Tube Power Amp Suggestions

I have been looking for a tube power amp. Ideally I want to have about 40 to 70 watts output power, with sound qualities as close to a delicate SET amp as possible, with lots of details, fast, good tone (a tiny bit on the warm side) and imaging, yet with good bass and dynamic. Budget is about 10,000. Second-hand is fine. I know I am asking really too much and will probably get negative response because of this. I just want to get the best within my budget.    
My initial considerations are EAR 890 or EAR 861. What do you think?      
I heard people saying that push-pull amp can be better than SET if it is implemented well, but push-pull is more difficult to make than a SET amp.    
My speakers are measured 91db sensitivity, but it needs power to perform well. I have tried both a SET 300B XLS output at 13W and a push-pull EL34 at about 35W. My impression is as follow:            
- SET 300B XLS output at 13W: more delicate and smooth, better resolution and density, lack bass and dynamic       
- Push-pull EL34 at 35W: much more bass and dynamic, sounds a bit coarse, less 3-dimensional and delicate     
Thank you in advance for your input. 


i would say you are spot on with ur assessments so far, except for lack of dynamics on the SET.  I would urge you to seek out a more powerful SET so you can get that great purity and 'jump out and touch you' realism that only SETs can offer. 

im not familiar with ear stuff so cant make a comment.

I had a Viva SET in my system just recently and thought it was absolutely wonderful, but being the bottom of the range and having the lowest output (20watts) the bass was slightly softer than what i a get out my 40watt push pull. 
There is currently a VAC Renaissance 70/70/ Mark III for sale on Audiogon. It is push-pull design using 300B output tubes, 65 wpc, asking $6,300.
I have no relation to the seller.

With that budget you have access to a huge variety of amps, especially if you’re prepared to consider pre-owned. How about a set of Lamms? It’s true, at 91 dB your speakers are on the edge for 300Bs, but if it’s the SET sound you’re after, 845s might do fine. These MasterSound monos are Parallel Single Ended, but the sound characteristics are very similar to SET, and certainly worth considering if that's the type of sound you're after:

It would probably help if you indicated the speakers you have; synergy being so important.
The Lamms might not be powerful enough. The Atma M60s were one of the first I thought of. 
Dehavilland is known for more powerful set designs using a variety of tubes 845s, GM70s etc. They are exactly what you describe. Kara is a great resource, and super supportive. They aren't as well known as some brands, but well worthy of consideration.
IMHE, both of these will be a bit more dynamic with better extension at each end of the freq. spectrum than 300Bs that offer awesome mids and not quite so much otherwise.
The VAC 70/70 is a great amp, but personal priorities will really come into play here. Cheers,
Cary monos, Cary S120II, ARC Ref 75…those are my fave "non-budget" amps that I would consider when I tire of my el cheapo Jolida 502p.
The EAR amps you’re interested in are very well regarded. Of the 2 and given your stated preferences I believe the EAR 861 (EL 519 strapped in triode) are likely closer to SET in character. The VAC REN 70/70 mentioned earlier is an excellent example of push pull 300b topology. A very similar option is the Canary 339, 300b push pull 50 watts per channel.

A fine SET amplifier that meets your power requirements is the Line Magnetic 508ia which is 40 watts per channel via 805 tubes. I really suspect their 219ia SET 24 watts using 845 tubes would be an option as well. This is a massively built true dual mono amplifier that uses the 300b as the driver tube for the 845 output tube. Both these amps have earned terrific owners word of mouth.

It would be very helpful to know what speakers you have. All 91 db sensitivity speakers aren’t equal when it comes to ease of load characteristics (impedance).

BAT VK55 or 55SE new, or larger BAT models used.  These amps are class A triode push-pull with the really large 6C33C output tube.  55 watts per channel powers my 91db tube friendly speakers as loud as I ever want to listen with peaks over 102db at ten feet away which is far above my average levels in the mid 80's.

If you have tried amps with switchable triode mode like the Cary 120s or VAC PHI 110 that I've owned, you may think triode is soft and slow which is what I experienced.  The VK55 proves that triode is not soft or slow.  It kicks butt when required all the while capturing fine details and lush tones.

