Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review

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sabciu

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #140 on: 17 Jul 2017, 10:50 pm »
sabciu

I have both Don Sachs preamp and Bob Latino's M-125. They match perfectly. You won't regret it and for those waiting on Don's preamp or amp or both. The wait is worth it. I ordered my preamp last September or Octocber of 2016 and received it early December of 2016. You guys will not be disappointed at all.

Great!! That is really good to hear. I just finished up the build of Bob's M-125's. The build went very well and both Amps's powered up and Biased properly without a hitch! I'm just working on some finishing touches on them  :thumb:. These Amps look and already sound very promising. There's just something about that All Tube sound that's addicting and irresistible.

The build of my Pre won't start until the end of this month, so I am hoping to have it by some time early August.

earwig

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #141 on: 20 Jul 2017, 01:09 pm »
Is that like an audio research sp14?

tommydoan84

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #142 on: 25 Jul 2017, 05:12 am »






hi Whitestix

I'm interested in used  SP14 tube preamp. If you still have some of your SP14 gears available for sale. Please let me know,
Thanks,
Tom

I had a Harmon Kardon Citation I and II for years in my closet that I had been trying to get Jim McShane to upgrade.  Jim was too busy so he suggested I contact Don Sachs to have the upgrades performed.  Don has a long history of doing upgrades on tube electronics and is Jim's go-to guy for such work.  Don upgraded both the HK amp and preamp and they were absolutely stunning, dead quite in operation.  Don has now taken the great SP14 tube preamp design from Roy Mottram at "tubesforhifi" and is selling these preamps with several upgrades and optionality for buyers.  In contrast to Roy's original design, Don puts the basic SP14 circuitry in a custom-made wood cabinet with the tubes exposed on top for better cooling and access for those of us who like to roll tubes (brilliant).   Don has spend countless hours listening to the preamp with a variety of upgrades caps, as well as the very fine 48-step Khozmo volume pot and has come up with a winner. 

I got the preamp a few months ago, with XLR connectors and upgraded Mundorf Silver Oil caps that Don prefers.  I use it with a Emovita UPA-200 to drive Linkwitz LXmini speakers, quite amazing DIY speakers if you are not familiar with them.  I had been using a Dared SL200a tube preamp and loved the sound of the system with the modestly-priced preamp.  Well, it was a moment of magic when I swapped the Dared out and hooked up Don's preamp.  OMG, the clarity of the sound was instantly far more vivid and the increase in the frequency extension on both ends was profoundly different than with the Dared.  I could have sworn that a subwoofer had been added with the increased presence of the LF response!  The music literally hung in a 3-D soundstage in front of my eyes, with enormous air around each instrument.  Each instrument had a weight, vididness, and presence that was totally lacking with the Dared preamp.  Don's preamp is, to my ears, a much more detailed preamp even than the venerable HK C-I, no question about it.

Now if we compare Don's preamp topology to that of the C-I, there is a noticeable difference and therein lies the magic of Don's preamp.  The C-I uses a total of nine tubes, including 12AX7's and 12AU7's if I recall correctly, but Don's new preamp uses four 6SN7's and one rectifier tube.  Don has long believed the 6SN7's are perfect for tube preamps and inherently have the ability to create the immense soundstage and clarity in presentation of music that the 12XX7 variants are unable to.  Don's preamp is the quite simply the greatest improvement I have ever experienced in my 45 years of listening to my system.  I have rolled some fantastic, and not very expensive, NOS GE and Sylvania 6SN7's tubes into the preamp and I enhanced the sound of my system to a degree over the already very good NOS Russian tubes that Don uses in his preamp.  I got a cache of these NOS 6SN7's, so by my estimation, I have enough stock to run the preamp the rest of my life. 

I think Don's preamp will compare very favorably with a lot of mega-buck tube preamps on the market today, but in fact sells his preamp in the range of about $1700 depending on what upgrades the buyer might choose.  I might swap every other piece of gear in my system at some point, but I concluded that I will never look to upgrade Don's preamp.  Don is an analogue guy through and through and will tell you that he prefers tube amps as well (in fact, he is designing one at the moment to go along with this fantastic tube phone preamp and the SP14), but to my ears, a fine tube preamp with a SS amp is the best of both worlds (and I need a 4-channel amp for my Linkwitz speakers).  I encourage all the C&C folks here to check out the website below if this review has piqued your interest.  I have spent a boatload of money over the past 10 year on different amplification (the latest was the top-of-the line Modwright gear), and Don's preamp is the stellar performer in my system.  Literally, I had no idea what I was missing in the performance of my system until I got Don's preamp and other audiophiles who have heard my system before and after have come to the same conclusion.  And, on top of it, Don is one of the nicest guys you will meet in the business and has a profoundly great ear for music. Highly recommended, to say the least. 
http://www.tubes4hifi.com/DON.htm

mresseguie

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #143 on: 9 Aug 2017, 03:55 am »
Is that like an audio research sp14?

