Aleph-3 Questions

I just recieved my dream amp.So far so good.It has under 50 hours on it.I was wondering if these have a recommended break in time?It sounds very good but honestly I was expecting better.Also has anyone found any tweaks that improve the performance? Cones etc.Thanks!
I used to have the Aleph 3. I purchased mine used, so it was fully broken in when I got it. I'd recommend at least 200 hours of break-in with most equipment before doing any critical listening. Stereophile's Test CD 3 has a burn-in track (there are others available) that you can play continuously while you're at work to help break in the amp.
hi david, not having directly heard this amp, i can't offer any direct experience, but i *do* have a couple comments - how efficient are your speakers? i know that the aleph 3 is supposed to be more powerful than its watts, but it is still only 25wpc. also, what's its input impedance? ewe have a rogue 99 preamp, right? my experience w/that preamp was not as positive as i'd hoped, partly, i think, due to an impedance mismatch - if the aleph's input impedence is 25k-ohms or less, that mite be affecting the dynamics. doug
I purchased my Aleph 3 as a demo with very few hours on it. I was initially disappointed that it did not sound as good--a little raw--as the used ones I had heard. Once broken in, I have no complaints. Be patient; I think you will be very pleased. FYI, I use mine as mid/tweeter only in a bi-amped system but I don't think that makes any difference, other than the Aleph is probably a better treble than bass amplifier. The 3 has only 20 db gain and an input impedance of only 23Kohms; mismatches could detract from its performance. Cheers,
I heard the volksamp version of the aleph 30. It's one of the very best solid state amps I have heard. I recall that when we ran it straight out of the wadia 30, the sound was some of the best I had heard. When we ran it through an Audio Research 12, the sound took on significant degredation. A preamp mismatch may be what you are experiencing. I have read that you need an active preamp with lots of gain to drive the aleph 30. That may be similar to what you are experiencing. Also, I have read that the alephs sound like an ordinary ss amp until they have been on for a whole hour.
To my ears my new amp sounds very good.My concern is I feel it should sound MUCH,MUCH better.Am I asking too much from a 'Beyond class A" amp? It replaced a stock Dynaco ST-70 with good tubes.As I said before it has <50 hours on it.My ex- girl friend was invited over last night for a listen as she watched my obsession over owning a Aleph-3 for over 3 years.I thought it only fair she have a listen.Any way she has very good ears but said"the tube amp sounds better than that!" She did change her mind as the evening went on but she was never overly impressed.I feel the sound quality should be a HUGE improvement considering all the rave reviews and awards this amp got.The sound stage is about 2 feet deeper,but no wider.Much better bass,far better dynamics,Imaging a little better as well as focus.The tone is sweeter too.I expected a HUGE soundstage not a Dynaco soundstage.I guess maybe I expected too much.My speakers are 92dB so volumn is no problem.Do I need a pair of Wontans to get a huge soundstage??
I owned an Aleph 5 for several years and would not count soundstage size among its strengths, but that isn't something I particularly lust after anyway. You may find what you are after by experimenting a little with cables.
david99: you mean this was your dream amp for >3 years and you didn't audition it in your system b4 you bought it? if so, shame on you. perhaps your expectations were too high. more likely, you and your ex became so used to the distortions/"euphonics" of your dynaco that a "neutral" amp doesn't quite sound right. i assume you changed interconnects when you moved from valves to ss. no? then i'd suggest you TRY (not BUY) something like cardas neutral reference. this will knock the "edge" off what you're likely hearing with your valve-loving wire. just some suggestions. don't give up too soon. you can get it right but 50 hrs doesn't even make it to the fun part of foreplay.
I have owned the 3 and now the 2 monoblocks. I have found that Black Diamond #4 cones improve the sound considerably. They seem to my ear to tighten up the bass and brighten up the top end a bit. They are recomended for tube amps I know, but I found them to work well under the Aleph amps, which sound kind of tubelike. Even better if you have the means would be a Powersnakes Viper V2 powercord. I bought a pair for my Aleph 2s and they took the sound to a whole new level, improving transparency, speed and most of all image placement.
I've owned Aleph 5s and what I like best about them is that they don't have much of a sound. They don't sound spectacular. They don't impress. There are no thunderous lows, or crystalline highs. What impressed me most about the Pass is that it disappeared better than any other amp I've had experience with (at least any other amp smaller than a 27" TV and costing less than $15,000). As far as I can tell, it's not particularly sensitive to cable, but it sounds best when left on continuously. Relax and enjoy!
So what speakers do you have? Maybe their topped out. I hope you don't have dunlavy or vandersteens (or the like). You may need something more revealing to let the aleph shine through.
