So, I have been building loads of SET amps in pursuit of sonic perfection (more like psychological
warfare) and I have come to a conclusion that such a thing is unattainable until I built this. I guess what really happen
was I built something that I can be content with for a long time to come. I have built several DHT single ended triode amps
with big bottles such as 300Bs, 6B4Gs, 2A3s, etc. in various combinations of designs, and I kept finding myelf comparing them
not upto par with some of the Darling amps that I built. What was really disappointing was that Darling amps cost only 1/3
of these amps to build!
I did have high hopes in the WE91A. I have been studying this amp for
a while on the web, and, after talking with Raymond Koonce who built many of WE91A clones, I decided to embark on building
one for myself. It wasn’t an easy decision because parts cost alone was going to be well over a grand. I also wanted
to custom paint the chassis, so it was going to be double the work.
I really didn't want to compromise on parts used for this amp. I wanted make sure that this amps
will last for a long time to come. Every part used well exceeded in their respective power handling ratings. A good example
of this is the Hammond's OPTs that are rated 30W. The amps only puts out 9 wpc. There are in all 9 irons, three of which
weigh 35 lbs together. My estimate of the finished amp is around 55 lbs.
I detest tube amps with PCBs, mostly because I like to do things in old school fashion. Everything
is point-to-point wired. I tried using as few electrolytics as possible. The only places that I used electrolytics were bypass
and filament bias caps. The bypass caps are Black Gates. I used Solens in many places. The coupling caps are Hovlands. The
filter caps (large silvers one sticking out on top) are oil filled ASC polypropylene caps. I could have saved a lot of money
using alternate parts, but I didn't want to. The power supply section is very robust with a split rail PS with separate
I was originally going to have the chassis and iron bells powdercoated, but it didn't work out due high cost and lead
time. So, I decided to just spray paint the whole thing using automotive paint and clearcoat. It was
a lot of work. I put on at least 5 coats of cherry red paint + buffing with rubbing compound in between coats. I then put
on about 8 layers of clearcoats with buffing in between coats. I then baked the whole thing at 145'F overnight. I guess
it came out alright. I also have to mention that I learnt an important lesson. I neglected to wear a respirator while spraying
and really compromised my immune system. I came down with the flu the next day, from which I was bedridden for 3 days. The
flu lasted about a full week.
Ok, so how did it sound? When I heard it play music for the
first time, I said to myself, "Finally, this is what I'm talking about!" I think I have finally found a 300B
amp that I could fall in love with. JE Labs 300B was alright, so was GSG 300B hybrid, but they weren't anything that I
would get excited about.
The WE91A is so SMOOTH. This amp makes listening so effortless. Even with some of tube
amps I have, which I think are decent sounding by anyone's standard, I would get hearing fatigue after a few hours. This
one could sing the whole day for I care.
I don't know what it is - 5693 pentode drivers, the design, voodoo- whatever
it is it's working for me and I am loving it. Was it worth the flu, money, and time? Absolutely! All that was forgotten
when I heard it play my favorite records for the first time.