APPJ PA0901A – Miniwatt N3 Posted on December 15, 2012 by tubemaze (24 votes, average: 3.29 out of 5)Loading...Semi-Review“The little amp powered these speakers just fine in my small room” ReadShare this post:
I got this amp about 6 months ago to use in my office at work. There are two very attractive things about this amp: 1) Price @ $220 it’s one of the cheapest tube amps in existence! 2) Small size – the majority of tube amps require a lot of real estate and thus not very usable for desk placement. The amp is very nice looking – quite cute actually. So the looks are fantastic, but that’s where all pluses end 🙁
The amp is very boring – it’s one of the most boring amplifiers that I have – I still use it – it works perfectly for conference calls 🙂
Dynamics that you usually get from a good tube amp are gone – completely. Bass response, even with 6N14N-EV is quite mediocre – flat and very unimpressive. Even with my very sensitive speakers that measure at 100db, the amp was not able to move them well, it was very loud, but that’s about the only plus. Instrument positioning was horrific, no matter how much I tried, instruments were all over the place. Sound stage :((((( What soundstage?
So after 6 months of evaluation and using the best tubes that I can find in the amp, Tesla E83CC and Mullard 6BQ5, the amp is still what it is, a small and cute amplification device, but not a true tube amplifier, it just doesn’t being the value of tubes forward. You would be better with a regular transistor amp – better value and potentially better sound.
If you just want to have a nice looking tube amp, this is it – BUT if you want a true tube amplifier – STAY AWAY!
I have a Miniwatt N3 that I acquired for a second, smaller system. So far, I have only exchanged out one tube, the preamp tube, for a Tung Sol 12ax7. My impression is entirely favorable and in direct contrast to your observations. I am currently using 87 db efficient speakers, well less efficient than your pair. The Miniwatt drives these with ease at less than half of the full on position. Soundstage abounds, front to back and side to side. Timbral accuracy is also very high. I find myself enjoying this amp more than my 400 watt per channel Aragon 4004. In my judgement this amp is a true tube amp, far from just a nice looking desktop ornament, This amp has earned a place on my audio rack.
I am feeding the Miniwatt from another small Chinese tube preamp which perhaps makes the difference in my particular setup.
My speakers at the moment, to be specific, are anything but exotic. They are Dayton B652s, one of the best performers per dollar and by far the least expensive audio component I ever bought. While I have theoretically higher performing speakers I could use, the Miniwatt is making these sing. So much so, I have temporarily put my buying decision for a high efficiency speaker on hold. I can only imagine what can be achieved with the the Miniwatt and a high efficiency speaker which the Miniwatt is designed for. I will next be rolling out the 6P14s for a European EL84 but suffice it to say that this amp, to my ears, is producing audio far exceeding what I had thought possible with these modest set of components.