It’s easy to make a cheap valve amp today. It’s a lot harder to make one that’s cheap, good, and built on this side of the planet. And yet, somehow, Tsakiridis Devices manages to design and build quality valve amps that don’t cost a fortune, all from its base in Athens, Greece. The Aeolos, Aeolos Plus and now Aeolos Super Plus are currently the brand’s only integrated designs, with an additional seven different power amplifiers, two preamps, a phono stage, and three power conditioners elsewhere in the catalogue. All in the realm of ‘affordable high-end’.
The integrated amps are all Class AB designs, with four line inputs and the same ‘narrow, but chunky’ case. The principle difference between the Aeolos models is output tubes; the standard model sporting four EL34 pentodes, the Plus featuring KT88 or 6550s, and the Super Plus tested here sporting KT120s. In the process, this gives the amplifier a power boost to 60W over the Plus’ 45W and the standard version’s 35W per channel. Otherwise, everything remains identical. All three use four 12AT7 double-triodes in the preamplifier and gain stages.
Unlike many high-end for low-cost designs, concessions to economy are on the outside, rather than in circuit. The component quality is actually pretty high; there are few ‘name’ components in the circuit (the Alps potentiometer and the Chemicon caps are notable exceptions), but the Tsakiridis uses metal film resistors, high-quality polypropylene capacitors, porcelain tube bases and solid (Tsakiridis-matched) Tung-Sol tubes throughout. The chassis itself is in a powder grey with a contrasting black crackle finish; not exactly exotic, but strictly no-nonsense. The grey elements include the front panel, and the top cover for the transformers and the valve cage. Cleverly, the company also provides a neat extendable screwdriver with a magnetic tip that allows the user to reach into the otherwise-inaccessible regions of the valve case to insert or remove its screws. This might be a simple touch and nothing whatsoever to do with the performance of the amplifier, but it makes life a little less sweary at installation time. This attention to detail is, sadly ...rare.