Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier

Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier Review

When you think about the benefits of a tube stereo amplifier, it’s not unreasonable to expect to pay at least $1,000 for audiophile-quality sound.

An all-tube design with an integrated amp does an excellent job of enhancing vinyl’s best qualities while taking away the hiss and scratch. When you equip this technology with modern speakers, you’ll get that subtle frequency enhancement that makes the audio quality feel realistic.

When you see the cost of the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier, you’ll be shocked at what you get for this investment. The MSRP in 2021 is $359, making it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to experiment with an authentic tube sound for the first time.

With the futuristic-retro style it offers, including a line-stage and phono input, you won’t sacrifice modern convenience for better sound. You’ll also get a Bluetooth® connection, although a headphone jack isn’t part of the design.

For most people, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier delivers an intro to audiophile bliss course that’s tough to ignore.

Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier Review

With its striking styling and flexible use options, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier provides an impressive result on only 10 watts per channel. Users have the opportunity to have it be a tube preamplifier only, while onboard Bluetooth works with APTX devices. The only issue to manage is its induced hum.

The fact that the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier only needs 10 watts per channel is perhaps its most striking characteristic. That output is only measured at 1 kHz instead of the standard 20 Hz to 20 kHz range.

Although it might feel like you need more than that at first, you’ll notice right away that the unit delivers. Since most loudspeakers are highly sensitive products today, you can use this stereo amplifier for vinyl or a Spotify playlist with the same convenience.

You can still hit 80 decibels without causing distortion or audio decay with this design. Although you won’t get into the 100 dB range with the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier, is that really necessary for the average room?

If you want to play a live gig in a stadium, this product doesn’t have the bones to stand and deliver. When you listen to music at that level at home, you will go deaf quickly.

The Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier delivers an excellent, well-rounded sound with an appropriate volume that gets you to where you want to be in most situations.

It’s manufactured in China and sold through American retailers.

If you feel that 10 watts are simply too low for your needs, the 2019 Monoprice Stereo Hybrid is an alternative to consider. For about $250, this older model produces a smooth, warm sound with wired RCA, USB connections, and coaxial.

Important Specifications of the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier

Here is the critical information that you’ll want to know before seeing if the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier has what it takes to meet your listening needs today.

Model No.:Product #27222; Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier
Inputs:Phono-level, Line-Level (Aux), and Bluetooth
Frequency Response:20 Hz to 20 kHz; (-2 dB)
Total Harmonic Distortion:1% at 1 kHz
RMS Power Output:10 watts per channel; 4-ohm load at 1 kHz
Output Impedance4 ohms to 8 ohms
Input Impedance47k ohms
Input Sensitivity:450mV
Input Voltage100 to 120 VAC at 60 Hz
Adjustment Range:Up or down 6 decibels for treble and bass
Tube Types:Four EL84 tubes and three 6N3 tubes
Weight:16.1 pounds / 7.3 kilograms
Dimensions:10.7 x 5.9 x 12.4 inches / 272 x 150 x 315 millimeters

Additional specifications are available at Monoprice.com to check if you have a particular concern to review for your audio system.

You’ll find that the overall construction is relatively sturdy, with protective measures in place to guard the tubes.

It’s relatively easy to use, even if you’re new to this type of listening experience, and the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier delivers a high-quality result that you can finish setting up in minutes.

Setting Up the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier

Although you can find mistakes in virtually any owner’s manual if you look hard enough for them, there is a glaring error that you can find on some Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier units.

The manufacturer says that the pre-out jacks’ output level doesn’t get affected by the volume knob, but that issue does occur.

When the pre-out jacks have volume controls, you can use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier as a stand-alone preamp or use it to drive subs from there.

That’s half of the reason why you’d want this unit, which is why it seems like the owner’s manual might be part of an older description.

You may find that the volume available through the pre-out jacks is insufficient for some amps, especially the pro-quality ones that require additional input voltage.

It won’t impede the casual use of your Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier, but it will prevent you from cranking everything up as high as it could go.

The design doesn’t allow you to eliminate the bass frequencies from any of the output tubes or satellite speakers in your system since the pre-out jacks are full range, as are the speakers.

You’ll also get the advice to avoid turning on the amp without connecting 4- or 8-ohm speakers. This issue goes back to the preamp option. If you have the pre-out jacks driving an external amp, there might not be speakers connected to the terminals. That could damage your investment.

You must install a dummy load to the speaker terminals if you want to use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier as a preamp.

You’ll need a single 10w resistor for each channel to connect across the terminals to avoid damaging the EL84 output tubes. If you hook up speakers, don’t forget to remove the resistors!

How to Use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier as a Preamp

Since you cannot use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier as a preamp without having something connected to the outputs, your best option is to use a 20W 8-ohm resistor on both sides to replicate the load you’d get with speakers.

