Publisher Profile

Wells Audio Akasha Stereo Amplifier

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White and vanilla

The older I get the more I like the color white, and vanilla. I think it is a genetic predisposition inherited from my mother expressing itself with age. I used to avoid white; now I have a white car, a white watch and like white clothing. Similarly, I find I am gravitating from Wendy’s chocolate Frosties to Vanilla. Weird, I know, but we all get weird the older we get.

If the average amp is considered to have “colorations,” or perhaps could be described in terms of expressing a particular syrupy-ness or “darkness” of some degree, the Akasha is definitely Vanilla – seemingly plain and simple, and potent in a gloriously tasteful way. The phrase “convincing realism” comes to my mind in contrast to so many systems which utterly fail in an attempt to be convincing. Especially in terms of dynamic impact, the Akasha is mysterious to me, for it belts out bass and has “gravitas” more than the 200-300 wpc amps I have used, even mono blocks! In the accompanying interview, Jeff Wells describes the Akasha thus, “Most solid state designs simply squeeze all of the good things out of the sound. The Akasha and Innamorata are as close to the convergence amp as I have ever heard.”

I do not have the white MBL Corona line components, however I do have the next best thing, a unique pair of King Sound King Tower omnidirectionals; alas, in black. Linked to the Akasha along with Simaudio Moon Evolution 750D DAC/Player, the Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus, Legacy Audio XTREME HD Subwoofers and all Clarity Cables, I was in ecstasy at the “mushroom cloud of sound” experience! I had obtained the mushroom cloud, a veritable umbra-like canopy of sound, previously but never as palpably as when using the Akasha. Neither had this cloud been so strikingly transparent and clean. Little River Band’s ballad “I Dream Alone,” was preternaturally vast, more spaciously appointed in soundstage than any panel speaker could obtain. It was pure, like white light or vanilla. The experience had a timeless quality to it, as did all nostalgia music I played.

Purity of experience marked my every listening session with the Akasha. Guitarist Jeff Golub on Avenue Blue’s remake of “Pick Up the Pieces” never sounded quite right as a studio session previously. The improved spatial clues of the Akasha, even over some very heavy hitter amps, and easily better than the Class D designs I have used, had an effect I had never heard previously. The electric guitar only emanated from the phantom center channel, and the locus of the reverb of the guitar was detected only in the Left and Right speakers! Previously obscured giggling by the female voice in the piece was now easily discernible. As the designs of the two amps are nearly identical, I will steal a pun from the greater amp; the experience was as if the music had become Inna-more-animated. Something heretofore lifeless had become vivified.

Far better than conventional

Though Jeff is not a component designer he knows enough about them to determine what he likes and does not like in a component. With the help of Scott he has selected the topology which he desired in order to achieve the sound he envisioned. Similarly, I have assembled hundreds of systems to learn what actually works when it comes to yielding a memorable audio experience. Instead of following convention, I chose to experiment, and so has Jeff, which has led to outstanding results. There is in audio an awful lot of what can be considered “conventional sound,” or conventionally built audio systems. These are typically boring to me. Some are quite lovely initially for their novelty, but they grow tiresome as they lack in critical areas such as bass extension, extreme definition, tonal richness, ease of presentation often caused by smallish drivers, etc.

What should a person call results which are far better than conventional? Radical? Sure, why not; I have achieved radical results pairing the unconventional Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus sporting discrete Opamps with the Akasha amp. Consequently, I can make the Akasha sound any way I wish. I adjure readers that if they wish to follow my lead in terms of use of the EE Minimax DAC Plus with discrete Opamps and the Akasha, they will have the foundation for $100K sound. I am not joking. I could, if I wished, put together a dozen systems which would sound far worse than the Akasha. Conversely, none of them would start with the Akasha.

When I reviewed the VAC Signature Preamplifier MkII, I stated that it was so good that it would elevate nearly any system in which it was used. I used the Signature Preamplifier MkII in my trials with the Akasha, and no, it was not a mismatch. I think I am on solid ground to suggest that for the bulk of audiophiles there are very good odds that replacing whatever amplifier you are using with the Akasha would be a big step up. The exception, I am told by Jeff, is the Innamorata, and hearing the Akasha I have pretty good reason to believe him.

