Occasionally, one comes across a product so cute and cool that one thinks nothing of writing a quasi 'infomercial' for it, all entirely unprompted and unpaid for. Consider this such a case. Glow Audio operates out of El Paso/Texas and for their first product, offers the $480 Amp One single-ended pentode integrated with USB input, EL84s with 6N3 drivers, one RCA input, one 1/4" headphone output and 6 different color options in thick high-gloss Enamel over anticorrosion 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.

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 (cable included). Output impedance for speakers is 4-8 ohms, 32-600 for headphones. Power output is 5wpc for speakers, 600mW for headphones."

An Amp Two is already on the drawing board and matching single-driver speakers and a
miniature subwoofer will be shortly available. Assembly is performed in China to get the final direct pricing into the low-ball park that cash-strapped punters will very much appreciate while a 30-day satisfaction guarantee makes the whole proposal even more painless.

What this product does is obvious. It appeals to the iPod nation, the PC-tied home office worker, the college dormer... but only to those within that demographic who listen with their ears. Who else wouldn't fall apart at the mention of 5 watts max without bass boost?

The choice of 1/4" headphone socket is clearly aimed at more serious listeners as are the quality connectors and IEC power inlet. Yet a USB cable is included to get one up and running in no time.

Granted, I haven't heard the Amp One but I know from experience just how good pentode-configured EL84s in a low feedback single-ended circuit can sound. For the intended applications of desk
top, small office, study, bedroom and such, the modest power output ought to be plenty sufficient. If such a device can additionally teach "regular" music lovers to trust their ears -- why else would you buy tubes -- then Patrick Tang, Mark Mainwaring and David Chang at Glow Audio are doing a fine job of spreading the gospel of high-end hifi to "the masses". And that is a swell thing no matter how you turn it.

Glow Audio's website