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. 




Well, Hawkrising, your last sentence might be correct but I studied Economics, not electronics, so I rely on excellent designers and fabricators like Don and Lynn for my front end gear and, in exchange, I compensate them for their efforts.  

Aspirationally, the ultimate audiophile could take a stab at recreating the something akin the stellar Lampizator DAC's, like the $20K Lampi DAC in the Spatial room in Seattle which was the source for the music they presented.  Totally stunning sound, but likely far beyond the skills of most audiophiles.  I am not sure even Don or Lynn want to tackle building a DAC.  

Don/Lynn vs. Ralph seem to have somewhat different notions of how these tube amps might be best designed and fabricated, which reflects different design criteria.  That's cool.  Lots of designers have different design philosophies... probably all of them.  I haven't heard Ralph's 300b amps which might at some point be an interesting comparison to my 300b amps.  ;-)

Don sent me his pre-pro 300b amps a few months ago which I have been using to power my very efficient Cube Audio Jazzon speakers and the sound is simply ethereal, like nothing I have every heard in my 50 years of audiophilia... a remarkable improvement even in comparison to  Don's  KT88 amp, which is outstanding, a legacy amp for sure, and the 300b mono's are better in every way.  The musical notes simply hang in the air, suspended in the room in front on my listening seat.  Matching of speakers is required for the 300b monos, but I drove some 86 db efficient standmount speakers with alacrity... my ears gave out long before the 300b amps did, with not a hint of distortion so as Don says, the 27 wpc amps rather sound like a 100 wpc SS amp.  That is what my ears tell me so the amps will drive a wide variety of speakers that many other 300b amps simply will not.  

If you have followed this thread, Don and Lynn have made significant enhancements to the performance of the pre-pro mono's I have, yet I just can't imagine how much better the SQ will be after Don gets them back and updates them to the final production version.  However, I have no doubt that I will have one of the finest 300b amps possible at any price so always with Don, it is "promises made and promises honored."   

The final point I'd like to make is that Lynn envisioned this employment of 300b tubes in an earlier iteration of it and he and Don put their collective wisdom together to update the design with these new mono's.  Just as with fleawatt 2A3 power tubes, the 300b power tubes have a sonic signature, to my way of thinking and to my aging ears, are unlike any other tubes in power amps and I have had many of them over the years.  Once you have heard them, you can't unhear them... so long as they are matched properly with compatible speakers which in fact will include a lot of speakers that many other 300b amps will not drive properly .  Cheers.  




If you have followed this thread, Don and Lynn have made significant enhancements to the performance of the pre-pro mono's I have, yet I just can't imagine how much better the SQ will be after Don gets them back and updates them to the final production version

I eagerly await your listening impressions of the updated mono blocks. You certainly have terrific speakers to judge what you hear.


Once and alway, no participant on this forum has more erudite and encouraging responses to all things audio related than you.  Charles, thanks as always for your upbeat posts, alway a pleasure to read.  Mark

My first experience of a 300B amplifier was back when I was writing reviews for Positive Feedback magazine back in 1993. It had grown from a 4-page mimeographed club magazine for the Oregon Triode Society to a fat 100-page periodical with cartoons, editorials, and a staff of reviewers.

I was one of them, after submitting a series of construction articles for the Ariel twin transmission line loudspeaker. I was listening to a whole string of amplifiers when David Robinson, the magazine editor, dropped off not just the Audio Note Ongaku (which cost three times the price of my car) and the Reichert Silver 300B’s. So now I’m in the reviewing business, too. Oh well, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, away I go, with a month’s free use of entirely new amplifiers on my brand-new speakers.

Which was quite a revelation. When you design a speaker, and you’ve been doing it for decades, you get to know them pretty well. What they can and can’t do, and what the overall character of the speaker sounds like. Nothing new to me, and the Ariel was my eighth speaker design, after my time at Audionics during the Seventies.

One of the last stages of a near-commercial design is auditioning the speaker on many different amplifiers, keeping in mind the impact of output impedance (damping factor) on the bass alignment and the crossover. The Ariels are designed to have low sensitivity to output impedance: transmission line bass with no impedance peaks, low-Q 2nd-order crossovers, very flat drivers that don’t need equalization, and a tweeter that is running flat out, with no attenuation, since the paired midbass drivers have matching sensitivity. So all amplifiers see an equal playing field, with a minimum of power disappearing in resistors.

The shock with both DHT amplifiers was a radically different sound than Class A transistor, Class AB transistor (with high slew rate), and push-pull pentode. Much higher transparency and much more vivid tone color ... out of a speaker that I knew very well, and was my own brainchild. This is what led me to design my own DHT amplifier, but not following the path of either the 211-based Ongaku or the Reichert Silver 300B. But definitely using the 300B for sure; no 2A3 came close, and 211’s and 845’s (with plates running at 1 kV) are extremely difficult to use.

Don has brought me up to speed on modern power supply design, things I didn’t know about in 2003, when the Karna was designed. That takes the Karna to a new level, and reduced it from a ridiculous four chassis setup with high-voltage Amphenol connectors to a much more sensible pair of monoblock chassis. One pleasure of working with Don is he will chase down every possible variant, build it, audition it, and let me know how it measures and compares to all the rest. Fortunately, we have gone full circle and have arrived at a Karna Mark II with far superior transformers and power supplies.