Wow, auditioning equipment in your home can be adventurous, disappointing, cross training,
Recently I decided to upgrade from a basic solid state amplifier to a tube amp or integrated amp. I watched EBay bidding, called, E-Mailed, and discussed options, and searched for local dealers besides the nearby Tweeters and Best Buy.
I came across a dealer about 1 hour away (which I accidentally came across while searching for turntable repair businesses) and decided to make a run to see what they carry. I was pleasantly surprised to find they carried equipment in my budget (some peoples single interconnect cost) all the way up to things I only read about in Stereophile.
They also had a really large used collection of LPs which is a plus for me since I'm just getting back into this.
After visiting a few times, the salesman offered to let me take home a Velleman VAA-70 amplifier to try for a week. Wow, this is cool.... try that at the earlier mentioned
businesses. I really enjoyed the VAA-70 and found it had a very nice image and soundstage, and a little excessive on the bass. I also had a hum (corrected with help here) that
became a very low tone after adding a cheater plug.
I really liked the amplifier and when I returned it they offered to loan me a Nelson Audio 66I to try..... definitely out of my price range even though it was offered up at 1/2 price.
I returned home to audition the 66i and the soon after setting it up one of the tubes went out. Wow, now this amplifier (integrated amplifier) was impressive. Much more detailed, better soundstage, and the image was so much clearer than the VAA-70. But, what a disappointment that it only last a few hours and I'd have to drive another round trip to fix or exchange it. Plus its much more money
too..... a little over doubled to the VAA-70 I tried.
So, I got only a few hours into the 66I and I decide I will take it back and purchase the VAA-70 with an option to upgrade to the 66I if I wanted too.
After hooking up the VAA-70 again, the poor thing only lasted about 2 hours when a whirlwind of funneling smoke started pouring out of the thing. Oh, this is some toxic
stuff. The on/off switch is located in the back and as I reached under the cabinet to hit the switch, a flame out resistor went and I inhaled a large amount of smoke. Oh that's bad stuff, as I visited the bathroom for two hours and passed out soon after. I slept until noon the next morning which is way off key for me.
I called a local repair tech and he told me we could try to fix it. I also contacted the shop and they said if I wasn't satisfied with the repair I could return it for credit towards another amp. Wow, pretty cool.
So, I ordered up the resistors that would cover most of the board and had the local repair tech order up some tubes.
When the parts came in (today) I called the repair tech and he said we could get together Sunday night to fix it up. Hmmmmmmm ok so I'm very inpatient and decide to break out the soldering gun, silver solder, parts, and dug right in. I found the resistor was very easy to replace and then found a line on the board was lifted from the board and not making any connection. I laid a smooth strip of solder over the lifted section and put the amp back together for a test run.
Wow, this rocks.... the amp sounds better than the first audition, no background noises what so ever, and the imaging is awesome. Vocals are sweet, smooth, and inspiring. I think I'll keep it :-)
Now I can't wait for the new JJ El34s to come in and see what she'll sound like with new tubes since the ones in it are old.
Can't say I had a more interesting week in some time :-)