While digging around, I came across a really simple circuit in the RCA Receiving Tube Manual describing a 1WPC stereo amplifier using only two tubes, the 60FX5 power pentodes, and a single silicon diode. The 60FX5s have high enough gain they don’t need a driver stage, and were designed to use a crystal or ceramic phonograph pickup which is compatible with the output voltages of most modern electronics, too.
Looks pretty easy. This is something like you might find in a portable suitcase record player or similar, on the lower end of the cost spectrum.
If I were going to build this – and I might if I ever get a spare minute not working on repair projects – I’d probably start with an isolation transformer like the Triad N68X for safety, and eliminate the 0.22M resistor and 0.1 uF capacitor in the chassis network. The diode would be a 1N4007, naturally. The output transformers might be a tougher, though. I’m not sure of the specs on the Triad S-16X they specified, but with a low-power, economy amp like this one would probably not have met the day’s hi-fi spec, 40 Hz – 15 kHz. Small output transformers just don’t have enough iron to really couple bass well, among other things. There’s the Edcor XSE10-8-3K, offering 70 Hz – 18 kHz +/- 1 dB at $19 a piece. A transformer that’s flat 20 Hz – 20 kHz would be massively oversized and cost considerably more, like the Edcor CXSE25-8-3K coming in at over $90 each unit.
The 60FX5 tubes themselves are about $8 a piece on eBay. Ceramic 7-pin sockets are only around $2 each, too. The controls are probably about $10 – I’d just use a dual 1 Meg audio pot, and find a 2 Meg trimmer for the balance control and pre-set it during construction. The rest of passives would cost about another $10, a power cord, a cake pan from the grocery store for a chassis and you’re at $100 in parts to build the amp from the ground up. You’d need to use very efficient speakers, though!
If anyone builds one of these, and you send it to me, I’ll measure it’s specs with the Audio Precision analyzer!