MY TAKE: There's not a more storied brand in all of audio. With a history dating back over 150 years, the Western Electric Company is responsible for many major advances in sound reproduction. Fast forward to the present with the introduction of the new 91E Integrated Amplifier marking the first significant improvement in single-ended amplifier design in over 100 years. It sounds absolutely incredible! - Galen Carol
Made for listeners who demand the absolute finest in tube sound -
Introducing our flagship integrated amplifier. The 91E is the latest advancement in single-ended sound, energized by its famous predecessor the WE 91A.
At double the power, you’ve never heard the 300B express itself like this before. A new level of performance has been achieved with a completely new approach to SE amplifier design. The 91E’s circuitry intelligently steers the parallel feed constant current source (SCCS), allowing the tubes to deliver more than double their previously rated output of 7-8 watts.
The Western Electric Type 91E is a Class A, single-ended (SE), integrated amplifier for high-fidelity audio reproduction. The 91E was made for the Western Electric 300B to provide end users the highest possible performance and quality.
Steered Current Source Technology (SCS) - Experience double the traditional output power with advanced, single-ended (SE) circuit design. This new level of performance is reached by using a fully linear, steered current source (US Patent 10256776) controlled exclusively by the tube’s output voltage. The excess of common large output transformers and associated hysteresis is eliminated, and as a result, lush detail in the midrange and masterfully articulated upper and lower frequencies are revealed.
Stepped Logarithmic Attenuator - A stepped logarithmic attenuator is used to mimic the response of human hearing. The attenuator consists of only discrete resistors in a ladder configuration that are switched in and out of circuit to produce a logarithmic attenuation of the output signal.
Interchangeable Transformer Block - The standard 8-ohm transformer block can be interchanged with the optional 4-ohm or 16-ohm version. This feature is unique to the 91E Integrated Amplifier and allows users to match speaker impedance for improved fidelity. Single impedance transformers maintain lower winding capacitance normally vitiated with multiple tap transformers.
Breakthrough Power - The 91E delivers twice the output power of traditional 300B amplifiers. The secret? Innovative circuit design, patented to work in harmony with the original WE 300B. Listeners can pair the 91E with virtually any loudspeakers (low or high-efficiency) to fill the room with a lush, brilliantly articulated soundstage. Simply put—it drives anything.
Quality Craftsmanship - The 91E is built to last forever. Feel the quality of a machined aluminum chassis, no-nonsense panel controls, and a sophisticated LCD display. Ken Micallef of Stereophile said it best: "The 91E harks back to the golden era of US manufacturing when superb craftsmanship was standard practice for a successful American business."
Tubes Included - The 300B is the most iconic power tube in the world. The 91E ships with a new matched pair, hand-calibrated to fit your particular unit. The tubes are automatically biased with each startup, meaning more listening time and more confidence you're getting most out of your whole setup. Did we mention the tubes have a 5-year extended warranty?
Trouble-Free. Noise-Free - Common output transformers are large and excessive. The 91E has smaller, interchangeable transformer blocks that allow users to match speaker impedance.* The result? Lower hysteresis, lower distortion, and a lush soundstage. This is one of many problem-solving features that guarantee a black-background soundstage, suited for the most discerning listeners.
Customer Service - Western Electric products come with our make-it-right customer service attitude. You can always count on a quick solution, whether you’re on a quick call with Service & Support or receiving a one-on-one consultation with our amp engineers.
LCD Display - A bright and easy to read color display shows the selected input, attenuator level, and VU meter. The display also shows settings which can be adjusted by the included remote control. The display is dimmable.
Remote Control - The included infrared remote control allows for quick adjustment of amplifier settings such as input levels, balance, and display dimming.
Six Audio Inputs - Up to six (6) source devices can be connected during amplifier operation.
Auto-Bias - Microprocessors automatically bias the 300B tube pair each time the amplifier is powered on. No manual adjustment is necessary.
Bluetooth Compatibility - BT compatible audio input is available for wireless convenience.
Software & Firmware Updates - via Ethernet Connection and USB
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND: "The 91E is a very special product. It has real innovation in design that is not hype. It is delivering sound quality beyond what I’ve previously heard from any 300B amplifier. The areas that it excels in redefined for me just how great some of the recordings I listened to are. The best sound I’ve achieved on this system was listening to jazz and vocals. The presentation was so organic and fluid that I just wanted to melt into the listening chair and listen for hours. The only time I was not impressed was when the amp wasn’t adequately warmed up, and that was my fault, not that of the equipment.
