Hello all, hope you're doing well. I've been lurking on this board for a while now, and now I've finally managed to get myself a pair of Cornwall IVs. Currently paired with my older version Rega Brio R, which is doing a pretty admirable job a lot of the time, but I definitely feel like those speakers deserve a little more. Not exactly blown away by the kind of bass I'm getting with most material, although I've only had them a week so probably placement will need working on. I listen to a broad range of stuff, but soul, jazz, house and techno would be mainstays so I do want an amp that can hold its own in the low end.
I've had my head turned a bit by the Luxman SQ-N150, which seems more like my kind of sound, I find McIntoshes on the rare occasions I've heard them seem a bit Harley Davidson for my tastes. However, I probably will have to wait a little while before putting down €4k on an amp, so for the moment I'm looking at relatively budget friendly options to try out tubes, which obviously includes a lot of Chi-Fi options. Been doing plenty of online research but seeing as it's quite difficult where I am to try any of these out, I'm interested in getting some opinions. Sorry if this has been done to death, although to be honest part of my reason for posting is that I haven't seen a thread that goes through some of these options and how they work with Klipsch, but also to organise my thoughts, also hopefully my research too far will also be helpful to someone else, at least as a starting point. So, here are some of the options that I've been tempted by, would appreciate if anyone has any insights or alternatives.-
Willsenden R8 - $893 + shipping with stock tubes - definitely an option that's towards the top of my list, online reviews seem pretty favourable, can take KT88 or EL34 power tubes, so it seems like a nice little platform to get a feel for tubes and try out different options, also switchable between triode and ultra linear modes - 25w/45w. Downsides, I'm not wild about the look and it doesn't seem quite as premium as some of the other options I've been looking at, which of course is reflected in the price. Also, I'm tempted by options with auto-biasing, mainly just because I've never done it before and I'm not exactly an electrical engineer or anything. Probably not that scary once you actually do it. Overall, leaning towards this as offering ridiculous bang for the buck, however the sound is the most important thing and I've not really heard that much one way or the other >link<
Doge 10 - $1,950 + shipping with stock tubes - massively hyped online, or at least in one corner of YouTube. Switchable Class A / Class AB, 30w/60w, auto biasing. I like the look, seems like a quality product. They make a big deal that these are next generation versions of Lua Sinfonia amps that were well regarded for €9k. I have to say that I'm a bit suspicious of the Youtube hype machine here, but also the description of the sound as being about soundstage more than warmth is definitely not what I'm looking for, I want warmth and musicality first and foremost. The manufacturer claims that they've changed the voicing a bit in their Mk3 version to find a middle ground, but I'm yet to see any independent verification one way or the other. I'm pretty sure the price here is after going up significantly in the past couple of weeks, presumably due to all the online hype, which is making it a far less attractive option as a dabbling with tubes option. On the other hand it does look like it might ... might ... actually be a long-term keeper. But like I say I'm a little bit skeptical of the hype, would be very interested in opinions from outside that particular corner of YouTube. >link< Also considering whether the Doge 5 with similar features at 24w/40w may be plenty of power for my needs at $1k. >link<
Muzishare X7 - $1,099 + shipping with stock tubes - seems like a middle ground between the preceding two. I really like the look, triode / ultralinear, 25w/45w, no auto-biasing but does have a phono stage ... which I can't imagine is one you'd really use if you had any other options, so I'm not sure it's that much of a plus. I haven't seen that much commentary on the sound, but what I have seen has been pretty mixed, so it's hard to really form a strong impression one way or the other. It definitely seems like an attractive option, I'd just like to get more opinions from people who've heard one. >link<
Line Magnetic LM-216IA - $836 + shipping with stock tubes - I get the impression that Line Magnetic are one of the more respected Chi-fi brands, but this basic KT88 amp is well priced, with switchable triode / ultralinear, 22w/32w. Look is a bit utilitarian, but not necessarily in a bad way. No auto biasing or phono stage. It seems like an excellent option, but as an older amp doesn't have as much online buzz. With that said, everything I've seen about it has been pretty positive. >link< Also has a slightly cheaper 15w/32w EL34 cousin >link<
PrimaLuna Evo 100 - €2470 (almost $3k) locally with stock tubes - speaking of cousins, PrimaLuna, Muzishare and Line Magnetic are allegedly closely related, to the point of sharing the same factory. This is where I started my research from, but while I'm sure it's a fine amp, I'm struggling to see how it competes at entry level with the Chi-fi options above, or why if I was going this far I wouldn't just stretch to the Luxman and be done with it. >link<
Decware Zen Triode - $995 plus shipping - the Yankees are coming! I do pretty much love the idea of a 2 watt amplifier, given that most of my listening is a at low volumes. This is the only SET on my list and probably it ultimately isn't that suited for the kind of material I'd be subjecting it to, but it does look like a great option. Aside from the wait list, unfortunately it's probably a little easier to buy from China to Europe, although only marginally. Probably not this time around for me, but definitely one I'll be keeping in mind >link<
Quad Va-one+ - around €1k used locally - Last one. I've seen a couple of these coming up locally, 15w, nice construction, however come with a bunch of digital connectivity that I'm going to have precisely zero use for. Quad do seem to be a pretty well regarded UK brand, though, so I'd be interested if anyone has any views on their sound >link<
So, these are my main runners and riders at the moment. Unfortunately, I haven't heard any of them in person, nor is it likely that I'll get a chance to. Would be very grateful for views / insights / alternatives.