User Reviews/Feedback for Sophia Electric™ S.E.T. Music Baby Amplifiers

Received date: January 20, 2012

Just wanted to congratulate the wonderful work that you at Sophia Electric have done in creating the Baby.

I purchased the Baby in my quest to build a relatively budget conscious system that would produce that life like sound we all strive to hear.

I've read so many great reviews about the Baby that I was only going to be satisfied by hearing it for myself and I can now after owning the Baby for several months,attest to the amazing sound that everyone has raved about in reviews.

I have purchased just a few different amps over the years, Dynaco 70, PrimaLuna Prologue 1, PeachTree Audio Nova, & Dared MP-2a3c, but none put that smile on my face like the Baby did when I first introduced it to my system.

One of the first things I notice was the excellent build quality and then as it was warming up how dead quite this amp was.

The Baby and it's robust 10 watts, drives my ZuAudio Essence (96db) speakers through a set of ZuAudio Libtec cables, with a Cambridge Audio Azur 740c connected with SoundSilver Symmetry interconnects.

This combination has produced a wonderful life like sound stage that is not only dynamic but has such fantastic imaging and left me wanting to just sit and smile as I played my entire collection of jazz and classical cd's over and over.

But the thing that really sealed it for me was when my wife walked into my audio room and sat down, looked at me, smiled and said without knowing the actual name, "that Baby really sounds good". I just smiled back and kept enjoying the wonderful experience.

The Baby is really wonderful and I can't wait to try your 300b next,although I will never give up the Baby.

Keep up the good work. Thanks,

John

Received date: October 4, 2011

To Sophia Electric,

I purchased a Baby Sophia second hand from the original owner about a year ago and just love it. It is beautifully made, the tubes are very affordable, and best of all the sound this little amp makes is incredible. I run an AR ES-1 turntable directly into the Baby Sophia and listen through a pair of Klipsch Quartets. On a good recording the sound is almost lifelike. The instruments seem to float against a pitch black background. The Baby Sophia plays jazz, vocals and acoustic guitar particularly well in my system. It has an articulate and clean sound which lends itself to many hours of enjoyable listening.

Stephen

Received date: May 12, 2010

Just thought I would drop you a line to tell you, now that the upgraded (caps and old stock WE 396a's) Baby is all burned in, I have to tell you how VERY special this amp is. I have never had an amp (or listened to many) that can deliver the truth of timbre and delineate instruments as well as properly locate them in the sound stage, as can the Baby. I don't know how you achieved all that in such a demure package, but I am tremendously impressed. Now if you had an affordable amp with a bit more power that can do what the Baby can, I want one! Keep up the good work!

Best regards,

Dan B. Thomason

Received date: December, 2008

Dear Richard:

I just wanted to thank you for assisting my wife with her recent purchase of our new Sophia Electric 'Baby' amplifier. It is among the very few amps in the past 15 years or so that I did not build myself, and although I see that PSU filter and signal coupling capcitor changes would be straightforward, I have no intention of making any modifications. The level of power supply rejection is outstanding, making it perhaps the single most quiet vacuum tube design we have used. Although the amplifier is still quite new, its bass response is tight, with no overhang of notes, and its midrange and HF response have a wonderful sense of presence and clarity. We are using the amp in a 2.1 system which consists of a subwoofer to fill in below about 60Hz, with the left and right channels covered by a small, two-way design (sealed) I put together with drivers from Seas and Vifa. We listen primarily to classical Baroque, classical guitar, and acoustic jazz at moderate volume levels, and we find the 'Baby' to be very clear and musical; it reproduces the natural tonal characteristics and timbre of instruments in a way that is life-like and immediate.

Although I have been thoroughly satisfied with its performance with the small speakers mentioned above, I am also looking forward to using the amp with our far more efficient Lowther and Klipschorn systems. Both are extremely revealing of the electronics with which they are used, but, based on what we have heard so far, I anticipate extremely good results!

I was very impressed with the craftsmanship, both inside and out, and dressing of power supply and signal wiring is superb -- difficult to find such quality at this price-point.

Thanks once again for assisting my wife -- and for designing the Sopiha Electric 'Baby.' It is a small but extremely robust amp with a very big heart.