Hi guys,thanks for all the advice.My speakers are Paradigm Studio Reference 80 v-1.My I.C.from my Rogue99 with phono are H.T. Prosilway MK2.Anyway my "Dream amp" is sounding mighty fine tonight.I need to get used to the sound and give it much more time to prove its self to me.I have pretty much been disappointed initially with everything I put new into my system(except BD #4 cones) under the Rogue.Im sure after another hundred hours or so I will be very happy.I got a great deal on it and could make a couple hundred if I decide to sell it so Im not sweating it.Oh it sounds so good right now! Listening to "Dark Side Of The Moon" Vinyl(of course) Thanks again!
You sound like me. I am very hard on every new piece of gear--fear of failure, perhaps. I say relax and let this wonderful piece of gear break in. And yes, it needs at least one hour of warm up before sounding good. And longer is better. Going directly from a tube amp (especially an old style like the ST-70) to ANY solid state is an adjustment. It is not necessarily a matter of "better" but different. Although in this case, I think you will eventually see the Aleph 3 is much better. I replaced my Dynaco ST-70 in 1961 with a Marantz 8B--much improved sound-which I used for about 25 years. This was replaced with a solid-state Marantz (MA-5), later with Adcom GFA-555, then a Krell KMA-100 Mk.2 which was finally replaced by the Aleph 3 on mid/highs of a bi-amped system. The Aleph is hands down the best of the bunch--within its power range, of course. Relax and enjoy.
Hello David, As suggested earlier, some of the problem might be a preamp mismatch . Generally , you'd want the Output impedence of the Preamp to be 10 X ( Input Impedence of the Amp ) . Since the Aleph series have an very low input impedence, around 10 kohms'd want a preamp with an output impedence of 1000 ohms or less . Most tube pre's have an output impedence of 1000 ohms or More ...and thus are not idealy suited to the Aleph series . A tubed exception is the Sonic Frontiers Line series of pre's ( technically speaking,..haven't tried the match ) . You may want to try a non-remote Aleph P ( around $1100 used ) ...the Aleph L isn't said to be so good ( I've tried the P , not the L ) . Or , you might try the Nelson Pass designed Adcom 750 preamp ( used about $750 ) . The Aleph 3 should be more transparent than the Dyn. tube amp , by a large amount . Also, it should open a whole new level of detail, nuance . Stage/image should be clearer and less wooly , ...if not bigger, stage should be better defined . A lot of staging will be down to the speaker placement as well, so you might want to do some work there ... Good luck, Martin .
rogue sez their 99 preamps' output impedence is 100 ohms, but this *can't* be correct, as my experiments w/crossing the outputs w/resistors indicates an output impedence in the 2k-2.4k range. fwiw... doug
Sedond,I e-maied Mark(Rogue) and he got right back to me as he is working late as they are getting ready to move to a larger facility this week.I gave him the specs.for the Aleph-3.He said the match should be fine with the 99.I told him about your comments (no name) and he said"Im not sure what he was measuring but it would be darned hard to design a mu-follower type preamp with a high output impedence of 2K-2.4K ohm." I just hope this amp pleases me when fully burned in.If not anybody want a Aleph-3 for a grand?
david, ya mite wanna contact me about a conversation i had w/another mfr about the output impedence of the rogue 99. his feelings were that it would be hard to design a mu-follower-type preamp that *didn't* have an output impedence of 2k-2.4k ohms. the test i did comprised of placing resistors across the outputs, and listening for the reduction in volume. generally, 3db is the smallest perceived volume difference that can casually be noticed by people. (and, the output impedence rating indicates what input impedence will cause a 3db drop in volume). well, when crossing the outputs w/a 2.2k-ohm resistor, there was an easily audible drop in volume, when connected to my 25k-ohm input impedence system. a 1k-ohm resister *really* reduced the volume level w/the rogue preamp. when i tried the cary slp98 linestage, the 2.2k-ohm resistor had absolutely *no* affect on the volume level, i had to go down to a 1k-ohm resistor to get the same reduction in volume as w/the 2.2k-ohm resistoe on the rogue. the cary's output impedence is ~800 ohms, btw... hope this helps, doug
Well, I guess what it comes down to is who to have more trust in.I will have to side with Mark.He designed the 99 as well as all the other pre-amps and amps they manufacture.It would be my opinion Mark knows what he is doing and knows his designs better than anyone.All his products are getting rave reviews.He must know exactly what he is doing.If it comes down to me having to decide which piece of gear has to go it sure wont be the 99.Its staying in my system forever!
