THE 2A3 WAVE: PART ONE

FIRST A SHORT TRIP TO MY GUN CLOSET

Before we get down and start surfing the new 2A3 wave let’s 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 don’t 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 didn’t take long for the word to get out....”There’s 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 300B’s 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 America’s most serious thermionic techno-shamans have been exploring this tube, because..... you the vanguard of the directly heated triode revolution need a truly “unique” piece”?
 

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 can’t 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 Garber’s 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 weren’t true there wouldn’t 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 don’t 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 Magnequest’s para-feed output transformers, Plitron’s 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 doesn’t 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 2A3 amp?

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.

 

 

Back to The Triode Guild               Back to Meta-Gizmo   

e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: drgizmo@meta-gizmo.com

Copyright© 2006    Meta-Gizmo.com™ and Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg      All rights reserved.
All the material contained within the above articles may not be reproduced without his express permission.