Regards,

Erik Mandaville

Dear Sir,

I purchased the "Baby" through Washington Highend Audio earlier this year. It is input directly from a Quad FM3 Tuner and powering vintage factory Birch ply Lowther Acousta cabinets with DX3 drivers (old style whizzer, later phase equalizer and PM series magnet cavity filled with high density foam). The clarity and presence of voice, brass and strings are particularly good. Overall balance is surprisingly even with no sibilance or harshness with the bass extension on organ music being extremely clean. Bags of headroom as one would expect with these highly efficient speakers.

Purely as an experiment I tried it with my Quad ESL63s, not expecting it to drive them well being much less efficient and a difficult load. Although it could not reach high sound levels in a large room, the imaging and frequency range were very impressive and one never tired of extended listening.

Very good all round performance for a very reasonable price.

Congratulations!

Sincerely,

David J. Millea-Hunt
Seattle, WA, U.S.A.

Dear Sue,

After auditioning the baby amp in my bedroom system for one week now I can tell you that I am amazed from this little bugger. I wouldn't believe that an amplifier of this size and cost would sound so good.

I use it with a pair of ProAc Tablette speakers and the imaging, soundstaging are phenomenal. I've never heard my little speakers sound so good before in my bedroom. And the midrange is as lifelike as it gets.

In certain areas I admit that this setup outperforms my bigger sound system.

One more thing, you put me into trouble because my wife now urges me to sell my components in my big system (she thinks they are ugly) and buy units as beautiful as the baby amp.

Well done.

Regards.

Aris Petropoulos
November 10, 2004

As I am shopping around for a good intergrated to run my Tetra 305 Kids I picked up a Sophia Electric Baby amp to use on an intrim basis. For the money and the positive reviews I decided to take a chance but was concerned that the 10 wpc may not be enough to run the 88db 8ohm Kids.

Richard at Sophia Electric was very helpfull and indicated that he would allow me to step up to the EL34 if I needed more power.

To my surprise the amp seems to run the Kids well in an 18 x21 room. This is a fun amp to listen to. The mids are very impressive with an emphasis on top end. Bass was good with the stock input tubes.

Richard suggested that I try the Western Electric input tubes and wow. The bass improved with more control and the sound seemed to balance out.

Build quality is very nice and for the money this is a very musical amp which you can listen to for hours.

Art, MA

Dear Richard:

On the day when I received the Baby Amp in September, I was so excited to try it immediately. The first thing I wanted to find out was, even before the Baby Amp was not fully burned in, if there is any hum and noise with the Baby Amp. To my surprise, I could only hear a very very little hum with my ear tightly leaned to the speaker when the volume was turned all the way up without input. I could not believe this. When I was a teenager, I made a few tube amplifiers. All I remembered was the annoying hum. As I understand, proper grounding is very important when making a tube amp. Apparently, the Baby Amp must have very good design and components.

I then had the Baby Amp turned on for couple of days in order to have it burned in. I have a pair of Klipsch RB-3 speakers which is rated 94db/1m/1w, Monster Cable Z series speaker cable, a self-made Asylum Power cable made from Marino hospital grade power plug, Wattgate IEC plug and shielded power cable. I've tried different types of interconnects like shielded and copper twisted pair.

On the third day, I pluged in an Onkyo DVD/CD changer directly into the Baby Amp using a pair of AR shielded interconnects. However, it did not sound right. The high was rolled off and not transparent. I tried other interconnects and could not solve the problem. The problem went away when I found out that I needed to change the Onkyo audio output setting to analog stereo mode. Even though there was signal from the analog output when the changer was set to digital mode, the sound came out from analog output was not right.

I tried a few classical, opera and instrumental music CDs. The Baby Amp gave out the best mid range sound I had ever heard. With the correct placement of the speakers, the bass was strong enough even with these Klipsch bookself speakers. The high was crisp but not irritating. Without any tone(bass & treble) control on the Baby Amp, no coloration would be added to the sound. The Baby Amp reproduced a very warm and sensational human vocal, which was what to expect from a tube amp. The Baby Amp sounded better and better after a few weeks of on and off playing. The Baby Amp would make you addicted to listening to music. I have to turn it on every day when I get home from work.

