Just bought a new amp and figured I'd do a gear review and a little history lesson on esoteric audio.
Just some background...I used to manage a high end audio store selling stuff like Luxman, Denon, Polk Audio etc... so I spent about 6 years doing nothing but studying high end equipment and finding ways to get the most pristine sound quality you can get.
My basic goal with my new studio stuff, was to get as pure a sound as I could, with minimal inputs and short signal paths so the sound had no chance to degrade.
I've been looking at Mcintosh amps (the 3 and 4 thousand dollar models) and came really close to buying one for the studio but wanted to see if there was something else out there first with a company that followed the same audio principles, but weren't adding on a couple of thousand bucks just for the brand name.
Anyways, I came across this amp (Elite 80) and gave it a try with my usual studio equipment and it performed just as good as any Mcintosh I tested so I jumped in and grabbed one.
It's one of those groovy looking, bare amps with just one input, one pair of speaker outputs and the transformers and tubes showing out the top. So besides sounding great, it looks kinda kewl in the studio as well.
As far as the sound goes, what can ya say. It's totally silent as far as amp noise goes. Both channels are driven independently so there's a separate volume control for each and there's plenty of power for dynamics, stereo separation and crystal clear highs. It'll be excellent for mastering.
Right now I have it temporarily set up with just 12 guage speaker cable and a regular pair of mid -range cables so my first step as soon as I get the chance is to upgrade the cables and shorten them out and get some high end cables to connect my audio equipment to it. (Please don't start an argument with me about the merits & myths of audio cables. I used to sell them for 5 years and attended numerous informational lectures about them plus spent many hours doing blind a/b tests so...Yes, cables do make a difference if the rest of your equipment is of high value as well. Or in other words, if you've got a Technics or Pioneer home stereo system with a $200 CD player, don't bother buying better cables cause you definitely won't notice a difference.)
Anyway, I managed to get this amp for about $500 and so far I'm really pleased with it.
With the addition of the Mac Core Pro and the Boss GT-8, I've noticed the sound quality in the studio go up 100%. That and a custom built headphone amp with AKG 701 reference headphones and it's been like taking cotton out of my ears.
I've been using a Mac G3 with a Luxman L410 and Denon DRM800 Cassette deck as a pre-amp for about 12 years and had gotten used to the fact that a 60 cycle hum was always supposed to be present all the time. In fact, if you listen to any of my earlier recordings, like the stuff on PhaseIV Chronicles, you can probably hear the hum during quiet passages.
Next thing on my list is to learn Cubase 4 (just upgraded from Cubase VST). So I'm probably going to be in for several months of training before I can really start into recording again. No problem though. All the songs are written and ready to go.
Just wanted to wait until I could get the right equipment.
One thing I learned from working in high end audio, was that 'technophiles' are very discerning about the music they listen to. In a lot of cases, they buy music more for the quality of the recording and what it can do to show off their systems so it's been a major drag the last few years, doing multitrack recordings that sound pretty good on the master but by the time they're mixed down and mastered (or even worse, converted to MP3) it's been pure torture not being able to really show off what audio equipment can really do.
I'm hoping by buying high end equipment, cables and recording equipment that I can finally show off what some of these instruments can do. Especially VST synths like Absynth and Pro-53.
Here's the specs for those who understand this kinda stuff:
Power Output Tubes - 6AV5GA - A*very well manufactured tube,*made in the USA, by Sylvania in Emporium,*Pennsylvania in 1984. *They are a very robust design with cathodes as large as a KT88s. Originally made for demanding military*applications, these tubes are ideal in the right audio circuit and provide unrivalled sonic performance, at least in our opinion, and we believe your's too once you listen with this amp.
Driver Tubes - 6H2n-EB made by Reflector(Sovtek).
Controls - AC Power Switch and two Level (Volume) Controls.
Connectors Power: IEC320 Inlet, Input: nickel plated RCA, Output: Binding Posts on ¾ centers.* A 6 foot detachable IEC power cord is included.
Circuit Protection There are*9 internal circuit protection devices to ensure safe operation.
Documentation This amplifier comes with a comprehensive owners manual.
Audio Power Output * Greater than 20 Watts*RMS per channel or greater than 40 Watts DAP per channel both channels driven simultaneously.* For more info on Dynamic Audio Power*visit: http://www.idealinnovations.biz/powerdefined.htm
Frequency Response - 25 Hz to 22 KHz plus or minus 0.6dB.
Input Sensitivity - 1.2 volt RMS signal will provide full output.
Input Impedance 100K Ohms.
Output Impedance Comes wired for 8 Ohms - 4 ohm and 16 ohm taps are available - please contact us for details.
Hum and Noise -* Less than 1.5 millivolts or*minus 56dBV on the output jacks.
AC Power Requirements *120 Volts,*60HZ.
Power Consumption *Only 85 watts idling and not more than 150 watts at full output.
Dimensions *12.0(305mm)Wide x 8.75(223mm)Deep x 7.5(190mm)High and weighs 23 LBS(10.5KG).
Transformers * All three, 1 power and 2 output are Canadian made to Ideal Innovations specifications and have been Hi-Pot tested at 1500 volts.* The output transformers use M6 laminations and have screen taps at 43%.* The power transformer and all AC components are UL and/or CSA approved.
Chassis * All custom made sheet metal finished in black textured powder coat for maximum durability and good appearance.
Other * Resistors are all flameproof and rated at 1 watt or more regardless of actual load and capacitors are all high quality for long life.* Level control potentiometers are full size not those little cheapies that wear out after a while. All tube sockets are ceramic with good quality pin sockets.
Serviceability * Should the situation ever arise, this amplifier can be repaired in minutes not hours.* Take a look in the photo provided and youll see a board that is easily accessed from both sides and no hot tube sockets mounted to it like many other brands.* We would like to think we did our homework here too.