What’s the world’s best 2 watt amplifier?

godofwealth

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I’ve recently started exploring the fascinating world of extreme low power amplifiers, think under 2-3 watts. No megabuck amplifier that requires a forklift to move (I once owned one of those behemoths, a Krell 750 MCx!). Since my current reference speaker is a pair of Klipsch La Scalas, 200 pound behemoths that look the size of a midsized refrigerator but are 105+ dB efficient, I’ve discovered I can get by with flea sized amplifiers. My current reference is a Triode Labs 45M monoblock SET amplifier. It uses 1 45 tube per channel to produce 2 glorious class A watts per channel. It simply sounds magnificent on my La Scalas. Here’s a pic of them. I’m using Sophia Electric Princess 274B rectifiers with NOS RCA 45s.

Are there better extremely low watt amps I should consider? Does anyone make a 2 watt class A solid state amplifier? Yes, I know Nelson Pass here in California makes his First Watt line. I don’t want 15-20 watts. I want just ONE glorious watt! Extremely high quality but extremely low power. The best components money can buy, but no unnecessary power. Suggestion?

2826FC19-D102-44EB-8938-49DC7855D6FC.jpeg
 
I have had a pair of Cary 2A3 Signature monoblocks for over 20 years. Around 2.5-3 watts - SET Class A. Currently I use the Psvane Acme 2A3 tubes, driving my Avantgarde Duos.
 
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The answer likely is something from Thomas Mayer.
 
If you’re innately happy with what you have yet still want more, then I suggest you look at upgrading the internal components. Coupling caps would be a good place to start and I don’t think you will regret anything from Duelund.
 
@Sablon Audio - I don't want to hijack the thread, but can you describe what the the Dueland Caps offer SQ wise over the Mundorf which Triode Lab uses?
 
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@Sablon Audio - I don't want to hijack the thread, but can you describe what the the Dueland Caps offer SQ wise over the Mundorf which Triode Lab uses?
Dueland sounds rich naturaly beautiful timbres acoustic instruments, but a 3 d image and fine details like mundorf silver/gold in oil never ever sorry.
it's just a question of what sound you value
Tube vs mundorf sg in oil sorry for offtopic20221106_165617.jpg
Best set amp el84 this tube specially developed for music
 
Thomas Mayer 46 - all silver, differential
 
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Are there better extremely low watt amps I should consider? Does anyone make a 2 watt class A solid state amplifier? Yes, I know Nelson Pass here in California makes his First Watt line. I don’t want 15-20 watts. I want just ONE glorious watt! Extremely high quality but extremely low power. The best components money can buy, but no unnecessary power. Suggestion?
I don't think you should run scared of over-powered amps for your speakers, but if you could consider more like 5 wayys, take a listen to an SET that uses the wonderful PX-25 valve. I had the Art Audio PX-25 amp for a couple of years powering my 103 dB Avantgarde Uno speakers. On female vocal and other relatively non-demanding music, they were heavenly. However they rather ran out of grunt when playing big-scale orchestral and other similar music at anything more than low volume - but so would 45 or 2A3 amps.


My present speakers are 107dB but I decided to move away from tubes 3 years ago and now listen to far more music at equally good sound quality with a 200 watt Class D amp. No regrets though if I still had the AA amp, I'd probably use it from time to time.
 
Thomas Mayer 46 - all silver, differential
I’ve recently started exploring the fascinating world of extreme low power amplifiers, think under 2-3 watts. No megabuck amplifier that requires a forklift to move (I once owned one of those behemoths, a Krell 750 MCx!). Since my current reference speaker is a pair of Klipsch La Scalas, 200 pound behemoths that look the size of a midsized refrigerator but are 105+ dB efficient, I’ve discovered I can get by with flea sized amplifiers. My current reference is a Triode Labs 45M monoblock SET amplifier. It uses 1 45 tube per channel to produce 2 glorious class A watts per channel. It simply sounds magnificent on my La Scalas. Here’s a pic of them. I’m using Sophia Electric Princess 274B rectifiers with NOS RCA 45s.

