Yeah, it's special.
Single-ended EL34 HiFi Tube Amplifier Kit
The AE1-C is an upgraded version of the AE1 Kit. While it shares the same basic circuit, the AE1-C has several upgraded components for even higher quality, performance and flexibility.
Plus, it comes in this awesome Cape May Beach House color scheme! (Also can be ordered in white like the AE1)
The AE1-C is also available as a fully-assembled amplifier.
Tell me about the upgrades
You can read more about the kit in general on the AE1 page. In addition to the awesome upgraded color scheme and beautiful hardwood maple base, below are the details of what's different about the AE1-C.
Upgraded Power Transformer and Choke
The power transformer is rated for higher current, which makes it run a bit cooler and ensures strong voltage under load.
The AE1-C also uses a 7 Henry choke, instead of a 6H included with the AE1, for even more power supply filtering so it is stone silent.
Premium EL34 and 12AT7 tubes
Tube Amp Doctor is a German brand and the TAD Red Base EL34 is one of my favorites, paired with a Mullard 12AT7 driver tube. These are among the best in current production and are an upgrade from the JJ tubes included in the AE1.
Note that the AE1-C photos show all Mullard tubes, but I have since updated my offering to include TAD.
Auricap XO Coupling Capacitors
These are audiophile-grade coupling capacitors made by Audience in California. They have incredible clarity and ensure your audio signal has the greatest purity as is passes through the signal path.
Audio Note Speaker Binding Posts
These high quality silver-plated binding posts ensure the best finishing touches to your amp, front and back!
Alps Blue Velvet Potentiometer
Smooth, high quality volume control with this top-of-the-line dual-gang logarithmic taper potentiometer.
Solid Aluminum Volume Knob
A perfectly fitting design touch, this solid aluminum knob feels just right as you turn up the volume and sip your gin and tonic while you listen to your amazing tube amplifier!
Other modifications and flexibility
Upgraded cathode bypass capacitors used for highest quality and wide frequency response.
Offered with choice of either 4 ohm or 8 ohm impedance output transformers for greater flexibility for your audio system.
Available in Cape May Beach House (sea green and vermilion) or White (similar to AE1)
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
Measurements are estimates due to methods and test equipment and variance in tubes and other components.
To preview additional details of the kit, you can download the AE1-C instruction manual here:
A tube amplifier is beautiful. Show it well.
Any DIY amplifier you build is just awesome! But it doesn't have to look like it was built into a cake pan or plywood box from 8th grade shop class. The AE1-C is made with deliberate sizing and style in a mid-century modern design, using hardwood and aluminum. It perfectly fits the tubes and transformers in a clean and elegant form. Transformer covers are custom enamel painted. Colors of the AE1-C are custom mixed because the perfect hue is never off the shelf. The base is maple and matches perfectly. If you prefer, you can order the AE1-C in white, like the AE1. You will not find this quality of custom chassis and visual style in any other kit.
Commentary on sound and design:
The AE1-C has all of the great sound characteristics of the AE1 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. Yes, kit amplifiers can look beautiful!
I had originally been offering this amplifier with Transcendar brand output transformers, but unfortunately Transcendar has discontinued operations and these are no longer available. I'm happy to continue offering the amplifier with USA-made EdCor brand, similar to those used on the AE1, which I have found to be outstanding quality without costing a fortune.
Some who have followed my pages may also 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 kit like no other. Build one yourself.
Customer from Louisiana
I was looking for an amp kit and found the A1C…I was hooked by the appearance, and ordered right away. Perry responded quickly, and I had my kit in just over a week! The assembly/technical manual is outstanding! Assembly was fun and fairly easy. Worked perfectly on first try! Even sounded great with no burn in. I was not familiar with the output tubes supplied with the kit, but they are great sounding tubes. I am very ‘picky’ about noise, no worries here, the amps are essentially dead quiet on my 97dB horns!! Highly recommended! I am considering another kit!
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.