Single Fullrange Driver and Single Ended Triode approach to music reproduction. Why?
I like the immediacy, transparency, tone & timbre, naturalness, presence and richness of low powered direct heated single ended triode amps (with preferably single plate triode power tubes). Because these amps typically have low power (typically 3-4 watts or less), I have to use high efficiency speakers and I prefer full range single drivers to meet this need - for their coherence, speed and naturalness that they bring as compared to multi-way driver systems (typically and IMHO). The Feastrex drivers are simply amazing and I do believe one of the best available full range drivers, if not the best. No peakiness, smooth yet lively, very fast and dynamic (especially the field-coil versions) and the best bass from a fullranger ever. The field coil versions are significantly better than the Alnico versions and the 9 inch versions are very dynamic and capable of rendering large orchestral works in their full majesty. I use a pair of REL 218 subs to get me bass below 40Hz and it's a great combo.
Digital FrontEnd: The Zanden DAC needs no introduction. I use the 47 Labs Flatfish transport as I like its simple approach and musical sound. With the improved clock mods and battery power supply, this CD transport really becomes very good. See 2018 updates.
Analog Source: the Galibier Gavia TT is very quiet, musical, dynamic and transparent. The AudioCraft AC4000 arm with the Technics EPC-P100C MkIV MM cartridge gives great tracking, good dynamics with neutral and wide bandwidth plus good detail and great soundstage. The FR-7F MC cartridge with Micro Seiki MAX282 arm gives me a slightly more organic, richer sound compared to the AC4000/Technics EPC-P100C combo. The SP10mk3 is new to my system and is now my reference. Great PART, dynamics yet very neutral and very transparent. The FR7fz and Ikeda 9CIII cartridge brings a certain natural, organic sound to my system. Deciding which cartridge/arm combo is not easy. Each has its strengths. See 2018 updates.
Phono and PreAmp: My Essential 3160 PhonoPreamp has added more transparency, better details, improved soundstaging and also greater flexibility (Seperate MM and MC stages, phase invert and mono switch etc) to my system. Very neutral yet musical preamp. My first solidstate amp/device but its all class A, dual mono, simple output stage, balanced mode and current drive mode. Added the Wavac LCR-X2 phonostage. Wow! Brings my analog front end up a big notch. Now making me itch for a tube linestage to match. And added Wavac PR-T1 preamp.
PowerAmps: The First Watt SIT-2, Fi 421a and DIYHiFiSupply LD91MonoMax are better SET amps that what I had before, giving increasing transparency and resolution and also improved bass response and extension. These 3 amps are closer to each other than one would think but they each have their respective strenghts and I could live with any of them. In rotation but if I had to pick an order of preference, this would be the LD91 MonoMax followed by the SIT-2 and then the Fi421a. Just added Berning's New 300B SET ZOTL amp. Liking this very much. The most transparent of my amps but very very dynamic, fast and with great tone and timbre. Very sensitive to the tubes used. Now rolling tubes trying to find the best combinations. My new reference amp. Done rolling tubes. This is clearly the best amp ever in my system.
Overall: My system gives me great immediacy, naturalness and presence, realistic tone/timbre, fine transparency and resolution (shows up any tweak/changes easily and clearly) and above all great musicality. Weaknesses are in the room, which have high ceilings. I have tried to improve the room acoustics (with quite some success I must add) using Acoustic Revive's QR-8 quartz resonators all over the room & windows, Shakti Hallographs (in the corners behind the speakers) and a pair of Acoustic Revive's RWL-3 acoustic panels (placed behind the speakers). Also using Acoustive Revive RR-888 (1pc) and 2pcs of RR-777.
I listen mainly to jazz, R&B and some classics, a little rock & some reggae.