Are there better extremely low watt amps I should consider? Does anyone make a 2 watt class A solid state amplifier? Yes, I know Nelson Pass here in California makes his First Watt line. I don’t want 15-20 watts. I want just ONE glorious watt! Extremely high quality but extremely low power. The best components money can buy, but no unnecessary power. Suggestion?

View attachment 99960
Never seen 2 watt solid state amp ,hiraga le monstre 8 watt accud7aee44f-214b-43d2-b1ce-43e46e39a762.jpeg
 
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Anyone hear the original First Watt SIT-1 from Nelson Pass? Looks like an interesting design. One SIT transistor per channel. Produces about 1-2 watts at low THD, if pushed goes up to 10 watts but THD rises to 5%. Dissipates 200 watts all the time. Think I’ll stick with my Triode 45Ms. They run much cooler.


I like his long discussion of why triode based SETs sound different from pentode and JFET based amps. One look at the response curves and you see why pentodes and JFETs are so nonlinear, and hence need copious amounts of negative feedback to linearize their transfer function.

 
I don't think you should run scared of over-powered amps for your speakers, but if you could consider more like 5 wayys, take a listen to an SET that uses the wonderful PX-25 valve. I had the Art Audio PX-25 amp for a couple of years powering my 103 dB Avantgarde Uno speakers. On female vocal and other relatively non-demanding music, they were heavenly. However they rather ran out of grunt when playing big-scale orchestral and other similar music at anything more than low volume - but so would 45 or 2A3 amps.


My present speakers are 107dB but I decided to move away from tubes 3 years ago and now listen to far more music at equally good sound quality with a 200 watt Class D amp. No regrets though if I still had the AA amp, I'd probably use it from time to time.
Interesting. I do have a Lyngdorf TDA 2170 pure digital pulse width modulated amplifier with RoomPerfect room correction. I’ve tried it with the La Scalas. It sounds quite nice actually. Not as lovely as my Triode Labs monoblocks, but definitely pleasing. The pulse width modulation means there’s no low level D-to-A conversion and the volume control is completely out of the signal path. Volume is adjusted by controlling power supply voltage. The incoming bits are converted to a varying pulse width bitstream that is then directly converted to analog by a passive RC network. No DAC is used.
 
Thomas Mayer 46 - all silver, differential
Are these the ones you meant?


Looks very interesting, thanks for the suggestion. That’s the amazing thing about low power amplifiers. The heavy hitters in the industry — ARC, CJ, McIntosh etc. — never released a SET amplifier and are unlikely to ever do so. That leaves this market wide open to a lot of smaller relatively unknown companies, most run by individuals or small groups of enthusiasts.

There’s a nice bunch of low power tube models reviewed by Glow In the Dark Audio, and most of them are very small companies. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of these are made by the designers in their garages. Like van den Hul who still makes each oh his cartridges by hand at home.

 
Interesting. I do have a Lyngdorf TDA 2170 pure digital pulse width modulated amplifier with RoomPerfect room correction. I’ve tried it with the La Scalas. It sounds quite nice actually. Not as lovely as my Triode Labs monoblocks, but definitely pleasing. The pulse width modulation means there’s no low level D-to-A conversion and the volume control is completely out of the signal path. Volume is adjusted by controlling power supply voltage. The incoming bits are converted to a varying pulse width bitstream that is then directly converted to analog by a passive RC network. No DAC is used.
Amogst the 12 SS amps I bought or borrowed to find the best to replace my SETs for powering my horn speakers was the Lyngdorf TDAI-3400. It was OK (much better than many) but I preferred the NAD M33. I didn't like RoomPerfect DSP, but neither do I like Dirac Live that comes with the NAD. Both suck some of the life from the music, as is inevitable with DSP systems built into full frequency-range amps
 
Lower losses and greater realism - www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Cap.html
Agreed.
Across the board excellence is what I've experienced using the Duelund CAST PIO copper foil capacitors in my speaker (Tweeter) crossover and DAC output coupling. Exceptional rendition of tone, timbre 3-dimensional space,nuance and detail retrieval. The current amplifier is already very good. I would attempt to improve it further before getting another replacement amplifier. Certainly a far less costly step.
Charles
 
