Any Thoughts on the Sonic Frontiers power 1?

Hello everyone,
Anybody have any expieriance with the Sonic Frontiers power 1? I have High efficiency speakers(101db, 97db, and 91db so the 55 watts should be enough power just wondering about the sound and build quality and how it stacks up to some of its peers.

I have not heard the power 1 or any other Sonic Frontiers amps so any input would be appreciated. I have a chance to pick one of these up in mint condition!
I wouldn't bother if I were you....
Hey Chashas, I appreciate your taking time to respond but any chance you could elaborate!
I owned a Sonic Frontiers Power 1 many years ago. It was my first tube amp. I loved it, and eventually upgraded to a Power 2 because my Sonus Faber speakers needed a litte more power to be at their best.

The sound can be best described as full-bodied, and not especially tubey sounding. The bass produced by it is very good. Not what you would normally expect from a tube amp. Tube amps tend to have a lean, but natural sounding bass. The Power 1 has intense bass. Many have described it as a solid-state sounding tube amp, but not in a bad way.

It doesn't have the glorious midrange of a SET amp, but I found the sound to be very satisfying, overall.

I especially liked that it could rock out with my rock and roll records, and play acoustic music (classical) very capably.

If you listen PRIMARILY to classical or unamplified jazz, I would suggest that the 6550/KT88 push-pull design of the Power 1 is not the best you can do. You will be better served with an amp that uses a different tube type, such as EL34, EL84, or 300B, for example.

I currently use a 2A3 SET amp, but I still have the Power 2 and hook it up from time to time, and still enjoy it for what it can offer that a 2A3 can't.

I hope this helps you out. If you have any other specific questions, ask.


I owned the Power 2....briefly.

I didn't warm up to it (no pun intended). It had an upper midrange glare and a upper midbass hump that completely disappeared when inserting any other amp. I thougt the DNA-1 deuluxe monoblocks I also had at the time sounded more like a good tube amp than the Power 2 did. It would not get my recommendation.

Shakey's experience is similar to mine EXCEPT with other tube amps, I thought SF Power 2/3 were too neutral overall and took me a while to "warm up" to them. but once did, I could not listen to most tube amps where were too colored.

Power 1, if similar in sonic to Power 2/3, should be quite neutral for a tube amp. of course you can roll tubes and tune it to sound more romantic. overall, I do recommend SF Power amps highly and will take them over ARC or VTL any day.

if budget allowed, also consider BAT amps, I found BAT SE tube amps to have few rivals on earth.
I have 2 SF power 1's & find them very comparable to arc tube amps of similar vintage; neutral without a "tubey" signature. I think the bass is a little "on steroids" side of neutral. Compensates for usual bass deficent 50 watters x2. I use them in a multi-channel system with powered subs, driving rear & center channels. So been awhile since I've heard them "naked" on their own. Excellent reliability & build quality. Good biaing scheme & not hard to re-tube. Still advice & parts available via parts connexion. Not a "romantic" SE amp often paired with high-eff. spkrs though...
Sorry, cyclone, was in a hurry. I've just never liked them. A friend has the popular preamp, never liked it, and has the bigger 2 amp. I think they were audiophile products, not music makers. If you can get one cheap and like it, then go for it. As already advised, you can still get it repaired through parts connextion of canada...
I'd search elsewhere...
"I owned the Power 2....briefly". Me to. Mine had every upgrade available. Sold it as fast as I could. Tried it in five different friends systems. It had a very big sound and lots of muscle but overall the tone was not there for me. I did use some gold interconnects to get the mid-range and high frequencies to sound a little better but overall I could not wait to sell that boat anchor. It came with the winged C tubes and I did not try any others. My updated/modified Counterpoint NP-220 walked all over it in every way but the brute strength of it. Should have purchased the BAT Vk-75 instead of the Power 2. Some options for you would be the Golden Tube Audio tube amp versus the SF-1. I has a very musical sound and sells around $400 or look at the used Counterpoint for sale here on Agon (not mine or anyone I know) NP100 with the basic upgrade asking $875 obo. That would be a great amp and you can upgrade it from there for fantastic results.
Jtinn, the importer of many fine audio gears, also like SF Power 2/3 over ARC VT-100/200 of the same era. SF gear is more transparent and extended, they are not too romantic sounding with stock tubes when compared to other usual suspects like ARC, VTL, Cary, or CJ.

ARC also belongs to extended and neutral camp, but it casts an unique tone on top that some likes and some don't. I don't, I did not care for any of their pre amp since LS25 to Ref 3, neither did I care for their power amp from VT-100 Mk 3 to current Ref 300 Mk 2.

On the other hand, I found SF gears sounding silky, extended, and enjoyable in my very high end system. I would not hesistate recommending SF Line 2/3 or Power 2/3 especially at current used price. you will need to spend a lot more to better them.
I've have several Counterpoint amps and preamps over the past 20 years. More tubey sounding than SF amps for sure. I also had a AMC CVT2030 EL-34 tube amp that sounded nice considering is was so inexpensive. I currently have a SF Power 2 amp running Winged C KT-88s. It has good dynamics, details, and bass as I've never had before. But as others noted it does not have the silky mids associated with other tube amps. Still overall I'm happy with it. I think careful matching on the preamp and speakers helps. The person that sold me the Power 2 amp stated he did not like the overall sound when using the SF Line 3 preamp. I'm purchasing a VTL 2.5 preamp this weekend so it will be interesting to hear this combination. Good luck.
Pdspecl - the Counterpoint that I am talking about is not the same amp that you had or heard 20 years ago. The new design is a complete change from that amp topology. The newer amps have a warmer sound then the SF but way better top to bottom sound overall. The new versions use 6SN7 tubes - one per channel versus the 6DJ8/6922 tubes.
Thanks to all for your responses. Informative and some good reading. It sounds like the Power 1 is what I am looking for, I have had 300Bs SE and el84 PP and those amps quite didnt do it for me and some of the music I like listening too. Although I still have my Jolida FX10 and probably be keeping that for a while I am looking for some muscle and speed and it sounds like the Sonic Frontiers delivers. Plus the price tag is only $900 in mint condition, a bargain.
I used to run the Von Gaylord LAD-L2 preamp into the power 2 and regret having sold that combo every day since then.....

I rolled the input tubes with NOS and the power tubes were KT88s

pure bliss - I'm about to cry tears of regret
1. Did the SF Power 1 come in a SE version?
If so could anyone elaborate on the differences compared to std Power 1?
2. Can the SF Power 1 be upgraded to the SE by Parts Connexion?
3. Can the the Power 1 be warmed up a bit with some judicious mods or parts replacement, such as caps?
It does come in SE version, but similar to Power 2/3 SE, majority of difference is in power tube per Chris Johnson himself. I never had Power 1 to compare to the SE which I current have, but I did have Power 2 and Power 2SE back to back and I honestly did not hear a big difference. Maybe slightly better bass and extension, but not in midrange warmth if my memory served me right.

From my Line 3SE+ experience, PCX mod will improve transparency, bass definition, top end extension and detail, and midrange texture. It won't warm up the sound by much, if that's what you are after I think it's easier to get there with a different amp.
Semi, In your Line 3SE+ try roll some Amperex Holland e88cc SQ and Ediswan CV5065 if you want a more musical, body and warmer sound.

On my Power 3SE+, I found Reissued GL KT88 and Amperex Holland e88cc SQ dramatically improves the sound in all aspects especially in terms of musicality and body.