User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers

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Ray Bronk

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #80 on: 9 Jan 2012, 03:56 pm »
I am still amazed that you are looking for fault with either me or my system, as for the reason why I rejected the 400R.
I never said it was anything wrong with the amp, only that it was not a big enough improvement over what I have to justify over $2500 expense.


My sources for Vinyl is a Sota Star Sapphire with Alphson 100HRS tonearm with shelter 501 series II cartridge
step-up is either Lundalh transformers or Vendetta Research SC1
For digital is a Sony 9000 for transport only, or Logitech Touch/ wintel music server no wireless connection
DAC is TwistedPear Buffalo II(Trident regulators)/Lagato3output with separate digital/analog powersupplies The buffalo uses the ESS Sabre 32bit chip.
Preamps are either the Transendent Sound Grounded grid or the Dodd Buffer
Power amp is the TAD-60 with KT88's in triode mode
Electronic Xover is Marchand XM9/Basis Bass Correction Equalizer set at 40hz.
I am only using the low pass filter for the Subs. The Maggy's are running full range
Subs are Janis One's powered by a 150 watt chip amp with over 200000 mfs in powersupply
Subs are flat from 40hs to below 20hz
Subs were not used during the evaluation of the 400R

Hi Paul,

Well, the only fault I can find is the GG Preamp. We both know it's just ok, nothing really astonishing about its sound qualities. So Frank might have a point here with referencing to the preamp. It's not that revealing. It is however revealing enough to shed some light on how good two pieces of equipment are. But!... you do have the right to your opinion, and I can honestly see that under certain conditions running Maggies at low power, which would mean low volume, could give you possibilities of slightly better detail ETC. Everyone who is squawking how this can't be or that can't be, ... well like Frank said, and again, he is to be commended for being a gentleman about it. "it's his opinion." The rest of you naysayers could take an example from Frank.

Now if paul had stated that the amp was really bad and he didn't like it at all, then perhaps some of the criticism that has been leveled at him might have been justified.

Personally, if I ever get my hands on a lot of money, and if my ears improve, I would probably just buy Frank's stuff. It works, it's proven what can be done with good stuff, and ... well, it just plain works. Then put some good speakers and a good source to them, and be done with the ratrace for many years.

Ray Bronk

pelliott321

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #81 on: 9 Jan 2012, 04:40 pm »
As I stated numerous times before we used THREE different PREAMPS during the evaluation. My GG, the Dodd Buffer and a Audible Illusions L-2.
I Liked the AI best for the warmth but the GG was better for detail the Dodd was ok.  Anyway the TAD-60 in triode mode bested the 400R no matter which preamp I was listening too except for bass strength.  When the TAD-60 was in pentode mode there was very little difference in the bass.
I know that most of your(RAY) information is based on what you have read on these forums, all hearsay.  You do not own a GG, or have heard any of this stuff we are talking about.

Ray Bronk

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #82 on: 9 Jan 2012, 05:23 pm »

I know that most of your(RAY) information is based on what you have read on these forums, all hearsay.  You do not own a GG, or have heard any of this stuff we are talking about.

Oooh, Brother, let's clear some stuff up right now paul. Before you start attacking me, it was you! and a few others whose ears I trust have played with the GG, that told me that it wasn't that good of a preamp. It's ok for the $500 pricetag he's charging and that's all. And yes, I have heard a home brew version, and agreed when I told you about my experiences with it, it's ok. For the record, this is one reason why I haven't really tried to get one. I was only stating that if there was a weak link in your stuff that it would have to be the GG preamp, that's all. i'm sorry Frank to have hijacked your thread here. I did also note that while it's an ok piece, that it was still good enough to show some differences in equipment. i certainly wasn't in anyway out to bash your use of the GG Pre, but was pointing out that like Frank had suggested that a  preamp could be a weak link. Nothing more nothing less. As to what I have heard or not heard, I also defended your position, and this is what I get? i'll betcha Paul there are a lot of peiple like myself on the circle who don't have the availability of hearing a lot of the stuff that is on the various circles. So others like myself, ... we have to take the word of others. Although very opinionated, and I have yet to meet an audio designer of audio gear that isn't, he produces some really good gear. His opinions that I have trouble with, I just take in stride. There are those out there who do not like to hear possible negativisms about there brand of gear. Frank to his credit was ok shocked at your returning it, but at the same time was seemingly really genuinly interested in why you heard what you heard. I don't think he in anyway was bashing your stuff at all. It was some other folks on this circle who gave you hell, and by the way, I'm not one of them. Cool your jets Man.  If anything, I was out to defend what you heard, and that's ok.

