electronics

BEST BUDGET TUBE AMP AUDIOPHILE for 2021

Although tube amplifiers have been popular to be used at music concerts, live singing performances, or at big events. Nowadays, the best budget tube amp audiophile is becoming an essential part of the home sound system. A large variety of tube amp is available in the market in varying styles, sizes, and technical specifications.

Editor's Pick

Features

 PS Audio Sprout100


-W6.2”x H1.9”x D8.2”
-Unit weighs 3 lbs 
-SNR is 105 dB

Buying Guide – Best Budget Tube Amp Audiophile

Here are few factors that will provide ease in knowing the basics of the product to get the best budget tube amp audiophile

Power Output

The power output is measured in Watts (W). general speaking, the higher the output power, the amplifier will produce a louder sound. For personal listening of music, an amp of 10 to 40W is just nice. If you want to use your amp for live music, rehearsals, or some outdoor music then more power output is required such as 100W to 200W.

SNR

This is one of the technical terminologies that you’ll come across for a tube amplifier. SNR stands for ‘Signal-to-Noise Ratio’. It is used to define how much required sound an amplifier generates in an audio recording as compared to unwanted background sound, normally known as ‘noise’.

Higher the value of SNR measurement, you’ll be able to hear good quality music without any background noise interference. It is measured in dB.

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

This is another technical jargon that you’ll hear while purchasing a tube amp. THD is the extent of the harmonic distortion in an audio signal that is expressed as a percentage of tones added to a frequency. Usually, we listen to distortion in microphones, speakers, and other audio components.

THD is a threshold measuring a mic’s maximum sound pressure level. While doing shopping for a tube amp, go for THD less than 1% 

Quality Tubes

The best stereo tube amp allows to change or swap out tubes easily. Tubes affect the tone of the sound. If you’re low on budget, then after buying a tube amp, you can buy good quality tubes later. But you need to check that the tube amp that you’re buying allows you to change the tubes. You can also keep additional spare tubes for use in case the worst can happen.

Preamp

After power amp consideration, it’s the preamp that does most of the tone shaping. Here we are concerned with the preamp circuit type and its major features like multiple channels, effects, and loops.

A musician player needs to depend on one amp that can provide a varying degree of distortion with multiple channels. Tube amps with multiple channels provide you more flexibility. If you’re buying a tube amp for playing the guitar, then one to four channels are sufficient. The preamp tube breaks the sound more different than the power tube.

However, if you want to have more purity of sound, a single channel preamp is better.

Best Budget Tube Amp

1. PS Audio Sprout100 Complete HiFi DAC Amp

Price on Amazon

Specifications

  • Its one-touch button playback via Bluetooth for digital streaming allows easy access to Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, YouTube, and many more.
  • The tube amp provides a 100W per channel power amplifier capable of driving any size of loudspeakers whether floor-standing or bookshelf type.
  • The unit includes an aluminum remote-control to give you a modern feel with a retro feel.
  • The unit weighs 3 lbs and has dimensions W6.2”x H1.9”x D8.2”.
  • The tube amp has a passive EQ phono preamplifier.
  • Inside Sprout100, there is a highly complex and powerful Digital to Analog (DAC) converter that can provide perfect playback for your audio, video, and gaming applications.
  • The device also accepts inputs from USB.
  • Its THD is less than .01%
  • SNR is 105 dB at maximum power.

PS Audio is well known for manufacturing premium quality and high-end audio equipment. This is the most affordable and budget tube amp. The company does not produce cheap tube amp. This musical integrated amplifier is a nice blend of old and modern technology.

Pros

  • The Sprout 100 tube amp is very compact and small in size, which means it’ll fit easily in narrow places like desk, bookshelf, nightstand, and so forth.
  • This best-integrated amplifier plays your favorite Vinyl records via a world-class internal phono preamplifier.
  • You can stream music from your smartphones or digital audio players via Bluetooth.
  • This tube amplifier has a precision stepped volume control.
  • It also has a Bluetooth antenna, allowing better streaming from a smartphone.

Cons

  • The tube amp has only Banana Plugs connectors for the speakers instead of bare wires, which is considered to be a minor inconvenience.

2. Denon PMA-600NE Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Price on Amazon

Specifications

  • This amazing amplifier features 5 analog inputs, two optical inputs, and one coaxial input.
  • The unit also has a phono preamp input to play your vinyl.
  • The amp has a built-in DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter).
  • The output power is 70W per channel as written on the apparatus.
  • You can connect unlimited audio sources such as CD player, media-player, Blu-Ray, turntables, LED TV, or even computer or any digital inputs.
  • The THD rating is 0.7%.

Having more than a 100-year legacy of manufacturing premium quality audio components. Denon PMA-600NE tube amplifier is an excellent entry point for beginners who want to enter the world of an audiophile. The device is suitable for medium to large rooms. Its sound is powerful and rich.

Pros

  • Its construction and design are sturdy.
  • The sound does not distort even on high volumes.
  • Its circuits are divided as soon as you engage to listen from analog audio sources, its digital circuit automatically turns off Bluetooth.
  • The unit can easily be paired with your smartphone via Bluetooth with a built-in DAC.
  • Its design has vibration-proof which provides a multi-dimensional sound experience.
  • This best-integrated amplifier offers compatibility with most of the speaker types and headphones.

Cons

  • Its overall design is very old-looking.
  • Its actual power output is 45W as measured by technicians.

3. Dayton Audio HTA20BT Hybrid Stereo Tube Amplifier with Bluetooth

Price on Amazon

Specifications

  • This amplifier is fitted with an active subwoofer for better sound output.
  • The amplifier weighs 5.5 lbs.
  • This budget stereo tube amp is equipped with Bluetooth V4.2 which ensures the best audio quality with any wireless device.
  • Its dimensions are 11 x 8.5 x 6.1 inches
  • Its THD is extremely low that is less than 0.1%
  • The power output is 50 Watts for each channel.
  • Its USB input on the front panel read most common digital audio formats such as APE, WAV, MP3, and FLAC.
  • The SNR is 80 dB.

