Neutrality. Does that mean clinical, sterile, cold and uninvolving? Does it mean unadulterated, pure and uncut? How you answer these questions will have a direct bearing on whether today’s component, the Eastern Electric MiniMax amplifier, will ruffle or tickle your feathers. Music through it — and especially with some inexpensive tube rolling — becomes unapologetically gorgeous. If that means a few liver spots and wrinkles are air-brushed out of its centerfold rendition of your favorite tunes, so be it. That’s one aspect to handle upfront. The second one is far less open to interpretative opinion. 8 watts of output power will only go so far.
MiniMax is a specialty product. It’s deliberately and only directed at a very confined target audience. It makes no bones about that. It knows what it is and what it isn’t. It doesn’t complain so don’t you either. If you want to get maximum impact from this mini, mate it with rooms, listening levels and speaker sensitivities that aren’t in excess of what it was designed to do. Now, where it diverges from the usual high-brow treatment of exclusivity is with sticker price – $1,350. In the esoteric realm of micro power tube amps, that equates to a set of replacement valves in other places. Here, it covers the whole enchilada Christmas-style – with green and red sauce.