy direct from ARC.

op it will be be difficult to find one with balanced inputs th prima luna doesnt have it


the synthesis amplifiers are amazing no balanced and black color but have a great t built in Dac just add a streamer and they drive

Legacys really well.


Dave and Troy

audio intellect NJ

legacy and synthesis dealer

Aesthetix hybrid, Rogue Apollo Dark ya might get lucky used, VTL.  Manley snapper might have XLR… mentioned ARC 75 be sure it’s an SE….. Quickies are great … 

Have fun….. 

All:  definitely aware of ARC, CJ, BAT, and would not need to ask about those as it is a given they are top-end. Many others mentioned that I don't know much about and will check out. Could be I will end up where I started, which is "if you don't have the time, the money, the obsession, and the right listening space, forget about the true high end and settle back into your comfortable mid-fi-plus zone."

Thanks all for suggesting products I never knew were out there. Will definitely do some homework and see where the needle stops. I enjoy experimenting but perhaps my "end game" system is something just not quite so lofty.

From what I can tell looking at the product description Primaluna does have balanced inputs.

I wished I would had listened years ago when someone suggested to me MCintosh ,ARC or CJ as a preamp. I kiss a lot of frogs on my journey.Listen to the words of wisdom @ghdprentice ​​​​​​he is like the good cool uncle at the bbq .One of my biggest regrets is buying gear thinking that is just as good as what I really wanted . It's a reason why McIntosh,ARC and Cj gear is over 10 years old still demanding a decent price . 

Recently someone was crying about how hard it was to sell a Roque pre amp. Prima luma you see them for sale almost new all the time 

Look into Aric Audio. For $5k, the Transcend Push-Pull is a steal. It runs a variety of output tubes, all in Class A, which makes big difference to my ears, and it sounds terrific. I borrowed the top Prima Luna and found it decidedly substandard. I’ve owned a Manley Stingray II for a decade in second system and it’s a fine little integrated but the Aric is on a different level. Both PL and Manley are class AB. I also have a couple of high-end, low-watt SET amps that I use with high-eff speakers. The Aric is not far behind them in palpability and tonality, but puts out a robust 65 watts with KT-150s. I drive 91db, 4-ohm Perlistens easily. Aric specs his OPTs to handle sub-4 ohms. And it is dead quiet. Aric is a pleasure to work with.

Oh, sorry, I missed the stipulation for balanced input. The Aric is single-ended, at least mine. You could ask him about balanced.

A lot of difference in the house sound of CJ and ARC amps, so it is interesting that some have recommended both.  You need to at least sample dome of the brands recommended.  I particularly endorse the recommendation of Synthesis amps.  I cannot think of another brand that I like more for reasonably priced gear.  Most speakers can be driven by their A40 integrated (40 wpc), but, if you need more power, their A100 delivers that.

@ghdprentice & others A lightly-used VT80SE on Agon for only $3660. Seller unloading because it won't drive new speakers. Don't know what speakers -- something like Spendor? But supposedly 75 watts can drive Legacies with no trouble; what do you think?

+1 on Synthesis really excellent sounding gear, excellent industrial design and fair prices.

No balanced input which is so sad but Raven Audio is so good I've had to compromise. Actually I haven't noticed the difference since the quality is distracting me from my normal OCD tendencies. Wonderful presence and "human-ness" if you can imagine what I mean by that. Tube magic at its best. And cheap! I mean I hardly dared to try tubes since they are more work but the rewards are mind blowing. Never thought I own a system sounding so totally stellar. My Raven Blackhawk runs my Klipsch Lascalas to perfection. Check them out for sure. I'm blown away by their personal interaction with each customer to help dial in tubes to your system because as we all know synergy is everything. Raven Audio...highly recommended from this pair of ears!

By the way. the owner of Raven Audio Dave Thomson keeps a stash of awesome NOS tubes to cater to his "Raven Heads" so you always have a reliable source of perfect tubes to keep the unit singing at its very best. Plus each tube has its own sound signature so fun can be had tweaking the tone to emphasize the sound you prefer. Endless varieties of tube induced nirvana! 

Lots of opinions so far.  Look at the Line Magnetics amplifiers.  All sound starts with the transformer and they have really good ones.  Most of the others recommended above are so so.

Happy Listening. 

Yeah, I'm an Octave Audio fan as well. Seems like a great price on a $13K amp. Jump in or go buy a new V70 SE at the top of your budget. Couple of VAC Sigma 160i out there in the pre-owned market as well. Now that's a spectacular component. Just my opinion...

The V80SE at $3660 with a "make offer" option seems like a fantastic deal, but almost sounds too good.  Selling an excellent condition 3 year old $11K original amp for so little.  

You might look into Linear Tube Audio Reference+ amp.  Unique circuitry, long tube life, great sound and beautiful looks.  I am very happy with the LTA components.

@jetter I thought so too. "What's the catch?" Will explore further when home from travels.


@jetter I thought so too. "What’s the catch?" Will explore further when home from travels.

According to hifishark the seller has the amp up for sale on A’gon, USAudiomart and Reverb. 

"According to hifishark the seller has the amp up for sale on A’gon, USAudiomart and Reverb." 
Plenty exposure, "mint condition," tubes lightly used, wonder why it has not sold in 19 days.

The McIntosh MC 275 is a 75wpc tube amp that is a fully balanced design. Should be enough power for your 92db, 4ohm speakers.

they are available used in under your price range maybe even a deal new. I’d stick with the newer ones though and consider changing the stock JJ tesla tubes. you can run them mono for more power as well. Also to consider, they hold their value better then almost any other manufacture.

You want romantic, bloomy tubey sound? 

Audio Note, Leben, and Triode have those characteristics.

At your price range, Audio Note Cobra, Leben CS600X, and Triode Evolution KT88. But all these are not silver and do not have balanced input. 

There is a demo Jadis I-35 for $2950 at USA Tube Audio, I think that is a really good deal. Jadis' house sound lean towards more realistic 'live' sound. Not as romantic but equally addictive. 

@glennewdick Just saw a near-new MC275 for sale in silver. Never before saw a silver Mac component in 40 years. So that would be a candidate at $5250.

@glennewdick Just saw a near-new MC275 for sale in silver. Never before saw a silver Mac component in 40 years. So that would be a candidate at $5250.


Every 275 I've ever seen is two tone sliver (polished stainless) on the top front and part of the sides with the bottom section black with the large MC275 name plate. very nice looking IMO. Note the tube cage is black but not needed. there are a few rare gold plated ones. 

for the price you listed it should be a Mk6 at least, current version.