Amogst the 12 SS amps I bought or borrowed to find the best to replace my SETs for powering my horn speakers was the Lyngdorf TDAI-3400. It was OK (much better than many) but I preferred the NAD M33. I didn't like RoomPerfect DSP, but neither do I like Dirac Live that comes with the NAD. Both suck some of the life from the music, as is inevitable with DSP systems built into full frequency-range amps
Agreed. After spending a long time with DSP equalization using Tact and now Lyngdorf, I have also come to the conclusion that the proposed ”cure” is worse than the original “disease”. Fixing frequency imbalances with DSP introduces a range of other problems. Furthermore, the PWM process introduces a lot of high frequency noise that can cause other issues. As always, there’s no free lunch. I finally decided it was better to live with a simpler signal path. I do pull out my Lyngdorf every once in a while to listen to it, like I do with other solid state gear I have, but I end up going back to tubes. Horns for me are a recent journey in Hi-Fi. Most of my audiophile life has been spent with stats like Quads or British dynamic speakers (Harbeth’s and B&W, both of which require serious amounts of power. My B&W 800D was like a sleeping giant — it needed a few hundred watts to come to life!).
 
I don't think you should run scared of over-powered amps for your speakers, but if you could consider more like 5 wayys, take a listen to an SET that uses the wonderful PX-25 valve. I had the Art Audio PX-25 amp for a couple of years powering my 103 dB Avantgarde Uno speakers. On female vocal and other relatively non-demanding music, they were heavenly. However they rather ran out of grunt when playing big-scale orchestral and other similar music at anything more than low volume - but so would 45 or 2A3 amps.


My present speakers are 107dB but I decided to move away from tubes 3 years ago and now listen to far more music at equally good sound quality with a 200 watt Class D amp. No regrets though if I still had the AA amp, I'd probably use it from time to time.
Actually I have a pair of KR PX 25 tubes that I bought from a forum member for use in my Lampizator Pacific. I have heard great things about Art Audio SETs. As far I can tell, there’s a trade off between power and sound quality in SETs. I have a Cary 300B SET that uses a single Western Electric 300B per channel to produce about 8 watts. Sounds rich and soothing on my La Scalas. But compared to my Triode Labs 45M, there’s a distinct blurring of instruments and voices. I listen to a lot of choral music. One of my favorite groups is Stile Antico from the UK. They are comprised of 12 male and female singers. On the Triode Labs amp, I hear the individual voices far more clearly than I can with the Cary. The 300B is a great tube, but it’s not the last word on clarity. I had the same experience using the 300B with my Lampi DAC. The KR 242 is far better in that DAC, as many have found.

Clearly, there’s many choices for tubes in SET amps, but short of trying a bunch of different units, I’m not sure how to rank them. The Pacific is nice in that it’s got different heater settings for different output tubes. The only company that offers something similar is Woo Audio’s 234 amplifier, which offers keys that let you switch between output tubes and headphones vs speakers.

 
Agreed. After spending a long time with DSP equalization using Tact and now Lyngdorf, I have also come to the conclusion that the proposed ”cure” is worse than the original “disease”. Fixing frequency imbalances with DSP introduces a range of other problems. Furthermore, the PWM process introduces a lot of high frequency noise that can cause other issues. As always, there’s no free lunch
Despite howls of derision from sub users (who have made life over-complicated for themselves) and AV system guys (whose brains are spending more time processing vision then audio), I've concluded that the top end (where adjustments of level are not required), suffer from the DSP processor. Passing high frequencies through this processor sucks some of the life from the music. It ends up less lifelike and this fact is best demonstrated when horn speakers (or maybe electrostatics) are at the receiving end.

Room correction DSP should in my view only be applied to the bass frequencies and this requires active crossover before amplification. Only the bass amp should include a room correction DSP. This is how Avantgarde do things (with their XD DSP in their bass amps) and likewise with Martin Logan that use Anthem in the same way. Peter
 
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