How Long Should a First Watt SIT3 Last ?

I'm fairly certain my Quicksilver Monos are kaput. Im thinking maybe I don't want to mess with the troubles and uncertainties of  tubes. Im considering getting a used SIT3, but how long should they Last considering the internals are no long available if I encounter a problem?

Thank you,




What are the symptoms with the QS amps that make you certain they are kaput?

One of the pair of QS Mid Monos was acting up. I took both in to be serviced and it was a capacitor that needed replaced.The tech replaced the cap on both and they're still going strong several years later at my brother's house. The repair was $85.

Unless the transformers are bad, everything else is likely an easy and reasonable fix. I am not stating you should invest money and time into them, as that is up to you....However, I went the solid state route years ago, and have never looked back. My best, MrD.

Thanks guys....

Let me start off by saying I have had tremendous trouble with Tubes this past year and  I'm sure I vented about it all here on the Gon.

As for the specific Block we are talking about today, it has blown two tubes and red-plated two tubes during this time in addition to all the other problems I had. Same Block, two different sockets.

This morning I fired everything up and as soon as the pre finished its wakeup a virtually new tube had a spectacular blue firework show with noise to match....only one tube. I shut everything down and installed new tubes.....dead.

I have not opened the amp....yet.

With all the trouble Ive had, part of me wants to leave tubes to the younger crowd. Now granted, these mono-blocks are quite old and I should expect them to have to be rebuilt at some point and it would be stupid to just quit on them, but Dang! As you know, the worst part about tube failure is not the failure itself but the waiting for it to happen again.

I suppose, considering First Watt,  what some people think sounds like tubes may not be what I think sounds like tubes.

My first thought was, great, now I have an excuse to get some QS horn-blocks, but I looked today and they are no longer being offered. That's when I thought , "thats it, time to move on."

I obviously should have them looked at,  anyone have a recommendation for repair guy in MLPS?

Any other thoughts.


Thanks again,



Give Mike Sanders at QS a call. I’m sure he will fix them at a reasonable price. It will cost you a lot less than buying new amps!

I did call Mike,  and sent an email to boot. :-)



It would be nice to get it looked at locally. Shipping is such a pain, but I will send them after I talk to him unless I find a local guy.

I had major trouble with a Primaluna amp blowing fuses and tubes shorting out so I sold it and now have a trouble free Pass Labs XA-25 amp and Pass preamp…sounds better then the Primaluna

Tony, do you have a backup amplifier to listen through in the meantime? I am glad you have the H IVs on stands, they are tighter and more open this way (my experience is the same with the series 1, 2 & 3). My tech is Kris Rhoades...Fine Tuned Audio in Orlando, Florida. Also, his partner, John Mintzer, in Tucson Arizona. They do great work, specializing in tubes. My best, MrD

Don't buy that First Watt without hearing it. I owned the Quicksilver monos, and had trouble with them also, besides being lukewarm on the sound, but I also had a First Watt 7, and it sounded nothing like the Quicksilvers. I understand that the SIT 3 is different but try to hear one first. 


I hear you. Im sticking with the QS's. I was venting, hoping the amps hear it and wisen up. I got rid of a pair of MiniMites years ago and I still miss them. Im sure I would regret letting these go unless there is nothing else to do.

Im just so tired of messing with tube problems.  

Interesting you mention the F7...I was considering them....hmmmm

what did they sound like in comparison?





I was about to buy a used First Watt for my headphones. That was in the $2 - $3k range. I came across some positive reviews on the Schitt Aegir that said they were about 80% of the sonic goodness of the FIrst Watt amps. I tried it out for $800 new and have been very happy with that amp. I use it with the Class A Schitt Mjolnir 3 preamp for headphones. Both are a bit hot running but a very nice Class A sound.

In a few years there will be some used CODA S5.5 amps (50 watts Class A) coming up for sale. I will likely replace the Aegir 1 with a CODA S5.5. I like CODA over PASS. I have a CODA #16 and that is my best amp.


mike got back to me, he said he thinks its a failed fuse.  that makes no sense at all to me for several reasons but Im not the pro and the fused looked fine.


He wants the old ones back and he will send me new ones.



