Even though they make reasonable products, I am not a great fan of
03 September, 2010
Review: AES SE-1
Review: AUDIO ELECTRONICS SUPPLY (AES) SE-1
. What most people don’t know is that, early on, CARY made kits, named AES (they still have that branch, but finished products only). They at the very least were great values and frequently gave their finished products (of higher gloss) a run for their money. Sounds familiar? Think Audio Note. Think of the AN Kit-1 vs Conqueror. Cary
And the best product of that time was the 300B SET amp SE-1. My first one was about 10 years ago, thoroughly tweaked out, sold to me by a nice fellow from
! It had good power, able to drive my Klipsch and Tannoy Lancaster to thundering levels. But I had too many amps and marginally preferred the Sun Audio and ICL, so I sold it, even if I preferred it to the AN Kit 1 (which I sold too). They have discontinued this model long ago. I doubt it was making much money for them. Slovenia
Recently I bought this amp again, in stock form. At its current ridiculous second-hand price, it’s a true bargain. The sound, without upgrades, is still much like what I remember. It is musical. Parts are really superb. High quality diodes, resistors and caps, including Kimber caps. As a matter of fact, recently E lent me the flagship
300B Signature monoblocks, and the parts are similar! Cary
The SE-1 features beefy trannies, likely from Magnequest given that this is from
. Solid state rectification. DC filament. 1x 6SL7 (cascaded) driving 1x 300B per channel. This is a fixed bias design. In the back there is a phono jacket in which you can plug in a phono pin and measure (with a multimeter) the combined plate currents of the 2x 300B tubes, which should be in the vicinity of 130 ma. The current is adjusted by the pot next to the phono jacket. Of course, you can bias it lower or higher as you like. I prefer lower. Cary
One cautionary tale. Some people buy it used and just plug their 300B’s in without bothering with the bias procedure. This is not good, even dangerous. The sample I bought this time sounded weak at the seller. When I got home, I measured the bias, and it was in the low 80’s, no wonder. After proper biasing, the amp sounded a lot more powerful. Another caution: The bias measures the COMBINED currents of the 2x 300B tubes, not individual bias. If you’re sure your tubes are a matched pair, there’s no problem. But, if the pair is not matched, it’s better to have lower bias current, as one tube may draw too much current and the other too little.
Aside from using ss rectification, the design is not much different form the flagships. And a good feature is separate switches for on/off and operate/standby. This allows for pre-heating of filaments to ensure better life for the 300B.
This amp can be easily converted to use other tubes, like 2A3. If you change the sockets, tubes like 6B4 can be easily accommodated with minor changes. A manual is essential. If you need one, contact me.
The sound? It’s as good as the 300B SEI and perhaps even the Signature monoblocks (not as powerful in this case). For best result, use Ken-Rad VT-229 silver plate.
Addendum (April 20, 2010)
Finally, I have loaded the Schematic and some pertinent info. Thanks for your patience and I hope the info helps.