Minimalist but musical CD transport. Ergonomically a pain to use but with great sound. Very smooth and analog sounding. Upgraded this by replacing the stock Dumpty power supply with a Brian Charney battery powered PSU. This battery PSU is so much better - better bass, soundstage and dynamics - a huge improvement. Really gives the FlatFish a significant improvement - like a new CD transport. Highly recommended. Also, the Flatfish was upgraded by Brian Charney with an AudioComm SuperClock 4 and other upgraded components. This transport now has greater dynamics and jitter has been reduce such that I no longer use the Altmann DeJitter.
Upgraded with the Chord Blu Mk2 which is a must in combination with the Chord DAVE to bring out the best in each other.
Zanden 5000 MkIV DAC
Zero sampling, no digital filter, tube DAC. Very analogue like and musical. Smooth with great tone and timbre. Upgraded with Gold Lion 6X4 and 6CA4 tube rectifiers and Mullard/Amperex E88CC Holland D Getter pinch waist tube. Also using an Acoustic Revive grounding conditioner.
Upgraded to Chord DAVE DAC with Chord Blu Mk2 Cd transport and upsampler. This combination is the best digital so far in my system. Still keeping the Zanden 5000DAC because of its unique organic sound.
Galibier Gavia TT with Durand Talea 2 tonearm
Heavy mass loaded base with heavy Aluminium platter coupled with an integrated graphite mat driven by a wide mylar tape belt using a precision DC motor powered by a 12vDC SLA battery. Very quiet and transparent with good soundstage. Dynamic, good bass and excellent PRAT. This is a belt drive TT with dynamics and PRAT of a direct drive/idler drive but with the quietness and transparency of a good belt drive. Can use 2 tonearms; Typically a Micro Seiki MAX282 (3 armwands)and a Fidelity Research FR66s updated with new Silver internal wiring. Also have a AudioCraft AC4000 LTD (silver) and a Durand Talea II tonearms. My Gavia has the latest large block armboard with micro-P2S adjustments. Updated with new DC motor & controller and new belt. All cartridges are setup using the Mint LP Arc Protractors and/or Uni Protractor system.
Technics SP10mk3 + Porter plinth FR66s. Fully serviced and rewired with new Silver wires and Rhodium connectors by Ikeda
SP10mk3. Totally refurbished (new caps, IEC power socket, calibration, new IC) and upgraded with revised Richard Krebs mods by Bill Thalmann of Music Technology.
Also fitted with the SDP (Special Decoupled Platter w/isolated spindle)
platter by Acoustical Systems. The SDP brings a further refinement, expanded soundstage to the SP10mk3
ViV Laboratory Rigid Float 9 inch
An amazing arm. Just sits on the plinth, no offset angle, easy to setup and sounds quite amazing. Highly Recommended.
Technics EPC-P100C MkIV MM cartridge
Low Output Moving Magnet Cartridge. Very good tracking ability, smooth sounding with lots of details.
AKG P100LE MM cartridge
Very good cartridge even though its an MM.
Koetsu Coralstone Diamond Platinum
The Coralstone Platinum was my favorite cartridge. Amazing. Very palpable and musical. Check out the shootout review in my threads.
Now upgraded to Diamond Cantilever version. Added detail and transparency. Excellent.
