Industry Circles => Vista Audio => Topic started by: Zero on 19 Oct 2007, 01:42 am

Title: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Zero on 19 Oct 2007, 01:42 am
Alright you lucky NY raver's -  time to start spillin' out your impressions (good and/or bad) on the i34!  It's passed a number of ears already - whats the hold up? Many of us are sitting on the sidelines with a big bag o nothin'. Give us something to chew on! :bounce: :lol:

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: chadh on 9 Dec 2007, 07:53 pm

Any feedback at all?

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Audiovista on 9 Dec 2007, 09:12 pm
Most of the people who heard the i34 were really kind to give me an honest feedback. They are great guys and their comments are greatly appreciated. I took them seriously in an effort to improve the design. After all, that was a major goal of sending the amp on the tour.

I'll summarize the feedback that I received, positives and negatives....nothing is perfect....but it was very useful and I made some updates (described at the end of this writing) to the design - now it's one step closer to perfection  aa

Major drawback of the i34 was reported as low input sensitivity. 2.4Vrms was too low for most (but not all) reviewers.  It gave an impression of lower output power.

Next major characteristic was typical for EL34 based amplifiers - somewhat laid back sound giving impression of rolled off highs. I got split opinions here - some people loved it, for some it did not work. It depends on tastes as well as on other components in their systems (speakers, most of all).

Finally, clear plus of this amp was midrange - smooth, accurate, similar to what is expected from a good Single Ended amplifier. Also characteristic of a well executed EL34 design.

Another positive was how quiet the amplifier is - unusually quiet for a tube amp.

Looking at the comments received, it was obvious that sensitivity needs to be increased. Problem was doing it while not compromising midrange and preserving low noise.... After 6 weeks of modifications, experiments and listening, the updated amplifier is ready for another round of auditioning....

Sensitivity is now ~700mVrms, added benefit is higher apparent dynamics and extended highs. Bass also seems deeper and tighter. All in all, now it sounds more like its little bro - model i84, but with sweet EL34 midrange and more power, of course.

For customers who bought the original amp, updates are offered free of charge.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: chadh on 10 Dec 2007, 04:52 am

Thanks Boris.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Audiovista on 10 Dec 2007, 12:24 pm
You're welcome Chad. I hope to get this thread rolling after more auditions....I'd like to  encourage reviewers to post "before and after" impressions...
Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: goldlizsts on 4 Jan 2008, 10:39 am
Alright you lucky NY raver's -  time to start spillin' out your impressions (good and/or bad) on the i34!..............

 :drool: Looks like I'll be the first.  Boris just reminded me.  I am posting my take on the revised version, with the input sensitivity revision.  It's been a couple of weeks since I've had it; being not a critic, and a novice, so my adjective collection is meager compared to those audiophile critics. so here goes:

My immediate impression, after about half an hour of listening, was that the amp is very open.  The presentation is very good.  The various instruments are very well-placed so one would get the sense of spatiality.  I have a small place, but within my confines, I found the soundstage to be good.  The spatiality of course gave it a boost.  The bass department is also very good.  The mids are, as a tube amplifier goes, supple compared to a SS unit.  I had SS amplifiers before becoming a tube convert.  I (preference qualification) dislike SS sounds being that the mids are never enough for me most of the time.  This i34 is quite satisfying in that department.  I am not saying most satisfying because I couldn't avoid comparing to the sound I'm used to in my system.  Somehow, I have a fetish for the 6SN7 tube in my system (toward which I have a bias).  So, I have to qualify my point here.  We often have preconceptions over things that are hard to overcome.  This is a case of it.  I couldn't leave my system out of the loop :duh:.

As far as the upper frequencies go, it is my perception that somehow there seemed to be a ceiling to the upper frequencies (or that there wasn't enough of them).  I would like to believe that the amp is not fully broken in yet.  Boris had told me he did not burn it when I got it.  I merely ran the amp probably for like a "total" of some 30-40 hours?  I initially played (listened) it after an hour or so.  The next time perhaps 2 hours.  Then, I left it on overnight.  So far, that's been my perception.  I must also state this - the sound/personality of a tubed amp is often the result of the tubes in the system.  A different brand or tube may make a significant difference.

