Budget Listening Setup - What FLAC source? What amp? Fatman iTube Valve Dock or Budget Solid State amp?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
Hi Everybody,

I am trying to put together a simple listening setup so that I can get back to properly listening to music which I haven't been able to do for a while.

I currently have two Celestion DL4 Series 2 loudspeakers which for the moment I am happy with - I have no idea whether they are particularly highly rated but I like how they sound.

I just need to get the rest of the setup... In an ideal world, I would go for something like a Linn Sneaky DS. I've had the chance to play with one a fair bit and think they're fantastic bits of kit; a simple and concise setup, but with superb audio quality.

My budget is slightly more limited than that and so I am now looking at a couple of cheaper options. I have found the Fatman iTube Valve Dock setup for £150 brand new. They have got exceptionally good reviews and there is no doubt that they are good bits of kit, but would the iTube amp component provide a decent way of powering of loudspeakers for varied music listening?

I listen to all genres and so need it to be able to cope with anything I put through it ranging from classical to rock. The room in which the setup will be is not big, and I will not need masses of volume, but I want to ensure capability to replicate all aspects of the music I listen to. I am seriously attracted by the musicality that the iTube would bring to the music, but don't know what I might be sacrificing for it...

So, the question is! £150 for an Fatman iTube Valve Dock or £100-£150 for a decent budget solid state? Any opinions / advice / recommendations appreciated!

I also need to sort out a source for the setup. I've been looking at maybe a Slim Devices Squeezebox or a 24bit external sound card for my PC. I would like to play FLAC through whatever source I use. Again, any advice on not too expensive DACs that I could couple with my amp and loudspeakers would be most appreciated!


If you're looking at the Fatman, I would have thought the obvious source would be an iPod, preferably loaded with lossless music (FLAC is not supported)...

The iTube is looking to be good value at that price (almost tempted myself, although I have absolutely no need of it!). A couple of words of caution though; the iTube is not very powerful, and the output quoted should, I think, be taken with a pinch of salt. You say you don't need masses of volume but even so... I'm not familiar with your speakers. Someone else may be able to advise you on their suitability for the iTube as regards speaker sensitivity (i.e. how much volume they'll produce together). The other thing is that there were the odd rumblings regarding reliability issues with the iTube. That is just hearsay - I have no experience of it - but hey, what else are forums for?

thisI'd probably be leaning towards a good budget solid state (by the way, the iTube isn't a "true" tube amp). Clicky (different model, but I believe it's the same basic design - someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

Can't advise on an external soundcard... but I'd be tempted to save up a bit for a proper DAC, however. Like this, or this. Give you a bit more flexibility in the long term.


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