First Watt J2 & speaker pairing ?

I'm trying to decide if the J2 is worth the effort ?  All reviews are favorable , some even glorify the sonic nature of this 25 watt amp.  I'd like to see what the deal is with a class A amp - it seems like it's all I could ask for in an amp * Except and this is a big exception -the need for highly efficient speakers to appreciate the amp.

  Don't mind shopping for another pair of speakers  but  realistic choices seem so limited.  Zu audio seems to be a big favorite pairing .

 I'm running a Rogue audio cronus mag lll with Dahlquist DQ 10 speakers ( older speakers ) also have  Spendor s5e's    Don't think either will ideal match with J2

 Really enjoy the open ,wide range of the DQ10's 

Any suggestions are most welcome 

thanks in advance 




I wouldn't buy it without trying it first. All of the First Watt amps apparently sound different from one another, but the different sounds may or may not be for you.

Not a fan of low wattage amps, prefer an amp that can push both low and higher efficient speakers. 

Consider Tannoys. Nelson Pass has had them paired with one of his amps.


I have two Fist Watt amps in two different systems. ( I’m a big fan)  I run a J2 in my main system,and an F5 in a secondary system.  I have four speakers that I rotate between both rooms. They are all around 8ohm speakers,however sensitivity ranges from 84db to 93db. I don’t listen at ear bleed levels. Both systems are using Aric Audio preamps that implement adjustable gain. (I love this feature) 

      Both of these amps do everything I need. For me, there are no short comings,and both amps do everything I need them to do. Obviously,YMMV.

   Best of luck,


@mfm22 Wrote:

  Don't mind shopping for another pair of speakers  but  realistic choices seem so limited.  Zu audio seems to be a big favorite pairing .

Look for a nice used pair of JBL 4425's, their efficiency is 0.8%. 😎


I have two Fist Watt amps in two different systems...however sensitivity ranges from 84db to 93db

Not a fan of low wattage amps

Did I say, I am insecure?

The FW amps are basic and decent for the money.  We have cloned them with better parts and achieved much better results.  If you need to hear a Class A amp, PM me and I will send you one for you to hear.

Happy Listening.  

Post removed 

The First Wat amps are intended to be simple expressions of their output devices.  If you get a chance to try one with your current speakers, you may find the power adequate for your needs.  If not, there are more powerful class A amps to be had, including other Pass designs. 

I've been told by a knowledgeable audio retailer / friend that the FW J2 is just about the best class A he has heard . 

This piqued my curiosity . It'd be nice if it was more powerful making speaker matching easier . It's not and that is probably part of the reason for its pure sounding nature. ?  Don't really know ....yet . 

What I do know is what I'm looking for  better sound stage & imaging , dynamic with reasonable accuracy. I've been using an older Stereo 70 with older speakers and there are moments that are just astounding.   Just want more of that.  

@rocray, No feathers ruffled here. You gave a more informative, helpfull answer. This didn`t surprise me, I expected such an answer after my prior post.

I was just poking fun at myself.

The J2 has a 20dB gain so from that perspective it is similar to the XA-25 from Pass Labs. I owned a J2 and an F6 which has a 14dB gain but a 25wpc into 8 ohms and 50wpc into 4 ohms spec which is also a characteristic of the XA-25. Yet neither sound like the XA-25. I now own an XA-25 and it is fantastic. With that said, the J2 when paired with a Rogue RH-5 pre having selectable gain (3dB, 12dB, 16dB) there is magic to be had with any 8 ohm nominal speaker capable of 90dB efficiency and above. I used all 3 of the aforementioned amps with Focal Kanta No.2s, Mirage M760s, and Wharfdale Linton Heritage speakers (6 ohm nominal). The J2 will drive any of those speakers well but since all of those speakers have a tendency to dip down into the 3 ohm range at lower frequencies you should focus on 8 ohm speakers that have a flatter impedance profile. The J2 will lose potential volume since the wpc dips along with the impedance. Someone mentioned Tannoys and they likely are the better candidate as their 8 ohm speakers have a relatively flat impedance profile. Late in the J2 game I picked up a set of Moth Audio Cicadas with 94dB sensitivity and 12 ohm impedance and everything seemed to gel, so to speak. I was impressed with the sound that came out of those single driver speakers and the amp really seemed to be at home with them.

A Zu Audio speaker with a higher nominal impedance with higher sensitivity would probably work very well with the J2.


I did have a pair of Zu Audio Soul Mkll RevC speakers that would get very loud with the J2, F6, and XA-25 but they seemed to put forth a sound like an empty concert hall, almost like an echo, that I could not tune out. They did not seem to mate well with any of the Pass amp designs. But...when I connected those speakers to my custom built 15wpc tube amp they sounded great. All else the same, only the power amplifier was changed.

