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Einstein Audio: 'Genius' vacuum tube amp maker

Einstein Audio Components, based in Germany, is a manufacturer of tube amplifiers, a tube CD player, and phono stages and phono cartridges

The new preamplifier looks amazing. Einstein Audio Components

We're not talking about Albert Einstein, the legendary theoretical physicist; we're talking about Einstein Audio Components, a Germany-based high-end audio manufacturer.

Its advanced audio equipment designs use vacuum tubes. Its latest stereo preamplifier, The Tube MKII, uses a total of (gulp) 19 tubes. That's a lot of tubes! Most tube preamps only use four, five, or six tubes. However, here's the cool part about the new Einstein preamp: only 10 of the 19 tubes operate at any given time. Eight are used all the time, and two are selected for whichever audio source happens to be playing.

The rear panel of The Tube MKII. Einstein Audio Components

This feature makes The Tube MKII the only preamp in the world that lets users tailor the sound from each audio source by selecting the specific "flavor" of tube dedicated to each source. Some owners might opt for "warm" sounding tubes for the CD input, and superdetailed tubes for the phono input. Tweaky? You bet, but I guarantee a lot of wealthy tube-obsessed audiophiles will love that feature.

The 33-pound preamp has two large controls on its front panel: one for source selection and one for volume. On its rear, it has three pairs of XLR inputs, two pairs of RCA inputs, and two tape outputs.

Its build quality is superlative and is reflected in The Tube MKII's $17,800 MSRP. The preamp will make its U.S. market debut at the 2010 CES next month.