300b lovers

I have been an owner of Don Sachs gear since he began, and he modified all my HK Citation gear before he came out with his own creations.  I bought a Willsenton 300b integrated amp and was smitten with the sound of it, inexpensive as it is.  Don told me that he was designing a 300b amp with the legendary Lynn Olson and lo and behold, I got one of his early pair of pre-production mono-blocks recently, driving Spatial Audio M5 Triode Masters.  

Now with a week on the amp, I am eager to say that these 300b amps are simply sensational, creating a sound that brings the musicians right into my listening room with a palpable presence.  They create the most open vidid presentation to the music -- they are neither warm nor cool, just uncannily true to the source of the music.  They replace his excellent Kootai KT88 which I was dubious about being bettered by anything, but these amps are just outstanding.  Don is nearing production of a successor to his highly regard DS2 preamp, which also will have a  unique circuitry to mate with his 300b monos via XLR connections.  Don explained the sonic benefits of this design and it went over my head, but clearly these designs are well though out.. my ears confirm it. 

I have been an audiophile for nearly 50 years having had a boatload of electronics during that time, but I personally have never heard such a realistic presentation to my music as I am hearing with these 300b monos in my system.  300b tubes lend themselves to realistic music reproduction as my Willsenton 300b integrated amps informed me, but Don's 300b amps are in a entirely different realm.  Of course, 300b amps favor efficient speakers so carefully component matching is paramount.

Don is working out a business arrangement to have his electronics built by an American audio firm so they will soon be more widely available to the public.  Don will be attending the Seattle Audio Show in June in the Spatial Audio room where the speakers will be driven by his 300b monos and his preamp, with digital conversion with the outstanding Lampizator Pacific tube DAC.  I will be there to hear what I expect to be an outstanding sonic presentation.  

To allay any questions about the cost of Don's 300b mono, I do not have an answer. 




Whitestix I can tell you are astute and have a sense of humor.  When I came up with that name in 2002 I was thinking of my family name and probably at that point didn't realize ss is an abbreviation for solid state amps.  Funny :^)

I too have been almost exclusively a jazz listener since junior HS in 1964.  Listening to Joe Pass, the Compete Pacific Jazz Years right now.

I hope to meet you at PAF

What’s odd is that I have trouble describing the sound of my own gear ... this applies to Shadow Vector, my loudspeakers, and my electronics. I aim for natural, open sound that is free of electronic artifacts. If there is a residue of coloration, I’d like it to be pleasing, but as low as possible.

That’s the goal. What I hear is a very spacious sound, no surprise there, but also an unexpected "trippy" kind of feeling that slowly deepens over the first ten to twenty minutes of relaxed, non-critical listening. I have no idea what causes it, to be honest. Many don’t experience this, but some do, and it’s fun to watch them process the experience. My only guess is the disjunction between the auditory experience and the visual experience is so strong that secondary emotions are invoked.

My degree is in Psychology with a focus on Perceptual Psychology. I grew up in Japan and Hong Kong, which gave me a cultural experience different than most Americans, and am a bit familiar with Buddhist, Taoist, and Vedanta Hindu world-views. Partly as a result of that, I take Western audiophile pronouncements about what can, or can’t, be perceived with a lot of skepticism. Different cultures experience the world in profoundly different ways, and there’s a lot of individual variation, too.

The task of the audio system is to get out of the way of what can be a profound emotional experience for the listener. "Accuracy" in this context is absurd, since the goal is to facilitate a trance experience, a dreamlike state of consciousness. Artificiality (colorations that do not occur in nature) is distracting and can prevent the experience from happening.

By minimizing coloration at the level where it originates, the device itself, there’s less need for post-facto processing, which can induce dynamic colorations that are unnatural and a signature of "electronic" sound.

This discussion is kind of "meta", but it is my experience audio designers need to have a goal they are aiming for, otherwise you will never get there. And not a mechanistic goal, but a perceptually subjective goal.

I forgot to ask, will the new amp also take 2a3?  The LINLAI 2a3 apparently sound better than Elrog 300b, so high praise indeed.


No, sorry.  The 2A3 is 2.5 V filament and 300V plate max.  The 300b is 5V and the plates are at about 395 V in this amp.   Not ever going to happen.  What you have to realize is the 300b is a better tube for this purpose and people who make comparisons may not be doing it in amps where the 300b is actually driven by a driven section that can show what it can do.   The best 300b I have heard in the amp is the Linlai WE300b exact copy.  It is just superb and can be had for under $800 per matched quad.  The "new" WE300b is $1500 per pair.  I have not heard them, and at that price I probably won't when I can get a quad of absolutely superb tubes for half of that.  These amps deliver about 27 watts/ch and can drive most rational speaker loads.  A 2A3 amp would be limited to more efficient speakers.  That may work for some, but we wanted an amp that could drive a much wider variety of speakers.

I am not sure the of the adjective @whitestix would use to describe the amps, but "trippy" is pretty much spot on.  It is funny, because when I first wrote Lynn after building the initial stereo version with the CCS on each 6V6 plate I told him that it was so clean and clear and threw such a soundstage that it sounded like you were high every time you listened to it.  He was amused and wrote back and said that he and Karna described the sound of the first amps as "trippy".   That indeed is how they sound.  They are unlike anything I have ever heard, and with each improvement, they get "trippier".  Adding the Raven preamp with XLR connection directly to the input tube grids pushed them to new "highs" 😉 

I have an old timber frame house and the ceiling slopes upward from about 10 ft at the speakers to at least 20 ft overhead at the listening position.  So there are no ceiling reflections.  The sound stage is huge, and as I said earlier, it is akin to Omnimax theater for the ears.  Sometimes you are sitting inside the recording if that makes any sense.  Trippy indeed, and once you hear it, you just cannot unhear it and go back to some other amp.  It sort of blows the lid off of things.