Audio Nirvana Single Ended 300B

As a big fan of Audio Nirvana’s speaker drivers, I was excited to pick up a used copy of their flagship 300B amplifier. I didn't expect to be so pleased! Quiet, well made, and sounding great; Chinese-factory amp or not, overall I’m happy to say that this is a great 300B amplifier. And the ease of use afforded by the integrated functionality is just icing on the cake.

In some ways this is the least 300B sounding 300B amplifier I've owned, so it's a bit of a puzzle. It doesn’t quite "bloom" in the way that my Bez monos did–with golden vocals that in hindsight now seem perhaps too exaggerated, and it doesn’t seem to have the syrupy slow sound that I disliked about some my past 300B experiences either. No hum or noise of any kind at idle which is a first for me with 300B. Classic 300B sounding or not, it nevertheless has a great SET openness and spatial quality, even at lower volumes, and all of the details are right there to be heard. This beautiful ampifier makes an involving sound that is unique to itself, and its a sound that stands up to everything I've heard, which for me is all that can be expected at this level.

I’ve updated the amplifier with some of the best tubes available of course, giving it a good chance to shine. The input tubes are a 1940’s Raytheon-labeled Tung Sol round plate 6SL7, and a nice 1960’s Hitachi long plate 6SN7. The 300B are new stock Russian-made “Gold Lion” branded 300B, which seem to be rated as some of the better new and “affordable” 300B. The most special tube here though is the great Mullard metal base 5AR4, one of the finest and very earliest examples of that renowned tube. All in all, at current prices the tubes come out to about what I paid for the amp used, so factor that in to my praise.

With 3 inputs, a volume control, and 6 or 8 watts per channel, this amplifier is able to work well in almost any environment. The negatives: it’s a tank at 50 plus pounds, its not the most attractive layout I could imagine, the super bright blue operating light is very annoying in a dim room, and I wish it didn't have visible screws on the transformer pots. Nitpicking. Other than that, I think this might finally be a 300B I could keep for the long haul, although it will be with a piece of electrical tape concealing the bright blue alien light.

The Gold Lion 300B seem to be very good, and were easily chosen above the stock Psvane and my pair of EH gold grid tubes. I wish I still owned the Sophia globes as they may give the Gold Lions a good run for the money.

God damn thats an expensive 5AR4! The earliest of the metal base Holland-made Mullard GZ34. Its a gorgeous tube and the best of the best in 5AR4.

Lots of expansion is possible with 3 inputs. Nice heavy duty everything here.