try decware.com. very interesting.
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Personally I think you're doing this ass backwards(or maybe I'm just looney). I'd at least identify the speakers that really do it for you first, then find the amp that works best with the speakers. If you buy the amp first(especially if it's a SET) you're travelling down a dangerous road as you may be very disappointed if the speakers you really love require more power than your new amp can deliver, or they may just not mate well with your amp. For what it's worth. Best of luck.
If you do not know if you prefer the 2A3 or 300B, you may want to take a look at the AES-SE1 Signature. It will let you play both. It is relatively inexpensive and lets you play with a larger variety of triodes. Once you have established a preference, you can always upgrade to a stand alone model later if you wish.
Most SETs run from about 2mV to 10mV of 120Hz hum. Less power is less hum so 2A3s are on the low side SOMETIMES.
If possible, think about buying your stuff as a system instead of in separate components (even if you cannot afford both right know). They are going to work together in your listening room. Read Eduardo B.E.de Lima's article "Why single ended Tube Amplifiers". He discusses how SETS and speakers, when phased correctly, produce less harmonic distortion than either component separately.
You should be able to find the article with a search on the web under his name.
Be careful with your amp choice. You should have at least an idea of what speaker you are going to use. If you are in a large or even medium listening room, 10 watts per channel on a speaker with efficiency < or = to 98db and a impedence of 8 ohms or greater will probably not cut it. At that point you need to consider an 845 based SET like the Cary 805C, the Unison Research Smart 845, or the Antique Sound Labs AQ1006-845. These amps will generate 22 to 40 watts/channel in single ended operation.
Another option is to go with very efficient speakers like the Avantgardes, Beauhorns, or other horn based systems which will give you 100db plus efficiency and a benign impedance.
If you proceed very carefully and thoughtfully, you should be able to assemble a system that will make the music come to life. Gook luck.
Sounds like your looking for magic. Why don't you try a Pass Aleph series amp? They are solid state with only 2 gain stages. I've been down the tube road & the Pass amps I have (Aleph 3 & Aleph 2 monoblocks) sound quite romantic (tubelike). I haven't taken out one tweeter or come home to a noisy failing tube since I quite tubes..
(I am looking for a tube pre-amp though).
I have an aquantance who fell in love with a low powered SET amp, he's still trying to find speakers that he can drive to levels he attained w/Manley monoblocks...
IMHO, do NOT buy your amp till you have settled on speakers. There is a "Laws of Physics" relationship between speaker efficiency, cabinet size and bass response, and also an issue of room size and your prefered listening levels. An efficient speaker has to be LARGE to have significant bass. A practical example. I have Tannoy rectangular GRF speakers. They are about 96 db/w/m efficent and have bass into the 30 cycle region. To attain this, the cabinets are 40 in by 24 in by 17 in. Now from the perspective of the vintage audiophile, these are considered moderate sized cabinets, but by modern standards, these are bigger than most subwoofers! I had Altec 604C's. They are around 100 db efficient and in a similar sized cabinet, they only made it into the 40's. The 604C's would work reasonably well on a 2A3 SE amp (3 watts or so) in a moderate sized room, the Tannoys are (IMHO) more confortable with a 300B SE (around 10 watts). And if you want to use 45 tubes SE, you may have little choice than using horns! To put it in perspective, a 10 watt 300B amp will run the average normal modern efficiency speaker (around 88db/w/m) barely to moderate levels and will sometimes clip in a normal size room. The other problem is that high efficiency speakers tend to have more "character" than lower efficiency speakers. This is not necessarily a problem, but means that the search for a speaker YOU like is more complicated. So if you can't manage big cabinets, you may be shot out of the water before you begin. And if your room is large the problem is even worse! On top of this your options for high efficiency speakers (95 db/w or greater) are very limited in the new speaker market. I suspect a large percentage of the audiophiles using flea-power are using large, vintage (read used) speakers from the 40's thru 60's when high efficiency was considered important because high power amps were comparitively rare. So your choice of speaker tends to determine just what amp would be optimal. This is not to scare you off, just to give you a perspective on the journey before you so that you don't end up with two hopelessly mismatched products. Kevin
Since this thread is starting to lean toward the importance of speaker selection, I'd be curious to know if anyone has tried the larger Soliloquy speakers like the model 5.3 or 6.3? Are these somewhat "colored" and in what way, or are they fairly neutral? I'm running a robust 70w/ch CJ amp but might like to try low-power SET myself someday.
Most of the guys who are focusing on the amp/speaker interface have the correct approach here, it really has to be considered as a single purchase, or at least figured into the equation. That being said don't let them scare you away with some of the numbers they throw around. You MAY find yourself limited by volume and dymamics but you won't be limited musically. Currently I'm running a 2a3 with a kestral hotrod at 89 dbw, room size 11x16. This is not a recommend combo but within it's limits it delivers superb music and is superior to every high powered tube push pull and solid state amp i've had. If you have a much larger room, and or need high volume symphonic/rock - look elsewhere. Otherwise You have to adjust your expectations accordingly and give it a try. I would personally recommend something like the Wright mono 8's or Don garbers x3, (both 300b's) at about $1800. Then you'll want something 92dbw or better for speakers with flat/highish impedences. Fortunately, more manufacturers are addressing high senstivity issues (coincident) and bringing new product to market. A radio shack spl meter is a good way to get a handle on how loud you listen to music and what you realistically can achieve with your SET.