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  1. #1
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    Smile $189 APPJ ( Miniwatt N3 ) Single Ended Triode

    My friend DJ from Charlotte brought his EL84 - 12AX7 Miniwatt N3 to my house recently and I was blown away with how good it sounded. I can't imagine any amp competing with the N3 even at three times it's price point.

    APPJ EL84+12AX7 mini tube amp ( Original miniwatt N3 ) | eBay

    It's sad to see folks on audio forums drinking the kool aid hype of high end and shelling out mega bucks for "BLING" amps that can't touch the inner detail and dynamics of this pint sized wonder.

    Paired with some easy to build open baffle full range speakers the N3 could easily be the centerpiece in a final destination system - it's that good!

  2. #2
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    Poultrygeist knows whereof he speaks. My brother and I stopped at his house and listened to no less than 4 different systems. They had a common theme; low watt tubes driving full range transducers. What we heard was headshakingly amazing. Full range drivers mounted on open baffles, coupled w/bass augmentation, were startling in their clarity and image. The sound stage was deep and wide. A phenomenol setup for jazz and classical, yet plenty robust with bass-heavy blues. Textures, details, shimmer, resonance - it was all there in spades. My brother declared it "the best I've ever heard."
    While I'm still a novice at this stuff, I've heard and priced some impressive systems. From what I've experienced, one would have to spend 300 - 400% more for sonic equality, and much more for limited and incremental improvement. And from what I've been reading, the low watt amp/full range high efficiency speaker is a not-so-quiet revolution that is gaining momentum daily.

  3. #3
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    cackalacky, thanks for your objective comments on this less traveled audio path I've taken. Hearing is believing.

    My passion for this topic comes from years of the never ending, high dollar, high power race with low efficiency multi-driver speakers and always thinking I was just one upgrade away. That "something is missing" feeling led me to searching for a better way and I found it the day the little Tekton's arrived and were hooked up to the original Miniwatt.

    Having discovered what I'm convinced is a better, cheaper, and more sensible way, I'd love to see others give it a try. I wish I had had someone to encourage me years ago before I wasted so much time and money on gear that always left me wanting for more.

  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    It's certainly tempting to try out SET at that price. One problem is I don't have suitable speakers to go with it.

  5. #5
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    For $100 plus a sheet of plywood cut for free at Home Depot you can have these. I doubt there's a cheaper/better intro to full range sound and SET that these Betsy's and the Miniwatt N3. One guy on this forum sold some very expensive speakers after slapping the Betsy's together. He sent me a personal message thanking me for one of my posts which encouraged trying the Betsy's.

    Wild Burro Audio Labs - DIY Full Range Speakers

  6. #6
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    Mrs. Poultrygeist and Miss Betsy

    These gussied up Betsy's are highly efficient and will play as loud as anyone could want when driven by the 3.5 watts of the N3 single ended triode amp.


  7. #7
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    Hey P.G., your too good man! Thanks for the heads up on the amp and Betsy's. I have made it a point throughout the years to stay clear from Amazon and eBay....but not anymore. I can't resist the amp at the price point. Besides, yesterday I committed to getting a pair of Devore Fidelity 3XL speakers with an efficiency rating of 90. I will keep you posted.
    Last edited by LeRoy; 02-10-2012 at 01:45 PM. Reason: typo
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  8. #8
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    Hey LeRoy - 90db speakers will work with a 3.5 watt SET amp ( running in Class A ) but you may not have that much headroom.

    I once drove some 84 db Aerials with the 2.5 watt MW and it wasn't bad in a small bedroom listening to the kind of music you'd play in a bedroom.

  9. #9
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    Well, now all I have to do is hurry up and wait..

    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    Hey LeRoy - 90db speakers will work with a 3.5 watt SET amp ( running in Class A ) but you may not have that much headroom.

    I once drove some 84 db Aerials with the 2.5 watt MW and it wasn't bad in a small bedroom listening to the kind of music you'd play in a bedroom.
    I just completed the order a few moments ago. I will give the amp a shot over a the dealers showroom with the Devore's and if it drives them like I think it will then it won't be long before the Devore's are right where they belong--with me.