The only downside for me is heat.  This amp is a space heater.  I'm in AZ and right now is perfect, not so much in summer.   

In the 6C33C camp, I love my Audio Mirror 45 Watt SET mono blocks. New cost way under your budget. Drive my 87dB speakers very well, and the sound is glorious. Money left over for tubes and power cords.
@bigdish You say your speakers are 91 db; do you know the impedance? What speakers are they?
Inquiries regarding the  speakers have been made several times. This is obviously important when trying to successfully match with a power amplifier.
You should call Steve Deckert at Decware...he has what your looking for and at the right price!!
For $10K I will build you any type amp you want.!  I am talking customer point-to-point wired with better parts than anything you can buy.

Happy Listening.
Thank you so very much for your recommendations. My speakers are bookshelf and were custom made by franz hinterlehner from elodis subwoofer, with a Feastrex fullrange driver supplemented by two Satori bass drivers in each cabinet. Its impedance is rather flat at 6 ohm. You could download the pdf to get more information:
They are not very easy to drive IMO.  Meanwhile I have ordered a pair of fullrange bookshelf cabinets to try out using just the Feastrex drivers without the support of Satori and crossover to see how it works. I had auditioned once the feastrex alone in the dealers' room and the bass was simply not enough, but I just want to try in my system to see, as the cabinets only cost about 200 dollars. 
Big dish,
I bet yours is a very good sounding speaker (Feastrex driver!) and if it’s truly a flat 6 ohm load that shouldn’t be a difficult load to drive. 50 watts is the recommended maximum amplifier power. It seems to me that a good quality 845 (or an 805) would be an excellent choice if you want to go SET. For your budget (new/used) you have ample options.
I'm pretty much on the same search.  I currently have an el34 integrated that I like better in ultralinear than triode, and my speakers are fairly custom and around 91db efficient.  I think I mainly needed the extra power of ultralinear.  I want the new amp to be my one and last great amplifier.

I've narrowed my list down to a BAT 75SE, used REX (some say it's dark), Audio Research 75se, Mc275 series 6, or just pump extra money into the new VAC 200iq.  I want that dynamic, liquid sound of a greal tube amp, and hope I can drive it strait from a Benchmark Dac2 HGC.

I'll be interested in the suggestions and your decision, and will share anything I discover.
Due to both its stature and its sonic reputation, something like the Line Magnetic 219IA could easily be a long term solution. There's a guy in VA selling one:

See the Dagogo review:
Einstein Final Cut - Probably one of the (if not the very) best mid power amps ever made
Its impedance is rather flat at 6 ohm.

They are not very easy to drive IMO.
Its easy to see why when you look at the pdf. The speaker has 4 ohm impedance in the bass frequencies and rises to the 8 ohm impedance of the Festerex at 550Hz. I would call this a 4 ohm speaker and no mistake. Its not what I would call 6 ohms. The design suggests an amplifier with ’voltage source’ characteristics should be used, which means that most of the amps suggested so far won’t sound right on this speaker without the help of a set of ZEROs (

The kind of amp needed to drive this will be a tube amp with lots of feedback or a solid state amp. However, you can assume from many of the posts here that most of the people on this thread prefer amps with little or no feedback.

If you wanted this speaker to work easily with a tube amp, the best solution would be to put the woofers in series and redesign the crossover (creating a 16 ohm loudspeaker). I expect the Festerex is considerably more efficient than the woofers; its likely that after such redesign the speaker would also be more efficient.
I have come to the end of the road in my amp quest. I suggest the David Berning designed ZOTL40 made by Linear Tube Audio. It beats everything I've ever heard. I also am a Decware fan and I own his flagship ZMA. It sounds broken next to the ZOTL40. He has a trial deal so you can send it back but I'll bet the farm you'll keep it.

