So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, asking questions, and getting advice, while I’ve been considering to upgrade from my beloved Naim Uniti Atom. My plan had been to stay 100% Naim. Either go with SuperNait, or Uniti Nova, or get a NAP and expand from there… but I was also very curious about something completely different: tube amplification. I had heard a lot about it, watched bunches of vids, so I wanted to at least hear it for myself before I made my final decisions. I made an appointment with a local store which sells known and lesser known tube amplifiers, and to my wife’s dismay I packed the car with our speakers and of course the Atom. How else would I be able to hear the difference?
Long story short, I - or I should say, my wife and I, made some decisions and some purchases… Our system is now a mix. The Uniti Atom is still there and functions as streamer/dac. Anything digital goes through there. The Atom is connected to a full tube integrated amplifier. To my ears, the tubes make the Naim sound so much bigger in many respects, while still retaining characteristics of the Naim sound I love. My turntable is of course connected to the tube amplifier, making that signal path 100% analog. The tube amplifier drives a brand new set of Sonus Faber Sonetto V floorstanding speakers, an upgrade from my Sonetto II bookshelf speakers. I was worried a bit that the amp would be underpowered, but that worry melted away as soon as I pressed Play on the first song.
I’m so happy with the result! I feel exactly like when I had just purchased the Atom, spending hours upon hours rediscovering music. For the foreseeable future, my only music-related purchases will be records and streaming service subscriptions.
Mcintosh by any chance?
Ex Naim people (I can think of 3) are now involved in fine sounds who are the uk distributor for mcintosh and Sonus faber (both owned by the same company I believe).
Tube watts don’t equal solid state watts as you’ve discovered!
Ah looks like mcintosh also own fine sounds!
I didn’t know I could name other brands here
It’s a Fezz Audio Titania. A Polish brand and spin-off from Toroidy, manufacturer of toroidal transformers. The amp has 4x KT88 in the powerstage, delivering 2x 45W, and 2x 12ax7 in the preamp stage. If I want, I can upgrade the powerstage with KT120, 150 and even 170. Not like Prima Luna where you can just mix whatever, this amp requires matched tubes. The auto-bias makes life easier. It only has 3 inputs and no outputs other than speaker terminals.
I emailed the manufacturer about that because their documentation says “max 45W”. Got a reply within minutes, they say it’s 38W at 8 Ohm and 45W at 4 Ohm. And if I’d swap the KT88 for KT120, I’d gain 3 to 4W. The transformers and electronics are built to play nice with bigger tubes.
Right now I have the standard Electro Harmonix tubes in it which came in the box. The store owner told me I could always come and pick up other brand tubes to try out.