It hit me not long ago: I need more Mac in my life! I promptly purchased the current production version of McIntosh Laboratory’s time-honored MC275 tubed amplifier, to mate to the Mac C2300 tubed preamplifier I already owned. The recently reinvigorated debate in these pages comparing solid-state and single-ended tube designs got me to thinking. One thing led to another, and voilà! McIntosh’s latest solid-state stereo amplifier, the MC462 Quad Balanced ($9000), arrived, bolted to a shipping pallet and encased in two big, heavy, nested boxes.… Read the full article
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Kondo Audio Note Ongaku Resurrecting a Lost Art Hiroyasu Kondo resigned his position as an audio circuit designer at CBS to follow his dream of creating an amplifier that delivered “natural sound” free from “mechanical” artifacts. Kondo’s research led him to revisit the long-abandoned single-ended triode (SET) designs that were the first amplifiers built at the dawn of the electronics age. His enthusiasm for SET amplifiers was based on both reason and emotion. The engineer in him preferred the inherent simplicity and lower parts-count of SETs relative to other amplifier types—at least as long as high power was not a …… Read the full article
In 1988, Bob Carver set out to design the best amplifier he possibly could, without regard for cost. It was more of an ego exercise than an attempt to build a product with wide commercial appeal. The result was the four-chassis, $17,500 Silver Seven.
Interestingly, Bob Carver chose vacuum tubes to realize his dream of building the ultimate power amplifier. The Silver Seven uses fourteen KT88 output tubes per channel, and puts out 375W into 8 ohms. Bob built three pairs of Silver Sevens, not expecting to sell many at the $17,500 asking price.… Read the full article
In hindsight, you would surmise that First Watt was rather lucky. When transistor manufacturer SemiSouth closed its doors in 2012, access to its silicon-carbide-based power JFET transistors (SITs) dried up. Fortunately, Nelson Pass had purchased a custom batch of these SITs in 2010, no doubt because this device’s characteristic curve resembles that of a triode vacuum tube and because it can work directly into a speaker load. The SIT-1 monoblocks and SIT-2 stereo amplifier, based on this output transistor, were introduced in 2012 and became the most successful in First Watt’s history, continuing in production through 2017.… Read the full article
Having plenty of amplifier power on hand is a good thing. Having too much? Not so much. Bryston’s flagship 28B³ stereo power amplifier (pictured above, click on image for larger version) hits what most experts agree is the ‘sweet spot’ for home hi-fi: 200-watts per channel into 8Ω.
‘Bryston’s flagship 28B³ is designed for a wide range of audio/video systems that require medium to high amounts of power to ensure dynamic credibility, yet without sacrificing either sonic accuracy or long-term reliability,’ said George Neophytou, of BusiSoft AV, which distributes Bryston in Australia, who added: ‘Not that anyone could seriously question the reliability of Bryston components, because it’s still the only company in the world that offers a 20-year guarantee on its products.’
The Bryston 28B³ sits at the top of Bryston’s ‘Cubed’ series of amplifiers, which started with the 2.5B³ back in 2016, after which the Canadian company rolled out the 3B³, the 4B³, the 7B³, and the 14B³, then finally the 28B³.… Read the full article
“The Bricasti M25 delivers a power-to-size advantage for the discerning listener.”
Shirley, MA: The M25 stereo amplifier finds a special place in the Bricasti family of amplifiers through its dual mono transformer design, essentially creating a hybrid of the single transformer Bricasti M15 stereo amplifier and its larger M28 mono-block brethren.
Like the entire line of Bricasti amplifiers, the M25’s fully differential balanced design delivers a fast, low distortion, open and harmonically accurate musical experience. Paired with any of the Bricasti line of fully differential digital to analog converters, a truly balanced system can be enjoyed.… Read the full article
Weighing 45 pounds and selling for $749, with a certified output of over 350 watts per channel, the Phase Linear 700 amplifier set the audio world on its ear. When it was commercially released in 1971, few took 27-year-old Robert W. (Bob) Carver’s claims for it seriously. Remember, this was Carver’s first commercial product and he was then completely unknown to audiophiles. Before the Phase Linear 700’s appearance, an average high-powered amplifier offered somewhere on the order of 80–85 watts per channel, with the Crown DC-300 sitting atop the output throne, providing (an often unstable) 150 watts per channel.… Read the full article
Back to the future. When Radial Engineering announced its plans to market a modern version of the Dynaco Stereo 70, the news struck me as a valiant time shift, aimed squarely at resurrecting the soul of one of the most influential amps of all time, and the component that enshrined Dynaco in audio’s Hall of Fame. Over a span of nearly 20 years in the 1960s and 70s, more than 400,000 ST-70s were sold both in kit and assembled forms, total sales by some estimates approaching half a million by 1977.… Read the full article
What constitutes the “entry level” isn’t always obvious. Because we live in an Internet-infected world where fluidity, shape-shifting, social relativity, distributed systems, etc. are commonly accepted models of reality, definitions are rarely clear-cut or easy. That’s what people say, anyway. Fortunately, this is my column, and I get to make the rules. I admit, though, the entry level is probably one of the most nebulous terms out there. What’s affordable for me isn’t always affordable for someone else, and so on.… Read the full article
To audio designers in Japan and elsewhere, the single-ended, 300B-tubed amplifier is like a haiku: an art form defined by both its prescribed limitations and the potential such restraint offers for artistic expression. Here, the only hard-and-fast rule is a simple one: output devices are limited to one 300B directly heated triode tube per channel. From there, it’s a blank slate: Do you want AC or DC on the output-tube heaters? Tube or solid-state rectification? Low or high gain? Fixed or cathode bias?… Read the full article