Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?

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Naimnut

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Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« on: 29 Mar 2019, 12:47 pm »
I am preparing to replace my solid state preamp with a tube preamp. I've learned a lot from reading on this forum and have been leaning towards purchasing a preamp from Don Sachs. Now I've recently learned about the Supratek preamplifiers. They also sound like they would be a terrific option. Does anyone have advice about which way to go? Or alternatives that are in this same class of preamplifier? I'm looking to spend somewhere around $3,000. And prefer a 6SN7 based design. Thoughts?

Yomaha

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #1 on: 29 Mar 2019, 01:15 pm »
I have not heard the Don Sachs or the Supratrek, but based on reviews seems like it'd be hard to go wrong there.  I would throw Modwright in the mix.  The SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition (5867) new or the LS-100 (6SN7) used may be worth a look.  I've really enjoyed my 9.0 and excellent customer service.

Tyson

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #2 on: 29 Mar 2019, 03:37 pm »
I'd lean toward the Don Sachs.  Partly because the volume control is right in the signal path and you won't find anything more transparent than the Khozmo volume control.  Plus you get a remote! 

I will say the Supratek is exceptional as well.  Tough choice.

sfox7076

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #3 on: 29 Mar 2019, 06:41 pm »
I would ask Don if he could wire the preamp to do 12v heaters as opposed to 6v heaters for the preamp tubes.  Probably not possible, but I don't know what he uses for transformers.  If he could, I would do the Don Sachs. The 12SN7 is around about 1/2 to 1/3 the price for the same tube.  I used a home brew 12SN7 preamp for a long while.  I eventually ditched it for a DHT preamp based on Ale Mogilla's gyrator circuit.  I have never looked back.  I use that for the preamp and a Slagleformer preamp.  I previously used a Khozomo volume knob, but prefer the slagleformers. 

Shawn

marvda1

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #4 on: 29 Mar 2019, 07:26 pm »
take a look at the DeHavilland  ultraverve 3 preamp.

mresseguie

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #5 on: 30 Mar 2019, 12:11 am »
Naimnut,

I guess I'll have a say, too.

From my profile, you can no doubt tell I'm very biased, so take that into consideration.

My first recommendation is to buy Don's preamp. It makes my amps (two tube and four SS amps!) sound wonderful. I've taken it to audio get togethers on the West Coast, to Kelowna, BC, and to Taiwan. Everyone who has heard it loved it. One deep pocketed audiophile compared it to an ARC preamp that retails for $6k. [I did not hear the ARC pre, but I happily took his word for it.] Don takes great care of his clients. He's very accessible.

My second recommendation is to take a serious look at a deHavilland Ultraverve preamp. While I have not heard one myself, I have read at least a dozen reviews and spoken to owners. Everyone has wonderful things to say about them. They are produced in Vancouver, WA. I have wanted to audition one for a while now. I find myself in Vancouver every week now (Mom's in Vancouver), so I really need to make a phone call.

Third: Those Supratek amps and preamps sure are sweet looking. If they sound as good as they look, they ought to be excellent. I have no experience and until this thread, did not know Supratek existed.

Fourth: Have fun and enjoy the journey!

Michael

FullRangeMan

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #6 on: 30 Mar 2019, 12:32 am »
6SN7/6H8C preamps are nicer than 12AX7 family imo, in this case you would consider Dennis Had preamps well below your budget and made to order:
https://www.ebay.com/sch/radioman731/m.html?item=153129151586&hash=item23a7356c62%3Ag%3AlXsAAOSwcOJbaIwG&_sacat=0&_nkw=radioman731&_from=R40&rt=nc&LH_TitleDesc=0&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

Hear Clifford Brown

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #7 on: 30 Mar 2019, 12:58 am »
That's an amp FullRangeMan but there are Inspire by Dennis Had preamps.  I had one, an LP-27a and thought it was wonderful.  I used it with an Inspire amp.  Not sure how it would pair with other amps.

FullRangeMan

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #8 on: 30 Mar 2019, 01:38 am »
That's an amp FullRangeMan but there are Inspire by Dennis Had preamps.  I had one, an LP-27a and thought it was wonderful.  I used it with an Inspire amp.  Not sure how it would pair with other amps.
This is Dennis profile, this amp is what he is selling currently, after the sale this offer will disappear, the Inspire preamps have to be ordered to Dennis.

The power amp input impedance must be informed to Dennis that will mold the preamp output impedance.

WGH

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #9 on: 30 Mar 2019, 05:27 am »
Take a look at the K&K Audio Mir preamp. A buddy has custom made K&K and it is magical, about $2449 assembled.
http://www.kandkaudio.com/mir-line-stage/
I think there is a special version that is only available assembled not shown on the website, you will have to call Kevin Carter to find out more.


