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Preamplifier + power amplifiers


Price (when reviewed): 6000 EUR + 2760 EUR

Contact: Casella Postale 113
95030 Gravina Di Catania, Ct | Italy


Provided for review by: GPOINT-AUDIO

y everlasting passion for music was first ignited a long, long time ago, when I was still just a kid. Our country back then was not a good place for music lovers (well, not only for them but that's another story). Neither music nor audio equipment were widely available at the time. My first audio device was a simple cassette player with integrated tuner made by Grundig. My first musical instrument was a small no-name guitar. That was actually all I could really have at that time to satisfy my newly discovered passion. These were times when music was available only on the radio and those who were lucky enough to somehow acquire a few dollars could buy one or two cassettes in “Pewex” (special shops with products from the West) to record some favorite tracks directly from a radio.

Those times have fortunately come to an end and finally several years ago I had a chance to listen to my very first decent quality tube amplifier. This single experience turned me into a huge fan of tube sound. It is tubes, triodes in particular - of course not all of them but surely most – that play music in a way that appeals to me the most. So when after spending a few years with my first own, Ukrainian 300B PSE amp I wanted to take another step towards the musical nirvana, I began to search the internet to find some other, interesting devices.

At some point I came across a review of an amplifier made by Italian company Tektron. In the pictures it looked absolutely stunning, and according to the author of the review, it also performed wonderfully. For me an interesting and equally important factor was one of its numerous features – it allowed usage of various power tubes (triodes): 300B, 2A3 and 45. Purists would probably say that such an amp could not possibly offer the highest possible sound quality, because an output transformer should be made specifically for particular tube of type. On the other hand, however, for someone who could not afford to buy a few amplifiers utilizing specific triodes, to find out which of them suits him best, this relatively inexpensive, versatile device could be an ideal solution. Moreover, as experience shows, one should always approach new audio devices with an open mind, should not make any assumptions – one should listen first and assess it later.

So I figured then, that it would be a perfect choice for me – I would buy this amp with a few sets of different tubes to try different sonic "flavors". Perhaps, after a while, I would decide that I preferred one triode over others and then would have this amp replaced with another, specialized one. I contacted Attilio Caccamo, who proved to be a very nice man, and patiently answered all the questions. Ultimately the transaction did not happen, because at the time I did not trust my “audio intuition” enough just yet to buy an amplifier without auditioning it first, which was not possible.

I have never, however, forgotten the brand. A few months ago, when trying to get rid of old emails, I found this very correspondence with Tektron and now, as a reviewer, I decided to contact them again, this time asking if they would be interested in delivering one of their devices for a test. The response was positive, albeit with a small "detour" - Attilio pointed me to his distributor, Mr. Greg Drygała, our compatriot living in the UK, running his audio company called Gpoint-Audio.

We'd already virtually known each other with Greg - his company is a kind of a “Polish island” in the UK, as he distributes many of our domestic brands there. When choosing a product for the review I mentioned about the situation from the past and the amplifier that allowed the user to try various triode types. Greg suggested that instead of an integrated amplifier I mentioned, he could send me the reference monoblocks that would let me use different types of tubes too, plus a matching preamplifier. Now all I had to do was to wait for a shipment to arrive.

Recordings used for the test (a selection):

  • Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, Friday Night in San Francisco, Philips 800 047-2, CD/FLAC.
  • Arne Domnerus, Jazz at the Pawnshop, Proprius ATR 003, LP.
  • Etta James, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, Blues in the Night, Vol.1: The Early Show, Fantasy B000000XDW, CD/FLAC.
  • Eva Cassidy, Live at Blues Alley, G2-10046, CD/FLAC.
  • Georges Bizet, Carmen, RCA Red Seal 74321 39495 2, CD/FLAC.
  • Keith Jarrett, The Köln Concert, ECM 1064/65 ST, LP.
  • Leszek Możdżer, Kaczmarek by Możdżer, Universal Music 273 643-7, CD/FLAC.
  • Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington, The Complete Session. Deluxe Edition, Roulette Jazz 7243 5 24547 2 2 (i 3), CD/FLAC.
  • Michał Wróblewski Trio, City album, Ellite Records, CD/FLAC.
  • Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain, Columbia PC8271, LP.
  • Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, dyr. Teodor Currentzis, MusicAeterna Orchestra, Sony Classical B00GK8P1EG, CD/FLAC.
  • Patricia Barber, Companion, Premonition/Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-45003, 180 g LP.
  • Pavarotti, The 50 greatest tracks, Decca 478 5944, CD/FLAC
  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Oriental bass, Enja B000005CD8, CD/FLAC.
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, 11:11, EMI Music Poland, 5651702, CD/FLAC.
  • The Ray Brown Trio, Summer Wind, Concord Jazz CCD-4426, CD/FLAC.
  • Tri Continental, Live, T&M 020, CD/FLAC.
Japanese issues available at

