Tube Integrated With Clarity

I’ve recently decided that I prefer integrated amps over seperates and I’m looking for another tube Integrated for my second system.  Not to long ago I purchased a demo Lab12 Integre4 and it really changed the way I looked at integrated amps. I’d be more than happy owning a second Lab12 but that’s just too boring.

I’m looking for a very fast and clear sound, yet retain the smoothness and liquidity of tubes. Not interested in amps with slow bass or overly smooth or rolled off treble.  I used to think extended treble and resolution resulted in brightness. I’ve learned over time that doesn’t have to be the case. I really think you can get a good dose of both without crazy money if you know what to look for.  It’s for a very small room so I’m open to anything from around 10watts plus. Current speakers are Totem Arro but looking to find a pair of Reference 3As or Fritz in the not too distant future.  

Budget is tops 4K but I’d prefer to spend less. So far I’m really interested in Linear Tube Audio as well as Octave. If I go with LTA I may buy a MZ2 and one of their power amps just because it seems cheaper.  With Octave I’m looking at V40 SE or V70SE. Hopefully with either I can find one that comes with their Black Box.  I’m guessing I may get some Audio Research suggestions, but I feel as great as they sound, value for your dollar is not the best. Also, I feel some of these other companies put more emphasis on developing integrated amps.  

As far as aesthetics I’m into a clean modern look. I think both Octave and LTA represent my preferences well. Anyways, I’m sure there’s plenty I’m missing and looking forward to some suggestions. 



I read a great review, chose a Cayin A88T, 22/45 wpc, very glad I did

bigger brother is a100t 50/100 wpc, never heard one, but I imagine same sound as my A88T, however, A88T uses 6sl7 and 6sn7, the A100T uses 12's


VAS used to be the Cayin US rep


one a100t in usa

note: mk1 has internal bias, PITA, later models have exterior bias meter and adjusters. I needed mk1 for my 16 ohm speakers


I was gonna recommend Octave but you beat me to it.  I’d go for the v70 SE if you can swing it as your Totems will likely appreciate the additional power.  There’s one for sale now in you price range…

LTA seems like another great option for the sound characteristics you’re looking for, but their linear power supply is a must for better sound quality (at least for the MZ2) so factor that into the price.  Hard to see you going wrong wither way.  

Linear Tube Audio is the only relatively cost effective line I have heard that comes to mind that is likely a safe bet to efficiently deliver the best "clarity" with most any speakers including Totem Arro, a speaker design that gets good bass out of a small box. That’s because of the patented and very unique LTA design that provides a more SS like low output impedance compared to most other tube amps with no output transformer involved, as I recall.

"Clarity" to me infers detail and dynamics along with a low noise floor.

Some Audio Research amps might be another different but reasonable alternative worth some consideration.


IF you are willing to change the speakers to match up better with most tube amps that are higher output impedance, meaning the speakers present a relatively easy load and are maybe also somewhat efficient, then there are many good choices out there from CJ to ARC to Atmasphere or many others. Otherwise the practical tube amp choices will be relatively larger and more expensive in that you have to beef up the amp to compensate for best results with smaller tough load full range speakers. Or you can offload the bass to powered sub and that opens up many more options regarding tube amps up to the task of properly driving many popular more full range speaker designs out there these days.

Fritz is a very good choice for an affordable alternative to Totem Arro that can be driven well with most any amp including most low power tube amps. I’ve heard Fritz speakers at shows run off flea powered tube amps and that is where I would look personally were I determined to efficiently build a tube system capable of delivering clarity in terms of detail and dynamics comparable to other more common approaches. That is something I have actually put a lot of thought into and might still try at some point but have not pulled the trigger to date. I have been more focused on eliminating tubes from my system and have accomplished that mission with very good results of late.

Spatial Audio speakers might be another option but those are larger and an open baffle design which is a totally different beast.



One other option I would put out for consideration (no tubes though) would be a Cambridge Evo all in 1 integrated amp. This is a very stylish, functional, compact and wonderful sounding swiss army knife for reasonable cost (by high end standards at least) that has everything one needs to explore any modern hifi source material from phono to tape to Roon and other streaming approaches that one might choose and might be a way to possibly explore some new digital streaming horizons if of any interest.

I have been running an Evo 150 for almost 2 years now and it is top notch in regards to clarity without ever being fatiguing...which to me is the grand prize. IT also has opened up fantastic newer music sources beyond my vinyl and digital music collections like versatile high res streaming via Roon and Qobuz.