That is another reason why this article is being written in a shorter time span. Let’s be real; I want the credit to break the news about Wells Audio! This is a product which is to be shouted from the rooftops, not muttered about in the stairwell. Watch me climb the trellis and swing precariously from the eaves as I ascend to the roof. See me perch myself atop, cup my hands and shout, “Wells Audio Makes One Badass Amp!”


There are some shortcomings, but they are as much conceptual as actual. One shortcoming is the actual power of the amp, at 120 Watts. There is no perceived shortcoming sonically, but there is perceptually. If the Akasha/Innamorata is this good at 120 Watts, I wonder how good it might be at 240 Watts. Are you listening, Jeff? Put me down first on the list of reviewers for the “Akasha Plus,” or “Super-Akasha,” or “Nebula,” or whatever you will call it. I will need to hear that model!

Likewise, the preamp, which has not been built yet but is mentioned in the separate Interview article. Jeff has ideas, and I want to hear – literally hear – them. If Wells Audio produces a preamp that is as good as this amp Jeff is going to be a very busy man. He is also going to shoot very quickly to superstar manufacturer status. That would be a heady ride, so let’s hope Jeff is a sensible and well-balanced man. Also well-funded because he needs money to build some more Innamorata units. As I spoke with him, he was tapped out and making them as funds permit, which is woefully slower than the potential demand.

A good Saturday

It was a good day, this past Saturday, as an early workout yielded to a rushed ride downtown to the inner city rescue center for the homeless. Teary eyed, I peeled onions and chopped celery for soup to feed the hungry. A bit of wrapping Christmas gifts for families with less stuff prepared me to return home bursting with thankfulness; I need to do that more often as it opens my eyes to the nearly obscene abundance surrounding me. I can do with less; I need to be content with less.

Would I, could I ever give up all my audio stuff? No choice; the time will come when I must loosen my hold on my system and all other material belongings. Occasionally, I read about audiophiles “downsizing,” and feeling good about it. My first reaction is usually that it entails a quality reversal. I have asserted many times that to move from “upper echelon” gear to the more affordable is inherently to lose something, to pucker up and receive the kiss of death in terms of one’s best experience.

But every now and then a fluke piece of gear comes along which defies that paradigm with a lower MSRP and an attendant rocket-like performance vaulting toward the heavens of the High End. No, with a Wells Audio amp I am not downsizing, but upgrading massively, and spending a reasonable amount to do so. For someone like me, passionate about both building extreme systems and enjoying music thoroughly, it doesn’t get any better! Simply put, either the Akasha or the Innamorata is my next reference solid state amplifier – make that two of them so I can passively vertically biamp, or use them as the foundation of the actively crossed Whisper DSW Clarity Edition.

An utterly remarkable amp

What makes the Akasha so tantalizingly superb? I recall seeing a study which assessed the seeming intangibles which make beautiful people so attractive. The study concluded the key is facial symmetry, and that people who strike us as most beautiful do not necessarily have the most striking eyes, the most luscious lips, the most voluminous hair, but rather the two sides of their faces are almost perfect mirror images. That is, the left side and right side are nearly identical. Most of us have many divergences from true symmetry between our left and right sides of our faces. Not so with “beautiful” people, as their faces on both sides are typically more similar, and this gives them a most pleasing appearance. In truth they are “mutants” of the most delightful kind, outliers we like to look at. Consider the Akasha to be an “aural mutant” of the most delightful kind, something our ears would naturally love because so many aspects of high quality sound are so well balanced and proportionate.

The Akasha, simply put, is extremely beautiful sounding! No one feature juts out like a protruding chin or piercing eyes. Instead, the entirety of its apparent feature set, its “face” if you will, is pleasing and so Wells… I mean well balanced that one longs to “stare” into its performance. Jeff is candid in the Interview when he states that the Akasha was not built with extreme parts. The Akasha is so balanced in every parameter of performance that it comes off as hot as a Victoria’s Secret angel who one nearly has to peel their eyes away from. It is not too hyperbolic to say that when I sit before the Akasha in the evening I nearly have to peel my ears away from the sound as I note the late hour and the sleep-time window closing.

