I’ve not really been a fan of tubes, but as is usually the case after some time with even the best of solid state, you get bored. So on and off, I try tubes when I have the opportunity and after a taste of Uncle Ken’s DIY tube amp, I was fortunate to try out his G&W T-2A next.
Input Sensitivity: 150mV
Output power: 2 x 800mW
Frequency Response: 16Hz – 110kHz (-1dB), 8Hz – 238kHz (-3dB)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >101dB
THD: <0.1% (1kHz V0:1V)
Can drive headphones with 200ohm to 600ohm
Power Input: AC220~240V 50Hz/60Hz
Size : 38L�22W�12H(cm)
Gross Weight: 6.5KG
Listening to it I get a sense that the amp is powerful. Im listening to it at 10 o'clock with VDac as source, and with the Dynavector P75 phonostage with its higher output the volume is even slightly less than that. Low frequency is handled with depth and authority and overall it has a firm grip on the HD800 drivers. The EL84 tubes I've read are very capable of comparably high output, enough to power high sensitivity speakers as is the case in the Leben CS300 amp where it is also used (different design altogether of course).
The T-2A is not exactly popular. There’s not much in the web about it, nor in Head-fi or other English based forum. I’m guessing its availability is limited because it’s price is easily competitive with offerings from Little Dot and Darkvoice which are all shipped from China. It is a single ended OTL amp with a cathode output circuit designed by a certain Mr. Wu Gang (it says so on the PCB). When paired with headphones in the 300 – 600 Ω range, it is said to
“achieve a very good driver when the effects, sound sweet and full, high-frequency beautiful, rich in the sense of color, moderate and low-frequency sound speed of moist, thick amount of sense, audio and video stability, fully embodies the characteristics of tube amplifier’s sound, while avoiding the traditional “dim sense of” if T2A further increase the density of sound, then the circuit process excellence will become a more perfect equipment.” (Translated from the net).
Im guessing it’s not for Grado fans, I was not able to try it out with my SR225 (currently stored away, I didn’t use it for a while after the HD800 came, Im sure you understand, and for some reason the foam pads disintegrated).
I was very impressed with how well the thick gauged stainless steel casing in brush satin finish was fabricated. The clean lines and the machine-punched ventilation holes reminded me of the Italian amp maker Unison Research.
The fascia is made from ¾” thick solid wood which I think is maple in gloss lacquer finish. I’m not a fan of this color, nor of the gold volume and power knob, but the push button action of the power switch and the rotary motion of the volume are smooth and precise. If I were to own this amp, the fascia will be replaced with kamagong wood, the combination with stainless steel is an excellent match in modern design and suggests a more Euro appeal than an Oriental one. I was surprised to find it had the exact width and height of my Beta22 for which I don’t remember following any standard measurement.
Inside the amp is very busy. It is not point to point wiring like other exotic tube amps (Single Power, Eddie Current), instead it uses through hole circuit board that is well organized. In the power supply section is a torroidal transformer that is Chinese made, and Rubycon capacitors. The amp section has Wima, Elna and Frako caps (W. Germany) everywhere, not sure of the make of the resistors. I believe Uncle Ken has upgraded the Wima to audio-grade. The amp uses an ECC82 tube and 2 EL84’s. The stock tubes have been ditched for NOS GE. All 3 tubes are contained in black jacketing, presumably dampers as the tubes can be microphonic when in use. The volume control looks like an Alps RK27, but not having a clear view of the markings I can’t be sure.
Here are markings and stamps inside the amp that suggest it has gone through some quality control checking at different stages and that is always a welcome sign, Chinese made or not.