Sophia Electric 91-01 and 91-5 300B

I have been using a Tannoy Turnberry SE speakers for the last 1 year, I was driving it with Naim amplification and was happy with it. However I would like to add a good tube amp to drive the Tannoys. I have been listening to various amps. It is quite evident that SET based on directly heated triodes have a special magic about their presentation. However most DHT SETs are low powered, within 10 watts. Recently I read some very good things about Sophia Electric 300B amps, especially driving Tannoys. Jeff Day has given glowing review to it even replacing is reliable Leben 660P. But before I pull the trigger I am looking for some first hand comments from the community here which is expectedly more devoid of the reviewer's bias. Has anyone heard it ?

Moreover I am also looking for some views on the various models that Sophia offers, 91-01, 91-05 etc. Is it really worth going for their more expensive models like the 91-05 when the 91-01 already seems to be doing so well ? Has anyone heard the higher models ?
I can offer my recent experience with my Tannoy custom built HPD 315 (12" Dual Concentric, ca 1975). Ever since I built these speakers, wanting to try an SET 300B amp was high on my audio bucket list.

A few weeks ago, I purchased such an amp, though it is a single 300B per channel, @9Wpc. The amp was originally sold in kit form (mine was factory built), and was designed by Sonic Frontiers.

I found out that only being 9Wpc is not a limitation. My system plays just as loud as with my other amp, a 35Wpc EL 34 based push-pull VAC.

Although the VAC is a great amp, and has had factory upgrades, the SET 300B has taken over listening sessions.

I went back to the VAC, only to change quickly to the SET again.

This is my first experience with an SET amp, but it is a great one. I wouldn't worry so much about the Watts per channel, but on the quality of the power supplies and transformers of whatever amp you are thinkng about.

It turns out, Tannoys can work very, very, well with an SET 300B amp.

I don't know if this helps or not, but I hope you find what you are looking for. Turnberry's are great speakers, I heard a pair being driven by Joule Electra SET mono-blocks recently, and that was great match, so if you get the right SET, I know you will be very pleased.

Best of luck, regards,
Hi Dan,
You have much more experience with Tannoys that I do. Are some models of them easier to drive than others? You and Jeff Day have fine results with your particular models,is the Turnberry in this catagory also?
Sophia electric amplifiers are Chinese junk. If you don't believe me, ask them for a photo of the insides of their amplifiers. They use cheap components, put together poorly. I auditioned several of their 300b models in their McLean, VA "factory", they were all thin sounding.
There is also a very similar query recently posted on AA with more responses.
Isochronism, thats me on AA :-)

Martingren, thanks for that input. Could you please suggest a few 300B amps that you like ?
Yeah, thanks Martingren. Always happy to hear from folks with an axe to grind without providing any useful info. I just moved from the Sophia Baby (upgraded caps) to the Sophia EL-34. They're anything but thin. If you look in many amps, you'll wonder what's connected to what. Find a negative review of Sophia amps, or tubes for that matter. I have C&C Abbys and a NSM sub connected in parallel through speaker taps. I wish had the income to move up the Sophia line. I'd do it in an instant.
I am using a pair of Wavelength Cardinal Signature XS. 10 watts each
Charles, my experience with matching speakers/amps is actually quite limited, I tend to keep equipment for long periods of time, so not much turnover in amps.

I just read responses to Pani's thread on the same subject on Steve Hoffmann's forum, and I gather my HPD drivers are quite a different animal than the Turnberry.

I would tend to consider the information given there as much more credible than my mine, due to the differences in the nature of the drivers in question.

With the responses given here, and elsewhere, it seems a good choice can be made in an adequate SET.

Hello Pani, just ordered & received my 91-01. I still have only around 50 hrs on them & can't comment much on the final expected sound. I use them with Canterbury's which are 96db. No issues with the volume at all & they sound quite adequate. Pls. note I don't listen very loud mostly around 80 - 90 db in 30 x 16 ft room. So far in comparison to other 300B amps I have heard the Sophia' s sound quite dynamic with authoritative bass control. I am really hoping they will be magical as Jeff Day has commented; I can let you know in a few weeks time when they are fully run in. So far they sound very positive & heading in the direction I am hoping.

