Golden Tube SI-50 Integrated Amplifiers

4.07/5 (15 Reviews) MSRP : $980.00


Product Description

Integrated Tube Amplifier - 50w x2 Channels (1996-1998)


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Reviews 1 - 5 (15 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Andychob a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 8, 2005

Bottom Line:   
This amp has a luxuriant sound that makes me feel ten years old on christmas eve.Warm cosy sound that's entirely engaging and exciting too.The LFD is a superb amp too and I would say it really boils down to two good amps of equal strengths but different flavours.I'm a stout drinking man so I'll take the Golden Tube. I just hope I don't miss the detail and attack of the solid state LFD.The Golden Tube mids are full bodied and the sound of instruments and particularly voices are very convincing.The GT just seems to sound jolly and warm (and thats not the stout talking)I'm convinced at least at this point that valve is superior to SS.I think records though may sound better on the LFD with the level of detail available. The GT amp can be a good second hand buy in my opinion.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1996

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   local hi fi joint



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by jazzer a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 5, 2002

Bottom Line:   
My review of this unit relied heavily with its partnering equipment. They are: Melos CD-2 digital drive, EAD DSP7000mk3 DAC, linked with Tara RSC digital cable, Alon 2 mk2 linked to the Golden Tube SI50 mk2 with a pair of Discovery 123 biwire speaker cables. The DAC is linked to the GTA via Synergistic Research Mark 2 interconnects.
My first impression of this integrated is it’s lack of bottom end. This is quite apparent through the rather inefficeint full-range Alons. There was low frequency but it was quite rounded and sometimes barely audible on the lowest octaves. As a result, the sound produced is thin, although never to the point of unbalanced. The highs is not totally rolled off; on the contrary, it sounds quite extended for a full-tube gear. The midband has a natural tonality although at times, it could use more body to it (I attribute this to the lack of bottom end grip which in turn renders the midrange to sound lean at times). The soundstaging of the GTA is presented behind the plane of the speakers, in other words, it is quite laid back. The front to back layering of insturments is good, but not excellent and the width doesn’t go beyond the speaker’s boundaries. As for pace and dynamics, this is where the GTA falls short. I find the sound to be slightly reigned in, as if being held back. The dynamics, rhythm, timing and pace are just not there with this gear. I could have easily lived with this integrated if it only sounded more alive. As well, I find the sound to be somewhat veiled, not the last word in transparency and quite dark. You loose a bit of the microdynamics and micro detail with this integrated. With acoustic jazz, its natural tonality is very good (never heard Bobby Hutcherson’s vibes sound more natural). However, with a Jean-luc Ponty cd, it sounds pretty flat. This was the telling blow for me. I’d like an equipment to sound as good on a Chic Corea Acoustic Band cd as it is on a Chic Corea Electric Band cd. The GTA si50 mk2, as good as it is for the money, just doesn’t cut it for me. I realize that my speakers and the integrated are probably a bad match as far as dynamics and openness go, but the lack of transparency, low frequency grip and the somewhat flat sonic presentation are enough for me to give it a 3 star (when you consider the price, the aesthetics, solid built with a similarly solid-built remote con

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by josh a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 15, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This a review of the SI50 mkII. The mkII fixed many of the reliability and usability problems with the mkI.

As most know, Golden Tube has been out of business for a while, though many of their products are still around in the used market. The fact that GTA went out of business may be the result of trying to do too much for too little. The Lau brothers were better designers than they were business men. They had very ambitious designs on many levels and priced them way below the competition. Reliability became a problem on many of their designs because they spec'd everything with very little tolerances. Thankfully, most of their products sounded great, if a bit high maintenance. These guys lived on the edge and I'm sure their profit margins were dangerously thin.

Now to the SI50 mkII. This is a genuinely good piece of gear on sonics alone. I don't think many who hear this amp have a problem with the music it makes. It has wonderful bloom, immediacy and imparts a real life like quality to music. Never in my listening did my ears become tired and irritated. No grain, no glare. A very smooth, musical presentation. I wouldn't say the si50 is the most neutral amp out there or the most detailed, but it is enjoyable. When it comes down to it, that's what really matters though. I also wouldn't say it's overly sweet or rolled off in the highs. Okay maybe a little bit, but if you match other components well you'll not miss a thing. There is a sort of sheen to the sound, almost like the amp is imparting some sort of reverberation. This effect goes away when dialing in more negative feedback. Bottom line, the si50 is a musical performer. It allowed me to get closer to the music, emotionally involved in it. It's not perfect by any means, but it does enough right to satisfy.

The big BUT in all of this is that GTA gear as a whole has had some reliability issues. On that note, I've owned more than one GTA product and haven't had any problems with them. As a whole however, GTA gear seems to have higher than normal reports of problems. Hey, I like to live dangerously and I'd buy another GTA without hesitation. You might decide differently.

I've heard a lot of good tube amps and I'd say the si50 is an exceptional value for what it goes for used these days. It's on par with the expensive stuff. You can interpret that as meaning it has commensurate quality, different flavor. These days most gear sounds good, better or worse depending on your TASTES.

For those of you who are curious, the si50 is actually a sweeter sounding amp than the SE40. I like the SE40, but I might like the si50 more depending on what mood I'm in.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $700.00

Purchased At:   demo



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Sheldon a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: May 10, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I really enjoy the soft overtones and musically toned sound production of this amp. It remains very detailed, having a brilliant soundstage and nice depth. Because I use this in conjunction with detailed components, it seems to balance everything out. reliablitlity has not been an issue for me, and should be noted that the amp was a demo for over a year before my purchase. I definitely recomend the purchase of it, is it can be found at a resonable price second hand. One side note, although most people are not into audio equipment they will definitely appreciate the sound, but even more the aesteticcs and solidity of the remote.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $650.00



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by zach teich a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 14, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I am the "tube newbie" who bought this unit from Mr. Roles (author of two quite dissimilar reviews below). I agree with his first review - it's an excellent integrated amp! I've been using it for about 6 months now, so the tubes have burned-in and the amp is giving me all it can. I've helped it a bit by upgrading my speaker wire to DH Labs silver sonic, which TAS suggested using in its review of the amp. The combination works very well - the Svetlana EL34- tubed GTA amp is much more musically involving than the SS adcom amp/preamp it replaced. I'm hearing details in familiar music that I had not heard before, and am hearing a sense of depth that was totally missing with the adcom units. I had read that tubes and Maggies go well together, and this combination proves it. (I could wish for a few more watts though, but since my listening room is not too big, the GTA's 50 wpc suffice.) Voices are very realistic, high frequencies crystal clear. Bass is about as extended as with the adcoms (these maggies are not the last word in deep bass), but low frequency definition, punch and crispness are not quite as good. At this price point it is inevitable that some trade-offs will be made. These are the only ones I've heard in my system, however.

I bought the GTA SI-50 II as an experiment - I wanted to find out if I could hear a difference between tubes and SS. I can - and I prefer tubes! Frankly, I'm surprised that the GTA sounds as good as it does given what I paid for it. It also looks fantastic and comes with an infrared remote.

I've found the amp totally reliable thus-far.

My ratings are 5 stars for value (sound-for-dollar is extremely high) and 4 overall (bass keeps it from being a 5 on an absolute scale).

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $625.00

Purchased At:   used




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