Consonance Cyber 211 Monoblock Tube Amplifier
Following Up My December
here to see original review)
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
here to e-mail reviewer.
Wow! That sums up the staggering amount of correspondence i have
received concerning last month's Consonance
Cyber 211 review. Have been feverishly answering many e-mails and
felt that it was best to post a follow-up article so that everyone may see
the common questions and answers. This is my, perhaps futile, attempt to
reduce the onslaught of e-mail reaching my inbox. Also of note is that since the review
Consonance has sent me a pair of Full Music Deluxe Edition 211 output
tubes. So we will also cover how they faired against the stock tube and my
fave NOS GE VT4C. And first, a few e-mails and my reply:
Thanks to your well written article and a great dealer in Atlanta, I own the Hyperion 938 loudspeakers and have enjoyed every moment of it.
I just read your review of the Consonance Cyber 211 Amps?
Since I may not have access to this equipment, can you tell me what (if any) difference I might experience with my Hyperions should I use the Cyber 211 Amps (plus a good pre-amp) instead of the Jeff Rowland integrated Concerto amp I am presently using?
Thanks for your e-mail. Wish I could help, but Jeff Rowland never sends us anything to review,
though we have asked Jeff quite a few times during shows. Therefore I have no clue as to what differences there may be. Best bet would be to e-mail the Cyber 211 guys and find a dealer who will let you enjoy a 20 day in home audition. As always, an in-home audition is
the best way to be sure. Maybe your local Atlanta guy should try to be a dealer?
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Since you are keeping the Consonance amps, I was wondering if you have tried the JTL Tung Sol 5687s (pre 1960). Give them a drive. Great review BTW.
Glad you enjoyed the review. If you buy the amps, play around with the bias. i find that upping it from 4.8 to about 5.2 sounds better with the GE VT4C to bring out the highs a bit more.
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
The first e-mail is self-explanatory. As much as we want
to review what some feel are great pieces of audio equipment, certain
manufacturers are hesitant to allow us the opportunity. Our writing staff
has decades of experience so it is hard to understand their apprehension,
unless they choose not to undergo a honest assessment of their gear, and
that is indeed their right. The second e-mail brings up a great point not
in the original review!
Tube Rollers Delight!
the stock 211 tube did a very good job, i felt there could be more musical
bliss achieved beyond the stock form Consonance Cyber 211. My years of
experience with the Audio Note Ongaku have served me well in this regard.
At the same time Consonance felt that sending me a pair of the new Full
Music Deluxe Edition 211 output tube was in order.
Seen to the right are both output tubes side by side. Note
the GE is taller, yet the Full Music tube is fatter. Both have ceramic
bases wrapped with metal. Of note is the below photo where the GE VT4C has
a ceramic top while the Full Music employs the usual 'finger' tension
pieces and metal (see photo below). There are other difference that i will
not fully cover, but that the GE seems more rugged and in my opinion requires a
bias to achieve the best from it. In pure stock form, the Cyber 211
owner's manual says to bias the 211 at 4.8 Volts DC. With the GE VT4C, i
have found that in my system a bias of 5.25 Volts DC brings out the
highs and associated harmonics a bit better.
this amplifier is not auto bias. Frankly, i hate auto bias for the simple
fact that it adds some unnecessary circuitry and i favor the less=more
principle. Furthermore, if you can manually bias an amplifier it also
provides the opportunity to change it, as this also alters the
resulting sound an amplifier produces. Bias changes are free, though
please stay within about 20 percent of the manufacturer's recommendation.
You can indeed have too much of a good thing, and tube life may suffer
Only the extremely lazy will not want to bother with
biasing their amplifier. This is the only advantage i can really
understand where auto bias presents. Sadly, the auto bias crowd may be the same people who love CD because
they are too damn lazy to achieve higher musical bliss from vinyl, and the
necessary adjustments vinyl replay entails. Unlike vinyl replay, biasing
an amplifier takes only a minute, maybe two. It is so easy you could
probably teach your 5-year-old child within 5 minutes how to do it! Ok, so you will need to buy a $15 meter, though for your small $15
investment you can do amazing things, including other audiophile tweaks!
In my opinion all hard-core audiophiles, not just tube-o-philes or DIY'ers,
should have a meter and know how to use it.
Different Tubes, Different
While the various tubes i could choose to 'roll' into this
unit would take a huge article in and of itself, here are some basic
impressions. The Full Music 211 was very shouty when first installed with the
amplifier at stock bias setting. The bass was, perhaps, a touch better
than the GE VT4C, but the highs on the Full Music was lackluster at best.
They lacked definition and clarity. After 100 hours the shouty personality
subsided only a touch and no matter what was tried, i never liked the new
Full Music Deluxe Edition 211. Perhaps they need over 500 hours and only
time will tell. Enter the JTL Tung Sol 5687.
