Bob Backert in Churchill PA is well trusted and highly respected by many members of the Philadelphia Area Audio Group. Bob is a wizard with tube gear, particularly. His phone numer is 215-355-0529
Bob Backert website
I spoke to another audiophile about Bob's work and he swears that his mono-blocks (Jolida) were given another life. What was originally supposed to be a repair job turn to a mod that made this gentleman think about other components in his system getting the same treatment.
I am personally waiting for my mono-blocks (Consonance Cyber 800, EL 34 based, 78wpc) to come back from Bob's lab in a week or two.
Bob is a genius with any kind of amplification like preamp, amp (tube & SS), phonostage.
I have heard a great deal about Bob
but I personally don't know his work.
Presently, he is working on my amps so I
should have more to say about his mods later (1or2 weeks).
If he is as good as I think he is, I will try to talk to Bob about my new phono-stage (Consonance Reference 40 -- MM, MC, tube ractif. EZ80 and 2, 12AX7 & Amorphous MC step-up transformer) and what can possibly bring the best out of it. I know there is a room for improvement ( I have seen the guts).
How is he (Bob) making out......I am sure that he is busy.
One of the reasones I do not call him with "S" questions.
What do You think of Bob ???
I think that he is one of those guys that lives and breaths audio......
Anyway, I can not wait to hear what have been done
to my amps and how they sound now - after his mod.
Anyway, I can not wait to hear what have been done
I can't wait to hear either. I know Bob must be a busy gent, but he hasn't returned my e-mail so far. I look forward to reading about your experiences Mrjstark.
do you have something in mind - mod or repaire?
To be absolutely honest with you ,
I did not even know that Bob had his own website until this thread started. I have got in touch with him through the friend of mine. We talked on the phone about the work that can be done to my amps.
When Umaasa started this thread I googled a littel and came across some info. about his website. I did not think that I would find anything since my friend never mentioned any other way (then tel. nr.) of contacting Bob.
I am suspecting that it's relatively new & that is why you might be experiencing some problems. Best way to go is to call him on the phone.
If you are interested to hear my reaction and effect it (mod)had on the overall performence of my amps.....no problem, I will be happy to share my findings with you, if it is OK with the rest of Audiogon community & Bob of course.
I just receive the email that work on my amps is completed and there are ready to be pick-up.
Here is some of the work that has been done:
Installed 4 Dynamic loading circuit mods to gain stage and phase inverter/driver tubes..Rewire to eliminate cathode follower stage to output tubes.. Install 2 premium quality Capacitors to phase inverter stage ..
I have not heard them my self yet but here is the fragment of the email that my friend send me.
(Stephen Monte of QFS pick them up for me today and gave them a short run. Stephen is the ONLY dealer that I deal with and is always there when i need some help + I value his opinion since we have a similar taste in music, equipment & food.)
"all I can say is -- WOW --- they sound incredible -- more bass- bigger soundstage -- much more clarity -and detail - wow ---
Should get them on Friday.
Hi M. Stark, yes thanks for the update, please keep us in the loop. Steve Monte is one of the "good guys" in this hobby to be sure. I look forward to reading of your impressions.
FWIW, how long did it take? While I consider this, and I did call Bob today, he said his turnaround was about three weeks. Yikes! Maybe I should wait for the weather to warm up...
Seriously, I did schedule to visit him next week with my BAT VK-75SE amp. I am really intrigued as to what he can do with this amp.
Umaasa, Jmcgrogan2 (and all that are interested)
I spoke to Steve today on the phone to clarify few things and ask him for OK to spill a little more details and a short comparison between "before" & "after" modification done by Bob Backert. Actually, Steve is the one who introduced me to Bob and he is also working on the mods that would help to get the best out of the components (that he carry but not only).
Why ask for OK?......
Well, those who know me can tell you that I will speak my mind and I don't take sides or sh....t from anyone.
So, I ask Steve to tell me if it is OK to use his and Bobs' name while describing the mods and its benefits .............or not. It's been OK-ed, so in 2-3 days I will let you know if that was the money well spend or not.
