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Regardless of speaker -- and as it should be if one isn't deaf yet nor suffers serious incompatibility issues -- MiniWatt proved to have a recognizable signature comprised of an energetic midband, grippy bass, expanded treble and an emphasis on speed, timing and definition to sit on the far side of romance, soft focus, glow, mellifluousness and Indian summer spiderwebs wafting on the breeze. One more experiment remained on the 3
rd floor, my wife's artist loft and her custom lacquer Zu Druid Credenzas. They are usually driven from a ModWright 9.0SE/AudioSector Patek SE combo.

That's a nice $2,200 remote-controlled tube preamp and a 50-watt 47lab-style 'gainclone' chip amp for $1,800. The latter and its power supply sit behind the Ikea credenza, a Raysonic CD128 as source atop the ModWright preamp on the credenza and between the speakers. The space is open, with a vaulted ceiling, an open staircase connecting this floor to the two lower ones and a second desk in the right alcove adjacent to the steps (lower right photo below - that desk faces the visible one and sits right next to the just visible water bottle). In short, not a puny closet but reasonably sized space.

Act N°4. At 10:00 on the dial even on mellow classical, MiniWatt did all the ear-bleeding damage my wife wanted (I could have stood another hour or so more but like all women, Ivette considers me a brute when it comes to SPLs). The shocker? MiniWatt was clearly more colorful, palpable, stimulating and entertaining than the resident $4,000 two-box combo from before. On specs and wallet, this was all wrong; but not to our four ears. On such messy occasions, who do you listen to? Sometimes one just shuts up and puts up with one's blessings unquestioned. Who needs explanations?

Interlude in the dressing room. Imagine this circuit doubled up twice, i.e. paralleled and monoblocked. At 20-or-so watts with four output valves per side in class A push/pull, this could become positively scary for some of the bigger boys. Of course we'd probably be up to $800 - $1,000 to nix the special appeal of what the MiniWatt crew actually did create. A thought for next year perhaps? Never mind, available today as a baby Crayon, the MiniWatt is a very clever marriage of tubes and switch-mode power supply, of ancient and new. Tarted up with blue lights and chrome, scaled up to be heavier and bigger, the MiniWatt could be marketed as the smart man's alternative to direct-heated 45s. As is, necessity will only have the budget challenged take it serious. C'est la vie. [Next photo opens to full size.]
Grand finale & curtain call. Reader John Walton in Germany who purchased my original black pair of Zu Essence loaners from the Utah gang: " Really enjoying the as I call it turbo Bentley sound of the Essence. My source is MWI Sony-9100, tube 9.0 & Zu cables. I'm still playing with amps (Gryphon Tabu Century, Ampino, RWA Sig30 with Promitheus TVC & active tube) and still prefer my Gryphon overall. I prefer the Ampino to the RWA/Promitheus (the pre-combo is quite amazingly good regardless of its low price). BTW, Mr. Dayens wrote that he's bringing out mono Ampinos later this year - balanced? Modern day NAD3020; Zoran has good ears - I am so glad you found him. I'm doing what little I can to bring up the Dayens name in my correspondences. My stereo soft-touch technician friend Christian Schulz (makes the electronics e.g. Martion horns) writes that '...for the money the Ampino looks real mature. Must be close to raw build cost, at a measly €3 per hour wages'."

The MiniWatt is to tubes what the Dayens Ampino is to transistors - a wake up call to the competition; a whiff of Crayon flavor to the Ampino's mini FirstWatt aroma; a would-be thorn in the side of the apostles of excess both power and money; and a golden opportunity for those short on funds, high on audiophile ambitions and self-secure enough to disregard the Joneses and Musical Fidelity's Titan. Obviously this isn't the amp for collateral damage and rock-arena youngsters whose hearing is still immortal. It's also got no power credibility. But
don't shortchange its application to 1-meter desk top coverage only. It's clearly capable of energizing a conservatively sized room in the midfield over 92dB impedance-friendly floorstanders without colossal bass arrays. Something from the Canadians at Axiom selling for $500 to $800 could be ideal. I think you get the picture. It's called realsization. And it's not a matter of belief but practice.
PS: All reviewers serious about their craft should own both an Ampino and MiniWatt. These pups really keep you honest and your feet of perspective planted on terra firma relevantia.

Quality of packing: Delivered in PostPack box, then internally cradled in full-contact foam.
Condition of component received: Perfect.
Completeness of delivery: Includes power cord with proper AC adaptor for country of destination.
Website comments: Already quite good and being brand new, certain to be tweaked and built out over time.
Human interactions: Quick responses from Derek.
Pricing: Ridiculously low ball. For the sound, utterly insane. Pick your favorite hyperbolic ad copy.

Application conditions: Enough gain for 86dB desk toppers and 91dB civilized midfielders. At around 96dB, you can start to do real damage in a big room. Basically a stand-in for 45 SETs at a fraction of their cost and (perhaps due to SMPS) better bass than most. Unit runs hot.
Final comments & suggestions: Superb noise behavior to be ideal for critical hi-eff drivers like Lowthers. Sound isn't zippy per se but definitely lit up, very fast and very pure. This is not 'typical' tube sound (which is what, exactly? - but one refers to common perceptions). The closest precedent is Decware's EL84 Zen amp.
MiniWatt website