Thank you all for your recommendations。

Hi Lancelock, many thanks for your insight。Do you think having this zero impedance product connecting my 13w 300b amplifer and speakers will work well? 
I am a bit worried it would somewhat degrade the sound quality. Unfortunately I am not able to redesign the crossover。 
Big dish,
The Zero transformer will allow your 13 watt SET amplifier to drive a higher impedance thus an easier load for it to drive. I use an 8 watt SET amplifier driving 14 ohm load speakers and it’s an ideal match.

I believe that in your case a 845 SET with a very good power supply and quality output transformer with 4 ohms speaker taps would be sucessful for your desire to have excellent SET performance.
I used a Zero and please know it does mess with the sound and in the end was not a good solution for me. It just introduces its own personality to the resulting sound. I used one with Atmasphere amps. 

Charles is right about an 845 SET amp. That or parallel single ended 300b amps. 
Many thanks again for all your kind recommendations. I will try to have audition on as many of these amplifiers as possible.   

Bill (Grannyring),
I mentioned the Zero transformers based on their "theoretical " potential benefit. I’ve read comments from other users who had the same experience as you regarding the Zeroes. They did adversely affect the sound quality. I’m confident that a well built and implemented amplifier using 845, 805, 211 or the Russian 6c33c used as SET or PSET with 4 ohms taps will pair well with these speakers. The essential key is high quality power supply and output transformer as previously discussed . A few examples are  the Line Magnetic 219ia, 508ia or the Coincident turbo 845, also a used Viva Solista 845 SET. All of these are well within the stated price range.

Of course there are very viable options for push pull amplifiers, it really depends on the type of sound character Bigdish is seeking. He has a variety of good pathways to pursue.
Hi Bigdish,
I saw a fairly new company - Alexus Audio. I was able to check out the 833 it was very impressive. They also have a 33SE  that is within your price range. Definitely worth checking out as it possesses the same characteristics that you are looking for. 
Bigdish, I have been on a search similar to yours for several years. This year my wife sent me to Rocky Mountain Audio Fest with the mission to once and for all find us a tube amp. We wanted the tonal quality of the best tube amps with detail, strong tight bass and great imaging. We wanted accuracy with smoothness and coherence that would draw us in to listen for hours. Last year our favorite was Zesto audio mono blocks. But at $19,000, out of our budget. (They have a stereo amp for 12k list) We heard many fine tube amps this year but one kept drawing us back for repeat auditions; Octave Audio. We ended up buying the V110 SE with the Super Black box. The box is filled with capacitors which allows the amp to handle ANY speaker load. It’s not as euphoric as some tube amps but some tube rolling with 6550 tubes will get some of that. This thing has the dynamics of a solid state amp with great tube tonal quality and best of all, great bass.
I just had to drag my wife out of the listening room to have dinner.
After some haggling I got the 110 and the super black box for under your budget.
We have used the integrated amp with some 91db floor standers and 85 dB bookshelf speakers (LS50) , works great with both.
Octave also has stereo amps and mono blocks.
One thing that makes this, or any system really sing is a Master Set as done by Soundings Hifi in Denver. A Master Set will save you thousands spent on cables and other tweaks. It’s damn near magic what these guys can do.
Good luck in your search
Octave is a very good sounding push pull tube amplifier as is the Zesto,I've heard both. Generally speaking PP and SET are two different pathways to excellent sound in your home.  I own both types of amplifiers.  A listener has to determine what it is they are trying to achieve.  For my taste the SET is my favorite amplifier yet for others a PP would be their preference. The key is,  know what you "really "want. 
This may not be a very popular response to the SET vs. 91db speaker question, but after trying many SET amps on my 94db Coincident speakers, and not finding the "SET magic" that I wanted, I bought a more efficient (96db Cessaro Chopin) speaker and kept my 8W SET mono's. Amazing what a 2db difference can make.  
This may not be a very popular response to the SET vs. 91db speaker question, but after trying many SET amps on my 94db Coincident speakers, and not finding the "SET magic" that I wanted, I bought a more efficient (96db Cessaro Chopin) speaker and kept my 8W SET mono's. Amazing what a 2db difference can make.
Matching speaker with amp, excellent!!!  Replacing Coincident with  Cessaro Chopin is NOT a fair fight :-)
If you consider @atmasphere 's kind comment that generously points away from his own products to something that fits your speakers better, perhaps Pass or First Watt single ended solid state like the old Aleph series would be a great fit. 
Another ss amp that many might laugh at my suggestion but has both current and voltage outputs is the Sunfire by Bob Carver. Punches above it's price, especially nowadays, and meets the technical requirements mentioned above.
Personally, I'd still bet that a 40-50w 845, 211 etc. might hold up fine. Cheers,
There are certainly some very good options out there in that price range. I kind of avoid the ones that are mass marketed, the big names. So here are a few smaller companies. 