A_shah

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #10 on: 30 Mar 2019, 06:26 am »
So I'll chime in don't know much about Supratek just checked their website looks like very good stuff , I own a Don Sachs DS-2 Pre-amp the pre-amp performs way above it's price point , it is sweet sounding and well made I am using it with some pretty good gear , you will not go wrong with it ! I am about to send it back to Don for his latest upgrades  :popcorn:



Asghar

Manolo

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #11 on: 30 Mar 2019, 11:19 am »
I've been using a Supratek Chardonnay line stage for the lat 9 years or so. I've also used 12Au7 and 12AX7 based linestages and they do not compare to a 6SN7 based Supratek. Big and holographic soundstage. Instruments have a more lifelike size and tone. And Supratek linestages have a lot of gain if you are in need for that, and of course, it can be decreased with various switch options. Its power supply is one of the most sophisticsted for a linestage, tube rectified and also, tube regulated. All preamps are offered with a phono section if you need one. Recommended! I use mine with an FW F4 stereo amp. and the combination is fabulous.

 

carusoracer

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #12 on: 4 Apr 2019, 10:32 pm »
Both look like very good designs and nicely built. I have always wanted to try the Supratek. If looks could determine sound quality I would by it for sheer beauty alone. However I have not heaard either piece, someday soon. Great reviews.  I do have the deHavilland UltraVerve, it is extremely well made and continue to impress.

kgturner

Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #13 on: 5 Apr 2019, 02:32 am »
I've owned 2 Supratek preamps over the years. A Chardonnay (which I sold to Manolo) and a Dual Cabernet. They are amazing preamps. Big, bold, and lifelike sound. The Dual Cab was 3 dimensional with razor sharp detail, but it wasn't bright or fatiguing. I decided to downsize my system and currently use a Line Magnetic LM-508IA, but if I ever go back to separates, another Supratek will be at the top of the list. I can't comment on the Don Sachs as I have no experience with his gear. I do know that Mick who runs Supratek can also tweak your pre if you have specific things you want/need.

Kevin T

FullRangeMan

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #14 on: 5 Apr 2019, 05:11 am »
BTW looks both Supratek and Don Sachs have good sound, the choice could be on other factors as price, kind of tubes, output inpedance and reliability etc

Naimnut

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #15 on: 3 Jul 2019, 05:59 pm »
Hi all,
I also posted this on Audiogon, but thought it appropriate to share here also.