If you are in the market for an integrated tube amplifier and have ever been exposed to the beautiful sound that 300Bs can offer, the 91E is a must audition. And while not inexpensive at $15k, I find it to be an extremely high value for what it delivers. I’m very happy WE is back and looking forward to more innovations. Very highly recommended!" - Rives Bird, March 2023
THE ABSOLUTE SOUIND Product of the year 2022
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND - “This unit is groundbreaking…”
“The Western Electric 91E is a unique combination of ‘old and new.’ The heart of the unit is the WE 300B tube, which is made—right here in the U.S.A. by WE—to the same standards and specifications as the original WE 300B tube, with some enhancements to the manufacturing process that increase the tube’s longevity. The amplifier also blends an old circuit design (Class A2) for driving the grid of the tube with new innovative circuits like the patented SCCS (Steered Constant Current Source). Reviewer Rives Bird found the result to be nothing short of magical. Leading-edge designs like the 91E are not just hyperbole. They deliver real benefits, such as 20 watts of power from a 300B in single-ended triode (SET) mode. The 91E offers all the sonic benefits of the 300B without the shortcomings: well-controlled bass, a wonderful top end, and a five-year warranty on the pair of 300B tubes. It is refreshing to see tubes being made in the U.S. again. What’s even more impressive is the commitment Charles Whitener, WE’s CEO, has made to quality and execution. This unit is groundbreaking. It delivers an incredibly high standard at a relatively affordable price. [The reviewer] was so impressed he purchased the review sample and listens to it daily.”- Excerpt from The Absolute Sound, Jan 2023
STEREOPHILE: “The 91E elicited consistent musical pleasure. Western Electric is back.”
“It is one of the most neutral, down-the-center, frequency-pure amplifiers I've reviewed. While it delivered that sweet 'n pure triode-treble audiophiles relish, and a room-filling soundstage, it exhibited a trait not commonly associated with tube amplifiers, let alone SET amps: as Whitener claimed, the 91E's low end was tight and accurate. Whether spinning Weather Report or Wagner, Brubeck or Brahms, if deep bass was impressed into the vinyl, the 91E delivered, time after time.”
"The 91E harks back to the golden era of US manufacturing when superb craftsmanship was standard practice for a successful American business.” - Ken Micallf
HIFI NEWS: "This is the best low-power amp I’ve ever heard, its scale and naturalness rivalling anything I can name – whatever the wattage."
THE ROBB REPORT: "Unquestionably our favorite product of the year, this vacuum tube altar to amplification features a full-function preamp with phono stage and even offers Bluetooth streaming. Uniquely, it makes 20 watts per channel of glorious single-ended triode power from a pair of Western Electric 300B vacuum tubes that present a rich, multilayered audio experience that sounds as seductive as it is addictive. Extolling the sonic virtues of the 300B vacuum tube to someone unfamiliar with this amplification device is like expaining how a truffle is unlike any common mushroom. Plus, the component's exquisitely machined casework reminds us that audio gear can be artwork, too."
WESTERN ELECTRIC VIDEOS -
Weight: 49lbs / 22.2 kg
Dimensions: 18.9 x 15 x 11.1” / 48 x 38 x 28cm
Chassis: Machined Aluminum
Colors: Nickel, Champagne, Black
Operating Voltage: 100V / 115V / 230V / 50-60Hz
Power Consumption: (Operation / Standby) 160W / 0.3W
Mains Fuse: 2A slow-blow
Electron Tube Complement: One Matched Pair Western Electric 300B, 2x ECC81
Phono MM Sensitivity: (10W / 4Ω) 0.75mV
Phono MC Sensitivity: (10W / 4Ω) 70μV
CD Sensitivity: (10W / 4Ω) 0.27V
CD Input Impedance: 20 kOhms
Phono MM Input Impedance: 47 kOhms | | 100 pF
Phono MC Input Impedance: 1000 kOhms (adjust via Phono Load plugs)
SNR MM: (10W / 4Ω, input 5mV) 83 dB(A)
SNR MC: (10W / 4Ω, input 0.5mV) 73 dB(A)
SNR CD: (10W / 4Ω, input 0.5V) 101 dB(A)
CD Frequency Response: 15 Hz - 32 kHz (-3 dB)
Phono Frequency Response: 30 Hz - 20 kHz (RIAA within +/- 0.5 dB)
Output Power: / 4 Ω / THD 10% 2 x 20 watts
Output Power: / 4 Ω / THD 5% 2 x 16 watts
Output Power: / 4 Ω / THD 3% 2 x 14 watts
Output Power: / 8 Ω / THD 10% 2 x 20 watts
Output Power: / 8 Ω / THD 5% 2 x 16 watts
Output Power: / 8 Ω / THD 3% 2 x 14 watts
Bluetooth Standard: v4.2
Bluetooth Codecs: BC, MP3, AAC, Fastream, APTX
Bluetooth Sample Rate: (adaptive) Up to 96kHz / 16-bit
Bluetooth Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Bluetooth SNR: 96dB
Warranty: Amplifier includes a Limited Warranty of ninety (90) days to the end user. The Limited Warranty period may be extended to three (3) years after the product is registered with Western Electric.
