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. 



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.

Really appreciate the feedback so far.  It seems Octave and LTA are both solid options.  I’m curious if anybody has experience with Audio Hungary?  I’ve read a few reviews but haven’t seen much user feedback for them. 

elliott,  Last I knew Cayin had some issues going on far as service and parts availability.  

mapman,  A switch to a pair of Fritz is very likely in the not to distant future. Matching the new amp to the Totems isn’t too important to me considering. Spatial Audio is intriguing to me but not sure about their fit in my 9x11 room. 

jeff,  I’d be open to a hybrid but the few I’m aware of don’t excite me a whole lot. 

you have described the newer McIntosh tube sound, not to be confused with the older warmer/mushier sound. You may want to consider one of them in your short list. Used probably but there are lots of them out there and they hold their resale value better them most. 

Bryland, I have the Audio Hungary a50i. You should be able to pick one up under $4000 used.  I owned a LTA preamp and thought it was very nice but would not call it as tubey as I tend to prefer.

I also own some modern Conrad Johnson and prefer the Audio Hungary. The AH bass is some of the best I’ve heard coming from a tube integrated amp. It’s deep, big, solid, has tone and moves air, very impressed, maybe partially due to it being class A. The detail and information it pulls is just as impressive as the bass.


The amp is very fast and does not stumble no matter how complex the music is. It also plays every type of music you throw at it, the CJ can’t do that. Got to say this is my favorite integrated amp I’ve ever owned, For me this one is a keeper. Good luck on your search. I’ve always felt the preamp section in integrated amps are the weak link not so with the AH from what I’m hearing.