Bottlehead Paramour 2A3 SET Monoblocks - Fully Upgraded
Lovely pair of Paramour 2A3 monoblocks. Fully upgraded with C4S active load and the legendary Bottlehead "Iron and Capacitor" upgrade. Includes a copy of the Bottlehead Manual, power cords, and set of stock tubes
(Electro-Harmonix 12AT7, Valve Art 2A3). The amps work perfectly and sound fantastic.
You will be surprised how authoritatively they will drive an efficient set of speakers - the music becomes "alive" and the ability to deliver solid bass is unexpected (thanks to the iron upgrade).
The amplifiers were finished with a custom black acrylic top plate. This lamination greatly strengthens the original steel plate which was under-spec’d especially with the added weight from the iron upgrade. Additionally, the black acrylic gives the amplifiers a really striking appearance. The exposed metal surfaces of the transformers were buffed to a satin finish. Custom bases were built and veneered with a beautiful bird's eye maple. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of applying Danish Oil to the veneer and it weakened the veneer adhesive causing it to pull free in a few places :( The bases still look nice and can probably be refinished/rescued if you carefully re-glue the loose areas of veneer - the veneer is still fully in tact with no tears, it is just loose in some places. I am rating the amps a "7" because of the base lamination issue - but in all other respects the amps would be an "8" or higher.
These amplifiers were expertly assembled by myself (take a look at the close up pictures). I've been building and selling Bottlehead gear for years now and my entire personal rig is completely Bottlehead - good stuff! This is actually the third Paramour I have built. The reason I'm selling this one is because I just built out a pair of 2A3 Paramounts. So the Paramours need to go in order to make room for their new siblings. If you look closely you will notice a few interesting enhancements I made to the Paramours:
- Lighted power switch - without a pilot light it was too easy to forget to make sure the amps were always turned off. It's not a good thing to waste precious life of expensive tubes! So when I build my Bottlehead gear I always incorporate some sort of power-on indicator.
- IEC AC power socket - the original design of the Paramours had the AC cord hard wired. I like the flexibility of being able to use different/upgraded power cords.
- Upgraded speaker terminals - I replaced the original speaker terminals with some really heavy duty gold binding posts. They look fantastic and are very substantial feeling - this was an important upgrade because I use quite heavy gauge speaker wires.
- Hum bias pot was flipped to be surface mounted on the top plate - I don't know why Doc originally designed the Paramounts with the pot only accessible from the bottom... I NEVER felt good about getting under there to make adjustments with HV present! Anyway, on these amps I re-worked the top plate to accommodate access from the top directly above the original mounting position - so there is no physical change to the signal path or induced hum.
- C4S board is mounted to the side instead of directly above the 12AT7 socket - cleaner look and more rigidly mounted compared to the original "wobbly" wires.
- Power supply filter choke directly mounted to top plate - Cleaner look and more rigidly mounted compared to the original "wobbly" spacers.
- Assembled with WBT Silver Solder and Stainless Steel mounting hardware throughout.
The amplifiers operate perfectly without any extraneous hum or noise. The C4S and Iron and Cap upgrades together with a good set of tubes really bring out the detail and magic of your music. The only other thing I can suggest is making sure you have a compatible set of speakers - you will be amazed at how full sounding the 3.5 watts put out by these amplifiers can sound with the right set of speakers (my personal favorites at the moment are Super 12's from Hammer Dynamics).
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Here's an official description of the Paramour Monoblocks and the upgrades:
Power is 3.5 watts at 5% THD at 1kHz. Bandwidth is -3dB at 25 Hz and 37 kHz. Hum is typically less than 2mV RMS. Input impedance is 270K ohms, output taps are 8 and 4 ohms, and the amp can also be configured for 16 ohm speakers. We recommend speakers of 96+dB sensitivity for serious listening with all kinds of music. 93 db speakers are satisfactory for less stringent requirements (chamber music, soft jazz, acoustical) and smaller rooms, and we even use a pair of Paramours in our shop with some 87 dB sensitivity monitors for non-intrusive background music. Sonics are hard to describe in print - suffice it to say that Paramour sounds like the very good SE2A3 amp it is. The parafeed output and C4S active load give the amp a remarkable sense of realism, bandwidth and bass articulation, particularly considering the price.
We have decided to update the original circuit to incorporate the C4S active load on the driver stage. This will significantly decrease noise and hum levels and increase the linearity of the driver stage. The previous version of the kits averaged about 20-30mV RMS hum with Valve Art 2A3s. With the C4S installed the hum level is reduced by approximately a factor of ten, to about 2mV RMS. Subjectively the C4S will also improve the transient speed and image localization of the amps. The change is not subtle and we feel that our customers will find the improvement significant.
The Paramour Iron and Cap upgrade offers several cost effective improvements to the stock Paramour kit. The stock parafeed output transformer is replaced with a custom-built-for-Bottlehead parafeed output transformer with greater inductance and double the power handling of the stock unit. The upgrade transformer comes with 4, 8 and 16 ohm taps for easy matching to most speakers. To get the best performance possible the new output transformer is matched to a MagneQuest BCP-15 plate loading choke. With 40 Henries of inductance, the brass channel frame mounted BCP-15 choke is the same one used in our custom order Excite 45 amp kit. To complement the capabilities of these quality inductors ICW Clarity Caps are included to replace the stock interstage and parafeed output coupling capacitors. All the wire and hardware required to mount the new parts is included in the kit as well. The stock plate loading choke is retained, being rewired to function as a power supply filter choke.