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post #1 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Intro to Tube Amps - help a newb pick

I keep running into enthusiasts bragging up the superiority of tube amps in their listening rooms. I have heard one once in my life, and it was not under ideal conditions. I am considering getting my feet wet and just trying one out...you know something new to play with. Budget would be ideally under $200. I am just wanting something interesting to play with so I can learn more about what this "tube sound" is and determine if I would like it or not. Is this something decent to fit my needs?

https://www.amazon.com/Nobsound-MS-1...words=tube+amp

I realize that it is a tube/AB amp combo, but it has pretty good reviews, and most of them say it does give them the tube sound.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Drivehard View Post
I keep running into enthusiasts bragging up the superiority of tube amps in their listening rooms. I have heard one once in my life, and it was not under ideal conditions. I am considering getting my feet wet and just trying one out...you know something new to play with. Budget would be ideally under $200. I am just wanting something interesting to play with so I can learn more about what this "tube sound" is and determine if I would like it or not. Is this something decent to fit my needs?

https://www.amazon.com/Nobsound-MS-1...words=tube+amp

I realize that it is a tube/AB amp combo, but it has pretty good reviews, and most of them say it does give them the tube sound.

Thanks!

An enthusiast who is bragging about the superiority of his tube amplifier probably paid at least $2000 for it, or probably considerably more.

You will not get any useful result from some toy costing a few hundred dollars. That is like trying to find out about the performance of a Corvette or Porsche by building a plastic model.

I suggest that you go to a dealer that has a quality tube amp you can listen to under good listening conditions.

That is the way to find out what one sounds like.
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post #3 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post
An enthusiast who is bragging about the superiority of his tube amplifier probably paid at least $2000 for it, or probably considerably more.

You will not get any useful result from some toy costing a few hundred dollars. That is like trying to find out about the performance of a Corvette or Porsche by building a plastic model.

I suggest that you go to a dealer that has a quality tube amp you can listen to under good listening conditions.

That is the way to find out what one sounds like.

"paid at least $2000"

I think you left a zero off of that
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post #4 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Drivehard View Post
...
I realize that it is a tube/AB amp combo, but it has pretty good reviews, and most of them say it does give them the tube sound.
My personal opinion, a hybrid design topology (tube pre amp stage) & solid-state power amp could exploit the best of both worlds. At that price though I'm highly skeptical about this product actually shining. A VT requires a considerable amount of plate voltage, etc to preform per design specs. Contrary to popular belief tubes are extremely linear devices especially at audio frequencies. Also:

Contrary to popular belief, all well designed audio amps don't sound exactly the same. Yes the sonic difference(s) are extremely slight and nearly impossible to distinguish in A/B blind listening testing, but IMO sonic differences amongst power amps do exist and are actually designed into the product. Here is an example:

Hafler's design guru Jim Strickland's (TRANSconductance Active Nodal Amplifier) represents a benchmark in circuit design concepts and yes I can say they do have a sonic signature by design.

http://www.hafler.com/pdf/archive/MA..._P1000_man.pdf

cheers
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post #5 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 03:44 PM
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I have been using tube amps for quite awhile now! Retired from audio field but still know what sounds good! I have compared many tube amps over time and can tell you I truly believe tubes sound more musical to my golden ears. Now to discuss different designs could go on forever! Price definitely is not $200 for a good amp! More like what others said! It's not a toy unless it's an expensive toy! I like a class a design. It runs hot but sounds best at most levels until distortion sets in. The better sounding amps seem to be more simplified and hard wired instead of many ICs. Tubes also really can change the texture of the sound! Some tube amps have a bloom to them! Some spread out the sound better in the room! I refer to that as Soundstage! I could go on and on! So to recommend anything to you now would ludicrous! That's why we have what I call myself back in the day! A Professional Audio Consultant! By the way, that's how I got my name Golden ears!
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post #6 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 04:14 PM
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I bought a $200 tube amp a couple of years ago just for the fun of it...

But after about a year or so, as I got more and more into listening to vinyl, I wanted more oomph.