Greg prepared a special, wooden shipping case for all three devices. He also included some tubes (all NOS), so I could play with them, looking for the best (from my perspective) combination. Despite such solid packaging, one of the two 2A3's (Greg's most precious NOS pair) was damaged, thus limiting my options. Once I finally got over this fact I could get on with unpacking the case, and take a closer look at this small, beautifully made devices.

Before I received these items for a review I had a chance to see some Tektron products in Munich, as that year Italian company had its stand at the High End Show. So after this first personal encounter I was not surprised about Tektron product's appearance (I repeat again – they look stunning!) nor their size (as for tube devices these are really small), and yet they were so beautiful that for the first several minutes I was just admiring this wonderful "Italian Job" involving a beautifully finished, natural wood. If you have already seen the attached pictures, you've probably noticed that it's natural wood, which can be detected by some, quite natural differences between the shades of individual housings. To be honest, comparing Tektrons against my own Art Audio Symphony II did the latter no favors.

I decided to get acquainted with these Italian beauties gradually. As I mentioned in one of other reviews, I'd received two prototypes of new Mr. Andrzej Matusiak's (that's Audiomatus brand's owner) designs (class D amplifiers). All of my previous experience with such amplifiers (I mean class D) told me that they would sound best (to my ears) when combined with a good quality tube preamplifier. So I listened to them, among others, also with Tektron preamp. I used the latter also with my own ModWright KWA100SE power amp.

For this test I received the reference version of this preamplifier. All “reference” versions differ from standard ones mostly with usage of higher grade components. In this articular case another difference was a single (instead of two) power amplifier output (although the second can be added upon order, for an additional charge, of course). Greg fitted this preamp also with NOS tubes.

TK 6J5-REF compared directly with my ModWright LS100 delivered a more colorful sound. The presentation with it in the system was more vibrant, more “shiny”, and had an accurate, that is neither too small nor too large, dose of tube-ish sweetness. ModWright seemed to show the events on-stage in a more structured, more selective way, Tektron on the other hand made it more palpable. Interestingly, the Italian unit delivered a tighter, faster bass. Both preamplifiers seemed to offer same level of detail retrieval and transparency.

As the price of both devices is comparable, the choice will depend more on potential buyer's taste, preference that on a clear advantage of one of them over the other. The Tektron is, without a doubt, nicer looking, it seemed to offer little more "tube-like" sound but with a really good, fast, tight bass, which is not necessarily an intrinsic feature of a tube device. After these listening sessions, I already knew that the Attilio's products are not just inexpensive, warm sounding tube devices "for the people", but rather serious contenders despite relatively low pricing. I assumed that listening to the entire set would confirm this impression created by TK 6J5-REF.

300B Western Electric

Although these preliminary listening sessions with TK 6J5-REF provided a lot of positive impressions, the real fun began when I connected my Matterhorn loudspeakers to the complete Tektron system with drivers and signal tubes delivered by Greg (again – all NOS valves), and my Western Electric 300B in the output.
I started from the Miles Davis, Yesternow (A tribute to Jack Johnson) album that I hadn't listened to for a very long time. The great Miles is accompanied by, among others, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, and in some parts also by many other “jazz giants” - Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Dave Holland and so on. I simply forgot what a fantastic album it was, even if at the time of its released it wasn't very successful.

The Tektron set delivered a wonderful performance, although different than the one of my 300B amplifier, despite the use of exactly the same pair of power tubes. Symphony II delivered sound that could be described as "typical 300B", with an emphasis on the fabulously colorful, saturated, silky, smooth midrange. The same pair of Western Electrics when used in Tektron amplifiers sounded quite differently (which just proves how big is a role of the application/circuit itself) - with a punctual, taut bass, with really pretty good drive, with beautifully vibrant, open, detailed treble, though slightly less sweet than the Symphony II.

