All of us fossils who greedily gnaw on the charred remains of dinosaurs bones while we unthaw around a camp fire lit by vacuum tubes recently received a huge boost of self gratification (as though we needed it). Relevance for our faith in 21st century mainstream audio has finally been signed by none other than Esoteric of Japan who are about to launch their very first vacuum tube amplifier. As you'd expect from a company famous for its digital expertise, the AT-100 isn't just a rehashed Dynaco 70. To begin with, you decide whether it's a 50wpc push/pull ultralinear power amp with a pair of KT88s per side or a 3-input remote-controlled integrated. It can be used either way. The 3-stage design employs a voltage gain stage direct-coupled to a cathode follower and adds an active variable self-bias system and a patent-pending zero voltage control circuit. The latter stabilizes the cathode follower's DC output levels for the direct-coupled circuit components with real-time comparisons between driver and output stage. The innovate self-bias circuit compensates the output stage bias current and drive level. The output transformer is an Esoteric design with foil coils. Fully stabilized power supplies feed all stages except for the power tubes and all small-signal valves are DC heated to minimize hum. The enclosure pays attention to mechanical resonance and holds the power supply and output transformer in a rigid H structure surrounded by the circuit components. In integrated amplifier mode selected from the rear panel, the illuminated remote control selects from 3 RCA and 1 XLR input and controls a high-quality attenuator for volume. Tentative first deliveries and pricing are set for October and $18,000.

Welcome to the jungle, Esoteric. Or is it that Esoteric welcomes us cave dwellers into the air-conditioned condos of the metro? Do we dare speculate that AT in AT-100 stands for all tube? Yousa. Should you find the whole concept so very passé, don't fret. Esoteric also makes Class A transistors amps. And Class D amps. Your choice.
Manufacturer's website