Ray Bronk

festuss

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #83 on: 9 Jan 2012, 08:13 pm »
 :o I think ya need to go with the 600R.  More watts, better control.   And better yet is with the phase inverter, have TWO,  and run em in mono and really get those speakers going.  Probably are not getting everything out of this setup, with such low power.   More watts opens up good speakers.  LIVE is what ya want. Not louder, just better, and clarity and control, bass with DETAIL is impressive when done right.  Sloppy mud is not lifelike.  Well unless ya hang out at Stone Pony in Asbury Park N.J., which has the worst sound of any place I have ever been, BOOM BOOM BOOM.  Now back to the 400R.   

pelliott321

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #84 on: 10 Jan 2012, 01:16 pm »
I just do not get these comments about what I heard on my system, as if I am, or my system is at fault.  I am not one of these idiots that feel that just because I own it, its the best. I am the only critic I will listen to other than the other people in the room listening with me.  That why I invited friends over to hear the 400R and compare it with other amps and using different pres.  That's my reality check not what a bunch of forum trolls have to say..
This all started because Frank asked for opinions.  It is his problem that he never expected that some one would actually compare and comment in a slightly negative way.  I never said that it was a bad amp, I even praised it on some aspects.
If I had kept that amp it would have been the most expensive component I have ever purchased. $2500 is a lot of money to me and it would have to been a game changer for me to keep it, and it was not.
I posted the pics and description of my system because Frank questioned what my front end was.
This is my last word on this subject here.

kip_

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #85 on: 10 Jan 2012, 01:58 pm »
:o I think ya need to go with the 600R.  More watts, better control.   And better yet is with the phase inverter, have TWO,  and run em in mono and really get those speakers going.  Probably are not getting everything out of this setup, with such low power.   More watts opens up good speakers.  LIVE is what ya want. Not louder, just better, and clarity and control, bass with DETAIL is impressive when done right.  Sloppy mud is not lifelike.  Well unless ya hang out at Stone Pony in Asbury Park N.J., which has the worst sound of any place I have ever been, BOOM BOOM BOOM.  Now back to the 400R.
Festuss, you need to get a life and actually READ and comprehend someone else's post for once. The AVA amp, no matter how great, was NOT his thing. Have you ever even heard any non AVA amplifiers or are you merely drinking the kool-aid? No disrespect intended to the brand, but you're being a jerk.

avahifi

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #86 on: 10 Jan 2012, 03:01 pm »
I do wish that my supporters, no mater how enthusiastic, would heed to my desires more closely. Moderation please!

"Over the top" support often turns many more people off about AVA than helps us. Festuss has a very unusual system with about 6000 watts of AVA power amps running it.  It has been described by the editor of Stereophile in glowing terms (although he failed to mention that the amps used were AVA designs).  Perhaps Festuss is right that without that much power we are all missing a lot.  However, I do wish he would mellow out in disparaging lesser systems.  I only have 300 watts a channel myself.   :o

I would hate to have to kill this thread because of flame wars.  :cry:

Regards,

Frank Van Alstine

murf

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Children, children....
« Reply #87 on: 10 Jan 2012, 04:04 pm »
No fighting, please!

Paul said:
"Out of the group of friends that spent many hours of listening, one preferred the 400R no mater what preamp we used.
There were some that felt that the differences between the 400R and the TAD-60 were very slight and a toss up, and one preferred the TAD-60 over the 400R(me), no matter what preamp we used."

This seems like a very even evaluation, and I sense no hidden agenda.  One person liked the AVA best no matter what, Paul ditto for the TAD, the others in between.  What's the prob?  It's not like the TAD-60 isn't well regarded (for a low powered amp).
My wife went to school on a voice scholarship.   She still sings in amatuer groups, and has great ears!  My ears had a scuba mishap many years ago, although they check out fine now.  Somehow, she is happy listening to equipment that I am not.  Is the difference in our preferences, brains, or ears?
Some like volume, some like big bass, some sparkling treble, etc.  Some people like the 'sharpness' of BMWs, some like 'smoothness' of Audis.  What's wrong with those Audi drivers (I drive a BMW)?   :green:
I commend Paul for giving his somewhat non-welcome opinion here.  It's fine to question him about his conclusions, but they are valid for him, and thus are what this thread asked for (to Franks credit).  In my innernet ramblings, I stumbled across someone else who didn't think his Maggies were a good match for his AVA amp.  I think my AVA amp is tits, maybe because my speakers have big 10" woofers like Franks favorite Salks do.  These differing opinions are standard audiophile fare.  Someone will get down on equipment no matter what the price or how 'good'.  Some will trumpet a low priced unit as a giant killer. We can only hope to know why by listening to what these people say, whether we agree with them or not. 
In summary, I think Paul should understand group dynamics a bit better & not judge by the worst examples, and some in this group should thank him for his contribution rather than question his ability to evaluate and the validity of his opinion. 
Sure would like to see that 'Chinaman' post deleted.  It isn't cute.  I only let close friends call me a 'mick', then I punch them!  :deadhorse:

Murf
« Last Edit: 10 Jan 2012, 06:08 pm by murf »

mark funk

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #88 on: 10 Jan 2012, 04:13 pm »
This is not the first time! Life well not come to an end(that well be in December :lol:) because some one did not pick Frank's amp! Last year a guy from work came by to hear my set before he redid his set. Well, after that he went out and got a Rotel something amp and preamp and a Raga CD player with a $1,400 new pair of B&W something speakers :o

It's kinda of sad when I am afraid to go out side of this circle because I am an AVA supporter! A lot of times we treat people kinda bad  :oops:.
What I tell the guys at work,

                                                          Take it easy!


                                                                                    :smoke: 

avahifi

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #89 on: 10 Jan 2012, 04:28 pm »
HEADS UP TO ALL!  We shipped the first batch of new Fet Valve equipment today with the new SILVER faceplates.

There is more to it than just the faceplates:  New power switches, new blue LEDs, hidden faceplate mounting hardware, and electronic switching control for the power amps, along with lots of mechanical design and graphic artist time.

We could now actually do a remote turn on and turn off trigger for the Fet Valve amps if someone would be so kind to inform us of what the industry standard hardware and voltage is for this function.

Its taken almost 3 months to get the faceplates done properly for us.  We are ready for more orders now.  We have all learned to build them efficiently and totally bug free.

By the way, two different writers for THE ABSOLUTE sound gave us "best bargain at the show" mentions for the new Fet Valve products at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Best regards,

Frank Van Alstine

murf

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #90 on: 10 Jan 2012, 06:07 pm »
Hi Frank & Folks,

  I'll be shipping my 350+ this afternoon for the big 400R upgrade (who needs more power in a brklyn apt when it has such finesse, is so suave & dubonet?).  The only thing I don't like about the looks of my old black-faceplate is the power switch.   Can I go to Autozone or Pepboys & get a cool blue switch (it would then match my pre, transport & dac lite color)?  The switches look very similar....  :nono: :shake::scratch::wtf: :oops:


On another subject, I see Frank has the new silver faceplate amp shipping, so I would like to ask you all to NOT order until my upgrade can get to Frank & be in line ahead of you.  I REALLY hate listening to my lesser amp for long (B&K st-140; who designed that one!?), and then desperation sets in, and I'll have to call Frank & ask where my new amp is, and then Frank will yell at me, and....I'm sure you understand!   :thumb:

Murf

avahifi

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #91 on: 10 Jan 2012, 06:45 pm »
Murf, your "cool blue switch" probably will work for about three or four turn-on cycles before it fries.

The standard "ho hum red" power switch we use is the ONLY decent looking power switch with an 80 amp inrush current rating we can find.  This is necessary to keep the switch alive during the very momentary time at turn-on as very high current flows then, forming up the electromagnetic field in the power transformer and providing peak charging current into the big power supply capacitors.  Our VERY heavy duty switch along with inrush current limiters, keeps the switch alive long term.  A standard 15 amp rated switch just won't hold up very long under this load.

On the new Fet Valve 400R and 600R amps with the silver faceplates, we had to deal with this differently.  The nice little pushbutton switch we chose for both the amps and the preamp and DAC all have a max 8 amp rating.  They are fine for the preamp and DAC, but would fry instantly in the power amp.  So we designed and installed a triac controlled turn on and turn off circuit.  The switch only triggers the triac on or off and supplies nearly no current at all.  The very rugged triac with a 200 amp rating and an 800V rating actually controls the current to the circuits, not the switch itself.

I suppose, if you wanted to pay extra and supply the switch (and it would have to be a perfect "snap in" fit into the black faceplate), we could use a different colored switch, all other things being equal, (but often they are not) and use it with the triac control circuit.

Regards,

Frank

murf

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #92 on: 10 Jan 2012, 07:04 pm »
Um, I'm fine wit da red.

A simple 'no' would suffice.  I'm always amazed how Frank will indulge us & our (or rather, my) stupid questions & let us peek inside his creations.  Sorry to take your time Frank, but the new amps do look great (but my upgrade to a 400R will sound just as good!).