Bottom line: Find and audition speakers with efficiency ratings above 90dB and impedance of 8 ohm or above with a relatively flat impedance curve.

If you want this brand, I would switch speakers. But I heard the DQ10 clear back in college and they sound great. I think they were $500 at the time. Efficient speakers tend to be larger.

I have a Pass XA25. A used one would be about 1000 more than a Fw, Very simple circuit, single ended. It has reserve AB power to about 80 watts. Even with that, during a review, it was not recommended for Magnapan which is similar in impedence to DQ10.

@mfm22, I think you need to determine what kind of listening you do. If you have a huge room, and like to listen at 100db +,  this amp might not work.  My J2 is in a 13x9x8 room.  I listen at the loudest, 85ish db’s.  For my needs the 25 watts is more than adequate. 
    I find the sonics of the J2 very addictive.  A huge soundstage is a priority for me,and the J2 fits in wonderfully.  If a lower power amp works in your environment,I can’t recommend it enough.

My listening area / room is challenging  about 12 x 15 x 7"h 

but one side is open to an area roughly the same size .

I'll listen to Jazz , classical ,  & vocals at no more than 80db [ low 70"s for 95%] 

The only speaker that I'm vaguely familiar with - from reviews is the DW6- seems to be a good match for impedance & sensitivity - it's the right price as well 

not wanting to spend more than $2500 - 

I was considering the XA25 but read some reviews about horrific break in time & sounds . 






IMO you’ll find an open baffle speaker most satisfying.  I’ve got GR Research NX-Oticas and drive them with a 9 watt 300B tube amp to ear-splitting levels when I’m in the mood for that.

They are kit DIY speakers, but you can find them used or get someone to build them for you.  I‘ve listened to several $500k systems and prefer mine.


But in general, I believe you’d love most open baffles if you like Dahlquists.

IMO you’ll find an open baffle speaker most satisfying.


Agree,  I may not be ready for the " First Watt " experience.  It seems to be too limited / restricted .  

 Thinking of doing the more conventional / recommended route - Get some speakers that "do it " for me first .  If they happen to be efficient great more amp options . As good as the DQ's are they are not the be all to end all .

I may turn around and go in the opposite direction- hard to drive LRS+  and look for a good amp to drive them .. That is a crazy scenario- heard those speakers & like 

but the cost of a good amp is multiples of the speaker !

And I'd have at least 2 systems anyway   lol  

I have a Pass XA-25 and it didn't have any discernible break-in time except for the "sounds best after an hour warmup" thing, and it's the best sounding SS amp I've ever heard over many decades owning of all sorts of amps. I also use a Had Firebottle but that thing really works best with efficient speakers which are what I prefer anyway.

The XA-25 would be more flexible with system in general - Still gives me  class A 

May have a chance to hear them this week 

IMO you should not get to caught up in the rating of 25 watts per channel. There is sooooooo much more involved in the ability of an amp to drive speakers. I will take a great 25 watt amp like this over a lot of 200 or 300 watts per amps where the watts suck. They named the company First Watt because if the first watt sucks so will all the rest on your way to 300. When the first watt is magic so will be 10,15, and 25! Only your ears can be your judge. Enjoy the music.

I had a J2 in my system for two weeks (borrowed from a friend) and it was one of the better sounding solid state amps I’ve heard—vivid and lively when playing at modest levels and not lifeless and non-engaging as is the case with many other solid state amps at lower volume levels.  My speakers are easy to drive at 99 db/w efficiency.

I’ve heard many say that the First Watt amps are usually great second or third amps but usually not the heart of your only system. 

There are a lot of class a or high bias class a/b amps that will give you most of the sonics but a lot more flexibility.  Here is one of them the first 15 watts are class a… mostly second harmonics like the j2 but 150 watts at 8 ohms.  And since it is preowned… very little depreciation downside risk.

To the OP, "looking for better sound stage & imaging , dynamic with reasonable accuracy", and following your other notes, I can vouch for the J2 giving fully what you seek, in my case, using transparent 104dB single driver horns. The J2 gave slightly more separation, layering and great organisation of music than my treasured AD1 4w + 4w SET, just without that certain valve quality that in the end I preferred. (Given an opportunity I would try an FW SIT3 or F8)

The minimalist design principles of First Watt passes on more musical information by design, and so, I wish you luck finding the loudspeaker system that synchronises with this approach to your satisfaction.

Anyone using Klipsch speakers - specifically the Heresy's with first watt amps ? 

very curious how they'd play together - 

Follow up - have the J2  , using Dahlquist M905 speakers ( 8 ohm , 90 dB) 

Amp is great !!  Then I bought a Rouge RP 1 preamp and everything just even Better .

The Devore speakers match pretty well with the FW amps… The various Gibbon 8’s models and the bookshelf 3A … Also the Gibbon 9 and X as well as the Orangutan models but are more pricier …