So I bought the Willsenton R-800i

After I bought the Klipsch Cornwall IVs recently it became apparent quite quickly that to make it really shine it needs a tube amp to drive it. (For me at least.) After doing some (=endless) research, considering the options (budget, shops nearby carrying models I´m interested in, etc.) and also asking around on this very forum I decided to go for the Willsenton R-800i. None of my friends here shares my excitement for audio stuff or even has a comparable system, so what´s now in my living room is the one tube amp I know. And I´m delighted. Together with the speakers it gives the music the presence and glow that I so desired.

Of course I can tell that there´s more potential in this amp and I already exchanged some of the stock tubes. There are more on the way and I can´t wait to test them. For now my financial means are a bit limited so I´m not ordering Western Electric and Takatsuki 300Bs just for the sake of comparing them. In fact I´m waiting with those a bit and go for the others first.

Searching online I find a lot of information on English language forums. Somehow tube rolling is not discussed as much on the German forums I checked though – and out of curiosity (and because they were pretty cheap) I went for both West- and East-German ECC83s and a fairly random mix of other tubes from the US and the Soviet Union. I´m waiting for them to arrive and not being able to read about some of them it raises my curiosity how they will sound. Maybe crappy, maybe not so bad, maybe even very good. I´ll see. Tube rolling will take some time and I don´t mind. The amp is there to stay for quite a while.

There´s an exhaustive thread on the Willsenton amps and fitting tubes here but since I found people´s comments on this forum so helpful I´m looking forward to hear from you. I´m open for tube recommendations and would like to hear anyone´s experience with the Willsenton R-800i. Or maybe someone has questions?

As for the tubes:

805 – stock replaced for Cossor
300B – stock
6SN7 – stock replaced for Sylvania GTBs, waiting for Fonon NOS (Soviet, 1979, a bargain for 10€)
12AX7 – stock replaced with current Mullard model, waiting for West German ones from AEG and Telefunken, East German ones from RSD and Funkwerk Erfurt (both used) and also Sylvania JAN 5751 NOS (a military model)
5U4G – stock, waiting for RCA NOS black plate and Svetlana NOS „Coke Bottle“


The 805 version of the 800 is now out of stock-no longer available at China HiFi and the wait on Amazon ticked up to 4-5 weeks. I'm not surprised. 

Latest update:

One of the 805s blew and the power fuse as well. I put all stock tubes back in (just to be on the safe side) and replaced the power fuse, which was well hidden for the amateur that I am in the socket of the power cable. When I turned the amp back on the new fuse blew immerdiately.

I have no clue what may have happened inside and will call a local electrician specialized on AV equipment tomorrow. I also mailed China Hifi, let´s see what they say.

One thing´s for sure: I do miss the Willsenton´s sound already.

Make sure if your going to try your ears at finicky listening, ,ale sure all components are warmed up, and it may take you a hundred hours to get used to the new sound

after buying the “Sanders - the preamp” it took me over a month to accept the new sound, at first I was skeptical of the new sound,…

after a while, leaving on for 2 months, she really came around, bass became tighter, etc etc. 


I love getting new gear, like a 10 year old on Christmas morning.



One thing´s for sure: I do miss the Willsenton´s sound already

That is understood. A good tech should be able to evaluate and solve the problem for you.Charles 

@chmaiwald , I wonder if the 800 has the same design issue as the R8--Skunkie Designs found that it was missing a resistor on the bias pots.  If the pot wiper gets sticky or otherwise malfunctions, it could let full bias hit the tube and blow it.  

This is giving me incentive to flip my 100lb beast over and open her up to have a look.  I have been lazy. I don't want to lift it and I'm not motivated to find my little tool I use to bleed volts off of the capacitors before poking around.