Best High Quality Tube Amp under 500 – 2017

Our Top Pick

Amplifiers that use solid-state technology have been around for over 50 years. They are cheaper, tend to be much more reliable and also operate at much cooler temperatures than tube amplifiers. When they first came out, many experts predicted the demise of tube amplifiers in a very short time, but here they are still being sold in fairly large numbers. What is the reason why?

Many people believe that tube amplifiers help produce a better quality of sound than solid state amplifiers do. We thought we would take a look at the best tube amp under 500 dollars and a few more so you could decide for yourself. If you want our top pick after lots of testing it’s the Monoprice Tube Amp for both the best value and unbeatable sound quality.

Editor’s Pick – Top Pick

Product #Model
1Monoprice Tube Amp
2Gemtune X-1
3YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4
4Monoprice 113807
5GemTune GS-01

Product DescriptionUsers Score
Editor choice
Monoprice Tube Amp

Monoprice Tube Amp

Monoprice has come up with a very nice little tube amp here. If you pair it with just the right speaker setup, you will be able to experience some incredible sound with it.

User Rating: 3.5 (2 votes)
2 Gemtune X-1

Gemtune X-1

This tube amp has a very low 8 watts per channel power, but despite that, it still puts out a very clear and somewhat big sound.

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
3 YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4

YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4

Here is another tube amp that you don’t want to let the low power output fool you.

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
4 Monoprice 113807

Monoprice 113807

This unit is also fully Bluetooth compatible and comes with a very generous 1-year warranty and a complete 30-day money back guarantee.

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
5 GemTune GS-01

GemTune GS-01

You will be pleasantly surprised how good jazz, acoustic and many types of pipe music sound when this tube amp is paired with the right combination of speakers.

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)

TUBE AMPS WE TESTED

We took a close look at several tube amp models, and these are the ones that we feel are clearly a step above the others:

Our #1 Choice: Monoprice Tube Amp with Bluetooth 50-watt Stereo Hybrid and Line Output,Black – (116153)

Monoprice Tube Amp with Bluetooth 50-watt Stereo Hybrid and Line Output,Black – (116153)

Monoprice Tube Amp with Bluetooth 50-watt Stereo Hybrid and Line Output,Black – (116153)

Monoprice has come up with a very nice little tube amp here. If you pair it with just the right speaker setup, you will be able to experience some incredible sound with it.

PROS:

  • Very minimal harmonic distortion
  • A full 50 Watts per Channel
  • Blue tooth compatible

CONS:

  • High sounds tend to be slightly muted
  • Component is somewhat fragile in construction
  • Not considered a 100% pure tube amp

Monoprice has come up with a very nice little tube amp here. If you pair it with just the right speaker setup, you will be able to experience some incredible sound with it. Best of all it does not even come close to being the most expensive tube amp we will review. That is why when you consider everything that is important in a tube amp it was chosen as the number one model we tested.

What else do we like about it? We love the fact it has a full 50 watts per channel. That will give any music you play a nice little boost without overdoing it. It does it in a way that still keeps the sound it produces very pure also.


Some of the intangibles you get with this model tube amp are that it is a good looking when set up and it also boasts very little harmonic distortion when paired with the right speakers. You should also be able to have this tube amp up and ready to use in less than 5 minutes after you take it out of the box; it really is that easy to set up.


Gemtune X-1 Class-A Integrated Tube Amplifier with 5Z4P1, 6N9P1, EL34-B2

Gemtune X-1 Class-A Integrated Tube Amplifier with 5Z4P1, 6N9P1, EL34-B2 Review

Gemtune X-1 Class-A Integrated Tube Amplifier with 5Z4P1, 6N9P1, EL34-B2

If this model was just a little bit less expensive, it might have taken over the top spot. Gemtune has really done that good of a job on the design of this model tube amp.