Thus it is at the end of the day with this amplifier; as I lie in bed and close my eyes to sleep, images of past moments fill my mind. My ears also relax and let go, as they still faintly hear the beckoning of the Akasha. Tomorrow I will hear… tomorrow…

Associated Components:

Source: Simaudio Moon Evolution 750D DAC/Player; Cambridge Audio 840C; Sonos Digital Music System; Oppo DV-970HD
NAS: Buffalo Linkstation 500G
DAC: Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus with Burson and Dexa NewClassD Discrete Opamp Upgrade
Preamp: VAC Renaissance Signature Preamplifier MkII; Cambridge Audio 840E
Amps: VAC Phi 200; Pass Labs XA160.5 Monos; Jones Audio PA-M300-1-2 Monoblocks; Cambrige Audio Azur 840W
Integrated: Pathos Classic One MkIII stereo tube hybrid (two units bridged to mono); Peachtree Audio Nova
Speakers: Kings Audio Kingsound King III; Legacy Audio Whisper DSW “Clarity Edition”; Kings Audio King Tower Omnidirectional; Daedalus Audio Ulysses; Eminent Technology LFT-8b used in Landscape orientation
Subwoofers: Daedalus Audio BOW
IC’s: Clarity Cable Organic RCA/XLR; Tara Labs RSC Air1 series 2; Wireworld Equinox; Wireworld Silver Eclipse; Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
Speaker Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Speaker; Tara Labs RSC Air1; Wireworld Equinox 5; Wireworld Silver Eclipse
Digital Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Digital; Tara Labs RSC Air 75; Wire World Startlight 6; Wireworld Gold Starlight 5, Wireworld Gold Starlight 6
Power Cables: Clarity Cable Vortex; MIT Oracle ZIII; Tara Labs RSC Air; Xindak PF-Gold; Wireworld Stratus 5, Electra 5 and Silver Electra
Power Conditioning: Wireworld Matrix Power Cord Extender; Tara Labs ISM Power Screen; Tice Audio Solo

18 Responses to Wells Audio Akasha Stereo Amplifier

  1. Paul Letteri says:

    Hello Doug I appreciate when a reviewer makes reference to a product with no financial bias
    To address.myself a working guy who does not have five digits to spend on a piece of electronics.
    I will be in he market for Labor Day and as you mentioned a bigger amplifier would be great as well
    As news of a preamplifier. Doug please keep up the very informative writings and seeking out the
    audio gems out there .A happy New Years to you,Paul Letteri.

  2. Paul,
    I appreciate the encouraging words! I want a reputation for proper assessment of a component’s performance regardless of the price tag or reputation of the company. There are very few products which vastly outperform far more expensive gear, but when they show up they deserve to be noticed. The Wells Audio amps are an example of such products.

    I would not hold your breath waiting for the larger amp from Wells Audio by Labor Day; the Akasha and Innamorata are just getting off the ground in terms of production. It will be a while before they are familiar to the audiophile community. In addition, I’m pretty sure that if Jeff Wells does a more powerful amp it may be over that five digit threshold, an effort at a statement piece for the company. I now have one of the two Innamorata units which I purchased in my possession and it is a powerful improvement over the Akasha. I have not yet used it with the King Sound King III electrostatic speakers, but believe this amp would drive them well alone, and have an easy time if a pair is used. There seems to be more than enough current and dynamic power for speakers which are a bit tougher to drive. Jeff Wells has been waiting for me to try the Innamorata on the King III, as he says they will drive the speakers quite well. From what I hear so far I am expecting that to be true. It won’t be long before I have that set up and assessed. Based on the experience so far I would not be surprised if the King III sounds better than ever with the Innamorata pair.

    A joyous New Year to you as well, Paul!
    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Paul Letteri says:

    Hello Doug , you mentioned a Wells preamplifier possibly this year ?
    Doug will you be running mono blocks with the Innamorata ?
    Thanks much or your help and insite,Paul.

  4. Paul,
    God’s Joy to you,
    I will clarify so that it is clear; the Innamorata is the upper level amplifier based on
    precisely the same design as the Akasha, but with Bybee products installed. I will be
    using two of the Innamorata as reference level amps. I do have other configurations
    as far as amplifiers go, but these will be in heavy use with all my speakers.