A minor point - the input sensitivity has been adjusted.  This time, at about the 1 pm position, I typically got an 80-85db SPL measurement (with my homemade 88db sensitivity speakers) vs. 70+ from last time.  An improvement, but I'm used to getting that kind of SPL at about the 11 o'clock position.  It's a matchup issue that the user has to consider I guess. 

That's my novice's observation.  Good job, Boris. :thumb:
Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Audiovista on 4 Jan 2008, 12:34 pm

May thanks for taking time to audition the amplifier and write this nice review!

Can you please briefly describe your system and speakers - that will give us an idea about your "baseline".

Thanks again!!!

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 8 Mar 2008, 04:11 pm
Yesterday I posted this review on the Vista Audio i34 - NY Rave tour thread, but I thought this might be a more appropriate place.  Sorry for the duplicate post, the Moderators can do what they deem appropriate.

First I'd like to thank Boris for his gracious generosity in allowing me to audition the amp for so long.  He was a pleasure to deal with, and was always prompt and helpful in responding to my queries.  Over the years I've had a bellyful of elitist and arrogant attitude in this hobby, so it was a refreshing change to deal   with Boris.

I gotta say from the outset that Deutscherhififan pretty much nailed it in <a href="" target="_blank">his review[/url] on the NY Audio Rave board.  I share his sentiments and observations much so that when reading his review, I was startled by how aligned our impressions are.

Just this morning I posted a review over on the AG forum.  What I submit here is just a fleshed-out and slightly amended version.  I hope this does not violate any rules here.

I gave the i-34 a good workout on all my speakers:

DeVore Gibbons 3 + Osiris stands
Vienna Acoustic Bach
Proac Response 2.5
PBN Montana SP2 Signatures
Spendor FL-9
Meadowlark Heron "i"

Gear used to evaluate Vista i-34:

Sources:              Metronome CD2V-Signature cdp,  Cary 308-T cdp,  MHDT Paradisea DAC
                          (Metronome as transport)

Interconnects:      Wireworld Gold Eclipse,  Argent Audio Jaden,  Audio Art IC-3

Digital Cable:         Nordost Silver Shadow

Speaker cables:     Straley Reality, Analysis Plus Oval 12, Argent Audio Jaden

Power Conditioner:  Shunyata Hydra (original)

Other gear in main system, not used to evaluate Vista i-34:

Dodd 120 mono amps w Svetlana "winged C" el34,  Tungsol 5687, GE 7044

JuicyMusic Blueberry Xtreme preamp w Cream LOMC option, and various NOS tubes

Townshend Rock tt ,   SME V arm,   Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge

I also own a Blue Circle BC-24 hybrid amp.

Cut right to the chase:  this is one amazing lil amp whose performance far far exceeds what one would expect at its $980 MSRP.  I am shocked that a sub $1k amp can offer the level of refinement that I experienced with this amp.  Like Deutcherhififan, I found it's performance shockingly close to separates that cost multiples more.  I'm not hugely experienced with integrateds, but I have had a few, including a well regarded el34 based integrated.   The i-34 is the best I have heard, and I can't think of a separate amp priced up to $2k, maybe higher, that in my experience beats it.  Factor in that there is no outlay for separate linestage and interconnecting cable, and you have a serious piece of kit here.

