George Wright AU-15 Signature Push Pull 2A3

“One area I am very picky on is power amplifiers, even though I am known for the phono preamps I build. And while I build different types of both single ended, push pull and even OTL headphone amplifiers, my favorite type is always pure triode designs. This goes back to working with Don (Wickersham), going out to the churches to work on these older electronic organs such as the Wurlitzer and Hammond products, both with amplified mechanical tone generators, and listening to those great push pull parallel 2A3 power amplifiers producing the lowest registers of the foot pedals, and how good those old systems worked. Many of these still had the original 2A3’s in them, and at that time, some 30 years later, they still sounded great. That is why I built the AU-15 transformer coupled 2A3 push pull 15-watt power amplifier. Now the AU-15 is a great product, I took a pair of these to one of my California dealers to try out, and at first they didn’t want to hear another tube amp as they had a lot on their floor. After a while they decided to hear them, and they tried to put them to shame, they hooked them to a pair of large Magapans and turned them on. The wife was sitting in her office, walked out and said, “We will take them.” And then she sat down and listened for a long while. The wife is the organist at her church and the husband is also a concert pianist. I myself could not believe how well they worked with those power hungry speakers, but they handled them very well. It is funny that they had the Maggie’s hooked up to some 100 watt SET tube amplifier to show off the system and the 15’s sounded much better.” – George Wright

George Wright is one of the legendary names in tube hifi that I have missed so far in my endeavors. He and I exchanged a few emails back in the early days of my tube amp enthusiasm, and he was patient and friendly in his explanations to a complete newbie. I never did buy one of his amps though; the timing was never quite right, the stars not aligned, whatever. After George died in 2009, his amps fell off the radar for me a bit and for some reason Wright Sound gear just never made it into my listening room until a year or so ago when I picked up these amazing 2A3 push pull monoblocks.

I’ve had a few push pull 2A3 in the past and this is a sound that I quite enjoy; detailed and warm but also driven and alive. Push pull 2A3 is a nearly perfect sound in my opinion, and with 15 or so watts per channel (hence the AU-15 label) it's a topology that works with most any speaker and system out there. Overall, I’ve found that it's a great way to have pure triode goodness in a package that meets the needs of most users and most musical choices.

Well regarded as a circuit designer, George Wright made no-nonsense amps in the 1990’s and early 2000s that have a reputation for sounding amazing. His phono preamps in particular have a lot of anecdotal web presence, as well as his almost iconic single ended 2A3 monoblocks. The Signature line of power amps like the one featured here, all with gold faceplates, seems to be an upscale offering from George, and I have no idea how many might actually be out there. One thing is clear, George Wright had a gift for circuit design and his amps have a long-standing reputation for excellent fidelity.

The Wright Sound AU-15 shown below are part of George Wright’s “Signature” line and I suspect they represent the best of what George was doing. I think this particular design was really from the heart, and the sound of this amplifier is indeed something special. This is an amp that presents nicely warm and saturated but it is still quite nimble and clean, a combination that makes voices jump out of the speaker while laying down a low bass floor for all of it float over. These amps image better than most single ended amps do, and there is something so “right” about the timbre; something like brushed drums sounds so hauntingly real and in real space, and the feeling of open space in general is very strong from these amps.

As the only George Wright gear I’ve owned to date, I have to say that the sound is impressive and immersive. To make the obvious pun (again), they do sound so “right”. The build itself is simple in a functional and clean Model T kind of way, and the features exceed most other offerings out there with 4, 8, and 16 ohm taps easily configurable on the fly. A ground lead is a feature you don't see often. All of the connectors are of adequate quality and nothing on these monoblocks feels flimsy or underbuilt, quite the opposite.

George Wright amps don't come up for sale very often, and then suddenly it seems like there is a burst of them on the market, followed by another long dry spell. Obviously there are a limited number of these amps out there now, and they are difficult to find, but I can say that I whole-heartedly recommend picking up any of the George Wright gear that you run across. Hear what it does that perhaps others don't, and appreciate the genius of one of the true pioneers of the triode rebirth. These beautiful AU-15 Signature 2A3 monoblocks offer some of the finest hifi ever created and I have very thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Super highly recommended.

Beautiful triode monoblocks with 15 watts of richly saturated power per channel and startling images that leap out of the speaker. Its hard to get better than this folks.

Over the years I’ve come to really appreciate the 2A3. Its perhaps not as exciting as the visceral and energized 45, nor as lush and saturated as the 300B. The 2A3 is not fat or bloated, it's a lean machine. Its got a great mix of the best flavors of the triode family though, and the 2A3 usually exhibits an overall sense of even-handedness. In these amps, that characteristic is warmed up just a little more than normal, making for such a nice balance between clean power and lush warmth. In these monoblocks I’ve run RCA black plates, JJ 2A3-40 and Sovtek 2A3, as well as Sophia, KR and Super TNT mesh tubes as a mono source. Overall the Sovtek are the winners for me in stereo, just as they were in the Yamamoto A-011 that I owned years ago. In mono, the Super TNT mesh are really jaw dropping though, and those tubes seem to eclipse all of the others.

The preamp and phase splitter. I’m guessing the 6J5 is the preamp tube, and what a sweet choice this is. The 6J5 is half of a 6SN7 (and only half is needed in these monoblocks), and these early versions of the 6J5 probably date to the WW2 era. The 6SN7 family of this vintage, (and especially with metal collars) demand very high prices now (and in this circuit one side of the tube would be unused and wasted). The 6J5 is still reasonably priced and is an equally spectacular sounding tube type.

The gold faceplates are a nice look. I suspect that all of George’s amps are something special, and that makes these even more so.

Push pull 2A3 is one of my very favorite configurations. When done well, its hard to beat.

Back to back with the McIntosh 225 is a tough call. The Wright amps have a glow that the Mac doesn't, but the Mac has more “umph” and grip than the triode monoblocks do, and it makes for a slightly more athletic sound. These are two of the best push pull tube amps of all time, what a treat to A and B these beauties. Driven here by a Don Garber preamp.

A long line of vintage tubes.

The venerable 2A3 is a push pull monster. I've had push pull 45 and 300B too, but there is something about the 2A3 that just really fits in this configuration. Warmth and ease, with some power to back it all up. I love it.