The only drawback I'd found on the Baby Amp was that it only had one input, since I would like to hook up a FM tuner without switching cables. I would either need an input selection box or a passive preamp with input selections. A line stage preamp with low gain and input selections would also do the job. Due to this, I'd made a tube 5670 buffer(no gain) preamp with 4 input selections. The buffer preamp worked well with the Baby Amp. However, the buffer added some hum to the sound when the volume was turned all the way up. That was not a big problem in exchange for input selection convenience. A ground loop might have created between the buffer preamp and Baby Amp that caused the hum. However, the buffer preamp worked very with other solid-state amplifiers with no hum.

The Baby Amp is a good product, which every music lover may want to own. Keep up with your good work.

Eric Yan

Richard,

I want to tell you a story about how system matching is MUCH more important then cost of equipment.

I recently set up in my store a "reference" system to show my customers what could be had for some serious dollars. Using a pair of Usher AC-10's ($8000-a pair) powered by a Pass Labs X250 250 watt/channel amplifier ($6000-) along with a Pass Labx X1 pre-amplifier ($5900-) and an Audiomecca Mephisto IIX CD player ($6800-) I set out to truly blow away my customers. With a total of approximately $27,000- worth of equipment and an additional $4000- in wire, power conditioners and accessories I did just that, I blew away my customers. Unfortunately I blew them away with how much you can spend to get mediocre sound. Good dynamics and coherence, accurate, but a soundstage as flat as a board and a soft as day old ice cream. Something wasn't right. The Usher's HATED the Pass gear.

On a whim (and immense curiosity) I swapped out the CD player for an Audio Refinement CD complete (1/6th the cost of the Audiomecca) and the X1 and X250 for, you guessed it, the $900- Sophia Electric Baby amp. The result was nothing short of breathtaking. The speakers needed at least a 50% turn on the volume knob to do it, but the music appeared. Although a subtle dynamic degradation occurred (hey, it's ONLY 10 watt's!!!) the soundstage exploded in every direction. I could have gotten up and danced with the performers since I could pin point exactly where each one was. And the sound improved more as the Baby warmed up and broke in.

Now the AC-10's are an 87dB sensitivity speaker whose impedance (fortunately) never goes below 6 ohms but they are, by no means, an ideal match (or even a good match for that matter) for a 10 watt/channel S.E.T. Music Baby tube amp. In fact, the amplifier is smaller in size then one driver in the AC-10's.

Oh, and as far as I'm concerned, the Baby sounds even better if you swap out the $8000- Usher AC-10 and replace them with a pair of $1800- Meadowlark Kestrel II's. Now THAT's system matching!!!

By the way, you are welcome to use this letter as positive feedback on your website, just mention me as one of your dealers (no name of me or the store please). I'd rather Pass Labs and Audiomecca not take offense inadvertently from my implications. Their products are reference level and, with the right speakers, generate the kind of sound most people never dream can exist.

Thanks,

One of Sophia Electric’s dealers

G,day Richard,I thought I would let you know how impressed I am with the Baby amp. As I am using a Norh CD-1 at the moment I was concerned at how it would sound after reading the TNT-Audio review. The thinness and brightness he describes does not exist at least to my ears. Straight out of the box the sound was quite enjoyable with mainly a bloaty feel to the bass which will improve as it runs in. I'm currently running it with my Norh SM6.9 Speakers(87db) and it surprised me the level of volume (without pushing it) I could get. Will be pulling out my Rogers Ls8a(90db) to use until I decide to get the Omega Speakers from Louis. It should be fully run in by then.

To reiterate this is a bloody wonderful amp, the build quality is fantastic in this price range and above and the sound even though it still has to run in shows the signs of how good it will get.

If you get any other requests from New Zealand asking about this amp or client service please get them to contact me.  And if your ever looking for an agent down here let me know.

Kindest Regards,

Peter Ball
Leighs Marketing Ltd
567 Wairakei Road
Christchurch
Tel 64 3 358 3685
Fax 64 3 358 9860

Richard,

I am not sure where to start. I have had the Baby Amp for about 48 hours playing non stop.

My system consists of the following.

