Single Ended Type 46 by Oliver Sayes

Here is one of my top 3 favorite amplifiers so far, an unusual little single ended type 46 amplifier. The type 46 is a tube with which I have no previous experience, but that turns out to be quite a sleeper. Available in both the early globe and later ST shapes, the 46 is a robust looking tube that is slightly larger than the 45 and was in production until the late 1940s. Its not a true triode, but was intended to be run as one. Apparently its a very versatile tube with a lot of potential uses. I can say one thing for sure, its a truly great audio tube. And prices are still very modest in comparison to 45, 2a3 and 300b triodes.

This amplifier was built by Oliver Sayes, known as Sonic_Oli online. This is the first amplifier of Oliver's that I've owned, but after having this one for a few weeks I quickly snapped up another of his creations, the huge Thomas Mayer 45 on the next page.

This amplifier features the 46 driven by Western Electric 417a for about 1.5 watts per channel. Its rectified by the type 80 tube, a great choice in my opinion. Type 80 tubes have a great depth to their sound and are still available in the old 1930s globes, with massive long plates. One of the most important features of this amp are the output transformers and chokes, which are somewhat rough looking Partridge units. It turns out that Partridge are very well regarded vintage transformers, and I would have to agree. This is, for me, the "best" sounding amplifier I have yet owned.

I've tried 3 of the 5842 variants; by Raytheon, Amperex and the original Western Electric pictured here. The WE tubes are definatley superior and if starting fresh, I'd cut to the chase and go straight for those, even though they are twice to three times the cost of the Amperex. I'm hoping they are very long lived tubes and so well worth the investment.

A lovely 80 globe by Philco, circa 1930ish. The 80 is my favorite.