Time to finish my Cybers 800 was - 2 weeks and 4 days but I told Bob that I wasn't in the rush. I asked him to take his time if it will help him to get the most out of my amps. I don't want the pressure, I want the results.
But don't forget, each peace of equipment is first evaluated and an appropriate mods are design especialy for that peace and YOU (not Bob). He will ask you to describe the sound you are after and try to make it happened.
Iam personally not crazy about a place that does a mod A/B/C without asking you what is wrong in the first place.
Or places that will tell you that mod "A" will kill everything up to 5K, mod "B" everthing up to 12K & finally mod "C" that will beat everything, including stuff that doesn't exist yet......NO, what I want is a mod that will bring the missing peaces to my nirvana, that's it. I find people in the shadows and those that listen the masters of their trade. Bob seems to be that person. If I am wright, he might become a "secret weapon" for few that know him. But that remains to be scene (heard).
One correction from the previece post that might be confusing for someone reading the work that has been done on Cybers. In "NOTE" it says that using 5687
NOT NEEDED AND WILL SLOW THE AMPS DOWN, actually what it means is that 5687 is not in the chain anymore and if it wasn't bypassed, it would make the amps slower in conjunction with Bobs' custom design mod. 5687 can be plugged in and will glow, but it has no effect on the sound. That was one of my question I ask Steve today.
I hope it is clear now.
I will pick them up Saturday and will do a follow up same night or Sunday night.
John, as to your question:
what can be done to BAT VK-75SE to make it better ???
I think that Bob might have a trick or two up his sleeves.
It is a great amp and I can only imagine what it will sound like when Bob will be done with it. Actually I can't but you get the picture.
My nestorovic amplifier was repaired by Bob..no mods but simply repairing a rectifier burnt by a surge....discovered a defective rca(I would have not picked it up) and replaced them at a rapid and reasonable time (less than a week) and got a reasonable bill.
No pressure...honest..and no need for mods.
I got his full attention during all this transaction and he answered all my querries and drove home a happy audiophile ready to listen once again..
Great to know that I found a technician/audiophile who loves what he is doing..
*Pick them up today.
*No time to hook them up.
*Quality time first, hobby second.
Heard them in Stephen Monte's' store in
two set-ups. First thing that I have noticed was a change in - speed, bass,
detail, effortless flow of notes. However, non of those systems resembles what I have at home and what I have got used to. To make any meaningful assessment, evaluation and potential benefits of those mods, I will have to put it back in my own system and have a listen.
Stephens' impressions of the modded Cyber 800 was very positive one, to the point where he is seriously thinking about modding another pair of Cyber 800 and keeping them in the store for a demo. Seems like Bob Backert and "Quest for Sound" will be working together to bring these costume modifications to audiophile community.
It is really late and I have to go but will let you know tomorrow....the real story. (Bob said that amps need around 50-60 hours of burn-in time. I think they are have way there)
Since Bob recommended 50-60 hours break-in time and I might have about 25h on them. This evaluation should be taken as such. I am not sure if its (Cybers 800)performance is going to get any better after full 60 hours burn-in time but I do understand that some of you are/were waiting with anticipation to hear few words about mods performed by Bob Backert.
For those who might be interested in such a service, here are few ways to go about it:
*you can reach Bob Backert at this number 215-355-0529
*you can go to this website - www.rhbsounddezign.com
*you can call Steve Monte at 215-953-9099
*or email Steve - Questforsound@aol.com
In my case, all things that involved drop-off, pick-up, payment, test were handled by Stephen of Quest For Sound.
All the arrangements were made with Bob as well as consultation, approval of modifications and finalizing the deal.
Prices very, and there is no fixed price for any of the mods that Bob is performing. To find out the the cost of the modification for particular amp, preamp or
phono-stage, contact Bob or Steve.
My cost was $1175 and included:
Installed 4 Dynamic loading circuit mods to gain stage and phase inverter/driver tubes..Rewire to eliminate cathode follower stage to output tubes.. Install 2 premium quality Capacitors to phase inverter stage .. Final test/burn ib time 6 hours..
The whole job took about 18 days.
