Tube Integrated Under 1,500

Looking for tube integrated for a second system. I have 1,500 tops to spend, and I will definitely buy used. Im thinking el34 but maybe an el84. I need at least 30 watts and something that’s fairly stout for tube. Maybe I could get by with 20 watts if I went el84 but not sure. Speakers are Totem Rainforest, which I believe are 86db, and the room is small, about 9x11x8.

I’m leaning pretty strongly towards grabbing a Primaluna. I have Primaluna seperates in my main system and am pretty happy with them. I’m trying to be open to other brands for this new amp but I’m struggling to find much that I feel confident about getting service for down the road. I’m hoping folks on here can lead me to some things I’ve missed maybe. I’m aware of Willsenton and Muzishare but not to confident if I need parts in 5-10 years they will be available. Line Magnetic I’d be open to if I could find the right amp in my price range. After those brands I’m not aware of much. There’s Icon but there amps seem to be about half the weight compared to some others. Just not sure there is good value there I guess. LSA has there new integrated but it also seems a bit cheap to me. Rogue seems to run there tubes pretty hard and I find the Chronus pretty hideous cosmetically. Jolida/ Black Ice seem alright I just can’t really get into the looks, and the used market seems weak if I ever sell.

Anyways, I’m not sure what else is really out there but hopefully you guys do. I thought it was worth asking before I grab another Primaluna.


Mfg specs on Forest speakers calls for minimum 50 wpc - they are 8 ohm 87db

If you can find a Prima Luna for 1500, go for that. Otherwise, it's hard to find good tube integrated amps for that kind of money. 

How about this beauty? It’s been on the market for a bit so might be negotiable on price, and with 75Wpc will likely do a better job feeding your thirsty Totems and sound great. Best of luck.

@soix The pathos is a great amp, so I’ve been told… But it is not really a tube integrated. It is a hybrid.

So I misspoke and made up a new model apparently. The speakers are actually Totem Rainmakers. 

the Pathos is an amp I’ve always been curious about myself.  Right now I think I want a full tube amp but I could be wrong overlooking the Pathos. Also not sure I could really expect to find one for 1,500 delivered. 

Cayin I would love to try but it seems there not really doing well in the US at least. I tried to find a distributor in the states and failed. Then I talked to one of the couple stores that come up as sellers.  They told me parts were very hard to get and suggested I look elsewhere. Otherwise, there product looks great and I read good things. 

I've had a Pathos Classic MKIII for 7 years now and have no desire to change. If you consider this amp, make sure it is a MKIII, the one in the link above is a MKII. The difference being, the MKIII has an upgraded transformer, a bit more power and plastic covered WBT type speaker binding posts. 

A used PrimaLuna sounds perfect. I have one I paid $2K for about 12 years ago.  Nice integrated. Nice sound for the money.


USA Tube Audio in Scotsdale AZ used to carry Cayin.

I have one that I rotate in and out with my Luxman.

Well built, looks good and sounds great.

Rogue seems to run there tubes pretty hard and I find the Chronus pretty hideous cosmetically.


The Chronus is twice your budget.  The Sphnix is the one I would be looking at for $1500 and is in essentially a black box - which you may or may not prefer aesthetically.  Not sure I've read complaints about the tubes running too hard in that unit. Are you playing at high volume in large room?

Okay so they are Rainmakers , still 86.5db and 4 instead of 8 ohm. They still are going to need at least 50 wpc per the mfg. BTW, I had a Rogue Cronus for a few years, no issues with tube life

A used Primaluna would be a good value.  Rogue makes good stuff.  I haven't owned any of their integrateds, but had their M180 monoblock amps for a long time.  They were rock solid.  If it was me, I'd probably try to find something from Line Magnetic if it fits the budget.  I really like the looks and sound of their gear. 

You might be able to find some older tube integrateds from Audio Research in your budget range.  I have a VSi55 (50 WPC).  I think I paid just a little more than that.  "Only" 50 watts, but I've driven Thiels, Harbeths, Stirlings, and other "hard to drive" speakers with it in an office system, not at concert volumes.

