If you have a sizable budget and as you are looking for the best tube preamp (also check out tube preamps under $500) under $1000, I am guessing you do. You more than likely know your stuff when it comes to listening to music. Heck, I think that you need a solid preamp even if you are more about movies than you are music. Anyway, today we are taking a rock and roll journey as well look at some of the more high-end tube preamps that are out there on the market right now.
Do I Really Need A Good Preamp?
Truth be told only you can actually answer that, but for the most part, I do think that anyone who is serious about their sound will benefit from having a good preamp. Some of the more high-end turntables and so on will have these built in and for most folks that is more than enough. If you want a little more control and the best sound you can get through, you are the kind of person that these are aimed at.
The 7 Best Tube Preamp Under $1000 Reviews
Here I am taking a closer look at some of the most popular tube preamps that are out there. I did get the opportunity to check out a few of these. However, I have also had a good look online to see some other models that are popular and look pretty interesting.
- YAQIN MC-10T 52WPC EL34 10L Vacuum Tube Hi-End Integrated Amplifier
- Little Dot MKVIII MK8 SE 12AT7X2 6H30PIX4 Balanced Tube Headphone Amplifier
- Hi-Fi 300B Mono Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Split Class A Stereo Power Amp
- Yaqin Mc-100b Kt88 Vacuum Tube Hi-end Integrated Power Amplifier 110v-240v Gold
- Vincent Audio SV 200 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier – Silver
- Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 (Black)
- Hafler HA75 Professional Tube Headphone Amplifier
- The design is very well done
- The LCD display is pretty neat
- Incredible sound
- The asking price is very reasonable
- It does have some break in sound
- You might have to play with your receiver’s settings to get it just right for you
How can you not love the design of the YAQIN MC-10T 52WPC EL34 10L Vacuum Tube Hi-End Integrated Amplifier? Currently, this is going for the 600 to 700 bucks mark and I think for sound quality like this provides that is really a very fair price. It is made to perfection and has a really neat and way handier than you would think LCD display on the front. From a design point of view, I really have no complaints at all as this is clearly made by people who love sound and love what they do.
As far as the sound that this phono preamp produces, I was legit nodding my head the whole time I was playing around with it. I mainly listen to vinyl these days, but I really put this thing through the ringer and my setup loved it! The sound was so, so good. It is really hard to talk about sound, but even at its first use, I was very happy with the sound. I decided to let the bat out of the cage and play some Meat Loaf and his vocals were incredible. I do think that the sound will get even better the more I use this as other reviews of this I have read have stated that 100 hours is around the real break in mark for this.
What Other People Are Saying
I found a really cool video review that has nothing but nice things to say about this. You also get some ideas for fine-tuning this thing as well. I am not sure I would go the route that this guy did, but as well as the video. I suggest that you also take the time to look through the comments section as well. There are many people who also express how happy they are and also how they got it working just right for them.
I am very happy with the YAQIN New MC-10T EL34B(6CA7)X4 12AT7X4 Vacuum Tube Hi-end Tube Integrated Amplifier. In many ways, I really think that we can wrap this thing up right now as it is so good. It is very well built, the asking price is just amazing. Seriously this could have been priced at 100 bucks more and I would have said it was worth it. Then we have the sound which is just amazing and will only get better. This is a real front running for the best tube preamp under $1000 award.
- A very cool kind of style
- It is made very well
- Does not run too hot
- The sound that it produces has a real quality about it
- It can go for over 900 bucks
- The fan can get a little too enthusiastic at times
While the Little Dot MKVIII MK8 SE 12AT7X2 6H30PIX4 Balanced Tube Headphone Amplifier does cost right around the 1000 bucks mark. I do feel that it is easy to see why this is held in such high regard. I must say that the asking price (in comparison to what others on this list are being sold for) may be a little on the high side. One thing that is actually very high about this tube preamp is the style. I love the all black design and as that is the same color as my actual setup, I could have this sitting on top or next to part of it and it would not stand out at all.
LittleDot is very proud of the dynamic range that this thing can produce and I can see why. While like other tube preamps it will have some breaking in required. Even from the first use, I was happy with the sound. The music had a real warmth and realness to it, but at the same time the vocals were not just crystal clear they also had this rawness which is hard to explain, but they really do stand out. One album, in particular, that really did knock my socks off was the Brian Adams Unplugged one. I played this of a standard CD that I have listened to a thousand times and it sounded great. The fan in this is a little loud, but that just means you have to turn your music up a little louder!
