Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review

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advanced101

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #40 on: 3 Aug 2016, 07:38 pm »
Best I have heard my system sound.

How would you compare the Don Sachs to the Primaluna Dialogue Premium in your profile?

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #41 on: 3 Aug 2016, 07:46 pm »
How would you compare the Don Sachs to the Primaluna Dialogue Premium in your profile?

In reply #13, he offered a comparison already. Of course, he may have more to add now.  :)


advanced101

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #42 on: 3 Aug 2016, 07:50 pm »
In reply #13, he offered a comparison already. Of course, he may have more to add now.  :)

Missed that  :duh: thanks!

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #43 on: 15 Aug 2016, 07:46 pm »
Hello. This is a preliminary presentation of my impression from my visit to Don's home in Nelson, BC on August 10th.

Now why is it preliminary and not a full blown review? Well, thanks for asking. It's not going to be full blown until I get my new preamp into my system with my own speakers. You understand, I'm sure.

Don invited me into his home so I could get a really good idea of what my new preamp will sound like. You see, I ordered one about 10 days ago, and I was eager to know what my money had gotten me. Mine is only a little different (better) from today's preamp.

His system is such:
Source: Laptop with JRiver
DAC:     Schiit Gungnir
D Sachs Model 2 preamp
D Sachs KT88 amp
Joseph Audio RM25XL speakers

Everything in his system was new to me today. I had never heard these speakers before, and never heard the Schiit DAC, etc. Therefore, all I can tell you is how this system sounded. I cannot tell you what impact the amp and preamp had on the sound nor can I tell you how the speakers impacted my experience.

With that out of the way...

I got to hear some mighty nice live sounding - "you are there" kind of music today. The instruments, the singers, the audience (in live recordings), etc. were so real sounding that I nearly pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. The sound stage was huge - at least 8' tall and wider than the speakers which must have been about 7  or 8 feet apart. There was depth as well.

Don played songs that he loves and songs that I love. They all sounded fantastic. The clarity was incredible and even after 4 hours I felt no fatigue.

What did I notice? I didn't hear that syrupy warm sound that I expect to hear from lower grade tube gear. I felt as though I were standing at an open window 8 or 10 feet from the musicians. The bass was tight and not soft or sloppy. His amp/preamp will play down to 20Hz because he uses really good power supplies.
[Edit] Acoustic instruments were very defined and clear. There was never any feeling of sluggishness or of muffling of voices, guitar, piano, drums, etc.

Don explained to me his amp/preamp design so much and in such detail that a good third of the information passed right over my bald head. He really knows his shit.

I can't wait to get my new preamp into my system in Oregon, and then, into my system in Taiwan.

Okay. This was a bit scattered, but I think you get it. I'll follow up in a few weeks once I'm back home and can set up my system for a thorough listen.

Michael

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #44 on: 15 Aug 2016, 07:55 pm »
In an earlier post, I said I had decided on the 1uF Jupiter caps. Well, I changed my mind (before Don placed his order) and decided to go with .47uF Jupiter caps. I made that decision with the idea that I would ship my AVA 400R amp to Taiwan rather than buying a Nuprime ST-10 amp. The .47uF caps are not compatible with the ST-10.

A couple days after I asked for the .47 caps, someone tentatively offered to buy my AVA (we're in negotiations). This raises the possibility of my buying a different amp in Taiwan.

Tomy2Tone

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #45 on: 15 Aug 2016, 08:25 pm »
Nice Michael!

So when Don was explaining his designs to you did you at least nod your head and add a few "Sure, huh huh" ?  :D

Happy hunting for the new amp!

Hugh

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #46 on: 15 Aug 2016, 09:12 pm »
Michael,

Which Jupiter cap?

The new copper one or the old bee wax?

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #47 on: 15 Aug 2016, 09:30 pm »
Hello, Hugh.

The new copper caps. I'm not familiar with the bees wax caps.