IN HOME EVALUATION
Opera Audio Consonance Cyber 800 Tube amp (modify)
Supratek Chardonnay Tube preamp
Consonance-Opera Audio Droplet tube CDP - 5.0 CD Player
JAS Audio Array 1.1 Tube preamp
Vandersteen Quatro Speaker
Consonance - Opera audio Reference 40 Tube phono-preamp
Lenco 75 Turntable (modify)
Music Hall MMF-7 Turntable (modify)
Morch tone arm UP-4
Denon 103R cartridge (modify)
Scott Nixon TubeDac + DA converter
Sonos 130 system-1 80, 2 100 & controller transport
Rega Apollo CD Player
Monster Cable Monster Power AVS 2000 AC filter
QRT technology MODEL RT800 AC filter
Quiet Lines (4)
Wiring - 90% Morrow Audio PC,IC (top models), KimberKable PC, Vampire speakers cable (top model, bi-wire, spades), Signal cable PC(2)Custom for Cybers 800 (no ground pin)
PS Ultimate Outlet 20A High Current with custom power cable by Vampire
Room treatment: Phase4 bass traps(2), Skyline diffusers(4),
2" absorbers(4), 4" absorbers(2)
Other tweaks: Iso-pads (QFS), Home made stands, suspension stands for MMF7 & Lenco, Final "Daruma" ball bearing audio insulators, Outlets by PS, Wattgate etc.
Stax headphone system
So how do they sound now after the mods performed by B.B????
Well, I thought about it and I wasn't sure who is going to read this, becouse it might be very misleading for someone with entry level or even average level system (I am not referring to value) hoping for a mod which will turn his system around 180 degrees and performs some sort of magic.
No, it is not a silver bullet or a cure for poorly assemble system or good system in a bad room. I am sure the benefits of Bobs' modifications would be still appreciated by audiophiles with less then perfect systems but to truly grasp what his mods can do and how they can transform your old amplifier, you will need a set-up that is already reviling and match with components that will sing in sync with each other. A system that is almost perfect, almost there........but, is missing this final
WOW, foot topping, face smiling, "holly s...t effect.
If you are that person who wants that last 5-10% it could be it. Actually I think it is - IT. Of course I have no idea what Bob can do for your amp, what I will say next is my own experience with my amps Consonance Cyber 800.
Like I said earlier in my priviest post, I've heard them after the mods but in systems that I am not familiar with to draw the accurate conclusion.
Having a little extra time today I decided to give them a short run and see, or more like hear what have changed and how. Hoping for the best I hooked up Cybers 800 to the rest of my system and fired them up. After running then dry for about 10 min. It was time to listen to some familiar tunes. Two my favorite demo CDs from Usher and few others.
The biggest change and I can say that with absolute certainty was in bass reproduction. Bass became more solid with energy that was not present before. Its speed, definition, tune-fullness, realism and slam was just unreal. I mean, I JUST DO NOT REMEMBER HEARING IT - not like that....oh no. Before modification it was bloated, anemic, and I hate to say it...boomy. I know....... trust me, I though that my system was pretty good before , not the best but pretty damn good - I knew it could be just a bit better in the bass department but I wasn't expecting THIS. It seemed like someone fine tune my room with acoustic treatments and put my Vendys on steroids - sick.
Next, was improvement in speed - in general. Transitions were faster, more realistic. Start-stop time remind me of my beloved Martin Logans that were the champions of speed and the F-1 of all speakers (together with Mag.& Quads).
Soundstage was slightly bigger but the instrument placement was a lot more precise and distinguished.
Voices were stronger, cleaner and less harsh at the very top. A big improvement to male voices, giving them stronger presents and more authority but in harmony with the rest of the recording. Heights were nice before and not much was needed, actualy I don't think that it could have been any better.
It could! And it is, but not by much - a little more sparkle and air. Maybe extra clarity but definitely more transparency.
The best for last (except for the bass), body.
To be honest with you I am not sure how to describe it, I am obviously not a writer or poet but what I am talking about is the extra body around the notes, strings etc.
