Home Theater Review

 

Bob Carver LLC Black Beauty 305 Vacuum Tube Mono Block Amplifier Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
4 Stars
Value
3 Stars
Overall
3.5 Stars

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Bob_Carver_Black_Beauty_tube_amp_review.jpgHigh Points
• The 305 Black Beauty Mono Blocks are built to a high standard and offer a very small footprint.
• This mono block offered excellent timbres, tonality, macro-dynamics, and has the power to drive virtually any type of speaker.
• It comes with a seven-year warranty and Mr. Carver will replace any tubes free for one year.
• Since these mono blocks use the KT-120 power tube at a fraction of their power rating, tube replacement will occur infrequently.

Low Points
• The 305 Black Beauty Mono Blocks do not have a tube cage; therefore, the hot power tubes are exposed. If you have children or pets, this might be a serious concern.
• The retro-styling of this mono block might not fit the physical appearance you are looking for to accompany your decor.
• The 305 Black Beauty's top-end extension and refinement fall a smidgen short of reference level when compared to its own excellent midrange and bottom-end performance.

Competition and Comparison
In the price bracket around $12,000 for tube-based power amplifiers, the major competitors would either be Audio Research Corporation Reference 150 Stereo Amp 9, valued at $12,995, or the Vacuum Tube Logic S-200 Stereo Amp, which is valued at $10,000. Both are new editions for each company. I have auditioned both companies' last generation of amps. In my opinion, the 305 Black Beauty Mono Blocks offer many of the strengths, the natural timbres, the ability to produce a large soundstage, have precise imaging and the capacity to drive all types of speakers that the other companies' amps deliver. However, because the Black Beauty 305s are mono blocks, they can be placed closer to the speakers to gain the advantage of shorter speaker wire length, along with each mono block having its own power supply.

For more on these amps and others like them please visit Home Theater Review's Stereo Amplifier page.

Conclusion
If you're looking for a pair of mono block tube amps that can drive any speaker load, offer some flexibility at changing their overall sound by just flipping a toggle switch, use a long lasting power tube and are built to a high standard, then put the 305 Black Beauty Vacuum Tube Mono Block on your audition list. The only caveat is how sensitive you might be to its somewhat closed-in high-end presentation. If that part of the sonic spectrum works for you, then you will enjoy the rest of Bob Carver's LLC Black Beauty 305 Vacuum Tube Mono Block's performance.

Additional Resources
• Read more amplifier reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find a pair of Bookshelf Speakers or Floorstanding Speakers to pair with this amp.
• Explore preamps in our Stereo Preamplifier Review section.
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