Although you can find plenty of 25W, 50W, and 100W options available online, the 20W version you need might need to come from a specialty supplier.

These resistors retail for about $2 each when sold individually. You’ll want to get an option that offers a 10% tolerance.

Once you have the resistors at home, you can follow these steps to turn the amplifier into a preamp for your audio setup. Please remember to disconnect it from any power source before starting this project.

  1. Unscrew the plastic housings around the left black speaker terminal a little.
  2. Look behind the housing at the internal threaded metal post that’s on the product. You should see a hole there.
  3. Insert the metal wire from one side of the resistor into the hole you’ve located in the black post. It should be deep enough to pass through the area entirely.
  4. Tighten the plastic housing with your fingers without over-rotating it. If you’re too firm with this step, there is the risk of stripping things out.
  5. With the red post, you’ll follow the same steps. Look for a hole in the metal post, stick the other metal end of the resistor into it, and tighten the housing so that the unit stays in place.
  6. You’ll now follow the same steps for the other speaker pair on the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier.
  7. After you have the resistors secured to the product, carefully use a fingernail or a gentle lever to bend the resistor way from the item’s metal chassis.
  8. You’ll now need to look beneath the speaker terminals to ensure there aren’t any resistor wires touching the chassis. Bend them away as you did in the previous step to get the best results.
  9. Do not proceed past this point until you are sure that the resistors are between the black and red left and right speaker terminals and that nothing is touching the chassis. Make any remaining adjustments to ensure you’re clear.
  10. You are now free to turn on the amp so that it can serve as a preamp.

You can find some resistors that come in mounted housings, often made from aluminum, to encourage heat dissipation. Although these items are potentially usable, they come intended for a wire mount.

If you use an item like the Twidec resistor in a screw-tap chassis, you’d need to connect a copper wire to the post before bringing it to the housing. It’s an extra step to follow, and the overall connection might not be as secure.

How You’ll Typically Use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier

When you get the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier home to use, you’ll notice that three input modes are available. They all work exceptionally well to produce audiophile audio qualities, although the auxiliary tends to work the best.

  • Auxiliary Input. You can use your tuners, streamers, and CD players with this option – anything that offers a line-level analog source.
  • Phono Input. This option works with any raw moving-magnet cartridges. It isn’t suitable with RIAA upstream or line-level conversion.
  • Bluetooth Input. You can stream from your preferred device by connecting this unit through its supplied antenna.

The Bluetooth and auxiliary inputs are remarkably easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to get everything set up with the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier so that you can start listening to your favorite tracks.

With the Phono input, it’s a bit of extra work to make sure all of the settings match. If you’re familiar with turntables or gramophones, you won’t have any trouble working with this stereo amplifier.

Once you start using the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier, you’ll see a volume unit (VU) meter on the front of the product. For me, this option is a waste of time and money.

It would have been better to save the USB port from previous models or incorporate a headphone jack here.

The VU meter displays signal level representations when running audio through the amp. It’s a way to measure complicated signals using a simple technology that doesn’t really tell you anything about your music.

At best, you’ll know if your ohm levels are out of sync to make an adjustment, which should happen if you’re setting up everything appropriately.

Since you don’t get a remote control to manage your volume, everything must happen manually. If you’re across the room and need to make changes, you’ll need to get up to create the adjustments. Then you’ll need to return to your previous spot to see if you like the sound better.

That means you have a lot of trial and error to figure out when you want to use the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier for your home audio enjoyment.

Although this issue isn’t problematic for most vinyl records, digital files come at remarkably different volume levels. If you’re streaming a playlist from local data, you might need to get up to adjust the volume after each song.

From that perspective, this unit’s design is relatively uninspiring – even with the low price that you get for it. That issue might even be enough to disqualify the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier from being a usable product in some homes.

Is There Any Way to Get Around the Control Issue?

Since you’ll be constantly making control adjustments with the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier, it might be worthwhile to consider an after-market product that adds more convenience.

You can find custom audio remote volume control devices that plug into the AUX unit of the amp so that you can adjust sound levels remotely. It won’t work for the Phono or Bluetooth, but you’d get some extra control.

Most AUX-style remote control adapters include digital-to-analog converters that mess up your signal even further. The ones that don’t typically want a 3.5 mm jack that you’d like to have with your headphones.

MCM Custom Audio makes an infrared unit that works within the power expectations of the setup, but that product isn’t always easy to find.

Your best option is to find a setting that works for your general needs. You could pay more for some additional sophistication, but the strength of the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier is its affordability.

It’s almost impossible to find anything comparable at the suggested MSRP of this unit.

What to Expect When Using the Phono Input

Although many people have an all-digital setup these days, I have an extensive record collection at home. Jazz is more of my thing than other genres, especially if John Coltrane is on the record.

