Escape from the solid state
Trash your Transistors, Tubes are the way to go.
 "What this country needs is a good 5 watt amplifier" (Paul Klipsch).

Tube enthusiasts know The first watt is the best watt
and Single Ended Triodes (SETs) own the first watt!!!

Modern hi-fi equipment is all about power. 100 watts, 500 watts, more is supposed to be better. Yet with efficient speakers,most recorded music can be played pretty loud using less than 1 watt!! The SET ethos is to embrace quality over quantity. SET amps are small, simple, potentially cost effective and just plain sound better than solid state gear several times more expensive.  Plus you have the fun of changing the sonic signature of the equipment by substituting different brand names or vintages of the tubes used in the amplifier design. For a great article on vacuum tubes in audio with references and clickable sidebars, check out THE COOL SOUND OF TUBES by Svetlana entrepeneur Eric Barbour.

Here's a picture of my stereo as of October, 2000. A 3.5 watt SET tube amplifer, A Marantz CD-player modifed by a Dutch company to include a tube powered output stage (the Ah! Tjoeb99), and a pair of efficient (98db) Klipsch Horn speakers (98 db means 1 watt of power through the speakers produces 98 decibels of sound at a distance of 1 meter). There's no preamp, the Zen amp has a volume control so the CD is plugged right into it.  Cost effective and sweet sounding!!

I have now aquired a turntable and built a tube preamp from a kit, so my stereo now looks like this (October 2001):

The left panel shows all the components, the center is a closeup of the preamp, and the right is the mighty mighty Zen se84c.  The preamp has 2 active and one passive circuit, and the Zen has a high/low bias switch for the input tube, so there are a variety of sonic signatures available. The TT is a Music Hall MMF-5 and the phono stage is the Lehmann Black Cube. I also recently ventured into the world of DIY speakerbuilding. Click here to take a look at an adaptation of a voight pipe with 5.25" Isophon Drivers.  Click here to see the speakers that are currently in my system using 12" vintage FR drivers. I've also built a cool cabinet to house my analog software.Click here to see it.

                                       Kevin's Tube Audio Links:

Decware Maker of the Zen Triode Amp pictured in my rig above along with other quality tube audio gear.  For a recent review in TNT Audio, click here.

UpScale Audio  US importer of the Ah! Tjoeb tubed CD player pictured in my rig above, rare tube supplier, also sells other esoteric tube audio gear.

Klipsch   Maker of the RF-3 speakers pictured in my rig above, along with a large line of efficient horn-loaded speakers. Perfect for low powered SET amps. For a recent review of the RF-3's in TNT Audio, click here  .

 Doc BottleheadMakers of inexpensive DIY tube audio kits. Decware's main rival in the cost effective, quality, tube amp market.

 Eds Horn Shop  Internet seller of popular, efficient, horn speakers from $550 - $750.

 Norh   Cool Thai company making beautiful drum-shaped speakers and now producing a CD player with tubed output stage for under $1000!! For a recent review in TNT Audio, click  here  .

 tubeworld  Reliable Internet seller of a wide range of vintage audio tubes.

 EAR/yoshinoCool british tube gear, including the phono stage I hope to own one day (834P).

 SerapiEBAY alias of Wade Shehady, the rug dealer who sold me the cool prayer rug in the photo above.

Pi Speakers   Super efficient horn and bass reflex speakers from Wayne Parham in Tulsa OK!!!!

Mapletree Audio DesignCanadian kit company who's Octal 6 preamp I built and love. Thanks Lloyd!

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