What to expect out of the AVA FET Valve CF Pre-Amp? Current Version

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AvsFan

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Well guys, after years of listening to AVA gear at RMAF and multiple conversations with Frank. I am FINALLY a member of the AVA family!

I just purchased the AVA FET Valve CF Pre-amp from another AC forum member. Thank you very much!

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=169866.0

It's supposed to be here either tomorrow or Monday. I am so excited. Just wondering others thoughts or experiences with this pre-amp and what I should expect?

Thank you! 

Here is a nice review of it from The Absolute Sound.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/audio-by-van-alstine-fet-valve-cf-preamplifier/

I.Greyhound Fan

Its a great sounding preamp, that can benefit from tube rolling. I have 2 local friends that own them but they are the first gen FET valves.  I have heard the latest gen at Franks a few times and they sound great.

Enjoy!

Charles Calkins

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I have an AVA Transcendence 10 SL Vacuum tube preamplifier. What a GREAT!! improvement in my system.
 It was just plug and play. Didn't have to do anything to it. No tweeks or other B.S. like that. I'll never go
 back to a solid state pre again. Don't care what the (Experts) say.!!!!
 Get yours hooked up and you will be very impressed with the sound you will hear :D :D :D :D :D :D

                                                           Cheers
                                                         Charlie

 

WGH

The AVA FET Valve CF is a nice clean preamp that will reveal all the nuance in recorded material. The preamp is completely quiet. My system is used for both stereo and home theater, in home theater mode the preamp's volume knob line is set at 12 noon to match the other amps in the surround setup. At that high volume there is no background noise from the L & R speakers, no hiss, no hum.

Sound emerges from a black background with center images that are solid and float in space. Bass is deep and tight without a hint of tubyness.

The FET Valve CF preamp pairs beautifully with the AVA Vision SET 400 amp which is very slightly on the warm side of neutral. Paired with revealing speakers like my Salk HT2-TL speakers the results are magical. Interconnect cables do make a difference. The Straight Wire Encore II is neutral, affordable and works well with AVA electronics, at that price nothing compares (check eBay). The next level of cable that takes the system from 'great' to 'wow' is the Zenwave D3 interconnect. I can wait a year before a used pair shows up for sale and then I have to jump because it will be sold in an hour.

I still use the stock JJ tubes. At one time I checked the price of NOS tubes mentioned in the review and they were too rich for my blood, too bad you can't try before you buy. Tubes that sound great in one system can sound lumpy in another.

jjss49

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nice

frank makes such excellent, high performing, no nonsense gear

heiba

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I have a Fet Valve pre-amp from around the year 2000. That one must be from the second generation. I wonder how it compares?

dlparker

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As a late comer to the AVA game myself (2008-2009?) with seriously abused ears - serious ear infections from about 6mos on, seriously loud music to the point of pain (don't stand too close to a drummer who brutalizes the crash cymbals!) I was floored when I got my first piece of AVA gear. I think it was an early 90s mod of the PAT-5 that I got off the website. Being (then) about 62 or so I figured my ears wouldn't notice any difference. Man was I ever wrong! I've moved up gradually piece by piece. I'm about several steps from top-of-the-line, and I'm still in awe of what Frank has done. I'm looking forward to another upgrade soon. Can't wait!!!

ArthurDent

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I have a Fet Valve pre-amp from around the year 2000. That one must be from the second generation. I wonder how it compares?

I have a FET Valve Ultra pre from ~ 2008, and a FET CF (1st gen) from 2014, nice as the Ultra is the CF is a big step up imo. To the OP I would echo the comments of prior posters, as with all of Frank's gear, it hits way above it's price. The last couple of years I've compared it to another well respected pre listing at twice the price, and the difference is mostly subtle in presentation of soundstage. As with much in this hobby it's a matter of what works with your ears, your room, your gear, and your tastes.

Welcome to 'the family', let us know your thoughts once you have the unit in your system. 

AvsFan

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The AVA FET Valve CF is a nice clean preamp that will reveal all the nuance in recorded material. The preamp is completely quiet. My system is used for both stereo and home theater, in home theater mode the preamp's volume knob line is set at 12 noon to match the other amps in the surround setup. At that high volume there is no background noise from the L & R speakers, no hiss, no hum.

Sound emerges from a black background with center images that are solid and float in space. Bass is deep and tight without a hint of tubyness.

The FET Valve CF preamp pairs beautifully with the AVA Vision SET 400 amp which is very slightly on the warm side of neutral. Paired with revealing speakers like my Salk HT2-TL speakers the results are magical. Interconnect cables do make a difference. The Straight Wire Encore II is neutral, affordable and works well with AVA electronics, at that price nothing compares (check eBay). The next level of cable that takes the system from 'great' to 'wow' is the Zenwave D3 interconnect. I can wait a year before a used pair shows up for sale and then I have to jump because it will be sold in an hour.