My parents collected vinyl records over the years, many of which I’ve ended up inheriting. In 2008, I found work cleaning up foreclosed properties. That employment expanded my collection significantly.

There’s everything in there from Barry White to Gary Lewis to Nine Inch Nails. At last count, I’ve got about 300 LPs.

That’s why I was so excited to try the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier. It took a couple of weeks to arrive, much of which I spent in great anticipation to hear my favorite albums in a new way.

What I noticed immediately was how pronounced the bass is when you’re using this little integrated amp. On “She’s Just My Style” from Gary Lewis and the Playboys, there’s a nice rumble that happens when the lower vocals come into the composition.

After that enjoyable experience, I moved onto one of my favorite songs as a kid: “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean.

Dean’s vocals feel like you’re standing right there in the recording studio with him, even though it’s been several decades since it was released.

I’ve played that record probably several hundred times over the years, but you wouldn’t know it with the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier connected.

Then it was time to try something modern with the amp. I put on my LP of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

When the chords hit from “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it felt like that first concert I attended so many years ago. My family made the trip out to Seattle so that we could all attend the performance, and it still felt like Cobain was right there, throwing out those gritty vocals in his trademark style.

It was such a positive difference in the audio system at home that I decided to keep listening to the rest of Nevermind. Although the track doesn’t always come up in conversation, “Territorial Pissings” might have impressed me the most.

Not only did the distortion give me that nice rumble and vibration you want from a high-quality system, but the vocals also shine through without getting overshadowed by the punk-style track.

Whether it was something from Hall and Oates, Gordon Lightfoot, or Alice in Chains, I found new depths to the music in my collection.

I honestly can’t wait to have all of my friends over for a listening session so that everyone can enjoy my collection in a new way.

Even though you only get 10W with this setup, which I thought would limit things, the volume level was still excellent when at above-average levels.

There wasn’t any bass clipping, extra distortion, or hissing from the unit. It rocks the room, although I could see it becoming a problem if you’re trying to fill an ample space.

Until then, I’ll keep going through all of the LPs. Even if one of the albums isn’t one of the best, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier really brought back some nostalgic moments for me.

With the price as reasonable as it was, the investment seems quite useful if you have some specific needs to meet.

Final Thoughts About the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier

When you want to add something unique to your home audio entertainment, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier certainly delivers an impressive result.

The visual aesthetics can turn any room into a desirable place to find your vibe and relax.

The issue that some people will have with this product involves its control mechanisms, but there are several positives worth reviewing that could make the investment worthwhile.

List of the Pros of the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo AmplifierList of the Cons of the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier
▪️ You’ll discover a lovely midrange with this amp, providing the dimensions you want to hear in your songs or files without requiring endless EQ tinkering to get results.
▪️ The Bluetooth streaming feature with the product is effortless to set up, allowing you to enjoy music from compatible devices.
▪️ With the built-in Phono input, you’ll have a better way to start playing your favorite vinyl records.
▪️ All of the tone controls you’d want to see with a tube amp like this one are all included without extra costs.
▪️ The construction delivers a stylish appearance that remains compact, ensuring that you can enjoy audio bliss in virtually any room.
▪️ Wire guards help to protect the tubes in case something should happen to your equipment.
▪️ If you have pets or young children at home, the risk of tube damage from knocking off the amp might offset the benefits it can provide.
▪️ You don’t have access to any remote control volume options unless you install a third-party system that works through the AUX.
▪️ There isn’t a switch available to disable the output tubes when you want to use this unit as a preamp, requiring you to hook up dummy resistors to prevent damage.
▪️ Listening to music through headphones is almost impossible with this product.
▪️ You’d need an ultra-specific setup that worked with the AUX or Phono to get the results you want.
▪️ It would be helpful to have more of a restricted range boost when dealing with the bass frequencies.

What’s the Bottom Line for the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier?

If you’ve always been curious about using tubes as part of your overall sound system, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier is the only authentic option available for an entry-level budget.

There isn’t another integrated device anywhere near this price point unless you want to use another design from this brand or shop from models that are over five years old.

Although the 10-watt limitation could be bothersome for some people, the fact is that you’ll get enough juice to manage most audio needs. Since you get the Phono line with it, the combination is strong enough that it is tough to ignore.

I don’t see another product delivering the same premier benefits from that vantage point without charging at least 30% more to receive the

If you decide that you want more power after using the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier for a while, you can always use this product as a preamp with the right additions. You can even add a third-party remote control.

Would I recommend this product to those who want to try tube-based audiophile bliss for the first time? Yes.

Although there are clear limitations with the system, finding anything remotely similar is about impossible.

Some people might prefer digital, but when you want something more traditional, the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier delivers – despite having a few faults to potentially manage.

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