Golden Tube SI-50 Integrated Amplifiers

SI-50

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

User Reviews (15)

Showing 1-10 of 15  
Andychob   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 08, 2005]
Strength:

Luscious sound,deep staging,poise,REMOTE CONTROL is much appreciated,Build quality

Weakness:

bass is full but can sound a bit flabby(being picky),sound stage could be wider at times but may be recording,Biasing of valves,looks a bit garish in gold. Fingers crossed approach to reliability.

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.

Similar Products Used: AA DDEv3 with Marantz cd 63 se Tannoy R3 speakers blue heaven i/connects with eichman plugs QED silver anniversary spkr cable Rega P3 record player NADc370 Rega Planet2000 Quad 306 LFD not le version
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
jazzer   AudioPhile [Feb 05, 2002]
Strength:

Aesthetics, built, solid remote, price on the used market.

Weakness:

Veiled, lack of bottome end and dynamics.

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

Similar Products Used: Audio Analogue Puccini, Classe CAP 80, Anthem 2, Simaudio I-5, Krell KAV 300i.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Kurt S.   an Audio Enthusiast [Mar 15, 1999]

My system consists of a Rega Planet, Fanfare Tuner and an old pair of Infinity speakers with modified outboard crossovers.
I intended to purchase the CAP-150 but the SI-50 had the tonality of instuments and vocals so right, I had to buy it.

Yes, the Classe will kill the GT in terms of power output and bass articulation but for me the tradeoff is worth it. I have owned the GT for 7 months and have no reliability problems. I plan to purchase the phono stage ($100) and add a Rega Planar 3 this year.

If you want an introduction to tubed gear without breaking the bank, you should audition this integrated amplifier. Thanks to Bob Grant at Ambrosia Audio in Bel Air, CA!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Tony Green   Audiophile [Mar 26, 2000]
Strength:

General quality of sound & construction

Weakness:

Low bass, fan noise

I owned a GTA SI-50 amplifier for only a week before returning it to the hi-fi store and exchanging it for another amplifier. My reason was NOT to do with the sound of the unit, which I liked very much, nor with any inherent electrical problem. The reason was the fan noise.

The GTA SI-50 is clearly marketed at audio enthusiasts who (like myself) are making their first investment in vacuum tube sound. Its chassis design & layout is more like a solid state amplifier than a valve amp (it is easily rack-mounted, etc), and part of the compromise of the chassis design is the need for a cooling fan for the output tubes.

Someone who only listens to high volume music would probably not find this a hassle, however as I listen to a good deal of ambient electronic music late at night at low levels I found the fan noise quite audible and a constant intrusion. This was a pity as the SI-50 is otherwise a very fine amp. I did not notice the fan noise in the showroom because it was masked by the slight background noise of the building's air conditioning - it was not until getting it home that the noise became obvious and disturbing.

Eventually I exchanged/upgraded it to a GTA SEP-1 preamp & SE-40 poweramp combination (at twice the price of the SI-50).

The GTA SI-50 offers great value and very good sound and I thoroughly recommend it - but make sure the fan noise will not be a problem for you at your usual listening level, or else have a well insulated cabinet available for housing it. I'd still give it 5/5 in both categories, even though it didn't end up suiting me.

Similar Products Used: Audio Note, Cary, Classe, Audion amps
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
zach teich   Audiophile [Nov 14, 2000]
Strength:

Excellent soundstage depth, realistic high frequencies particularly cymbals) and natural male/female voices.

Weakness:

Slight lack of focus in bass. Slightly underpowered for my very inefficient speakers.

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).

Similar Products Used: First tube product. System includes Rega P3/2000/Ortofon mm, N.E.W. phono stage, adcom cd, magneplaner MG12s.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
B Roles   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 12, 2000]
Strength:

The build quality and appearance.

Weakness:

he sound quality after having it for a 6 months I sold it on this forum to a tube newbie. First I have never seen one with a fan so where are all these people getting a fan.

Secondly the sound is better than most solid stat units but it does not compare to a Jolida 502 it just absolutely kills it in sound even with stock tubes place new Kt 88's and preamp and it will blow it away. the golden tube is okay and really the only advatage it has is the remote

Better than most amps at Best buy and circuit city but listen to a Jolida and you will trade it in.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
3
Bruce   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 14, 2000]
Strength:

Clear, accurate, unflavored sound reproduction

Weakness:

Weak bass for rock, techno and house

As you lift the Golden Tube si-50 mkII out of the box, the 3/8-inch machined, brushed aluminum shines like a gold ingot. The elegant simplicity of the exterior design mirrors the solid no-compromise engineering inside this integrated amplifier.

My first love is jazz. Listening to Miles Davis' remastered CD Kind of Blue on the Golden Tube is the closest I've been to being transported through time and space to the Blue Note in 1959. The staging, clarity and warmth are extraordinary.

The four EL34 valves that drive the mkII handle the complexity, subtlety and demands of classical orchestral music like Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with grace and ease. The GT handles the opening of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue so sweetly, so clearly, it sounds like a gift from above borne by the wings of angels.