    I just returned from T.H.E. Show and C.E.S. where I heard the Innamorata in rigs
    with the Voce Audio speakers (in the Wells Audio room) and the King Sound Prince III
    (in the Clarity Cable room), and both had outstanding sound quality – as I would expect
    from this amp and any number of fine speakers.


  5. James Olomo says:

    Hi Doug,

    Another well written and insightful review which has become a habit with you! We met in Denver at RMAF on the last day after the show with Larry and had drinks and an extended and exhilarating conversation about audio. It was nice running into you again at T.H.E Show at the Clarity room, sorry I couldn’t stay long to chat.

    I heard the Inamorata with the Voce speaker as well (for about 30 minutes)listening to The Wailin’ Jenny’s…well, wailing… and they sounded amazing, the only room i like more at C.E.S and T.H.E Show was the Convergent Audio Technology room with their stereo amp driving the Sasha watt puppies, the sound was immaculate and glorious!. This is coming from someone who’s never been crazy about Wilson speakers, i heard them with components of upward of a 100K before and after i heard them in this room and while they sound good, they just never do anything for me emotionally…except in this room, they reached out, grabbed my heart and beat it like an African drum! So much so that I contemplated grabbing the component and making a break for it! Did you get to hear this room?

    In Denver, one of the more vigorous debates we had was over my belief that there are few components that exist now and more that will exist in the next couple of years that will outperform a lot of the ridiculously expensive gear out there for a price affordable to the regular Joe. I was mocked for my naivety! 🙂 ..especially by Larry. With your discovery of the Eastern Electric DAC Plus and the Akasha which if i’m not mistaken puts the combo at 5K for a sound normally found in 100K rigs, I believe I stand vindicated! 🙂

    A couple of things before I sign off
    1) When are we getting the Whisper Clarity edition review? The anticipation is killing me!

    2) I hope you get to listen to the Convergent Audio Technology’s JL2 and write an Audio Blast about it comparing it to the Akasha or Inamorata.

    3) I got to see (not hear, it wasn’t on display) the new Cambridge Audio Azur 851 amp that will replace the 840W that you favorably reviewed and own, and it looks great design wise. It is currently in testing and will be released Q3. They took me to some back room to view it and i spoke with the guy in charge of testing and he claims it really outperforms the old unit quite a bit. The XD engine has been taking to the next level i’m told. Hopefully you get to review that as well.

    Sorry for the long post and God bless!

  6. James,
    God’s peace,
    Certainly I recall our discussion! It was quite animated and as I recall
    Larry and I couldn’t quite convince you that the expensive stuff is worth
    It. Please understand, the Dac Plus and Akasha are, imo, outliers, atypical.

    The whisper review will be forthcoming and newsworthy.

    I didn’t get to hear the CAT system; too much to cover!

  7. James Olomo says:

    Thanks for your reply Doug. Regarding the Dac Plus and the Akasha being outliers, that was exactly the point i was laboring to make, not that all of a sudden cheaper components will start outperforming their more expensive brethren but that there will be a few whose design and innovative implementation will give us products like the Dac plus and the Akasha.

    Stay blessed

  8. Kurt Grützner says:

    Doug, in your review you mentioned an “accompanying interview” [Jeff Wells Interview – link added by Dagogo] with Jeff Wells. I can’t seem to find this. Can you help. I guess it will be very interesting, as your quick “Blast” on the Akasha, & other bits I find on the web, contain quite little info on the Akasha design, what makes it so different/better… Thanks, Kurt

  9. Kurt,

    Thank you very much for your readership and comment. Doug’s Interview of Jeff Wells of Wells Audio will be published in a few days. Thank you for your patience.


  10. willow57 says:

    Greetings Doug,
    Electrostats being the power lovers that they are might well sound beautiful with these amps but the real question for me is how they might sound with double the amps (biamping). Of course the definitive answer would be after listening to this set up. For those who can’t wait, would you say it would mostly be providing more power (dynamics); do you anticipate any reduction in distortion IM (because of sharing between the amps); might there be distortion from timing of a split signal? Obviously there won’t be the same benefit as from active biamping (multiple drivers) but what do you hope/anticipate other advantages/disadvantages to be or have you just resigned yourself to just wait and see? Best Regards!

