|The preamp that I purchased was the QA-113 - with 2 RCA inputs, one RCA and one balanced output, and one record out. It uses 4 6G6G and one 6X5 tubes. The preamp is now sitting in a box, not because I don't like it but because I'm getting ready for the long drive from Vancouver to Ottawa (Canada). This review is, therefore, based on probably only 50 hours of listening.|
First, you'll have to understand that I am fairly new to tubes and don't have a golden ear (I don't think I do
anyway). I'm also not too familar with the audiophile terms regarding the description of the difference in sound but I'll try my best.
My system first: Quicksilver 300B push-pull monoblock prototypes, Ah! Tjoeb 99, Apogee Centaur Minor (ribbon hybrid) speakers, and pure silver interconnects from Stealth. The comparison is being made only between my other preamp, a Caztech SPa-1(Canadian made but the company is no longer in existence), as the only other tube units I've heard are a VAC pre and a ARC LS-1 belonging to a friend, using 2 6CG7/6FQ7 tubes and based on a PCB. Albert, the owner of Space-Tech, recommended that the QA-113, although much more than what I had budgeted for, would complement my power amp as the 6G6G tubes have excellent highs, and needless to say, I will be eating less for the next couple of weeks. The Caztech sounds REALLY good for only $300 (used)! The ST (Space-Tech) is more laidback while the Caztech seems more analytical. The soundstage seems bigger with the ST, and the sound floor (???) seems to have moved back a bit, meaning that it seems like the performers are now further away. Albert is right that this baby is better in the high frequencies, drumbs sound much clearer and sharper. Bass is more or less the same I haven't really tried to compare that yet - I've been listening to the music while reading a novel. Voices are a little nicer sounding that the Caztech. I've got to pay more attention but my speakers seemed to have disappeared! My room is not ideal and I didn't play around much with placing my speakers but it seems that the ST makes everything sound a little better. I believe the Caztech was retailed at $500 or 600 while the ST QA-113 retails at $880. I think the money was well spent, even though I don't have much to spend as a recently graduated MSc student. Now I have to start looking for tubes to roll. Albert indicated that the tubes for the buffer stage could be substituted with other 6 volt tubes to alter the sound thereby making this preamp somewhat flexible. Time to start saving to roll the tubes.
To check out all the cool stuff that Albert has, go to his website at: http://www.space-tech-lab.com/