Tube Power Amp Reviews

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Martin Colloms  |  Jul 20, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1993  |  0 comments
Owning a powerful tube amplifier is like owning a classic automobile. Great pleasure may be had, but ownership involves a little more care and maintenance than usual.

Jadis, an audiophile company specializing in all-tube amplifiers and operating out of a small French town, has enjoyed a good reputation for some years, even if some of its models have suffered from the reliability problems that occasionally afflict the largest tube amps. Another problem area is that of power consumption and heat output. In common with class-A amplifiers and high-bias A/B types, including solid-state models, larger tube amps give off substantial heat. The Defy-7's 240W idling consumption may or may not be welcome, according to your location and the season.

Dick Olsher  |  Sep 06, 1995  |  First Published: Sep 06, 1992  |  0 comments
It was back in the mid-'70s that David Berning made a name for himself in the Baltimore-Washington area as an avant-garde designer—someone with a truckload of fresh ideas about tubes. At the time, though Audio Research was starting to crank out pretty decent amplifiers, tube design was pretty much reduced to a rehash of the Williamson circuit and the Dynaco mod of the month.
Corey Greenberg  |  Sep 01, 2004  |  First 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.
Corey Greenberg  |  Aug 31, 2004  |  First 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.
Corey Greenberg  |  Aug 13, 2014  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1991  |  0 comments
891vtl160.250.jpgWhen I reviewed VTL's 25W Tiny Triodes in April 1991, I found them to be incredibly fun little suckers to play with, but got frustrated with their inability to drive my Spica Angeluses to reasonable levels with most of my recordings. I loved what I was hearing, but there wasn't nearly enough of it! As it turns out, John Atkinson was listening; not just to my plea, but also to the new VTL Compact 160 monoblocks in preparation for a full review. However, while all this was going on, David Manley decided that the power-supply voltages in the 160 weren't beefy enough to exploit his new KT90 output tubes; back the amps went for a transformerectomy.
Corey Greenberg  |  Nov 05, 2006  |  First Published: Apr 05, 1991  |  0 comments
During the time of the Native-American Comanches, a young brave had to undergo many trials by fire before he earned the respect of the tribe's adults. He was violently beaten by the men, humiliated by the women, and forced to endure physical torture such as the slow flaying of the foreskin with smoldering pine saplings drawn from the fire. Alienated from the tribe, exiled until he proved his manhood, he had to survive on wriggling cream-colored larvae and infrequent rainwater. Legend speaks of these Indian youths, dehydrated and disoriented, crawling around on their hands and knees and baying like wolves at the moon.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 01, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1991  |  0 comments
Manley is not a new company; it's the last name of the president and chief designer of VTL, David Manley, whose Model 300 has been my reference standard power amp for the past two years. In fact, Manley is not even a new brand name; it's the name of VTL's "deluxe" line of electronics, built (ostensibly) to industrial standards of ruggedness and reliability.

It's customary to think of "the tube sound" as being warm, rich, weak through the deep bass, fat through the midbass, forward through the midrange, bright through the middle highs, and soft at the extreme top, with superb rendition of depth and spaciousness. The "solid-state sound," by contrast, is generally thought to be cool, detailed, and pristine, with powerful deep bass, controlled midbass, rather reticent (laid-back) midrange and mid-highs, and a somewhat crisp high end, with variable (roulette-style) reproduction of depth and spatiality.

John Atkinson  |  Sep 26, 1995  |  First Published: Sep 26, 1990  |  0 comments
"The only tubes that I want to see in my household are...the picture tube in my TV and the magnetron in the microwave oven," a Glendale, CA, reader recently wrote, and I guess his feelings reflect those of many when confronted by a supposedly "obsolete" audio technology. Forty years after the invention of the transistor and 20 after the widespread introduction of solid-state amplifiers (footnote 1), it must come as a shock to readers of the mass-market "slicks" that not only do a number of American manufacturers manufacture amplifiers and preamplifiers using tubes, but some of those companies—Counterpoint and Audio Research in particular—are among the more successful. It is the Classic 60 power amplifier from Minnesota-based Audio Research that is the subject of this month's lead-off equipment review.
Robert Harley  |  May 31, 2011  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990  |  0 comments
The VTL 225W DeLuxe monoblocks are very similar to the 300W monoblocks that received such an enthusiastic reception from J. Gordon Holt a year or so ago (in Vol.11 No.10) and, ultimately, most of the audiophile community. Technically, they differ only in output tubes and transformer: the 225W uses EL34s, the 300W uses 6550s. The 225Ws, at $4200/pair, cost $700 less than their more powerful brothers. The question may be raised: Why have two models so close in price and performance? According to David Manley, the 225Ws were built on special order for audiophiles who preferred the sound of EL34s to the 300Ws' 6550s. Demand was so great for the EL34 version that he decided to add it to the line. They look almost identical, the only difference being the smaller output transformer on the 225W and an additional filter capacitor on the 300W's top chassis.
Dick Olsher  |  Feb 19, 2013  |  First 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.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 01, 2008  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1988  |  0 comments
The last time I was in England, I happened to be rummaging through some boxes in my mother's garage, boxes containing photographs, my old school books, concert programs, diaries, postcards—all the bric-a-brac you collect throughout your life that you'll never have a need for and can never discard. If anything, such rubbish is perhaps the nearest thing to roots that anyone can have these days. Among the boxes was an amplifier that had been an everyday companion of mine for many years, the vintage Vox AC100 I had used to amplify my Fender bass when on the road.
J. Gordon Holt, Various  |  Oct 20, 1995  |  First Published: Oct 20, 1988  |  0 comments
Not only does the venerable vacuum tube refuse to lie down and die, as everyone predicted when audio went solid-state; it continues to deliver better performance than anyone had imagined it could. Only a few years ago, we could characterize "the tube sound" as being sweet but soft at the high end, rich but loose in the midbass, deficient in deep bass, and bright and forward, usually with excellent reproduction of depth. Since then, we've seen the introduction of what might almost be called a new generation of tube amplifiers, which rival solid-state units in those areas where tubes used to have weaknesses, but have given up little of the tube's sonic strengths.
Anthony H. Cordesman  |  Aug 07, 2018  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1986  |  15 comments
Few people in the high end know the difference between glorious excess and wretched folly as well as Harvey Rosenberg. Harvey's audio equipment always strives towards the glorious folly of providing the most romantic sound possible with modern technology. This may explain why his relatively small company, New York Audio Laboratories, can build an amplifier like the Futterman OTL-1, which costs a glorious $12,000 a stereo pair and actively competes for the title of best amplifier in the world.
Steve Watkinson  |  Nov 13, 2018  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1986  |  0 comments
The great debate that has long separated audiophiles is tubes vs solid-state. Other topics, CD for example, may temporarily steal the spotlight, but year-in and year-out no other subject is the cause of as much controversy as whether tubed or solid-state circuitry produces the more accurate sound. As is typical with long-standing feuds, the split runs deep, and tempers often flare.

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