At this point I should reveal that I am partial to tubes, but I do try to keep an open mind, and I do listen to SS offerings.  Matter of fact, I own two SS integrateds, and a hybrid amp (SS output).
The i-34 excels at midrange clarity and image solidity. It maintains the beauty and musicality usually associated with el34 designs, without the usual drawbacks.  The i-34 dramatically improves on transparency and does not have the typical veiling and softness normally associated with the breed.  Vocals really "pop" and have nice presence.  Transparency over the entire range is impressive.  Soundstage is nicely developed, and images are fleshed out and neither waver nor wander.   Coherency bottom to top, with a good dose of liquidity and musicality. The sound is very open, and when listening, I never got the feeling that anything was really missing, or painfully askew.  The amp sounds so good with stock tubes that I had no inclination at all to roll 'em......and I am a hopelessly addicted tube roller!  The i-34 is quite neutral and naturally detailed, with a slight leaning toward a warm and organic presentation. But not neutral in the dry and clinical sense.  This amp has plenty of beauty and emotional appeal.  The is no grit, no grain,  no glare. There is a texture and a palpability to the music....harmonically rich and full with nicely saturated images.  Pacing seems spot on giving the music a nice propulsive and flowing character.

For its power rating, it has astonishing control, grip and punch. On my larger floorstanders it did not have the bottom end heft and weight of some larger amps, but it drove them all seemingly without effort, never losing control or getting Herons being the only exception.  I sense the i-34 power ratings are conservative as this amp breezed through everything without breaking a sweat, even on the big multi-driver speakers. Dynamics and punch were great. Many friends who listened were astonished at the guts, power and finesse produced by such a "tiny lil amp". The bass is beautifully articulated and detailed, even on the big speakers.   Very nice sparkle, shimmer, air and decay in the treble.   I rarely listen this loud, but in my largish room, the volume pot at about 1 o'clock produced 90 to 95 db with no strain, compression, stridency, or other nasties.

The noise floor is almost bottomless and the background is beautifully black. Dead quiet even with ears pressed right up to the drivers and volume pot 100% open.  Very impressive!   I don't think I've ever heard a tube amp this quiet, regardless of price...and I have heard quite a few.  In the "silent like tomb" department, right up there with SS.

Build quality seems very very good. Dead quiet the entire time I had it....never a tic, pop, hiss, sizzle or boom, or any noise whatsoever.  No transformer hum, no hum or buzz out of the speakers.   In this regard, along with the noise floor, I am reminded of SS.  But when listening, you know you are basking in that beautiful thermionic glow.

Apart from my Herons, a very good match on all speakers above. Especially nice on the Bachs, Proacs and Spendors.

Onto just a few nits to pick.  Even though it is double boxed, I would be a bit fearful of shipping it in the provided packaging as I think the inserts and padding are too flimsy.  Some may not like the cosmetics.  I like the size and overall layout of the tubes and transformers.  It has a retro cool look to me.  And I like the simplicity of the controls, and the way it is outfitted around back is just fine with apparently good quality parts.  But brushed chrome is not my favorite as it tends to pick up lots of dust, smudges, and fingerprints and it's hard to keep clean.    Some friends commented that this might be a deal killer for them.  I had no such reservations.  The sound had such a winning personality that I could easily overlook what were in my estimation, slight visual shortcomings.   Others may need other extras and niceties such as: more inputs, a balance control, and / or a remote.

If your speaks do not require an arc welder, and you seek a sound that is rich, full,  organic and musical, yet still detailed, in a compact, tidy, visually appealing, and apparently well-crafted package,  give this baby some serious consideration. It will have you listening to music not sounds, and it will leave some $$ in the bank!

And for you local NY guys, Boris is very local in Queens, and quite welcoming and accommodating.
Should make for reliable after-sale support.

I like it a lot.
The GF loves it.

Put my $ where my mouth is and bought it for her system, where it will be teamed with VA Bach speakers and Cary 308-T cdp. Sweet lil system!  Wish my starter system way back in the day was this good!  Having listened to it a lot in my main system, I'm confident the i-34 will even hold its own as you upgrade around it.

Nicely done Boris!    :thumb:
Great performance at a great price.  Hopefully some good buzz will follow and some sales generated.
Audio land needs products like this, and good guys like Boris standing behind them.


Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: bacobits1 on 10 Apr 2008, 09:03 pm
The Vista 34i arrived a bit more than 2 weeks ago. I'm just getting to this now because my CD source just arrived since I had to make a decision on that. I wanted some hours on the i34 too. It now has about 60 hours on it.