These extremely smooth, devoid of any harshness, or even the slightest roughness, treble was at the same time particularly vibrant, it sparkled with freshness. I was truly surprised when listening to the performance of these Italian amplifiers with my 300B WE tubes on board. As I said, sound was incredibly smooth, there was no hint of any artificial roughness, but on the other hand, when necessary, a proper aggressiveness, or sharpness of Miles' trumpet was easily delivered too. It could almost “pinch” my ears but it never got unpleasant and it sounded so natural all the time.

The whole musical spectacle happened in a large space in front of me, a space full of vibrating air, of breathing instruments, of sounds flowing towards me from individual instruments. All sounds started in the space between the loudspeakers and around them, in a nicely sketched, three-dimensional instruments, which, as it seemed, I could touch with my hand. The reality, tangibility of this presentation was impressive, and I spent days and nights listening to dozens of albums out of curiosity, just to find out how they sound on this set. I could not help but feel that finally I heard the ultimate performance of my favorite WE tubes.

45, NOS

As I already mentioned one of the 2A3 was damaged during transport from UK, therefore the only pair of output tubes I had at my disposal were the 300Bs. Fortunately Wojtek Szemis, Kondo distributor, was able to help me, lending me not only a pair of Psvane 2A3, but also fantastic 1934 NOS 45 triodes! It is the latter pair that I listened to first. I admit that I have not had much previous experience with 45 triode, so basically did not know what to expect. But subconsciously I expected that this, give or take 2W tube, would deliver a more rounded, warmer sound. One of the first things that were obvious to me was an amazing saturation and richness of the midrange, that became even more colorful and slightly warmer than with WE 300B. Not that 300Bs gave me any reason to complain about these aspects of the sound, as so far they had been THE ones offering the most saturated, the most colorful mids, and when used with Tektron monoblocks they did not loose these qualities, but mostly gained in both range extremes.

With the 45s, although it was not clear to me from the very beginning, presentation was slightly less linear, both band's extremes were slightly rolled off, which favored this wonderful midrange. It had nothing to do with a muddy, rounded sonic signature some people associate with tube sound, but still, compared to the previous experience with 300Bs, bass and treble were slightly, but noticeably rounded, bass was not as tight and springy, and the treble was more "golden", a little less sparkling. And yet the color saturation, fantastic differentiation of the latter was still amazing.

As usually in audio, one advantage was gained at the expense of another, but the end result was amazing, although different than with 300Bs. With 45s sound was fabulously colorful, sparkling with all the colors of the rainbow (and thousands of others), which made this presentation irresistible, immersive. It didn't matter whether I listened to a violin, double bass, acoustic guitar or piano – I listened to each instrument holding my breath, admiring this quality of the amplifier that used such a huge color pallet and saturation of the sound to create a wonderful, engaging experience. A great role here played these not worse, and perhaps even better, fuller and more powerful decays than ones delivered by 300Bs. Of course, this kind of presentation favored acoustic recordings and vocals, just where these elements of the sound play a far greater role than in the case of electric music. The latter sounded better with 300Bs because they offered more linear sound, faster and better defined bass and clearer treble.

As it befits triodes, 45s rendered a large, three-dimensional soundstage, although in my opinion 300Bs did it a little better too, organizing it in a more orderly fashion, with more air on the stage that filled in the space between instruments making them more “real”. Both tubes created equally tangible, convincing, three-dimensional images of the instruments, though both achieved this effect in a slightly different way. The 300Bs clearly outlined contours of each phantom image, while 45s delivered denser, more fleshy body of each of them. Despite various means the final result was equally realistic and the equally delightful.

2A3 Psvane

Last but not least the time came for the last triode I had available – 2A3. These were not NOS tubes but ones of recent production of Psvane, though branded Audio Note. I think I haven't mentioned one important piece of information yet. The manufacturer (Tektron) provides the customer with an instruction describing settings for different types of tubes. Firstly, one selects using a dial, one of three positions: 'A' for 45, 2A3 or Princess 300B (2.5 V filament), 'B' for 'standard' 300B (5 V), or 'C' for 50 and VT 52 (7 5 V); (50s and VT 52 are really rare and I could not get any for this test). In addition, one needs a small screwdriver to adjust bias current for the tubes using a tiny potentiometer. Long story short – it is not as simple as replacing one set of output tubes with another.

