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New to tubes - which amplifier is best? (Read 5033 times)
Steve Deckert

If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

Posts: 3607
New to tubes - which amplifier is best?
07/13/10 at 18:18:00
I've been wanting to purchase a tube amp for some time, but I don't know enough about them technically to decide on a model. Could you help me determine which of your amps would be the best choice for me?

I'll be using the amp in a smaller room setting (bedroom) sitting about 6-10 feet from the speakers.

My input will mostly be a 1970s Dual turntable, but I may get a new Music Hall turntable.

My current speakers are bookshelf Canton Karat 930 DC (impedance: 4-8 ohms; 9-inch woofer & 1-inch tweeter; bass reflex; nominal power handling 85 watts; music power handling 120 watts).  I can't find any mention of dB in the owners manual for these speakers.

My listening will be almost exclusively classical music at low to moderate volume, with an emphasis on vocal music.

I looked at the models on your website and think that either the ZEN Triode SE341.2+ or the ZEN MINI TORii SE would suit my needs, but I really don't understand the differences.  As there seem to be a lot of differences between these two amps, could you advise me on what some of these differences might mean to me?

For either of these amps, would it be advisable for me to also get a separate pre-amp?

Does the type of cartridge in the turntable matter to a tube amp?

Thanks for your help.


Hi Dennis,

Between the two amps you spotted, (Mini Torii & SE34I.2) both have similar performance and sound quality. However, the SE34I.2 has a chassis that can accommodate up to four pairs of input jacks allowing you to select between four sources.  It also uses less tubes making tube replacement less of a headache.  I would probably recommend it.

As far as a preamp goes, it is not necessary with either amplifier.  However, all turntables require a phono-stage to equalize and amplifier the cartridge output to a level that matches that of a typical CD player.  You would need to purchase a stand-alone phono stage when you add your turntable.

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Seasoned Member

"Love without
guts is
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 15418
Re: New to tubes - which amplifier is best?
Reply #1 - 07/13/10 at 19:41:47

Welcome to the site.

I certainly wouldn't think of disagreeing with Steve Smiley and I heartily second the recommendation of the SE34I.2.  I have one (well, mine doesn't yet have the Hazen Mod) that I used for some time and it's a marvelous amp. With an lp source and the room and set up you've describe it would sound intimate and sweet and beguiling.  You'll want to spend a lot of time listening to it!

I'm sure the Mini-Torii is a very good choice as well, but as a firt tube amp you're very well served with the SE34I.2. The Mini-Torri will allow you to "roll" many tube combinations and seek out shadings of the overall sound. . . . You may develop that psychotic habit Smiley later in your exploration of the tube world, or maybe not. . . . I pursued that path for quite some time but have been happier not "rolling."  
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