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First Watt


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Currently the F3 and J2,  both using JFET power transistors. Even producing less power,  15 vs 25 watts, and having less gain I’m leaning to the F3. It’s a damn special amp and like Rich said, very much a single ended signature but  more so than the J2 to my ears. A short period with the M2 but for me it was nothing special. 

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On 2/27/2021 at 9:40 AM, richieb said:

Currently the F3 and J2,  both using JFET power transistors. Even producing less power,  15 vs 25 watts, and having less gain I’m leaning to the F3. It’s a damn special amp and like Rich said, very much a single ended signature but  more so than the J2 to my ears. A short period with the M2 but for me it was nothing special. 


I have been fortunate to find another of the scarce F3’s so the F3 vs J2 comparison has come to an end. The J2 was sold to a forum member and the two F3 are being run as monoblocks. Very satisfied with the outcome and being able to prove my ambition to 

run monoblock F3’s with special thanks to Nelson Pass and Forum buddy MikeB. 

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I think a First Watt thread is a great idea for Klipsch forum.  I have a Pass labs xa 25 and I’d love to learn peoples impressions of First Watt.  I’d love to try one.

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1 hour ago, VDS said:

I think a First Watt thread is a great idea for Klipsch forum.  I have a Pass labs xa 25 and I’d love to learn peoples impressions of First Watt.  I’d love to try one.


As you may have noted I’m a fan of FW, the F3 in particular. I actually sold the XA25 in favor of the F3. For the money invested I enjoyed the F3 over the XA and sold while they were the latest and greatest from Pass. Fast forward to today and I sold a FW J2 after finding a second F3 to run as monoblocks. I did own an M2 for a short time and found it too didn’t live up to the F3. All my opinion of course - 

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From what I’ve read in several places, the F3 sounds like a stand out.  I’ll be looking for one from now on.  I notice the F3, J2, and F8 are all jfets.  That may be too simplistic of a connection on my part.

Anybody have experience with the F8? Supposedly a “updated J2” according to NP. 

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  • 5 months later...
On 5/2/2021 at 8:26 PM, richieb said:


As you may have noted I’m a fan of FW, the F3 in particular. I actually sold the XA25 in favor of the F3. For the money invested I enjoyed the F3 over the XA and sold while they were the latest and greatest from Pass. Fast forward to today and I sold a FW J2 after finding a second F3 to run as monoblocks. I did own an M2 for a short time and found it too didn’t live up to the F3. All my opinion of course - 

Yes I would agree I would take the F3 over the Xa25.  Think that since the 402 horns increase separation and are so dynamic themselves, maybe the f8 would take away the last remaining “edginess” I have.  Nelson talkes about the high dose of 2nd order harmonics in the f8 and the Xa25 being more 3rd order, not sure where F3 lands.

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The Burning Amp Festival for 2021 happened over the weekend. It was a virtual event via Zoom featuring some very talented people. Nelson Pass' session is online now on youtube.  A few new projects one being a very small Amp Camp requiring no case or expensive PS section the biggest cost of a Class A amplifier. I know there are many on this forum that have an Amp Camp amplifier and are very pleased with it. Check the video out. 

 

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Thanks for posting this.  The distortion reduction with dc thing on fullrangers was interesting...  Actually, Nelson is always at least interesting and an enabler for audio experimentation.  This latest little amp, coupled with what he's talking about with Jason at diyA for modularity, might finally get me over the edge. 

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I do not own a specific First Watt model but after Nelson made his static induction transistor amps and talked about them at the burning amp festival I had to try one.

 

Very simple design with only 4 giant Mosfets for both channels and an input transformer. Two Mosfets per channel, one acting as a constant current source load for the other it is a single ended arrangement with "Schade" feedback. This drain to gate feedback lowers output impedance and gives a triode like output characteristic. The 1:2 input transformer processes the feedback in a boot strap fashion in order to increase input impedance instead of lowering it making it much easier to drive with normal sources and preamps. It can produce up to 50 watts before clipping but distortion is high at that power level but at 20 watts it is around 1% THD.

 

It may not be as magical as some real SET amps I have had but it is darn close and much more power vs 2A3 and 45 amps which is attractive to many. Big heat sinks are needed as the Mosfets are biased around 3 amps ~85 watts dissipation. Not your average SS amplifier by any means :D

 

I found they were a great pair with Klipsch speakers, currently running on Reference Bookshelf's but I really liked them on my Cornwalls. Also great on my La Scala's but they hardly ever go above 1 watt and only for dynamic transients so I run actual triodes with them.

 

I am surprised more Klipsch owners do not use Pass amps. I am very new here so maybe I could be wrong.