    Thanks again for all your great info.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    For $100 plus a sheet of plywood cut for free at Home Depot you can have these. I doubt there's a cheaper/better intro to full range sound and SET that these Betsy's and the Miniwatt N3. One guy on this forum sold some very expensive speakers after slapping the Betsy's together. He sent me a personal message thanking me for one of my posts which encouraged trying the Betsy's.

    Wild Burro Audio Labs - DIY Full Range Speakers
    Those are pretty cool but other problem I've got is where to put another pair of fairly large speakers. These aren't going to displace the Maggies.

  11. #11
    Ajani
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    Excellent link Poultry! Keep spreading the word about affordable SET & OB and even obstinate bastards like me will eventually try one out...

    That price on the miniwatt is mighty tempting...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post

    I once drove some 84 db Aerials with the 2.5 watt MW and it wasn't bad in a small bedroom listening to the kind of music you'd play in a bedroom.
    All I ever do is play music in my bedroom because that is where my rig resides.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  13. #13
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    You can fold each of the wings on a Betsy resulting in a skinny speaker and hide it behind drapes when you're not playing it.

    A folding room divider would also make a good baffle for a pair of Betsy's.

  14. #14
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    LeRoy,

    You are gonna like the N3 but you'll probably need to roll all three tubes. I don't believe the N3 comes with a power cord but if you're like the rest of us you've got a spare or two. I think DJ has Mullards in his but I'm not positive.

  15. #15
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    LeRoy,

    N3 tube recommendations: ( 2 ) new matched EL84 JJ's, Tung Sols, or vintage Amperex, Sylvania, Mullard

    ( 1 ) vintage 12AX7 RCA clear top, Mullard or Conn, Baldwin, Lowrey, or other organ tube ( organ tubes had higher fidelity standards )

  16. #16
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    PG, thanks for the much needed tube recommendations.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  17. #17
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    Unit arrived today all in one piece and without blemishes. No user manual but it's simple. One analogue input for a source and speaker inputs for banana's only. Much to my surprise, behind the unit, the speaker inputs have options for 8 ohm, 6 ohm, and 4 ohm speakers. The color of the unit is like a brushed silver and very nice indeed.

    At this writing I am 4 songs into it and playing Sarah Jarosz- Song Up In Her Head. Right out of the box from the upper mids to the top end...sounds good right out of the box. A tad lean in the lower mids and bass is light but this is with stock tubes and have new tubes on the way to replace the stock tubes it came it. The unit has no problem driving my inefficient System-Audio Aura 1 bookshelf speakers. Volume setting is at 10:00, very enjoyable, and could listen at this volume level all day.

    Will let you guys know more as the amp gets seasoned. The Rogue is in "time-out" at the moment.
    Last edited by LeRoy; 02-24-2012 at 01:03 PM. Reason: add content
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  18. #18
    Ajani
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    Cool. Keep us posted on your findings. I know nothing about tubes but I'd suggest trying the stock tubes for a while before switching to the new ones.

  19. #19
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    My Miniwatt is the original 4 tube S1 which makes 2.5 watts vs 3.5 for your N3. Rolling the tubes made a drastic improvement as the stock no name Chinese tubes that came with mine were just horrible. Mine also has a diode mod which opened things up. The switching power supply, rare in a SET, no doubt helps the MW's performance.

  20. #20
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    Original APPJ/Miniwatt S1


  21. #21
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    Hi Ajani

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    Cool. Keep us posted on your findings. I know nothing about tubes but I'd suggest trying the stock tubes for a while before switching to the new ones.
    This morning, before the MiniWatt arrived, I ordered the following tubes:
    Northern Electric 12AX7

    and

    Preferred Series 7189 (Premium EL84)

    It already shipped today as well. Man, I am not used to such
    blazing service. The MiniWatt must have been shipped on the Star Trek Enterprise.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  22. #22
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    P.G., ya I have the same silver unit as the one in your pic. I have been playing the unit since about 2:30-ish today. To my ears...timbre and pitch in the low mids and bass are restricted but upper mids to treble is good right out of the box. In comparison to the Rogue Cronus Magnum..the Rogue has a more delicate top end and more extension with a richer lower midrange. Bass from the Rogue is on another level but consider the Rogue has had one month of duty plus has 9 tubes overall and 90 WPC at that.