What Other People Are Saying
I mainly stuck to the Amazon customer reviews for this one and I was happy with what I read. Most folks seem really happy with their purchase and the only real strike against this tube preamp is the asking price as there are other similar styles, but for much less. One reviewer talked about his setup and said this, “I’m currently driving a pair of Audeze LCD-2s through a 4-pin XLR balanced headphone cable and the sound is sublime.” I think that really sums it up right there!
I can see why some people cannot look past that 900 bucks asking price the Little Dot MKVIII MK8 SE 12AT7X2 6H30PIX4 Balanced Tube Headphone Amplifier. However, I do feel that this is a fantastic piece of kit. I am sure that you would be very happy with this. If you want a little bit of style along with your sound, I am sure that this is a tube preamp that you will be very happy with.
- A very solid body
- Made with high end parts
- Music and vocals are great
- No bad reviews that I can find
- Some major breaking in required
- The asking price might be a little much for some
As soon as I started the quest to find the best tube preamp under $1000, I knew I had to include the Hi-Fi 300B Mono Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Split Class A Stereo Power Amp. I have a buddy who has been using this for a while so I have heard many great (and not so great) albums played through this. The asking price is over 900 bucks, but the build quality of this thing is second to none. They have used very high-grade tubes, transformer and the casing is one of the most solid I have come across. This is something that is clearly in it with you for the long haul.
Let me start by saying there is a fair bit of breaking in time required with this one. I would say that you are looking at least a week of steady use to get this at its best. The thing with “its best” is that it really is quite fantastic. The sound that this pumps out is amazing and I really do have nothing bad to say about it. My buddy who has this has fine tuned it and some albums are truly amazing. This is one of those things that does what it does so well, you kind of take it for granted. What I will say is that if you are willing to play with the treble and the bass on your receiver, you can get this exactly the way you want. Sure, it is some work, but it is fun work.
What Other People Are Saying
Some music sites and even Amazon review have many nice things to say. Apart from the asking price of this I have really not heard much if any bad stuff at all said about this tube preamp.
While the asking price is a little closer to the grand mark than I would have liked. I am very impressed with the Hi-Fi 300B Mono Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Split Class A Stereo Power Amp. Not only can I say this as someone who has played around with it. I can tell you that my buddy swears by this and he is one of the most anal people around when it comes to sound. If you like the look of this, go for it! I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
- Sound is truly incredible
- Hand made
- It has a very elegant kind of style
- Very high end all the way
- You may need a fuse protector according to some reviews
- It is very close to our one grand limit
Now before your eyes bug out of your head like a Loony Tunes character when you see the penny under a grand price tag. Let me tell you that the Yaqin Mc-100b Kt88 Vacuum Tube Hi-end Integrated Power Amplifier 110v-240v Gold is handcrafted and regarded as the best Yaqin has to offer. I know that the design does have a very busy look to it, but I do feel that there is some real elegance and craftsmanship with this tube preamp as well so that I do really like.
The asking price is actually quite good value when you look at the quality of the tech that is used. No corners have been cut with this at all and as a result, you are getting some truly amazing sound through this. I really do think that any best tube preamp under $1000 list has to have this on it. I decided that The Scorpions deserved the honors to first test this out and even without tinkering with my settings, the sound was like candy to my ears. I actually would go as far as to say that no matter what kind of music you like. Be it rock like me, dance or even New Kids on the Block. It would sound amazing when put through this.
What Other People Are Saying
Apart from Amazon, there is not actually a whole lot of “reviews” on the Yaqin Mc-100b Kt88 Vacuum Tube Hi-end Integrated Power Amplifier 110v-240v Gold. That is probably because of the hand made nature of this device. Still, there are some real customer reviews on Amazon that have some great comments. “Any tube amplifier boasting KT-88 tubes for one thousand dollars is unheard of, until now. I have been listening to this amp for hours every day for several weeks” shows how much this music fan loves this preamp!
While the price of the Yaqin Mc-100b Kt88 Vacuum Tube Hi-end Integrated Power Amplifier 110v-240v Gold is very close to our limit. You have to take into account the craftsmanship of this. It really is quite remarkable and offers some real power that will make your records, CD’s or whatever sounds amazing. Live music really does sound like you are in the arena! Without a doubt, this is one of the best high-end preamps on our list today.
- Has some serious style to it
- Made to eliminate distortion
- Newer model has an impressive build quality
- Price is quite reasonable
- Chance of buying the older version by mistake
- Needs a good setup to really knock your socks off
I really wish I could have gotten the chance to personally test out the Vincent Audio SV 200 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier – Silver as it really does look very awesome. I am not sure how the heck they managed the design of this as it is very high tech looking, but at the same time, it has this rather retro kind of style to it as well which I really do like. It does have a lot of tubes on it, so you will most certainly want to keep this away from the kids! But, the current asking price is around 1500 bucks which I personally feel is a little on the high side of our 1000 bucks limit.
