The presence of aptX Bluetooth shows that Fatman wants to keep up with the current trend for wireless streaming and, on paper at least and with that £200 price tag taken into account, it certainly makes the Mi-Tube 2 a tempting proposition.
The Fatman Mi-Tube 2 is a relatively small unit. The round base plays host to three valves: two 6N1s and one Magic Eye 6E2.
On the front, you will find the source selector switch, volume dial and a headphone jack. There’s no remote control, though.
This may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s still a bit of a pain, and something to consider if you intend to listen to music from afar.
Around the back are two line-in inputs and some rather chunky speaker terminals.
Strangely, the terminals aren’t labelled left and right, so connecting the speakers is more awkward than it should be.
The Fatman is a well-built unit, feeling robust and sturdy. Volume and source dials are solid too, with the source selector giving a reassuring click each time it’s turned.
Our review sample came in a fingerprint-sensitive glossy black – a white option is available too.
The valves themselves are an interesting feature to look at, giving a bright orange glow when turned on – the front valve also features an LED strip that indicates output level.
We pair the Fatman with a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 121s and begin with playback via Bluetooth.
The Mi-Tube 2 has good bass weight behind it and high frequencies are handled well, sounding smooth and clean.
The volume can be turned up to reasonably hefty levels without any significant compromise to the audio quality and we listen happily for lengthy periods.
Bluetooth tends to limit performance, so we switch to a more capable source.
Moving on to CD playback, we compare the Mi-Tube 2 with our current favourite budget amp, the £300 Marantz PM6005.
And Daft Punk’s Get Lucky reveals a few chinks in the Fatman’s armour. It doesn’t have the Marantz’s rhythmic precision or its control, with instruments sounding a smidge disorganised.
Rhythmic drive could be better, as could the amplifier’s ability to convey changes of pace in a piece of music. As things stand, it’s pleasant enough – it just lacks a bit of excitement.
We throw a vocal piece at the Fatman and – playing Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love – we’re pleased, at least at first.
Elvis’s signature tone has warmth – it’s refined and an easy listen. Playing the same piece through the Marantz, however, the backing singers become more apparent in the mix, and it becomes clear that the Fatman is unable to handle the layering of voices as skilfully.
The Marantz, then, is a better performer – but remember it costs £100 more.
We want to like the Fatman Mi-Tube 2 because of its exotic styling, Bluetooth connectivity and good bass weight. However, it isn’t the last word in rhythmic precision.
If you’re looking for a budget stereo amplifier with a distinct twist, the Fatman could be worth a listen. But if your budget can stretch to the Marantz though, we wholeheartedly recommend it instead.