Hugh

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #48 on: 15 Aug 2016, 09:57 pm »
That's the one to go for.

Excellent choice.

Hello, Hugh.

The new copper caps. I'm not familiar with the bees wax caps.

Blueone302

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #49 on: 16 Aug 2016, 03:45 am »
Michael,

   You're right on time with your review.  I was just bending don's ear and he told me I should ask you about his amp.  Anything you can or would like to share about that piece of it specifically?  As for the pre, I bet you'll be happy.  I had a tad of an issue with a tube.  But we're working that out.  I love the level of detail I'm getting with his line stage.  It's way awesome.  I was listening to an old Ray Charles cd today and I got goose bumps as the music enveloped me.  First time ever I've turned my head because it was like the music was beside and behind me. That said, I've had to learn to juggle really well to get the synergy I'm getting right now.   It's so good today that I think the thing to do is get another 100 or so hours on the pieces as is with the current tubes before I move another muscle.  But, was it real?  And can I replicate it?  We shall see tomorrow.

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #50 on: 16 Aug 2016, 05:52 am »
Hello, Jim.

Don explained a bunch of things about his amp, his design, and how he loves to tweak it, but a good 1/3 went over my head, 1/3 was understood when he said it, but is gone now, and 1/3 has stayed with me....okay....less than that stayed. :duh:

His entire system sounds fantastic. As I mentioned above, everything was new to me, so it's impossible for me to tell you this part or that part is killer quality. Oh, I can imagine all I want, but that wouldn't be honest with you or myself. I wish I had a nice pair of familiar speakers to place in his system for an hour or two, but I don't know anyone here.

Hmm. I'll ask Don about something. Give me a day or two.

Michael

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #51 on: 16 Aug 2016, 06:22 am »
Nice Michael!

So when Don was explaining his designs to you did you at least nod your head and add a few "Sure, huh huh" ?  :D

Happy hunting for the new amp!

 :rotflmao: You must have been hiding downstairs. How else could you have known?

I alternated my "Uh, huh" with "Yeah" and "Mm hmm". I also smiled when I had a clue.  :oops:

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #52 on: 21 Aug 2016, 06:47 pm »
Michael,

   You're right on time with your review.  I was just bending don's ear and he told me I should ask you about his amp.  Anything you can or would like to share about that piece of it specifically?  As for the pre, I bet you'll be happy.  I had a tad of an issue with a tube.  But we're working that out.  I love the level of detail I'm getting with his line stage.  It's way awesome.  I was listening to an old Ray Charles cd today and I got goose bumps as the music enveloped me.  First time ever I've turned my head because it was like the music was beside and behind me. That said, I've had to learn to juggle really well to get the synergy I'm getting right now.   It's so good today that I think the thing to do is get another 100 or so hours on the pieces as is with the current tubes before I move another muscle.  But, was it real?  And can I replicate it?  We shall see tomorrow.

My preamp is assembled and awaiting my second visit with Don. I will take possession of it tomorrow afternoon. We will depart Nelson Tuesday morning and drive to Kelowna. The preamp ought to be in Jay's (Captainhemo) hands by Tuesday night. He'll have it for three or four days.

I'm going to attach my 100w IDA-8 integrated to Don's Joseph Audio speakers tomorrow in an effort to get an idea of how the sound differs. This will give me a decent idea of Don's amp/preamp/DAC sound vs the much smaller (and much less expensive) IDA-8. It's not intended to be a 'fair' comparison, but it will aide in my understanding of how his speakers influenced my first impression. I'll post my impressions Monday night.

Michael

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #53 on: 23 Aug 2016, 03:58 am »
I spent 2+ hours listening to Don's system with my new preamp this afternoon. Even though the tubes were not optimal (according to Don), and my preamp had played for a scant few hours, it sounded absolutely wonderful to me. I can only dream about how it will sound once it is fully broken in. String plucks, violins, snare drums, brushes on cymbals, piano, voices....incredible clarity yet not the least bright or artificial sounding.