Various MC/MM/MI: SPU Gold, Koetsu Onyx Plt, FR7Fz, Ikeda 9CIII
Here are some of the cartridges in my possession besides the Technics EPC-P100C mk4 and AKG P100LE. (Not in any order of priority): (1) Ortofon SPU Silver Meister Mk2 run nude. Very dynamic and sounds better without its integrated headshell. I have a custom made Gun-Metal adaptor for mounting into a standard headshell. Works well with my Fidelity Research FR-66s arm. Sold and bought SPU Gold which is better all around. Just bought a used SPU 85th Anniversary and this is even better. (2) Sold my SPU Mono GM and bought Miyajima ZERO - my new reference mono cartridge. (3) Fidelity Research Fr-7fz and Fr-7f - the Fr-7FRz is better. Detailed, transparent, smooth, lush and musical. Very heavy cartridge but works well with my MAX282 with heavy J arm(XP282Au) or FR66s. (4) Ikeda 9CIII. Cantileverless cartridge. Great cart. Very immediate sounding. I'm looking for the Ikeda 9R as a result. (5)Audiocraft AC-3 MC. This is a very nice cart and will give new $$ carts a run for their money (6) Fidelity Research PMC-3 MC. Cheaper and later relative to the FR-7. Nice for its price, similar house sound to the FR-7 but not quite up to the Fr-7f in terms of transparency and resolution. (7) Denon DL-103D. Ceramic body. MC(8) Satin M18BX, quadrophonic MC with berylium cantilever. (9)MM cartridges: Acutex 412STR, Stanton 881s, MM cartrdige with JICO shibata stylus, B&O MMC1 & MMC2, Azden YM-P50VL (A couple of friends whose ears I trust have tried it and both like it very much), Andante P-76, Empire 4000D Mk3, Technic EPC-P205C Mk3, MM cartridge, Glanz M71E, AKG P8ES. I have not heard them all but hopefully...one day... Just added a Transfiguration Proteus MC cartridge, my first new contemporary MC cartridge in a long time. But sold to upgrade to a Koetsu Coralstone Diamond Platinum which I really, really like.
Wavac LCR-X2 Phonostage
Tube LCR phonostage. Best phonostage I have yet encountered. Big, spacious, palpable sound with lots of presence and dynamics.
J&R Essential 3160 phono+linestage
This is a dual mono, Class A, no feedback, solid State Fully Balanced Phono Preamplifier. Phono Stage uses balanced input from the cartridge. Enough gain for use with low output MC to not require step-up transformer (60db). Have completely seperate MM and MC phono stages. Sublime, detail, smooth, neutral, natural tones and very dynamic.
Now upgraded to Wavac PR-T1 preamp. Better.
Tribute Inductive Volme Control
Bought a passive inductive volume control from Tribute. This is a stereo unit. Put it into a DIY case with 4 RCA inputs using Silver Neotech internal cabling. Very transparent yet quite dynamic sounding preamp. In fact, its probably the most transparent preamp in my collection. Very pure sounding, yet smooth, dynamic and very musical. Needs to have enough gain from your source to your power amp to bring out it's best and need to match the source and power amps impedances. Once you can do this, it's very good and probably the best value in a preamp. Works great with my Wavac phono and Zanden DAC into my Berning 300B ZOTL amp. This combo is now becoming my favorite. Used to have the Bent Audio TX-102 Silver TVC. I think the Tribute is better. More organic sounding and more musical.
Berning 300B ZOTL (New Siegfried)
It's a new version of Berning's famous Siegfried 300B/811 ZOTL amp. Dave B. told me he likes this better than the original Siegfried 300B. He says it sounds better. This is Serial #3. He only builds on special request. Hence, it is built like a DIY amp and is very simple/DIY looking. It's a pair of 300B driven by 6SN7 (2pcs), 12au7 (1pc) and 6au6(2pc) tubes. Stereo single chassis. It has 7 watts into 6 ohm, 6 watts into 4-8 ohm and about 4 watts into 16 ohm. Technically, it's a 300B single ended, class A, choke loaded, ZOTL amp. No output transformers. This is now my favorite 300B single ended amp. Great transparency, detail and speed. But also smoothness, speed, liveliness, linear freq. response from bass to treble. This has all the attributes of OTL but without the leanness and sometimes brittle/tilted high end. AS warm and rich as traditional 300B OPT amps. Need to match with NOS tubes for best results. Liking it very much with the EML 300B XLS tube. The Elrog 300B was better than the EML.
But now running with 1940's engraved base WE300B. Wow! Beliismo!. With Opoe 6SN7 and 1950's Mullard long plate, D getter 12Au7.
Best amp in my system so far.
