Tube Power Amp Reviews

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Sam Tellig Posted: Oct 22, 2012 Published: Jan 01, 1996 0 comments
This should have been a recipe for disaster.

It's no secret. David Manley has not been big on single-ended amplifiers. Not enough muscle. You're better off with push-pull. Still, with a growing market for single-ended stuff, I'm sure Manley saw a need to do something. Of all tube designers, Manley has always been among the most prolific.

Sam Tellig Posted: Aug 13, 2012 Published: Apr 01, 1993 1 comments
Tubes, tubes, tubes.

The amps (and preamps) keep coming.

McIntosh Laboratories is back in the act with a limited-edition revival of the MC275 tube amplifier, the original of which was produced from May 1961 through July 1973—one of the longest model runs in hi-fi history.

New companies devoted to tube gear keep cropping up—in recent years, America's VAC and Cary and Canada's Sonic Frontiers. The same thing appears to be going on in the UK. The pages of British magazines are filled with new tube gear.

Robert Deutsch Posted: Oct 24, 2012 2 comments
It began when I reviewed the MartinLogan Montis loudspeaker (September 2012). The amplifiers I had to drive the pair of them were the PrimaLuna ProLogue Premier integrated ($2999), the Audiopax Mk.II (no longer available; the Mk.III costs $22,000), and the Simaudio Moon Evolution W-7 ($9000). The first two are tubed, with power in the 30–40Wpc range; the solid-state Simaudio puts out 150Wpc. The Audiopax, which sounds great with my Avantgarde Uno Nanos, turned out to be not such a good match for the Montises: weak in dynamics, and too soft sounding. The PrimaLuna and the Simaudio were better overall, each with its strengths and weaknesses, though neither was ideal. I really liked the ProLogue Premier's tonal characteristics, and wondered what a higher-powered tube amp would sound like with the MartinLogans.
Jonathan Scull Posted: Mar 29, 2000 0 comments
I wasn't raised a McIntosh lad. My dad used Fisher, Bogen, Leak, and Ampex tubed electronics—and, at one time, even home-built speakers—to keep the house filled with a steady, enriching flow of Mozart. He never owned a Mac component, and, when going upmarket, reached for B&O, alas. So while I knew that many audiophiles hold tubed McIntosh gear—especially the early designs—in very high regard, I was somehow never bitten or smitten. But let's face it—for lo these many years, McIntosh has been for many the name in quality American audio. Take my friend Dan, to whom I've referred several times in the pages of Stereophile. He runs a tubed Conrad-Johnson 9 preamplifier, but wouldn't dream of giving up his 270Wpc solid-state McIntosh MC7270. He's goldurn proud of it!
Sam Tellig Posted: Jan 14, 2007 Published: Jul 14, 2004 0 comments
The McIntosh MC 275 power amplifier has been born yet again. It's the Count Dracula of power amps. It refuses to stay dead. Introduced in 1961, the Mac 275, in its original hardwired edition, was produced until 1970. This was the amp I desired while in college but couldn't afford. I remember the Mac 275 fondly—rather like girlfriends from my college years.
Sam Tellig Posted: May 14, 2001 0 comments
"Larry—if I'd told you 10 years ago that McIntosh would be heavily into tubes in the 21st century, what would you have said?"
Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 18, 2010 1 comments
It's been a while since I've had a classic amplifier in my system, and McIntosh Laboratory's MC275 is as classic as they come. Introduced in 1961 as the "powerhouse" of that era's newfangled stereo tube amps (two 75W amplifiers in one chassis!), the MC275 retained its position as the amplifier to own—challenged only, perhaps, by Marantz and a few others—until 1970, when it fell prey to the widespread wisdom that transistors were king and tubes were dead, and the model was discontinued. The MC275 briefly returned in 1993, in a limited "Commemorative" edition to honor the late Gordon Gow, longtime president and chief designer of McIntosh Labs. To everyone's surprise, that edition sold well, and McIntosh, gingerly at first, crept back into the tube business.
Chip Stern Posted: Apr 10, 2005 Published: Jan 10, 1997 0 comments
Some audiophiles tend to get a mite sniffy around those of us who have expensive tastes and limited budgets. I've always been willing to spend the price of a new car on a set of speakers, but I never had the cash or credit. The sonic virtues of hefty, high-powered Krells and wondrous, single-ended tube designs always enchanted me, but when you're raising a family you make do. Through my experiences in a high-end audio establishment I learned the metaphysics of mixing and matching as befits my lowly caste, and I gradually developed sophisticated reference points, so that as the years swept by I managed to inch my way up the aural food chain.