Tony, you list on your system page that the Heresy pair are IV. Why I said IV. 👍

Quicksilver amplifiers are designed to last a lifetime. They have simple circuits and use quality components. My QS Mini Mite mono blocks are 18 years old and still going strong. Bought them new from Mike Sanders in 2006. If you still enjoy the sound of your QS tube amplifiers I’d call Mike and arrange to have them serviced.

Getting them back to their original performance might be less expensive then you think. Best of luck 👍

@jimmyblues I know. I was just being a baby two minutes after it happened...Im good. thanks for the encouragememt. 

@mrdecibel  HAHA. I did say H3. Dont know what that was about. Maybe I heard the number just befor my text or it may have been fat fingers on my phone.

I think H 3s sound MUCH better than the 4s. Also I think they sound better on the floor as designed.

Wolf, also stated you heard very little to no difference, after you damped the horns as I had suggested. You are the only one of anybody and everybody I know who stated this. Just sayin. My best, MrD.

TC Tubes in St Paul has a tube repair tech. I’ve never used them and can’t vouch for them, but for local repairs, I’d start there.

Nelso Pass has always answered every question that I’ve asked…It might not be the same day, but he answers. I think you’ll enjoy a SIT-3 as I have.

@wolf_garcia Sorry you didn't like them. I think you did not let them fully break-in. I heard what you heard until a few days later and the SNAP*! they changed. But if you're missing anything, it's probably very subtle.

I second the Coda!  Let me also suggest another: Odyssey Kismet.

It's heavenly, rapturous, enthralling ... no tubes



"Wolf, also stated you heard very little to no difference, after you damped the horns as I had suggested"


Uh-oh...slight correction here...I dampened the port. I tried the horn too but it didn't stay. I initially  switched from kt88 to 77's to calm the horns. I am now on e34L's. Sorry for the confusion.

Any shop that works on guitar amps will be able to diagnose and repair the QS if you decide to have them checked out. What I didn't mention before so as not to throw shade on Mike Sanders, is I initially shipped him the amp that wasn't working.What he told me was he hooked it up,plugged it in, and it worked fine.He didn't do any testing and sent it back to me. One power tube still red plated and there was no sound. The shop I chose to check both of them out found the issue quickly and had them back to me in a week.We all have bad days and make mistakes so there's no hard feelings from me at all. He didn't even charge me a bench fee.

One thing the tech at the shop advised is he recommended to stick with EL34s with the mid monos and not push them hard with more powerful tubes.

I should have compared the damped and un-damped Heresy IIIs (I mean really...they were right there) but listened to them both post damping and yeah...they didn’t change much but damping’s an easy tweak though and kind of fun. I now have no memory of what the undamped horns sounded like but hey...they remain damped unless the material fell off. Also the IVs were listened to for over a month in my system and always elicited a frown leading to them being happily sold on. I do think the IVs are a much more deluxe item than the IIIs...better driver bolts (instead of wood screws), nice binding posts...the extra 10 hz of bass...all good. I’ve mentioned the redesigned mid horn on the IVs a few times (plastic driver-on-horn flare with no compression throat) and the titanium drivers with the long throated (including weird little pokey phase plug thing with holes) compression horn design of the IIIs seems to be what I like. A very coherent sound with none of the frown inducing upper mid jump on the IVs...if that issue had healed up I would have kept ’em but life is seemingly too short...I still love the IIIs...still use them with 2 RELs.

mike asked me to send the amps in I asked if he could do a complete overhaul, replace anything prone to aging and if the cost approached a new set, then I would do that.


@jtcf I sent him a pre where he returned it like you said. turned out in shipping, a cap became loose, when it arrived to him there was contact. he sent it to me and it was loose again. the 2nd time I got it back the whole cap fell off. I sent it again and it was fixed.

I will trust him one last time with these amps. where I live so many are apathetic and incompetent. without a Gon recomendation I cant just go to a guitar shop.


I did find a local place called Twin Cities Tubes. I will contact them I hope its the right thing to do, but I suppose I have worries about the things mentioned earlier by @jtcf ....I thought it was just me it happened to but maybe its a thing now.

Actually I have an appointment with ToneTron Minneapolis tomorrow. Cam recommended by the studio engineer.

