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Thread: altec 9446a amp

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  1. #1
    Senior Member jim3860's Avatar
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    Apr 2005

    Smile altec 9446a amp

    Has anyone here used the altec 9446A amp ? if so any thoughts on how it would work as amplifier for home use? general worth ? etc REGARDS jim

  2. #2
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    Sep 2005
    If you don't mind the fan noise, they're great amps for home or pro use. Not as common on ebay as their smaller brethren, but I've seen a few go thru in the $300-500 range. Balanced inputs.

  3. #3
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    May 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy View Post
    If you don't mind the fan noise, they're great amps for home or pro use. Not as common on ebay as their smaller brethren, but I've seen a few go thru in the $300-500 range. Balanced inputs.

    old thread but worth reviving- I bought one of these 9446a Altec amps recently and they are AWESOME. Most powerful amp I ever tried for home audio to date. A lot more power than the old NAD 2200 Power Envelope amp I had, and the Altec is much more musical and enjoyable to listen to. By comparison the NAD 2200 was a POS. The 9446a has a cooling fan but that's a plus, because if you listen with any moderate to high volume for extended time, an amp without a cooling fan will eventually burn up the output transistors. That's one reason why taking a home audio/consumer type receiver outdoors and cranking it through big speakers at just below the clipping point for extended hours, usually leads to the consumer grade receiver not working and dropping a channel or 2. Then an expensive trip to the repair shop, or a DIY repair.

    You won't get those problems with a 9446a. These were made to take 30 of them and rack them, and run a concert PA system. WAY overbuilt. The main final amp circuit is a square port running from front to back of the amp, with grates on each side, and a fan in the back- the fan blows air through the port- along the sides of the port, are 16 high output transistors bolted in for each channel- total 32 transistors- the big ones that are easily changed out by unbolting them and bolting new ones in place. Not the chintsy little soldered in ones, or plastic IC's with a 100 pins to solder, that burn up in new amps.

    the damned thing is built like a weapon

    inside the square air cooling port, long fingers of the heatsink extend into the port, to take heat away from the transistors and cool them, and put the heat into the fan airstream, and carry it away. This cooling system is designed like a jet engine, I've never seen anything like it before on an amp, in nearly 40 years.

    The Altec 9446a has 400 watts per channel into 8 ohms with very low distortion considering the amount of power it puts out. I can't remember all the specs but I believe it's something like 1200 watts bridged into 4 ohms- more power than you'll ever need. I run mine through 8 ohms, and "5" on the rear volume controls, with a stereo tube Akai M8 dual monoblock vintage reel as a pre-amp, and the sound is UNBELIEVEABLE. Usually solid state will fatique your ears pretty quickly, but with a tube pre and this amp, it won't. It's just like listening to the tube amp only louder.

    What you put into the 9446a is exactly what you get out, only a lot louder, with a lot more bass hit and enhanced high end response. I have never turned up the pre-amp to "3" yet on the volume knob, at "2.5" it's loud enough that I can't talk over it in a relatively large 28' x 14' listening room. With old Technics 3-way 8 ohm speakers from a 1986 rack system w/15" woofers and bass reflex holes, it's more sound than anyone your living with will allow you to use- and also more than your neighbors will tolerate past about 8 PM.

    the freakin' thing is a Led Zeppelin concert in a box. What amazes me about it is, if you input a single ended stereo tube pre or stereo tube amp into the 9446, the stereo imaging will remain, it won't flatten out the soundstage and imaging like most solid state amps do. But it will bring out all the fine details that sometimes get lost on a tube amp when you try to play a tube amp louder by itself.

    The only thing that I have ever owned that can compare to it, is my Pioneer SX-1250. The Altec 9446a makes a Marantz 2270 sound like a kiddie toy, and has a lot better sound than the Marantz. The Altec also makes a Fisher 500c tube amp sound like old junk back to back. In sheer horsepower and volume, the Altec 9446a wins- but it has finesse too and is crystal clear. It has no tone or balance controls, it's all business- just an on/off switch and (2) volume controls, one per channel- and speaker output posts. It has a circuit protection/clipping indicators that won't allow it to be blown up by just turning it up too loud.

    Another great feature is, the 9446a has "low" and "high" input terminals. If you want to input from a low powered tube or solid state pre with less than 1 volt input signal, i.e. a stereo 2 channel signal in the mV range, use the "low" inputs. If you want to input directly from the final outputs of a tube single ended triode (SET) amp, something like a 300b or 2A3 amp, or an M8 with 6bq5's, you can come out of the speaker outs of the tube amp, directly into the "high" inputs of the 9446a- they will take something like up to 7 volts input signal. Again I'd have to check the specs but that is very versatile.

    it really gets the music and the neighborhood rockin' !!

    I highly recommend it as a step up to hot rod your home audio system. If you got 2 of these 9446a amps and bridged them, one per channel, you'd have 2000+ watts stereo or mini PA system.

    A good working 9446a would be $300-$500. I would not let mine go for less than that, because I could not replace it for that price.

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