Gillespie Magnavox EL84

The EL84 is one of the very best sounding tube types ever made. Providing 3 or so watts in single ended and 12 in push pull, the EL84 is an easy tube to love. This small and thin cigar of a vacuum tube has a punchy vibrancy that dials the in-the-room presence factor way up, and provides a warm but crisply driven sound profile. The EL84 is a real crowd pleaser, and this mighty little tube is an excellent place to start any tube audio journey.

Here we have a beautifully realized single ended EL84 amplifier built by an anonymous hobbyist using the Dave Gillespie Magnavox circuit with some updates to the power supply. This amp features the wonderful 1960’s Sony Tamradio/Tamura iron that I love, placed on a simple aluminum top plate and built into a very nicely crafted wooden base with dovetail joints and a heavy gauge wire under plate. An onboard chicken head volume control makes it a one-stop solution without the need for a preamplifier. Perfection!

Driven by the 12AX7 and rectified with a 6CA4, the Gillespie Magnavox EL84 circuit is very articulate and forward sounding. Of the half dozen or so single ended EL84 amps I’ve owned to date, this one has the most forwardly driven, toe-tapping sound. A simple circuit with a big bold sound, this little amp sounds like it ate it’s Wheaties and is ready to run!

Paired with an efficient wide band driver like the Visaton B200 or the Zenith 49CZ852, this small amp sings. A seemingly high gain amp, this one has no hum or noise of any kind at idle and portrays a fairly aggressive sound profile. In practice, I have never really gotten beyond 9:00 on the dial with this amplifier, and even at quite low volume the image and in the room feeling is strong and vibrant. EL84 tubes come in a variety of vintages and flavors, and in this amplifier 1960’s Siemens and Telefunken power tubes have been my primary application. Driven by a smooth plate Telefunken 12AX7, the vintage German sound is full and robust.

Single ended amplifiers offer such an amazing sound, and EL-84 is one of my all time favorites. It pairs well with lots of speakers and is always a pleasing sound. This special little amplifier is quite a performer, and definitely checks all of the boxes on what I think is best practice for a new amplifier; high quality vintage parts used in a modern circuit. The obvious attention to detail on this one brings it to another level altogether. There are a lot of SE EL-84 amps out there, but very few as nice as this one. Highly recommended.

This is a very clean and pleasing build. I love the pronounced wood grain and dovetail joints.

One odd feature of this amp is the power receptacle, in this case its built for the strange little power cords that come with a DVD player or the old Mac Mini computers. A strange choice but it works fine.

Here with Mullard EL84 tubes. An excellent choice and a warm comfortable sound.

Here it is running the Bendix 6094 super tubes. With these tubes in place the amp is sharp and driven sounding.