I remember my first encounter with proper tube setup back in 1990. It was Audio-Note rig and it totally floored me.
So instantly I knew that was it. After 15 previous years with transistor amps I found the answer - tubes.
But Audionote, apart from being famous for good sound, is mainly famous for being extravagantly expensive. So I bought back then the basic entry level set (DAC2 and SORO PP) and started modifying it to death. I modified and modified and upgraded and reworked until it was a nightmare. Like the Frankenstein of amplifiers.
But climbing up the ladder using their catalog was impossible for a poor engineer like me.

Then I met Ewgenniy, the tube guru from Lviv. It turned to be a lifelong friendship and he let me use all his prototypes. I spent over 12 years using ARG amps designed and built by hand by Evgenniy and I learned everything about them.

I take it as a privilege to talk and listen with him, because he knows so much about music, sound and amps. If he was not living in Ukraine but say California, I am sure he would be the king of the world's tube industry.

In general, I have nothing against transistors. At least once every year I try to borrow a good transistor amp just to see if I am wrong about by preferrence for tubes. And believe me - the transistor amps return to their owners VERY VERY FAST.

The man who is behind the ARG amplification. Mr. Ewgienniy from Lviv. The king of 6c33c triode!

Let me list what I had at home:

"SOTKI" - the 80 WPC class A push pulll triode zero feedback monoblock. 10 were produced and still in service. That was a revelation, although unnecessarily resembled its sister design from Shushurin.
On the picture below you see their older top model - a  100 W PC (@ 8 Ohm) fully balanced design, single-ended triode in bridged mode. Four independent power supplies with no regulation and with choke filters. famous Russian 6C33C-B  military power tubes. Zero feedback, (neither local nor global).
Custom made power transformers  with no less than 9 secondaries. Custom wound  output transformers, optimized for this special tube.
2, 4 and 8 Ohm output taps.  Analogue master bias and bias balance meters.
Very high sensitivity (plus an input potentiometer) allow for using in a passive mode.
All military grade parts throughout. Kendeil electrolytic caps, audio note copper PIO coupling caps, Audio note silver binding posts. Noble pots.
Must be heard to be believed!

"MALYUCH" - the 20 WPC set triode stereo - a lovely simple design, dressed in titanium body. Outstanding value for money. Approx. 10 produced and still alive.

"SOTKI NA TORACH" - this was a modern and simplified version of the first mono block although with much stronger power transformer and less sophisticated power supplies.

30 WPC zero feedback, parallel single ended triode. 6N6P small tubes.
Stunning sound.

The two power triodes are running on separate output primaries, so they don't have to be closely matched and you can even unplug a playing tube during musical play with no harm to the amps. Plug it back (having a cooking glove is nice!) and it plays again. From PSET to SET and back in 30 seconds!

                        click to enlarge images

Then Evgienniy started to flirt with OTL 's (Output Transformer-Less amplifiers).
Starting with the smallest SET mono block with just one tube and 5 WPC, capacitor-coupled to the speakers, then going to stereo push pull, and the latest one is the end of the road: the best amp I ever heard. And I own it already!

Lets describe it folks: first feature is NO CAPACITORS. Everything inside is DC coupled so goodbye Audio note PIO caps.
Second, no chokes. Evgienniy is a choke lover so I was surprised he eliminated all of them.
Of course there is also no output transformer.
So what is there one might ask?
There is one tube 6H6 in input stage, one driver stage - both in symmetrical config allowing for XLR balanced amplification without any input transformers or things like that. Then it goes to 6S33S triode running as a huge cathode follower "preamp" stage. Cathode is direct coupled to speakers without any capacitor.
The power tubes, being effectively a pair of set triodes running in parallel on balanced signal have very low voltage on the plate - only 130 V. But the current on idle is astronomic 700 mA !!!

The sound of these monster amps (20 WPC) is incredibly transparent, huge sound stage, bass like the strongest I ever heard. Frequency response is from zero to 100 kHz flat.
This amplifier must have the smallest component count in the market today and rivals the 845 crowd or even excels. On my very sensitive (100 dB) speaker set the sound totally thrashes everything that in last 20 years I was able to beg borrow or steal.


OTL stereo, 5 WPC   
OTL mono, 5 WPC        PIC2     PIC3      PIC4            PIC5
SET stereo, 15 WPC  
PSET mono (parallel single ended)        PIC2     PIC3
100 WPC bridged triode mono          
25 WPC push-pull entry level stereo 

ARG company profile

SET 845 Music Angel from CHINA

My amps AD2009:
My new GM-70 Mono Block SET ampsGM-70


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