It's true: The vacuum tube is older than Keith Richards. But unlike Keith, this electric wonder from the last century is experiencing a resurgence. The lightbulb-like attachments may add some bulk to your music center, but they deliver warmer, incredibly accurate sound—and look pretty damn striking, too.

Pathos Classic One MKIII (at right)
This best-of-both-worlds hybrid combines a tube-based preamp (to intensify Lady Gaga's high notes) with a solid-state power amp to deliver bold, party-fueling low notes.
($3,195; soundbysinger.com)

Cary Audio Xciter
Bass isn't a tube stereo's strong suit, but the subwoofer output on this mini-amp can handle some serious low-end beats. And, at about half the size of a laptop, the Xciter won't overwhelm the other components on your minimalist media rack.
($2,750; caryaudio.com)

Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 To get the most out of your MP3s, invest in the T-2, which plugs in to your Mac or PC via USB and makes the otherwise ho-hum format sound dynamic&38212;as if Jack White and his guitar were in the room with you.
($795; neuhauslabs.com)

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