After listening to my preamp with his KT-88 amp, we switched out to my Nuprime IDA-8 100W Class D integrated amp. Source was the same (Don's PC) and he still used his Schiit Gungnir DAC. Holy shit. What a difference! The Nuprime is good for non-critical, background listening, or even for 2-channel TV sound. However, compared to Don's amp/preamp combination, the IDA-8 sounds flat, 2 dimensional, even tinny. This was a real eye (ear?) opening experience.  :banana piano:

Now I can barely wait till I get back home to hook up my AVA 400R, Gustard X20u, my Adelphos speakers, and my Rythmik subwoofer....Just 10 more days....

Captainhemo

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #54 on: 25 Aug 2016, 07:53 pm »
Now I can barely wait till I get back home to hook up my AVA 400R, Gustard X20u, my Adelphos speakers, and my Rythmik subwoofer....Just 10 more days....

Well, I'm going to give you a decent  head start on your burn in Michael....racked up  about 12 hrs yesterday and another  4 today thus far while I catch up on  some  emails etc.  We'll  give it a good workout Friday night buddy , gonna be  fun :beer:

It's a gorgeous piece, I love the retro look, it's even more appealing in person.
Sorry about the mess in the pic, the recent  "merry go round"  of gear  is causing grief





Pretty premature at this point as there is likely approx 20hr on the pre which I subbed into the system for my Dodd yesterday morning. I've got a few initial impressions that  may / liely  change a bit as the  Sachs pre burns in and opens up.
Both pres have a similar sound, very clean and detailed but musical and  engaging. As Michael mentioned earlier in the thread,  not tubey or  syrupy in  any form.  I'd say the  Sachs at this point has a touch more detail, horns and stringed instruments are  amazing. Upper frequency  strings and  precussion extremely focused and  stand out.   I'd say both  are  very neutral, tone is great .
Again,   it's early but right now, the  Sachs produces slightly improved layering in the sound stage which so far, is not as wide  as that produced with the Dodd in the mix.
Man, Norah Jones  "Don't Know Why" just came on  and her voice is so foucused and up front in the sound stage, it's very life like :) It's a very holographic  representation

I think I've got the pre for a day or two more so I'll  get a few more hours in with it.  Been letting it play all day with a few breaks  along the way.   Should be a good  session on Friday
More to follow at some point soon

jay

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #55 on: 26 Aug 2016, 04:22 am »
Jay,

Thanks for your initial impressions. You know, I'm pretty happy with its sound even at this 'still burning in' phase. In my earlier post I kinda skimmed over details, but vocals seemed especially life-like and right there in the room.

By all means post whatever strikes you - both positives and negatives. You've got that Dodd, and it's got to be a high quality preamp, so you can compare them if you like.

Melody and I will show up at around 4:00 or a tad later. This G2G is going to be a lot of fun! :D

Captainhemo

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #56 on: 26 Aug 2016, 05:06 am »
hey Michael 
Like I said,  even at this early stage, it's an impressive piece, nothing negative to post  thus far . some  late night nlistners may find the volume attenuation  a bit wide spaced, if you can't get it quite low enough  a quick adjustment of the   left/right gain  will do the trick for you. 
Probably   accumaulated another 14 hrs on the  pre today  , gave ti a couople of 1 hr breaks  along the way again.
What I posted above still stands   although it's funny h ow fast the   ability to accurately compare  diminishes. We become  used to what we are listening to very quickly, especailly when it sounds good. Ssome swapping back and forth  will   likely  be in the mix tomorrow night

Speaking of which, looking foreard to tomorrow eve , wil be  great to hang out with the both of you, have some dinner, and enjoy the tunes  :thumb:

jay

Blueone302

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #57 on: 10 Sep 2016, 04:17 am »
And the latest is?????  I'm still enjoying my line stage Don built for me.  I've introduced her/it to a couple of new friends and am letting them simmer together for a few hundred more hours.  Perhaps the best news out of our household of late is that my wife and I are watching slim to no TV and listening a lot more.  I think this alone speaks volumes.

mresseguie

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Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #58 on: 14 Sep 2016, 05:58 pm »
Hello, Blueone.

