What to try?

Currently have Yamaha As1200 integrated with KLH Model 5.  Looking to get a more refined sound with a tube integrated.  220 square foot room,  8 foot ceilings.  I  am getting a somewhat foreword presentation now but good solid clear sound with punch.  Thinking about a Pathos Classic One MkIII or Willsenton R8 or Line Magnetic KT88.  The Pathos is a hybrid but have heard good things.  Play mostly vinyl with Fluance RT 85 and Ortofon Blue. Listen to mostly rock and alt country and some classical.   Just thinking of dipping my toes into tubes to get a different sound.  Any suggestions?


The KLH Model Five has a 6ohm  impedance with a low impedance 0f 3.5. It has a sensitivity of 88-89 at 1 watt. Of your three listed integrateds, and given my interpretation of your quest,  I believe the Pathos to be the best choice. Another possibility is a  Vincent SV 237, also a hybrid integrated. 

I have owned the Pathos Classic One MKII and a Vincent SV-226 MKII (smaller brother to the SV236). I believe the more recent Vincent 237 has more punch while the Pathos to be somewhat more refined. 

I believe your Yamaha has a Phonostage. The other amps do not. The choice of phonostage and cartridge has much to do with the sonic presentation. If you like the Yammy you might consider making changes there. 



I have budget of under 3.5 k. Thank you for your responses. This is my first post. Not sure how to respond to each individual post but I will try.  Good idea about phono stage and cartridge. I realize I will need to add phono stage to the other amps suggested. Used or new will be evaluated. It is just so hard to purchase without hearing first. I did hear the McIntosh Ma252 and it sounded just ok to me. My Yamaha has much more life than the Mac if you know what I mean. Thanks again and I will look into the Vincent’s. 


If you prefer the Yamaha over the McIntosh, what makes you want tube equipment?

This Rogue integrated amp is all tube with a phono section. It is priced within your budget. BTW, that McIntosh has a solid state amp section!


If you want to try a very musical, seductive, yet detailed system… listen to an Audio Research I-50. Really an amazing bargain entrance into the high end. I think es-ecially in a small room it will really work well.


The last time I looked that AR is $5500 and no phono stage. The OP stated a budget of a maximum of $3500 with a phono stage!

I agree with ghdprentis   I heard the Audio Research I50 amp at the same dealer as the Ma252 and it sounded great. Clear defined smooth but with weight. It is too much money right now for me and very rarely see it used. The Yamaha is a well built good sounding amp and I guess I just want to try and see how a tube or hybrid amp will sound daily in my house. Maybe it is the nature of this hobby. I have been collecting and listening to music most of my 62 years and am just starting to get interested in the sounds from the equipment. The system I have now I waited till the kids moved out and were settled till I splurged.  And am enjoying the heck out of it. Just thought maybe something even better……..?    

Also. Anybody using the Willsenton R8. I have seen the you tube stuff. Just want to know from real users and actual reliability. Looks well made but no experience with it. Also I wrote the wrong size room I am dealing with it is about 300 sf with 8 foot ceilings and two openings. Thanks again. 

there are about 60 Audio Research amplifiers on craigslist in the US.

Craiglist tend to have much lower prices and of course, a lot more scam. No i/50 there, but at least 5 on hifishark. Seems like people hold onto them.


I would be remiss to not mention this Octave amp that rarely comes up for sale and gets stellar reviews.  At 70Wpc not sure if it has the juice you need, but the manufacturer states it’s stable down to 2 Ohms so still may be worth a look.



Another hybrid option would be Unison Unico amps that also get great reviews and have plenty of power.  Here are a couple worth a look…



In the looks camp it’s a no-brainer — the Pathos is a stunner.  Here’s a nice used unit for only $1100 that might be tough to pass up, and you have the flexibility to add another one and run them in monoblock configuration for 180 Wpc if you find you need or want more power.  Plus you double down on its gorgeous looks. 

Anyway, you have lots of great options and these are just a few more to chew on FWIW.  Best of luck. 

One amp I’ve owned and don’t usually recommend to everyone is the VPI 299D, but it fits your search perfectly. It is more refined than other tube integrateds from Rogue or Primaluna and has a MM phono built in.