PROS:

  • Very minimal harmonic distortion
  • Perfect for acoustic and vocals type music
  • Handmade good looks

CONS:

  • Noticed a very slight audible humming when running
  • Component is somewhat fragile in construction
  • Low power output

It was a pretty tough decision choosing between the number one model and this one that came in a very close second. If this model was just a little bit less expensive, it might have taken over the top spot. Gemtune has really done that good of a job on the design of this model tube amp.

This tube amp has a very low 8 watts per channel power, but despite that, it still puts out a very clear and big sound. So don’t let this turn you off unless you want the sound in your room so loud you will feel like you are in an amphitheater.

This unit looks great too, and a lot of that is due to the fact its hand made. So this unit not only produces high-quality sound but it also will complement any room it’s placed in. It is also a tube amp that comes with a very generous 1-year warranty on everything but the tubes themselves.


YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4 Class A Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier

YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4 Class A Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Review

YAQIN MC-84L 6P14 x4 Class A Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier

This is a really fine tube amp to say the least. If you purchase it we are sure you will be very satisfied with the sound quality of this product.

PROS:

  • Wide frequency response and very low noise features
  • Rich acoustic sound
  • Excellent looking

CONS:

  • Front LED is too bright
  • Higher priced but acceptable
  • Low power output

This is a really fine tube amp to say the least. If you purchase it we are sure you will be very satisfied with the sound quality of this product. We found there was a whole lot to like about it. Yaqin is well-known for making quality stereo components and this tube amp does not disappoint at all.

Here is another tube amp that you don’t want to let the low power output fool you. Despite the fact it only has 12 watts per channel of power, it’s still plenty powerful enough to put out great sound in any room.

This tube amp also puts on a nice little light display when its working in a darkened room and it also looks great during the daytime too. It’s a tube amp that is very easy to set up and works well with many different types of speakers. You will certainly not be disappointed if you purchase this model tube amp.


Monoprice 113807 Stereo Tube Amp System with Bluetooth & Speakers

Monoprice 113807 Stereo Tube Amp System with Bluetooth & Speakers Review

Monoprice 113807 Stereo Tube Amp System with Bluetooth & Speakers

That is a nice little bonus for the very affordable price you will pay for this stereo component. Monoprice really did a good job putting together this tube amp package.

PROS:

  • Affordable value
  • Rich acoustic sound
  • Bonus speaker set

CONS:

  • Not remote capable
  • emphasizes sound quality over loudness
  • Requires a separate preamp purchase if you want to play records

Here is another very good tube amp from Monoprice and this one even comes with a set of speakers included in the package. That is a nice little bonus for the very affordable price you will pay for this stereo component. Monoprice really did a good job putting together this tube amp package.

One of the hardest things to do with a tube amp is to find the right speakers to pair with it. No worries here because Monoprice already did the work there for you. This unit features a very complimentary 25 watts per channel and does it in a way that the sound stays crystal clear.

This unit is also fully Bluetooth compatible and comes with a very generous 1-year warranty and a complete 30-day money back guarantee. We really like that type of peace of mind when we purchase a product. It will also nicely complement any shelf, table top, or counter it rests upon with its subtle good looks. It lights up nicely in a darkened room too.


GemTune GS-01 Class A Integrated Hi-Fi Tube Amplifier with Tubes: EL342 + 6N9P2 +5AR41

GemTune GS-01 Class A Integrated Hi-Fi Tube Amplifier with Tubes: EL342 + 6N9P2 +5AR41 Review

GemTune GS-01 Class A Integrated Hi-Fi Tube Amplifier with Tubes: EL342 + 6N9P2 +5AR41

It will make a great addition to the stereo system of any true music connoisseur. GemTune needs to be complimented for the really good job they did on the design of this tube amp.

PROS:

  • Perfect for acoustic and Jazz style music
  • Outstanding high and midrange sound
  • Full one year warranty

CONS:

  • Not remote capable
  • emphasizes sound quality over loudness
  • Low power output

Here is another very good tube amp that will not blow out your eardrums but will definitely provide you with some superior sound. It will make a great addition to the stereo system of any true music connoisseur. GemTune needs to be complimented for the really good job they did on the design of this tube amp.