After conversing a bit with John "toobluvr" I decided on the Vista i34. What better way to get a review than from a user/ purchaser. Besides John has the means to swap all the equipment out to compare performance.

The i34 arrived unscathed in any way due to it being wrapped in bubble wrap (my suggestion) like a large ham. :lol:
Boris kindly listened to my instructions and is super to deal with.
I had downsized my system quite drastically from my other system of all tube separates. I have gone from about 18 tubes down to 10.

The build philosophy of Vista Audio seems to be more measurement oriented and not voicing from what I have read. There seems to be a lot of voicing on tube amps in general and to hell with the measurements.
I get the feeling Boris would rather you not mess with tube swapping. I agree at this point. The stock JJ E34L are very good. In fact I have read on occasion they are some of the best sounding out there and most reasonably priced too. I did purchase a complete set of Cryoed replacements from Cryoset for backup $78, not too bad. I have no criticisms of the looks of the i34, it is pretty sharp looking and has a nice build. Just don't touch the damn thing!

Well how does it sound? In a word outstanding and as mentioned far exceeds it's asking price! Shhhhh!
I have always had separates and was looking to downsize to a tube integrated. No experience otherwise with integrateds.

Initial impressions were it is a bolder sounding amp than I'm used to. Well it is a bit more watts than my 8 watt ECL82 Mini Max I had previously. It will never run out of power or sound strained here in any way with my speakers. The Brines FT1600II's are 92db. There is no input sensitivity problems whatsoever as in the earliest model. Boris took care of that fine. All listening is around the 10-11 O'clock position on the volume control. It is dynamic and can be delicate at the same time when things call for it. Imaging and separation is nice as is the midrange. Highs are natural too. Listening at first to phono only through the EE Mini Max Phono sounds extremely involving and I like it better now than when I was running all EE Equipment. I really never thought an integrated could sound this good. I will quote " beauty and emotional appeal" to its sound, exactly, and I could not have said it better.

One thing I will add is there is a hum on the volume control here. It's not a tube. I never had a hum problem or never had ground loops. I can hear it between songs from my seat. It is not terribly annoying but there. It will diminish when I switch to a unused input but still remains there. Maybe because I'm using unshielded cables?
If anyone has any ideas let me know. I only mention this because a few comments were made on how quiet this amp was.

After a lot of research and originally wanting a one box Red Book only player I replaced my CD with a mint condition Denon1650AR and running it into a Benchmark DAC1. This came about after being disgusted with all the BS out there on most multi format machines these having way too many breakdowns because of mostly crap build  (as far as I'm concerned). I posted about it on another board here and they are most of the popular names and $$$. I'm getting jaw dropping performance here with this combo and the i34. The amp has performed with excellent control without accentuating any digital nasties.There is a musical timing factor that the DAC1 coveys and the i34 translates that just right.  It sounds the best I have had here. Period!

Needless to say I'm impressed. AB'ing Phono and Red Book CD I think they sound equal. Well, vinyl still has that something special edge. So I'm also saying the built in pre on the i34 is pretty outstanding. I am bypassing the pre in the Benchmark DAC1 and that is when things took off. It sounds killer. As John stated it is warm, natural and emotional. I really have no criticisms of it at all. I don't get the feeling that it is lacking anything and most of all it's not fatiguing in long term listening.

Easy to please? I don't think so and I've been in this crazy hobby for 30 years and gone through a bit of equipment too. I'm having a blast with the i34. What a bargain!! I was looking to purchase at twice the price.

