M1200 vs an all tube amplifier

First I know this may be a more apples to orange comparison but I’d still like input from those that have owed both.

If this topic has been covered in the past
time has passed and many new (tube) products are out there.

I know that the tube amps “flavor” the music. And that the same amp with different tubes can be a whole new animal. I also know they can be low power. As low a single digit. However my speakers have powered subwoofers. But even reviews without powered subwoofers claim these low powered amps fill the room when using efficient speakers.

One technicality I’ve noticed is most of the tube amps do not perform well overall. One is great for voice but can’t handle highs. Another is best for vocals and jazz but not classical. I want an amp that struggles with none of these isues. Is that realistic without spending many thousands?

I have sights set on the M1200 and understand it has a tube on the input but all tube amps like the sub $1000 Boyuurange A50 III caught my eye. And with tube swappage its sound is said to improve. Other more capable tube amps are still less than the M1200’s asking price.

Lastly even the PS Audio tech concured that for wattage the M1200s are way overkill for my loudspeakers. He still (of course) recommended the 1200s.

But in the end it’s sonic purity I want and worry that tubes characteristics will disappoint. I want a great soundstage presence with the amp letting the loudspeakers do their job. But this coloration of the signal by tubes has also peaked by interest.

I have until month’s end to decide as that is when the PS Audio discount ends putting the M1200s out of reach. I’ve considered ordering a tube amp to try but realize that would be like never haven driven, randomly sitting in a car and basing all cars on that one experience.

The clocks ticking.



My previous amps were a set of BAT VK150 which costs significant more than M1200. Their sweet mid-range and deep soundstage could not be matched by any amp that I have heard, including M1200.

However, M1200s are more accurate sounding in my openion. Their bass control and well extended treble made them suitable for all types of music. I also love the fact that their tube replacement is way cheaper than BAT. M1200 runs much cooler too. For their prices and performance they are a steal to me.

I have the M1200’s. I also have a Conrad Johnson tube amp. I also have a Parasound solid state amp. I also have 3 preamps that match with each. With the BHK preamp to M1200’s, my system has dynamics and a realism with classical music that the others can’t match. I love my CJ tubes, and while female vocals that bloom do bloom more with the full CJ tubes, the M1200’s come close, real close, and have better dynamics. I also have connected a CJ tube preamp to the M1200’s, and for jazz, that combo puts the instruments in the room, and is something that the CJ to CJ cannot do. I have also connected the Parasound preamp to the M1200’s, which changes the tonal character of the system, a little cleaner but also a little dry sounding because of the Parasound.

  BAT VK150. $17k/pair.  Woah.

Thank you for the information.

Just saw you have a Parasound amp…just curious,
which model do you have?

Best wishes

One of the lowest on the totem pole, A23+


Thanks…lowest but no slouch unrefined any means!!! :+1: :clap: :clap:

Best wishes

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It’s all about pairing with suitable speakers. I’m STILL smitten with my M1200 results.

The A23+ does have a clean and refined sound, but does have a bit of dryness with a saxophone, for instance, where it takes away from the instrument sounding like it is really in the room live (with the CJ pre to M1200’s the same saxophone sounds like it is there, in the room, and completely real sounding). But do like the overall cleanness of the amp, especially with rock, and clean recordings.

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" But do like the overall cleanness of the amp, especially with rock, and clean recordings."

Which amp?

In my “M700 vs M1200 for powered speakers” post and this the M1200 keeps bubbling to the top.

I don’t have a dedicated pre amp and am currently using the pre outs on my Yamaha RX-A6A Aventage receiver.

Keep in mind that the “excess” power an amp can bring to the equation isn’t simply unused and therefore wasted. It’s been my experience that amps tend to sound their best when they’re far from being fully taxed, and they have substantial reserves of power for transients. So while the M1200s may appear on paper to be “way overkill” for your speakers (I assume he meant relative to your speakers’ sensitivity), the presence of that much extra headroom will make an audible difference, in my opinion.

Having said that, I admit to being completely unfamiliar with the tube amp you mention. If it’s relatively high-power, too, it should also provide a decent amount of headroom.

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I think you might enjoy listening to a Mark Levinson 533 Amp with a 523 Pre.

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It’s because my 4 ohm speakers (Goldenear Triton One.R) have built in subwoofers with their own 1500Wpeak/750W RMS amps. Efficiency is 90db 1w/1M at 4 ohm. Any amp I use will only be driving the upper bass, mid range and ribbon tweeters. The M1200’s full 1200 watts will be driving those. Thus the overkill.

I used M1200s to drive open baffle speakers with 90db sensitivity at 4 ohm and they sounded great. “Overkill” is a matter opinion but I agree with Craig.

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I only own one tube amp (Decware Zen Torii) but I’ve heard many at length. I think your characterization of tubes amps as “flavored” and lacking multi-faceted ability to handle many kinds of music is not applicable to all tube amps, especially modern designs. Those characterizations have more than a little truth for older tube amps but more modern designs of both tube and solid state have grown closer together in sonic performance. That said, you are going to spend more than a pauper’s pittance to get a high performing tube amp. Quality transformers are not cheap. However, some brands of tube amps like Music Reference, Decware, Prima Luna, etc. do offer better value on a performance/cost basis than other better known legacy brands IMO.

I also own PS Audio M1200 and Luxman M-700u amplifiers. While the M1200s tube input stage offers a degree of ability to tailor your preferred sound by swapping input tubes I’d never mistake their sound for a good tube amp. I had to do a LOT of experimentation with footers, tubes, and power cords to get the M1200s to work well with my Tidal Piano Cera speakers but once that was done they give good performance for the cost. The Luxman is in a different league as far as resolution and nuance compared to either of the other two amps. But that’s not always a good thing.The Decware sounds great with pretty much every recording and the M1200s are fairly forgiving as well. The Luxman, on the other hand, lets you know in no uncertain terms when you’ve got poorly recorded material. Pursuing the greatest depths of the resolution rabbit hole can lead you a pretty annoying place in my experience.

In the end, you can’t have it all, even if you’ve got a million $ or more for your system budget. It takes time, experience, and a lot of listening to decide what set of compromises suits your preferences within one’s budget constraints.


I was using the M1200’s with 97db speakers (until I recently upgraded the speakers), and the M1200’s sounded fantastic with them, and have a wonderful full sound at low volume. So I really would not worry about overkill.

You asked for our thoughts, so…

Get the M1200s and be happy.

They will drive any speakers you ever want to drive.

They sound wonderful, and you can fine tune that sound with your input tube selection.

You won’t have huge ongoing expenses to retube every couple years.

They’re incredibly energy-efficient in stand-by, so you’re saving money there too.


Seems to be the direction this ship is heading.

Doing the rough db/watt math with my speakers I’ll need a fraction of the M1200s power for headroom before damaging my hearing.

Interesting video regardless amp power. Good refresher.