Going Rogue: An American Amp
We can’t let Sarah Palin have all the fun.
In an upcoming review, new contributor Erick Lichte talks about the inherent coolness of tubes and the “transitive property of coolness,” by which owning tubes makes you cool, and it got me thinking:
What the hell am I waiting for? I’m always waiting around for something that never comes. Why don’t I just go out and grab it?
All of my cool friends have tubes in their systems. And don’t I want to be cool like them? Why, yes! Yes, I do want to be cool like them.
I have had some experience with tubes. I enjoyed my time with the awesome Moscode 401HR, until it went silent. Moscode’s George Kaye was deeply sorry, and has offered to loan me his new 402Au, which Wes Phillips liked so much. But, really, a $6500 power amplifier has no business spending time in my little Jersey City one-bedroom apartment. The old wood floor might cave in. While I know that it could be a good learning experience, and while I know that it would be a lot of fun, I just don’t want to take on a product that I can’t conceivably afford. Nor do I have the time to properly evaluate any major new piece of gear. Which is partly why I’ve been concentrating so heavily on simply sharing the experience of listening to new music upon my rad hi-fi.
And how do I know my hi-fi is rad? Because I can’t stop listening to new records. Because if there’s one thing a hi-fi component should do, it should inspire the discovery and enjoyment of new music. My hi-fi excels in this respect. You might argue that this is not a characteristic of my hi-fi, but a characteristic of me, the golden listener. You would be wrong and right, because I am one with my glorious hi-fi, bitches.
But I digress. The Golden Listener gets antsy. Sometimes a pony gets depressed. Sometimes a man just needs a breather. While I love my Exposure 2010S, I’m starting to think that it’s missing something. And that something would be a sweet, glowing tube, or two or three. With the New Year approaching, I’m getting a view for the future, and tubes, I’ve got my eyes on you.
But I have a couple of requirements: 1., I want to be able to afford this thing, whatever it might be, because I’m more interested in gear that I can afford than in gear that pisses me off, and 2., I want it to be an integrated amplifier because I appreciate the simplicity and elegance of integrated designs.
So, let’s talk price. The retail price of my Exposure 2010S (which I purchased, surprisingly, almost exactly one year ago!), is right around $1500, with its plug-in phono card. Which is just a little more than what I pay for one month’s rent, including utilities. I think that’s fair. Utilities are like plug-in phono cards. You have to have them. Some people would think this is crazy. I know, dudes: The cost of rent in this part of the country is crazy. Oh, you were talking about the amp?
Yeah. Finally, I would love it if the amp could be American-made. Because, like tubes, Made in America is still inherently cool. Which brings me to the Rogue Cronus integrated amplifier, designed by Mark O'Brien. Along with the Atlas power amp and Metis preamp, the Cronus is part of Rogue’s Titan Series of products, aimed at the younger, or “entry-level,” hi-fi and music enthusiast. What the heck is a Cronus? I asked Wikipedia:
Cronus was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own sons, Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon, and imprisoned in Tartarus.Sounds right up my alley. This 55Wpc integrated uses four EL-34 tubes, three 12AU7 tubes, and two 12AX7 tubes. I don’t know anything about these tubes and tubes and tubes. The Cronus also includes phono and headphone sections. Whee! It costs $1795, and is made in the USA. Pretty cool, I’d say.
I wonder how it sounds.
Related: If you notice something unusual about my tone (ha, I said “tone”), it’s only because I’ve recently discovered the work of the late Dr./Ms. Harvey “Gizmo” Rosenberg, Mdh., a lover of life and a lover of tubes. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. You should, too. Rosenberg was the Fashion & Beauty Editor of Art Dudley's Listener magazine. The good Dr.'s columns runneth over with musical consciousness.
Incidentally, the “HR” in Moscode’s 401HR stands for Harvey Rosenberg. Both the 401HR and the 402Au are dedicated to his memory. So, we come full circle, tubular.