Equipment used:
Basis 1400, Rega 300, Incognito wiring,Techno Weight, Benz Glider II
on 2" Maple Butcher Block on top of  Herbies Iso Cups Ebony Spheres
Eastern Electric Mini Max Phono   NOS Tungsram 12AX7
Denon 1650AR into a Benchmark DAC1 via coax Belden 1694A
Brines Acoustics FT1600II Single driver Fostex 167 no crossovers 92db, yikes! 80lbs each!
HSU VTF3 MKII 12" 350w BASH amp
All Signal "Magic" Power Cables
Signal Digital Power Cable on DAC1
All Home Grown Audio Solid Silver, Tri Braid interconnects.
Kimber 8TC and the "White Lightening" recipe on occasion
Brick wall Line filter
Herbie's UltraSonic tube dampers on all tubes

Music Listened to:
Steely Dan > Goucho
All Sade
Manheim Steam Roller> Yellowstone
Bob James> Hands Down, many others
Earl Klugh> Life Stories, many others

Norah Jones> Come Away With Me
Jane Monheight> Taking a Chance on Love (This is a real treat listening to this album through this setup,phenomenal!)
Plant & Krauss> Rasing Sand
Diana Krall> From This moment On, Only Trust Your heart
Chico Freeman> The Emissary
Spyro Gyra> Wrapped in a Dream
Micheal Buble'> (same) First album
Mindi Abair> Come as You Are

I would definitely look at all Vista Audio offerings instead of anything coming from China. You know the stuff I'm talking about. I hope this helps anyone considering a purchase from Vista Audio. They also have a 2 week return policy and beyond that with some restocking fees.Very fair.

My compliments to Boris and his new company.


Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 10 Apr 2008, 09:43 pm

Very nice review, Den!

I'm glad you are enjoying your new amp, and especially glad I didn't steer you wrong!

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: bacobits1 on 27 Jun 2008, 01:33 pm
Aww, come on, no more reviews on any Audio Vista offerings?

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: bacobits1 on 19 Aug 2008, 02:55 pm
I would like to add a bit of a follow-up on the i34 since living with it for the last 4 months or so.
This to address some of my criticisms and it has been just sounding so damn good.
It has really come unto it's own with break-in I suspect. It needs that on, run, off cycling.
I have been doing a lot of listening and tweaking lately.
I had some issues with hum at the beginning and all is very quiet now.
I had heat issues too (my fault), cured by a new rack with shelf spacing at 12".
Re-biased the tubes (they were a little higher than instructed, due to voltage differences between here and NY) and now plugged the amp directly in the wall.
Hum gone! All else is being used with my Brick Wall.
The i34 has very nice black backgrounds and great separation, layering of performers. Venue ambiance is natural and "you are there". Repeating myself from before but improved now.
Slam, no negatives there for sure. I couldn't believe how good things sounded the other night. Full moon?
After much playing around with my Benchmark DAC that too has come to be the best digital I have had here. I know there are people that don't like the Benchmark. But I'm getting a real live, natural quality to good recordings. You know the ones.
I am using Herbie's Super Sonic tube dampeners on all tubes. All equipment is on carbon/ graphite cones now on glass shelves.

I would not hesitate to put the i34 up against anything costing 2X the price or separates for that matter. I have always had separates in the past.
It is that good. My modest slimmed down system sounds excellent.

 I would like to hear the i84.

BTW, check out James Hunter

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 19 Aug 2008, 03:16 pm
I second what Den just said!

After auditioning the Audio Vista i-34, I steered my newbie friend onto it cause I thought it was really good and would make a great system cornerstone.  It has been in her system now for about 6 months.  Everytime I listen I am amazed at the performance....especially given the price.  And I am pretty experienced with gear - usually at a much higher price tag. 

It has proven to be extremely reliable, just like I thought it would be given its build quality.  Is dead quiet,  never a hiccup or extraneous sound.  The bias is rock solid and does not wander.  The Vista i34 just oozes music.  It is detailed, yet not clinical or sterile.  Textures, shadings and harmonics are all there leading to an organic and musical sound.  It has a gutsy and likeable sound - honest and true to the music.  I can listen for hours without fatigue.  Sometimes when listening the niggling doubt creeps in as to why we spend so much more in our quest for the (proabably?) unattainable.

Listen to is that good.

Rest of system is:

Vienna Acoustics Bach speakers
Cary 308-T cdp
MAC CuQ sound pipes cable
Audio Art IC-3 i/c

A (much?) higher price tag will undoubtedly get you a better amp.  But if the i-34 is paired with the right speaker,  I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with it, so long as they don't demand the very best.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 21 Aug 2008, 06:47 pm

PS:  I too am a James Hunter fan.