DIYHiFiSupply LD91 MonoMax SET amp + Noguchi OPT
300B SET monoblocks utilizing an upgraded version of the WE91 circuit using a direct coupled reactive interstage driven by a 5687 triode tube. My version uses a pair of Noguchi FM-24WS output transformers which uses the Hitachi FineMet cores. This is an upgrade over the standard OPT. It's a 300B with more power (in my case about 10W since I use a 5K primary instead of a typical 2.5K primary which gives 16W) but with a more typical 45 SET type sound. So I am able to get something similar to a 45 type sound but with more power than a typical 300B. It's a more liner freq bandwidth than the typical 300B i.e. more bass and treble extension. And the FineMet Cores are really good. My favorite cores for OPTs. The best of both worlds IMHO. I use vintage 1950's WE300B tubes, vintage fine mesh shield WE 310A pentode driver tubes, Tungsol black plate D getter 5987 triode tubes and vintage 1960's WE 274B rectifiers. The tubes cost more than the amps but IMHO add another level of refinement and musicality to the amps. Update: Have switched to the Sophia Royal Princess 300B. This is a really good 300B. For the first time, I found something that I like generally like better than the vintage Pre-1970's WE300B (I don't like post 1970's WE300B anyway). It has much better bass and treble extension but still retains enough of that mid-range magic (though the vintage WE300B's mids are just a bit nicer, more detail and microdynamics). Really pushes this amp up significantly. I have to say that this is now my favorite amp in my collection. Just added the Takatsuki TA-300B tube. Better mids than the Sophia Royal Princess, more layered soundstage and more holographic sound. Slightly less impactful bass and not as forward as the Sophia Royal Princess. I prefer the TA-300B and it is closer to the vintage WE300B than the Royal Princess in the mids and soundstage and microdynamics. And better bass than the vintage WE300B. Have now added EML 300B and this is now my reference 300B for this amp. Sits between the Sophia Electric Royal Princess 300B and the Takatsuki 300B but having the best from both.
Fi 421A SET amp
Made by Don Garber with upgraded components. 4w into 16ohm. Very musical. Quiet, smooth, transparent and great bass for a SET tube amp, with good pace and rhythm. Very easy to enjoy. Replaced my previous U4AB amp as it was better in many ways. Upgraded with Magnequest QS-025 OPTs with pure silver wiring on both primary and secondary coils. Very nice upgrade (and expensive). This now makes my Fi421a a long term keeper.
First Watt SIT-2 amp
This replaced my First Watt F2J amp. Also a single ended FET amp with just 1 gain stage. I like it very much and its an improvement over the F2J. Its a single ended design with no feedback and class A of course. Very detailed but smooth and with good tones. Fast sounding with the best bass yet in my system. Sacrifies just a little lushness and trailing tones for better speed, resolution and bass. In heavy rotation with with Fi 421A SET and 300B amps.
Feastrex D9e - Type 1 Field Coil Speaker
Fullrange 9 inch field coil driver. 16 ohm in a simple reflex box in DIY marine plywood. Natural, very transparent, fast and very dynamic. Great bass and great treble extension (for a single driver). My version has the Urushi lacquered over gold plated phase plug. Now using an updated Feastrex external DC power supply with constant current supply. The new power supply (dual mono in a single chassis) which is an option from Feastrex, makes the speaker more dynamic, faster and more detailed. This new power supply is much better than the standard original Feastrex DC power supply. I use a Taket BATPro Super Tweeter which is enhances the bass and makes it a little more airy. Update: Have since swapped the Taket BATPro super tweeter for a pair of Townshend Maximum Ribbon super tweeters. These are quite a bit better than the Takets. I get better soundstaging, treble seems more integrated with the rest and has a more organic sound. Further updates: The D9e have been reconed by Feastrex in 2012 and upgraded with CW treatment. The whizzer is now slightly smaller in size. The drivers are even more natural sounding and the treble integration is more smoother. Overall, a nice upgrade. Main weakness now is the cabinet. Currently working on upgrading the cabinets. Stay tuned. Aldo, recent conversation with Hal Teramoto (the maker & designer) revealed that my driver has a 1 piece pole-piece construction (only 2 pairs were made like this). The tolerances are tighter with the single unit machined construction. So, maybe my unit is more like a D9e Type 1.1~1.2. LOL
REL R218 subwoofer 2pcs, stereo pair.
