Audion Golden Dream 300B PSET Vacuum Tube Monoblock Power Amplifiers
You can buy more powerful audio amplifiers. Quieter ones too. Even cheaper on both counts. But you cannot today exceed the sheer tonal richness and emotive density attainable from the Audion Golden Dream 300B SET amplifier (monoblock pair needed for stereo). If you have the combination of speaker efficiency, room size, and habits to live your audio life within 28 watts per channel, this is as far as you need to look for landmark multi-decade sound. The equivalent of alt- or indie music in the audiophile realm is "SET," Single-Ended Triode amplification. SET is embraced and admired by what the Best Buy and Magnolia crowd thinks of as the lunatric fringe of hifi, for its beautiful, holistic, liquid tone, honest presentation, and achingly emotive fidelity to the original music. In an SET amp, there is no splitting of the positive and negative waveforms during amplification, as there is in the more common "Push-Pull" topology. The price of having one tube (or a pair in parallel) do all the work is inefficiency. On a per-dollar basis, you don't get much power in conventional terms, but you do get heat. But well-executed, an SET amp can deliver uniquely glorious sound. The Golden Dream uses a pair of legendary 300B triode power tubes in each monoblock in a "PSET," Parallel Single-Ended Triode configuration, to coax 28 watts from a pair of tubes that normally will only deliver 7 watts each in SET mode alone. Audion also trimmed out the bass bloat all too typical of 300B SET amps, so you get the bass depth and linearity of a pentode below 100Hz, instead of euphonic harmonic distortion down low. Like its brother the Elite 845 amp, the Golden Dream is loaded with silver in the signal path and in the transformer secondary windings. Parts quality is uniformly high and components are hand-matched during assembly. Even on speakers much less expensive than the $16,000/pr. cost of the Golden Dream, a pair of these amps plainly exhibit their unrivalled midrange magic of human tone. Nothing screams fraud like a reproduced human voice missing its expression and humanity. The Golden Dream seemingly reconstructs convincing tone from shards of fidelity left unmolested on your CDs and even tone-barren MP3s. Vinyl through these amps just plain kills. The 845 tube Elite has a little more jaw-busting drive, while the Golden Dream bests it in refinement, grace and sheer emotive tone. As with its younger brother, the Golden Dream monoblocks include input level controls and the input sensitivity to be driven by a disc player directly. Still, the right preamp makes the sound whole. If you have the beans to pair these up with the Audion Quattro preamp, you'll be immersed in the deep-water music expression only reachable in the context of aurally holographic fidelity. Short on Benjamins but want as much of the same sound as you can possibly afford? Check out Audion's more affordable 300B, KT88 and EL34 tube amps in their Silver Night, Golden Night and Sterling ranges. The title link goes to the US distributor, while the link below leads to Audion's UK international site.