What really got me was how the notes, especially strings were hanging in the air and slowly fading away. That vibration of instrument which you can almost feel and goosebumps which you have no control over. That was missing in my system and it seems that thanks to Bob Backert it magically reappeared in my rig and it is here to stay.
Ones again, just a reminder.
If you are searching for that last refinement, and you can't seem to get it whatever you do,
I would say GO FOR IT. But if you think that it is a magic bullet for everything that is wrong with your system - think again. It will improve ANY system, it all depends how much improvement you are looking for.
It gave my system about 5-10% in improvement. Is it a lot - it depends on individual. Is it expensive - again, depends on individual. I know guys that spend that much on single power cord. Who is gaining more, I leave it to YOU.
At the end it was a very positive experience and I personally recommend it. Actually, I am already thinking of sending my phono-stage and headphone amp to Bob for some "Magic Dust".
Glad to hear you are happy with the improvements Bob has wrought on the Cyber 800. Congratulations!
I'm considering offerng "authorized" upgrades from Bob on some select Consonance gear, including the Cyber 800.
I've heard some of Bob's work, and like just about everyone who does, I sure am impressed. The sonic improvement he's wrought from John's (Johnmcalpin) preamplifier left us dumbfounded, feeling several components in the system were upgraded. Another friend who had Bob upgrade his preamplifier and power amps (in incremental steps) allowed us to hear the changes at each point of the complete transformation.
Joe, this man is a genius.
I just wished I have met Bob in person to thank him for the wonderful job he did on my Cybers. Maybe one day.
Yes a person interested in Bobs' work could opt. to do one mod at the time to ease the pa"$"in or to have better understanding of what each modification does to the overall performance of the component.
I could also go for silver wiring. That option would set me back about $350. I decided to postpone this maybe for another time.
As to Bobs' work on Cybers.....it is something else.
It must be heard to fully appreciate it and understand the possibilities that one can gain from his work.
If you know him Joe then you know exactly what I am talking about. Cybers 800 are great candidates for modding and I would recommend it to ALL CYBER 800 OWNERS - break the "Piggy Bank" and just do it. You will thank yourself for doing it. About the value......well I am careful with my money and it was difficult for me to justify the cost of this transformation (mod), but at the end it was worth it, it really was.
I have listen to Cybers today for 5 strait hours, non-stop.
I don't think there is more that need to be said.
Good to hear from you
Good idea with mods that might work
Mariusz, I'm really happy to hear how highly you think of Bob!
I'm not sure what part of the area you live in, but if it's feasible, I suggest you pay Bob a visit. He and his son Gary are truly wonderful people - very gracious, accommodating, and down to earth. I'm sure they'd be delighted to meet such an enthusiastic customer and friend.
Well I finally met Bob and Gary today, and totally agree with Joe, they are very gracious and accomodating. Nice little shop they have set up in Bob's home. I dropped off my BAT VK-75SE and we chatted for a good hour. Bob really knows how to 'put you at ease'.
Now, as Tom Petty would say, "the waiting is the hardest part". :)
Wow, this brings a few responses. Let me do them in order.
Mr. Porter, does the Stev L. you mentioned still work for Krell?
It seems one of their email addresses have disappeared. Steven's partner for example.
(forgive if I've got the wrong guy)
Secondly, I whole heartedly agree with all that has been said about Bob Backert.
He's worked on my, Moscode, Tube Buffer, McIntosh tube tuner, and big Mackie amp when I had them. He's worked on my Spectral "90", Gratto cartridge, and is a really kind and informative guy. I can give the blanket statement, anything i ever sent to him came back improved. (many other pieces not mentioned, all improved)
)installs my wiring in some of his premium upgrades, and some of his customers then go onto purchase my cables.
But, quest for Sound recommends him, and so does Paul at The Cable Company.
When I spoke to him today, he was actually looking at the back of a B.A.T. amp. I think it is great that Bob is finally getting recognized.
He worked the repair dept. of the final phase of Danby Radio in Ardmore after Steve Sank left. The web will reinforce us who think that is an upgrade in itself.
As far as living and breathing sound gear, that statement might make his power boat jealous when good weather comes.
1.Joe, I live in Kings,NY(11222) minutes from Manhattan.
