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The circuit itself is counter-revolutionary, i.e. a bog standard single-ended class A affair delivering roughly 10wpc at the cost of 5% total harmonic distortion under full throttle. The circuit layout is just as simple and spread over four small printed circuit boards. The large capacitors in the rectifying circuit are soldered direct to the base of the rectifier’s tube socket to dangle a bit. The other large capacitors are more solidly attached to the PCB. All soldering is lead-free and adequate though no example of extreme neatness.

Yarland elected against auto bias for the power tubes. Instead, adjustable bias is set with measurement points and potentiometers on either side of the amplifier. This can set the best bias not only for the provided EL34s but accommodate alternatives like KT88s or KT66s. The manual suggests advisory values, 0.75V for the EL34 which might be on the high side. A figure of 0.60 to 0.65 could be more applicable. Alas, the manual is not very clear on explaining just how to measure and set the bias. Fortunately the FAQ page at the website has a little more information even though that too is still quite rudimentary.

With the bias set as it was delivered, the amplifier was put under power to let it run in. Yarland had been so eager to send a unit, it still was virgin. While warming up, a strong ‘electronic’ smell emitted which after a few hours evaporated for the most part and only in close proximity lingered on. After some 10 hours of warm-up, we thought it time for the first listening session. All cables leading to and from the Yarland were Acoustic System LiveLine. For loudspeakers, our customary Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega did duty. From our previous Yarland adventure, we expected the amplifier to be silent on power up but betray a small residual noise which wouldn’t be surprising in this price range and for the associated built quality and components. Turn on was indeed completely quiet without pops, clicks or worse. The tubes started to gradually glow and that was that. Slowly we turned the attenuator clockwise while our ears focussed on any hiss or hum from the very sensitive horns. Nothing at 10 o’clock nor at high noon. Was something wrong? We put our ears in the horns and there it finally was, a very faint sign of shhhh life that got already lost in the ambient noise of the room only a few inches from the horn’s mouth. Up went the attenuator (down in attenuation) and even at full throttle, there was no noise. That was one remarkable achievement for this simple Chinese amplifier with the Dutch blessings.

With the attenuator back at a safe setting, the first CD went in. We thought of Stevie (not yet Ray) Vaughn’s In The Beginning as a good opener. It’s after all excellent full-speed-ahead Texan Blues Rock recorded live in 1980. Stevie’s ’59 Strat had been amplified by two Fender Vibroverbs with JBL speakers which the EL34s in the Yarland resurrected very well. Don’t expect 300B subtleties here, the FV34AIIISA is direct and uncompromisingly honest to the bone. At a stout level, this Austin/Texas concert became a real treat. Stevie’s unpolished bravura was slung into room, all escape routes blocked. We were promptly drawn into the music and became part of the excited crowd at the Steamboat 1874 where Stevie performed for the first time as front man of his band now reduced to a trio. With the amp barely run in, this showed high promise. We ran through a few more guitar heroes on CD and vinyl and loved it.

After two days of playing lots of power music, time came for more intimate emotions from our music library. Big-time favorite bass player Renaud Garcia Fons’ latest Enja recording La Linea Del Sur introduces female vocals by way of Esperanza Fernandez. Sometimes sharp as flamenco requires, sometime soft and hazy, her voice in combination with con-arco madness on the added 5th string tuned to C forms a serious challenge for any playback rig. Her voice can get shouty and the combination of vocals and high-pitched strings can drive amplifiers into clipping. Even though tube amps clip less offensively than solid-state amps, the FV34AIIISA showed no distress signs with this material. It simply asked for more so we complied.

Sonny Rollins’ Road Shows Vol 1 is a collection of live performances by the indestructible sax icon. From the "Best Wishes" opener, this CD is a 9-minute roller coaster where the then 56-year old master went over and over the same dozen bars with subtle little changes each time. The repetition is hypnotic and the EL34 amplifier followed him obediently. It seemed as though this amp was designed to excel on live recordings. Though soundstaging is not our main focus, what the Yarland projected was rock solid and stable. In the Rollins track, drummer Al Foster is the anchor man and holds steady all the way through. Rollins was a perfectionist who enhanced his performance of any given song each time he played it so no two recordings of it were ever the same. And the Yarland conveyed that electric live charge.