Music’s always going to have occasional throwbacks—who would have expected that in 2019 we’d be seeing a renaissance in tubas and tenor guitars? In the related field of high-end audio, though, the throwback may soon become the norm. Many audiophiles are rejecting modern amplifiers that deliver hundreds of watts of power, instead embracing so-called “flea-watt” amps with power ratings of 10 watts per channel or less. Some of these low-powered amps employ technology that was already considered outdated when Sonny Rollins cut his first album. Such amps used to be novelties, but I’d estimate that about a quarter of the demo rooms at most audio shows now feature flea-watt amps.
Can Less Be More?