The Stereo 15 Special Edition (there doesn’t seem to be a regular edition) is a basic two channel stereo power amp, running a pair of EL84 tubes per channel in a push-pull, ultra linear configuration, based on “the famous Hafler circuit with cathode bias allowing for trouble free operation” (quoted from their web site). It also uses one 12AX7 and one 12BH7 (1/2 per channel) and is the first tube rectified amp I’ve ever tried. My review sample was sent with both a 5U4 and a 5AR4, which I swapped out a few times. As indicated in the name, the amplifier puts out a rated 15 watts per channel, the same rated output as my Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S (KT88 based single ended). It has two taps for speakers, one specified for 8 ohms, the other can be ordered for either 4 or 16 ohms. My review sample was for 8 and 16 ohms.
The basic design of the amp is based on older style “plate amplifiers” where everything is mounted to either the top or bottom of a single steel plate, which can then be simply attached to a wood case. Personally, I really like this design, and find having the RCA inputs and the speaker binding posts on top rather than in back much easier to work with when the amp sits on a shelf in my equipment rack. Fit and finish, build quality and cosmetics are all up to very high standards, but without any unnecessary bling factor. It has a purposeful, if somewhat old-fashioned look about it, that at least for me, gives an impression that the money went into the components and important parts, not some high-end luxury product marketing scheme.
I used the Stereo 15 SE in my system, primarily between my DIY passive attenuator/switcher (about $90 in parts, built by a friend who really isn’t interested in building any more of them) and my Tekton Lore speakers. I also used a pair of Fritz Speakers LS-Fritzies (small stand-mounted two-way coaxial design). The Tektons are rated at 98dB and an easy 8 ohm load, so power was not an issue. The LS-Fritzies are specified at 88.5dB and 8 ohms, but seemed to mate up beautifully with this amp, also. Maybe I just don’t play too loudly. Speaker cables were mostly Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, with a little time spent with Morrow Audio SP4. You can check the rest of my system out by clicking on my name at the top of this article.
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Recommended for anyone looking for an endgame tube amp with some midrange magic and transient mojo.
AudioExpress RMAF 2016 – ampsandsound coverage Ampsandsound from Southern California (www.ampsandsound.com) teamed up with North California Sonic Studios to show their latest, hand-built hollow-state designs, the $3,600 Agartha and the $1,850 Leeloo combination amps. The former pairs a 6SL7 up front with an overspec’d power supply and 300b triode on output. The latter is both headphone and power amp,using a 12AX7 or equivalent for input (see Photo 8). With a pair of EL-84s out to deliver 2.6 W into an 8 Ω speaker, little Leeloo will also drive a 32 Ω headphone with a dead quiet 1 W of hollow-state […]