Cary 306/200 CD player

Cary 98P Pre amp

Cary 805c Power amps

Coincident Victory Loudspeakers

Interconnect and speaker cable are Empirical silver

The CD player and pre amp are being powered by a PS Audio P300

I called Sophia Electric to buy a pair of 300b mesh plate tubes so I wouldn’t use up my coveted Western Electric 300b tubes. After receiving the Sophia Electric tubes I quickly realized that this tube is every bit as musical and magical as the WE at fraction the cost. I will be buying a back up before Richard and the fine people at Sophia Electric realize that they could charge more.

Back to the reason for this review, during my conversation with Richard, he suggested that I try his new Baby Amp. I ordered one with return policy. About a week and half later the amp shows up at my door step. Upon opening the box I came to a first impression, how could an amp of this size be considered "High End". Plugging the amp in, my suspicions were immediately confirmed, it just was not up to the task. I didn’t have the amp plugged in for an hour when my phone rings and it is Richard from Sophia Electric, how he knew the amp had arrived just an hour earlier I have no idea. He tells me just leave it on for 24 hours non stop before I judge it. I knew this having had Cary for so many years which take forever to break in. He also told me to take my pre amp out of the loop and run the CD player directly into the amp. That next afternoon I again sat down and took a listen. A total transformation from a very thin sounding amp with virtually no sound stage to one that has extreme extended highs without being to bright. A very full base again without being boomy. The sound stage became three dimensional. Ren’ee Fleming’s voice "The Beautiful Voice" was front and center, well ahead of the orchestra. The orchestra filled up the whole back wall with a very full sound. I continually had to remind myself that this was an $800.00 integrated amp I was listening to. A Cary 805c it is not, but, at less than 10 times the cost of a pair of Cary’s, it delivers 90%+ the performance.

This amp is totally user friendly, one just needs to plug the tubes in and play, no biasing needed. One who is considering getting his/her first tube amp but is intimidated by the thought of biasing and the general up keep that goes along with many other tube amps not to mention the cost of the replacement tubes, this amp is for you. Richard tells me re-tubing the Baby Amp costs just over $60.00 dollars. In today’s world one can spend multiples of that for just one tube for other amps. In my opinion this amp deserves to be considered "High End".

Bob Jones

Richard,

Now that I have listened to the Sophia Electric Baby amp driving my AKG K1000 headphones for a while, I have written up a lengthy and detailed review comparing that combination to another high end headphone listening system (Sennheiser HD580 headphones and Sugden Headmaster amp). You can see my write up posted on the Head-Fi.org web site at: http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=37865 My primary objective and responsibility in the write up was to provide as much information and personal assessment as possible for the Head-Fi audience on both the headphones and the amplifiers. As such, it's not strictly a review of the Sophia Electric Baby amp. Nevertheless, my comments on the Baby are quite positive overall (with a few caveats). Here's an excerpt: "The sonic imaging of the K1000/Sophia Electric combination is so detailed and precise that sometimes I am just dumbfounded. The Sophia Electric amp is also dead silent on its own. Even with the volume turned up to the maximum (with no source input), there is no hum or noise whatsoever, which in itself is quite a feat for any tube amp. This creates a blackness of background that further enhances the imaging of the system. Instruments and notes just appear out of nowhere into a precise location in or around the head, then vanish back into nothingness." You're welcome to check out the full write up. If you register on Head-Fi, you could even post your own comments on the thread, however, forum etiquette would dictate that you identify yourself as a representative of the manufacturer. Thanks for building such a nifty little amp.

Regards, Steve Hoffenberg shoffenberg@yahoo.com

Dear Richard/Sue,

I am the customer from Hong Kong who purchased the Sophia Electric Baby Amp from you.

The Baby Amp is really performing well! I am using it to drive a pair of AKG K-1000 Headphones, through the loudspeaker outputs and it sounds so transparent, liquid and so very sweet. It performs better than the Audio Valve RKV amp which is a famous amp for driving the K-1000's.

Congratulations on making a fine product!

Thank You and Best Regards,

S. K. Cheong

Hi, Richard, I received your baby amp. It was everything that I expected it to be. It presents a very realistic soundstage, and sonically it sounds much bigger than its size and power rating would imply. It also has lots of detail. There is nothing that I have heard in its price and power range that comes close to it. It is a little Gem indeed. Any of your potential client may call me to learn more.

Norman Skillings
Biddeford Maine