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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Zanden Audio Model 2000P/5000S; Raysonic CD168; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime; APL HiFi NWO 3.0-GO
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright SWL 9.0SE; ModWright LS-36.5/PS-36.5; Music First Audio Passive Magnetic; Bel Canto Design PRe3; Wyetech Labs Jade; Supratek Cabernet Dual; Melody HiFi I2A3; Eastern Electric M520; Yamamoto HA-02; Almarro A318B; Trafomatic Audio Experience One [on loan]; Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 [on loan]

Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; 2 x FirstWatt F4; Yamamoto A-08S; Bel Canto e.One S300; Fi 2A3 monos
Headphones: AKG K-1000 w. hardwired Stefan AudioArt harness; audio-technica W-1000
Speakers: Zu Audio Definition Pro; Rethm Saadhana; Mark & Daniel Ruby and Maximus-Monitor with Omni-Harmonizer; WLM Grand Viola Monitor with Duo 12 and Sys VI active crossover; DeVore Fidelity Nines; Zu Audio Presence [on review]; Zu Audio Druid Credenza

Cables: Ocellia Silver Signature loom; Stealth Audio Indra; Crystal Cable Ultra loom, Crystal Cable Reference power cords; Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable; Zu Cable Varial, Gede, Libtech and Ibis; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular 4-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option; Furutech RTP-6 on 240-V feed
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; Acoustic System Acoustic Resonators and front-wall matrix of sugar cubes
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 9' h in short-wall setup, with openly adjoining 15' x 35' living room

Review Component Retail: $488 Internet direct

How to convince these foreigners that being cool as shit means their Glow Amp One is a really fine tool? American colloquialisms can really baffle them non natives. Are you shitting me? I'm not, sir, I assure you. No shit!

Calling the makers of this 6N3-driven EL84 speaker/headphone integrated foreigners isn't shitting on them either. It's obvious from the high finish and low pricing that the Amp 1 could only have been made in China even though Hercules SoundWorks Inc. which distributes this $488 machine operates out of 1931 B Myrtle Avenue in El Paso, Texas.

The first Glow offering is a single-ended pentode integrated with USB input, one RCA input, one 1/4" headphone output on the left check and 6 different color options in thick high-gloss Enamel over anti corrosion sub-coated steel. The attenuator is a quality Alps, tube sockets are ceramic, the innards are wired point to point, the transformers are precision hand-wound jobs, negative feedback is minimal, bias is automatic and internal voltages are switchable from 115 to 220V with a chunky slider on the belly.

Having seen an earlier Antique Sound Labs headphone amplifier of equally demure size, I can tell you unequivocally that the Glow beats it pants off in build quality and heft. Sure it's no Boulder but for 488 quid, you'd need a boulder for a frosty noggin to expect it.

Besides the obvious amenities, there's the backlit power button on the right cheek; the constantly color-changing light ring around the attenuator; and the absence of an input selector which you won't need.

Part owner Patrick Tang added that "the removable tube cage attaches magnetically and the plug-and-play USB connection will automatically interface with your laptop, PC or MAC (male-to-male USB cable included). Output impedance for speakers is 4-8 ohms, 32-600 for headphones. Power output is 5wpc for speakers, 600mW for headphones."

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The choice of 1/4" headphone socket is clearly aimed at more serious listeners as are the quality connectors and IEC power inlet. Yet the USB connection spells computer audio as well.

Patrick Tang, Mark Mainwaring and David Chang at Glow Audio have taken their time to scope out potential Sino suppliers and get the package they wanted with the quality and features they felt would be important to their customers. Rather than rebadging the Dared unit we've seen from Sound by Singer to FatMan and his skinny sistah, Glow Audio did the leg work to roll their very own. This one you're guaranteed not to see under a different flag. Or so I'm told.

My wife loved it before it ever landed. That's why I requested the pearl white finish. It'd be a surprise for her after my review was done. She owns a pair of high-sensitivity Zu Druid Credenzas and loves to watch movies on her laptop.

While committing to something audio unheard is not the usual MO in our household, how many ways do you know to screw up an EL-84 based SEP badly enough to not be worth this type of coin?

Almarro has built a minor fiefdom with their EL84 unit and EveAnna Manley has long since gone fishing and really hooked some prime specimens with the same tube. Add Decware and probably a long list of others who presently don't spring to mind.

The point is, this is a very quick, open-sounding, de-fuzzed valve with great top-end extension and a tight punchy character. No Sloppy Joe here if the driver tube is in control and the output transformer up to snuff.

Of course you'll not win any bench press Olympics for silly loads or ear-bleeding noise. That's not what 5 watts are good for. But what the triode mafia would rather you not figure out is that single-ended pentodes can sound mighty fine, with just as much aroma (though different of course) than their chosen chi chi bottles.

Just exactly what can you drive with the Glow Amp One besides headphones? That shall be sussed out by a tour guide who has amassed a few speakers routinely driven to crunchy levels by 2-watt 45 SETs sluggers and 4-watt 2A3 brutes. Then there's always the desktop near field as suggested by the USB input. Just how much power do you think it takes there to be happy with a small non-exotic speaker? Somehow I'm sure we'll find out on the next page. If it's really bad or sick even, we'll have to teach Patrick, Mark and David some proper Amerikanski before they feel badly sick to their stomachs and for their joint offspring...
Sidebar I: Reader Richard Hing forwarded an eBay link to a Mr. Chan Lau's posting out of Fotan, Hong Kong, advertising the TMS T-200 MkII which, for all intents and purposes until you peek under the covers and learn the back story, looks like a cloned Glow Audio Amp One... - continue