It was designed in joint by Harry Weisfeld (VPI) and Steve Leung (of VAS audio). Only 100 of them were made. One is on USAM now, and I have no affiliation with the seller:


The tube rolling is as extensive as a Primaluna, but has the added tube rectifier which can accept GZ34/5R4/274B variants. It lets out a lovely sound and will be bolder than your Yamaha (I’ve owned an A-S3000). 

For the money, you won't  go wrong here:

PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium Integrated Amp For Sale | Audiogon

User/mag reviews, build/feature/spec -it doesn't get much better.

Everything you need for an introduction to tube amps. Auto bias so you can use many popular tube types for your own "sound"


That VPI amp looks very interesting as does the Octave  I will do some research  I can not find the Pathos @soix  suggested  I know that Upscale Audio is a dealer and importer and has a 30 or 60 day trial but shipping is on buyer   That is another possibility to at least demo one but it will cost shipping if it is not a fit with my Model 5a which are well built look great and sound full  


I went from a LineMagnetic KT88 to Raven Audio and never looked back. Looking to go up in their line next to the Reflection. Details in my profile.

Within your budget, but no phono stage.

They sell direct only, 45 day in home trial, and 100% trade-up value within 12 months.

Why would you want the phono stage built in? There are so many seperate phono stages....plus you just box yourself in with one that's built in. Get a Sugden A21se and be happy...

the advantage of a separate phono stage is also: amps without phono stage tend to be better value. It's a questionable and generic statement but with some truth to it, as much as I've seen...

Agree, better separate phono stage, but good phono separates can get pricey.  The phono stage alone can transform what you hear.

You could try a Black Ice Fusion F35 Integrated for 3k with EL34 tubes, or 3.25k with 6550 tubes then add a Parasound Zphono XRM phono preamp for $499.00, it lets you hook up 2 turntables 1 MM, and 1 MC and is very flexible with gain settings, it also has a rumble filter,a mono stereo switch if needed, it also has MC impedance adjustments of 50 - 1050 ohms. This way you can always go to separates if you want at a later time, and both together are still in your 3.5k budget.

Thank you for suggestions. I have no problem using a separate phono stage. That will not affect my decision on the amp. 

There’s an Audio Research VSi60 on USAM for $1995. You’d need to pick an external phono stage, but you could do that and probably still come in under budget.

My gear is ARC; haven’t heard that model myself, but Stereophile reviewed it and maybe someone who has owned one will chime in here.


info here:


happy hunting!



I just moved to a Rogue Cronus Magnum iii. I absolutely love it. It has been great with my Kef 104/2 and now with my Focal Aria 948. It has a 60 watt and 100 watt  mode accessible with just the flick of a switch. It has 4ohm and 8ohm taps changed internally  pretty easily. Tube biasing is a breeze too. The mc and mm switch is also internal so if you switch carts often it would be a pain. Right now The Music Room has a slightly used one for sale in black.. I ordered an aftermarket tube cage and it looks great and stops anyone from trying to touch the tubes!!

I am going to demo the Rogie next week. I want to make sure there is a tube sound to that amp and that it is different in a good way to my ears than my AS1200. Is that ARC amp that @rfnoise showed available is the volume and such only adjustable through a remote. I can not tell. And as @rfnoise  said it is happy hunting. These are not important matters in the grand scheme of things but it is just a plain fun thing to do. 

Great suggestions @soix et al.  Would love to experience Unison Research ... and TMR is highly rated.

Try Bacch4mac theoretica.us. 

Game changer. I'm done with upgrades amounting to subtlety and nuance 


re VSi60 controls:

”Push buttons: Volume up, volume down. (103 steps, 20 LED indicators), Input, Mono, Mute, Power. All functions on IR remote control”

The owners manual is available at the ARCDB link I included in my previous post, if that helps.

Thank you @rfnoise.  I looked closer at the pictures and saw the buttons. I may pull the trigger on that. Thanks for the suggestions. 

I have had at various times in my room a Pathos Classic One MkII, Willsenton R8, Muzishare X7, Decware Zen TORII Mkiii and an LM 218ia.  The Decware was simply awesome.  I loved the LM as it gave spooky realistic "performer in the room" imaging.  This had a lot to do with the fact that it is a 211 based amplifier however which is SET and very different from KT88 PP.  But I enjoyed the Muzishare and it is KT88 based, especially for the price.  I felt the Willsenton was poorly constructed and overhyped and thought the Pathos was a bit anemic (in my scenario) and oddly designed (ungainly long with speaker terminals frustratingly close together).  Just my opinion. 

