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DeHavilland GM70 Amplifier

After hearing Kara Chaffee’s amazing deHavilland GM70 amplifiers ($9,995/ pair; dehavillandhifi.com) at the Consumer Electronics Show last January, I knew I had to have them in-house for a proper evaluation. The amps (these are monoblocks, meaning there is a separate amp for the left and right channels) possess an uncanny magic that it seems only single-ended tube amplifiers can produce-the ability to reproduce music in a startlingly realistic fashion. Now, when I say startling, that is not an exaggeration. The GM70s repeatedly caught me off guard with their faithfulness to the music, producing goose bumps during many of my listening sessions. Passing this goose bump test puts the GM70s in a rarified league indeed. They offer immediacy and resolution in spades but, more important, transmit the emotional content of a performance in a way very few amplifiers can.

Briefly, a single-ended amplifier uses only one tube to power each speaker (some designs use as many as eight per channel) so the musical signal remains more coherent. These particular amps are designed around the GM70 tube that was developed for use in Soviet tanks, guaranteeing durability and a long life. In addition, Chaffee chose this tube because it is capable of producing more power-50 watts in this case-than typical single-ended designs, which use less potent “glass” and are characteristically lower powered, normally ranging from three watts to somewhere in the mid-teens. Chaffee’s intent has always been to produce single-ended amps with enough power to drive the “real world” speakers most of us own.

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