About the build quality - they feel extremely well put together. I peeked under the hood very neat & solid looking as most other high end equipment I have owned. Give Richard or Sue a call & I am sure they will be able to discuss the quality of the parts used.

I also own a Mcintosh MC275 which I have tried on the Canterburys. While it sounds great (amazing amp!) it's SET 300B for me all the way! I think Tannoys have great synergy with 300B. I am sure Jeff would not stake his reputation on this relatively cheap amps compared to the Shindos, Lebens & other many many amps he has reviewed :-) Best of luck in your search.
I haven't had the opportunity to hear the Sophia amps but your comment about Jeff Day makes sense. What good for him to give false praise to an undeserving component? He's built a very good reputation over the years, why taint it now? Dilly I'm glad the 300b SET is off to a good start with your Tannoys, I really love a good 300b amplifier . When designed and built to a high standard they make beautiful and natural music. I hope it meets your full expectations.
Dilly, thanks for that input. Which preamp are you using with the Sophia amps ? Did you consider their higher models, 91-03 and 91-05 ?
Charles1dad, thanks. Jeff's review was a high motivator for me to try the amps. I just could not pass over knowing Jeff is a big Tannoy fan & raving about a 300B amp on the WMR! He also values musicality very high which is my top most consideration as well. So far the amps are breaking in very well - Sue mentioned that I should have at least 100 hrs in them to hear the full potential. In my experience anything with transformers take over 300 hrs to put out the last bit. Long wait & I can't wait to hear them fully run in.

Pani, I am using a Supratek Chardonnay as my pre. I did inquire about the higher Sophia models but I believe there are significant price differences. If I remember correct 91-05 will be around 20K. Given the difference is 3/4 more my view would be to try the basic first & you can always upgrade later if this is the route you decide.
I agree concerning components with transformers, especially amplifiers, they need ample time to burn in. I'm certain your Sophia will continue to improve as the hours accumulate. It will really begin to sing.
The top of line Sophia Electric 91-05 300B amplifier is $10K.
I have had several Sophia's with a range of speakers -- most recently Avantgarde Trios. They sound good, solid middle of the pack on their best day. The parts are cheap; the units are not well-constructed; their tubes are low quality but sound great when they work.

You should read the separate recent thread on Sophia quality. Even Jeff Day's article makes a passong comment about his order from Sophia being incomplete.

I advise you to go elsewhere.
91-01 is of Sophia Electric's modest priced level one amplifier. For those with Trio speakers should consider to go for Level Five Sophia Electric amplifiers or custom order. If 91-01 is of great sound, then 91-05 should have been in another league.

You simply can't expect a $4500 new pair of mono-block come with all Black Gate caps. Voicing is an art, spending money within a budget is also an art. Only fool would spend money without any sonic improvement.

I view the magical sound from Sophia Electric 91-01 as a great achievement. Some of the mega dollar 300B amplifiers from well known brands are not impressive sonically even though all expensive parts loaded.

Buyers and users should ask yourself if the sound is more important or the parts brand is more important in the end. The parts Sophia Electric used for 91-01 are above computer grade with mostly from brands like Sophia Electric CDE, Rubycon, allen bradley, Dale, Western Electric, etc.

91-01 also can run cool in long hours. As long as you do not push it beyond 8w amplifier can do, it should last for many years to come.
Yeah, about that separate thread. It seems Wfowenmd has some kind of hard-on about bad mouthing Sophia Electric. He is a single voice with a bad taste in his mouth and he's entitled to his opinion. Just understand there are FAR MORE positive comments from owners like myself.
I am very much enjoying my Sophia 91-05 output transformers and Sophia 300b mesh plates.
I would refrain from buying Sophia. They have a reputation for a horrible customer service and shoddy business practices.
As described by djdonis, Sophia has earned its challenged reputation for quality and customer service.
Sophia Electric is China junk. Read reviews about workmanship of amplifiers and you will see what I mean. They try to pass themselves off as an American company. Avoid at all costs.