@brylandgoodman i would seriously consider LSA's new offering, as mentioned above, brand new with warranty.  I'm pretty sure you can return it if you don't like it.   Look up the reviews.  As an option, look at this: AMC CVT3030 Integrated Amplifier - Modified For Sale - US Audio Mart.  I've had their separates.  Excellent for the price. 

I bought a Willsenton R8's for a second system and was very impressed with the build quality and sound. From what I have read they are built in the same factory that the Line magnetic and primaluna is. Under your budget too. there must be 20 youtube reviews on the R8. 

IMHO I would try to save up or extend your budget. For used the recommendation for the ARC gear is solid, but new I would look at Line Magnetic or Willsenton. The Willsenton R800i looks very good at just about $3K, BTW some Chinese companies do make good audio gear.

Be careful with the Willsenton.  From far, it looks very impressive.  Up close, its a very different story.  You get what you pay for. 

Let us know how this goes.  My thought is that this is a poor speaker choice for a tube system.  I know you are just going with what you have.  But my opinion is that buying a higher powered tube amp is a compromise.   "Tube magic" happens more at lower powers.

The manufacturers of these amps target just your application so maybe I'm wrong. 


As others have expressed, I not sure a 30wpc tube amplifier would be the best choice for your Rainmakers.  That said your room is small which would help. It may come down to the loudness levels you play at. 

I once owned the Pathos Model One MKII.  A used one should fall well under your budget. Wish I had never sold mine. 

I should add that I own a Line Magnetic 211ai. It is the 32wpc (ultralinear), 16wpc (triode) tube integrated. I feel it drives my 91dB, 8 ohm Tannoys in a 12x14 room however they are an easier load than your Rainmakers.


I have had a great experience with Line Magnetic. I bought a LM 216 integrated tube amp from my dealer who stated that LM Audio is 100% behind their products. He told me ARC cannot say that. I played the 216 alot for 5 years until a transformer went bad. I took it to my dealer who sent it in for repair at LM Audio distributer and gave me a LM Audio SET amp to use as a loaner. Once returned my amp sounded great again. Glennewdick is impressed with sound and build and sound quality of his Wilsenton R8.

What has your experience been with Wilsenton?

@2psyop I've never heard the Wilsenton R8, but I did give one a very good look over, even picked it up (literally) and that was about the only thing that impressed me about it.  It was heavy as hell.   I saw a few rusted pieces around the tube assemblies, for lack of a better word.  The knobs/switches felt clunky, loose.  The tubes looked dirty, almost as if they were picked out of trash can.  Not kidding.   They were branded "Wilsenton".  It just felt cheap.  I didn't go any further as to actually listen to it.  My whole impression was based on its look/feel and just turned me off. Then I moved on. 

I have a Jolida Fusion 6802 I picked up a couple years ago for $1599. I like it a lot but have no other experience with tube amps. Maybe you could find a used Jolida,

My experience with the Willsenton R8 is totally different than what shtinkydog encountered. A friend of mine asked me to buy an R8 for him and have it delivered to my home. This was to prevent the bark, bite, and beatin' he might get from the wife.

I ordered it through Amazon for a no-hassle return and have been listening to it now going on two weeks. I am impressed with how quickly the order arrived, the packing materials, the build quality, and the sound. I have Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers in a medium size room. The Wilsons are 4 ohm on efficiency and 87 dB on the sensitivity, and I listen mostly to jazz. In triode operation it had no problems at all. I have had many amplifiers over the years and this one held its own quite well. The music power of each note caught my attention. I switched to ultra linear only for a few minutes. It sounded more forward and lit up but since triode sounded so good I switched back.

I will be delivering his R8 to him in a few days, and I have to say it gives me pause to even consider getting one of my own. This is a great value looking at it from my experience.




Rogue Sphinx V3 at $1800. Had it for two years now, lovely integrated that is extremely musical and not fussy. I will look at Rogue again if I ever decide to get another pre/amp. 

Rogue Sphinx V3 at $1800. Had it for two years now, lovely integrated that is extremely musical and not fussy. I will look at Rogue again if I ever decide to get another pre/amp.


