Cool running, low powered power amp

My regular amp is a Class A, all tube (KT 88’s) affair that runs very warm. For most of the year, it doesn’t matter. But in the dog days of summer, it can become unpleasant in my smallish listening room, where the AC doesn’t reach as well.

My speakers are Volti Razz, which are something like 97 db efficient. My big tube amp is out in California getting repaired, and at the moment, the Volti are enjoying time spent with a Scott 299A. Those 17 wpc are plenty (and sound way better than a 65 year-old amp with original tubes (or at least, tubes marked "H.H. Scott") should. Volti says it only needs to be 8 watts to do the job.

I was thinking of First Watt, or maybe Pass Labs XA 25. But both of those are also Class A. But maybe all Class A are not alike in terms of generating heat. I am not anti-class D, and have had two Class D amps that sounded good, but I’d be more interested in A/B, or cooler running Class A. I'd like to bring it in under $3000, and I am a big fan of used equipment.





Well - the joke's on me! How naive! I ordered my new Decware Triode, and understood there was a waiting list. I figured it would arrive sometime in July, just when I need it. Well, that may be true, but it would have been three July's from now. As the nice person at Decware said, the waiting list is "at least" three years long. 

I know they are a niche company that makes bespoke products that people apparently love. So, I have no problem with their business plan and respect their approach - I just didn't understand it. So, I canceled my order within hours, and now the search goes on.

Since I am intrigued by low power tube amps at the moment, I see that there is an Eastern Electric Mini Max for sale within my budget, and also a Sophia Electric SET Music Baby amp as well. Anyone have experience with either or both of those?

I do understand that all Class A amps  emit heat - that is baked into the design. But it is a matter of having a 100 watt bulb, or a 15 watt bulb burning in a small closet. I think the 15 watt would be more comfortable.



Yes, the Decware waitlist is something to contend with.  There is a set of UFO monoblocks on USAM right now just above your budget line.  However, the regular UFO's come up about once a month or so for sale.  

There is also a gorgeous, upgraded Rachel for sale that should do everything you want, as well and it's under your budget.  I'd take a serious look at that one.

I would strongly recommend hearing any amp first before buying.  In particular, putting money down for something you have to wait three years for seems very risky.  I've heard three Decware amps and all of them were whimpy sounding things that sounded pleasant, but, very limp and unable to deliver punch.  The speakers they were used with were high efficiency speakers (about as easy or easier to drive than the Volti Razz).  

With low heat a big priority, Class D solid state makes sense.  Find a high quality lower powered Class D amp.  

If you are sticking with tubes, the advice above about Audio Note Oto or Soro is good, if you can find something used in your price range.  I would not be looking at hot running tube amps such a those employing KT88, KT120, KT150 or KT170.  If you have someone to service your amp, you might be able to find something vintage that runs EL84, 6L6 or KT66, and even EL34 (not one of my favorite tube types, but some amps running those tubes sound good).  These tube types I've mentioned tend, to my taste, to sound better than the KT88s you run (not as hard or brittle sounding).  

Good luck in your search.

+1 @fthompson251 I would talk to Aric of Aric Audio about his tube amps. He makes a couple SET amplifiers.