Dayton Audio is one of the few budget amplifiers which offers such a wide variety of output options. This tube amplifier is a suite for every sound whether from Bluetooth, Auxiliary, or USB.

Pros

  • The product has built-in high-quality headphone for the amp and does not need to buy a separate one.
  • The unit can easily be connected with your smartphone via Bluetooth as it has a built-in DAC.
  • Its USB input
  • The manufacturer provides a 5-year warranty including spare parts and labor.

Cons

  • When the headphone is plugged-in, it’ll disable the speaker’s output including the subwoofer.
  • The amplifier uses the Bluetooth version of 4.2 as compared to the latest V5.

4. Reisong A10 EL34 Hi-Fi Stereo Tube Amplifier – Single-end Class

Price on Amazon

Specifications

  • This tube amp has a robust and shiny steel body construction with stainless steel chassis.
  • Its corners are made of an aluminum column with high-grade aluminum CNC machining.
  • The unique feature is that the unit has a tube cage which enhances its life.
  • The dimensions are 310 x 268 x 165 mm (WxDxH)
  • All the strings and circuit connections are designed with high-purity copper-enameled wires.
  • The SNR rating is 88dB.
  • Its THD rating is less than 1%.
  • The core power transformers are imported 0.35 mm thick, which ensures adequate power and low-temperature rise.
  • The unit is quite heavy and weighs 26 lbs.

When we talk about premium-grade best budget tube amp audiophile, then Reisong A10 EL34 cannot be left out of this list. This is a preferred audiophile especially for professionals due to its unlimited options of connecting digital audio sources.

Pros

  • The machine has tubes protecting removable cover in the shape of a cage which provides safety and protection to its delicate tubes.
  • This affordable tube amp has point-to-point hand welding which speaks about its high-quality and durability.
  • The tube amp is power-efficient and consumes only 78watts power during operation.
  • Due to copper-enameled internal wiring, the amplifier is capable to bear high temperatures.
  • The assembly is quite easy and convenient, as the installation of 5 tubes took less than a minute.

Cons

  • The device does not work well with floor-standing speakers or low-sensitivity speakers.
  • There is no instruction manual in the English language with the package. However, a pictorial chart is self-explanatory to assemble the tubes.

5. Monoprice 611705 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier

Price on Amazon

Specifications

  • The tube amplifier has a stylish vintage-looking design with a beige-colored textured synthetic leather exterior, an open back, strong chrome corner guards. This guitar amplifier features a 5-watt tube power amplifier.
  • The unit has a built-in 8-inch Celestion speaker.
  • Since it is a 1×8 Guitar Combo amplifier. A total of 8 guitars can be connected simultaneously.
  • Its THD is 0.5%
  • The amplifier has a 75dB SNR reading.

This guitar combo tube amplifier from the well-known brand Monoprice is the biggest sounding speaker for its size and price range. The device is compatible with most electric guitars.

Pros

  • The machine is classically styled in a solid frame with solid corner guards.
  • The unit has a cloth speaker grill to prevent over-heating during playing.
  • The machine has a leather handle for easy portability.
  • It has simple and minimalist but functional controls to keep the circuit clean and pure tone.

Cons

  • Sometimes it gives off a loud pop when you switch off the unit, which can be unpleasant.

Analog Vs Digital Tube Amps

This is the most debated question ever asked by consumers. Analog tube amps have a solid-state transistor, resistors, and capacitors that produce a high-grade tone and a solid-state power amp which strengthens the signal and efficiently drives the speakers to produce richer sound quality.

In contrast, digital amps use digital algorithms to deliver the tone and a solid-state power amp to intensify the signal. Therefore, digital amps can reproduce any sound you want. Digital amplifiers have fine details, noise reduction, and high efficiency. Furthermore, nowadays audio processing is done through software. With digital tube amps, the changes can be made a lot easier and quicker.

Final Thoughts

Tube amps are a lot of fun to play with. They are cool and entertaining. These tube amps are trustworthy and are usually a good choice for live performance, rehearsal, studio recording, or even just for listening to your favorite music at home. Just consider your needs and requirements for a tube amplifier, your budget, and then go for finding a suitable tube amp for you. Happy hunting!

FAQs – Best Budget Tube Amp Audiophile

Does tube amp sound better?

Deciding about the best sound depends upon the personal judgment and individual taste. But most people believe that sound produced from tube amp sounds far better than other equivalent devices.

How long should it take for a tube amp to warm up?

Only one minute. First, switch ON the main power and let the amplifier warm-up for one minute before switching ON the standby switch. This will increase the life of tubes and your amplifier will last long with lower maintenance cost.

How long amp tubes last?

The normal amplifier tubes have a service life of 10,000 hours. After this service life, the tubes need to be replaced with newer ones.

What is the best tube amp for under $500?

Dayton Audio HTA20BT Hybrid Stereo Tube Amplifier with Bluetooth is the best tube amp that you can get for under $500. Because very few amps under $500 offer the same impressive sound quality as this one.

What is a stereo tube amp?

The stereo tube amps are electronic devices that produce the sound of music. They work by amplifying the tiniest and smallest sound signal in the music composition produced by different musical instruments, such as guitar, flute, harp, and so forth.  

Is it bad to leave a tube amp ON for a long time?

No, there’s nothing wrong to leave it ON for a long time. It’ll not wear out the tubes. If you don’t play, then just leave it. In this way, the tubes will not take time to warm up.

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