First Watt SIT-3 power amplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Solid-state, class-A, stereo power amplifier with no feedback, using custom-made static induction transistors (SITs). Inputs: 1 pair single-ended (RCA). Outputs: five-way binding posts. Power output: 18Wpc into 8 ohms (12.55dBW), 30Wpc into 4 ohms (11.75dBW). Frequency response: –0.5dB at 10Hz, –3dB at 50kHz. Voltage gain: 11.5dB. Output impedance: 0.26 ohm. Input impedance: 200k ohms. Distortion: 0.2% at 1W at 8 ohms, 1kHz. Power consumption: 150W.
Dimensions: 17" (430mm) W by 6.75" (170mm) H by 16" (405mm) D. Weight: 32 lb (14.5kg).
Finishes: Black, Silver.
Serial number of unit reviewed: 3473.
Price: $4000. Approximate number of dealers: 18. Warranty: 3 years, limited, transferable.
Manufacturer: Pass Laboratories Inc., 13395 New Airport Road, Suite G, Auburn, CA 95602. Tel: (530) 878-5350. Fax: (530) 878-5358. Web:

Pass Laboratories Inc.
13395 New Airport Road, Suite G
Auburn, CA 95602
(530) 878-5350

tonykaz's picture

Off to bad start?, not quite click-bait but compelling.

Well, ok, this seems a thinking man's Amplifier with plenty of personality.

$4,000 while supplies last.

Tony in Michigan

ps. how'd this thing do with Steve G's Klipsch "loud"-speaking" speakers?

John Atkinson's picture
tonykaz wrote:
how'd this thing do with Steve G's Klipsch "loud"-speaking" speakers?

The answer to that question will be found in the April issue of Stereophile.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... the level of second harmonic distortion is barely -45dB below the fundamental can be deemed to "preserve the geometry of the original harmonic relationships better than any amp I can remember"?
Wouldn't an amp that adds as little harmonic distortion as possible, such as the Benchmark AHB-2, do a far better job of preserving the geometry of the original harmonic relationships?

mememe2's picture

When Herb writes " I felt I could measure the added reverb. I thought I could feel the air moving in and out of her instrument.". I wondered why he didn't include an actual measurement to back up this "feeling". Next his thought that he could "feel the air moving in and out of her instrument" sounds like pure unadulterated mystical hyperbole. Really? Less hyper-hyperbola please.

johnnythunder's picture

music "feels and sounds" to the individual reviewers, you shouldn't be reading Stereophile or the Absolute Sound, or Hifi News and RR etc. etc. That type of description is WHY we read these publications and websites. Sometimes light is shed on the subjective response by John A's fact checking measurements but not all of it. So we take these written feelings and if they sync with how you like to feel and hear recorded music you add said equipment to your list of pieces to audition. If you want a measurement to back up every comment, you're wasting your time reading audio reviewers. In fact, that's like asking for a chemical analysis of every morsel of food should a food magazine say you're wasting your time with $5 a bottle Extra Virgin Olive oil compared to $20a bottle. I'm sure there are people who feel that the more expensive olive oil is a waste of money" as "taste" is a subective thing.
Ditto with more expensive wines. "Sound" familiar ?

mememe2's picture

According to johnnythunder readers of the mags he quoted only want how a product "feels and sounds With that as the ultimate criteria for reading those mags why do the measurements (sometimes ) appear at the end of the reviews? And let's just do away with the technical descriptions as they don't really matter because they tell us nothing informative about how the gear under review will feel or sound like. Maybe -to shore up the how it "feels and sounds like" we should, at the very least insist on All reviewers to post a recent audiologists measurement (the bane of those that worship at the alter of subjectivity)) of the state of their hearing.

Bertie Bucket's picture

If this was a Chinese amp I'm pretty sure the usual suspects would be all over those measuremets pointing out it must be garbage.

As an aside, relaxing the definition of clipping....why not relax the definition of surface resonance on speakers that have a lot of resonance or any of the other parameters. They are meant to show a standardised approach otherwise, what's the point of them?

This amp bombed producing 8.4W at 1% THD distortion.

The fact amps like these garner a cult following says more about marketing and human fallacies than anything.

gyokuro_jp's picture

Dear Mr. Reichert,

you write about the FirstWatt SIT-3:

" I compared the SIT-3 directly to my Line Magnetic LM-518 IA tubed integrated amp ($4450) and found it sounded noticeably less vivid."

I want to understand it correctly, what amplifier sounds noticeably less vivid?

Thank you for your reply and kind regards

Herb Reichert's picture

my less-than-clear sentence. I just re-listened to both amplifiers and the First Watt SIT-3 is plainer-sounding less contrasty and therefore less "vivid" than the 845 tube amp. . .but! The biggest difference between the two is: the Line Magnetic is happier with a wider range of speaker impedances.

peace and pumpkins,


davip's picture

Am I seeing a pattern here? The reviewer thinks that this is " of the two or three finest-sounding amplifiers I've heard anywhere, at any price". In fact, the only amplifier he finds that handily does better is the Line Magnetic LM-518 that is his Reference (and that he also reviewed, here: The common measurable aspects of the two? Neither can produce more than 1-8W for 1% THD, both laced with high amounts of 2nd- and 3rd-harmonic distortion. Don't get me wrong -- I uniformly appreciate the difference between the audio-reality of vinyl and the cardboard pastiche that is digital, and I know which of these measures 'better', but this reviewer's apparent liking of the euphony of harmonic distortion-sauced amplifiers colours -- literally -- the basis of a review that purchasers may then use as a basis for forking-out 1000s of $. My 30W Nytech CA252, whose audio I adore, routinely clips on musical peaks into an 88 db/W/8 ohm load at sane listening levels. What use then are amplifiers that produce only 3-30% of that power (and for 30x the price to boot)? Fine for accordion music and 'audiophile female vocals' perhaps, but play Peter Gabriel IV (that will also be in every audiophile's musical collection) through either of these devices at anything other than table-radio levels and neither would be fit-for-purpose as amplifiers at all, much less high-end audiophile ones... To re-use the reviewer's own re-quote, "...really not suitable for serious audiophile consideration". Indeed, in chiding his reviewer-friend's objectivity for his using his own speakers to review amplifiers, Herb's reference amplifier cannot produce more than 1W of undistorted output, and for the < 0.1% THD that most would regard as a reasonable threshold can produce no output at all by JA's measurement. How many audiophiles listen to the accordion music that figured so prominently in this review, and how many listen to rock? How meaningful is such a review, therefore?

Murphbass's picture

Mr. Reichert-

Would you care to share your experiences contrasting the Primaluna vs Rogue preamps when used with the SIT-3 and .7s (the heart of my system)? I currently use the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge for streaming/DAC duties as well as the phono preamp but am lacking in gain. I would like some coloration from the pre as well.

Your writing was a big factor in my purchase of this amp and the Maggies, and I'm very happy with both. Thanks!