@maganga The Willsenton R8 is poorly constructed? What a blantant and biased lie. You’ve obviously never seen one in person so don’t comment on gear you’ve never experienced. The Muzishare you seemed to enjoy comes from the same factory btw, along with Line Magnetic, are they also poorly constructed?

@laecp for the most part your choices come down to China vs USA, big differences in price, but in terms of sound quality I have no idea. My search ended with the R8, my first tube amp and I don’t see myself upgrading to another tube integrated. Your best bet is to see what you can source locally and then compare them. I can comment on the Muzishare x7 and Willsenton R8 in terms of features, it was between those two when I was shopping. They are both available on Amazon with free shipping and a 30 day return policy, so not much risk there.

I won’t comment on sound quality, that is very subjective, and there are plenty of videos on Youtube with commentary.  There are some key differences however that may sway you in one direction or the other. The Muzi has VU meters (very cool) a balanced input if you need one, and a MM phono input. The Willsenton comes in two different finishes (black or silver), is easier to change between KT88 and el34 tubes (has a bias switch) and a remote with more functions (can swap between triode/UL, & source) The R8 is also a little less money. I didn’t need the MM phono, prefer the black finish, and the bias switch was also a big factor. Oh and I love being able to change UL/Triode on the fly, it makes a huge difference in sound. And finally the R8 is much heavier, by around 15lbs. Due what you want with those details.

Just a suggestion. Ron at New Record Day did a sound demonstration of 4 amps here:


It features the Rogue Audio Cronus III, the Black Ice F35, the Galion TS120E which mostly are in your price range. The fourth amp, the LTA Z40+ integrated, is not in your price range. I don't know anything about your speakers and I'm not making any recommendations but given the comparison, maybe this sound demonstration will help or give you some ideas. 


I am very interested in the R8, the Pathos Classic one Mkiii and the Line Magnetic 805 amp. It is a lot more money so would have to be used. The Muzishare and Cayin amps look terrific  also. Still reading forums etc. am going to demo a Kt88 Line magnetic at a dealer near Boston in a few weeks. Thank you all for your advice and suggestions.  @Mganga how was the Pathos lifeless. In what way?


@laecp123 I didn't say the Pathos was lifeless; I said it was anemic in my system.  My room is well treated which typically allows the music to expand well beyond the speakers and with the Pathos the sound almost entirely between the speakers.  So in that sense I described the sound as anemic.  Perhaps others would use a different word.  I would not go so far as to say it was lifeless, but for me it didn't work.  It was a used mkii however and perhaps the caps were due for replacement?  I only share my experience.  I have read of others loving their amps, but that more often seems to come from those who use them as mono blocks.  

@perkadin I only share my experience with the one Willsenton R8 that I had in my possession, which I purchased new off of Amazon.  I would share my receipt with you but you would probably call it a fabrication.  I do not understand why someone who has a different opinion on a subject than someone else, would resort to assuming that person is a lier or biased as opposed to just having had a different experience or exposure.  Perhaps my example was poorly constructed?  I suppose some people are wired up with all negative leads.  Anyway, I am fairly evenly tempered and logically minded.  I know that these three amps all come from various areas of the same factory.  However, they were made at different times by potentially different people under potentially different parameters, etc, etc.  I don't know why one felt better made than the other but it was clear enough to me.  From the finishing of the remote (such as how the buttons fit and the edges of the metal were finished), to how the dials on the front of the amp were fit (such as wether they turned nice and smoothly or wiggled loosely) to how the metal work looked around the transformers, all of it added up for me to that of a well made Muzishare and a so-so made Willsenton.  As to whether any of that workmanship extended to the inside where it counts I cannot say as I did not open up either amp.  But it makes me wonder just a little.  The Line Magnetic was built like a tank from what I remember (parted with it a few years ago).  BTW, I returned both the Muzishare and the Willsenton, so I am not sure where bias would benefit me in anyway at all.  But it sure seems some do not like to hear dissenting opinions to their own.  All of the above is in IMO and experience only of course.  And I hope that my Willsenton experience was a one-off.