I still use the stock JJ tubes. At one time I checked the price of NOS tubes mentioned in the review and they were too rich for my blood, too bad you can't try before you buy. Tubes that sound great in one system can sound lumpy in another.

No background noise, no hiss or hum is all key points to my system. I can't have any of that. That kind of noise ruins my listening experience. Sound coming from a black background is important. I am using a nice passive pre right now with manual volume control just for those reasons. It's dead silent.

You touched on another key subject, I am an image fanatic. The sound, if meant by the artist, needs to be front and center, not a little off to the right or left. Why having a balance control was a must for me. I have monoblock Alan Eaton 45 SET amps that have volume control, so I can dial in that center image by turning up of down one of the amps, but my monoblock Class D amps do not have volume control so making sure I had flexibility with adjustment of left and right channels was important.

In regards to the SET 400, it's been on my wish list for some time now. I have GREAT amps right now but really want to give this one a go. I am sure with my ZU Audio's, it will make them sing!   

WGH

I am sure with my ZU Audio's, it will make them sing!   

Yes the SET 400 will definitely make them sing. Last year before lockdown our audiophile club compared my SET 400 to an Odyssey Kismet on a pair of Zu Dirty Weekends. All of us preferred the AVA amp. I was a close call and we had to switch back and forth. The AVA amp had a deeper soundfield with a defined, well rounded center image, closer to a tubed amp. The Kismet was more exciting with more prominent highs which one member initially preferred but we eventually all agreed this Kismet's sound was tuned a hair too bright for these speakers.

Note that the Kismet sound can be adjusted by changing the bias, I don't know how much that changes the presentation and Klaus has so many options that can fine tune the sound to compliment your preference, electronics and speakers.

"On a scale running from -10 for very cold to +10 for very warm, my observation—and Klaus confirms it—is that the Kismets are set at the factory to be slightly on the warm side of neutral and that’s a good place to start for most listeners. The initial voicing of the amps is around +0.5, half a unit to the warm side. If you describe your speakers and cabling beforehand, Klaus can dial in an appropriate setting for you at the factory."

"Higher bias makes the Kismets warmer; lower bias cooler. A couple of millivolts make a noticeable difference."
https://6moons.com/audioreviews/odyssey2/4.html

AvsFan

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Yes the SET 400 will definitely make them sing. Last year before lockdown our audiophile club compared my SET 400 to an Odyssey Kismet on a pair of Zu Dirty Weekends. All of us preferred the AVA amp. I was a close call and we had to switch back and forth. The AVA amp had a deeper soundfield with a defined, well rounded center image, closer to a tubed amp. The Kismet was more exciting with more prominent highs which one member initially preferred but we eventually all agreed this Kismet's sound was tuned a hair too bright for these speakers.

Note that the Kismet sound can be adjusted by changing the bias, I don't know how much that changes the presentation and Klaus has so many options that can fine tune the sound to compliment your preference, electronics and speakers.

"On a scale running from -10 for very cold to +10 for very warm, my observation—and Klaus confirms it—is that the Kismets are set at the factory to be slightly on the warm side of neutral and that’s a good place to start for most listeners. The initial voicing of the amps is around +0.5, half a unit to the warm side. If you describe your speakers and cabling beforehand, Klaus can dial in an appropriate setting for you at the factory."

"Higher bias makes the Kismets warmer; lower bias cooler. A couple of millivolts make a noticeable difference."
https://6moons.com/audioreviews/odyssey2/4.html

That's great news. I've read nothing but positive reviews on the SET 400. I am currently running a pair of Golden Cherry monoblocks from The Digital Amplifier Company, which are spectacular.

https://www.cherryamp.com/golden-desktop-marashinio-dtm

But I REALLY want to hear the SET 400 on the Dirty Weekends. I need another amp for my home theater room anyway. So depending on what I think of the SET 400 combined with the Dirty Weekends, it will either stay in my main two channel room or head to the theater room, in which I have Dirty Weekends in there as well.  :D

AvsFan

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Well I have been listening to it for the past two days and I am VERY impressed. Like my above post mentions, I am using it with Golden Cherry monoblocks. I know I should be happy but I am SERIOUSLY considering a brand new SET 400 or a used First Watt J2. I just sold off a bunch of audio equipment and contemplating my next move.

I.Greyhound Fan

Well I have been listening to it for the past two days and I am VERY impressed. Like my above post mentions, I am using it with Golden Cherry monoblocks. I know I should be happy but I am SERIOUSLY considering a brand new SET 400 or a used First Watt J2. I just sold off a bunch of audio equipment and contemplating my next move.

Go with the SET 400 as Franks gear has great synergy with each other.  It is what they use to voice it.   If you don't like the SET you can always return it as it has a 30 day trail period.  Then you can always buy a First Watt.  I would also look at the Pass XA-25 or an XA-30.5