Hello David99, As stated earlier, I haven't heard the Rogue 99 ( know just from the stellar reviews posted by owners ...) , And I don't mean to suggest that it's not a good match for the Pass Aleph 3 . But, *tube* preamps in general can have one theoretical problem mating to the Aleph amps, the Output impedence of the tube pre's is usally higher than the 10 kohm Aleph input impedence would suggest ( rule of thumb : Amp Input Impedence should be At Least 10 Times as large as the Preamp Output Impedence ) . In the case of the Aleph amps, this would mean an output impedence of 1000 ohms or less ( most tube pre's are higher than 1000 ohms output impedence ) . From the Oct. Stereophile Review of the Rogue 66 ( would the 99 be similar ? ) JA measured an Output impedence of beteen 600 ohms and 3000 ohms ,...but he does go on to say 10 kohm amps should be OK . I don't have a real technical understanding of *why* this 10 to 1 ratio is significant . But , I have heard hampered sonics from pre's with this ratio violated and there were sonic consequences ( rolled at both the top and bottom, less depth, thiner/smaller sound ) ,...I've heard the Aleph amps be stunning in the right context ( with an Aleph P pre ) and I've heard them in other situations where all their weakness's were on display ( too polite mid-bass, lack dynamic kick and headroom ) without any of the amps usual strengths ( of which there are many ) . Also,...I'm guessing on the input impedence of the Aleph 3,..I know many of the Aleph amps are 10 kohms, but the Aleph 3 might not be the same ( see Pass site , probably the info is posted there ) . The Rogue 99 designer claimed 280 ohms ( or something like that ) Output impedence ? Does he mean all the way from 10 k to 20,000 khz ? This would mean it's a lot different than the 66 JA measured for Stereophile ... What ever you do ( and I'd experiment a lot ...could all work ) I agree with your notion to keep the 99 . The pre is the one component you have to interact with the most and it's important that you like *using* it . Clearly this is the case with the 99 ,..and from the many , many happy users posting all over the place , I'd have to believe it's capable of making serious Music and Enjoyment . Regards, Martin
David, Martin has owned many amps and equipment, and knows of what he speaks. Martin: I'm very glad to see that you can shed some light on this!...............I agree about the input and output impedance, and I believe that the Aleph series of power amplifiers have the lowest input impedance of any power amplifier that I've ever heard of (makes it a more difficult load for the preamp to drive it). (By contrast, the Model 88 power amp has a 100k ohm input impedance, the same as my Krell. This amount of input impedance is considered to be in the upper part of the "mid-range" of input impedances for amplifiers....20k ohms and below is considered low to very low....the little 2A3 tube amps I'm going to build have an input impedance of 200,000 ohms....I'll be racking my brain to figure out what cables work best with them, that's for sure. But they will be a tremendously easy load for the linestage/CD player to drive...Incidentally, my CD player has a specified output impedance of only 50 ohms for the RCA connection, so that's why I take offense when somebody says it can't drive a power amplifier directly!!! Not only does it, but it does so better than many linestages!) I'm sorry I didn't mention this might be a factor before, I should have been thinking about it. I guess I figured you had that part worked out already, since you had specifically wanted the Aleph 3 for quite a while. This will all work out, in any case...
Carl,I did have that part worked out.I did my home work.I talked with Rogue,Pass and my dealer to make sure the 99(came first) would mate well with an Aleph-3 should I ever actually get one.The mismatch idea has only come into play because of sedonds statements.Please read above about how I contacted Rogue about this.I am waitng for a reply from Pass also.
I just looked at Rogue's website, and couldn't find specs. What does the owner's manual say the impedance at the main outputs is for the 99? I still say that if it's like over 1000 ohms, then it is having a tough time driving the Aleph.
A tube preamp with the aleph 3? Isn't the point of having an aleph 3 because it get's the tonality right in the first place? Wouldn't the tubes gloss over and color the sound just a bit? I would think you would need something very nuetral (and faster) to let the sound shine through. I'm sure it's a very nice preamp but maybe not with the aleph. Maybe like krell.
rogue audio doesn't put the output impedence spec in their 99 preamp manual. at least it wasn't in the manual that came w/*my* 99... which is why i tried crossing the 99's outputs w/differing resistors. as i previously said, a 2.2k-ohm resistor audibly reduced the volume of my rig, when the rogue was hooked up to my 25k-ohm impedence crossover. *no* drop in volume w/the 2.2k-ohm resistor crossing the cary preamp's outputs, which is rated at 800 ohms output impedence. this is why i believe that the rogue 99's output impedence is at least 2k-ohms. i've asked pass labs for input on a 2k-2.4k-ohm preamp driving their aleph-3, & haven't gotten a definitive answer; i'll post it when i receive it.
