Class A amps without vacuum tubes?

I have a Volksamp that sits on a shelf. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s designed by Nelson Pass, and it’s essentially the last “upgraded” version of the famous Aleph 30. It’s 30 watts class A. If you live in the New England area (I live in NH), you can borrow it in your system to see if you like/can discern a difference.


My setup requires 2 power amps so the JC5 wouldn’t work out but thanks for the suggestion!

What a generous offer!
I am in SW Michigan so it’s a little too far to make the trip but a very gracious offer none the less.What a great group to be small part of.

Back in the day we raced at Star Speedway which I think was in NH. Either way it’s a beautiful state and part of the country.

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Yes, whether class A designs can be solid state without tubes is an easy question to answer, as has been done.

If you want to ruffle feathers ask whether topologies that are class A/B innately but biased to operate in class A over some specified range (I don’t think this is very hard to answer but some disagree), or even more acutely perhaps over their entire specified (but not operable) range (this one is tougher and reasonable people can disagree I suppose) are actually class A amps or class A/B amps. That’s a good popcorn-muncher…

I see that there are two A/B classifications too. I’ll bet that alone has generated a few thousand word “discussions”.

My favorite Ga/N design - at least for clever aesthetics (haven’t heard them).

The Ga/N MOSFET is encased in a glass tube. Upgrades are available by purchasing an upgraded “tube” instead of the entire amp.

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Cool. For some reason firefox says that website has a bug in it but thanks for the reference.

I got it to run in Edge. It is a very interesting solution.

No prob. I’m originally from Hawaii, and moved to NE when I decided to switch from banking to cooking. Went to Johnson & Wales, was a pro chef for a few years. I stayed because to me, actually having four seasons was really cool.

As I get older, not so much - especially having to clear snow off a 125ft driveway…


My Gryphon Antileon Evo, in fact all my Gryphon gear runs pure class A. When I had everything hooked up to my P20 I was at 800 watts max. Folks who know tube audio, I don’t at all, say this amp sounds tube-like. I think they mean that as a compliment. I love not having to worry about tubes or tube rolling. Just the next track. (But the one I am listening to now sounds swell)

It amuses me that the next thread listed is “M1200 Tube Rolling”.


After making this post and getting a couple of explanation replies I did a little more research and it seems like most of the amps at the top of the heap run in class A whether tube or solid state.
I think that by definition class A has the most fidelity and that fidelity to the source may just be the tube sound.
I am going to call this one solved.
Thanks all


I’m on maybe a similar journey so only wanted to offer the Pass Labs Technical Articles as wonderful reference resource for all things amp design. They’re written by Nelson Pass who I’m pretty sure could explain 3rd semester physics to a kindergartner.
I’ve read a few but the following is a really good Class A primer. I think it’s safe to say there’s a lot of subtle and not so subtle differences in any class of amp.

Another on distortion and feedback


Thanks for the links. Great articles from a master of their craft.

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Happy Cake Day!

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Thanks for the info :sunglasses:

I have read most of Nelson Pass’ articles over time, and consider him to be one of the most sensible and informed voices in audio. The one about distortion and feedback is excellent, and has pretty much defined the subject for me.


IMO the only way Class A amps like Gryphon (other than e.g. Pass Aleph which is much more similar) are similar to tubes may be in terms of a tonality-wise relaxed midrange.

Neither do most tube amps have the resolution of the Gryphon, nor the harmonic structure and control of their deep bass, nor have the Gryphon I remember anything of the palpable imaging and the lively, organic bass, midrange or treble of a tube amp.

Different worlds imo, which only those perceive as having something in common, who mainly listen for tonality effects.


I don’t recall which paper it was in, but one Of Sir Nelson’s comments that stuck with me is his findings that 1/3 prefer 2nd order harmonics, 1/3 prefer 3rd order, and 1/3 prefer neither or both.

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The problem with as clean as you can, is that the distortion profile of equipment like that is it usually has small amounts of higher order distortion without the benefits of 2nd harmonics to mask the little bit of higher order harmonic distortion.

I guess if you like to use DSP to make it sound the way you like it, that’s fine too.