Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 Integrated Tube Amplifier with Digital Connections : Product of the Day 22, 2010


Neuhaus Laboratories T-2

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The Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 is a product of two generations that merges two different worlds of electronics. The two generations are represented by George and Daniel Golik of Miami-based Neuhaus Laboratories. George is a high-end audiophile and his son Daniel, a member of the iTunes generation. Their product, the Neuhaus Laboratories T-2, brings both together by combining an audiophile-quality vacuum tube amplifier with a high quality digital-to-analog converter (DAC.) The result is a single hi-fi component that is also plug-and-play compatible with Mac and Windows computers.

You may be surprised to read about vacuum tubes in this day and age, but tube gear is still manufactured and is favored by guitar players and audiophiles who love the warm, rich sound. This warmth and richness is exactly why George and Daniel thought tubes would be a natural for use with computer music files. Both noted the poor sound when playing compressed music from iTunes through high quality sound systems, leading them to develop the vacuum tube T-2 to bring the music back to life.



Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 rear view

The T-2 is classically styled and solidly built of metal, finished in polished stainless steel with an attractive piano black front panel. Eight glowing tubes are protected under a metal cage and two substantial metal knobs grace the front panel, one for choosing input and one for volume. Three analog inputs, two digital inputs (optical and USB) and a headphone jack are provided. Setup is simple and direct.

The amplifier sells directly from Neuhaus Laboratories for $795. Given that a tube amplifier with volume control usually sells for at least $1,000 and a good quality DAC for several hundred, combining the two and selling it for $795 represents a good value so long as the product performs. Given that tube amplifier price points are usually much higher than $795, performance was the biggest question mark in my mind as I started the review.

First I tried the T-2 with the analog inputs connected to a CD player and a turntable setup. I was expecting to hear sonic compromises given the price, but as the music flowed I didn’t find any, just the clean, warm sound of a good tube amp. I then connected the T-2 to my Mac Pro using a USB cable. As I started playing my iTunes Music Store purchases I immediately discovered that computers are indeed the killer application for the T-2. I was treated to punchy, natural, full, rich sound that lacked the sterility and lifelessness often associated with heavily compressed music. It had a solid quality one associates with uncompressed files along with the warmth, body and detail associated with tube amplification. I was smitten at once and delighted at the way the T-2 made my iTunes Library an extremely convenient source for audiophile-grade sound.

The T-2 should only be used with high quality speakers. Normally I recommend spending more on the speakers than the amplifier, but in this case I can make an exception. I tested the T-2 primarily with Acculine (soon to be called Arx) A1s and Paradigm Atom Monitors, both high quality bookshelf speakers selling for $249 per pair. Both matched up well and I expect anything less would likely be a waste of the T-2’s abilities. If choose your speakers wisely you will have an immensely satisfying sound system that will fill you with anticipation every time you press the on button and see the tubes glow to life.

The are only two potential negatives as I see it. One is the relatively low 20 watt power level, which performs like 40 watts from a solid state amp but still may preclude using the T-2 in large rooms. The other is the price. Though $795 may be out of reach for some and may seem a bit much to those unfamiliar with vacuum tube components, it is a good value for those looking to get the most out of their digital music collections. After all, $795 is not out of line for a good computer, and purchasers of the Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 will likely find themselves using it over a span of ten years or more, a time frame in which they would have likely replaced that $795 computer several times over.  Computers will come and go, but the T-2 with its classic looks, warm tube glow and sweet sound will remain.

A 15-day trial guarantee is provided so if you are not satisfied The T-2 can be returned for a full refund. Learn more at

Questions? Email Don

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