Hello, Earwig.

I know that Don's SP14 (now called his Model 2) preamp is based on Tubes4hifi's SP14 preamp. I also know that Tubes4hifi sells SP9, SP12, and SP14 preamps. However, I do not know if they are related to or based upon Audio Research preamps. There may be someone who follows this thread who knows the answer to your question.

Michael

galyons

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #144 on: 9 Aug 2017, 04:08 am »
Hello, Earwig.

I know that Don's SP14 (now called his Model 2) preamp is based on Tubes4hifi's SP14 preamp. I also know that Tubes4hifi sells SP9, SP12, and SP14 preamps. However, I do not know if they are related to or based upon Audio Research preamps. There may be someone who follows this thread who knows the answer to your question.

Michael

Not AR, (thankfully)!  They are knock off's  of John Broskie's  Aikido design.

Cheers,
Geary


Pryso

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #145 on: 10 Aug 2017, 07:23 pm »
Confusion about model designations is unfortunately continued here.

Audio Research Corp (ARC) designated their preamp models (preamplification with control features and phono stage) as SP for Stereo Preamplifier, then numbered them in sequence of release.  After the introduction of CDs in the 1980s many hobbyists abandoned vinyl so no longer had need for the phono stage.  ARC, along with many other manufacturers, then began offering more basic units without the phono preamp, identifying them as line stages.  The are identified by LS and again numbered in order of release.

Unfortunately in my opinion, when tubes4hifi introduced their series, they identified them all by SP, whether a phono stage was included or not.  So when Don chose to build his own custom version of their top SP-14 he utilized that designation as well, even though it is a line stage only.

Don does offer an outboard phono stage, his Custom PH-16.  But he does not offer a full-function preamplifier in a single chassis.

Hope this helps any readers confused by the designations.

Wig

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #146 on: 16 Aug 2017, 11:41 pm »
Guys,

I've also joined the Sachs family, ordered a Model 2:

- Walnut case
- Khozmo 64 step remote attenuator
- 1.0 uF Jupiter cap
- Quad CV181Z
- All film cap upgrade using Mundorf Tube caps
- Black faceplate & knobs

Wig


mresseguie

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #147 on: 16 Aug 2017, 11:45 pm »
Excellent choice if I may so so. It's just like mine except for the black face plate. With your amp and those lovely sounding speakers...heaven...

deadhead

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #148 on: 16 Aug 2017, 11:46 pm »
Me too.  I ordered a new pre and bought the amp he had advertised for a customer.  Don is a class act all the way AND a reformed Dead Head.  Lots to chat about.  I should have the amp within a week but the pre looks like 10-12 weeks out.

mresseguie

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #149 on: 16 Aug 2017, 11:48 pm »
Confusion about model designations is unfortunately continued here.

Audio Research Corp (ARC) designated their preamp models (preamplification with control features and phono stage) as SP for Stereo Preamplifier, then numbered them in sequence of release.  After the introduction of CDs in the 1980s many hobbyists abandoned vinyl so no longer had need for the phono stage.  ARC, along with many other manufacturers, then began offering more basic units without the phono preamp, identifying them as line stages.  The are identified by LS and again numbered in order of release.

Unfortunately in my opinion, when tubes4hifi introduced their series, they identified them all by SP, whether a phono stage was included or not.  So when Don chose to build his own custom version of their top SP-14 he utilized that designation as well, even though it is a line stage only.

Don does offer an outboard phono stage, his Custom PH-16.  But he does not offer a full-function preamplifier in a single chassis.

Hope this helps any readers confused by the designations.

Pryso,

Thank you for that. I just didn't have enough knowledge of the history of these amps to know this. Now I have learned more.   :thumb:

Wig

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #150 on: 17 Aug 2017, 03:41 am »
Excellent choice if I may so so. It's just like mine except for the black face plate. With your amp and those lovely sounding speakers...heaven...

