THE 2A3 WAVE: PART ONE
FIRST A SHORT TRIP TO MY GUN CLOSET
Before we get down and start surfing the new 2A3 wave lets take a
trip to my gun closet, but before we do, let me share with you a secret...a secret that
all dudes share....when go to the range, or when I am hanging out at the hunting lodge it
is very important that my gun nut friends declare...Wow, what is that piece...that
is really cool?. You can be sure that in all male activities having a really cool
piece, whether it is a car, gun or motorcycle, or amp; something that
separates us from the common dude is essential. That explains why I always take and shoot
my Ruger single shot 458 Winchester magnum, which uses a cartridge designed for the
most dangerous game...like elephants and rhinos. No gun separates the men from the boys
(on the range) better...and what if a 2,000 pound saber tooth woodchuck charges me on the
range? Of course, my fellow range rats dont know that I make my own ammunition and
custom make .458 ammunition that has the power of the flea powered 30/30. They think
I am shooting an elephant gun for fun, and that is very impressive. It didnt take
long for the word to get out....Theres this guy Gizmo, who shoots and elephant
gun for fun...what a dude. Why do I make this point? I know how important wretched
excess is for men, and how important it is to own and use a piece that is
totally unique; something that separates us from the crowd. And now I can rant
about the newly emerging 2A3 directly heated triode in the American context.
A NEW OLD TRIODE WAVE
Remember waves that crash on our shores start as a ripple from far away, and often
takes years to get here, just like the 300B wave that started to lap our shores about five
years ago. In speculating on the pyschosocialeconomicpolitical dynamics of the directly
heated triode revolution I have asserted that Dennis Had of Cary Audio is the Great
Legitimatizer...when he introduces a new amplifier, we can be sure it is about
to become main stream. I believe his 300B SET legitimized the peculiar notion that 8 watts
of triode bliss was just right, and I am suggesting that his new 2A3 amplifier is doing
the same thing...legitimizing 2A3s for America. Gadzooks, can 3 watts satisfy, and how
long after that will be find satisfaction in 1 watt? How much less is how much more?
Of course this is a paradox within a paradox because, with there being literally no
proper speakers for a single-ended 300Bs eight watts, why would anyone
want to own an amplifier that has one half the fleapower?
Did you read the last edition of Sound Practices that was devoted to the 2A3? Have you
been aware of all the new 2A3 amps and kits that have come on the market? Are you aware
that the KR 2A3 is stimulating a new wave of creativity? Are you aware of how many of
Americas most serious thermionic techno-shamans have been exploring this tube,
because..... you the vanguard of the directly heated triode revolution need a truly
THE TRIBAL PRESSURE IS ENORMOUS
What happens when all of those dudes who are riding Kawasaki Ninjas mature and starting
buying black leathers and a Hawg? What do the dudes who have been riding Hawgs for decades
do, now that their exclusive turf is being invaded by the masses of ex-rice burner riders?
Do they have the right to be bitter? What can they do to maintain their high position in
the tribal hierarchy?
What is happening in the USA is that the vanguard of the directly heated triode
revolution; you, the gifted listeners of America, who know and care about music quality,
and have been jiving with 300Bs, are under great tribal pressure ( a reminder:
audiomaniacs are human). Like the Hawg tribe being invaded by ex-riders of rice burners,
more and more pentode lovers are making the switch and invading this once exclusive 300B
territory , and to preserve their position, in the tribal hierarchy, 300B maniacs
are acquiring and building 2A3 amps and I cant blame them...the sensitive artistic
male ego needs lots of support during these troubled times in Washington.
So, before I start my 2A3 dance let me remind you that this tube is as mainstream as
the 300B in Japan with a multitude of single-ended and push/pull amps available. In a
world populated by high efficiency speakers this makes great sense, In Japan price is
proportional to refinement, while in America price is proportional to power, so we
discover very expensive 2A3 amplifiers in Japan.
Other than Don Garbers 2A3 mono blocks and the Cary mono blocks, right now these
amplifiers are at the whopping big bargain end of the market, with plenty of models
available from $900 to $1,500 per pair or stereo....very affordable...very seductive...and
if you follow my, soon to be revealed top secret trick advice...irresistible.
JIVING UP THE THERMIONIC HIERARCHY
If you want to be an ascending triode snob here is what to say if you bump into a dude
who is listening to a pentode amp...I can only listen to 300Bs because pentodes are
crude, and then if you stumble on a dude who is listening to a 300B amp you say..
I only listen to 2A3s because 300Bs are crude, and then...if you bump into a
dude who owns a 2A3 amp you say...I can only listen to a 45 because 2A3s are
crude...and then if you bump into a dude is who is listening to 45 amp you
say...45s are crude, I can only listen to 205s.....do you get my drift about
the universal laws of triode coolosity?
This highly competitive game goes on big time in Japan. I mention this because the high
end audio tribe is populated by living human males, and we express our tribal need to
ascend the tribal hierarchy in everything we do....and we definitely have strong
social needs for unique forms of beauty. If that werent true there wouldnt be
any museums, or music, or motorcycles. Men are competitive on the field of battle on the
field of beauty, and that is a good thing.
THE AROMA OF KR 2A3s
If I could pick one man who is defining the outer edge of the directly heated triode
revolution it is Dr. Riccardo Kron of KR, and his new 2A3 tube is the foundation of this
new 2A3 wave...and you really dont have a choice...there is no other quality tube
you can buy now. And yes, the mono-plate RCA 2A3s are collectors items, and extremely
rare. Every 2A3 savant I have spoken to, and they are all very refined triodmaniacs, rave
about this tube, and so do I.
When I speak of the unique aroma of directly heated triodes I am reminding you of how
totally physical, how completely our entire body is involved in the experience of triode
musical beauty. My initial experience of this KR tube confirms that there is a completely
unique music aroma to this tube; it has its own unique expression of music sensuality that
triode hedonists must experience.
While these tubes are more expensive (available from Ron Welborne of Welborne Labs than
the readily available Chinese 2A3s, there is simply no comparison between the tonal
quality and physical audacity of these tubes.
Of course the paradox and question is....are any of the existing single-ended 2A3
amplifiers good enough to reveal the nascent quality of these new KR tubes? Obviously not!
If will take years, as it always does to catch up to a new tube, because it takes time for
our audio artisans to experiment and push the perimeter. Developments like
Magnequests para-feed output transformers, Plitrons soon to be available
torroid single-ended transformer, and some of the new exotic Japanese output transformers
need to be explored. And of course this tube doesnt have to be a 3 watt tube, it can
be much more, but what happens when power goes up? Do we loose refinement?
And what about 2A3 push/pull amplifiers? Based on my experience with the Sun Audio 300B
push/pull amplifier I want to assure you that this will be one of the most important
developments in reinventing push/pull circuits. What about a 15 watt push/pull
Do you get my drift...America is waking up to refinement just as Riccardo Kron creates
exactly the right tube to take us into a higher and more subtle dimension of the directly
heated triode beauty. This is the eternal sychronicity of genius, art and revolution...it
is all about your artistic evolution.
WHAT PART TWO IS ALL ABOUT
I am going to be examining an assortment of single-ended 2A3 amplifiers and auditioning
them on my Tannoy Westminsters with passive crossovers and tube crossover...why not? I can
rattle the roof with 3 watts so 6 watts of 2A3 power may be woodyfying. What does four 2A3
amps sound like connected directly the drivers? And perhaps....I have a surprise for you
all......just wait and see. By the end of October I should have the results of my
exploration into the heart of 2A3 beauty.
Over and out from the Nth Dimension of Music HyperSpace.