What I like about the components that are used with this tube preamp is the fact that they have not just made a device to give a great sound. Of course, that is the main goal of this, however, what they have done is made this to give great sound at all volumes with no distortion. From what I have read this thing here could be described as giving concert quality sound and that is amazing and something that really does make me wish I could give this thing proper testing.
What Other People Are Saying
There is a site called Top Tube Amplifier that has a great review of the slightly older version of this preamp. The newer one is made to be far more robust and has better circuitry and better build quality. The review though does say this “One of this product’s defining features thanks to its varied tube selection is its distortion. It has less than you would expect and delivers a clear sound with a minimum of fuss”. Overall this review does praise the sound that this is giving you.
I am very impressed with the Vincent Audio SV 200 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier – Silver. Everything I have read about it sounds great. There are some negative reviews floating around, but from what I can tell these are for the older model. Most of those “build” issues have been more than addressed with this version here. So have a good read up about this and see if it is for you. I know I am very tempted by it!
- There are different styles available
- It runs very quietly
- Has a solid build quality
- Some real warmth to the sound
- Not the most technically impressive at this price range
- More of a starter tube preamp
This one here may seem a little outside the box and the design clearly is not as impressive as the others on our list for the best tube preamp under $1000. However, I did like what I read about this and thought that it is the kind of thing that is worth taking a look at. It is being sold in the $900 bucks mark and that is a very reasonable price for a tube amplifier. Some might actually like how things are a bit hidden by the design, but that, of course, is personal preference kind of thing.
As far as the sound quality of this goes, I am liking what I am reading. I like the big dial on the front as well as the input selectors as this will make it easy to use. I have a feeling that this is aimed at people looking for their first tube preamp and, in that regard, I am sure what this does will most certainly sound like a huge improvement over the sound you are already getting.
What Other People Are Saying
While the color is different in this video review it is actually the same tube preamp (although I like this version better) so you get a good sense of what this thing is all about. Overall the review here gives it an impressive 5/5 so you really cannot beat that. From the reviews I have read on Amazon as well, the majority of people appear to be very happy with this.
I am not so sure that you would go to this from your existing tube preamp. However, as far as a first tube preamp goes, you could do a heck of a lot worse than the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2. I am sure some folks will love how it keeps most of the tech hidden and I do appreciate how they have gone that extra mile to make this as easy to use as possible. If you want to be quite a few hundred dollars away from a thousand bucks, take a closer look at this one here.
- Great if you like to use your headphones
- Very easy to use
- The bass is said to be epic!
- Solid and well made
- Not great if you are not into using headphones all of the time
- Might be a bit limited when it comes to “features”
For our last tube preamp, I have gone for something that is a little bit different. The Hafler HA75 Professional Tube Headphone Amplifier is (as the name suggests) designed for those who love to use high grade headphones. It has a very basic kind of profile and I like how compact and well designed this thing is. I feel that if you have a set of Beats or Bose headphones that the sound pumped through this thing must be incredible. It is priced at around 650 bucks and I do not think that is a bad price at all.
I have read nothing, but positive things about this tube preamp. It has some extra kick for those of you who love your bass to rock the room. It can be optimized (thanks to the load impedance dial) with any kinds of headphones. The description for this does state that it helps give your music a real warmth and that is something I really do like the sound of. If you are the kind of person who loves to listen to music through your headphones, I do feel that this is worth taking a closer look at.
What Other People Are Saying
I read all of the customer reviews on Amazon for this and not one of them was negative. One thing that caught my eye was this, “I like the added bass kick. With over 35 years as an audiophile, this is some of the best sound I have ever had.” Which is high praise indeed. All of the reviews though praise the sound immensely. I was also happy to read that so many people were happy with the overall build quality of the unit as well.
What Is The Best Tube Preamp Under $1000?
I was very happy with all of the tube preamps we have looked at today, but I do have to pick a personal favorite. My first favorite for the best tube preamp under $1000 is actually the very first one we looked at the, YAQIN MC-10T 52WPC EL34 10L Vacuum Tube Hi-End Integrated Amplifier. Not only does it produce great sound, I also love the asking price of it.
Another one that I really like is the Little Dot MKVIII MK8 SE 12AT7X2 6H30PIX4 Balanced Tube Headphone Amplifier. While the fan may get a little “loud” on occasion. This really does give you some fantastic sound. If you have higher budget do also check out our Phono Preamps under $5000.