Triode Lab 2A3 Integrated

“I'd be the last person to argue against audio diversity and the forward march of progress, but I do believe that everybody should be required by law to enjoy the pleasure of a good SE 2A3 amplifier for a while. There is great reference value in knowing how much you can get with so little.” --Joe Roberts, Sound Practices

Triode Labs is one of those brands that I’ve been looking at from afar for a long time. I remember a few years back when I first saw a Triode Lab amp; it was a 2A3 on a cool looking chassis with Tamura iron and good product photography. It looked great, but was unfortunately a few thousand dollars out of my price range. Oh well, good things come to those who wait. And so one day this cool Triode Lab 2A3 integrated popped up used for a good price and at a time when I had the cash in hand, so I grabbed it.

The 2A3 is a tube that I’ve only recently come to appreciate, having owned a few now in the past 2 years after previously never having had one in almost 20 years of tube audio. Compared to the 2A3, I’ve spent a lot more time living with the 45 and the 300B, the type 10 and the 71a. In some ways the 2A3 has all of the best characteristics of those triodes wrapped into one solid, imperturbable package that makes a sweet golden tone on par with any of its siblings. The 45 is a bit ballsier, the 300B is more lush and fat, the 10 is clarity defined, and the 71a has some strange, unique ambiance all its own. But the 2A3 spans the gap with a big helping of each of these qualities. And with 3.5 single ended watts per channel (a regular powerhouse of the triode world!) its a choice that is sure to please and that will be at home on a wide variety of speakers and program material. As Mr. Roberts said, “I never met a 2A3 I didn’t like.

The Triode Labs 2A3 Integrated doesn't disappoint! Hooked up to my Resonessence Labs Invicta Mirus Pro DAC and a Merrill PolyTable with a Hana ML cart, the 2A3 makes music come alive, with big images and a depth and space that is well defined but is also very open and relaxed. It conveys an ease that feels very natural and yet all of the detail and pulse of the music are well portrayed and easy to take in. The amazing Mirus Pro serves up every single little morsel of the content, and the Triode lab doesn't miss a beat. This is a very easy to listen to amplifier! For a lot of program material, the Triode Lab and the 100 db/wm Lii F18 panels feel like an almost ideal marriage of tone and image. I found this to be less the case with the Visaton B200, which at 6 ohms might not be an ideal load for the Triode Lab amp. It still sounded good on the Visatons, but I felt that it improved notably when switched back to the Lii F18. For some reason that is a strong combination.

I’ve run a number of 2A3 tubes in the amp now and the anonymous, unmarked pair that came with the amplifier (perhaps Sovtek) sound as good as any of them in this amp. In the 6SN7 slot I have most enjoyed a tall glass pair of 7N7 on adapters, which I liked better than quite a few other choices. I’ve yet to try a modern 6SN7 like the Psvane or Sophia, but perhaps soon. So far I have not experimented much with the rectifier, but time will tell. I think there are a variety of choices there as well, making the Triode Lab a very flexible tube rolling platform.

In the few months I’ve had the Triode Lab 2A3 Integrated, I’ve become spoiled by it. It sounds wonderful, but that fidelity also comes with the benefit of simplicity and flexibility. Most of the amps that move through my “reference” system are one input, hopefully with a volume control, but often without. The top shelf amps tend to be straight power amps, not integrated, so I spend a lot of time with a single input and a passive volume control. Switching between digital and vinyl has been a bit of a chore and sometimes requires some planning, so I do appreciate the flexibility of multiple inputs and the smooth action volume control on this definitely top-shelf sounding Triode Lab single ended amp. The Triode Lab 2A3 makes a great centerpiece in my reference system, and sounding as good as it does with such a flexible and expandable tube set, it's a solid and easy to recommend choice for any music lover who can make it’s 3 watts of pure audio bliss work in their system.

Single ended amps are a lot of fun but tend to be quite simple affairs with sparse creature comforts, especially, ironically, in the case of the top end stuff, which is often particularly Spartan. Here we have a top sounding amp built with all of the luxury and ease of implementation a simple man such as myself could reasonably want (save perhaps a remote control). I love it.

Nice lines, this is a big Amplifier. Pictured here with JJ 2A3-40.

12AU7 here are my favorite RCA Cleartops.

Excellent quality connectors!

I believe there are a number of suitable rectifiers for this amplifier, this is a 5V4.

Proudly made in Canada. I think this is my first Canadian amplifier.

This amp has very classic lines, it's a good looking piece of gear.

Here it is running the Sophia Princess 2A3, definitely a great sounding 2A3 tube!