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WCES 98


    Below are just a small sampling of all the new amplifiers and preamplifiers seen at the show.


     Wavelength Audio is introducing quite a few new tube units. The KIR is a 25 watt monoblock that uses the 6922, 12B4, VV52B, and GZ34 tubes in single-ended output design. This amplifier directly couples the first two stages and then uses an interstage between between the driver and the VV52B tube to one of the largest output transformers made. Pricing is $10,000 for a pair of the monoblocks. The Tangent is a new battery powered phono stage unit. Although i've known about it for four years, it's taken the head designer, Gordon, this long to finalize this product which is now available. It uses NiCAD batteries, and includes an intelligent recharging unit, to power the B+ directly and doesn't use any step-up designs like the Nagra PL-P. In other words less stuff in the signal path the the Nagra PL-P which makes this possibly the killer Nagra beater phono-only stage and priced at $3,000. Lastly, the Cotangent is also a phono stage though it's a hybrid phono stage. It's MM/MC switchable using a FET input which feeds a tube line stage then passively RIAAed which is then buffered by another tube output stage. This unit can be run on batteries for an additional cost. Pricing? An amazingly cheap $1,000.

     Pass Labs was showing the new, huge, monstrous X1000 amplifier which is capable of producing ONE THOUSAND WATTS into an 8 ohm load and TWO THOUSAND watts into a into a 4 ohm load. It's like the old saying in retail mass merchant sales: "How do we do it? Volume! Volume! Volume!" These $24,000 a pair monoblocks amazingly enough have only two gain stages consisting of a single-stage front end which give voltage gain while the second gain stage is a high current follower. This new unit features the Super-Symmetrical balanced single-ended Class A topology where the two halves of the balanced signal are precisely matched. This leads to cancellation of noise and distortion for a very quiet output amplification. Four massive banks which total a whopping 80 power MOSFETs are used in each monoblock which yields a pure Class A operation for outputs up to 128 watts while from 28 to 1000 watts the X1000 operates in Class AB. Just so ya know, the bias current is set for about 600 watts idle dissipation per channel. If ya wanna talk about power supplies, two massive toroidal transformers rated at 4 KVA are used as are parallel high current rectifiers and over 240,000 uF of storage at 700 joules. The X1000 only accepts a balanced input via XLR. There's more!!! Basically you can use this amplifier in an array situation where four X1000 units per channel will give you, are you sitting down(?), 32,000 watts into a 1 ohm load. Each monoblock weighs about 200 lbs. by the way.

      Pass Labs were also showing the matching X2 preamplifier. Basically it uses no negative feedback, metal film resistors, ultra-matched power MOSfets and can deliver as much as 50 volts rms on it's balanced output via XLR. Pricing is only $2,500 which seems very reasonable all things considered.

     Manley Laboratories Inc. has this really retro-cool 150 / 75SE / PP807 unit playing a pair of Tannoy speakers. This stereo unit uses four 807 tubes per channel to achieve 72 wpc in SE mode or 150 wpc in push-pull. The 807 is another one of those fabled good sounding tubes. It also uses the 7044 as a driver while the 5751 is used for input tube duty. Priced at $8,600 by the way.

Nagra845      Nagra was showin' the really cool prototype! This unit uses two 845 tubes running in Class A and has, like, a totally slammatocious meter on the front. It perfectly matches their all tube PL-P preamplifier with phono stage. Hey, it zounded zentual yet zuper! No pricing as of this time. Hey, it's a prototype my friend. please remember where you saw it first!

     Graaf just introduced their GM-20 Class A tube power amplifier. Designed by Giovanni Mariani this unit OTL unit uses two 6C33C output triodes, two 6922 tubes which operate as "impedance adapters" in this OTL unit. The driver stage uses two triode-coupled EF-184 pentodes. This unit can be used as a stereo unit or you can connect the two channels and use two of them for monoblock operation. Fast specs: 20 wpc, 8 or 16 ohm output, frequency response 1 Hz - 350 kHz (-3db), and uses 6db of negative feedback priced at $4,800.

     Primare Systems was showing their new solid-state A 20 integrated amplifier. Using dual-mono construction for higher performance this 60 wpc. (8 ohm load) unit consists of all surface mounted parts to shorten the signal path. The volume control utilizes an impulse generator and when used with the supplied remote control it also operates the balance right/left too. High quality polypropylene capacitors are used throughout this unit. Four inputs via gold plated RCA plugs standard and a stereo preamplifier output on RCA plugs is also included for bi-amping or external processor's or for whatever floats yer boat. Price? $1,250