With the NOS Tung Sol in place, this greatly removed the
shouty impression of the Full Music tubes, but was not a complete solution
as the highs. Above 4kHz, the music still lacked definition and proper harmonic
sheen. It also appeared the overall resolution dropped a notch or two. No matter what i tried including
bias, other tubes, etc. So for
now with about 200 hours on the Full Music 211, and they want a jaw
dropping $1,000 for them, i would have to pass on recommending these.
Especially when NOS GE VT4C is much lower in cost. Hmm... i always felt
new tubes should cost less than prized NOS tubes. Hmmm indeed!
back in went the GE VT4C and stock USA Raytheon ck5687wa. Let her warm up,
adjust the bias to about 5.25 Volts DC and the music was back! While the
bass of the GE VT4C may not be a few Hz as deep as the Full Music, it is very close. The midrange
of the GE is more musically pleasing than the Full Music or stock tube,
and the highs of the VT4C with the way they reproduce harmonics in tact is
simply divine! This is the configuration these monoblocks will be staying for a long,
long time within my humble abode.
Note: Only die-hard tweakers should read the next section.
Others should simply skip down to my Closing Comments.
But i hear you tweakers with soldering guns want more. Ok,
here is the 911 for those of you who love how easy it is to tweak this
amplifier. Rejoice as there is plenty of room inside the chassis! While i have not tried any of the
below tweaks, these are merely
suggestions. i make no sound judgment (pun intended) to the result from these tweaks.
The first tweak would be to extend some wires out from
M Caps (lower right parts in the photo above) are and try V Caps, silver foil,
or whatever may be the flavor of the month. Please remember caps take
a long time to settle in, so when i do such tweaks the caps usually spend
about a week on my cable burn-in device. i use the old Duo-Tech Model
CE1000 from a decade ago, now no longer available, though there are plenty
of modern alternatives. With the wires that connect these caps now being
moved to the outside of the amplifier, you could use whatever cap you feel
best fits the music of the moment. Think of it as tube rolling, but
instead of tubes it is capacitors!
parts you could tweak would be in using top-grade Black Gate capacitors
within the power supply. Sure this can get expensive... fast! The choice
is yours, and because they already use Rubycon as stock, am not sure the results
would be worth the cost of entry. This is why i first mentioned the M Caps
as this would be fewer parts, 2 versus 7 or so.
Lastly, those of you who are truly talented could try
moving from stock solid-state rectification to using Mullard GZ34, CV378,
or some such. The big problem here is this tweak is not an easy 1:1 swap
and only the highly experienced tweaker and solder sniffers should fathom such a change.
In stock form, the Cyber 211 is a great amplifier. It comes
with some NOS tubes and is an amazing sounding unit that easily competes
with units over twice the cost. The only tweak i suggest is removing the
stock 211 tubes and getting a set of NOS VT4C tubes for a few hundred
dollars. Once installed, bias the unit from stock 4.8 to 5.25 Volts DC or
enjoy the music. There is no real need to go further.
The onslaught of e-mails concerning my rave original
review has been keeping me quite busy and i hope this article will
somehow reduce those numbers. There appears to be many people who have the
same Hyperion loudspeakers in my system (reviewed
here), with one reader in particular who has been firing
off many e-mails to my inbox. My best suggestion would be to get your hands
on a Cyber 211 and try it within your system. If you have 90dB/W/m or
above sensitive loudspeakers, these monoblock tube amplifier may bring you
thousands of hours of musical bliss. If you liked what the 47 Labs
Gaincard or some cheap pirated copy-cat sounds like in your system, then
by all means try the Consonance Cyber 211 and you may be very pleasantly
and amazed! In pure stock
form, the Cyber 211 brought a huge smile to my face. With the simple tweak
to the GE VT4C and upping the bias, the smile on my face was akin to the Cheshire
cat. Of course in the end what really
matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Type: vacuum tube monoblock amplifier
Power Output: 16 watt, RMS @ 1kHz
Vacuum Tubes Per Monoblock::
NOS Siemens gold pin E88CC
NOS Raytheon CK5687wa
Total harmonic Distortion: less than 1% (10 watt @ 1kHz)
Signal To Noise Ratio: 90dB
Frequency Response: 5Hz to 47kHz ( -3dB)
Input Sensitivity: 0.6V
Input Impedance: 100k ohms
Input Type: Unbalanced (RCA)
Output: 4 or 8 Ohms
Dimensions: 420 x 185 x 330 (LxWxH in mm)
Weight: 30kg per monoblock (packed)
Warranty: 2 years parts and labor, 90 days tubes
Price: $4,995 per pair
Opera Audio Co., Ltd.
C-1501, Building No.9 Kingdom Garden, Xiaoxitian
Haidian District, Beijing, China
Voice: 86 10 62220935
Fax: 86 10 62220935
2307-R Bristol Pike
Bensalem Pa 19020
Voice: (215) 953-9099