    I am already considering ordering a second MiniWatt but this time the cryo'd version.

    Looking at the pic from ebay the APPJ logo is shown on the lower right faceplate but my unit has MiniWatt N3 on the faceplate.

    My System-Audio Aura 1 bookshelf speaker are rated at 84db but I hear no strain from the amp at all.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  23. #23
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    LeRoy,

    I hope you some day get to hear the Miniwatt paired with a 93db or higher full range single driver speaker with no filters or crossovers in the signal path.

  24. #24
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    I only thing I ever bought that was cryo'd was an electrical outlet and only because it was cheap.

    When I pulled the Miniwatt label off my amp, APPJ was printed underneath.

  25. #25
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    Okay, last update till the new tubes arrive on Friday.

    The Good:
    1) Consistency- from the first time I turned the unit on the snares have been snappy, the shimmer and taps on the cymbals with the varying tones depending on where the taps are placed has been a real treat to listen to. Being able to reveal the inner detail of a variety of recordings has also been a strong suit of the amp. Such is the detail that its easy to feel the shape of the singers lips/mouth during the enunciation of the lyric on the song, Man Of The Hour, by Norah Jones.
    2) Value- this little amp is neat to listen to and a great deal of musicality for so little money. The music just flows right and with the overall tonality I have no complaints.
    3) Fit and finish- no flaws or scratches or loose parts.
    4) I really like the volume knob. I can handle the knob with confidence knowing it won't skew when handled normally. Unlike the knob on the Rogue which is so sensitive that normal handling is actually too rough and will result in it getting stuck and thereby the remote can't get past certain points. So Kudos to APPJ for keeping the quality of workmanship high.
    5) Usable volume with all the music I've put on it remains good to 11:00. Depending on the quality of the recording I might be able to keep the volume consistent at 12:00 (with average recordings).
    6) The upper mid-bass and treble is accurate and is a great match with my speakers.
    7) It's cute, light, and easy to place wherever you want and would make a good traveling companion.


    The Bad:
    1) Beyond 12:00 on the volume the amp loses control of the bass and it just sounds totally smeared and off time. If the recording is of very good quality, say Cassandra Wilson - New Moon Daughter, then I have to leave the volume at 11:00 tops.
    2) Not really able to deliver music with the requisite dynamics. I did not realize how important the loss of dynamics would affect my emotional response to the music with the loss of dynamics.
    3) The lower mid bass pitch and timbre, while has improved some, still lacks some sustain.

    The Ugly:
    1) The loss of dynamics on one of my favorite songs from Hugh Maskela- Stimela (The Coal Train), really made me want to turn the amp off. There is so much emotion/sentiment and artistry in this song that was not present--such a severe drop in dynamics. The drop off was so big that it actually made my speakers sound puny. Even though my speaker are quite small they never have sounded puny till I played this song.
    2) Any burst of mid-bass energy is best appreciated within 2-3 feet in front of the speaker while the rest of the upper mids and top end propagate as they should toward the listener.

    Concluding:
    Even though this amp has bad and ugly that I have listed above...I still prefer the overall musicality of the MiniWatt N3 over what I used to have- Rega Brio 3 and Belles Soloist Amp & Pre. The amp is from the cloth of neutrality. This is not a bad thing! Most neutral products sound gray and boorish. However, not so with the MiniWatt. I am engaged into the presentation even though it's a small potato's kind of presentation.
    Last edited by LeRoy; 02-27-2012 at 06:26 PM. Reason: Typo/Add content
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

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