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 08, 2011 0 comments
In his "Manufacturer's Comment" in response to my review of the original Music Reference RM-200 power amplifier in the April 2002 issue, designer Roger Modjeski admitted that being a manufacturer was not his first choice. "Frankly, I'd rather consult than produce," he claimed. "I'd rather be making a living doing stand-up comedy," I said to myself after reading his comment.
Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 18, 2002 1 comments
Reviewing a vacuum-tube power amplifier is like having your pants pulled down in front of a large crowd of people. I don't know how else to describe the feeling of spending a month or two luxuriating in fabulous sound, then writing a glowing review, then receiving a copy of the review as it will appear in the magazine, complete with John Atkinson's assessment of the amp's test-bench performance, which is usually miserable.
Dick Olsher Posted: Feb 19, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 1989 0 comments
666rm9amp.jpgDo you believe in beginner's luck? If so, some of your personality traits should be quite predictable. Let's see. You're very likely an optimist with a "bull-market" mentality, play the lottery, and, most important, bought a CD player within a year of its introduction, or a solid-state amp in the '60s. You're apt to mail in a profusion of bingo cards (you know, the kind Stereo Review is full of) and spend hours perusing specifications in the hope of finding a kernel of truth in all of that chaff. You'd particularly be appalled at that fellow I ran into the other day, who had bought an AR-1 in 1956 and waited another decade before buying another speaker—just to make sure stereo wasn't a fad. Hey, relax, I won't turn you in; the mere fact that you're reading Stereophile is sufficient reason for redemption.
Jonathan Scull Posted: Apr 08, 1999 0 comments
Nagra's VPA amplification system consists of two slim, handsome monoblock amplifiers intended for vertical placement. They look good adjacent to the speakers. However, two 845 tubes put out a lot of heat, so the amplifier should be at least a foot away from your speakers...unless you're looking for a nice crackle finish.
Corey Greenberg Posted: Sep 01, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 1992 0 comments
I dig tube amps. When all's said and done, good tube amps seem to sound more like real life than most solid-state gear; even after listening to and enjoying the hell out of musical solid-state designs like the Audio Research D-240 II and the Muse Model One Hundred, once I hook up the big VTL Deluxe 225s again it's just like going home. I could go on about timbral accuracy and clearer midrange textures, but the bottom line is, music just plain sounds better when you shoot it through good tubes, and once most people experience that magic, they're hooked.
Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 04, 2013 0 comments
Ever since I became a Stereophile contributing editor, people have asked me, "How do you determine what equipment you're going to review? Do you get to pick your own, or does John Atkinson tell you what to do?"

I've chosen roughly 85% of the components I've reviewed for Stereophile, those choices made on the bases of what I find interesting, and what I think readers would like to know about. It's as simple as that.

Art Dudley Posted: Jan 30, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 1 comments
The road to hell is paved with good inventions: clever ideas that appear, in hindsight, motivated more by a desire to sell clever ideas than to make musically superior products.

The DiaLogue tube amplifiers from PrimaLuna have, at their heart, a clever idea of their own: an output circuit that is user-switchable between triode operation, in which the screen grid of a tetrode or pentode power tube is defeated by means of connection to the tube's anode; and Ultralinear operation, in which the screen grid of a tetrode or pentode carries a portion of the AC music signal, supplied by a tap on the output-transformer primary, in a feedback-like effort to reduce distortion and increase power. Fans of the former often report a sweeter, more tubey sound, while fans of the latter report a tighter, more detailed, more timbrally neutral sound. Audio enthusiasts are given to reporting any number of things.

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