Lance Cochrane EL-84

Lance Cochrane is the guru of the scratch tube amp world. The amp below is one of Lance’s early creations; an EL-84 push pull amp built on a Thomas organ amp chassis, with the Thomas output transformers and Lance’s circuit.

This amp is a fantastic performer. I can see why Lance’s amps hardly ever come up on the used market, and in fact I've owned this one for about 12 years now; the longest of any audio component so far. MANY others have come and gone while this one has stayed put as the anchor of my second system. It has a sound that just seems so right. Putting out 12 or so watts per channel, the amp drives everything I have thrown at it with ease, and in total silence. The only time I have heard even tube rush from this amp was when driving 106 db/wm Beauhorn Lowther DX3. And the amp sounded phenomenal on the Lowthers, maybe the best of any amplifier I tried on the Beauhorns. Tons of space and image everywhere as is characteristic of Lance's amplifiers.

Update Fall 2020: I’ve owned this amplifier since 2007, and as stated above this is far and away the longest I have owned any audio component. There is a reason for that, its superb. I sent it out to Lance a few years back to add a volume control and he replaced some of the fancy upgraded caps someone had put in it before I owned it, and that had drifted out of spec. Since 2007, this amplifier has been the anchor of my living room system, what I consider my second system. I recently put a McIntosh MC225 in its place and moved Lance’s amp down into the main rig and I have to say, that back to back with Will Vincent’s 801a amp, which I consider to be probably the best imager I’ve had so far, Lance’s push pull EL845 is not very far behind. It simply sounds amazing on the big Lii Audio F-15 drivers at 100 db/wm. And the 12 watts of power does grip the speaker with authority. No noise or hum, just gloriously rich and detailed music. I have to say that as much as I love single ended amps, if I had to pair down to one amplifier and that was it, I’d chose the Lance Cochrane EL-84. It can play any speaker out there, from the ultra sensitive full range drivers all the way down to 82 db/wm multi-drivers and it will sound superb on all of them.

Still the star of the show after almost 14 years.

This is a basic looking, industrial-beautiful amp, but it sounds like a million bucks. Its one I cannot ever see myself parting with because it is just so “right”. Plug and play and forget about technicalities…just listen to the music.

Telefunken EL-84 seem to be some of the best performers of the EL-84 family.

One of the nice things about Lance’s circuit is that any of the 12AU/AX/AT7 tubes (and their richly varied equivalents) can be used in the driver slot. Here I have a Mullard 12AU7 and a pair of Conn labeled Sylvania 12AU7s. Another great tube here was the Telefunken smooth plate 12AX7. A bit more drive than the Mullard, but the Mullard seems smoother.

Basic parts, nothing too fancy. It really makes me wonder about all of those boutique parts so popular nowadays. Some of the amps out there have coupling caps that cost more than this whole amp as pictured.