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.




Music Reference products, though never trendy and/or fashionable, are (were) very well designed and built by tube expert Roger Modjeski. Roger passed away in 2019, but his amps are well known to run trouble free for years. At one seminar I attended, Bill Johnson of ARC said he built his amps for an expected lifespan of 20 years. Modjeski said his target was 100 years!

Roger designed his RM-200 amp for low impedance loudspeakers, and the amp puts out a little over 100w/ch, with taps for 8, 4, and 1 ohm (!) loads. Both KT88 and 6550 tubes may be used (only 2 per channel), and the amp’s low output impedance for a tube amp results in very little change in frequency response in reaction to loudspeaker impedance characteristics. The amp features balanced-only XLR input jacks.

Michael Fremer reviewed the original version of the RM-200 in Stereophile, after which he kept it and used it as his reference "affordable" tube power amp, and placed it in the Class A/Tube category in the mag’s Recommended Components list. He subsequently reviewed the Mk.2 iteration of the amp, and John Atkinson’s test bench results of the amp were unusually excellent. In his Stereophile review of the earlier RM-9 power amp (single ended/RCA jacks only, 4 EL34 or KT88 tubes per channel, producing 100wpc, 125 in the MK.2 version), Dick Olsher (one of my favorite reviewers) heaped praise on the amp, asking the rhetorical question "Who needs the McIntosh MC75 when we have the Music Reference RM-9 Mk.2?"

The RM-9 Mk.2 typically sells for around $2000 on the used market, the RM-200 Mk.2 around a grand more. Legendary high end retailer Brooks Berdan (alas, like Bill Johnson and Roger Modjeski also deceased) sold Jadis and VTL amps to his well-heeled customers, Music Reference to working class stiffs.


@bdp24 Very interesting. A product that came out during my years away from hi-fi. Seems to check all the boxes and I see a MkII on Shark for $3250. Sounds almost too good. Will inquire further and thanks for the tip.

+1 @larryi 

Unless you are dealing with a long cable run (say 15ft or more), you will spend a lot more money and never hear the benefit of balanced inputs. It's easy to get obsessed with specs, but how the amp is voiced matters WAY MORE than its specifications on paper.

Don't sleep on Raven Audio ;)

Good luck!

I think it’s hard to beat PrimaLuna tube amps for value. Point to point wiring, tube rectified, solidly built, compellingly priced. 

I currently using PL Dialogue Premium preamp going into a McIntosh MC312 solid state power amp. It’s a nice combo, and the Mac can handle most any speakers thrown at it (GoldenEar Triton One.R for me). 

Good luck!