Murf    :kiss: :kiss:

trebejo

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #93 on: 13 Jan 2012, 03:56 pm »
Quick mini-review update.

Bells...

A couple of days ago I put on von Karajan interpreting Also Sprach Zarathustra (the 1984 recording). This one is rather scary loud at the start so I listen to a few seconds at the start of the 2nd movement to set the volume knob, then I buckle down and come back to the 1st movement and for a proper listening. If it's loud, it's loud, etc. So naturally I was enjoying the opening trumpet sunrise theme, with the very, very loud and well controlled double bass and organ for support, and the rest of the piece flowed along very well. Then I remembered I had to web about a bit and multitasked while the rest of the piece played along. Thus somewhat distracted, I was enjoying the piece when the last movement was reached and there was a hammerblow to the bells that just astonished me. I almost dropped my keyboard to the floor, I could have sworn the bell was right in the room.

Then last night, I played Dark Side of the Moon. No prize for guessing which song produced the same astonishment at the sound of bells, clocks, alarms et. al. It was like I had gadgets all over the room going off on their own, like something out of a Twilight Zone episode.

This morning it's Kula Shaker's "Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts" blending British rock and Indian music, acoustic and electronic, which presents all sorts of lovely opportunities for an amp to show what it can do. On "Namdi nanda-nandana" there is an intro with a water stream, birds, a woman reciting and you might as well be eavesdropping in some Indian forest at dawn when Crispian Mills comes in and chants the title, then some electronics hop on the background and the woman becomes a soprano and, well, all of this happens with such clean and musical separation that you can hear what everybody is doing without any effort at all, and before you know it the prescribed several minutes of silence come in because, as it turns out, the beautiful song is merely an introduction for the greater beauty that is to be provided by the listener's meditation.

The thing of it is, I had all three albums pretty well memorized. There's nothing new here. Same old same old. So, well, I'm hearing all kinds of things anew and, really, all of them musical? Simultaneously relaxed and intense? Nothing bad, all better? Huh? Some stereo rags claim that good equipment can make albums sound worse, and thankfully I am confirming that that was just a bunch of BS?!

One last quick mention--the Moody Blues in the 60's put out some fantastic albums but the mix might not have always been the best. To some extent you had to guess, the ear and the mind interpolating to flesh out the correctness of their musical idea. Well now I found myself doing so much less interpolation, so much more relaxed listening that in the end I was ready to say that maybe the recordings were not so bad after all.

It's been some weeks already since I've put this 600R in the chain and I continue to shake my head and smile at unexpected moments when I listen to it. I know this music, sometimes I can even read the musical score so I more or less know what it's supposed to sound like, and yet, there still remains the last layer of pleasant surprise. Undoubtedly the steadfast attack on distortion and the silly-fast slew rate are worth the effort. I feel like when I hike into the Sierra Nevada and drink from a stream--it's mostly the same two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen but the tiny additional differences create a sensual experience that lifts your spirits in ways that are not as materialistic as they might seem.

For the n'th time, congrats Frank and crew...

Mr Peabody

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #94 on: 14 Jan 2012, 05:37 am »
I must confess I am the one who bought the 400r and here are my impressions.  I am driving a set of Revel Performa F52's with Conrad Johnson MV-60's mono and a CT-6 pre.  I put the 400r in place of the MV-60's.  I was looking for more power while trying to find something to maintain the musicality of the CJ.  Right off I was impressed by the 400r, I was hoping it would be good but I never expected it to be this good.  The 400r's strength in my system was the midrange and musicality.  I did find out quickly that at least the FET Valve amps are particular about cables.  I noticed after turning off the music on the first listen I had a serious hum issue, through Frank's help and tracing the problem I discovered it was my cables, Siltech MXT Pro New Yorker.  These are directional and apparently not shielded on one end which turned it into an antenna.  Don't rule out all directional cables though a set of Transparent worked fine.  Sorry Frank, the generic sounded like crap.    As treble seems to be a point of discussion here I personally thought it was fine to me but did pick up that the very upper high frequencies don't seem to be as vivid as the lower high end.  For example, a High Hat seems to be more pronounce than a cymbal crash.  There are a couple pronounce cymbals on Eric Clapton's Old Frisco and a Chicago song I'm aware of and neither were as pronounced as I'm used to. I'd describe the high end is very smooth and musical.  A friend always tells me listen for the midrange, if it's right all else comes after.  If nothing else Frank has the midrange correct, not only did it keep the melody, groove and soul of the music it exposed all the details within.  Here's where my experience differs a bit.  I found the bass on some recordings looser than I expected, this isn't all bad compared to amps like Krell which have an iron grip, it depends on what you like.  Also, on some recordings I got a bit of congestion in the very low frequencies.  My suspicions is maybe the CJ preamp and 400r doesn't have the best synergy.  It's odd though because the CT-6  using 6922's has a very nimble bass response, in fact, it's not stereotypical tube bass response at all.  I also wonder if the preamp has the output voltage needed or perhaps a slight impedance mismatch.  I do plan to try the FET preamp soon.  This should tell me something and I will be back.  Don't get me wrong, even with what I mentioned the bass was good and on other recordings there was control that I hadn't heard before.  The fact the bass varies on recordings, and sometimes song to song on the same album shows the 400r isn't artificially adding anything.  With the 400r in my system I found myself just sitting and enjoying what it does, it gives music a certain coherency and you experience layers of detail.  On Christian McBride's stand up bass you could just feel the bow pulling across the strings.  Vocals were more intelligible.  On several recordings there were just more details in the music exposed.  I found the 400r musically satisfying and a new home.  I did give Frank some grief though about putting the hook ups at the bottom of the amp under where the heat sync sticks out.  Connecting from the front of the amp was a bear.  I found the 400r an incredible value.  I would urge any one who is interested in spending their money wisely to try Audio by Van Alstine before raiding the kids college fund to purchase that mega dollar piece that wow'd you in a showroom. 