To be clear – it doesn't take a professional to deal with tube rolling here. Even a person with little or none experience with tube amplifiers will do fine (following instructions) – and the whole “operation” will take no longer than two minutes. Just in case, let me remind you that the tubes must be replaced with the amplifier powered down! And one more notice for those who don't have much experience with tubes – after replacing one set of tubes with another one has to give it at least several minutes for a warm up before listening to the device critically. I am not talking about breaking new tubes in – that's a separate issue. Simply with tubes one can not perform quick comparisons replacing one set with another and listening for differences right after that operation. Each tube needs several minutes before it reaches its optimum performance. Try it for yourself – it should be clear that after several minutes each tube sounds different and clearly better than right after you turn the device on so quick comparisons make little, if any, sense.

The third power tube and yet another sound signature. Better balanced than with the phenomenal in the midrange 45s. This performance was closer in this respect to the one of 300B, although the general impression was that of a bit cooler (by no means cold!) and slightly more delicate, ethereal presentation. Interestingly, these tubes took longest time before reaching their optimal performance - hence the reminder of the kind of obvious things, ie. time that tubes need to warm up.

Once they did reach the optimal temperature, which took them almost half an hour, they started to impress me with their precision, with great retrieval of details, and this very orderly sound. There wasn't such an incredible saturation of the midrange as offered by 45s, it was not a sound so incredibly rich with natural colors, but to be honest in this regard no other, known to me, tube could quite match the 45. This does not mean that the 2A3a sounded thin, or colorless - absolutely not – they just couldn't match 45s in this regard. Here the midrange was above all very pure, transparent, highly detailed. Sound was very resolving and offered a very good selectivity, too.

Also the top of the band had a lot to offer – there was plenty of air and an abundance of vibrating, glittering details, that gave this impression of an openness and freshness to the performance. One could not complain about sustain or decay, as these elements of the sound simply delighted, even though they were slightly different, "lighter" than delivered by the 45s. Bass was equally fast, taut as presented by the 300Bs, it was tuneful and very well differentiated, but I had the impression that the latter triodes delivered it with even more weight. As a result the 2A3 seemed to sound a bit "lighter" but still very rich, saturated and simply beautiful.

Tubes – summary

I can not say that a Tektron's set is an inexpensive proposal for tube fans, even if its price compared to, for example Kondo's Souga, seems very attractive. It is not, as I once imagined, a "toy" with a simple purpose to allow people to familiarize themselves with a sonic signature of various triodes, thus allowing them to choose their favorite. It is in fact a great, very reasonably, against the performance, priced, beautifully made system that will delight many SET connoisseurs, not to mention tube beginners. Not for a moment, not with any of various triodes I had at my disposal, did I feel that this amplifiers were not good enough to present true qualities of these valves.

I personally have the greatest experience with different designs, partly due to my own Art Audio Symphony II, based on 300B triodes. Compared to other amplifiers I had an opportunity to listen to, Tektrons presented themselves as true contenders. My favorite Western Electric 300Bs never before sounded so well balanced, delivering such a punctual, taut, punchy bass, and such a beautifully illuminated, so extremely vibrant treble, as they did when used with these wonderful Italian monoblocks.

I have least experience with 45s, but after these listening sessions I already know that as an owner of Tektron amps I would reach for these triodes each time I felt like listening to vocals and acoustic instruments. 2A3 was, perhaps, the least "tube-like" (in a common understanding of this word) sounding triode among these three. But still it had nothing to do with the sound of, for example, KT88, that usually pretends to sound like a solid-state. Instead 2A3 offered a well balanced combination of the best tubes features – timbre, richness, saturation, smoothness, vibrancy, openness, spaciousness and tangibility - with speed, attack and timing associated rather with transistor devices.

Final words

This set consisting of TK2A3/50M-REF mono amplifiers and TK 6J5-REF preamplifier offers not only the possibility of using various power tubes, but also just incredibly beautiful, immersive, high class performance. I can easily imagine that I spend the rest of my life with this particular setup and (the bigger the better) supply of different tubes that would allow me to change the flavor of served music depending on the mood, whim, or simply out of curiosity, to see how my favorite albums could sound like with a different set of tubes.

