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Monday, July 22, 2013

Western Electric 421A: what a (double) triode!

I remember I owned my first 5998-based little amp in early '90s... at that time I used Altec 803 in a back loaded horn and Altec 806A in an Iwata mid-high horn... and listened to music and music and music.

Back then, in a pre-Web days, I read that also Western Electric had its double-triode... I searched, faxed some U.S. based collector and got it.

Enter the WE 421A: I bought a N.O.S. quintet, just in case, for peanuts which I always kept in my (little) tubes warehouse and I loved the romantic, pleasant, yet detailed sound of these tubes, so much better articulated than stock Tungsol's I had before.

My path brought me here and there and my listening habits changed... yet, I always kept this little, handmade amp, with WE 421A which I used, in the years as a spare amp, a tweeter amp while multiamping and as a display item;-)

I recently - following my friend Lo's suggestions about smaller and smaller amps for La Scala's - I put on a shelf and...


Holy (double) triode!

The sound of this apparently unassuming 3,5 W gizmo is SOOO BIG and impressively nice... pretty right for my old Klipsches: I read Srajan's report about a Fi WE 421A vs. Yamamoto 45 and I fully, 100% agree!

It's smoothness, delicacy and slam!... less unforgiving than 45s, yet eating some lesser 300Bs based amp  around... my own Emission Labs "Mesh plate" 300B with Partridges' irons is a different breed... but the TK-series of early '90s Partridge are coming from an outer world, as they make a 300B to sound like an AD1 or a 45, with more guts!

Anyway, back to the WE 421A... I've been impressed, TRULY impressed by this old tube, now with prices sky-rocketing... my little amp sounds like a 35 W solid-state Class A, and the soundscape is... right, superbly natural.

A nice time-capsule aural experience for free.


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