I feel it's important to point out I have owned amps by Krell, Arcam, had ARC in on audition, still have a Bryston, Linn and of course Conrad Johnson, listened to amps like Levinson and Boulder, so I feel I have some idea of good amplification.  I gave my honest experience with the 400r.  Our audio purchase is a subjective decision so no one can say a certain amp is the best in the world.  What I will tell you is the 400r will go in my rack in place of my current CJ monoblocks.  And, if good results an AVA preamp may soon follow.

Stercom

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #95 on: 14 Jan 2012, 10:51 am »
Thanks Mr. Peabody. Honest and informative review. Let us know where you end-up regarding the preamp and cords. (Yes, AVA devotees, and Frank, I know your position on cords - please lets not let the comments to this review go off on that tangent again :D)

Mr Peabody

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #96 on: 14 Jan 2012, 02:02 pm »
The comment on the cables was meant as an attempt at humor and not a slam.  I realize not all are in the aftermarket cable camp.  I for one have no problem in hearing different effects on my system from various brands of cables.  A lot of it has to do with resolution, which makes me think Frank's gear should not have a problem revealing these differences.

tonyptony

Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #97 on: 14 Jan 2012, 05:16 pm »
As treble seems to be a point of discussion here I personally thought it was fine to me but did pick up that the very upper high frequencies don't seem to be as vivid as the lower high end.  For example, a High Hat seems to be more pronounce than a cymbal crash.  There are a couple pronounce cymbals on Eric Clapton's Old Frisco and a Chicago song I'm aware of and neither were as pronounced as I'm used to. I'd describe the high end is very smooth and musical.

Mr P, thanks for expressing more clearly and succintly something along what I was trying to describe with my own review.

Ray Bronk

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #98 on: 16 Jan 2012, 12:09 am »
Mr P, thanks for expressing more clearly and succintly

Hi, Again, I raise the question of possible harmonic removal. You two guys are the second peoples now that have raised this treble thing. It seems to me Frank that some further analysis needs to be done. I am in no way smamming your amps. With the lack of this particular distortion or harmonic presence, you are now hearing an amplifier that is free from that form of distortyion. something along what I was trying to describe with my own review.
Ray Bronk

P.S. For some reason, JAWS my Screen reader is not tracking this edit. So part of the previous poster is below my post. Siorry about that.


Mr Peabody

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Re: User reviews of our new Fet Valve 600R & 400R amplifiers
« Reply #99 on: 16 Jan 2012, 02:12 am »
Well, I'm not sure what happened to my entire post but I will try this again.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with the frequency response of the FET Valve amps, what I mentioned was merely an observation not a criticism or deficiency in any way.  Not all amps will react or respond the same.  Also, keep in mind the amps effect will be impacted by associated equipment and whether or not there is synergy.  I don't know of any one amp that is unanimously liked.

I also doubt if the amount of treble one hears is solely do to distortion or if at all.  Krell has a prominent high end, to match the rest of it's response, and I can assure you it's not due to distortion.

I was listening to a Reference recording today called Pipe & Organ, the 400r was really shining.  The pipe organ was deep and controlled, brass had what I can only call a growl like it's supposed to, kettle drums had transient response with no lag or distortion, things like triangles, bells and cymbals sounded through clear with a sparkle and never piercing or brash.