We have to talk. Are you sitting comfortably? Is the reading light okay? Have a little something to drink at hand? (Audio is thirsty business.) The audio world is abuzz over the reintroduction of the single-ended triode amplifier. This is the first of three reviews of such amplifiers I'll be bringing you, along with two speaker systems with which to play them.
Over time I've successfully used a variety of tuning devices to refine the acoustics in Kathleen's and my listening room. But I've always suspected that Acoustic Science's Tube Traps might be a good way to finish it off. I've occasionally asked visitors to stand in one spot or another behind the speakers as I listened for tergiversation (ie, "to change one's tune"; Hoo-hah!). I found several locations where a nice, dense audiophile body made an improvement to the sound.
According to Cary Audio designer Dennis Had in this amplifier's documentation, "Countless hours were spent designing and voicing the CAD-280SA V12 stereo amplifier...It delivers high performance in a combination of class-A single-ended triode and true balanced push-pull technology."
With whom are you most intimate? Your wife? Husband? Your modern-times Significant Other? Your pet? Or, like a lot of audiophiles, is it your audio system? Do you nitpick and tweak it as if it were your pet?
In his first e-mail to "Fine Tunes," Rafael Teodoro (RBT@wolfenet.com) addressed a subject that Mark Gdovin, that faithful frequenter of the Stereophile soapbox, had already brought up. Mark had gone so far as to give readers sage advice from his brother, a materials engineer, regarding the dangers of applying Armor All to speaker cones and surrounds.
Sometimes tweaks take on a life of their own. Take the one of using Armor All to keep speaker surrounds from drying out, which you can read all about in the November 2001 "Fine Tunes No.41" I recently got another e-mail on the subject from Dan Mazza at Arizona Hi-Fi, who agrees with Mark Gdovin's objections to using Armor All. (Read Mark's comments on the entire issue in the readers' letters linked to "Fine Tunes No.41.").)
"Hi, Jonathan," Bob Matthews began his e-mail to "Fine Tunes" (firstname.lastname@example.org). "I enjoy reading your column every month, and enjoy hearing from other people about some of their cheap tweaks!"
No doubt about it—Linn's top-of-the-line Komri loudspeaker is a queer-lookin' duck. It's a large, boxy thing, fairly deep, and weighing a hefty 176 lbs, including the base. Whew. I'll put it this way: rap your knuckles, break your hand.
The VK-150SE stands tall at the top of Balanced Audio Technology's range. It and its smaller brother, the identical-looking VK-75SE stereo amplifier (or, sans the Special Edition mods, the plain VK-75, footnote 1), are related to BAT's first amplifier design, the VK-60. The company's partners, Victor Khomenko and Steve Bednarski, eventually realized that they'd made enough upgrades to the VK-60 to warrant a new model designation, and in 2000 they discontinued the VK-60. Bednarski explained that while the VK-60 accepted the upgrades with good results, the BATboys felt that, in order to fully realize the full potential of the 6H30 SuperTube, a new platform would be required. Enter the VK-75SE and VK-150SE.