But a $1,000 integrated amp must have some drawbacks. I've found that the compromises that the folks at Solo Electronics have made to be thoughtful and reasonable. Here goes:

The bass. OK, I may be one of the not-ready-for-tube minion. When I move from jazz to the Chemical Brothers' BlocK Rockin' Beats something is decidedly missing. I want to feel the big bass hitting my chest like a sonic sledgehammer. A twist of the gain knobs ain't gonna do it. So I picked up a subwoofer (Klipsch SWB-12) to suppliment the Klipsch 10.5s that so efficiently handle the 50 wpc of the GT. The sub, wired parallel with the mains so there is no high pass filtering and resulting crossover jumpiness) is set at 60Hz -- kicking in just where the GT and 10.5s start to roll off. It works. It doesn't interfere are cloud the subtle highs and midrange or muddy the bass above 60hz.

Inputs. Just three inputs. Lets see, I got a Technics SL-1950 hooked up to the phono stage (more about that later); a Nakamichi ST-3 tuner plugged into the two slot, and still have a cassette deck and CD-player for the last input slot. Oh well, who messes with cassettes anymore? Still, would have been nice to have just one more pair of inputs.

The phono stage. I had to pop this board in myself. The instructions (How can I put this delicately?) SUCK. Manuevering the board in isn't as bad as decrypting the mysteries of the jumper settings. A call to Solo Electronics helps. It turns out that the Number 4 jumper is purely a matter of subjective aesthetics and the peculiarities of your particular system, ie.: turntable, cartridge, etc. Once the phone stage is set up, it turns out to be the best $100 I spent on audio. It is so smooth, so sweet, so richly nuanced. My vinyl never sounded better. Some sounds (the inrush of a flutists breath or the click of a Gemeinhardt's open-hole keys) that I never heard in passages before.

Fan noise and reliability. The mkII -- at least my model mkII -- has no fan. It runs rather hot (like any tube amp), so I have it on top of the rack -- taking my chances with the cats and dust rather than the heat. After six months, and no reliability problems. Solo has gotten it right.

Can't leave without mentioning the ease of bias adjustment (although that is also explained rather cryptically, but fairly easily decyphered) and the wonderful remote. The solid heft of the remote and simplicity of operation is something that all manufacturers would wisely emulate. Power, volume and 3 buttons for three inputs. That's it. What more d'ya need? The weight of this remote would easily be classified as a blunt instrument of death in some bizzare upscale murder trial. ''She threatened to turn the music OFF, Your Honor . . .''

If your in the $1,000 range for an integrated amp, or the $3,000 range for that matter, you won't regret ponying up for a Golden Tube si-50 mkII.

Similar Products Used: Listened to Marantz pm-17ki, Roksan Caspian, Jolida
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bob Roles   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 25, 2000]
Strength:

midrange clarity, warmth

Weakness:

bass, no clarification on bias, never have adjusted mine or need to.

Enjoy the amplifier immensely, not to happy with customer service at Solo Electronics. Bought amp from local dealer and never did have a warranty card sent fax to company and ask for card never notified poor customer service from both. Amplifier has been very reliable, auditioned an Anthem Int 2, GTA sounded better even thought I have an Anthem CD1, prefered GTA.

Montior Audio Silver 7i's
Anthem CD 1

Anyone heard of any upgrade on factory tubes e-mail me!

Similar Products Used: Marantz PM 17. Anthem Int. 2
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
ben garland   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 27, 2000]
Strength:

value ,build quality,sound,performance

Weakness:

build quality

a while back i posted a review on the jolida 502 ,in that review it was compared to several integrated amps including the golden tube si-mkII amp,after a few weeks of listening i am posting a updated review,in that review i told you the golden tube was a bettet performer overall,well it still is.the jolida beats the golden tube hands down in power and build quality the jolida has large heavy transformers,the golden tube transformers are not even shielded,(no case),but this is where the fun begins,the golden tube in music is so far ahead of any of the following which were also tested,jolida 502,plinius 2100,alchemist forsetti,mac 6100,cj mv 55,.the golden tube will bring out the mids and highs ,and bass is fair,but of all it is the entire music experience,my cj mv55 does sound better overall but i believe the golden tube is better on all music except classical,grab any dave matthews cd and listen to the vocals on this gt amp,i have tried this with various speakers(spendors,snells,klipsch,jbl,etc)i use a musical fidelity cd player or a tandberg cd player,overall i really believe that this is the best int amp for the money anywhere
the jolida and the alchemist are both good but the gta is just better i was very disappointed in the plinius int as it was a typical sounding unit,as i said before go for the golden tube amp ,also worth mentioning is it has remote,easy bias adjustment,feedback control,make sure what you buy is the golden tube audio si 50 mkII,that is the newer units with the updated boards(no trouble here)

Similar Products Used: jolida 502,alchemist forsetti,plinius 2100,others
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
josh   Audiophile [Sep 15, 2001]
Strength:

smooth, unfatiguing sound

Weakness:

reliability

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.

Similar Products Used: Cary, GTA SE40, Anthem, Rogue, ARC, CJ, Jolida
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 15  

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