Tube amps under $7500

Ready to experiment with combinations never before (or not recently) tried. Step one requires a tube amp. Now looking at Prima Luna EVO 400 which sells for 5K. Any other tube amps I should consider in this price/feature range? Must come in silver with balanced input. For pairing experimentally with various tube and SS preamps. Efficient 4 ohm Legacy speakers (and the room/setup) are the constants.



So many more fine tube amps out there than I ever dreamed existed. But in order to get their benefit, I would need to change speakers and add subwoofers (which don't augment, but actually constrain, the performance of Legacys in any configuration possible for my space). These are -6dB at 22Hz. Many superb speakers hit -6dB at 30Hz or above. It took the contributions on this thread to make me recall why I had gone with Legacys in the first place. Fully enclosed, can be placed near front wall. High frequency hearing loss and compensatory bias toward low bass articulation. It's a long list.

re: "For pairing experimentally with various tube and SS preamps."

Some members may be running right past this requirement in your original post.

If I were in your shoes [IF  this is truly a requirement] I’d probably be looking at manufactures also offering a nice matching (primary) preamplifier that you’ll enjoy along with your selected amplifier(s). Matching up the right preamp matters too, many will chime in here or just look at old threads on this topic.  Next is your balanced connection requirement, which limits the field as others have already stated. With your stated $7500 budget limit set for the amp(s), does this change overall spend equation some if the budget for the [balanced] preamplifier is also brought into discussion now too?

Mixing and Matching:

Like others here, I too pair up my SS and tube preamps with SS and tube amps. Even with good-full Class A 50w SS, in the end solid state sounds like solid state, and tube sounds like tube. Sure, mixing types of each produces a nice hybrid sound. @hickamore gotta ask, can you see yourself also drilling in a little more on your choice of preamplifiers now too?

While looking at amplifiers, maybe take some time and focus to look at good preamplifiers, before selecting your primary tube amplifier. In my systems, the preamplifier choice has a notable impact on the result and enjoyment. One thing is for sure in my system, when I connect my best tube preamplifier into the mix, something really nice occurs about the sound. Matching with the amp matters. My .02 cents fwiw.



Do you also have a sense as to what manufacturer’s PREAMPLIFER and model you might choose as your primary preamp for your system?




@decooney Much appreciate your thorough review of the entire course of discussion. I will try to clarify my position on each issue.

1) Why focus solely on the amp? Because mine is beyond its ten-year warranty period, long out of production, and frankly losing its grip on challenging material. So, what better time to reconsider tubes before committing to a costly new decade-long companion? Especially considering I changed speakers during that period.

2) Why ignore preamps? Because in my experience, it's the preamp that establishes the sonic signature, but you can't work on that until your output chain (amps/speakers) has become a constant in the equation. A prerequisite, if you will. I am ALWAYS looking at preamps and need no help on that question. Being stable at that position in the lineup at present, I must focus first on the amp, then the DAC, before playing with preamps, which for me is where the fun lies.

3) Why the balanced specification? Because this helps to limit an otherwise boundless field of choice. (Same with my requisite of silver, or at least non-black, finish). In my setup, balanced operation helped with impedance matching, gain, and long-ish cable runs. Not to mention manufacturer recommendations. So I became a "balanced guy," and if that seems arbitrary in one sense, it is surely not irrational in any sense.

4) Why the default position of tube pre + SS amp? Because I can't live without a tube pre (though I also have a fully balanced SS on hand), while my Legacy speakers quite likely can't live with a tube amp, as I have just learned.* Frankly, I am also lazy. Even if the tube amp is self-biasing, amps sit down in a dark corner of a dark room near the floor. Some use three different tube types, requiring matching spares of each on hand. I'm just not the born gearhead obsessive that so many in here are. (No knock on them -- I learn a great deal from the experts, the wizards, just reading their hugely informative posts in here).  

Hope this clarifies where I am coming from. 
*From two different Legacy dealers, one in LA and another in Minneapolis, both of whom also sell plenty of tube gear. ("High current, and running deep in Class A to emulate tube sound").

Maybe consider a 6sn7 preamp and 250 watt amp that doubles in power. With $7500 you could find a Don Sachs, Supratec type preamp and an older Pass Labs, CJ or others. I tried BAT, ARC, Rogue they were nice but felt they were more in solid state territory, in case that’s what you are trying to avoid. Just make sure impedance matches.


i had a Don Sachs pre and amp very natural with a great layered sound stage, the preamp matched with solid state very well.