Warraty: 300B Vacuum Tubes: The Limited Warranty period may be extended to three (5) years after the product is registered with Western Electric.
The Western Electric of today is shaped by a rich and sometimes unexpected history. This narrative style timeline pays respect to the people, places, and events that electrify what we do today.
Western Electric was established in 1869. It was re-established in 1996 for the exclusive manufacture of electron tubes and high fidelity. Woven into our story of American manufacturing is the story of sound itself.
From the earliest glow of the vacuum tube to the advent of hi-fi, we make stunning experiences for listeners worldwide.
This connection to the past powers our mission to continue Western Electric sound for new listeners.
Company History -
1869 - An entrepreneur, Enos Barton and an inventor, Elisha Gray, partnered to supply a rapidly expanding world of electricity and modern communications with quality manufacturing. Booming demand for electrical equipment was good for business. But Barton and Gray’s small Cleveland workshop was also a place for imagination, always buzzing with the energy of something new. This is the original vision of Western Electric.
1872 - The Western Electric Manufacturing Company is established after a move to Chicago. Orders for electrical equipment surged. The name grew in recognition and became associated with dependable quality and original design, supplying big names like Western Union and Morse Telegraph Instruments.
1876 - Alexander Graham Bell files the first patent for the telephone, demonstrating it in the same year to the public at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. There, Western Electric won five first-class awards—no small feat for a company less than ten years old and with only sixty-five people on payroll.
1877 - The American Bell Telephone Company forms. By 1882, Western Electric had become a major manufacturer for American Bell, the start of a historic partnership and a new era of innovation and growth for the company. To meet new demand, Western Electric began operations in New York City, setting up shop in a former Western Union building.
1901 - Western Electric becomes exclusive supplier, purchaser, and distributor for AT&T and its subsidiaries, organized as the Bell System. By now, 600,000 telephones had been manufactured and installed. By 1910, that number would increase to 5.8 million.
Elisha Gray passes away. Enos Barton, who shared in Gray’s vision to lead the dawning electrical age, would pass away in 1916.
1905 - The legendary Hawthorne Works, the first of over 20 massive factory complexes, opens outside Chicago. At the height of its operation, the Hawthorne Works was a fully functioning city, complete with its own power plant, fire department, retail stores, and a recreation center.
1906 - Lee De Forest, a former Western Electric employee, first demonstrates the “Audion” tube. His primitive device showed the world how to effectively harness thermionic emission—the underlying physics of vacuum tube technology. At the time, he didn’t realize the crucial role it would play in the future of sound.
1912 - Dr. Harold Arnold and a team of Western Electric engineers witness an erratic, but promising demonstration of the “Audion.” They quickly grasped what De Forest had achieved, bought the patent, and within months invented the first high vacuum tube. Its first practical application? The amplification of sound.
1915 - Arnold and his engineers establish the first transcontinental phone lines from New York to San Francisco. But the vacuum tube not only revolutionized communications, it led to the creation of entirely new industries of radio, film sound, television, and of course high-fidelity sound recording and reproduction.
1916 - Edward Christopher (E.C.) Wente developed the breakthrough condenser microphone for Western Electric. This unsung hero in the history of sound also transformed speaker design with the 555W, the first high-frequency compression driver, in 1926. Moviegoers would marvel at the most lifelike sound they had ever heard.
1925 - The Western Electric engineering department, originally organized in 1907, becomes Bell Laboratories.
1926 - In the heated race to synchronize moving pictures and sound for a booming Hollywood industry, Western Electric wins with the premiere of Don Juan. It was the riskiest, most expensive Warner Brothers production to date. “Vitaphone,” “Wide Range Sound,” and “Mirrophonic” sound equipment rounded out Western Electric’s high-fidelity endeavors through 1937.
1938 - The 300B is first commissioned. By now, Western Electric is trusted worldwide for its unbeatable standards in thermionic tube manufacturing. AT&T’s intense demands for longer-lasting, workhorse triodes like the 300B fueled research and pushed the boundaries of electrical engineering.
1941 - Commercial business takes a back seat after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Bell Labs and Western Electric devote themselves to the war effort, taking on massive military contracts from 1942-1945. By doing its part during WWII, Western Electric further established itself as an all-American manufacturer.
