Yeah, it's special.
Single-ended EL34 HiFi Tube Amplifier
7 Watts per channel
The AE1-C is an upgraded version of the original Analog Ethos AE1, the first amplifier I started offering in 2019 as a kit amplifier. The AE1-C has the perfect combination of high quality components and circuit design for amazing single-ended tube audio.
The best of single-ended tube performance
The AE1-C uses a single-ended circuit based on designs used for many years and proven to have great performance. Components are sourced from carefully selected suppliers to be high quality. While not intended as a high-powered amplifier, you will get up to 7 watts per channel, which is more than enough for most listening rooms. This amplifier is my initial recommendation for people looking for single-ended tube amplifiers because you will get outstanding tube sound quality but still a relatively good output power. Efficient speakers above 90 dB SPL are recommended, but the amp can work with any 8 ohm nominal impedance speakers (4 ohm option available). The amplifier takes a single line-level input source, such as a DAC, CD player, streaming device or computer. No pre-amplifier is needed unless you use a turntable which will require a pre-amp with phono stage, or if you want to switch between multiple sources.
A dual-triode 12AT7 tube is used as the driver stage. For the power output stage, the EL34 is a classic tube used in many high performance amplifiers and easily available. The standard build uses ultralinear mode to optimize power output and total harmonic distortion, but the amp can be wired in triode mode if you have this preference. Each tube uses automatic cathode bias so no adjustments are ever necessary. If you prefer to roll tubes, you can also use 6L6GC, KT77, or 6CA7 tubes either new production or new old stock (NOS). I am presently including TAD Red-Base EL34 tubes. Tube Amp Doctor is a high quality German brand and one of my favorites. For the driver tube, I'm including a Mullard new production 12AT7. These are among the best in current production. I have used several brands and this may change due to availability. I will update this page or communicate in the order process as needed.
The AE1-C can also be purchased as a DIY kit with extensive instructions. See the DIY Kits page for more information about Analog Ethos kits and why these are better than any kit you will find on the planet.
Mid-Century Modern Design
Great visual design is as important as the quality of components and audio sound. This is a showpiece in your home that your friends and family will see and ask about. A custom-designed chassis holds the components functionally but also beautifully in your listening environment. Inspired by mid-century modern designs. Available in an awesome Cape May Beach House color scheme (sea-green and vermilion), or white. You will not find a design like this anywhere else and no mass-produced product can come close to the craftsmanship and care that goes into it.
Speaker output impedance: option for 4 or 8 ohms
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): 0.5% at 1 W (1kHz)
Output power: 7 watts per channel
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz (~1dB)
Input sensitivity: 850 mV
Dimensions: 13.5" wide x 10" deep (not including knob and connectors) x 9" high with tubes.
Color options: Cape May Beach House (sea green and red-orange) or White
Measurements are estimates due to methods and test equipment and variance in tubes and other components.
Commentary on sound and design:
The AE1-C has all of the great sound characteristics of a high-fidelity tube amplifier with excellent frequency response, low harmonic distortion, smooth bass response and sparkling treble. The upgraded Auricap XO coupling capacitors ensure extremely high quality and incredible clarity in the signal path. And the fit and finish with solid aluminum volume knob, Audio Note binding posts, and color scheme with maple feet really make this amp look amazing.
Some who have followed my pages may know I originally planned for the AE1-C to use a constant current source (CCS) for the plate load of the input stage, which typically provides lowest distortion and highest possible gain for the tube. I built a prototype of this design using a 10M45 regulator and it was testing really well. All my graphs and measurements would say it was a great amplifier. But an important part of the process is the listening test. As I played song after song in different genres, listening to the amp, something was just off. Full music passages were just a bit too harsh in the mid-range. I kept all the upgraded components but switched the circuit to a resistor load on the plate and it all came together to sound just right. This is the magic of a tube amplifier and why sometimes our measurements look right, but we need our ears and just the right amount of natural tube behavior to bring about the perfect sound. I hope you enjoy it, too!
An amplifier like no other.
Customer from California
I first learned of Analog Ethos while reading a thread on the Klipsch Forum about tube amplifiers and DIY kits. When I visited the website, I was immediately impressed by the photos, text, blog, DIY build manuals, and Perry's Design Ethos. Perry built an AE1-C for me, and it has exceeded all of my expectations. It drives my Klipsch RP-160M and Forte II speakers to loud levels with room to spare, and reveals details in the music that previously went unnoticed. I am glad that I found Analog Ethos and appreciate Perry's willingness to share his time, energy, and knowledge so that other audio enthusiasts can enjoy the sound of quality tube amplification. I look forward to many years of happy listening with the AE1-C.
Customer from Arkansas
I bought the assembled AE1-C. I am very impressed with the amplifier, and the change in sound from our old solid state box is remarkable. Separation between instruments is very clear, soundstage is well defined, and volume is all I could ask for. I keep having to remind myself that it's only 7wpc! We listen to classic jazz from the 50s-60s, classical music, and some singer/songwriter/folk music. Listening levels are low to moderate. The music is very lifelike and warm, and it’s a pleasure to play favorite recordings with this amp and discover new details in the music. The AE1-C is well put-together and solidly built. In addition to the great sound, it's very cool looking. Perry is a pleasure to work with, and when I've asked questions his answers are informative and prompt.
Customer from California
This kit is impeccably put together. Packaging is superb. Each component type is supplied in a separate, clearly labeled bag. The instructions are very clear, detailed and informative. Just follow them carefully and you can't go wrong. The amp will work first time!
And what a gorgeous sound! The bass is fully extended but tightly controlled, wonderful. The midrange is warm and real, especially with vinyl recordings. The highs are extended and really smooth, just outstanding.
And the amp is SO good looking! I went with a white finish and white transformers to match my white turntable. It's a really great refreshing, modern look to a gorgeous vintage tube amp. Amazing!
Do yourself a favor and build one of these beauties! - Tom, San Diego, CA
Customer from Maryland
This kit was a lot of fun to build and is a gorgeous design. Perry was great in responding to questions I had as I never built anything like this before. The amp sounds amazing. The music sounds like it’s reaching out and wants to give you a hug. Very rich and warm soundstage.
Customer from Nevada
Don't be afraid to ask questions about the amp. Perry knows his circuit inside and out and provides thoughtful answers. I felt like he wasn't trying to sell me his amp kit. I felt like, instead, he was trying to explain his amp's strengths and where those strengths may serve me best. In other words, I made an informed choice, rather than feeling hustled.
Customer from California
Fantastic comprehensive kit with detailed instructions of how to build and how it works of top quality components that sound phenomenal. I've soldered very little previously and it was a fantastic learning experience and so satisfying to now sit back and listen to the creation.
Customer from N. Carolina
The AE1-C amplifier is exceptionally detailed and handles jazz, particularly horns and vocals with an amazing amount of detail and clarity. The imaging and instrument placements on the soundstage are quite remarkable and life like. I'm hearing new details in familiar recordings I've not heard before. Love the amp... Sonically, the AE1-C is a 5. I would give it an overall rating of 4.5 due to some of the detail I thought could have been a little better.