Have replaced my previous pair of REL Strata MkIII subs with a pair of REL R218. The R218 seems faster and more dynamic. Set between 36-40hz crossover for my Feastrex D9e speakers. Blends in very well with the main speakers. A stereo pair gives me better soundstage and depth compared to single subwoofer. I use Oyaide Tunami powercords for these subs.
Altmann JISCO Dejitter
DeJitter Device. With 12 volt SLA battery power supply whihc sounds better than the standard wallwart. Works great. Better bass definition and smoother highs. However, now not in use as my modded Flatfish with upgraded clock sounds better without the DeJitter.
Hashimoto Live MC-10 Step-up Transformer
Great moving coil step-up transformer. Better than the Cinemags which was my ex-reference. More detailed, better treble extension, faster and more open soundstage.
Choir Audio Hashimoto HM-7 Step-Up Transformer
The HM-7 is the flagship Hashimoto step up and is quite a bit better than the HM-3. It's the best step-up I have heard.
DIY HiFi Supply Cole LCR phono amp
Cole uses LCR RIAA and tube output. Uses a Telefunken EZ80 rectifier and a pair of Amperex Holland E88CC D getter tubes. Transparent, detailed and musical.
Custom Mod Nagashima U4AB SET amp
A custom built amp of a design that was featured in a Japanese DIY magazine by Nagashima (the editor of that magazine). It uses a U4AB pentode power tube by Pedersen (Danish 1942 built) but wired in triode mode. Its driven by a pentode tube ECL86 which has both half section of a 12AX7 triode and a EL84 pentode built into the tube. 3 watts output and 20 ohm tap. Very natural with good soundstage and depth. More detailed than my previous 300B monoblocks but loses none of the richness, tone, timbre and harmonics of the 300B (DIYHiFiSupply's LD91+ amp).
Tony Wong Custom 6SN7 CCS line preamp
A custom built preamp with a single 6SN7 tube with CCS loading. I prefer this to the TVC passive preamp (silk TVC) in my system as the U4AB power amp needs extra gain to sound at its best. This preamp is fast, transparent, very quiet, smooth, dynamic and musical. I am using Tungsol 6SN7 round black plates tube.
Neumann W444STA line preamp
Vintage Microphone active Fader as used in German Broadcasting industry. It has both input and output transformers and a discrete op-amp giving 15dB of gain. Very smooth fader with a smooth, musical sound. Has a custome made 24Vdc power supply built into the cabinet.
Feastrex D5nf speaker
My first Feastrex. Fullrange alnico driver - 5 inch. Incredible xmax excursion and treble extension with >95db efficiency, 16 ohm. In a hybrid bass reflex/TL box in marine plywood. Natural, transparent, fast and musical. Now used as speakers for my second system and partnered with DIYHiFiSupply Fusion integrated USB DAC amp. I also use a Taket BATPro supertweeter with the speakers to aid in bass and imaging.
Audioquest Leopard tonearm cable
I have several DIN-RCA and DIN-XLR cables. 72V DBS bias. These are now my preferred tonearm cables
Analysis Plus Silver Oval Tonearm Cable
Tonearm cable from Tonearm to phono preamp. DIN-XLR. Neutral and transparent
Silver Breeze Tonearm Cable
All silver DIN-XLR tonearm cable. Fast, neutral and musical.