1947 - The transistor is successfully demonstrated at Bell Laboratories. It soon replaced vacuum tubes as the new workhorse in electronics. The MOSFET, also developed at Bell Labs, would form the backbone of the digital age. To this day, it is the most manufactured device in history.
1948 - The long-playing record, or LP, is introduced by Columbia. Based on technology developed by Western Electric for film sound, it would become the longtime standard for music listeners. Ten years later, stereophonic LP’s and playback would be popularized, bringing better, more lifelike studio sound into the home.
1959 - “Ben-Hur” breaks records at the Academy Awards with eleven wins including “Best Sound.” The Western Electric name in film sound, “Westrex” (originally known as Electrical Research Products Inc. or ERPI), would appear in the opening credits of countless movies made during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
1961 - The Western Electric Kansas City Works is established. Machinery originally built for tube assembly at this facility remains in operation to this day at the Rossville Works.
1962 - James West and Gerhard Sessler invent the electret condenser microphone at Bell Labs. The vast majority of microphones used today are electrets. Western Electric was the original supplier and manufacturer for this milestone in the history of electrical sound recording.
1971 - Between this year and 1950, Bell Labs and WE continued making contributions to national defense and space programs through research and engineering. Back in Hollywood, Westrex engineers celebrated their thirty-sixth Oscar win for “Fiddler on the Roof.”
1977 - Star Wars premieres, introducing many to Dolby Stereo for the first time. These newfangled, low-noise Dolby systems which relied on Westrex designs, would become the new standard for cinema by the mid 1970s. Collectors who sought to recapture the original hi-fi sound of the 1930s and 40s flocked to salvage the junked equipment.
1980 - With more and more trendy, solid state electronics arriving on the scene like the Sony Walkman, the way people listened to music was quickly changing. But amidst all the “new”, high fidelity never went away. A growing group of analog holdouts and hi-fi newcomers enjoyed continuous rediscovery of old WE tech like the 300B electron tube and single-ended sound.
1984 - The Bell System is officially disbanded in a landmark consent decree with the United States government. The Western Electric name is abandoned by AT&T. Its operations were reorganized in various forms in a dramatic close to an epic corporate partnership.
1988 - Western Electric employees at the Kansas City Works manufactured what they thought would be their last batch of 300B’s. The famous triode, still burning with hi-fi mystique, was hunted by serious music lovers around the world, notably Japan and France, in their search for a pair to complement single-ended amplifier designs.
1992 - As the worldwide resurgence of tube sound continues, entrepreneur Charles G. Whitener of Westrex Corporation, approaches AT&T to acquire intellectual property and a license to manufacture and sell vacuum tubes and audio equipment under the Western Electric name.
1995 - After years of negotiation, AT&T grants Whitener the Western Electric brand license to manufacture vacuum tubes and audio equipment. He would obtain engineering drawings from Bell Labs and begin setting up tube manufacturing in Kansas City.
1996 - Whitener finalizes purchase of Western Electric intellectual property and equipment to manufacture and sell the 300B vacuum tube, among other types, with the hired help of former Kansas City Works employees. That year, Whitener successfully demonstrated the 300B to audio equipment manufacturers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
1997 - The newly created run of 300B electron tubes begins shipping worldwide. The original name in high fidelity had returned to the scene and a new generation of listeners could experience the emotional impact of tube sound. Japan’s MJ Audio magazine names 300B “Product of the Year.”
2003 - 300B manufacturing continues at a Huntsville, Alabama facility to meet continued demand. Between this year and 2012, Western Electric focused on serving contracts for the United States Department of Defense, supplying tubes (6EJ7, 577W, 576A) and test sets to the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center.
2004 - Western Electric introduces new high fidelity audio equipment like the 203C CD Player and amplifiers.
2013 - Western Electric moves its headquarters to Rossville, Georgia to begin planning a newly imagined manufacturing facility for tubes and various other high-fidelity equipment.
2016 - Control and ownership of all remaining intellectual property rights under the Western Electric trademark are transferred to Westrex Corporation from Alcatel-Lucent, successor of Western Electric’s telecom operations.
2017 - Renovations begin at a new Rossville, Georgia property to clear the way for a new tube assembly operation. The vision of this new facility is to modernize 300B manufacturing, introduce additional tube lines, and house research and design of new products—all under the proud Western Electric name.
2018 - The Rossville Works facility is officially established. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the 300B electron tube. To further celebrate, the 91E Integrated Amplifier, a powerful, single-ended companion to the 300B, is successfully demonstrated at major trade shows in Chicago and Munich.
2022 - Introduction of the 91E Integrated Amplifier