The First Watt amps all have different sonic signatures.  I currently have the FW J2 driving my Cube Audio Jazzon speakers in place of my 300b monos and the SQ is sensational with a tube preamp.  The J2 actually yields an even broader soundstage than my 300b monos and during the summer heat in CA, it is a welcome change with no lacuna in its performance.  It is remarkable amp like all Pass Labs gear and sure to be long lived. 

Tonydennison (or anyone else considering a new solid state amp),

I will echo yyzsantabarbara here.

The CODA S5.5 is a magical 50 wpc class A SS amplifier, and should be on anyone's short list IMO. I've had mine for a few months, and it has exceeded my wildest hopes. Reviews (other than mine) are stellar, and there is a great thread here on Agon for them. I bought mine from Mike Kay at Audio Archon in the Chicago area, and he's a nice guy to work with

Just be careful if looking for them used, the manufacture date must be within the last 12 months or that is when they had the upgrade to new transistors which provide the magic sauce

The Brand new Sold Out already NP-1 Frank Van Alstine amp with new AVA technology is my new amp w/ AudioGD tube pre and Borresen X-3 speakers w/ Audio Mirror DAC and CEC transport....Magic and an outright Steal if they’ll sell you one at $1,199...It’s magic. Van Alstine is on to something here. Bests my 6-8K amps. If you love MUSIC, you have to grab one.

I have two Futterman OTL3s with 10 tubes each. 
I have a Beard P505 preamp. with 9 tubes. 
I have been using them for 39 years. 
I have a Pro-ject tube box D2 with 2 tubes. 39 days. 

Jon Specter keeps them going. The Futtermans were dicey for the first 10 years, but since then, 14 years between servicing. Contact me via my website if you want to speak to him. He’s in NJ.

Thank you all for the recommendations. I am waiting to hear the verdict on my Quicksilvers, its been two weeks and I am eager.

The next step is always right in front of you.



I’ve been a tube guy since the early ’70s. Lots of high quality tube amps over the years. Have been using Lamm ML2 SET amps since around 2006 in a chain that is all tube, from phono, to power supply, to line stage, to amps. I use NOS tubes throughout.

I’ve been considering a back up, especially for summer (it gets a tad hot here in Central Texas) and I want to minimize my tube consumption (the big Russian triodes aren’t hard to find, but getting pairs that work in the amps requires me to buy them through Lamm).

One low powered SS amp (mono blocs) that is supposed to be a contender is the Valvet. It doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but the company has been around for a long time, the amps are made to a high specification in Germany. Worth a look if you you are considering a change from tubes. (I don’t expect these to have the same magic as the Lamm SETs but from folks who are familiar with the sonic signature of both, the Valvet is considered a real contender in SS). There is a US distributor who has handled the line for a while. 

Good luck. I remember Quicksilver from ye olde days-- a well regarded brand. Though tubes can be a PITA, they are often pretty simple to have repaired.

@tonydennison You can buy on the Bay a Sonance Sonamp 260, shipped, for under $100, all in. A very nice amp at the price and would be an excellent back up for your Heresys. You could have been listening to music through your system this entire time. Everyone should have a backup. My best, MrD.

Hi Tony. I don't know if you're still undecided as to whom to let service your Quickies but the first guy I'd call lives and has his business in MSPL. Give Ralph @ Atma-sphere a call. He can and has worked on all kinds of tube amps, regardless of design philosophy or brand and I have no doubt that he could service yours.

I got my Quicksilvers back today, listening to Diet ILg presently old friend.

Jeff  said the problem was that the old style way to bias the tubes in these with the LEDs had failed. He added some multimeter plugs to set the bias. All sounding great and for those using PSAudio, I went back to Windom today.

All told, the bill came to barely $200.


Happy Camper.


Thanks all,



@mrdecibel Looking back concerning baffling the horns in the Heresy IV, yes I did in fact try that but was not happy. The harshness all went away I believe in the 7th week of constant on.


I did stuff the port holes with acoustic foam. with the ports open the cabinets were singing and it was not appreciated. Foam still in.


Thanks for everything



LOL. Windom stuck on my PSAudio DAC. I need to get what PSAudio calls a firmware rescue.


If only we could leave things alone, right?