STEREOLAB Master Reference 818 Digital IC
Great sounding and great value digital cable. Better than my previous Stereovox XV Ultra Reference cable. The XV Ultra was itself better than the previous Stereovox XV2 version which had replaced a Kondo Ks-Lpd digital cable that costs much, much more. Tried also many other digital cables like Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Platinum, Nordost Silver Shadow but the Stereovox was better. Had the earlier HDXV but the newer XV2 is slightly better and the XV Ultra better yet. But the new Stereolab Master Reference 818 was noticeably even better. More details, higher transparency yet remaining smooth and musical.
Antipodes Komako IC MK 2 version
The Antipodes Komako are silver I/C with a little gold and palladium. It sounds musical yet detailed and fast. They have replaced my Kondo Ks-Lp I/C, so highly recommended.
ClearDay Double Shotgun
The ClearDay Double shotgun is all silver. Smooth, musical, good bass extension, wide soundstage. Very happy with it compared to more expensive cables.
ElectraGlide SOTU Power Cord
This replaced my Acrolink P4030 and Oyiade Tunami PCs. It is more detailed, smoother, richer and more dynamic compared to the previous powercords. Really good and good value too but no longer in production. If you find it on the market, highly recommended.
Harmonix X-DC2 Power Cord
Nice power cable. It's very musical, smooth, with good details. It has a slightly golden sound which makes it forgiving but yet detail and fast. I used it for my DAC. The synergy of this cables helps with the digital front end.
Shunyata Python Vx Power Cord
Used for CD transport and field coil power supply. Has noise reducing Fe-Si pellets in the cable. Very musically and quiet cable. Can sound a little compressed on other equipment but ok for my field coil power supply
BPT BP-10.5 Ultra Power Isolation Trans
Upgraded with Oyaide R1 outlets. This really help reduce the power supply noise in my system and was better than my previous custom Isolation Transformer. Apparent immediately was a better defined and weightier bass, larger soundstage and the music also flowed much better. Highly recommended. This BPT replace my previous custom build isolation transformer - 2.5KvA which I found to be better than my previous Shunyata Hydra 8 power conditioner. The custom isolation transformer was more dynamic, faster and a little more transparent than the Hydra 8. The Hydra 8 was more quiet but I found the music flowed better with the custom Isolation Transformer.
PS Audio P500 and P300 Power Regenerators
Finally, I tried a power regenerator. Both units actually converts 230V to 115V which was what I was looking for and I bought it used. It definitely helps reduce noise and the MultiWave is useful and can help improve sound. It's a keeper but wish the fan noise was a little lower.
It's been a while and there have been quite a few new additions to my system. So please be patient as I try to update below.
1) I tried the Allnic D5000 DAC. Nice but I then wwnt for the Chord DAVE Dac with the Chird Blu 2 upsaampling CD transport. Big improvement iver ny previous setup. Upsampling to 32/764 is the way to go for me.
2) Have really fallen for Tidal streaming with Roon. Upgrades from Auralic Aries FEMTO to a custom built server by Verastarr. It's a souped up Antipodes DX server with 4TB SSD and external linear power supply and SoTM USB card. And I really like MQA over Tidal. My digital now is closer to analog and much better.
1) Upgraded to Koetau Coralstone Diamond Platinum. This is the best so far un my system. Using a AudioNote Kondo KSL Stepup trans into the Wavac LCR-X2 phonostage.
2) My Galibier Gavia is still with me. Undergoing upgrade to latest motir controller with new Kevlar Belt in its way from Thom Mackris. Have a Kuzma 4pt tonearm waiting fir this to be put back together.
3) OTOH, I also bought a Teres Verus Rim Drive Motor for the Galibier Gavia. Once I get some time and set it up, I can then have a shootout between belt versus rim drive. I decided to try the Verus rim drive because I really enjoy the various Garrard 301 TTs I've heard. I wanted a Dobbins 301 TT but could not sell my Galibier Gavia so decided to upgrade instead. Let's see the outcome. Argh! Just need more time.