Among the valves that I had available, each presented a slightly different set of advantages, but in my opinion the WE 300Bs offered the most versatile set of them. Perhaps these tubes would be a basic choice for me (if I had these amplifiers), while others I would use to change the sonic signature a little either for a specific music or mood. But I also realize, that tubes from different brands could change my choice again. This is one of the most wonderful things about tube devices! Their owners are not stuck with one and the same sonic signature but rather easily can change/shape it and all they need to do so are a few spare tubes.

In this particular case, the sonic advantages of Tektron devices are complemented with undeniable beauty of these small Italian pieces of art, that will be a wonderful addition to any room thus hushing any protests from your family members who will love the looks but most likely also the sound of Tektron. Beautiful work and equally amazing performance!


TK2A3/50M-REF are tube mono SET amplifiers manufactured by an Italian company, Tektron. We received for this test the Reference version of these devices. They offer users quit a unique feature – they allow the use of various types of power tubes. One can utilize: 2A3, 45, 50, 300B or VT-52. These are relatively small and not particularly heavy tube devices. Their design tells you at once they must come from Italy – the beautiful front and side panels make it very clear. A copper top cover holding tube sockets and transformers' housings adds even more class to Tektron's appearance.
Face-plate features a backlit on/off switch and the company's logo on the small, gold badge. The rear panel sports a single RCA jack (input), speaker terminals that accept both, spades and bananas, and a power inlet.

Each amplifier is equipped with three tubes - the primary driver is 6J5, an 80 works as a rectifier (I had their substitutes available, respectively CV1067 and CRC-5Z3), and as a power tube one can use one of the following triodes: 2A3, 300B, 45, 50 or VT-52 (I used the first three). The output depends on the power tubes - the lowest will be achieved with 45s (approx. 1.8 W), and the highest with 300B (approx. 6.5 W per channel). In short, regardless of the choice of power tubes one needs rather high efficiency, easy to drive loudspeakers.

On the top panel a small switch is placed that allows user to choose one of three settings: 'A', 'B' or 'C', depending on the power tube used at the moment. In addition, there is a small VU meter and a mini-potentiometer that enable precise adjustment of bias current for the power tubes. Inside one finds only high quality components assembled in the point-to-point fashion. The transformers used by Tektron are made in Italy and may be purchased separately, as well as the tubes, using manufacturer's website.


TK6J5-REF is one of two preamplifiers in company's lineup, here in the reference version. The specification compared to the standard one, is basically the same, the difference being the application of the top quality parts and components. The standard version has one output instead of two (the second can be added for extra charge on request).

The preamplifier is no different either in size or weight from the tested mono amplifiers. It is equally beautifully made and finished - a wooden body and a copper top plate are making an excellent impression. On the front one finds the same backlit on/off switch and a bolted plate with the company's logo, as in the amplifiers, and additionally two small knobs - input selector and volume control, plus a specific display showing the selected input.

On the rear there are four pairs of gold-plated RCA jacks - three pairs are inputs and one is an output, plus a IEC socket. As a standard this preamplifier features two pieces of 6J5 (hence the name of the device) and the 5Y3 rectifier. I used a pair of the same tubes as in amplifiers, namely CV1067, and the recommended 5Y3 rectifier. All were NOS tubes. Like the amplifiers, also the preamp's circuit features a point-to-point montage, without PCBs.

Specifications (according to manufacturer):


Tube set: paired 2A3 x 2 (or 45 x 2 - or 50 x 2 - or 300B x 2); 6J5 x 2; 80 x 2
Input impedance: 800 mV (for max power).

- 45 – 1.8 W
- 2A3 – 3.2 W
- 50 – 3.5 W
- 300B – 6.5 W

Finish: wood (many various types available)
Output impedance: 4 - 8 Ω (other values possible upon order)
Dimensions: 310 x 220 x 160 mm
Weight: 8 kg


Tube set: 6J5 x 2; 5Y3 x 1
Finish: wood (many various types available)
Output impedance: 100 kΩ
Dimensions: 310 x 220 x 160 mm
Weight: 8 kg