Within the strange cloistered world of the audiophile, a battle has been raging for decades. Tube amp fanatics will tell you that nothing else can deliver the warmth and naturalness of the real thing quite like a thermionic valve, while solid state devotees insist that tubes sound soft and sloppy without the slam you can get from a big transistor amp.
Now, however, there's a third option. Like a Buddhist arriving in the middle of a debate between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the MagAmp tackles the problem from a completely fresh perspective. Using a circuit first patented by a certain Mr Lundahl in the 1950s, the MagAmp uses transformers to create the power needed to drive a speaker, in a way that most engineers seem to have a tough time comprehending.
Audio hobbyists have been trying to build their own MagAmps since the circuit was first published with little success, but now a German company called AcousticPlan has developed one that you'll soon be able to buy. Delivering about 15 watts per channel, the MagAmp can't be measured in the traditional sense, won't pass a sine wave, and is the kind of thing that gets electronic engineers shaking their heads, but boy does it make fine sounding music.
The MagAmp will be available later this year for around $18,500.