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

@tuckia08 

EML 300b XLS - Pretty good. Not as nuanced as the best. Depth and width OK, but not the best. Good low end drive. Much better than everything listed above.

Takatsuki - Excellent tube. Best bass drive. Good Detail. Depth and inner resolution good, but not the best

In my experience I’ve found that the preference for a particular upper echelon 300b is very dependent upon the specific amplifier in use. Some of these top quality tubes are simply better fits in certain amplifier/systems than our others. It’s very difficult to draw an all encompassing generalization.

Charles

 

They now dominate high-end audio, which was not true thirty years ago. I remember going to some CES shows with hardly any tube amps at all, never mind DHT’s, and now they are everywhere.

While it is correct that there are more tube amplifier producers (many of whom show at audio shows) than there was in 1958, its incorrect to say that tubes dominate high end audio (most of these producers are very low volume). The larger players who produce solid state products are still the bigger sellers.

I should have been more clear when I mentioned direct coupling as a method. Specifically, I meant using a cathode follower which is direct coupled to the power tube so that the bias of the power tube is obtained from the driver tube. For this one would need a B- supply, but if the best reproduction is a goal then that cost isn’t important. IMO using a driver tube in this manner does not result in higher ordered harmonic generation, at least insofar as our OTLs seem to measure out. In them the higher orders fall off at a faster rate than any SET I’ve seen. They sound smoother too. One thing we sorted out from doing this over the years is that the plate needs to be heavily bypassed to prevent IMD and harmonic generation. In our amps we found we had to use bypass capacity values an order of magnitude higher than one would typically expect; after trying lesser amounts we found the seemingly excess amount made a difference to the distortion. IMO this aspect of cathode followers is poorly understood.

@tuckia08 Thanks for your comments.   I have heard a number of 300b now, but not the new WE 300b and I have not heard the European expensive tubes.  When I tried the Linlai WE300b copy I stopped looking.  I can get them for about $750 a quad from my supplier and so far the 4 or 5 quads have all been perfect with no issues.  As for sound.. well they stomped all over all the $400-500 per quad tubes from China, and the Gold Lion reissue, which is a nice tube, very well made, but just cannot match the clarity of the Linlai WE300b copy in this push pull Blackbird.

The Monolith OPT is based on their standard summit series core.  I don't want nano or amorphous.  The amps have incredible micro detail and the tonality and timbre of instruments and vocals are spot on to my ear.  They are rich and full sounding.  I am happy with the summit cores.  I was playing records last night because I am burning in a phono stage for a customer and shipping it today.  I had not used phono with this final version of the amps and I have to say that I heard subtle details in the familiar records that I had not heard before, even with earlier prototypes of these amps.  The summit series transformers do it for me:)

I too will be interested in user comments.  We hope to be making them in November!

Yes, the Lampi Pacific is outstanding.  Mine is modded a bit and I am considering sending it in for their upgrade.  They will put the Horizon digital engine in there for about $4K, and do a few other things.  Spendy.  Once the 300b project is off the ground maybe I will gamble the $4K:)   But the Pacific is just stunning as it is.  I run a quad of NOS 46 tubes with adapters, so they are essentially a 45.  The clarity is astounding.  I wish we had this quad at the Pacific Audio Fest in that Pacific that Fred, the NA distributor for Lampi loaned us.  Anyway, enjoy your Horizon.  An end game source no doubt!  Once you get a DAC that good... you cannot go back.

 

 

Back when I was playing around with 300B’s, I found that each brand had its "sweet spot". The authentic 300B’s, and the exact reproductions, seemed happiest between 65 and 75 mA. The European super tubes, between 72 and 85 mA. The monsters with giant 65-watt plates are probably happy between 80 and 95 mA. Power supplies need to deliver at least twice the quiescent current, preferably more.

If the current is a little low, they are rich-sounding, but also murky and dull, and if too high, super detailed but also wiry and hard-sounding. Very much like setting VTA in a phono cartridge ... there is a correct setting, and you know it when you hear it.

There is also a tiny range of allowable filament voltage, from 4.85 to 5.05 volts. This can change the entire character of the tube, from very dull but rich sounding to wiry and hard. For longest life, it should be exactly 5 volts, and leave the subjective tuning to setting the quiescent current.

The B+ voltage only had a minor effect compared to the other two parameters ... well, three, counting tube swapping. The other indirect-heated tubes aren’t as temperamental ... put them in the usual range, and they sound fine.

Don thanks for sharing what you are hearing with the OPT and tubes. I’ll have to hear these somehow someway. 
 

I share my tube experiences because I know how hard it is to get all of these expensive things in one session so they can be A/B/C/D compared. Some I owned, some were loaned. Goes without saying that everyone will find their own preference. But meaningful differences exist. I roll till I find the right ones then stop. Some never do.

I was mistaken. Thought you did the PAC 2 upgrade already. From what I hear (from Fred) it is money well spent. If this was an option when I had my Pacific, I would have gone to 2 and stopped. End game. The PAC is DHT, the Horizon is not. Some consider the 46 as the best option. I never had any to try. I can say the EML 45 globe mesh are pretty special in a Thomas Mayer amp and the Pacific. But rare unobtainium now. But my everyday Pacific tubes were KR RK PX25. I ran these in my amps too, which is kind of funny.