4) Have not setup my Victor TT-801 yet with the 3 arms (FR66s, MX282, AC4000LTD). Reason is that I do nit have space for 3 TTs on my rack. One day ....
5) In order to accomodate all the tonearma/carts, I bought a secong phonostage: Cyrus Signature Phono. 4 inputs, all independentky adjuatabke gain, resistance and capaitance loading. Up to 72dB gain. Not as goos as the Wavac LCR-X2
1) Moved to a Wavac PRT1. Boy this is good. 3D imaging, delicate, detailed, lively. Bug improvement.
Still loving my Feastrex D9e Type 1 field coils. Now with twin Rel R218 subs.
But I now have a Retm Saadhana V3 on its way. Let's see. Exciting times.
1) Power cables are almost all Verastarr Silver cables. The power conditioner are Starment HC Gold, the rest are Signature Silvers. Big improvement.
2) Spekaer cables are now Verastarr Silver foils. again a nice upgrade in SQ.
3) Interconnects are now Verastarr silvers. 2 thumbs up.
Ddriveman, Synergistic is some serious cabling. Their power cords are exceptional. I've had their speaker cables and interconnects ( in MANY variations), over the years and each has taken my system to another level. However, due to financial reasons, they had to be sold. If you do decide to try their power cords, I HIGHLY recommend you send the power supply to Micheal Spallone. He will upgrade them to the same level as the $400 Galileo for a fraction of the price. I've spoken with many members who are thrilled with his upgrade. If you wish to contact him, his username is his name (as one word).
Thks for your comments Devilboy. How do you like tge Synergistic cables? It's one of those that are on my to try list. I see you are on computer audio. Just bought an Aurliac Aries streamer. Very nice sonically. I also have an Auraliti Pk90. Have not updated my system to show the computer audio equipment I have and need to do so because it is certainly the way to go. My system is very eclectic and so may find only a limited audience who appreciates its strenghts versus its weaknesses. No perfect system out there but this one floats my boat and brings great joy to me.
Yes, you never stop learning/discovering things and every single portion of the audio chain matters. It seems all part choices/changes have consequences and influence. As you point out, an amazing hobby. Charles
Thanks for your compliments. Yes, I did try the Takatsuki 300B in my Berning amp too. The signatures of the EML and Takatsuki and Sophia RP 300B were similar and evident in the Berning 300B and my other 300B amp.The Berning 300B is very transparent, neutral and fast. o the EML 300B XLS gives the best balance although I am still rolling the driver tubes and there may be combinations of other driver tubes that may favor other 300B tubes. BTW the Mullard 12Au7 D getter CV491 driver tube is a killer in the Berning. Tried many others like RCA, Amperex, Telefunken, Lorenz etc. but that Mullard has the deepest soundstage with holographic imaging and delicate resolution. Never heard a tube have such a great difference in soundstage comparing to others when tube rolling. Usually the difference is in tone/timbre, balance, detail but not much in soundstage, except this time. You keep learning new things in audio. Amazing hobby.
Ddriverman, You have a terrific system and wow! what a collection of wonderful amplifiers, all top choices. I rotate the EML XLS and Takatsuki 300b in my amplifier. You have chosen the EML to use in your Berning amp, did you try the Takatsuki there also? I have to tell you I love that EML XLS in my SET amplifier. You've done a fantastic job with your system. Your music listening must be pure bliss. Charles,
The Fi421a is indeed a very simple SET amp (which are already simple btw) and that's why it will stay in my collection. My F1421a has been upgraded with Silver Magnequest output transformers which are a significant improvement. It has also has Vcap CuTf caps. It is better than my earlier 300B amps and the First Watt SIT-2 and F2J amps. But compared to my current Berning 300B ZOTL, it loses out in terms of detail, resolution and speed. Best way to describe the 421a is that it is a richer, more dynamic sounding 45 SET with more power 4 watts versus 1.5 watt. I think its a good way for 300B lovers who want to try something else but can't go to lower power SETs like 2A3, 45, 205D and 71a.
