Best EL34 amps

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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EL-34s

Anyone remember Thor Audio monoblocks, built, or should I say over-built - by Paul Marks?

THOR TPA-60.jpg
TPA-60

thoraudio_tpa30.jpg


TPA-30


I covered the TPA-30 in 2005 for SoundStage - an early effort, heh - what did I know then.

" I can’t get the image out of my head -- the image of George Jetson, audiophile. When George comes home after a hard day at Spacely Sprockets and goes to warm up his rig, his amplifiers look like large hockey pucks mounted on carbon-fiber cones. George glances into a meter and turns some small knobs as slender glowing cylinders rise from a golden surface. The amps fly around the room. Holographic images of the Kingston Trio Antiqua form in the air and begin to play. Wow, is that a Martin guitar? Of course -- this is an historically informed performance. George grooves to the tunes while Jane dials in dinner. Shane and the boys strum their way through "Sloop John B," and life is good at Skypad apartments. ..."
 
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jep123

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Dec 23, 2012
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Ok thanks for the comparison! They don't tell you this in the public when it gets an award for product if the year. I will scratch the Cube off my audition list.
I am using my Nenuphar Mini with the Viva Audio Classico 300B amp with Psvane ACME 300B tubes, it sounds fantastic. No aggresiveness what so ever, just great sound all the way. Open, organic and (almost) full range. One can not expect miracles from an 8 inch driver.
 

Mikem53

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2020
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EL-34s

Anyone remember Thor Audio monoblocks, built, or should I say over-built - by Paul Marks?

View attachment 74119
TPA-60

View attachment 74120


TPA-30


I covered the TPA-30 in 2005 for SoundStage - an early effort, heh - what did I know then.

" I can’t get the image out of my head -- the image of George Jetson, audiophile. When George comes home after a hard day at Spacely Sprockets and goes to warm up his rig, his amplifiers look like large hockey pucks mounted on carbon-fiber cones. George glances into a meter and turns some small knobs as slender glowing cylinders rise from a golden surface. The amps fly around the room. Holographic images of the Kingston Trio Antiqua form in the air and begin to play. Wow, is that a Martin guitar? Of course -- this is an historically informed performance. George grooves to the tunes while Jane dials in dinner. Shane and the boys strum their way through "Sloop John B," and life is good at Skypad apartments. ..."
I owned the TPA-30’s and the Thor Preamp For a few years, I was a part time “dealer” for Paul Marks in the late 90’s.
He built them in his basement with extreme care. Covering individual wires and paying extra attention to details. they were a simple design, and didn’t sound all that wonderful, IMO. the parabolic looking components were appealing to many and were the main attraction. Those who owned them, didn’t have them for long..
Paul Marks was a great guy to talk to. He turned me on to “Cantate Domino” which is a fabulously recorded work of art.
1611665884637.jpeg
 

Mikem53

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2020
662
562
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I gather they were not to your taste. :--)
To be honest, I probably didn’t have them driving a fitting Load at the time. I was also coming off a push pull 2A3 sound I was trying to magically scale up without success.
 

Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2012
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Melbourne
G'day maties,

Can't quite remember if I stated this here or somewhere else... anyway, one of my most pleasurable moments with EL34's were based on two types of amplifiers, both being integrateds. One of them considered a "control amplifier" since it didn't have built in preamp stage, rather just a passive level control, just won an award on Tone for 2020, a truly special EL34 sound I would say.

1. CJ CAV45 - marvellous! Extremely quiet, using a special NOS version of 12E7's or something can't quite remember the exact tube but it lowers the noise floor to such an effect, sometimes I wonder how they get it so low with tubes. It's a particular low gain tube used on the CAV45 series 1. I'm not too sure if this was changed on the series 2, which just won the Tone award. Nonetheless, both versions are superb in the right type of installation. The version 2 delivers a bit more humpty around 60w and added current from slightly larger transformers.

2. Kondo Audio Overture - one word, superb! Using EL34's again but in pure Class A topology. I'm not sure what tubes the Overture offers these days but when I auditioned it on my previous Quad ESL 2905's, it came fitted with Mullards, the exact same tubes used on CJ's CAV45 at the time.

Apart from the many other EL34 based amplifiers I've owned, sold and tried out, these were the two that stood out for me in a very interesting manner. Such that, the immersive approach that both these amplifiers have, the highly palpable midrange, where you can reach out and touch the performers, and the sheer musicality they deliver was second to none. Of course some of the other lofty ones did offer superior performance. However, those were at very lofty prices and I sincerely believe it's not that necessary to indulge in such gear, unless you're very desperate, to achieve high quality performance.

These two are similar rated in terms of power output, around 32w Class A on the Overture and between 45 - 60w on the CAV45/S2. I'm not quite sure what it is but these two amplifiers within this power rating offer some real magic in that midrange, it's very hard to surpass at that price point.

Anyway, thought I'd share just my 2cts... worth.
Cheers and enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ
 
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DasguteOhr

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Sep 26, 2013
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2. Kondo Audio Overture - one word, superb! Using EL34's again but in pure Class A topology. I'm not sure what tubes the Overture offers these days but when I auditioned it on my previous Quad ESL 2905's, it came fitted with Mullards, the exact same tubes used on CJ's CAV45 at the time.



