Okay, I do most of my music listening at work because of time constraints. I have a nice desk system that includes some 4" Fostex full range speakers, an Olasonic dac, an Olasonic cd transport, and an integrated Olasonic amp/dac. I have nothing but good things to say for Olasonic however I would like to add better amplification. I am looking for a small solid state amplifier that is pure class A in the 5 to 10 watts range. The only ones that I have found have a higher power rating and are huge or are A/B amps that are biased slightly higher. I don't know if anyone makes class A amps in this power rating. If you know of any I would greatly appreciate your help. I have tried headphone amps that are pure class A that results in an improvement but the impact is not there due to power and impedance matching of speakers in comparison to headphones. The Fostex drivers I am using are 16 ohms btw. Thanks.
There is a brand that specializes in low-powered, Class A amps, many designed for high impedance speakers and single driver systems utilizing Lowther or Fostex drivers. That brand is First Watt (an offshoot of Pass Laboratories).
I heard on such amp in my own system, I believe the F4 model, and it is a terrific sounding solid state amp. You should check out their site:
Class A is hard to find "small". How about the Parasound Zamp? It gets very good buzz, and quite small. Otherwise, not sure if you need it small in 3D or just 2D (i.e. small footprint) you could probably find some small SET amps.
Lol, I actually just ordered a Zamp from AA about an hour ago because they had it on sale. I also own the A21 and A23 at home for several years now and am very happy with Parasound. I was looking for something small because the Olasonic stack I have at work is small and I wanted something I could place next to it. I could bring an A23 from home that I am not using and place it out of the way but part of my hobby is learning by trying different equipment.
I looked at some SET amps but I could only find ones made in China. Nothing bad about them and they are a good value but for their equipment to reach the sound quality I am happy with I had to spend a lot of time upgrading components. I'm not looking to do that this time. Any recommendations on SET amps?
I am also looking for small bookshelf speakers 4" drivers for a replacement for the Fostex. I have been using them for 2 years straight and they sound jaw dropping but I may be ready for a change soon.
The Berning looks nice but it states that is has a 1 watt output and I am not sure how it will handle a 16 ohm load. My experience in using headphone amps to drive low power speakers have not been positive but I may be wrong.
Audioman, There is a German company called Valvet. They have a 12 watt single end (1 transistor per channel) thus pure class A. Valvet has a very high reputation for quality. This model is the E2. Charles,
Bakoon vs Valvet vs First Watt, this would be a very fun/interesting comparison of top quality low power SS amplifiers. All three built by very highly regarded companies. I don’t believe there's a loser in this grouping. If I ever strayed from 300b SET (I won't) this would my direction. Srajan compared the Bakoon quite favorably to the First Watt S.I.T.amplifiers, high praise! Charles,
All of this is great stuff and yes it would be a very interesting comparison. The only thing I regret is having easy demo access to these kinds of components so one can be sure to know what they are purchasing.
Lancelock, thank you for letting us know that the Micro ZOTL will do fine with high efficiency speakers.
Hi Audioman, One in particular is the Coincident Dynamo MK II (current version). Substantial upgrades from the original (which was already very good). A beautiful match with efficient speakers per experienced listeners I trust. Beefed up power supply, higher quality output transformer, crucial areas for a tube power amplifier. Pure class A single ended el 34, 8 watts. Charles,
Have you considered a (low cost > sub $500) Jolida 302? I
know that your first post pointed out that you were looking for a Transistor vs
Tube amp but, A lot of the “full range” speaker users gravitate towards smaller
“tube” amps (you will get a better mellow but, robust) sound: Here is my 50Wpc
Jolida 302 running my (rather inefficient) 82Db Infinity Renaissance 80's w/
some major authority: https://youtu.be/Pp2DuUza3Ys
(Please listen on a system that will allow for the full
range sound to be reproduced > not iPods, trust me you will hear & feel
One of these "small" Jolida amps (their simple and reliable) would run your whole (Fostex) system
w/ a lot of "punch" and clear sound!?!
I have a pair of audio research reference 300 mono blocks running in my "main" system but, I swear; this "little" Jolida (tucked in my guest room) sounds "damn" near as "clean & clear" as a system that cost 40x as much! You might want to take a look at them as a "cost saving" venture that will "future" proof your whole system?
They are not too small and quite heavy (50Lbs) but, leave a
rather small “foot print”; the sound is fantastic! -Davis
Audioman ; Assuming your reason for asking about Class A is to get clear,clean sound with great low level resolution and good soundstaging , I suggest you look into the Class D Audio SDS power amps . Most Class A run hot , either solid state or tubes, and these do not. They are also a small form factor and very affordable , IMO . I tried one after my 2A3 SET amps and found the sound nearly identical , except better in all regards and also with NO hum or noticeable distortion . None are as low-powered as you mentioned , but they are very energy efficient and you can use as much or little of the available power as needed by turning the volume control of your control amp . This is their lowest powered amp in their best series ; http://www.classdaudio.com/sds-series-amplifiers/sds-120c-class-d-audio-power-amplifier/ Read their " Testimomials "
Although primarily a kit, I do offer them pre-built for those who don't want to assemble it on their own. I used it on the Madisound based BK-16 kit which featured Fostex drivers, and it worked wonderfully.