Excellent blue eyed soul/ roots/ ska.

Check out the very good  "People Gonna Talk" album.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: bacobits1 on 22 Aug 2008, 01:47 am
I just picked up 3 of his albums. "People gonna Talk" is one of them.
Us old guys like this stuff.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 3 Sep 2008, 09:46 pm

Like Den (bacobits) I now have a pair of Brines FT1600 Mkii teamed with the Vista El-34.
Well, the GF is for her system. 

I found a pair of used Brines locally, and picked them up over the Labor Day weekend.

The combo is indeed something special and the synergy is obvious.
The sound it produces is rich and beautiful without being syrupy or veiled.  Quite the contrary, I can really hear deep into the music.  Inner detail is excellent, and the sound is very present and immediate.  Tone, harmonics, texture, neuance and palpability are wonderful.   It is neither too thin, nor too round and full.  It just seems "right".  And the midrange...oh, what a wonderful midrange!  Voices are at times spooky and just hang in the air.

In the past I have owned SET and OTL amps, but teamed them with hi-efficiency multi-driver speakers.  When I listen I strive for beauty and emotional involvement from my system, so needless to say, I love SET.  I had always been curious about single driver speakers, and now I know what the fuss is about.  Time now to combine the two!     :lol:

I expected the coherent, immediate and rich beautiful natural sound that I heard from the Brines.  The kindof sound that helps to make the gear melt away.  But I was really surprised by how much of the frequency range that single lil Fostek driver covers. 

I guess the transmission line bass does not hurt.   I have always been a big fan of TLB and have owned several pair of speakers with it.  It just seems to get the bass "right".......tight, natural, tuneful and musical.

Good call, Den.  You stumbled on an excellent combination!


Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: bacobits1 on 3 Sep 2008, 11:39 pm
I  do pride myself a bit on what sounds good. You stole those!  :lol:
Although they are not expensive to begin with, but can kick the hell out of a lot of other speakers out there.
I have to be moved, and they move. Female voices just well.....seem kissable. :drool:
How's that?
Now I can say I'm glad I didn't steer you wrong.
I bet the i84 would play nice like with these too.
Super with the i34.

Enjoy, go play some James Hunter.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Audiovista on 4 Sep 2008, 01:11 am

Like Den (bacobits) I now have a pair of Brines FT1600 Mkii teamed with the Vista El-34.
Well, the GF is for her system. 

Hmmm... I thought your girlfriend has (had?) Vienna speakers? Looks like you managed to hook her up on audiophilia - good job!!!  :thumb: :beer:
Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: Audiovista on 4 Sep 2008, 01:14 am

I have to be moved, and they move. Female voices just well.....seem kissable. :drool:
How's that?

Nice!! aa
Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 4 Sep 2008, 11:54 am

Like Den (bacobits) I now have a pair of Brines FT1600 Mkii teamed with the Vista El-34.
Well, the GF is for her system. 

Hmmm... I thought your girlfriend has (had?) Vienna speakers? Looks like you managed to hook her up on audiophilia - good job!!!  :thumb: :beer:

Hi Boris!

She's not the nervous Nellie looking to switch gear....I am!   Bad enough I've got the habit in my own house, now I have infected her place with the dreaded Audio Nervosa      :lol:

She does indeed have a pair of Bach, and she loves them.  Keeps going back and forth trying to decide which to keep.  I think the Bach is a great speaker, and I like it very much too.  And I could understand how someone with different preferences would choose it over the Brines.   But for me the Brines just push more of my buttons.  I know which one I'd keep, but I'll leave it to her to decide for herself.

Title: Re: i34 Feedback Thread
Post by: toobluvr on 4 Sep 2008, 11:58 am

Although they are not expensive to begin with, but can kick the hell out of a lot of other speakers out there........

I have heard and owned many, many speakers.
In my experience, this is 100% true!