More than 5 years ago, I built a fantastic single-ended amp with the unique 45. The 45 has a distinguished tone and personality despite its mere 2W of output power. If you have high efficiency speakers, then it’s a great amplifier to build. With 2W you can enjoy music in a mid-sized room. You don’t need more, this amplifier performs at its best at low output levels and in particular when playing jazz or classical music.
The 45 Amp design
There are plenty of design circuits out there. I settled for a simple triode driver using a gyrator load. The choice was down to the 6J5 and 7193 (a military version of the 2C22). Both triodes are medium mu and sound really nice. Depending your needs, you may opt for a different driver (even pentode). However, they need to be able to drive the large voltage swing required by the 45. I’d go for a 6J52P, 6e5P, 6e6P, D3a or C3g these days. It all depends on your needs and available valves. The driver is biased at 7mA to provide enough grid current to avoid slew rate issues. An improved version would be to add a MOSFET follower to provide better performance under grid current. An example of a follower implementation can be found here.
The 45 is biased hot at 34mA/300V. The anode can handle 10W and this operating point provided best sound in my view. The OT is crucial, so invest as much money as you can afford. Rod Coleman regulators are needed to implement this amp without hum and the unwanted inter-modulation effects.
I carried out several tests on the driver to find the sweet spot for minimum distortion and full swing. The driver is a hybrid mu-follower composed by the gyrator and the 6J5/7193 triode. The valve is biased by a set of 5 red LEDs to about 8V. I think I had a combination of a white LED and LED to provide 8V in my implementation. The dynamic resistance is minimum and won’t impact the performance of the stage.
I used the Sylvania metal-base 6J5 but then settled for the 7193 valves. They sounded better and I was quite pleased with the overall performance of the amplifier.
The amplifier design is very simple. With the gyrator PCB you can simplify the driver build and also use different valves to experiment with them. I originally didn’t have a PCB so I built my gyrator in a prototype board.
45SE Amplifier upgraded with the 7193 drivers
I’d highly recommend you building this amplifier. If you want to experience the single-ended sound, then this is one of the amps to build. Of course you can go for higher power levels with a 2A3 or 300B, however, the sound of the 45 is unique. Worth trying