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Single Ended Triodes (SETs), the ultimate tube lovers dream.

Sound quality or sound quantity?

A few years ago I decided that it made more sense to buy separates since the preamplifier is more important to the sound quality than the power amps. Get a really good preamplifier that you love.

Then on the power amplifier side, you have options where you can tailor the sound somewhat to the music you are playing.

I auditioned the 2 watts per channel Audio Note Paladin amplifier with Audio Note J/Lx speakers (90-93db) sensitive depending on if you have them in corners etc.
I loved the sound quality at moderate levels. However, the combo ran into trouble with more complex music at louder levels.

Moving up the power chain to the 211 Jinro and Einstein's power amplifiers and other more powerful amplifiers is that while all of those could play the more complex stuff better - they all lacked the mythical fairy dust magic that the Paladin had on vocals and lower level listening.

The 45 Paladin does what it does and it is not matched by anything else that I have heard - regardless of price. This is pretty amazing when you consider the Paladin, by AN standards, is an affordable amplifier.

The advantage of separates is that you can buy multiple power amplifiers and if you want that Grip/Slam/boom/crush bombastic (usually unrefined but big) sound you can buy some 200-watt power amps (SS, Push/pull, OTL, Class D) sound that is perfectly fine but keep the SET amps for their Magic on the small stuff where those other amplifiers (regardless of price) lose their lustre.

It's soon to be 2022 - you can have it all for pretty cheap these days. Ie; you don't have to choose one amp that tries to do everything. Instead, you can play off their strengths.

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