It’s a discussion that any audiophile has at some point: Whether or not digital technology is an improvement over the old-fashioned way we used to listen to music, by using lots of tubes. The Tubecore Duo is an attempt to end this ongoing debate by combining both.
1. It’s A Class-A Tube Preamp
That’s probably enough for a certain class of person to just wrap up this conversation. But for those who aren’t familiar, a class-A tube preamp is a high-end piece of audio gear that essentially ensures you get the best possible sound out of your speakers. So, yeah, it’s pretty good.
2. The Tubes Are Front And Center
Lest you think this is just a gimmick, the tubes are directly in front of the Tubecore Duo, and in fact, they’re part of the aesthetic; there’s a little cut-out showing you the tubes. They even have some glowing LEDs behind them. You even get your choice of tubes, all the way up to Genalex.
3. It’s Definitely Got Some Of That ’70s Style
With the wood paneling and the foam cover, it’s definitely something your dad will recognize as a speaker. And yes, it only comes in wood. You’ve got your choice of color for the speaker foam, at least, which attaches magnetically.
4. It Even Has Analog Inputs
Yes, hardcore audiophiles, this has line level and phono inputs, if you absolutely must listen to your solid state stuff. So we are talking about a device that’s fairly hardcore in the past. But that doesn’t mean it’s not in the future in some ways. For example…
5. It’s Run By One Knob
Yes, you need precisely one knob to operate everything about the Tubecore Duo. It’s a polished aluminum one, and it controls all the features.
6. It Can Stream Pretty Much Anything
The Tubecore Duo actually comes with an onboard computer to more easily interact with your streaming services, NAS and other systems. The Raspberry Pi is built in as a standard, but if you really want to get into overkill, get the UDOO with the onboard Arduino: It can run Android and Linux simultaneously.
7. It’s Built For Digital Music
One of the advantages of having a computer? You can put a 24-bit DAC onboard to ensure the music is decoded properly, no matter what the source. Oh, and it also means you can easily connect, say, your phone with Bluetooth and enjoy streaming music from your preferred services without needing to worry about having the right app onboard your device.
8. Quality Costs
As you might have guessed, though, having an amp that bridges the divide between analog and digital, not to mention is essentially an audiophile’s dream all-in-one speaker, isn’t going to be a cheap proposition. Just buying the stock model will cost you $480 before shipping, and that’s with a $170 preorder discount. Shell out for all the custom features, and this will brush up against a thousand dollars.
On the other hand, you get what you pay for, so really, quality matters. Enjoy Tubecore!
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.