There is a Sphinx V2 over on usaudiomart for $850. You could use the leftover cash for some nice tubes and cables.  V3 over on TMR for around $1.4K.


I ran an RP-1 -->PS Audio S300 for several years with satisfaction.  I think tube class D combos sound good. 




+1 on the Willsenton R8.  I too wanted to experiment with an all tube integrated and after a thorough search of reviews, forums and comparative findings, chose the R8.  The build quality is absolutely top notch, which is unanimously pointed out in the forums.  Sound quality is excellent and it's a tube rollers responds very well to a variety of NOS tubes so you can flavor it to your tastes.  I too preferred the lower powered triode mode driving speakers with a sensitivity of 88db @ 4 ohms.  Works fine in my smallish room.  


Don't overlook the possibility of building one from a kit or set of plans. You will be surprised at the simplicity of an SET. If you know someone to guide you you will have a successful and satisfactory outcome. You can go for polypropylene filter capacitors in the power supply. These have an indefinite shelf life and life expectancy over the years and decades than electrolytic ones in amplifiers costing tens of thousands of dollars. You can have a chassis in any style you want. 


I've owned a Tubes4HiFi VTA ST-120 amplifier for 5 years, and loved every second of it. It ran my Thiel CS2.3 floorstanders for most of it's life, only being moved when I purchased my Thiel CS 3.6 speakers....which I've recently sold as well.

The Amp can be purchased as a kit with no tubes for $1,180, or an assembled unit for $1,600....I assembled my own, and it was easy (and not terribly time consuming).....directions were clear and precise. The driver tubes are 3 12AU7 (or equivalents), 6550 or KT88/KT120/KT150 output tubes, and a 5U4XX rectifier. Power with the 6550s is 60 high current WPC and the KT series runs up from there, capping out at 80 high current WPC?

I'm using NOS RCA "Clear Top" 12AU7 driver tubes, an NOS Phillips 5R4GY rectifier (swap in a Mullard GZ37 rectifier at times), and Tung Sol KT120 ouput tube cost about $500.....this unit is a tube rollers dream if that is of any interest to you.

If you are up for a project and handy with a soldering iron, it's a fun project with the final product being a killer amplifier with very high end tubes for about $1,700

For the money a used Jolida is hard to beat IMO. I have a 302CRC and it’s just a really great sounding amp. Picked up for 600 bucks and has low hour RCA black plate input tubes and Eh power tubes. Plan on keeping it for 2nd system indefinitely. My first EL34 amp and I really like it. 

So I pulled the trigger on a Primaluna Dialogue One. It is set to arrive later this week. I expect I’ll be pretty smitten with it but will know for sure soon. It is an older design than my Dialogue Premium amp and pre so maybe the sound will vary more than I expect. Should be a nice little second system though with my Node feeding the Dialogue feeding my little Totems. 

Thanks for all the ideas given. I ended up with Primaluna anyways but all the opinions helped me realize I should just grab another Primaluna. 


Congratulations. Looking forward to hearing your impressions when you receive it. 

So I’ve had the Dialogue One up and running for a few days now and early impressions are great. It’s honestly making me think about selling my Dialogue Premium seperates. Although it will go into another system eventually I’ve initially installed it in my main system to see how it compares to the Primaluna seperates.  I’ve always been curious what the difference between an integrated and comparable seperates was.  So far I think the separates may have a blacker background, a touch better bass, a touch more extension up top, and sound overall a bit more hifi. The integrated though may be doing something a bit better as well though.  Tough for me to articulate or even understand exactly what it is. Maybe, more engaging with a touch more bloom in the mids and bass.  While it doesn’t sound as good in a few ways it may have better flow, more musical? I plan to keep playing with it and I’ll see where it goes. Next step is to use my Dialogue Premium preamp with the Integrated on amp duties, that should be interesting. Then I’ll probably switch back to the seperates, and I think that should make it pretty clear at that point what’s what.   

Yes, listen to your new amp for awhile prior to changing back. I would cycle through the alternatives a few times prior to selling something and regretting it later. I have made that mistake.