However I do not mind driving to PA (which I often do anyways). I think, I might just do that since I have few more peaces that may need Bobs' magic touch (Consonance Reference 40 phono, Stax head-phone amp MK II and maybe just maybe my Supratek preamp just to take the top edge of)
2.John, I am glad that you took the plunge.
You won't regret it.
3. Follow-up part 2...
...Holy crap..........to be continue.
4.Spiro, I don't know Bob personaly (just his work - and through phone conversations) but wish him well.
Bob is obviously very good at what he does and
should be known for it.....that is it (no more - no less).
He is the REAL ASSET to audiophile community.
Glad to hear all of you have had such great experiences with Bob. He's done the same by me.
And, Trelja, thanks for the kind words. I owe you an e-mail!
One thing for anyone to consider, Bob is not a "quick-fix." While he improved my system tremendously, he did it by refining it, by distilling all that my gear did well and helping it do that better. Each improvement, particularly the power stages, were exatrordinary because it made my system sound like the best version of itself.
If you are truly unhappy with your gear, Bob won't be able to perform miracles. But, if you like what you have and think it can do better, he can do wonders.
And it takes time because he evaluates each piece of equipment as is. Now that a few of us have brought the same models, he doesn't have to reinvent the wheel each time. But each of us has different needs, goals and different systems.
I am so happy with what's been done that I could live with this system for years to come. Although I might go back and have Bob tinker with my CD player after talking to him about it.
Bob Backert is not just a repair guy, he designs and installs circuit boards specific to his customer's listening preference; he does a wonderful job at a reasonable price. In short, his work enables my tube amps and pre-amp produce such natural and realistic sound like I've never heard from any high end audio gear.
Lucky, your name sounds familiar.
Ever been in QFS showrooms???
I have met there a guy name Lucky .........maybe it is you?
The lucky , I know
modded his Jolida monos and thought about Cyber Reference 2.2 or something like that.
If you are that guy...........I want to thank you....because your experiences with Bob and his work played a big part for me in choosing that road.
Bob Backert has modded 7 of my high end components, with outstanding results each time. Whether solid state, or tube, he gets the job done. My Conrad Johnson Premier 1B was taken to another level with his work. I will never part with it! . He is a true craftsman, artist and high level technician that I recommend without hesitation.
His contact information is:
Bob & Gary Backert
RHB Sound Dezign, LLC
152 Windsor Drive
Churchville, PA 18966
I have just got this "crazy" idea.
Tell me if I am nuts.....but here you go:
My Vandersteen Quatros have a pair of amps build in them to drive the woofers. Do you think it would make any sense or difference if Bob (if he could and wanted to) try to modify the cheap mid-quality amps build in Quatros. I love Quatros but the bass is one of my only complaints. Bob's latest work on my mono-blocks was awesome but I have a feeling that some real wicked improvement can be gain if those amps were more dynamic, faster and more articulated.
If he could do what he did to my Cybers......oh man.....I am already getting a goosebumps.
The only question is, if I had to remove the amps myself or take the speakers to Bobs' place. Well, he might think that I am crazy .....
Well, I've had my BAT VK-75SE amp back from Bob for one week now, and only have about 14 hours on it, so I guess I should chime in here. I did just get off the phone with Bob, and I'll pretty much just sum up what I told him here. The most immediate difference that I noticed was in the bass, which went deeper and was better defined. Very impressive for a tube amp....or any amp really. The second impression that comes to mind is the speed/resolution/articulation improvement. Details that were before glossed over are now open for all to hear. Very exciting indeed.
The one nit that I had is that the amp seemed to lose a slight bit of warmth, or musicality. Bob said that this should return with another 75-150 hours of burn in for the caps/wires.
Overall I am very pleased with the modifications at this point in time, keep in mind that I only have 14 hours on the amp at the moment. The added bass and resolution are very amazing at this point in time. I look forward to letting the amp burn in more. At this point I would still highly recommend Bob's services.
For those interested, Bob did a mod on the input/driver tubes that supposedly takes the strain off of them and allows them to run in a more linear fashion. He also replaced the stock Belden input wire with gold plated silver wire, and replaced the coupling caps with V-Caps.