Sounded great though. But then you need a pre-amp. And efficient speakers. It's just sitting in a drawer now.
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post #7 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Tomas2 View Post
My personal opinion, a hybrid design topology (tube pre amp stage) & solid-state power amp could exploit the best of both worlds. At that price though I'm highly skeptical about this product actually shining. A VT requires a considerable amount of plate voltage, etc to preform per design specs. Contrary to popular belief tubes are extremely linear devices especially at audio frequencies. Also:

Contrary to popular belief, all well designed audio amps don't sound exactly the same. Yes the sonic difference(s) are extremely slight and nearly impossible to distinguish in A/B blind listening testing, but IMO sonic differences amongst power amps do exist and are actually designed into the product. Here is an example:

Hafler's design guru Jim Strickland's (TRANSconductance Active Nodal Amplifier) represents a benchmark in circuit design concepts and yes I can say they do have a sonic signature by design.

http://www.hafler.com/pdf/archive/MA..._P1000_man.pdf

cheers

As I've stated here many many times, boi did my VTL300s and ARC Classic 150s sound different at least on ESLs. Not nearly so much on my Maggies. This was back 20 - 25 years ago when I had Soundlabs, MLs and Maggies. Differences weren't what I'd call slight. I liked both and never got around to making a decision which to sell until I moved up to the west side and then in 2010 had to move back here to take care of two parents with Alzheimer's. At that point I sold almost everything, but the Soundlabs and several older amps, (Phase 700b, two SAE 2400Ls and an Ampzilla), oh and my Met 7s and DCM Time Windows.


At this point if I was going to do tubes again it would likely be this:





or


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post #8 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by golden ears View Post
I have been using tube amps for quite awhile now! Retired from audio field but still know what sounds good! I have compared many tube amps over time and can tell you I truly believe tubes sound more musical to my golden ears. Now to discuss different designs could go on forever! Price definitely is not $200 for a good amp! More like what others said! It's not a toy unless it's an expensive toy! I like a class a design. It runs hot but sounds best at most levels until distortion sets in. The better sounding amps seem to be more simplified and hard wired instead of many ICs. Tubes also really can change the texture of the sound! Some tube amps have a bloom to them! Some spread out the sound better in the room! I refer to that as Soundstage! I could go on and on! So to recommend anything to you now would ludicrous! That's why we have what I call myself back in the day! A Professional Audio Consultant! By the way, that's how I got my name Golden ears!

Most of the differences I hear amp to amp, preamp to preamp, etc., are soundstage attributes, then dynamics, etc., and really not tonality all that much.
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post #9 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 04:50 PM
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Monoprice has one that would be inexpensive to try out. Only $99. With bluetooth! Mixing the old with the new. They have a $20 off $100 promo going on right now, so only $80. https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=16152

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post #10 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 05:47 PM
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Jolida $650 and as also mention Yaquin $375 are two sub $700 true tube integrated's. For $200 unless you can get a great deal on a used unit is not going to get you much. For $1000-$2000 PrimaLuna and the AVA Dynaco and Hafler rebuilds are excellent.
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Originally Posted by Class A View Post
Jolida $650 and as also mention Yaquin $375 are two sub $700 true tube integrated's. For $200 unless you can get a great deal on a used unit is not going to get you much. For $1000-$2000 PrimaLuna and the AVA Dynaco and Hafler rebuilds are excellent.
That Jolida is going to require very efficient speakers although it certainly puts out more than the rated power. Jolida and Prima Luna are excellent choices. Rebuilds are an excellent idea. Upgrades and new tubes will make for a very fine tube amp.
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post #12 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by gworrel View Post
Monoprice has one that would be inexpensive to try out. Only $99. With bluetooth! Mixing the old with the new. They have a $20 off $100 promo going on right now, so only $80. https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=16152

For the little extra that this is, one might be better off going this direction for a low price moderate power tube amp.


https://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_...n=q2_2016_test
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post #13 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 06:44 PM
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Meh. Both of the monoprice amps are "hybrids" (solid state with tubes really just there as a "preamp" [but not as a phono preamp] - AKA just glorified glowing decorations).
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post #14 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Drivehard View Post
I keep running into enthusiasts bragging up the superiority of tube amps in their listening rooms.
Go to a vintage Triumph car club and they'll tell you about the wonderful handling and performance of their steeds too.

A couple of 6AQ5 equivalents giving 25W/ch? Bovine merde.

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Originally Posted by Drivehard View Post
and most of them say it does give them the tube sound.
What the hell is 'tube sound'? Different topologies, even if they all have tubes in them can sound very different for a host of well known reasons. It never ceases to amaze me that simply because a product has a tube in it, it magically has 'tube sound'.
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post #15 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Drivehard View Post
I keep running into enthusiasts bragging up the superiority of tube amps...considering getting my feet wet and just trying one out...under $200
There are various differences between tube and transistor amps, but the most basic one is output impedance (picture a "perfect" amp, and now stick a bit of resistance between that and the speaker).

Solid state amps generally have a very low output impedance, with a very minor effect on the response. Tube amps have much higher output impedances, enough to seriously interact with the speaker's impedance and significantly modify the response.

Therefore tube amps kind of automatically sound different, and different from each other. So you can't take one tube amp as a proxy for all others.

