... Newbie looking for sonic heaven with SETs...

Hi everybody...long time reader first time attempt seeking help. To some I know this will be considered a backward approach ( and maybe all reding this will confirm) but I've read so much about SETs that I very much want my next component purchase ( with somewhat limited budget constraints) to be quality SET monoblocks. I'm considering Welborne DRD 300B or 45 set up, or Morrow Audio 300B. My understanding is that from here I will have to carefully match any one of these choices with an efficient speaker...around 90db or better. My taste in music is widely varied... I listen to all kinds...this is probably not a good thing I know, because, although I love female vocals (Julie Christy, Peggy Lee), acoustic jazz, folk (Hoyt Axton, Kingston Trio, the Seekers)...I also love some orchestral music, Big Band (Ellington) and Rock (Steely Dan, the Band,Rolling stones, Led Zep) Is there such a possible SET to Speaker match... to enjoy with "heavenly" results ( and reasonably priced. I'm thinking speakers from $1500 to $2000 used or maybe from an easily assembled kit.
Single drivers...horn speakers...will they do it for me?
Let me tell you where I'm starting my listening experience from. Since I left the military many years ago, I've been enjoying my purchases made at their "Sight&Sound" center at my post exchange: JBL 4311 Studio Monitors for speakers, Harmon Kardon Citaion 16 and 17, I think ( Solid State Power Amp and Pre Amp W/equalizer), a B&O Linear tracking table w/ thier bottom line MC5? cartridge, and an early Kyocera CD player.
I've since purchased odd pieces of eqipment (...and I know in an idiotic approach)in the hopes of building a dream system, and, over the past two years, and in midstream, changed direction once or twice ( from a shot at High end solid state to the tube sonic heaven SET quest). I own, but haven't set up, a VPI Aries extended table w/JMW12 arm, an EAR 894 tube pre amp, and a Krell KRC HR w/ reference phono stage...What a mix huh!...but I just can't afford the $$$ to complete the Krell solid state system that I'd once hoped to build.
So, full circle,... kinda...I want to find that elusive sonic joy with an SET and suitably matched speakers, someday upgrade the CD player...maybe someday sell the KRC HR ( but they are so hard to find!!)..they maybe just sit back and start enjkoying more listening and less eqipment hunting...any advice offered would be appreciated, especially in regard to the low power SET speaker combo.
Hi johnstax,

Man, you've assembled some great components for going at this hodge-podge!

I just went through exactly what you are facing a few years ago. It is a daunting task and try to go into accepting that the odds of "getting it right" with your first few choices are slim. So, look at this as an extended trial period. Buy used amps/speakers to maximize you purchasing power & resale value. Get something and listen to it for a few months, get a good feel for it. If it isn't right for your taste, resell at the price you paid and try something else. It is easily possible to try multiple amps, preamps, etc. and not lose money if you are patient and methodical.

Having said all that. I currently own the Welborne DRD 300B's and used to own 90dB/4ohm Jean Marie Reynaud Twins mkII's. The combination was great on smaller acoustic/jazz and most other music at moderate volumes, but after a while I felt that it wasn't enough. Higher efficiency was definetly needed. For me, I don't think there's anyway the DRD 45's two to three watts could have been satisfying with 90dB speakers.

You really should try to aim for 95-97+dB and a stable impedence curve. It will allow you to fully explore a wide range of SET amps from 45's to 2A3's to 300B's and 845's.

For speakers, seriously think about picking up the demo Cain & Cain Abby's listed here for $1,200. I have the much larger I-Bens, but listened to the Abby's last weekend at a dealer's house. They are unbelievable good, a true rarity at that price.

The first high-eff speakers I bought were Hammer Dynamics Super-12 single-driver kit. They are a absolutely fantastic. Excellent bass(rare w/ single drivers), dynamic, rich midrange and seriously affordable at $650. A perfect introduction to high efficency. You can do various affordable (<$200)mods to improve the performance as your experience with SET's and the speakers increases.

The Super-12 really can compete with many speakers in the $1.5k range after the easy upgrades. You can get many, many, years of enjoyment out of them.

While I'm on a single-driver groove, check out The Horn Shoppe "The Horn". At $850, it is another affordable well-made step into high efficiency.

On a related note, the Welborne DRD 300B's are some of the best SET's I have ever heard at all price points. They are supremely transparent, holographic, and nearly "colorless". Tonal purity is how I would describe them. After getting them, I came to realize that many, many, other 300B SET's have an artificial form of midrange lushness. Several other amps have come and gone through my system, but the DRD's a mainstay. I enjoy them as much as my Art Audio PX-25 that cost 3-4x as much. You cannot go wrongwith DRD's and Rob Welborne is great to deal with.

Anyway, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions, they are a lot of people around here with plenty of of SET experience
In the not so distant past I had evealuated SET amps. I cam to the conclusion that I was not ready to give up my 88db efficient Spendor 1/2e speakers so I ended up with a custom built solid state 225 watt amp. I am happy with that decision but had I gone the SET route I was giving serious consideration to SET amps from this person:


The speakers I was leaning towards were the Zu Druids at I believe $1800/pair. I also considered an Audio Note speaker kit.

I had also researched SET amps from Decware, Cary, Canary, and a few others. There are lots of choices out there. Try before you buy if you can.
There are some high current SET amps such a my Art Audio Carissa Signature (845's) that will handle speakers with 87-88db, perhaps even lower sensitivity, this may open you up to more speakers. However, in saying this it is still important to look at speaker impedence, not too low and electrical phase angle not too steep.
Thanks so much to all for your help...I really do appreciate it. Having said that, please excuse me for not following up and acknowledging your help...I work some strange long/rotating shifts, and to boot,have experienced a bit of a miscommunication here w/ Audiogon...they thought that my posting was lost in cyberspace,and so, I neglected to followup. I really value opinions offered on this site, so,once more, please forgive any incoherent drible on my part...I've just now read responses to my questions and will respond further this evening. Once again, Thanks to all!