Hi Ddriveman, Great collection of amps you have. Could you describe the sound of the Fi 421A SET amp as compared to some of your other amps? This amp could not be more simple. A single rectifier, single driver tube, single output tube. A stereo amp with only 3 tubes. Super cool. -Regards Jet
I really enjoy reading your thread. You have a wealth of experience in areas that interest me, sitting down with you for several days (or years!) would undoubtedly raise my own level of knowledge, regarding many interesting topics.
As I've said before, yours is system I would love to hear, and hear often and repeatedly.
Finally, some comments about the Viv Lab Rigid Float arm. I have the 9" version. I initially tried it with my Koetsu Onyx platinum cartridge but this was not a good combination and not surprising as the Koetsu likes a heavy mass tonearm with rigid bearings. I then switched to an Audiocraft AC-03 MC cartridge. Now tis is a very nice combination. Rich mids and great bass response. More importantly, this arm has an ease and liquidity that I have not heard from my other arms. Not sure if it' the damped floating pivot or the straight underhand geometry or both but music just flows, unconstrained with a big smooth and somewhat lush sound plus great presence and palpability. Maybe not as focus as other arms and treble extension may not be the very best. But very enjoyable and I keep going back to the Viv/Audiocraft AC-03 combo. In fact, I like it better than the FR66s/SPU 85th Anv or SPU Gold. And the mids and bass are better than the FR66s/SPU combo (which is well know for its great ids and bass).
Just added a new amp. It's a new version of Berning's famous Siegfried 300B/811 ZOTL amp. Dave likes this better than the original Siegfried 300B. He says it sounds better. This is Serial #3. He only builds on special request. Hence, it is built like a DIY amp and is very simple/DIY looking. Its 300B driven by 6SN7 (2pcs), 12au7 (1pc) and 6au6(2pc) tubes. Stereo single chassis. Its 7 watts into 6 ohm, 6 watts into 4-8 ohm and about 4 watts into 16 ohm. Technically, it's a 300B single ended, Class A, Choke loaded, ZOTL amp. No output transformers. Initial impressions are very good. Sounding very nice. Great tone, smooth, rich, great presence and palpability. Also quite detail with good treble extension. Bass is also strong and tuneful. Not lean sounding like what you would think an OTL might sound. In fact, its sounds very much like my other 300B SET OPT amp but with better detail and resolution. I like it.
Hi, I believe that you're going to be very happy with the XLS, I love this tube! It has excellent dynamic authority, weight and presence, yet is very refined, liquid and organic. It does justice to all genres of music. Let me know how it differs(if any) from the standard EML 300b if you find the time to post here. Thanks, Charles,
I like the EML 300B so much that I just ordered the EML 300B XLS. I hope it's a little better than the standard 300B. Thanks for your advice on the EML 300Bs. It was the inspiration for me to try them out.
System edited: Added Choir Audio HM-7 SUT and Tribute AVC passive preamp. I have had the Tribute AVC for a while but recently took it out and ran it from my phono to amp. I was reminded how good it is and so decided it needs a place in my system list.
I'm not surprised by your reaction to the EML, they are excellent tubes. I use the EML XLS but I don't know if it's any better than their standard 300b as I've not heard them. The EML are reputed to be long lasting tubes as well, time will tell.I truly enjoy rotating between the EML and the Takasuki. Charles,
Just bought a used pair of EML 300B and tried it on my DIYHiFiSupply LD91+ MonoMax amps. Wow! I like this tube. It is very dynamic, yet sweet and delicate. The Sophia Royal Princess sounds a little darker. The Takatsuki has more air and greater soundstage so the EML 300B sits between the Takatsuki 300B and the Sophia Royal Princess. In terms of bass and dynamics, the EML is closer to the Sophia. But in terms of mids, detail, microdynamics it is closer to the Takatsuki. I guess I should try the EML 300B-XLS now.