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It amazes me no one has mentioned that these particular First Watt amps, particularly the F3 genuinely have the same open, spatial separation achieved from the finest tube amps. In other words, they don't sound like solid state amps. They have a very sweet, rich, musical sound to them. Amazing sound to say the least! My friend has a SIT-3 on the way and I'll have an F6 soon. 

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10 hours ago, Idontknow said:

It amazes me no one has mentioned that these particular First Watt amps, particularly the F3 genuinely have the same open, spatial separation achieved from the finest tube amps. In other words, they don't sound like solid state amps.

 

I think I did, in a round about way, in the 2nd post. Not sure I've heard the finest tube amps, but I've owned and heard several.

 

I miss tubes from a visual point of view. Always fun to bask in the glow while listening in the dark. I don't miss hours of my life spent obsessing over what if there is just one more tube I've not tried and it is the magic one that parts the heavens. I fully realize that is my personality, not the fault of the amps/tubes. IMHO, @richieb is wise beyond his years (which are numerous) with all things amps. We joined the forum about the same time. He has probably had 5X the number of amps I have. Follow him down the amp trail and you probably can't go wrong. If you end up lost in the woods it will have been a fun trip.

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Ahhh - you’re making me blush - behind my mask of course😷

But let’s address “ wise beyond his years, which are numerous”. While numerous is a relative term there is some truth in the statement.

I believe dust is the next stop should I make it beyond my numerous years - 

 

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On 2/18/2022 at 8:13 AM, rplace said:

 

I think I did, in a round about way, in the 2nd post. Not sure I've heard the finest tube amps, but I've owned and heard several.

 

I miss tubes from a visual point of view. Always fun to bask in the glow while listening in the dark. I don't miss hours of my life spent obsessing over what if there is just one more tube I've not tried and it is the magic one that parts the heavens. I fully realize that is my personality, not the fault of the amps/tubes. IMHO, @richieb is wise beyond his years (which are numerous) with all things amps. We joined the forum about the same time. He has probably had 5X the number of amps I have. Follow him down the amp trail and you probably can't go wrong. If you end up lost in the woods it will have been a fun trip.

 

I appreciate the response. With all due respect however, some sell their tube gear in favor solid state for numerous reasons. It’s usually related to home theater, power due to the vast majority of inefficient speakers unlike the heritage series, and their theoretical ability to provide fast bass in my opinion. Not all are fast though. For example the Parasound A23 Halo has slow, mushy bass with my Heresy IMO. I personally can’t stand solid state amps overall but there are a few exceptions. The main reason I don’t care for solid state (and this is an absolute fact) is because they do not produce the same spatial separation between instruments like tubes. I always tell others if you want to know what the vast majority of solid state amps sound like, simply take a towel and place it over your speakers and it veils the sound as if it isn’t breathing openly and spatially from a relative perspective.

 

This isn’t always audible to many mainly because of the type of music they are playing. For example if someone is playing fast rock with thrashing like sound, there is just too much going on all at once which hides separation. This also happens with some classical where tons of instruments are all thrashing at once. We have noticed a pattern with music listeners. 

 

Also, there’s a myth that tubes are warm. That’s far from true because tubes can sometimes have a warm signature while some sound harsh. I don’t know why so many think tubes always sound warm. I can name several tube units that are harsh. The First Watt amps are absolutely astonishing like no other solid states I’ve heard. Last night we compared the First Watt F3 against my Decware Zen SE84UFO. If others have never heard classic jazz with this little single ended triode gem of an amp through an efficient pair of speakers, they don’t know what they’re missing. People should visit Kevin’s site “glow in the dark audio” when it comes to tubes and amps, he’s a grand master. Using a pair of custom open baffle speakers, we tested the little Zen against the First Watt. We played Boss Tenor/Gene Ammons and other songs. There’s a song you can YouTube called “my romance”. 

 

When this type of jazz is played where the sax is played, this is where tube amps truly shine because the sound of the sax is so rich, warm and sweet sounding. Play this on a solid state and it will almost always sound muffled by comparison as if somebody covered the sax horn with a sock. There’s just no air and the instruments are not open to breath. The Zen plays this kind of music like few others. When we played the same song on the First Watt F3, I dropped my jaw in disbelief. It sounds absolutely sweet, open and airy exactly like the finest tube amps. To me, this was incredible to say the least and actually outperformed a couple of very impressive tube amps we compared it too. 

 

For example, when an amp doesn’t sound balanced some instruments sound like they are in the background. The First Watt was able to keep all the instruments at the front of the sound stage with a 3 dimensional sound no solid state I’ve ever heard can match. But if listeners are just into rocking out and cranking music up to ridiculous levels, that’s not what these amps are for and this is why I say, people need to put their damn music into perspective. It’s not about that. Anyway, just my 2 cents.

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