My preamp is now up to 100 hours. At this point I stop counting hours and listen for changes only.

I played an old Fleetwood Mac recording "Go Your Own Way" yesterday and the day before. I have always enjoyed this song, but it's not a good recording. It is bright and almost screechy at certain points. For me, it is one of those 'better played on the car radio' recordings. Well, the bright and screechy sounds are nearly absent - just a ghostly hint remains. This clean sound is due solely to the D Sachs Model 2 IMO.

As time allows in the next11 days, I will post more impressions. We must vacate our home for incoming tenants, and begin preparations for another winter in Taiwan.

Captainhemo

Re: Don Sachs SP14 Tube Preamp Review
« Reply #59 on: 17 Sep 2016, 05:41 pm »
Wow, hard to believe you guys are already getting ready to go back  over  Michael, you've hardly had any time to listen to your new  piece.... time flys ! Thanks again for letting me play with the  pre for a few days while you  and Meolody were here. really enjoyed the viisit with both of you, good fun... I promise you'll get cooked corn next year  :lol: Too bad we were kind of pressed for time, it would have been nice if you could have actually  had more of chance to compare the 2 pieces, by the end of the eve when we put the Dodd back in, we were pretty much just chatting and had already switched speakers ....  lets hope next time we get to do some amp  swapping !

Here's a bit of a comparison of what I noted with regards to the D Sachs pre and the  Gary Dodd variable gain pre ..... remember,  I only took the  sachs piece up to about the 50 hr mark and  only had it for  a few days .

The  2 pre's are tonally similar, not a whole lot of difference IMO.  They both seem to be veryneutral,  true to the recording.  Both just get out of the way and  let the music come through (transparentl).  At first I thought the Sachs possibly passed on a bit more detail , strings seemed very pronounced.  But after  reinstalling the  Dodd in the system,  I   would have to say I don't believe that's true,  I feel the Dodd to be just as detailed but a touch smoother, some  might find  that  to be less detailed, I don't  know ?
 
 I  think the Dodd is a bit  softer,  some might describe it as a bit more analog sounding  but again, they are  very  similar.  I only  reached about the 50 hr mark with the  Sachs so it likely will get  somewhat smoother and possibly  make them een more similar sounding  My initial  impression that the  Sachs  had a bit more detail I think was brought on  by the fact  that it is still breaking in and  may have been a bit  edgy, I'm not knocking it here, I'm  just stating I think it's going to get better with time and become more natural sounding.

There was a slight increase in the level of bass out of the Sachs pre,  I had to slightly reduce the gain on the Rythmik amps (a single click on each)  that drive my subs while it was in the system.  The bass didn't play  any  lower in regards to frequency,   just a bit more  output in the lower couple octaves that are covered by my subs.

Something else I noted,  and my buddy noticed it as well,  the sound-stage seemed a little wider with the Dodd yet a bit deeper with more layering with the  Sachs. No excessive difference here either, but it was noticeable.

 As many know, the battery powered Dodd is dead quiet.... the Sachs was just as quiet,  we heard no noise from it  either (it was connected to a PI Audio Uber Buss  with an Arkana grey series power cord)

These are both  great pre's,  either  would make a great "heart"  for most any system. They do have some subtle differences but they  ust that, subtle. After  hearing both,  I don't feel any  need to  make a change but, at the same time, if I were looking for a new pre, I certainly would have the Sachs on  my short list. And, I love the retro look of it, Michae's is gorgeous  :thumb:

I don't really live that far from from Don Sachs,  I'd like to one day make a trip over to Nelson and take my Dodd with me to let him have a listen, wouild be interesting to hear his thoughts  as well.  I'd also love the opportunity to hear his amps as I've heard good things about them  :wink:

jay