  11. Willow57,
    God’s Joy to you,

    I have had experience many times now with the transition between use of a single stereo amp and securing a second to use in the passive biamp mode. In every instance the addition of the second amp has been additive in a powerful way to the characteristics I enjoy about the amp, with little to no deleterious effects. The benefits of the additional amp in a passive biamp mode are usually improved definition, more spacious soundstage, more delineation of instruments in the soundstage and extension of the soundstage, vocals more rich with better texture and tonality, etc. I find many positive changes to adding the second amp. When a superior stereo amp at an affordable price tag does not avail itself, then passive biamping is a great way to go!

    I bought the second Innamorata without hearing two of them in my room! Why on earth would I do that? Because if one is familiar with the nature of the amp and what typically adding a second does, then the decision can be made safely to add a second. I am very happy with that choice, and have been running them with the Legacy Whisper DSW enhanced with the “Clarity Edition” upgrade (all Clarity Cable internally, Clarity Caps and the new Legacy AMT tweeter) and will eventually be using them with the King III ESLs. I anticipate superb results since even a single Innamorata was beautiful. I do not believe I have ever had an instance where use of a single amp I liked was a disappointment when doubling them for a passive biamp experience.

    So, in the end, similar characteristics of sound improvement have followed across the board when adding a second amp for passive biamping, hence I didn’t so much resign myself to the decision as anticipate the result. I have a very good idea of what I will be hearing from the King III when I hook it up, and I’m quite sure I will not be disappointed. Specificially with the King III among the outcomes will be even more clear/clean sound – it’s an amazing thing to hear how the already impressively clean ESL sound can be further cleaned up – with a greater sense of speed, tighter and more impactful bass, and a seamless, faux 3-channel character to the L/C/R integration of the soundstage.

    Douglas Schroeder

  12. Glen Bingham says:

    What a joy to read this article of a amp the writer is so enthusiastic about. Love to hear of gear made in the USA by some company other than the big boys. Passion drives towards great products. Hope to be able to audition a Wells amp and will look for information on an upcoming pre amp. Blessings to Wells Audio.

  13. Rohit R says:

    Hi Doug,

    What are your thoughts on Akasha pairing with Daedalus speakers? I have Athena (very similar to Ulysses) and looking for amp upgrade.

  14. Rohit,

    God’s Joy to you.

    Without hearing the “competing” amp it is impossible to declaratively tell you that the Akasha is better. However, my experience with it would suggest that it would be beautiful with Daedalus speakers. The Wells amps (I am currently running two of the Innamorata) are gorgeous on whatever speakers I have used. You may not get your ideal sound simply by dropping it into the rig, but that is true with whatever component one selects. I do believe a wonderful result could be obtained with the Wells and Daedalus combo.

    Douglas Schroeder

  15. Marcus says:

    Mr. Schroeder, I have a sense that the new Akasha amplifier would mate well with Michael Kelly’s new Aerial Acoustics 6T speakers. Mr. Kelly considers it a smaller version of the 7T. I sense the Akasha mated with the SAS Audio Labs 10A preamplifier and the 6T may be a great combination. I wonder what your thoughts might be about this combo.

  16. Dan says:

    Mr. Schroeder,

    Is this amp still in your system as a benchmark and if so any updates on your findings? I have the Legacy Focus SE speakers and am considering updating my Odyssey Kismet monos to such and would value your feedback.

    God Bless,

  17. Frank Wong says:

    Hi Doug?
    Which amp is better the Asksha or the son of ampzilla II for warmth and sweetness and detail?

  18. Frank,
    God’s Joy,

    Just saw this question; my reply is that both are superb amps that I would be happy to use longer term. I was able to get both to comply readily and give quite acceptable sound quality. The Akasha is more translucent while the Ampzilla II is more opaque. The Son of Ampzilla II has more warmth, but less detail, i.e. micro dynamics. They are both “sweet” sounding. The Son of Ampzilla would likely drive less efficient speakers better, while the Akasha would excel with more efficient speakers.

    I believe you could pick either one and with the right cabling get what you are after.

    Douglas Schroeder

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