I recently took delivery of my new Supratek Cortese preamp with LCR phono stage. The purpose of this post is to share my decision making process and experience in the hope that it will help others “find their way” through what was, for me, a somewhat daunting process. Overall, I have learned a lot and my perspective on audio and hi-fi has changed.
I used a Naim NAC 82 with a hicap power supply for about 15 years. The 82 replaced a Naim 72 that I’d had in my system for well over 10 years. I always enjoyed my system when using the Naim preamps but knew there was better equipment out there. As I prepared for retirement I started researching tube preamps. I read a lot on various forums, asked many dumb questions (still lots of those left to go) and decided to seek out a preamp based around the 6SN7 tube; while there are discussions about which 6SN7 is the best, for the most part it seems this tube is almost universally well regarded for audio applications. Correspondingly, my search eventually boiled down either to a Don Sachs Model 2 or a Supratek.
I had actually decided to purchase a Don Sachs unit before learning about Supratek but got hung up in the wife/budget approval process, so continued to research. The two companies/builders have much in common. Both are run by highly respected builders and are (as far as I understand) one man operations. Many of those who own pieces from either one of these builders describe the experience of listening to the equipment in glowing terms; many owners of each brand share that they came to it after ownership of products from many other highly regarded brands, such as Conrad Johnson and Audio Research. The reviews and comments on the internet seem to come from dedicated, long-term audiophile owners who swear by the product and state that their preamp is never leaving their system.
One of the main reasons I decided to go with the Supratek was that it included an on-board phono stage. I figured this would allow me to get rid of my Linn Linto phono stage. I also needed (or wanted) five inputs. I’ve owned the Linto for over 10 years and it has sounded excellent. I haven’t had the time or motivation to do a hard-core side-by-side comparison of the Linto with the Supratek LCR phono stage yet, but I think the Supratek sounds a lot better. I just hear a lot more information coming off the records. I suppose that’s a preliminary opinion. BTW, my Linto is a 25th anniversary model, so it’s getting a bit old, and I had to have it serviced last year. Linn no longer supports the product but the Seattle authorized Linn technician took it on and performed a service, replacing all faulty parts with more highly spec’d components.
I know I’m rambling here but please bear with me. I’ve started to write this review several times before and those earlier versions have somehow vanished into thin air on the internet.
Mick was an absolute gem to work with. The preamp is beautiful to look at. It comes across as a truly unique, bespoke product. It is not a standard “closed box” preamp, though if you are considering either a Don Sachs or Supratek product you’re probably most interested in the sound, reliability and value.
The sound: The first piece I played through the system was Shawn Colvin’s excellent 1994 release “Cover Girl”. I’ve listened to this cd countless times. Previously I thought I understood the lyrics. I now know I was wrong, because now I can clearly and easily hear them and know that previously my mind had been “filling in the blanks” to make sense of what it was hearing. I could go on and on about this cd but I’ll turn my attention to the second cd I played over they system – Pieces of Africa, by the Kronos Quartet. This is a wonderful 1992 release and the biggest difference through the Supratek was the incredible sense of cohesion of the quartet. Yes, the soundstage was huge, and each player clearly occupied a location within that soundstage. But this was merely a bonus, because the biggest delight was in understanding how the ensemble members were interacting and influencing each other. Amazing and wonderful to hear.
Next up was the 2017 Rhino Records “Summer of Love” reissue of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album. Holy smokes. Now I can understand why hardcore fans and collectors love this album and pay big money for original pressings. I have no basis for comparing the Rhino pressing to any others, but I will say that the recording is very good to my ears and the pressing seemed to leave nothing out.
If you haven’t heard it yet, I encourage you to seek out the soundtrack to the movie “The Old Man and the Gun”. The press seemed to make a big deal out of the fact that this is apparently Robert Redford’s last movie. But the soundtrack is a hidden gem, a small group jazz release that is beautifully written, performed and recorded. The sound via the Supratek was nothing less than superlative.
Update, about four weeks in –
The preamp has continued to get better, more opened up, so to speak. The audio writer, Harvey Rosenberg, coined a word – “whole-osity” to try to capture the way superlative audio equipment conveys music. When discussing the work of Nobu Shishido he said that his artistic intent was “to take us to a musical territory that is so refined that there is no conventional language that can describe it....this is the job of the audio artisan...to inspire us to explore the ineffable”. When I incorporated the Supratek Cortese into my system I felt that I was having the same kind of experience.
The phono stage is amazing. Yes, I know my LP12 with Ittok is not really considered “high end” nowadays. There are numerous tables out there which are more highly regarded. In spite of the limitations of the Linn, the LCR phono stage extracts every ounce of music from the signal and conveys it so that the performer’s artistic intent is clearly conveyed. Detail, musical nuance, artistic choices, cohesion, the unity of an ensemble and so forth are beautifully conveyed. The line stage is similarly accomplished. Many musical pieces I previously thought simply boring or annoying have been transformed into something that holds my interest. While the accuracy and “hear-through” nature of the preamp enables the listener to “hear the hand” of the producer and recording engineer it doesn’t detract from the artistry of the performer.
I’m not someone who switches equipment into and out of my system very often. I’ve owned my humble LP12 for nearly 30 years, my ESL63 speakers for five, my Naim CD 3.5 for more fifteen, and so on. I’ve seldom purchased new. Every piece of equipment I’ve owned has provided great long-term satisfaction. The Supratek is exceeding every prior experience and every expectation I had. I can’t envision any situation in which I’d replace it. It’s very good.

jerseytrain

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #16 on: 4 Jul 2019, 01:41 am »
Great that you are enjoying the Supratek. 

I have about 100 hours on the new Don Sachs Model 2, a lot of peaks and valleys during this burn in process.

Naimnut

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #17 on: 4 Jul 2019, 02:20 am »
 :D I wish there was a convenient way to compare them.

mresseguie

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #18 on: 4 Jul 2019, 05:11 am »
Hi, Naimnut!

Thank you for coming back with your impressions. Congratulations on your new preamp. It sounds like a winner. :thumb:

I'll check TIDAL for that music - hopefully, I can find all of it.

Where do you live? If you're reasonably close to me (or Ashgar, Jerseytrain, etc.), you may be able to compare your Supratek to a Don Sachs Model 2. I know I'm curious about how yours sounds. I'm still curious about the de Havilland preamps (and I have not yet made contact with the woman(?) who makes them). I'm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Regards,

Michael

Naimnut

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Re: Supratek or Don Sachs? Which way to go?
« Reply #19 on: 7 Jul 2019, 03:25 am »
Michael,
That's interesting - I mean your location. I'm near Portland.