Western Electric WE 300B
Western Electric announced that the WE 300B electron tube will re-enter production this year, in time for its 80th Anniversary. The famous triode was developed at Bell Labs in 1933 in the form of its predecessor, the 300A, which was modified, patented, and then produced at many historic works facilities beginning in 1938. The 300B has journeyed from the original New York tube shops to the legendary Hawthorne Works, Allentown Works, Kansas City Works, then the Huntsville Works.
The sparkling new tubes that will roll off the line this September will be assembled here in Rossville, Georgia at a new and reimagined electron tube works facility. Furthering the company's commitment to manufacturing excellence, Western Electric is installing new hydrogen reduction ovens, automated cathode cleaning lines, new laser welding systems, a state-of-the-art water deionization plant, and an updated testing system with improved accuracy. However, the 300B will still be manufactured from its original tooling and assembly specification standards.
Although the company invested in a modernized production line, many of its aspects will, of course, remain true to tradition. For example, the core material, the so-called 'secret sauce' embedded in each cathode is derived from an original Hawthorne Works 1963 melt. Western Electric's attention to each delicate detail and historic promise of quality place the WE 300B in a category of its own. The new 300B's will be priced at a reasonable rate of $1299 per matched pair or $599 for a single. They will also be available in quads and octets. Each tube ships with peerless 5-year limited warranty starting September 1. By internal estimates, this is a conservative timeframe Western Electric can easily achieve, barring any unforeseen setbacks. A complex process like this involves many moving parts - literally.
In addition to announcing the availability of the 300B, Charles Whitener, Western Electric's President, shared some of the company's adventures in product development. Continuing the 80th anniversary celebration of the 300B, Western Electric is unveiling a new single-ended amplifier called the 91E, as an homage to its famous predecessor the 91A, first introduced in 1936. The 91E embodies a new proprietary Class A2 parallel feed current source topology (patent pending), combined with toroidal output transformers, and microprocessor controlled automatic bias. It will achieve in excess of twenty watts per channel - a never before realized level of performance for the 300B in a single-ended circuit. A limited edition monoblock set of this amp will be called the 91C Metropolis. Only 500 of these beautifully designed 300B amplifiers will be available. Info and photos by Western Electric.