I just can't even imagine how wonderful my system is going to sound and those Crescendos are going take on a new level of detail and refinement. I'm going to try to forget that I ordered it so I won't start counting down the days...

The black faceplate will allow it to blend in with the rack and not noticed too much with the kids.

Wig :)

Wig

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #151 on: 17 Aug 2017, 03:46 am »
Me too.  I ordered a new pre and bought the amp he had advertised for a customer.  Don is a class act all the way AND a reformed Dead Head.  Lots to chat about.  I should have the amp within a week but the pre looks like 10-12 weeks out.

Congrats, what an awesome combo! Going to get the pre in my system first to discern the impact and I have his amp on my shortlist. Let us know how the amp sounds in your system after sometime has passed.

Wig

deadhead

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #152 on: 17 Aug 2017, 11:01 am »
Will do.  I actually feel lucky that Don had something in his shop that was barely used.  He's going over it now and will give it a listen for a few days before shipping.  He also had be order a power cable from Ice Age Audio that he says makes a real difference.  He suggested the same for the pre amp.  For IC's he recommends making my own from Duelund wire. 

Wig, where are you located?

A_shah

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #153 on: 18 Aug 2017, 12:04 am »
Congratulations to Wig, and Deadhead ,
Well I just spoke to Don this morning and ordered his model 2  Pre amp with all the recommendations he suggested for me to match it to my new kismet in Stratos Amp.
So what went into my decision making process ? well I had short listed the following pre -amps Candela, (odyssey) Demo unit of Symphonic line RG 3 MK 3 , prima luna dialogue premium  & Rogue audio RP 1 or 5 .
Last week end I decided  to take a trip to Sacramento, and visit  WhiteStix , "a gentleman and a true audiophile," he demo-ed his Don Sach's model 2 in his system with his Nelson Pass First watt F5 and Spatial Audio M4 turbo open baffle speakers in his acoustically treated room , we listened in for an hour plus and swapped a McCormack  amp and M22 Revel speakers ( which I did not care for ) he then offered me his VTA-Sp  14 pre amp (with clarity and Dueland caps ) to take it home and try it with my system told me if I liked it  than Don's amp would be about 40% better.
When I hooked it up to my Kismet amp( Kismet does not have its own signature sound , it is very neutral !) and magnipans 1.7i I was surprised at the Clarity openness and soundstage , no distortion, whisper quite tube like with out the muddiness of tubes although  not thin nor bright just about right tonality !  I had  already heard the Prima luna integrated at the the California Audio show, a LIO pre amp  and reading AC  forums and feed back from AC members time had come to make decision Well ! decided to go for Don's pre amp with whatever he recommended  and put the 70 % down , my guess is I will not see the unit before November 15, 2017, but the good news is I have Mark's VTA-SP 14 meanwhile to listen to ! Cheers ! :D :D

mresseguie

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #154 on: 18 Aug 2017, 12:09 am »
A_shah,

Welcome to the club!  :thumb:

Michael

sabciu

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #155 on: 18 Aug 2017, 01:09 am »
A_Shah,

Congratulations! A lot of us are waiting for Don's pieces, myself included. Welcome to the club and congrats! From what everyone says about Don's pieces, I don't think we'll be dissapointed  :thumb:

rickmusicman

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #156 on: 18 Aug 2017, 01:18 am »
A_Shah,

congratulations, Don sent me an email earlier in the week and he said my pre-amp isbeing built and should be done to ship early next week, Can't wait!

Rick

screener

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #157 on: 18 Aug 2017, 01:28 am »
Here's a treat for you guys. You wont be disappointed.

http://www.audiocircle.com/thumbnails/user/66590/20977/167157_thumbnail.jpeg


screener

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #158 on: 18 Aug 2017, 01:31 am »
Sorry not much of a treat if you can't see it.


sabciu

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #159 on: 18 Aug 2017, 02:30 am »
Congrats, what an awesome combo! Going to get the pre in my system first to discern the impact and I have his amp on my shortlist. Let us know how the amp sounds in your system after sometime has passed.

Wig

That's exactly what I'm planning as well Wig! With this being my first piece from Don, I want to see and hear the impact of the Pre. I also want to check out his overall build quality and attention to detail. Once I have a chance to do this, I am considering one of his Amps some time in the near future. I already have a pair of Bob Latino's M-125's driving my wonderful Salk SS8's, but I'm building a pair of Audio Nirvana's 15" Full Range speakers, which are very efficient, and they might be a great match for one of Don's Amps.