That said, if something interests you and you can afford it, give it a try! But before you start dropping serious money on a tube amp, compare it to similarly expensive transistor amps, and in YOUR setup with YOUR speakers.

Used could be a significant money saver. Transistor amps last a long time; not so sure about tube amp particularly the tubes themselves.
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post #16 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
It never ceases to amaze me that simply because a product has a tube in it, it magically has 'tube sound'.
I had to chuckle at the monoprice ad...
"Because of its lossy nature, digital music can often lose some of the depth and warmth that gives it life. Wireless streaming adds an additional layer of digital compression, which can further degrade the audio quality. The addition of the tube preamplifier stage adds back some of the warmth and richness, breathing new life into your digital music"
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post #17 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 07:53 PM
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A couple of 6AQ5 equivalents giving 25W/ch? Bovine merde.
FWIW the tubes or not in the output stage LOL
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What the hell is 'tube sound'?
When you flick them with your finger they ring

Quote:
Different topologies, even if they all have tubes in them can sound very different for a host of well known reasons. It never ceases to amaze me that simply because a product has a tube in it, it magically has 'tube sound'.
Try this example....

Purchase a tube preamp, after paying you decide you wanna buy a solid state power amp as well. Take them home, connect the preamp output into the power amp input...presto 'tube sound'

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post #18 of 94 Old 01-19-2017, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by head_unit View Post
There are various differences between tube and transistor amps, but the most basic one is output impedance (picture a "perfect" amp, and now stick a bit of resistance between that and the speaker).

Solid state amps generally have a very low output impedance, with a very minor effect on the response. Tube amps have much higher output impedances, enough to seriously interact with the speaker's impedance and significantly modify the response.

Therefore tube amps kind of automatically sound different, and different from each other. So you can't take one tube amp as a proxy for all others.

That said, if something interests you and you can afford it, give it a try! But before you start dropping serious money on a tube amp, compare it to similarly expensive transistor amps, and in YOUR setup with YOUR speakers.

Used could be a significant money saver. Transistor amps last a long time; not so sure about tube amp particularly the tubes themselves.

Modded ST-70 sitting in front of me in my office. Still with the original Mullard EL34s. Before the mods and restoration, it was my dad's since new. 57 years for tubes ain't all that bad.


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post #19 of 94 Old 01-20-2017, 04:31 AM
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I would recommend one of Bob Latino's modern amps. Few amps in your price range will be new, and component failure is likely.

http://www.tubes4hifi.com/bob.htm

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post #20 of 94 Old 01-20-2017, 04:40 AM
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This all sounds like a tremendous rabbit hole
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post #21 of 94 Old 01-20-2017, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help guys! I found a screaming deal on a used Marantz rs7007, so I am going to play with that for a while. I might re-visit this when I am bored with that toy ;-) Thanks again for the advice...learned some!
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post #22 of 94 Old 01-21-2017, 07:19 AM
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I think if you are serious, you need to consider a point to point build with as little influence in the signal path as possible... no tone controls, no attenuation pots... nothing.

If you're starting the path you need to consider this, you'll need to factor in a good preamp and a good selection of tubes... both can easily cost as much or more than the tube amp itself.

I've many really good amplifiers... many of them sound very very good. Great resolution, airy separation, and black floors/backgrounds... but what you get with a good tube set up is a smooth texture and more importantly, dimension. A good tube amp/preamp can really push and pull your music forward and backward... its scary good when you get it right.

One thing is for certain, you won't get this nirvana for $200... probably for not $1000, unless your buying used (which is fine).

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post #23 of 94 Old 03-25-2018, 03:51 PM
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Just found this thread while doing research on the Nubsound, Douk and Germtune tube amps.

I'll see if I can get more useful information here since the previous forum I tried has people with such a bias against anything from China (especially electronics) that I see no further point in trying to get any constructive help there.

First are there any users of the Gemtune X-1, Nobsound NS-13 or Nobsound 6P1?

I have noted they are available on Amazon for a reasonable price and most of the reviews are good. A few bad one's of course but that is true with most components that are considered entry level. I figure I may try one and if I get a good one, it will be a great amp for many years. Several people have commented that amps like this or the Musical Paradise model sound far above their price point and outshine any Solid State costing several times as much money. And a couple of people that have previous experience with tube amps said these amps can sound almost as good as something costing several thousand. Not as good but pretty close. Good enough for me to at least consider trying one.

Any comments from users of these or at least users of amps from Nobsound or Douk and Gemtune? All appear to be from the same manufacturer but are rebranded under different names. Mostly interested in how they sound and if they are reliable and don't fall apart after the warranty expires.

