In Barn for Flashback-Fi: Wavelength Audio Junior Integrated Amplifier

I can think of no better way to kick off our new Flashback-Fi feature than the Wavelength Audio Junior Integrated Amplifier. Let me tell you why.

I first read about this very amplifier in a review, “A Few Weeks With Junior,” in the pages of Art Dudley’s Listener Magazine back in 1997. I still remember how intrigued I was by Art’s words, his way with words were largely responsible for my interest in using them to write about hifi, and the little EL84-based integrated amplifier that was Junior, Wavelength Audio’s foray into a more affordable amp (as compared to their SET amps). As I have mentioned and demonstrated, I am a fan of the integrated amplifier and the El84 power pentode.

The Wavelength Audio Junior Integrated Amplifier is a single-ended [footnote 1], tube rectified (using a pair of 6X4s), 8/9 Watt per channel powerhouse, more on that in the review proper, that employs a 12AY7/6072A dual triode in the input/driver stage, a pair of El84 power pentodes, and a dash (3dB) of negative feedback to keep us honest. The output iron in use were hand-wound by MagneQuest, marked as such with that lovely initialed script.

Junior sports three line level inputs, a pair of chunky binding posts, and some quality parts inside including Rubycon Black Gate and Hovland capacitors.

Nice woody side panels dress Junior up, while a power switch, volt meter (used to bias those EL84s when that top-mounted switch is engaged), and a pair of matching knobs for volume and input selection finish out the business end of the front panel which is adorned with a Wavelength Audio nameplate. Junior measures just 14″ (w) x 10″ (d) x 6″ (h) and weighs a lot more than you might expect thanks to that MQ iron.

When the Wavelength Audio Junior Integrated Amplifier hit the market back in 1997, it retailed for $1995 or roughly $3200 in today’s dollars. Here’s Art Dudley from his Listener review on that value proposition:

Look, tubes aren’t the only way to hi-fi happiness. I know that. And low-power integrated amps aren’t the only way to appreciate tubes.

But I can’t help believing that the young man or woman who brings a hand-made, premium-parted, nine-watt-per-channel, single-ended tube amplifier to campus next Fall will get a three-rung head start up the ladder to love, success, and sheer cool. It can’t miss and I’m very close to guaranteeing it personally.

I’m looking forward to spending a few weeks with Junior.

1. Another favorite writer on hifi, Joe Roberts (of Sound Practices fame) also reviewed the Junior for Fi Magazine back in ’97 wherein he wrote, “Yes, the Junior is a single-ended amp. So what? The term is so inclusive that it is virtually meaningless in sonic terms. All that single-ended means is that you use only one output device per side, unless you want to use more, and that definition covers a vast, as-yet-largely-uncharted territory of possible designs and sonic results.”

Twittering Machines’ Flashback-Fi gear is provided courtesy of High-End Audio Auctions