Anyway, thought I'd share just my 2cts... worth.
Cheers and enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ
Hi,
a real good amplifier in triode mode no more then 16 Watt, then el34 runs hot at 50mA.
With Svetlana Winged C Tubes sounds great ,a perfect match with Living Voice OBX/IBX
a Friend have it really good
 

flm09

Member
May 1, 2020
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Anyone have any opinions on Jadis JA 30 Mk II El34 version. Can this amp out preform say Cary 805 rs the new version?

I only need 20 to 30 watts! Thanks ☺️
 

DeadWax

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2020
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Anyone with experience listening to the Air Tight ATM-1S? I've read Art Dudley's review but know little more on listening impressions.
 

cuntigh

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Dec 20, 2014
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I heard ATM1S several times. My best friend has an old model ATM 1 (not S) and they both sound wonderful. Very musical, balanced and tangible . They have enough energy for driving difficult speakers. Also they are very reliable. My friend has his ATM1 for more than 20 years without it any trouble (not only one).
They have 2 inputs so you can drive them with 2 sources and no preamp or you can insert a pre if you prefer.
they sound fantastic with classic Tannoys, Proac, some Harbeth also (heard them myself with these 3) but with many others I suppose.
Musical, balanced, reliable : a good partner.
I am biased as I have ATM3 for 25 years and still happy.
 

DeadWax

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Apr 11, 2020
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they sound fantastic with classic Tannoys, Proac, some Harbeth also (heard them myself with these 3) but with many others I suppose.
I'm curious how an ATM1S would sound with my O/96's. I suspect it would be a nice pairing extrapolating from the Leben CS-600X which is a fantastic pairing with the DeVores.
 

cuntigh

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Dec 20, 2014
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I know John Devore uses Air Tight ATM300 and likes it (you can see that on his YouTube channel). The ATM1 is certainly Devore compatible also. I think EL34 tubes are great sounding and more bass than 300B, but that’s me. I also hear Devore speakers liked a bit more power for driving them.
You have to be careful choosing the right EL34. NOS or New production Mullards. Avoid KT77.
 
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amadeus

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Jan 13, 2018
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Hovland Saphire is a Hybrid El34 amp it delivers 2x40 watt stereo and if you bridge and use two of them it doubles to 2x80 watt its delicate very musical and quite powerfull even for low sensitivity speakers and definitly for horns...

The fact that its a discontinued brand and if you find them second hand they cost nothing is a big plus point because they sound everything but not nothing!

 

DeadWax

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2020
155
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I know John Devore uses Air Tight ATM300 and likes it (you can see that on his YouTube channel). The ATM1 is certainly Devore compatible also. I think EL34 tubes are great sounding and more bass than 300B, but that’s me. I also hear Devore speakers liked a bit more power for driving them.
You have to be careful choosing the right EL34. NOS or New production Mullards. Avoid KT77.
Yes, I've spoken to John about his ATM-300R and he really does like it. I still have an interest in pursuing the 300B amplifier but I'm also curious about an EL34 amp. I think my O/96's do benefit from the extra grunt provided by my LM SET amp. Thanks for chiming in.
 

musicfirst1

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I have a late entrant for the EL34 sweepstakes: VTL MB-185 Series III, using eight EL34s, producing 140 watts in triode mode.

And what about a Jadis fitted with EL34s?
Before they were "North Americanized" by Victor Goldstein by moving to the KT series of tubes, The EL34 based Jadis amplifiers circa 1985-1990 were the pick of the litter (for me) of available EL34 amps of the time. I owned a EL34 based DEFY 7 then. I bought it for my 30th birthday. ('Cause my wife would never...;-)). One of my all time favorite amps.
 

musicfirst1

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Mar 8, 2015
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Anyone have any opinions on Jadis JA 30 Mk II El34 version. Can this amp out preform say Cary 805 rs the new version?

I only need 20 to 30 watts! Thanks ☺️
See above. The EL34 Jadis amps were epic!! I would absolutely look into the EL34 JA Amps of the day. SWEET!!
 

flm09

Member
May 1, 2020
135
12
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I know John Devore uses Air Tight ATM300 and likes it (you can see that on his YouTube channel). The ATM1 is certainly Devore compatible also. I think EL34 tubes are great sounding and more bass than 300B, but that’s me. I also hear Devore speakers liked a bit more power for driving them.
You have to be careful choosing the right EL34. NOS or New production Mullards. Avoid KT77.
[/QUOTE/


I have Tungsol and have a quad of Mullard's coming. There are lot of raves for GL KT77 but I want to stay away as too neutral. Need some warmth!
 

flm09

Member
May 1, 2020
135
12
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Before they were "North Americanized" by Victor Goldstein by moving to the KT series of tubes, The EL34 based Jadis amplifiers circa 1985-1990 were the pick of the litter (for me) of available EL34 amps of the time. I owned a EL34 based DEFY 7 then. I bought it for my 30th birthday. ('Cause my wife would never...;-)). One of my all time favorite amps.

My first experience to the Jadis brand was Defy 7 mk something. Too many tubes and too hard to bias. My choices now are Jadis I-35, Mastersound Deuventi or Unison Triode 25! What do you guys think? Looking for a airy creamy rich texture
 

VerdantAudio

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Jul 2, 2020
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I am in the process of picking up the Jadis line and am going to be curious how Jadis JA 30 Mk II stacks up against the Art Audio Opus 4 KT120 vs. KT120. I have not heard the EL34.

In my opinion, the Art Audio Veloce EL34 mono-blocks are a tremendous value for the quality they deliver, 25w in Triode. Small form make them easy to work into a room. At $10,500 they are not crazy expensive.
 

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