It only features 8 watts per channel of sound power, but it does it in a way that provides incredible distortion free sound. You will be pleasantly surprised how good jazz, acoustic and many types of pipe music sound when this tube amp is paired with the right combination of speakers.

It will compliment any room feature it sits upon with its stylish classic looks, and it sets a serene mood with the way it lights up in any dimly lit room. It also comes complete with a full one year warranty.


HANDY TUBE AMP BUYING GUIDE

There are many different tube amp products out there in the music world, but not all of them will work well for you. Here are some key characteristics of tube amps that you should base your buying decision on.

  • Price

Not many of us are fortunate enough to be able to totally disregard price when it comes to buying stereo components like tube amps. You have to do a lot of comparison shopping to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. One word of caution when looking at the price of a tube amp and that is we do not always find a strong correlation between price and quality. There are some real quality tube amps in the marketplace that can be purchased at a bargain price.

  • Harmonic distortion

We don’t want to go into too much detail here because figuring out total harmonic distortion (thd) requires a very complicated mathematical formula. Fortunately, you do not have to figure it out yourself because most manufacturers have done that for you and will list it on the box your tube amp comes in.

In layman’s terms, it’s how well your tube amp works with other components to produce clear quality sound. The lower this number found on the package, the better, but you never want your tube amp to be totally distortion free either. It may sound strange, but a slight amount of harmonic distortion in a tube amp is actually part of what makes it sound better than a solid state amplifier.

  • Watts per Channel

This describes the power output of your tube amp. Quite simply stated, the higher the wattage of your tube amp the louder the music it can pump out of your speakers. Keep in mind when looking at this figure bigger is not always better. If a tube amp with a high power output is not paired up with the right speakers, then you might end up with a very loud system that sounds bad.

A good example of low watts per channel being ok is item number two on our review list; it only has 8 watts per channel, but it is still plenty loud enough and offers the listener crystal clear sound quality.

  • Blue tooth compatibility

These days most music tends to be digitally streamed in one way or another. That means it would be very inconvenient for you to have to go to a component to switch music tracks or plug in a different music source all the time. The best way to lessen the aggravation here is to buy a unit that has blue tooth capability. That way you can stream your music from an iPhone, MP3 player or any other smart device that has digital music stored on it.

  • Construction/looks

Tube amps tend to be some of the most fragile components in a stereo system just because of the very nature of their construction. For one, you have very fragile glass transistor tubes that are usually fully exposed. They are made that way, so they add classic looks to the unit and they also give off a pretty cool light display in a darkened room.

You don’t want the exposed tube area and the outer casing to be too fragile, though; make sure the construction of your tube amp is adequate when it arrives and if not don’t hesitate to return it.

Your tube amp is also going to be sitting out in an exposed place. Try to pick out one that has some style to its looks instead of looking boxy and metallic. There are many tube amps that will actually compliment the looks of their surroundings.

  • Warranty

Warranties are great for two reasons. The first they give you peace of mind that you are protected a little when you spend a decent amount of money on a tube amp purchase. The other, believe it or not, is that they will give you an indication on how well a manufacturer thinks their product is built. No company is going to warranty a shoddily made tube amp for any long amount of time. So make sure you are familiar with the warranty on any tube amp you are thinking about purchasing.

Our Final Thoughts on Finding a Great Tube Amp

If you listen to music being played in the background while you are being distracted as you read a book or when intensely working at your computer; it might not matter if you have a stereo system with a tube amp or a solid state amplifier. On the other hand, if you are a true music connoisseur then you really will get the most satisfying sound quality with a stereo system that has a good tube amp.

So there you have it. What we feel is the best tube amp under 500 dollars and a few more tube amp models that are really worth owning too. If you are not interested in any of the fine tube amp models we reviewed, then use the handy buying guide to help you pick out a good tube amp that nicely fills your desire for having excellent sound quality coming out of your stereo system.

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