Lamm ML2     Lamm Industries Inc were showing this $13,645 ea. monoblock amplifier. So what cha get for that kinda fundage? Ya know, i asked quite a few questions and just didn't see where, for $27,290, my money is really going to. No silver wired output transformers and when i asked the dude where my fundage was going to the answer was, well, um, nevermind. Anyway, it has XLR or RCA inputs, uses one each of the 12AX7WA, 6N6P, 6AK5, 5651, and two 6C33C tubes. Now it does weigh in at 64 lbs and maybe i'm just missin' something here to justify the price??? Ok, as i looked further i see they are uses some exotic parts like military grade low noise DALE metal film resistors, Electrocube and Roederstein film capacitors, Cornell Dubiler and United Chemi-Con electrolytic capacitors, and lastly Hammond chokes. Hmmm... Output is 18 watts with 16.97 volts peak into an 8 ohm load. WOW, now that is a lot of voltage output! Maybe i was wrong, maybe i was right? (As i begin to sing) If loving you is wrong i don't wanna be right.
Simply 845      Unison Research, the Italian made yummies with lovely wood trim, were showing the new Simply 845 Class A triode stereo integrated amplifier. Four high level inputs, one tape loop, and a dedicated input for the optional Simply Phono unit are included. Using one EC82, one ????, and one 845 for output this unit produces 24 wpc output. This self biasing unit is easy to operate with the input selector on the top left of the unit with the volume control on the left on the front panel. There is also twin outputs for bi-wiring and retail pricing is $5,545. When i had the Simply Two at my home everyone seemed to love the look and i gotta agree. Italians have a talent for making gorgeous lookin' stuff. Ferrari! Need we say more?

     Conrad-johnson is following on the heels of the killer ART preamplifier with a units designed like the art yet on one chassis called the Premier 16LS. Using six sections of the 6922 tubes this triode preamplifier is packed with totally awesome parts and uses no loop or local feedback either. My friends who own the ART preamplifier all say it's the best preamp on the planet. Well, for those of us with less fundage yet want a good amount of the ART's performance we now can buy the Premier 16LS! Save thousands because it "only" costs $7,995 and full production will begin in April folks. Order now because i got the strange feeling they'll be bachordered once production starts. Of course we all know about c-j's high quality construction and that they also have the best customer service in my humble opinion. Go Lew go!

Viac Headphone/Preamplifier      KR Enterprise (previously known as Vaic) has just released a slew of new toys! First off is their new headphone/preamplifier unit finished in shiny chrome. It accepts 1/4" or 1/8" headphone jacks and unique to this headphone amplifier is that the output impedance is adjustable. The tubes used are two each of the new KR Enterprise KR1 and KR 5. Three inputs with an MM phono stage are also included. The knobs on the front right are the input selector and to it's right is the volume control. Stereo outputs via gold plated RCA jacks are located on the rear. Retail pricing should be about $3,500.
VIAC Amplifiers      Also showing in the KR Enterprise room are a few new amplifiers. One of which uses their new vacuum transistor. They claim that this new output device marries both the benefits of tubes and transistors. As i held one of these devices in my hand i gotta tell you it was very heavy and built like a tank. Specifically, the model 32 B S 1(left pair) is a pure Class A unit using the KR Enterprise VV32 tube and is claimed to have a frequency response of 18 Hz-35 kHz (-3db). Power output is 25 wpc and can be set for 2, 4, or an 8 ohm load.

     The units to the right use the new vacuum transistor called the VT 800 MK. Running in Class A it's output is 50 wpc with a rated frequency response of 12 Hz-35kHz (-3db). Like the other new amplifier, it too can be set for 2, 4, or 8 ohm speakers.

Viac Tubes      Lastly, KR Enterprise is also introducing new tubes which are much like very early triodes. All my Oriental friends should be extremely happy as some of these old triodes tubes are considered better then most tubes on the market today! The picture to your left shows the entire KR Enterprise line. Hmmm, maybe if i'm really good this year Santa Clause will fill my stocking with these tubes. All i got this year in my sock was a Pet Rock :-{(+ .

     Melos has just introduces a real bang-for-the-buck amplifier. The MAT-100 uses two EL519 per channel, all tube, all triode, it be all good and priced at $1,895. For this chump change you get 100 wpc and that usual Melos quality. Two new preamps are the V-SHA preamp with MM phono section using the 6922 tubes for $1,595 and for all you SHA-1 owners there's now a SHA-2! All you SHA-1 owners can upgrade to the new SHA-2 which is a total reworking. Their rep-dude told me they basically gut out the older unit, add all new stuff inside and it costs you about $500 or so. For those who don't have a SHA-1, you can simply buy a SHA-2 for $1,595. Oh yeah, it has six inputs RCA and XLR output too.

Cary integrated unit      Cary Audio Design is showing a prototype of a cool little EL34 based integrated unit. It features three inputs, cherry wood base, two EL34, a 6CD7, and a 12AU7 tubes per channel. It's only ready for an 8 ohm load though. Pricing? Around $1,195.

Kora Electronic Concept, a French company highly regarded by many overseas reviewers, is introducing three new amplification products. The Titan is a 120 watt monoblock with a s/n ratio of a claimed outstanding 110db. It accepts RCA or XLR inputs, mosfet regulated, and uses twelve EL84M tubes for output. Retail pricing is $7,495. The Jupiter is a 60 watt stereo unit priced at$4995 and uses six EL84M tubes per channel. The Equinoxe is a preamplifier with five inputs, headphone and preamp outputs, independent monitor/record controls, and has a maximum output level of a whopping 20 volts! S/N ration is claimed as 110 db and it's priced at $2,200.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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