Parallel Single Ended Darling 1626

Here is an interesting little amplifier, a 1626 “Darling” amp built as a parallel single ended configuration for twice the power, bringing the Darling sound up to a whopping 1.5 watts per channel. On par sound-wise with the 45, 46 and Type 10, this little amp has its own flavor of triode and sounds very good. As I mentioned in my comments on my previous single ended 1626, the diminutive little tube comes with a big bark and that is definitely in evidence here. This amplifier sounds quite powerful on appropriate speakers, and no one would guess it is such a low power output.

The 1626 is a very high quality tube, likely designed by RCA, but produced by several makers. Many of the old boxes I have are marked Western Electric, but are more likely Tung Sol production. First produced in 1939, it basically fell out of mass production by the early 1950s with the last tubes rolling off the line in 1966. Then 1626 saw service in WW2 as a ship to shore transmitting tube, and as such was made to a high spec, and is still available in good quantities for low prices. In fact, its about the most affordable triode I can think of that is still available in unopened JAN packaging from the 1940s. Its definitely a triode and has the triode sound in spades, but with its low output its not seen very often in the amplifier world, and certainly not as a production amplifier. No Chinese factory is gearing up to put out Darling amps! Although with its superb sound quality, that's actually a shame. This mini triode is a killer tube.

This particular amplifier was made by a gentleman in California who sells his creations on eBay. It's a bit rough looking, but the build quality is actually quite good, with decent quality parts. Tube rectifier by the 5AR4, always a good choice, the 1626 are driven by 8532W tubes, which are new to me. With a built in volume control and user switchable impedance, the amp is capable of working in most any system with appropriate speakers. Much like the 45, I'd say anything over 94 db/wm and lacking a complex crossover would be a good choice with an amplifier like this. More efficiency is better, and on my 97 db/wm panels this amp had no trouble whatsoever, and all without noise of any kind at idle, which is always a relief.

Lots of tubes right up front, but still a simple layout.

Switchable between 4, 8 and 16 ohms. The connectors are of good quality and the IEC sockets allows an "audiophile" power cord.