Total time, 23 days, total cost $1457.00, including taxes.
The truth is that V-Caps can take up to 200hrs to burn in(Teflon's like that). They are the most transparent caps out there after that. You can speed the process by playing a pink/brown/white noise signal(or plain old music) through the system(on "repeat"). Hook one speaker out of phase with the other and place them closely together, facing one another. That way most of the sound cancels out, and you're less likely to go nuts from the monotony. The sound will go through some strange changes before then, but the music will be there in spades afterward. Happy listening!
It is "28 Days Later" and the sound is truely scary.
The only problem is that "Bug" is still alive & kicking.
I have talked to Bob about my options & his recommendation are as follow:
- modding those build-in amps in my Quatros might not be the best/performance/economical idea.
- my new Granite Audio preamp could be a good candidate for mods but I need more time with it to be sure that it is the only option. Its build in phono section might also need a face lift. Or, I could mod the Ref 40 but that one is up for sell right now (to support my other moves). If it won't sell, I will keep it as my reference phono and work with Bob to bring the best out of it. Too bad I have not even tried it in my system. But who know....maybe I will.
So, you got it back and it seems that you like what you hear....great.
I am glad that you do since I was somewhat guilty of it too (among others).
But since everything is peachy...that is all that matters.
Now ............................let's hope you are "Bug" free.
( but " 28 Months Later" is right around the corrner......so, watch out .....at the end there is always that last little bug.)
Rodman99999, Bob actually advises against the playing pink/white noise on repeat. He says that the components will break in faster using standard turn on/off cycle methods....FWIW. I don't know, I used to use the constant pink/white noise method for breaking in cables, but Bob says the caps need to fully cycle...charge....discharge....we'll see.
PS: As for Mrjstark, I'm sorry, there is no hope for you. I can only hope that I can escape the elusive "Bug".....
John, I had my pre modded by pcx and had Chris put vcaps in and 7N OCC silver wire, both of which I pre-burned on my cable cooker. Even still it was a 100-150hrs for things to really settle down. It will just take sometime. Without pre-cooking I think the burn in time on the vcaps is closer to 400hrs and silver wire takes a while too. If you ever need something pre-burned let me know I am just in Allentown.
I'm a little late to respond, but anyway:
I'm an ex-Supratek (make it two) owner, and I agree with you on the treble.
But, I think, I know a secret how to fix it.
Supratek uses silver- plated copper wire, and I think that's the culprit. How do I know?
Recently I had a tube amp made by very well regarded and respected manufacturer, who shall remain nameless, that is using the same type silver-plated copper wire in the chassis.
You guessed it, it sounded exactly like Supratek in terms of exaggerated and kind of discontinued from the rest of the frequency range, treble.
I changed the signal wire to a pure OCC Cryoed copper- and
the glare is GONE. Much more organic presentation.
I'm willing to bet money, that changing signal wire in Supratek will cure that treble.
Forget about tube rolling, changing ICs, speaker cables, support system and room treatments- it is not going to work. Been there, done that.
BTW, Bob Backert done a few jobs for me as well.
Luckily I live 10 min away from him.
The nicest gentleman (his son Gary too) you can ever meet.
Thanks for the tip Maril555.
I will have to look into this silver wire "signature anomalies".
I am pretty sure that my new preamp also use this kind of wiring ( in very small amounts doug).
I am tring to get familiar with new toy, and them we will see..........
If you don't mind me asking ,
what did you upgraded to from Supratek?
If you want , I could shoot you a "P" email.
Cpk, thanks for the offer, I'll keep it in mind. As I mentioned before though, Bob does not seem to be a believer in burn-in hours on repeat play, or even cable cookers. He says the unit needs 'cycling', turning on/turning off. Especially to break in the caps, but for the wire too.
I do have the Cardas/Ayre burn in cd, and always felt it did a good job. I may give it a couple of spins next week.
BTW, my Marantz cd player was also modded by Chris at pcX. It sounds great, though I bought it already modified, so I don't have before/after comparisons.