When In Manila, it’s always awesome to go back to the days when music was played through Vinyls and through huge tube amplifiers. It was the era when music recordings were in full bloom and technology was pushing itself forward in regards to recordings. Without a doubt, tube amplifiers were a mainstay in regards to amplifying recordings during playback. They have this very bodied sound that has always been so addicting. Now, everything is very compact, amplifiers have also become portable as well as having media players as small as a thumb. Some audio companies has now created tube amplifiers that are portable! Elekit, an audio company from Japan, races as well to create their own portable tube amplifier. The Elekit TU-HP01!
Packaging: They have much to improve in this area since the Elekit TU-HP01‘s packaging is a plain white box simply stuck with a labeling sticker. I suggest something a little more eye catching and more shipment-ready looking similar to the ALO Audio boxes. Nonetheless this is something that can be ignored. I guess I’m just OC with packaging since I keep boxes hehehe! There is an additional pair of front and back plates included so that the Elekit TU-HP01 can be placed or attached to an amp on the opposite side. This was allowed since the vents of the tubes are only found on one side, ventilation is only available on that side. The extra plates are faced inverted so that ventilation is allowed on the opposite side instead for stacking. There is also an extra opamp included that has a different sonic characteristic than stock. Yes you heard that right, opamp rolling is allowed! Hooray for upgrades!
Build: The Elekit TU-HP01 is encased in a metal body that has plastic front and back plates that are interchangeable. The front and back plates, although plastic, is thick and has no problems of easily breaking. The volume knob is also made from metal and is very sturdy and accurate in adjustment. The only thing I am afraid regarding the build quality is the plastic coat of the screws for the backplate. They seem that they could possibly break if dropped on concrete floor. Nonetheless, everything else is sturdy. Details on the design are beautiful! The front plate has an illuminated “tube amp” decal when the amp is on. It’s green once turned on and turns red when the battery is low, it adds more detail with the vintage style. I really love how this amp emanates a vintage feel!
Sound Quality: I have been a fan of the tube sound ever since I first tried a tube amplifier. I fell in-love instantly at the first portable amplifier that I have tried which is the Go Vibe Porta Tube when I went to Jaben Singapore. I never thought that they could be integrated into a portable amplifier, and ever since then, I always wanted one in my amplifier collection. I have tried a handful of portable tube amps ever since then. The ALO Audio Continental V2 and V3 being my favorites. The Elekit TU-HP01 is a hybrid tube and solid state amplifier. I found the sound on the stock opamp to be a little less tube sounding, having background instruments and details to be brought up-front yet, the Elekit TU-HP01 presents them in a laidback manner which shows the “solid-state” characteristic of the amp more than it’s “tube” self. Changing the stock MUSES8820 opamp to the included OPA2604 opamp makes the Elekit TU-HP01 more tube-like sounding. It adds additional warmth and body to the overall sound. I prefer the included OPA2604 opamp installed to the TU-HP01 due to how the vocals are given better body.
Overall, the Elekit TU-HP01 being a portable hybrid tube amp with a very snazzy design, along with an interchangeable opamp, gives much versatility and at a more affordable price than other portable tube amps being priced at $230!
Elekit TU-HP01: A Cool Vintage Looking Portable Tube Amplifier for Audio Geeks!