The deHavilland 50A. This is a forty watt mono block amplifier that uses KT 88's and runs in, and this is huge, they deliver those 40 watts in triode mode. Made in Washington state. Point to point wiring.

You might be interested in these beauties as well. The Melody PM 845. They use the wonderful sounding 845 tube, run in class A and put out 70 watts per channel. They come in from Taiwan.

The Zesto Audio Bio Stereo amplifier. 40 really powerful watts, from the KT88's. Made in California. Class A. Good company.

There are certainly some very good options out there in that price range. I kind of avoid the ones that are mass marketed, the big names.
Why?  If similar SQ, I'll go big names.  Easier to get service than boutique in MOST circumstances.
Those are 3 really good examples.  Many good choices are in existence. 
The sector of low to moderate power tube amplifiers flourishes  with quality. 
You don't really need that much tube power to drive 91db speakers.
50 watts in tube give almost double compared to the solid state.  I bought a 50 watts (in push-pull) Manley Stingray about 16 years or so
(the cost then was far below 10k). It drives excellent 86db Thiel 3.6 (with the recommended minimal amp power of 100 watts). I like this combination, the amp is quite good. Though  I can hear more distortion on it (compared to a solid state McIntosh, for instance), the sound is really  sweet  encouraging. It is quite compact and nicely looking. Only one year ago it needed some maintenance.  
@bigdish if you really plan to keep with those speakers, the problem you are up against is that the speakers are designed for an amp than can act like a voltage source. Most of the amps suggest so far (including ours) are Power sources.

The difference will be on this speaker that a power source will play the woofer section 3 db down from where the designer intended.

There is a reason people are suggesting amps that behave as Power Sources though- in tube amps in particular, they tend to sound more natural.

More here:
Hello Ralph, 
As always your comments are technically sound  and logical.  The problem is just as you acknowledged.  The old outdated technology  (tubes) just refuse to fade away.  For many listeners they just as you say sound more natural and thus more emotionally involving.  That's very difficult to ignore 😊.
After trying EAR, CAT and ARC I landed on Octave.  The MRE 220's with SBB.  They are stellar and everyone in our local audio group rave about them.
hi bigdish,
70 watts seem a bit too much for your drivers, but higher wattage and power reserv is always good in any case, whether to escape distortion level or to provide for future speaker upgrades. 
So, if you insist with 70W, I do not hesitate a second to very highly recommend the Coincident Dragon MkII. I own them and have paired them with several speakers, the results are all just great, if not absolutely wonderful. They are 211 tubes push pull, DHT mono amps, have tremendous power, deep powerful bass, full resolution, dynamic, notes are to die for. Really a winner. But please note: use the right preamp (good quality SS with high current capacity and low output impedance). Use the WE211 tubes from Psvane, they make a big difference, and finally and not the least, they need lots of break-in. If you're not happy with these, i'll stop making these notes...!
Look at a used VAC great sound wonderful co Kevin Hayes is honest makes a great amp.


The reason I usually prefer smaller names is simple. Many sound much better. Plus you are purchasing from a smaller company that is in many cases owned and run by an individual who is passionate about what they do, about the music about the products they produce. Larger companies are driven more by the profit motive. Not necessarily a bad thing but know that there are more hands dipping into the pie. They spend money on advertising, marketing

Secondly my experience has been the smaller companies are more committed to servicing their customers. Better service. They have fewer customers and each one is more important to them and is usually the best form of advertising. Word of mouth. 

Soundrealaudio I could not agree more. My exact experience over the past 35 years.