While Gary Bronner and I were discussing the upcoming A5 ‘Voice of the Theatre’ project, he was telling me about his recent visit to Sun Audio in Tokyo. It sounded like such a fun trip I asked Gary if it would be ok to share it with all of you, as I thought you’d all enjoy hearing about it.
A business trip took me to Japan a few weeks ago and I had a chance to stop by the electronics district in Tokyo, Akihabara. I’ve done this quite a few times and I’ve developed a few places that I like to visit. One of them is Sun Audio, who makes some well known SET amplifiers.
I own one of their Sun VT-25 amps, which I bought on a trip back in 2000. I still use it and think it’s a great bang for the buck amp, or it was for the price that I paid back then. Adjusting for inflation, prices today seem about 2-times higher than what they were 15 years ago. I guess the cost of materials has gone up a lot in recent years.
When I stopped by Sun Audio this time, I ran into the owner, Mr. Uchida. The shop looked very much like it has over the years, with a small space packed full of amplifiers, speakers, and parts for the DIY’er.
The amp in my pictures (above) is the SV-50TSM, which is the new and fancier parallel singled ended monoblock 50 amplifier that Uchida is now building. It’s got switchable balanced/unbalanced input with an input transformer and transformer coupling between the 6V6 driver tube and the parallel 50 outputs. It’s not yet on the Sun Audio website, not even the Japanese page.
Compared to my last visit, which was probably 5 years ago, Mr. Uchida has designed a new series of amplifiers that he seems quite proud of. They are a set of transformer coupled parallel single ended monoblocks. The SV-2A3TSX is a 2A3 PSE monoblock and the SV-TE/50TSX is a PSE 50 monoblock.
Uchida-san seemed most taken with the PSE 50 monoblocks and was playing those while I was there. He was using these to drive some Altec horn speakers, perhaps Valencias, but I’m not completely sure of the model.
He played some jazz and a video of the Eagles Hotel California, which sounded very realistic.
He was using NOS 50 tubes but seemed to also like the Psvane 50s, which he showed have almost identical construction to the NOS tubes. He said they sound a bit more “solid”, by which I think he meant solid state, and that they needed more time to break in.
These amps don’t show up on the English Sun Audio webpage but one can read a bit about them on the Japanese page here.
I found them to be a good step up from the simpler design of his old 2A3 and VT-25 amps, which are still available. But of course they’re about twice as expensive, so they should be better. I thought it worth mentioning these amplifiers since they don’t seem to have gotten much attention in the west.
Many thanks to Gary for sharing his audio adventures with us! I love the looks of that SV-TE/50TSX Sun Audio amp, Gary!