Thanks.
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post #24 of 94 Old 03-25-2018, 05:01 PM
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I looked at the website and it doesn’t give much info on the construction of the 25 watt amp I looked at. You better have efficient speakers with that kind of power.

Do you want a tube amp just to have one or do you want a known entity with known tube sound? I never of the brands and the price seems to good to be true. But if you don’t mind spending $250.00 on something I’d call a bit of a risk you may get a bargain. On the other hand there are reasonably priced tube amps made in China but designed elsewhere. They are more expensive but are proven designs. The Jolida products you see in my signature are made in China but designed and spec’d in Maryland. Vincent is another brand with tubes at good prices. There are many other reasonably priced quality tube amps and preamps.

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post #25 of 94 Old 03-25-2018, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
I looked at the website and it doesn’t give much info on the construction of the 25 watt amp I looked at. You better have efficient speakers with that kind of power.

Do you want a tube amp just to have one or do you want a known entity with known tube sound? I never of the brands and the price seems to good to be true. But if you don’t mind spending $250.00 on something I’d call a bit of a risk you may get a bargain. On the other hand there are reasonably priced tube amps made in China but designed elsewhere. They are more expensive but are proven designs. The Jolida products you see in my signature are made in China but designed and spec’d in Maryland. Vincent is another brand with tubes at good prices. There are many other reasonably priced quality tube amps and preamps.
mschott. I have Mirage OM 10 towers that are 6 ohm and a 91 db sensitivity. When I had a Qinpu A3 Hybrid which was only 8.5 wpc it drove them just fine. Also have a pair of Castle Conway 3 towers which are 8 ohm and at least 88 or 89 db sensitivity.

I've heard tube amps before and like them. But I don't have a clear idea of what signature sound each brand possesses. I think it best to try something new with a warranty and go from there. I don't have a lot to spend these days thanks to thousands I have to spend on minor home repairs, other new electronics and so on. Thus, about 300 bucks is the best I can do right now and probably for a long time.
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post #26 of 94 Old 03-25-2018, 09:28 PM
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If that’s your budget and you feel confident of the quality, go for it. Your speakers are efficient enough but if you like to play loud without distortion, you may have problems. I’m not sure. I have Paradigm Studio 100’s which are rated at 92dB at 8 ohms and they got plenty loud with the 60 watt tube amp I used to run. It also depends on the gain of your source. I need less power to run my high output moving coil cartridge than my digital source.

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post #27 of 94 Old 03-25-2018, 09:36 PM
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wait until you get into buying the actual tubes ..or rolling as most tube lovers refer to it as.

Five years ago i would have told you that tubes suck ass. I can tell you for certain that tubes amplifiers are fantastic. It took me a little while to understand why i was hearing what i was hearing, but I could certainly hear why people that have tubes love them. Hell, even my fiance recognized the difference between the gold lion reproduction tubes and the real deal telefunken smooth plates.

I'm not saying my carver tube amps are the best on the planet, but they are certainly better than the solid state amplifiers (PS Audio) they replaced. Matched with JBL horns .. yes sir.
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post #28 of 94 Old 03-26-2018, 05:22 AM
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Thanks for the added info. I did roll the tubes on the A3. Stock tubes grated on my ears. Put in the JAN 5670's and it sounded much better. I bet if I had the money at the time and put in some of the more expensive tubes that people were using it would have sounded even better. I don't play music that loud unless I am in a adjacent room. I have my Yamaha A500 for that. Want the tube amp for listening at about 10 feet away. Low audio level is fine.
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post #29 of 94 Old 03-26-2018, 02:46 PM
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Everytime after reading about tube vs ss amps/preamps online Im always convince myself that I need tube amp/preamp to make my system sounds better. After I go to a hifi shop to audition some tube and comparing with ss amps I end up not buying any tube amp. Most of the time either the ss amp sound better or I can't tell the difference between the two. But one thing for sure tube amps/preamps looks very cool
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post #30 of 94 Old 04-04-2018, 10:29 AM
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A $200 tube amp probably isn't worth buying, unless you're just wanting to validate to yourself that you prefer ss amps because my guess is that if you compare any $200 tube amp to a ss amp you'll prefer the ss amp.

Here's a good deal on a new tube integrated:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/li...rated-amp-tube

I use an Eastern Electric Dac and love it. Just make sure you have efficient speakers.
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2 Channel "Man Nook"
Primaluna Dialogue One/Salk Song3's/Exogal Comet/Job 225
Home Theater Room/Kids Lounge
Emotiva XMC-1, XPA-2, XPA-100, BasX A-500
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