Kacz: my sentiments exactly! The synergy that exists between an Aleph P and Nelson's amps is wonderful. Tonality, resolution, transparency, silence, and extraordinary depth. (Christ, I sound like a bloody ad...time to get some sleep!)
nelson pass sez that the aleph-3's input impedence is 23k-ohms, not 10k-ohms. he sez it's their balanced amps that have 10k-ohms impedence. so, using a preamp w/2k-2.4k-ohms seems it's right on the edge of what may or may not work. (mr pass *did* say he thought a preamp w/2k-2.4k-ohms output impedence would not be a problem w/the aleph-3). my rogue 99 didn't synergize in my system, w/its 25k-ohm input impedence, your results may vary. regards, doug
I have added approx.50 more hours of burn in time using the burn in track on the Stereophile test CD-3.The amp had about 50 hours on it when I recieved it.It really is opening up very nicely.I am starting to finally be very impressed!! I notice no loss of dynamics,and seems maybe I have a decent match after all.Im looking forward to the next 100 hours.I will report back in another 50 or so.Thanks to Doug for his research for me and to Carl for "rubbing it in" Carl,UP YOURS!! (private joke)
David, I'm very glad this is turning around for you. Maybe you'll be happy, but I also want you to learn to like other types of music. Music that is "beautiful", is still valid music. Why have a "BEYOND CLASS A" amp, just to run distortion rock thru it?..."not that there's anything wrong with that"...just "broaden your horizons" a bit sometime with acoustic instruments in real space played by jazz musicians, and then later maybe by symphony musicians...IT WON'T KILL YOU. I love rock, but it's nice to grow into other things too. It's cerebral (inside joke)...
Carl,the new GODSMACK is coming out Halloween!! I will snatch one up that day.Will this "Broaden my Horizens"?
David, Have you tried leaving the aleph 30 on all day? I have a set of the aleph 2's, and I find that they sound their best after being on for 5-6 hours, at which point they are indeed hot enough to fry an egg on (make that 2 eggs). I'm getting excellent sound with mine. Maybe the best I've ever heard. Soundstage is as large as I've experienced using vt100 and sfm-160 tube amps. The clarity and midrange truly are to die for.
Here is an update.First of all,this amp has taken a long time to burn in.It had <50 hours on it when I got it.I expected it to start to show off around 200 hours.At that point it sounded very good but I felt my expectations had been too high for this amp.No more! I have approx.400 hours on it now and at around 350 hours it started to meet my very high expectations and more! There had been a concern if the Aleph-3 was a good match for my Rogue 99.Compressed dynamics was the concern I believe d/t a possible impedence mismatch.Well if there is one I cant hear it.This amp swings like crazy!In my opinion the dynamics are top notch.I had considered keeping the amp through the winter then selling it.But now I think its going to be in my system for a very long time!I think I would have a hard time finding a better sounding amp.
David; Glad to see that you're liking the Aleph 3. I've considered one myself. What is your opinion of the quality of its bass and Pace, rhythm, and timing? Also, do you think there would be any problem connecting stiff, heavy bi-wired cables? I've read where there's not much room for on this amp. Good Luck, and Thanks. Craig.
Craig,I have found the bass to be very true to life.It may not have the room shaking slam of a Bryston or Krell but so what? Pace? rhythm? timing? This amp swings!Im amazed how fast the notes fly off the strings!This amp is a totally new experience for me.Music sounds much more like live than I thought possible.You really should try to get your hands on one for a listen.Or just buy one for the crazy low used prices.I paid <$1000 delivered with < 50 hours on it.I found hooking up the spades in the back to be no problem.It is very cramped back there but if you have enough space to be able to get around it no problem.I have a double run of some older Tara's that are REAL stiff.The posts are really heavy duty and tighten down well.I had no problem with them.The only problem I have with that 3"X6" space in the back is getting to the rocker on/off switch.It is located right below the posts and you have to stick your finger below,between,around,under,upside down etc,etc to find the damn thing.Makes leaving it on 24/7 even more tempting!It does run VERY hot.After its on for a couple days its hard to keep your finger on the top plate for more than a few seconds without pain.Dont try a bare foot on the top plate like me.Feet are much more sensitive to burns than hands.It hurt like hell!IMO only,I think you would be floored by this amp.I know I am..... Dave
Thanks for the response Dave. I agree that "natural" bass is best, ie as opposed to overly prominent bass of some components. My McCormack DNA-2DX does bass very well & with good PR&T too. It runs just hot enough to attract our cat who occasionally sleeps on top of it-- while it is playing-- hope your feet are OK. I'm glad to hear you've successfully tried biwiring, as that's one of the reasons I've stayed away from the Aleph amps. For now, I just acquired a Sonic Frontiers Power 2 (lots of tubes) that I'm enjoying. I don't seem to be able to stay away from big amps (it weighs 110 lbs). So the Aleph will have to wait:-). Cheers. Craig.